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FROM THE EDITOR Sweet are the uses of adversity, Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head; WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE Luxury, comfort, safety; we say we want these things, we work hard to have them but they are the polar opposite of what makes us. We are all forged by the adversities we have faced and overcome but not all challenges promote healthy growth.
Tragedy is adversity without a lesson. Sometimes we become who we are despite the challenges rather than because of them. As coaches, we realise this and work to balance adversity with results. With just enough challenge, hardship and adversity, we grow stronger rather than breaking. While recognising that not all adversity is a chance for growth, the approach for both is nearly identical. We must face up and overcome. In this issue we explore the spectrum of adversity from financial problems to prison, from the depths of despair to the heights of success. Adversity does not just happen when things are going right. Commando Steve tells us about his brush with death, Hayden Kennedy talks about the challenges of the AFL umpire and Mick Miller goes from a 4-year Olympic cycle to a 10-minute cycle of life due to cancer. Achievements in Business, Sport and
Life are made all the sweeter by the journey we have taken, and challenges are the milestones by which we measure our life.
Challenges are the milestones by which we measure our life Your job as a coach is to help people overcome their personal tragedies and provide a bit of extra, growth-focused adversity, giving them the stone on which to sharpen themselves, ready for the next battle. I hope this issue helps you recognise your own milestones and gives some useful tips for your upcoming battles. Happy Coaching
COACHINGLIFE June 2016 ISSUE 5 Coaching Life is published 11 times a year and is your authoritative source for information on coaching in sport, business, life and anywhere else you find a coach. Published By Operait Pty Ltd ABN 63 189 244 221 24 Leo Lindo Drive, Shailer Park, QLD 4128 Editor Stewart Fleming email@example.com Assistant Editor Sarah Bailey firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising email@example.com Design Emma Mardaine - haven creative www.havencreative.com.au
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COVER STORY SPORT COACHING 8
The NRL is no stranger to controversy. Sharks coach, Shane Flanagan, gives us his perspective on tackling those difficult moments. Shane Flanagan, Head Coach, Cronulla Sharks
12 Crazy or courageous? Stephen Moss was homeless
and broke before coaching triathlons took him to the big time. Stephen Moss, Head Triathlon Coach, Queensland Academy of Sport
16 COVER STORY: From war to the small screen,
Commando talks us through his counter-terrorism days and transition to the civilian world. Steve ‘Commando’ Willis, Personal Trainer & TV personality
20 Elite sport is uncertain at the best of times. After 16 years in the job, Pat Hedges has learnt the value of resilience. Pat Hedges, Development Officer, Football Queensland
24 Umpires have one of the hardest jobs in AFL
with their every decision scruitinised. Find out their biggest challenges of the modern era. Hayden Kennedy, Head Coach, AFL Umpires
4 // COACHINGLIFE
28 The Australian Winter Olympic program has delivered
Olympic Gold Medals and World Champions despite its niche status and humble beginnings. Here’s how they did it. Geoff Lipshut, CEO, Olympic Winter Institute of Australia
32 9 lessons on the art of coaching athletes for a
stronger mindset. David Berens, USPTA Elite Tennis Professional
36 Adversity makes you stronger. Essential life lessons
from the incredible story of elite sports coach and cancer conqueror, Mick Miller. Mick Miller, Elite sports coach and motivational speaker
40 What do you do when your career suddenly takes
off? Learn to ride the tide of success with Emily Seebohm’s newest Olympic coach, David Lush. David Lush, Head Coach, BGS Swimming Club
BUSINESS COACHING 44 Are you living your best life? How do you cope
when adversity strikes? Get some insights from the entrepreneur who wrote his own journey. Jack Delosa, Entrepreneur & CEO of The Entourage www.coachinglife.com.au
48 Having worked in the prison system, Kim Yabsley knows
70 Beat adversity head on with the right mental
a thing or two about building resilient workplaces. See her tips here. Kim Yabsley, Principal Consultant, Stratcomm
52 Financial problems? Debt? Learn how to cope and get
back on track when it all spirals out of control. Michael Cooper, Financial Planner/Performance Coach
56 7 ways to take back control of your business, your life
and security. Karen Brook, Entrepreneur & Business Coach
LIFE COACHING 60 Your unique story has the power to reach others. Be
inspired by Mark’s challenging journey and understand how to turn your pain into purpose. Mark Bowness, Life Change Catalyst
management. Check out these positivity tips from the mental coach to our elite sports teams. John & Theresa Novak, Head of Mind Management, Canterbury Bulldogs
74 COACHES BOOKSHELF 75 THE LAST WORD
Some final words of inspiration from our contributors.
