• What we can learn from athletes

  • What we can learn from athletes

    Clare Myatt, somatic, coaching, somatic coaching, psychotherapy, embodied, Strozzi, London, addiction, highly sensitive person

    A new book called The Golden Rules by Bob Bowman looks promising. Bob Bowman is a sports psychologist and swim coach, known for his work with one of the most decorated of Olympic athletes, Michael Phelps (22 medals, 18 of them gold). I don't know if he's studied NLP, but his research certainly suggests a similar approach - he studied exactly what distinguishes top coaches, just as the founders of NLP studied and then modelled highly successful individuals.

    He's come up with ten "golden rules." As a practicing coach none of the strategies are new to me, but he's organised them in an interesting way with lots of case studies and examples. Here they are:

    One: Establish a "Big Dream" vision - sometimes known as blue sky thinking, here's where we start in most coaching relationships. What do you want? What's your ambition? If you knew you could not fail, what would you attempt? For some, getting to this is easier said than done, and we may have some unpacking of childhood influences to do first (limiting beliefs, self-esteem concerns and so on).

    Two: Adopt an "all-in" attitude - this is about cultivating a positive, go-to attitude. Not only does this support your ambition and mood, it also engages others to come along for the ride. Steve Jobs was famous for his passionate attitude which, even when over-the-top, was nevertheless infectious.

    Three: Take risks and enjoy the rewards - some of us find it challenging to step out of our comfort zone and take risks, yet these are pretty much essential in expanding our horizons. All the great entrepreneurs have failed as many times as they've succeeded, risk being a simple component of the process.

    Four: Short-term goals lead to long-term success - Bowman talks about having a Game Plan, a meticulously planned daily agenda organised around success. Practicing something every day is going to make you good at it; the more you practice, especially consistently, the more likely you are to become masterful.

    Five: Live your vision every day - keeping your ambition front and centre is crucial to staying on track. This is about dedication, staying the course, living your commitment. Many in the public eye are crediting daily mindfulness meditation as the lynchpin to their success, starting their day with intention and groundedness, helping them stay focused.

    Six: A team approach leads to individual gains - you may not be part of a team, but having a support network championing your successes along the way makes all the difference. Think organisations like Weight Watchers for weight management, twelve-step groups for addiction recovery, a Sangha for sustaining a meditation practice.

    Seven: Stay motivated over the long haul - some days it's hard to get motivated, even for top athletes. Perhaps they introduce a new challenge, or vary their routine, or commit to just five minutes (and then invariably continue). 

    Eight: Adversity really does make you stronger - coaches have a stock phrase which goes like this: "breakdown to breakthrough." I can't tell you how many times someone has come to me and said they're facing a disaster. And then, miraculously, a silver lining emerges they couldn't possibly have foretold. Practicing new things is great preparation for facing new and unexpected challenges.

    Nine: Perform with confidence - I don't know if Bob Bowman knows Amy Cuddy's work around power poses and "fake it till you make it" but that's what I see here. This is about visualising success (because the unconscious doesn't know the difference between a vividly imagined and a real experience) AND embodying a confident attitude. The somatic approach I utilise will help here, teaching you to embrace your length, width and depth as you move through the world.

    Ten: Celebrate your achievement - Bowman talks about celebrating the smaller milestones along the way, reflecting on how his athletes often experience the "win" as way more important than the medal.

    My clients may not have won gold medals at the Olympics, but they've certainly reported great satisfaction with what they've been able to achieve through their work with me as part of their support team (see Six).

    If you're curious what coaching, especially somatic coaching, can do for you, please email or contact me.