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Coaching Yourself to Win

“Words that are UPlifting always get better results than those that are DOWNputting” While reading about tennis legend, Martina Navratilova I came across a story about one of her first tennis coaches. It seems that this coach was egging the young Martina on by saying things like “if you play like that you’ll never be a professional champion,” while telling anyone who asked that the ONLY female player she was coaching who stood a chance was Martina. Martina, despairing of ever being good enough to please her coach, nearly left the game. She didn’t quit - in fact, she was the Number One player for 7 years and still plays on the World Team Tennis circuit as a guest celebrity. Her career wins include 18 singles and 41 doubles Grand Slam titles, including a record 9 Wimbledons, and a total of 167 singles titles and 178 doubles titles. Of course, her coach was only coaching Martina the way she herself had been coached, but it almost backfired. If it had, the world would have been deprived of some great tennis, but that is the LEAST of Martina’s impact. She has campaigned for equality in women’s tennis, is an active supporter of animal rights programs, she volunteers and contributes generously to organizations that advocate for underprivileged children and serves as the Health and Fitness Ambassador for AARP. Impact that would have likely not been accessible to Martina if she had turned her back on a career in tennis. It led me to think about coaching methods - both as a coach and as a client. I’m not a huge sports...

A Rose by Any Other Name

Still cannot be forced to bloom. “Personal growth is not something to be forced but something to be nurtured and guided - an organic evolution of self. Plant yourself in fertile soil and welcome both the sunshine and the rain. The glory is in the bloom, but the essence is in the roots.” As a coach I hear it often, “I need to work on my personal growth, but I can’t spare the time away from my business.”  To that common statement I offer two challenges: First; growth isn’t something you can force, it is something that must be nurtured and that is a daily endeavor, not a project to be undertaken when you have the time. Second; you are the driving force in your business (or your career.) Without you increasing your value as an individual how can you expect to increase your value to your clients (or employer?) Have you ever purchased or been given a bare-root rose bush? There it is, looking like something from a Louisiana swamp, all knotted and spindly and prickly and decidedly not pretty. Usually it comes wrapped in a plastic casing with a picture of what you can expect (or at least hope for) when you have done your part. The picture shows a verdant plant with glossy leaves and swirls and whirls of color and the text describes the scent in language that might be equally suited to an expensive wine, or at least cologne. You read the directions and, unless you are an expert rose gardener or willing to take a risk of messing this one up, you probably...

Here be Dragons

What if one day you saw a dragon flying overhead? Wings spread wide, scales glinting in the sunshine, and flames erupting from his maw – a real, live dragon. Would you say “that is a dragon”? I doubt it. Your mind would struggle to make sense out of the non-sense being fed to it by your eyes. Because your brain “knows” that dragons only exist in fairy tales and J.R.R. Tolkein stories. If we do not believe it is possible we won’t recognize it when it is right before our eyes. It is a common barrier to living our dreams – not believing in the “impossible.”  Instead we buy into things like “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m not creative” or “I’m too old” and add “so it is impossible for me.” Ask yourself “what if it were possible? What if my age didn’t matter and my creative abilities were validated?”  It’s called “suspending disbelief” – we do it when we read books or see movies about dragons for instance. We don’t believe that dragons fly our friendly skies along with the jets and the geese, but we are willing to believe in dragons in the context of the story. Now ask yourself, “IF that were possible, what else would be possible?” This is your story. If it has dragons in it then you need to believe in dragons. What else do you need to see in order to create your happy ending? What belief is keeping you from seeing what is right before your eyes? What possibilities might exist that you can’t see because you do not believe they...