COVER STEVE ‘COMMANDO’ WILLIS PHOTO: COURTESY OF FERNANDO BARRAZA
64 Former Ironman champion, Steve Pullen, managed to beat his cancer expiry date. Learn to believe in the impossible. Steve Pullen, former Australian Ironman Champion
67 You can achieve big without sacrificing joy. Here are 8
strategies for burning bright through challenging times. Jo Bassett, Head Coach, Living Savvy Coaching
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SHANE FLANAGAN Head Coach, Cronulla Sharks STEPHEN MOSS Head Triathlon Coach, Queensland Academy of Sport STEVE ‘COMMANDO’ WILLIS Personal Trainer & TV personality PAT HEDGES Development Officer, Football Queensland HAYDEN KENNEDY Head Coach, AFL Umpires GEOFF LIPSHUT CEO Olympic Winter Institute of Australia DAVID BERENS USPTA Elite Tennis Professional MICK MILLER Elite sports coach and motivational speaker DAVID LUSH Head Coach, BGS Swimming Club
SPORTS COACHING » www.coachinglife.com.au
TACKLING TOUGH TIMES By Shane Flanagan
I PLAYED AS A LOCAL JUNIOR IN THE ST GEORGE AREA AND MADE MY DEBUT WITH THE ST GEORGE DRAGONS IN 1987, AGE 18. I ENDED UP PLAYING OVER 100 GAMES IN MY 10-YEAR CAREER WITH WESTERN SUBURBS FROM 1989-92, THEN WITH PARRAMATTA FROM 1992-96.
had a knee injury in my last year of contract with Parramatta which resulted in a knee reconstruction. At the time, it meant 12 months out of the game and there was the possibility I would retire at the end of my contract, so the club encouraged me into coaching their lower grades – which is how my coaching career kicked off. Mick Cronin and Ron Massey were the coach and assistant coach there and thought I’d do a good job. They foresaw something in me that I didn’t, which has turned into a career path. My first taste of dealing with adversity was coping with an early and unexpected retirement, and going from player to coach with a year left on my contract. I had to get my head around coaching young men and dealing with the expectations of family, which meant I had to learn a lot very quickly. I was lucky to have had some great coaches as a player who I learned a lot from, and then Brian Smith, the Head Coach at Parramatta, introduced me to structure, organisation, training plans and formulating a junior development program. He was keen on the long-term
8 // COACHINGLIFE
development of an athletic program for 16-18 year olds, and perhaps in that he was a little before his time. Back then, Parramatta were always in the top 3 or 4 with their junior representative teams. The first year I coached, I coached players who have since moved on to bigger things – Jamie Lyon, Nathan Hindmarsh, Luke Burt. When I look back, it’s been a long journey and a very enjoyable one. We won a couple of competitions in that first year and I really caught the coaching bug. I stayed 7 years, winning a few competitions and always making semi-finals. Through this I made it to coaching reserve grade – one step below NRL. From there I moved to the Sydney Roosters in 2004, coaching the U20s under Ricky Stuart. We won the competition undefeated, which was the first time any team at any grade had done so for quite a while. I now see those young players still succeeding and playing NRL at the top level. While we certainly had some good players in the team, we had others who really www.coachinglife.com.au
“Players struggle to perform on the field when the off-field issues affect their training and mental state.” grew from the quality of the players around them, and the whole team built belief in their abilities. Even when behind, they found a way to win, and it became infectious. The club itself was more high profile and had great expectations of players, so it was again a new learning environment compared to Parramatta. 2005/06 I became Assistant Coach to Ricky Stuart and experienced a couple of NRL Grand Finals, then moved with him to the Cronulla Sharks in 2006. When he finished up in 2010, I took over as Head Coach. It wasn’t a smooth transition, as the Sharks were going through a few issues with finances, nor did they have a CEO at that stage. There was a lot of unsettlement from an administration point of view. The uncertainty over the
club direction and future affected the on-field performances, and we were lacking some player quality due to that lack of financial strength and stability. Players also struggle to perform on the field when the off-field issues affect their training and mental state. It was a tough time, although to their credit, they fought hard and never gave in, especially considering we played against clubs who were spending millions off-field in high performance staff and facilities.
