The holiday season is quickly approaching, a fact that is all too easy to see when you walk in to any department store chain (Note: I prefer to not decorate until after another VERY important holiday has been observed, that being Remembrance Day {Veterans Day for our American friends; sorry}). Invariably one movie that will be played many times during the season is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. We should all be familiar with this tale, about a man who is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. This will become the basis for my blog today.
Each one of us lives our lives based on how events in our past have shaped us. Like the waters of the magnificent Colorado River shaped the Grand Canyon, so too have our current lives been carved from the flow of our past. These events and emotions are a critical piece in to how we perceive and react to actions in the present. I’d like to share a quote by Heraclitus that I believe illustrates my point well: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
As Aspire Health & Performance turns the page to our 4th year of operations, it would be foolish to not look in the rear view mirror. The past serves to give us information on the efficacy on our actions. Using the scientific method, we would have had a hypothesis about how a program, marketing strategy etc. would work. Looking back, we can determine if our assumptions were correct, and if not, look for the clues that could make them more effective. The clues, signs and omens are always there, but you have to be in a mindset to see them. This is how we evolve; quiet reflection on days past to create a plan to move forward. In another example, as of this writing it has been two days since what many thought was very unlikely actually happened. My advice to our American friends, and all of the sudden political pundits, is to use this strategy. The vote happened and it can’t be changed. Use the lessons learned from this campaign, and there are plenty of them, to identify what the actual issues of the present are, then create a plan to address them. Protests, complaining, etc. will not change what has happened, nor will it change what will happen. My suggestion is to spend time and energy focussing on how to maximize the current situation, regardless of what the perceived future may look like. If one does not spend all of their time looking ahead, they just might find that the present isn’t so bad.
I recently took a wonderful vacation filled with amazing sights and experiences. I was asked before I left to take lots of photos When I returned, more than a few times I was asked why I haven’t posted any photos of my trip to Facebook, as others wanted to know what it looked like. My answer, I didn’t take many. I made a conscious decision during this time to live in the moment and truly experience it. I feel that so many people try to capture the moment for eternity by taking a photo that they don’t truly and fully experience the moment. A photo is something from the past, and surely you can re-create the emotions by looking at it, but was it a truly emotional experience? In the haste to capture the perfect picture in which the clouds did not obstruct the top of the volcano, did you realize what the sights, smells and sounds were in that exact moment? Did you fully embrace the fact that you are witnessing something that few people in this world ever will? Did you fully immerse yourself so much in the experience that it touched you right down to your soul? If you did, then a photo isn’t needed, as you will hold on to past experience well into the future, because you were truly present.
This also applies to coaching. To achieve maximum performance, there must be a periodization plan in place. Starting at the end (the future), we work backwards to create a road map that guides us in our efforts to elicit physiological responses. I have heard many times that the plan is THE most important part of the process. Without knowing where we are going, how can we get there? I have come to the point in my career that I believe this to be wrong. The most important part of the process is the current one. Each day presents new challenges in training. You must know how the client adapted to the session(s) in the past, but more so know how they will react to the present session. Each training session has its own challenges. Did the client not get enough sleep because their child is ill? Did they slip on the ice and something in the body doesn’t feel quite right? The “plan” cannot account for this. This is why each current training session is the most important. We try to get the best out of what we have to work with in the present. If we do that each and every session, then small victories will lead to winning the war. Do not put the cart before the horse. Looking ahead to a goal that is 4 years away, such as Tokyo 2020, which a few of our clients are already working on, can be very daunting. But as coaches if we can re-frame the client’s focus to the present, to each set, then we can start to chip away at what once looked like an insurmountable obstacle. Mindset wins every time.
So if you have actually taken the time to read the almost 1000 words that I have spewed so far, I challenge you to examine how present you are. Do you spend all of your time in the past? Do you constantly plan for the future? Or do you live and coach in the moment. If you actually immerse yourself in the here and now, you just might find that this is a pretty fricken cool world.


Shane Pizzey

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