Your job as a coach is to fill those you serve—your downline, business associates, students, children, and yourself—with this belief system centered on unconditional faith. To give unbridled passion, spirit, and effort to a worthwhile goal we must step beyond the comfort zone into the challenge zone. It is in this uncharted territory that we open up the possibility of overcoming a lifetime of fear and doubt.
In the challenge zone we position ourselves for truly extraordinary moments of inner triumph where real transformation can occur.
Coaching is all about facilitating this kind of transformation whether in your network marketing business, in your relationships, or in yourself. I had the unforgettable experience of coaching an athlete who found the courage to move into the challenge zone. Our relationship taught me that only when you see the best in others do you have the chance to inspire it. NULL Throughout his swimming career, Ron was the kind of young man who caused coaches to shake their heads in disappointment and throw their hands up in frustration. Like that distributor you signed up several months ago who you knew had all the tools to build a dynamic organization, Ron was blessed with considerable natural ability. But he skated by, never digging deep to bring out his true potential. His attendance at practice was as unpredictable as the weather. Just when you’d begin to think he had turned the corner in his commitment, he would disappear for days at a time, negating any progress he’d made in conditioning and focus. He had enough talent to do pretty well even with his half-hearted effort, and he was friendly and easy going, never confrontational or angry. He simply didn’t seem to care that much. Ron joined my team as he was about to enter his senior year in high school when he and the rest of his former club merged with ours to create a real United States Swimming powerhouse. I had seen him at meets over the years and knew of both his talent and his reputation for lackadaisical training habits. What I didn’t know when he walked onto my pool deck that September afternoon, was that buried beneath Ron’s happy-go-lucky exterior beat the heart of a champion. There was a spirit filled with passion and energy within him just aching to come out.
He was just frightened, like all of us when we hide from our possibilities.
What if he gave his best, and it wasn’t good enough? What if he fully committed himself and failed? It was so much easier to amble along on talent alone, protected by the invisible comfort zone called “unrealized potential.” Ron’s past coaches had tried to needle him into caring, a strategy that clearly did not work over the long term. Occasionally just out of spite he would respond with an “I’ll show you!” effort, but quickly he would slide back even further into his blasé attitude. I have never believed in sarcasm as a motivator because the energy it evokes comes from embarrassment, fear, or revenge. These emotions can generate short-term results, but not long-term thriving inspiration. From the moment Ron joined our team, I focused on his potential and praised him for every effort that moved him a little closer to it.
When it comes to coaching, what you focus on is what you create!
You must see what’s possible in the people you coach, even when they don’t see it themselves. After his first week with the team, Ron came to me after practice and said, “Coach, I’m having so much fun here! You really believe in me, don’t you?” I responded, “Ron, you’ve been a joy to have here this week. You’ve got everything it takes to be the CIF champion if you decide it’s something you truly want. You could have an amazing senior year. The greatest fun in life is to put your heart and soul on the line one hundred percent and to discover what’s really inside of you. I do believe in you, and I’m really excited to be your coach.” He smiled and turned just a tad red. But I could see the positive impact of the faith I had expressed in him far outweighed any embarrassment he felt receiving such big compliments. After that talk, Ron became a dream for me to train. In all my years of coaching, never had I worked with an athlete who tried harder and had more fun doing it. Many of my athletes were incredibly hard-working, but so often these dedicated kids were extremely tough on themselves emotionally. They would beat themselves up about one poor practice or performance, completely forgetting weeks of outstanding efforts. But when Ron made the decision to go for it, he placed his full faith in me and in himself. On the rare occasions when he didn’t have his usual snap and power, he never let his positive spirit dissipate. As a result, he had few sub par days and bounced back from any disappointment almost immediately. More than any swimmer I’d ever had the pleasure to coach, Ron looked inside himself to determine his success rather than evaluating himself by what everyone else thought or what happened on the outside.
Even on days when he didn’t turn in his fastest practice times, he was able to feel good about his effort. With this fresh, centered spirit, Ron improved dramatically.
By the time the high school season began, Ron was performing workout sets and drills I had never seen accomplished before. And he loved every minute of it. He came to practice each day with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye that seemed to say, “Come on, Coach, let’s see what we can do today!” Where years of cajoling and ridicule had left him uninspired and uncommitted, he responded to praise and positive energy with boundless enthusiasm. His attitude and effort had quite an effect on the entire team. For the first time in his life, Ron knew what it felt like to be admired. He became our team leader because of his extraordinary example. His enthusiasm was infectious, and all the kids seemed to have more bounce in their steps and worked harder while complaining less. Practices had never been so fun and so effective. It was hard to believe how swiftly the year had flown by when we arrived at East Los Angeles City College for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) High School Championship prelims. Ron was to swim three events, the two hundred-yard individual medley (fifty yards of each of the four competitive strokes), the one hundred-yard backstroke, and a leg on his school’s medley relay. With all my heart, I wanted this young man to experience a moment of great triumph at his high school championship. He deserved no less. The prelims were the qualifiers for the finals that would take place three days later. Because of his fine performances during the dual meet season, Ron was seeded in the top three in both of his individual events, though there was no clear favorite. The top swimmers were closely bunched within a few tenths of a second of one another. In the sport of swimming, just as in network marketing, top performers work extremely hard. These determined kids rise each morning around 4:30 and hit the water by 5:00 a.m. for a two-hour workout before school. Then, after a full day in classes, they come back for an evening workout, another grueling two-hour test of stamina. On top of their endless hours in the pool, they lift weights four days a week. As a result, during the season, they are dead tired. The entire training strategy points at one shining light at the end of an exhausting tunnel—the taper and peak period. This is the three weeks or so before the big meet when they stop morning practices and gradually reduce the intensity of their afternoon workouts. With the added rest, their muscles and spirits begin to rejuvenate, and they prepare psychologically for their best performances. It is a very exciting time for a swimmer. With a couple of days to go before the target competition, the kids begin to feel so much energy they could pop! The last big step is to “shave down.
” The night before the big meet the kids shave the hair from their arms, legs, back, stomach—some even shave their heads, though most opt for a cap or short haircut. When they hit the water after shaving they feel incredible—it’s as if they are suddenly lighter than air. It’s truly an amazing sensation and a huge boost mentally and emotionally. For the preliminaries, Ron and I decided that he would not shave down. Though it was slightly risky, we felt confident he would easily qualify in the top eight anyway, and then would have an extra edge when he shaved for the finals.