into the club’s 2011 supplements program. The players had a real resolve about them, despite there being times throughout that season where they were under serious stress and we had concerns about their mental health and wellbeing away from the ground. There was a lot of speculation about suspension going on, but for me the players were never at fault. They were put in that position and the way they handled it was a credit to themselves and their families.
In 2013, money started coming back into the club which secured our financial position for many years. The team made the semi-finals and were very competitive, despite being knocked out against Melbourne Storm. 2013 was also the year that we had to deal with the NRL year-long investigation
We didn’t have a CEO at that stage and the management was in chaos, so I was doing everything from signing players to club management, which although I was willing to do at the time, in the end it came back to bite me. Someone had to be made accountable for the club’s actions and I was the one
at the top of the tree. I’m sure there were some untruths told in the whole saga, but I felt my role was to protect and look after the players. The way I did that was by using my suspension year to re-focus on the players and the club. I knew I was returning for the following season and beyond as the club had purposely re-signed me for a further 3 years just prior. I had some dark days and was very disappointed that I couldn’t help the players on the field in 2014 – it was a horrendous year for both the club and players – but I had to stay strong and support them from afar. It was a long 12 months, but I think I’m a better person for it and I believe that governance and accountability are things you need to do as a coach these days. I had a lot of support from the club and we were all united through that period. We understood how the situation had happened and learned from that. If I hadn’t had that club security, it would have been a lot tougher. In that year, I was still involved in rugby league and went to all my son’s games, which I wouldn’t have been able to do with Head Coach commitments. I spent time with family, had time to reflect and did some study and courses to keep me busy and learn more about business management. But I was counting the months and days down, that’s for sure! It’s a year we’d rather forget. On return, it was an interesting period as I had to assess the damage from the 2014 season: coming last for the season, media attention, injuries, attitudes, emotions, physical and mental scars. I had to set a plan for our recovery. Some players were bitter and angry from suspension, so we
10 // COACHINGLIFE
We have an attitude of ‘team first’ on and off the field and try to implement this in our thought processes and actions.
had to deal with that. We had to build confidence, mateship and trust back in place quickly for the 2015 season. To the club’s credit, they spent money in the right areas, brought in high performance staff, and invested in quality to create positive change. We’re having another great season, with all the players in good shape as well as the club. Currently sitting 2nd, we’re now the club I knew we could be. Last year we came from last to make the semi-finals, and were only knocked out by the Cowboys who went on to win the Grand Final. Not many clubs have done that in the modern era and it was a great testament to the club and its playing staff. It’s a huge achievement and massive improvement from the scars of the previous year. Teams that get the wooden spoon usually have 3-4 years of hard work before making finals. Now, being out on the field between games teaching skills, drills and game plans is the easy part. It’s the negotiations, the behavioural issues, looking at contracts, player managers, recruitment and retention, sponsors, media commitments and so on – that’s the hardest part in this modern era of coaching. You have to stay focused on what’s important, manage the playing group, and somehow keep football as the priority. Every year gets bigger and bigger, and over time coaches have had to learn to be the boss with the multitude of staff as well as a coach to the players. You learn all the time, and I’m still learning today. It’s important that everyone understands what we’re trying to achieve, that the whole team gets on board and paddles the same way. We have an attitude of ‘team first’ on and www.coachinglife.com.au
off the field and try to implement this in our thought processes and actions. The more they do that, the better we get. We have 160 contracted players over 16, and obviously there are going to be dramas with that many young men in the club. But as long as everyone understands what we’re trying to achieve, there are less disruptions, less dramas. Our governance and compliance is now also top notch.
