If you’re a coach and you’re a woman then you may be interested in the Women’s Coaching Network, launched last night by Wesport at the Watershed in Bristol.
The aim of the Network is simple – put female coaches in touch with each other, offer them support in their development, and go from there…! Anything is possible!
Last night was a mixture of inspiration, activity, and learning. Definitely worthwhile.
About twenty coaches from all different sports turned up to kick things off. The number of sports represented was great – tennis, cycling, rugby, football, squash, rowing, kayaking, martial arts, table tennis and I’m sure that I’ve missed a few…
After Nicola was the seasoned coach Sue Rose (nee Wright). Sue has been coaching for nearly 25 years – this, in addition to winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal, bronze medal, 11 World Titles, and 4 times British National Champion in squash. Inspirational doesn’t even begin to describe it.
For me though, the highlight of the night was Abbe Brady – a sports psychologist from the University of Gloucestershire. After getting us all on our feet and shakin’ our hips to some hula hoop madness (can you believe that I didn’t get any pictures?! I was too busy hooping!), Abbe turned our attention to the concept of mindset.
Okay now this was COMPLETELY LIFE CHANGING STUFF for me. What I discovered last night was a bit like finding out that Father Christmas really does exist. Yes, it was that big. THAT BIG!
It turns out that 40% of the population has a “fixed” mindset, 40% have a “growth” mindset, and the other 20%, well, who knows what kind of mind they have. I don’t. But I do know that, until last night, I was VERY SQUARELY of a fixed mindset.
What I didn’t know is that it is just a mindset. I can change my mind at any time! And I have. And now I want to change other people’s minds (hopefully yours!). And if you’re a coach, you’ll want to change other people’s minds too – especially the people that you’re coaching.
Okay, so what am I going on about already! Cut. To. The. Chase.
Fixed mindset people believe that most success can be attributed to natural ability. You’ve either got it. Or you don’t. Putting in effort will only take you so far. You have to have the natural talent to back it up.
Specifically, fixed mindset people would say that 100% success is based on 65% natural ability and 35% hard work or effort.
I was one of the 40% of people who believed this to be a fact. Like the sky is blue kind of fact. Like chocolate is oh so yummy kind of fact. Like when a tree falls it makes a noise kind of fact. A FACT.
But no no no no no no… this is just a mindset! It is not a fact at all. It is not a truth at all. It is one big huge fat lie designed to make us STOP TRYING!
Has anyone ever told you that you’re not sporty? Or not clever? Or not artistic? Or not anything else…??? Well you can tell those people to go and stuff it (in the nicest possible way) because they’ve got it all wrong.
With a little bit (or a lot) of elbow grease and some effort, you can be all those things or anything else that you fix your efforts on.
And that would make you a “growth” person.
So why does this matter? Well, lets look at some of the characteristics of fixed versus growth people and you can see which camp you want to be pitching up at.
Those with a fixed mindset view effort as a reflection of low ability or low intelligence. If you have to work at it then it must mean you’re no good. Fixed people want immediate results.
Fixed people compare themselves to others. They see success as winning and they want to win. But they want to win using the least amount of effort.
And when they lose? Fixed people will get upset because they view whatever it is they are doing as something natural to them, as part of who they are. So by failing at that thing it means they aren’t who they thought they were. Failure is a personal attack on your self-esteem. Failure may make you distraught, angry, or despair.
By valuing success so highly (or fearing failure so much) fixed people limit themselves by restricting their challenges to only those things that they know they can win. Or they choose things that are so impossible that when they lose they can say “well it was impossible anyway so it doesn’t matter”. They set themselves up to win or set themselves up to fail. But they restrict themselves in either case.
Growth people think that the more effort you put in, the better! It means you’re improving and that you can improve. Learning is a good thing. Trying hard and doing one’s best is important.
Growth people see success as multi-faceted. It isn’t all about winning. They want to learn and improve using self-referenced goals. They are patient and see the bigger picture.
If you’re a growth person then you’ll seek hard but realistic challenges. The kind of challenges that you might win but you might lose. It’s a gamble. But either way you’ll learn something about yourself and use that to improve.
When you fail you are motivated to try again. Growth people see failure as a wake up call. Failure offers information and insight into how to improve and how to do better next time. Just keep putting that effort in!
So, as a coach, knowing that 40% of the people you coach will be fixed and 40% will be growth, how can you change your technique to make sure you’re getting the most from each individual that you coach?
That’s challenge number one.
But challenge number two, is how can we get fixed people to let the scales fall from their eyes and realise that the reason they do well at something is only in very small part because of their natural ability. The truth is that what you put in, you get out. So keep putting it in!
And don’t expect immediate results.
When you do sport you’ve got to leave your ego at the door. It’s not about other people. It’s about yourself and the best that you can be.
Now maybe this isn’t a light-bulb moment for you. I don’t know if you’re a fixed person or a growth person. But for me it really was a life changing talk.
I have given up on so many things in the past because I didn’t see immediate results. No immediate results meant that I discounted the possibility of ever being good. I have lived a life where I’ve never really tried at anything that I didn’t already know that I was good at.
And when I’ve failed… well, it’s been devestating. I’ve slammed doors shut that should still be stood wide open.
So today is a new day for me. And I hope for many others too – perhaps for 40% of the coaches in the room last night and maybe even 40% of the people that they coach.
To join the Women’s Coaching Network, please contact:
Richard Colman, Project Manager (Coaching)
Telephone: 0117 328 6250
The Women’s Coaching Network is only just getting started – they are keen to hear your ideas of what you want so that they can tailor activities, support and offerings to you and your needs. That could mean a mentoring programme, bursaries, skills training, psychology, etc. etc. etc. It could mean anything that will help you in your coaching!