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Short Rant on Importance of Continuing Education

July 16, 2018

This is a post that is coming a bit off the cuff but its on a topic that everyone has heard of and with different things currently going on around me, I have been getting a bit fired up regarding the idea of continuing education and why it should be a staple to any professional, regardless of discipline.

 

I have pretty firm beliefs surrounding things I can do as a coach to make my athletes and clients better. I have a good idea of what, as an athlete, I can do to make myself better and what I am looking for in a coach who can make me better. However, these beliefs and ideas, though firm, are not fixed. It’s a mental shift I have had to undergo over the past year or so, allowing myself to begin to grow again as an athlete and as a coach. I was reading something on Instagram, it might have been a repost by Perform Better, talking about the development of a trainer, and how, when we start off, we don’t know anything and everything is a learning experience. Somewhere around a year and a half to two years into our careers we have become comfortable with what we are doing, we have a niche maybe, we can deliver results, we have it figured out. The idea that we are now the smartest in the room is not a crazy one… This will last for a little bit, some people might never come out of this hole, but those who do will begin to see after about another year that, hold on, there is all this other stuff I haven’t learned or conflicts with my beliefs, and it WORKS??? Mind. Blown. From this point, we start learning again and hopefully that trend continues for the rest of our careers, we continue learning and developing because, low and behold, we really don’t actually know everything and we certainly are not the smartest in the room…

 

So what is the point of this story? Recently, I have been looking at coaches from different sports and trying to decide what makes some more successful that others, and the one thing I keep coming back to is that the ones who are the leaders in their fields/sports are constantly learning. They are always reading, networking, having their ideas challenged by other coaches or results and see objectively assessing what they are doing. If a coach is doing what they have always done because either “that’s how we did things” or because “its always been successful in the past” I think they are the ones who will either get left behind before too long or will lose the buy in from their athletes, especially if they are not seeing the success they used to have.

 

This is not a demand for a coach to change up their training program, because for a lot of coaches, they are successful with what they are doing and their program has stayed successful for many years; but not opening up philosophy for challenge is to neglect everything new being learned/discovered/confirmed by research and other coaches over the past 10, 20, or 30 years. Who knows, going to a conference or reading an article on training might give you some ideas for slight tweaks to a program you have that just might make it better. You won’t know until you try it. Personally, my sport of rowing is one that hasn’t changed much in the last 50 years in terms of the way training has been done, but there are a few coaches cropping onto the scene who are looking at trying new things with their athletes and, for some, the results have been pretty good. I look forward to seeing who the next powerhouse coaches are in this sport at the elite level and how many of them are doing what they have always done versus those who are allowing themselves to develop something new and probably better.

 

Moral of this shpeel: Read, talk to people, connect with like- and unlikeminded individuals. You can not expect to deliver the best results possible to your athletes, clients, co-workers, boss, employees, etc, it you are not constantly trying to develop and finetune your own knowledge base and philosophy. Assess areas you are weak in, whether they be something technical in the workplace or a character trait, and work on it. No one is perfect and you are not the smartest in the room, if you are, find another room. 

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