SHANE’S KEY TIP FOR COACHES Talk to people and give them your time. You’ve got massive responsibilities, so you should be understanding what they are and accepting them. You need to ask questions: what are the club expectations? What do the players expect? These need to be open discussions and clear on team standards and what you’re trying to achieve as a group. The harder you work at it, the better you’ll be.
Everyone, in life, experiences some adversity that makes you stronger. Of course, I would have preferred not to have gone through that suspension time – it’s tough on yourself and your family. My mother also passed away during that period, and I wish she had been able to see the success that followed. You definitely become stronger and learn to assess situations rather than jumping in. I certainly value other people’s opinions more. I had to accept that I needed to change and open my eyes, to look outside the square. On-field I was fine, it was the off-field responsibilities that you need to be accountable for. At some point, I’m responsible for the actions of all my players and staff. My motto has always been that people who work hard get results. I’ve tried to instil that in my players, and to be honest and trust each other. Knowing I was a good person and having the motivation to prove others wrong helped me through that period. The players pick up on that trust and genuine belief, which helps us create a club that’s a family, not just a business or a job. We believe that building this culture means better people and better footballers. If we can make a better learning and training environment, we can get closer to achieving our goals.
Shane Flanagan has been Head Coach of the NRL Cronulla Sharks since 2010. His A grade rugby career spanned over 100 games until a knee injury forced him into retirement and coaching. He is one of the top coaches in NRL, and has coached at Parramatta, the Sydney Roosters and the Cronulla Sharks in various positions.
TRY TRI AGAIN By Stephen Moss
I GOT INVOLVED IN TRIATHLONS BY ACCIDENT. I WAS AN ASPIRING TRACK ATHLETE ORIGINALLY BUT WAS INJURED IN 1988, SO TOOK UP TRIATHLONS FOR A BIT OF FUN AND FITNESS. IRONICALLY, MY ORIGINAL INJURY WAS FROM RIDING A PUSH BIKE. I WENT OVER THE HANDLE BARS AND THE FRONT CHAIN RING CUT THROUGH MY ACHILLES TENDON.
had a pretty tough time of it from then. I was in Brisbane with no job, no family to rely on, struggling to support myself. I managed to get a job working at the buffet at the Sheraton hotel but I had some disagreements with the people I was living with and ended up with nowhere to stay. On top of that, I was driving along Milton Road when I got two flat tyres and with only $3.26 left in my account, I ended up walking to work and back from my car for a week until I could afford to get my tyres fixed. Then I was able to move my car to a park for a few days until I saved enough to rent a little place. I survived that time through acquiring scraps of food and showering at work, and made a promise to myself that I would own my own home one day and be secure.
