This is a short article as much about my experience as it is mindset. I am extremely proud of how far the Andorran Alpine Ski Team has progressed over the last 2 and a half years. Leaps and bounds in all areas including ski performance, physical capacity, training mentality, nutrition, discipline and more, but I’ll openly admit that I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way and we still have a long way to go. After all, they aren’t world champions YET.
Enabling athletes to be better at doing what they do best is why I’m in this and learning from failures, however big or small is a huge part of that process.
I believe my purpose is to positively impact the lives and performance of others. In doing so, I believe in leading by example and setting high standards. So here’s 3 key values I live and work by, which by definition mean that I will always be a failure:
I’m not perfect: As much as I try to be the perfect role model, I’m not. I can let my frustrations get the better of me (my girlfriend bares the brunt of that), I try to pick my battles but sometimes I pick too many and as much as I love training, I do too much, strength gains come and go alongside motivation and vanity. With regards to coaching, I don’t get things right at first attempt, I have my weaknesses and I have made plenty of mistakes. The key to it all is that I view failure as an opportunity to learn, grow and improve. Failure is a positive thing, especially when you consciously reflect on it daily and identify how you could have acted better. I believe I’m always learning and improving, not just as a coach but a human being and when faced with similar challenges that I’ve failed in the past, I should be better prepared next time.
No one’s perfect: Athletes certainly aren’t. I’ve worked with Olympic gold medalists who ate McDonald’s, England rugby players who party mid game week and skiers who worked to the Lombardi rule in reverse. The good thing is they don’t anymore (well the skiers at least). Athlete education is a continual process. It takes time to break bad habits and form new ones, let alone retain the information in a 21st century adolescent mind and have the discipline to stick to it. It also takes time to earn the trust and respect of those who you get to work with. Personally I find self reflection a powerful tool; I can’t begin to explain how far we’ve come and are still moving in the right direction. So what if some athletes still forget to bring their programmes to the gym. Maybe they can work on that or maybe I can provide a foolproof method so that they don’t need to. The important things are that they’re doing what they love, in a way that they love; they’re fitter, faster and stronger; they train with intent and intensity whilst performing to the best of their abilities and it shows through their results on the snow.
There’s always room for improvement. Finally, no matter how far we’ve come, no matter how great we’ll be in the future, there will always be room for improvement. There will always be opportunities to improve physically, technically and mentally. By focussing on this process and sharing a drive for progress, I am confident we’ll continue to go from strength to strength. By acknowledging in advance that there will be plenty of obstacles and failures to come will hopefully help us identify them when they do and reflect on such ways to make further performance gains.
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Lifting heavy weights and getting stronger is easy. Making positive changes to an organisation and culture, changing mindsets, attitudes, habits and belief systems is not. However, gaining trust through a clear shared purpose with the athletes’ and team’s best interests at heart certainly helps.
I’m glad to get some thoughts down in writing again. I’m sure it helps me more than anyone else who reads it but feedback is always welcome and please share your thoughts.
Thanks for reading.