Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Art of Conversation

This article was written by my Joint Venturer, Alex Pilz on July 20th in his blog and as you can see it is about Conversations and the traps one can encounter.

The Art of Conversation

alex02flip[1] In their quest for success, professional sports organisations increasingly develop home grown talent through an academy system.  Alternatively they can buy the ready made product from abroad or the club next door.  When current performance, long term development and profit are advanced, different pathways to success can be achieved.  There is evidence, for example in the EPL (English premiere league), that current and short-term success has been pursued at the expense of a sustainable business model.  The LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) presents another variation of trying to get this balance right.  Possible success stories include home grown talent being sold for profit (with an elaborate contract) or graduating into a starting line-up direct.  Similarly, success for an Olympic team may imply securing and maintaining sponsorship to compete in the once a life time spectacle.

alex01c-full[1]Within the ambit of developing young talent there is a conversational trap that athletes easily fall into.  Falling into a conversational trap is a powerful unseen killer of access to goal-directed effort.

Have you given advice and offered ideas that have not been implemented?  How has this impacted your ability to keep your athletes goal directed and motivated.

The conversational trap is the disconnect between, on the one hand our experiences, memories and points of view and, on the other hand the action that we take in the here and now.  Our experiences, memories and points of view show themselves in the conversations we have with ourselves [and others].  These conversations become major determinants in producing our behaviour.  As soon as we act it is reassigned to our library of experiences and memories creating and reinforcing our points of view.  We are always in conversation, that is, with ourselves (for example, dreaming can also be a form of conversation).  Participating in inner conversations is what may be called a sergeant major or a journalist.  The role of the sergeant major/journalist is to be right – barking instructions or passing endless judgements.  These contributions are certainly always destructive.  Important is that the sergeant major/journalist is too wily to be dethroned by a simple instruction (a conversation), issued by a coach or the self saying, for example “don’t think of red bears”.

The conversational trap described is a performance driver often overlooked which can bring the process of achieving desired results to a grinding halt.  Coaches and managers may not be privy to the inner conversations of athletes.  However, let’s face it all action produce results.  The question is are the results desirable or undesirable.

Compounding this conversational trap is the phenomenon where an individual says “yes” or “no” implying “depends on” or “maybe”.   The result of which may leave coaches thinking their instructions or strategic ideas fall on deaf ears.

I will train and teach conversational techniques and skills for both athletes and coaches to help athletes produce desired performances and, for coaches to have increased confidence in their ability to influence and mobilise goal directed effort.

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