That's a mission statement and while it can look good as a tagline, I believe that much more needs to be explained and, more importantly, done in order to give it life. There is a framework that gives this statement meaning and purpose.
The three key words in that statement are mindful, purposeful, and proactive. Those words can be interpreted in different ways and can have different inferences attached. This is what those three words mean to me in the context of coaching and learning.
- Mindful: engaged with and aware of self, surroundings, and situation (without judgement to gain wisdom)
- Purposeful: possessing clear goals, meanings, and intentions
- Proactive: creating situations that move towards goals and anticipate future needs and changes
Helping others to be purposeful requires that I be purposeful myself. To that end, I want to illustrate the framework that I am using to exist and function in a teaching/learning environment. I recognize that there are different frameworks that can be constructed and I encourage you to create your own after engaging in research and introspection. A deep knowledge and incorporation of this framework allows all that I do in teaching and learning to flow from it and retain coherency. I believe that this coherency is perhaps the most important manifestation of purposefulness.
I believe that being purposeful and proactive go hand in hand. The work of creating a rich and coherent framework must come before I apply it to my coaching. I think that I must then help the athletes to understand the framework I am creating around and with them. The other end of the spectrum is what I think of as "Titanic coaching", where coach and athlete don't know what they are trying to sail around until after they run into it. (This is a form of reactive coaching, which I'll have more to say about in the future.) While the path of learning may not be straight, we can still define that path clearly, which will help us be more efficient and successful in our coaching and learning.
So the most engaging, meaningful, and productive coaching and learning I can do is a product of the deliberate creation of a framework and the sharing of that framework with those I teach and learn with. By sharing and modeling this work, we encourage those around us to adopt similar efforts.
Here are the pillars of my personal coaching framework:
- Growth Mindset: Almost everything we do is a skill or is composed of skills rather than fixed talents or abilities. We can improve our skills through deliberate practice.
- Proactive Thinking/Focus Cycle: Our typical thought process is reactive, which leaves us feeling as though we do not have as much control over our thoughts and actions as we really do. Shifting to a proactive thinking cycle frees us to perform closer to our current potential.
- Mindfulness and Single Item Focus: Being aware of the skills we are performing as well as how we would like to perform them, often to the exclusion of other things, helps us to clarify our performance as well as to shape how we want to perform in the future.
- Shared Language and Vision: As coaches, we are at our best when we fully engage our athletes. To fully engage an athlete, we must deliberately work on building a language that is understood by both. Further, we must use that language to articulate what we want to accomplish together.
- Coherency and Consistency: We are more likely to understand and trust people who are clear and consistent in their intentions and actions. To more effectively teach, I must always work to keep an athlete's trust by being constant in a sea of change.
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
- Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone, Sheila Heen
- Motor Control and Learning: A Behavioral Emphasis by Richard A. Schmidt, Tim Lee
- Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness by Richard M. Ryan, Edward L. Deci
- The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by W. Timothy Gallwey
- The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer
- Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- American Development Model by the US Olympic Committee
- USOC Quality Coaching Framework by the US Olympic Committee