Building bridges, expertise, setting healthy goals and fear of failure

sent by Nick Grantham | 17th November 2020

"How do you build a bridge? From both sides."


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When I first started working as a strength and conditioning coach there was a fair amount of friction between the strength and conditioning coaches and physiotherapists. I think a lot of this stemmed from the fact that all of a sudden strength and conditioning coaches appeared on the scene and were the new noisy kids on the block. We probably didn't help matters by trampling all over some of the roles and responsibilities that had, up until this point, firmly fallen within the physiotherapists' domain. I'm pleased to say that over the years, hostilities have declined and I think this is due, in no small part, to an increased understanding and acceptance of each others scope of practice. When I was recently asked to reflect on this situation it became clear that whenever there's fear or suspicion among colleagues, more often than not, there's a need to build a bridge between the two groups. How do you build a bridge, and in turn good, working relationships? From both sides! Next time you're faced with a challenging situation between different groups at work, look for ways to establish some links and common ground from which you can bridge the gap.

Source: Unknown

"There are many routes to expertise."

David Epstein

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My 15-year-old daughter has no idea what she wants to do when she leaves school. For many parents, this could be a major cause for concern but I'm surprisingly relaxed about the whole thing! When she first came home to discuss the subjects she should select for her final couple of years at school, I initially wanted to tell her to focus on sensible subjects that somehow linked up nicely and would put her in a good place when it came to getting a job. However, she actually selected a pretty eclectic range of subjects. She may be on course for a career as a mathematical chemist that likes to paint whilst baking cakes (if that career pathway exists she'll be sorted!). I'm not concerned, in fact, I'm pleased, she's got a broad range of subjects because if she's anything like me, she'll take a pretty circuitous route to her final career choice, picking up invaluable skills and experiences along the way. In his book, David Epstein gives examples of how time and again the notion of early specialisation and developing deep expertise in a specialist subject early on in life may not be the way to go. So if you're reading this and you think the only way to becoming an expert or landing a dream role is to focus with laser-like intensity early on, give yourself a break! I left school at 16 wanting to be an estate agent! I then spent six years in the financial services industry before going to university. Twenty-three years later I'm still working in performance sport, but rather than focusing and learning more and more about less and less, I've continued to weave a path that has taken me in all sorts of different directions. As David Epstein reminds us, 'there are many routes to expertise.'

Source: Range by David Epstein

"Focus on a goal that will improve your wellbeing."

Owain Service and Rory Gallagher

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How many times have you considered the happiness and wellbeing of your athletes when writing an annual programme or setting athlete and team performance standards? In a world where we are constantly recording data and measuring ourselves and our athletes against objective markers and KPI's, we may have forgotten that not all goals need to be linked to a number. In the most recent edition of The Sport and Exercise Scientist (Issue 66, Winter 2020), Dr David Fletcher discusses how accomplishments in one aspect of life can come at a heavy cost in other areas and he suggests that 'high achievers need to be functioning fully and effectively at a holistic level, typically indicated by high levels of well-being (e.g. physical, emotional, psychological, social) and performance (e.g.artistic, cognitive, motor, work).'? In their book Think Small, Owain Service and Rory Gallagher discuss the importance of setting goals linked to happiness and wellbeing. In the season that Rachel Atherton regained her world title, in addition to the usual objective markers, we also established how she wanted to 'be' during the season. What success away from the podium would look like (time with family and friends, time to rock climb etc). Happiness and wellbeing are important components to consider when developing a holistic performance programme. ?The next time you write a programme for your athlete, consider setting some goals linked to their happiness and wellbeing e.g. social relationships, being healthy and active, learning new things, being more curious or giving to others.

Source: Think Small by Owain Service and Rory Gallagher

"Let fear of failure be your tailwind, not your headwind."

My mate David who I ride mountain bikes with!

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I bloody knew my mate David hadn't just thought that piece of genius up as he drove us both to Scotland to take part in an adventure race! David's version is based on a comment made by Jimmy Iovine in HBO's documentary, The Defiant Ones. The documentary traces the careers of Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine, in which Jimmy says: 'Make fear a tailwind instead of a headwind.' David and I both had a sense of trepidation as we headed north to tackle a race that involved running, cycling and kayaking 108 miles from the east coast of Scotland to the west coast, in a day! Neither of us wanted to fail (particularly me because 8 years earlier I had been pulled out with just 7 miles to go!). Rather than letting the fear of failure hold us back, we did our best to harness the fear and push forward. We are all going to be faced with challenges that give us the 'fear'. Rather than letting the fear stop you in your tracks or slow your rate of progress, get a grip of it, harness it and let it be the driving force to overcome the challenge you're faced with.

Source: The Defiant Ones, Jimmy Iovine

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