This past month I attended my Level 2 CrossFit Coaching Course. I experienced a revelation, an epiphany, whatever you want to call it. I am always learning. I spend a significant amount of time daily, devoted to mastering my craft. But I always choose what I am learning. I choose what to focus on, and now looking back, I see that it was not always what I needed to be learning at that moment.
During the course in Calgary, the focus is on the coaches attending. How we move, how we coach others and how effective we are at those things. During the Level 1 Course years before, they broke up the attendees into small groups and had us stand in a circle. We were then coached through movements. They then identify someone who have a problem with the movement, pull them into the center of the circle to show the others how to instruct that person to move better. I was never picked to go into the center. I took pride in that. I am a good mover I told myself. Fast forward to the Level 2 course this past month. This course, was not about being a good mover, it is about teaching. The art of instructing others and how to ring out every last bit of efficiency. Needless to say, they found room for improvement in my movement and my coaching.
I found myself at the receiving end of criticism, directed at my coaching of a group of my fellow peers standing around me. Instantly I felt embarrassment (they were all judging me) then came the anger (how dare they judge me I am a good mover and a good Coach). I was standing there with a world-class coach giving me advice on how to effectively coach a movement. Advice I had paid for. And none of it was sinking in. My ego was blocking the way.
I credit the book, ‘Ego Is The Enemy’, by Ryan Holiday for what happened next. I realized the coach standing in front of me was not there to judge me; he was not there to demean me. His sole purpose there was to make me a better coach, to impart his considerable knowledge and experience to all of us participants. The other course attendees were not watching me suffer, they were mining the situation for valuable information and tips. I also realized this course could go one of two ways. I could continue to get defensive at the slightest hint of criticism and waist all the valuable coaching or I could set my ego aside and soak up as much information as possible. (I also realized I was having a conversation in my head.) I needed to tell myself to shut up, get present, and listen. That alone is a whole separate topic for another day.
What I did in that conversation in my head is improve my coachability. A term I first heard from listening to a Ben Bergeron podcast called, ‘Chasing Excellence’. For those of you who don’t know who Ben Bergeron is, he is the coach of the Fittest Man on Earth Matt Fraser and the past Fittest Woman on Earth, . Ben talks about being open mined and eager for knowledge. He uses Matt Fraser as an example, he told Matt to change his rope climb technique to save time on rope climbs. Matt did not say, “Sure I will give that some thought”. He went out and tried hundreds of rope climbs with the new technique to see what the time saved would be. He didn't blindly accept it. He was open to it and then tested it out extensively. That is coachability.
I set my ego aside for the rest of the course and listened. I have pages and pages of notes to prove it. The whole weekend was a gold mine of valuable information learned in a room with great people. I am happy I realized it soon enough to benefit from it.