For me, coaching is a process, or a set of processes, within a performance discipline. As I understand it, coaching can be divided into three main categories.
There are the traditional two – Learning and Conditioning – and then there’s Performance.
This is an educative process, about the “what is” and the “how to” of anything at all. If you think about it, this covers everything from learning our ABC and basic mathematics, through movements and actions right across the spectrum to academic subjects, sciences and abstract notions, beliefs and philosophies. Interestingly, no one ever teaches us “how to” learn though, do they? Probably because our best learning happens before we enrol at any educational establishment!
Conditioning is a repetitive and “muscle-building” type of process. It is about getting better and more consistent at the “what is” and the “how to” of anything.
When we go to school, some of our time is spent getting better at things we have already learnt. This is conditioning. A lot of the time when we go to the gym, we are conditioning our bodies – whereas at our first visits we are more learning the processes than conditioning the body. We learn something new at work, or even a new job, and then condition ourselves to perform it better. We practice our sport to condition ourselves, and perhaps learn some new actions along the way. We are taught a great deal about conditioning.
You could say that Learning and Conditioning are all about Personal Development – developing our knowledge and skills and our ability to deliver them consistently whenever is necessary. Now this is where Performance comes in, since performance is about the practicality of delivering our skills and knowledge.
Performance is where our Mind comes into play in a very BIG way, for we are not robots, we are humans. We are amazing – certainly; yet also emotionally fragile and susceptible. Now we rarely get taught about HOW to perform – it is another of those things we are expected to get on and do, as best we can! Yet we are constantly judging and being judged on it.
Of course, we CAN get better at performance – we aren’t lumbered with what we were born with! This is why coaching Performance also involves some Learning and Conditioning. If you think about it, we are performing something, indeed many things, every single day of our lives. From brushing our teeth, eating breakfast, going to work at whatever “Rocket Science” it is that we do, shopping, going out on a date, and so on ad infinitum. It is ALL performance – and these are ALL performances!
Public Speaking, for instance, is something we all tend to get hung up on – in varying degrees. There is often some illogicality to the ‘hang up’ as well. I used to be comfortable performing anything musical in public and yet JUST speaking was quite different. Therefore, my own personal coaching journey in this area was a real eye opener in terms of learning, conditioning and performing. Even up until recently I was aware that I was now OK in front of people though not yet in front of a camera. Sorting out my performing to the ‘inhuman’ nature of the camera was my last great “hang up.”
The thing with performance is this, no matter who you talk to about it – from Olympic athletes, actors and musicians, master chefs and rocket scientists, right down to You and Me: It is a very personal journey, populated by our wishes, our self-beliefs, our state of mind carried into the moment, our curiosities, our perseverance and our focus. Oddly enough, these are all things within our CONTROL – yet we often feel disengaged from that control during our Performance!
A Performance coach is like a pilot, who will guide the “Ship of You” through the waters, the rocks, the sandbanks and other hazards, to enable you to set sail on a journey through the ocean of discovery. You must always remember it is YOUR ship!