A Journal - Why did I start Get Ahead Coaching?
(Reading time 5-8 minutes)
I worked with a client a few weeks ago and discussed the benefits of writing a journal to acquire clarity and perspective of business goals. After the session, I thought to myself it would be worthwhile re-doing this exercise myself and the process was invaluable, through writing my journal I connected with the Whys: Why did I start Get Ahead Coaching? Below are the three main experiences that formed the motivation for me to start.
The pro athlete - I was fortunate at a young age to be thrown into the world of elite sport. At the age of 15, I was taking trains alone across the UK to play rugby with players I had met that morning. We were given one opportunity to play to the best of our ability. I, fortunately, made it through the rounds year after year and managed to perform well enough to make the England age groups at U16, U18 and Under 21 level. I was nominated as the rising star in the local newspaper and celebrated in school assembly.
During this period of 5-6 years, It became very clear to me that the engine to success was not forged in the gym or on the training field, it was forged in the time away from the sport, within the alone time. An ability to reflect and take learnings, to reward ourselves with moments that went well, and dream of the greater values of those day to day tasks and to build motivation into the next week, month, season. This was the key to success. This abstract awareness led me to university to obtain an MSc in sport and exercise psychology to understand the process for myself and to get the coaching I wasn't getting from any coach or mentor. Unfortunately, my career ended too soon with a recurring injury to my lower back, although, at the peak of my time playing rugby I had taken the important lesson and made very aware that psychology becomes instrumental to consistency and progression the more elite you get.
The career change - At a young age, nobody tells you that the inevitable downside of becoming a professional athlete is that it involves a career change, not necessarily the one that would feature as a Julia Roberts movie, leaving behind the office for a new exciting adventure. This career change is unwanted, sometimes sudden, it's moving from the spotlight to the shadows, taking the 2nd choice life option at best. (At this point, I will move onto point 3 and come back to 2)
The fitness industry- Thankfully having a thirst for learning whilst playing rugby I had picked up a personal training certificate or two (thanks to Ian Smith, a wise man at Newcastle Falcons). I then ventured off on an 8-year mission to climb this ladder that took me to Hong Kong and back. Through this time I worked with a wide range of clients: Partners in global firms, celebrities, musicians, weekend warriors, young athletes, professional athletes and older retired couples.
One thing that was reinforced during this time is that, like my experience in pro sport, psychology is key. Those who got the goals they were after didn't have magical genetics, there isn't an optimal level of income or free time, those who got what they wanted had an ability to switch on that psychological engine and knew how to keep it running.
So, I combined my knowledge of psychology with my belief in its ability to provide results and started to introduce it to the fitness industry. I received very mixed feedback from both facility owners and individuals. Owners, on the whole, saw it as a new revenue stream and therefore a great idea, individuals either loved it or said nothing. Although nobody denied the influence of psychology I felt those who said nothing saw it as a bit of a Pandora's box not to be opened. One individual said he "buys new shoes once a month for motivation" and passed that off as a statistically significant method. Then there were a few others, individuals who took an interest, individuals who wanted to learn more, my own evangelists. I delivered seminars, went for coffees with members, skyped overseas, created systems for sports facilities and gyms. The feedback I got from them had an overwhelmingly common theme, The lessons learnt from mental skills training had an impact on their whole life, what they intended to use to reach a PB or lose a few pounds was also having a positive impact on their work and lifestyle as well.
The career change (continued)
I had moved to Hong Kong to facilitate a career change out of rugby, might I say I wasn't alone there with the same intentions. Moving away from the career you dreamed about since the age of 12 is tough, tough in that you need to convince yourself that what you are now doing is as good. Speaking from my own experience part of the difference lies in that whether it's valued or not, people are interested in you when you play pro sport and it becomes normal. You're in the spotlight, they give you a pat on the back when you are down, they celebrate the wins alongside you, you have a fresh stream of self-esteem every day. When you stop, it stops. No longer can you go to that stream, that great pass becomes irrelevant, the pats on the back stop as do the celebrations. At this point, you're in a shadow with a voice in your head. That voice is either going to get you through to find a new spotlight or it's going to chip away at your self-esteem. It's at this point that mental skills are imperative.
Yes, we can go to a psychologist and yes there may be a stigma. I have found my own personal spotlight to be developing Get Ahead, a way to get into the shadows of others. Not to remove the stigma but to assist in its replacement. An accessible and practical way to work on mental skills, whether it's to get on a cross-country train at 15 on your own, to help you lose a few pounds, to get a PB or a set of skills to really fall back on when the light is turned off. Mental skills training should come first, it's not Pandora's box, it's progress, it's potential, it's power.
Writing my journal took me 30 minutes, it gave me insight, it gave me motivation, it gave me understanding. Get Ahead Coaching has three core values; Growth, Honesty, Communication and strives to support, challenge and inspire people to reach their potential and ultimately proud to be the best version of themselves.