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