A Very Weird Story on How To Be Your Own Very Best Coach

Wrestling Possums - Be Your Own Very Best Coach

Me (aged 8), Dad, brother Greg (11)

I am worried. This post might be just too weird, and I will see “Unsubscribe’ emails dotting my screen. I’ll take the risk, and share this one simple idea that has been at the core to my resilience in my career, and my life. I use it every day. But be warned- it’s a bit weird. Here it is.

One of my greatest fears is reaching the end of my career, at a timing not of my choosing, and knowing I could have achieved more – that I had not encouraged and backed myself to realize my full potential. Actually, I fear this about my life – will I push myself to be the best I can be: as a father, son, husband, brother, uncle, in law, cousin, friend, boss, colleague, neighbor…. The list is long.

I fear it because I know I am weak and flawed, and live on the edge of a darkness that I can easily slip into… not an evil darkness, just a place of slovenliness and lost opportunity. I saw ‘The Lorax’ movie yesterday: “A tree falls the way it leans. Watch out which way you lean.” I keep leaning the right way in my life, just, and growing and contributing positively, through following three critical steps, every day. But one is really weird. Here they are.

1. I treat myself as a project

This is not the weird part. That comes later. First- I treat myself as a project. I work harder on myself than I do on my job. I continually set myself personal goals, with clear outcomes and with a range of techniques to making progress against them. I consistently put pressure on myself, set personal deadlines and drive myself to always do exactly what I say I will do- whether it’s delivering to someone else, or to myself. And I certainly don’t always succeed (I am flawed and weak, remember). My weight and cigar smoking attests to that. I am ashamed of this weakness by the way. And dumbfounded as to why I can’t fix both issues.

2. I give myself feedback, constantly

This isn’t the weird bit either. That’s moments away. They say ‘feedback is the food of champions’. I thrive on giving myself feedback. I critique my every day. At the end of the day, I look over what I did: what did I do well, what could I have done better, was I appreciative, did I hurt anyone, what more could I have done to prepare? I am brutal in my feedback to myself: no holds barred.

3. And here’s the weird bit- I give that feedback to an “8 year old me”

Huh? He’s gone troppo… Wait! Hear me out.  When I give myself feedback, I do it with the vision of me as an 8 year old in my mind. I speak to me as if I was speaking to an eight year old me. I give the feedback honestly and directly, but I do it in a warm, fatherly, elder brotherly tone and manner. I say:

“Now Chris my darling- you’re a good lad and I love you. I want you to know though that I feel you could have handled that meeting with Dave differently, and much better. You bullied him, and made him feel frightened.  He did not deserve that. Now- I know you did not mean to, and you wanted to help him, but there is a better way you could have done it. Now, here’s how….”

I figuratively put my arm around the 8 year old me, and hug me every night. ”You’re ok Chris.  You’re a good lad with a big heart. I know you are often scared; often frightened. It’s ok. I feel the same. Remember- you’re doing well. Yes you made a couple of mistakes today. But you also did a lot right. Well done darling boy! Now, learn from those mistakes, and keep backing yourself.”

I am my own very best coach.

I give myself robust feedback. I critique my days and my performance. But I am kind to myself- I forgive my weaknesses and work gently but firmly to encourage me forward.

Just as my father did to me when I was 8 years old. He’s not around any more to do that to me now: to give me that hug and warm encouragement. So I do it to myself.

Weird? Maybe. Ok-  for some of you- absolutely! But it really helps me. It gives me strength.

And I hope it’s an idea of value to some of you. “Be kind,” as Plato said, “because everyone is fighting a tough battle.” And that includes you.  And me.

Big hug. Chris

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27 Responses to A Very Weird Story on How To Be Your Own Very Best Coach

  1. Eliane April 18, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    Hi Chris,
    I don’t think it’s weird at all. It’s important to be both critical of and kind to oneself. Without the former we’re unable to learn, but without the latter we’d crumple into pieces. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of kindness.

    • Chris Savage April 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

      Thanks Elaine

  2. Victoria Tulloch April 18, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Wow Chris, that must have been hard to write so thank you. Wise as always.

    • Chris Savage April 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

      Thanks Victoria

  3. Hannah April 18, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    I love that photo 🙂

    • Chris Savage April 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

      Yes. You might recognize yourself!

  4. D April 18, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    Thanks again for the heartwarming and wonderful post. Saving them all for future reading.

    Big hug back. D 🙂

    • Chris Savage April 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

      Thanks Dee

  5. Sam April 18, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Thanks Chris. I have just been put on to your site and really appreciate your free advice. And as directed, have been stealing your little pearls willy nilly. In this column what I really enjoyed was your opener. Way to get me reading to the end! The theme in this story reminds me of life advice that I believe came from John Cleese who used the analogy of a guided missile. Apparently the guided missile asks itself a billion times a second, “am I still on course?” and makes tiny little corrections each time. Always important to try and take a step back or look at your progress towards a destination and keep asking if you’re still on track. Thanks again. Sam

  6. Angus April 18, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Thanks for the really personal post Chris. Personal improvement goals are something I think we all let slide even though they are the ones that benefit ourselves and those around us. Be it health, education, skills or simply to take time for yourself and reflect, setting and achieving them help put everything in perspective. It takes energy to make energy! Good luck with the cigars. Angus

    • Chris Savage April 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

      Thanks Sam. I like that guided missile story and will claim it now as my own! Thanks again. chris

  7. Jo April 18, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Chris, love the honesty in your posts, having met you briefly and seeing what you’ve achieved your humility and openness is inspiring!

    • Chris Savage April 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      Thanks Jo. Appreciate the feedback. Chris

  8. MC Hammer April 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    Where is the unsubscribe button?

    • Chris Savage April 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      Now now MC Hammer. You’d miss me if you did not get your weekly hit.

  9. David Trewern April 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    Great post. One of the best yet.

    • Chris Savage April 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

      Thanks David- long time no hear on Possums so thought you had stopped reading them! great to have you back xxxx

  10. Ben Larkey April 18, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    Chris, I love the really different perspective you take to be better at who you are& what you do. This is no exception! I like it because most self critics are way to hard on themselves. The “8 yr old me” thinking balances things much better. Keep thinking please.

    • Chris Savage April 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

      Thanks Ben. Appreciate the comments! Where’s my ukelele? Chris

  11. Paul Wilcox April 19, 2012 at 8:15 am #

    Chris, your best ever post. “8 years old me” – I’ll always used “14 years old me”. Very powerful stuff. Keep them coming!

    • Chris Savage April 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

      Thanks Paul, appreciate it.

  12. Naomi April 19, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Incredible post. Katrina is a lucky woman to have a husband who tries so hard at everything. I try to do this as well but not everyday so this is a great reminder. I am too hard on myself so I think I’ll try to talk to the eight year old Naomi. Take care.

    • Chris Savage April 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

      Thanks Naomi, appreciate the feedback. Chris

  13. Brian April 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Always worth the read and always thought provoking. If we all did this honestly there would be less problems in all our dealings.Thanks

    • Chris Savage April 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

      Thanks Brian.

  14. Craig April 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    vulnerability is strength

  15. rob May 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Inspiring stuff mate, thanks for being so open and sharing a part of yourself

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