12 // COACHINGLIFE
My parents had split up as I’d finished high school, leaving a broken family with a lot of issues, so I didn’t really feel I could ring for help. Pride was another factor as Dad had always said I’d never make a future from sport. In the end, I’ve made it to where I am through my own stupidity, stubbornness and sheer determination. It certainly gave me the tenacity and drive to ensure that I was successful in whatever I did. I went away from sport for a while. I didn’t recognise it at the time, but I was pretty down and depressed. I got in with the wrong crowd with drugs and alcohol. One day in 1992, I woke up, straightened myself out, went cold turkey and moved forward. I worked my way up in Brisbane City Council over 15 years, self-educating myself in coaching. In 1996, I discovered triathlons. www.coachinglife.com.au
Rio Olympic hopeful, Gillian Backhouse, coached by Stephen Moss COACH BY ACCIDENT I started informally coaching in 1998 when I was working with a triathlon group who asked me to help out with their running training. The group’s coach at the time wasn’t happy with that and booted us all out of the club. That night, the others asked me if I would keep coaching. I said, “Well, I don’t know anything about it, but if you’re willing to give me a go, I’ll go and learn what I can about the swim and bike and go from there.” I began coaching these people for $20 per month each. After it became 4550 people I felt it was a bit much so I doubled the price. That still left me with 25 clients, so I kept putting the price up until I had a manageable amount of people! My first real year of coaching was 1999 and I coached David Dellow to the Australian Junior Championships, which he won, and then made the team for the World Championships in Canada. I funded myself to go to Montreal – not realising you had to be selected to be on the team as a coach! I booked a place in the same town and turned up to training the next day. “What are you doing here?” they said, looking surprised. “I want to be part of the team,” I said. “You can’t be,” was the quick reply, but after a week of turning up, Cole Stewart (National Coach at the time) said, “If you’re going to keep turning up, you might as well do something useful.” That was my entire introduction to triathlon coaching and I’ve been hooked ever since. I still don’t really know how I ended up here but I’m really passionate about making people successful.
AN UNBELIEVABLE GOAL Back in 1998 when I started out, I set myself a goal of getting to the Olympic Games in 2016 with a gold medalpotential athlete. I worked backwards from there, calculating how many years www.coachinglife.com.au
I would need, to learn each aspect of the sport. Now, knowing what I know, I realise I was absolutely crazy! I really had no idea, but I set myself the goal and methodically went about doing it. I saw a girl running one day – Emma Jackson – and brought her to the group. She worked hard and ended up going to the London Olympic Games in 2012, finishing 8th. She could have done better but a few things went wrong along the way for her. I realised I had achieved my goal of getting a competitive athlete to an Olympic Games earlier than I thought. I’ve learned from a lot of people along the way including Shaun Stephens at the Queensland Academy of Sport. We were talking in 2002 when I told him my goals. A few years later when things were going well, he said, “Remember when you told me your Olympic goal? Back then, I thought you were an idiot. But you stuck with it and you got there.” I have now coached more junior
athletes onto Australian teams than most people and we’ve had great success, winning medals at the Junior world championships, U23 world championships and World Triathlon Series.
TACKLING CHALLENGES As well as the knowledge challenges, I have had to overcome a lot of my own insecurities and self-doubt. I remember Bill Davoren, then National Performance Director, telling me I would never make it as a coach. How do you deal with that? I had to have a look at myself, change things and develop as a coach. I’d had a pretty big chip on my shoulder for a number of years, so I had to adjust my attitude and become a better person and coach all-round. To prepare our athletes for the challenges ahead, we have to have good fundamental processes and structure. Adversity is everywhere and triathlon is a high-demand sport with COACHINGLIFE
ONE KEY TIP:
Stay true to yourself. Don’t try to be something that somebody else wants you to be. No matter how tough you think it is, remember you are playing sport and to keep this in perspective, no matter what happens.
I often get asked the question: What does it take to be successful? My sarcastic comment is always: “No wife, no life, and invest in your career”; but obviously that’s not a recipe for sustainable success! 30 hours of training per week, and more outside that. It’s tough mentally, emotionally and physically, so they need a good support team around them and balance. Without that, it’s very difficult to move forward as adverse situations will knock you down. There is a lot of stress, especially at the Olympics and in the post-Olympic slump. It took me a good 6 months after the Olympics to get through it and find a way forward. At times
14 // COACHINGLIFE
we can drive so much into process rather than result, that perhaps we get a bit numb to our successes and failures. Obviously, the failures rock the athletes more than the successes but once they’ve tasted success, those failures are even tougher, even with the support system and coping mechanisms. We don’t always let them feel the disappointment of failure enough early on, so they can learn to deal with adversity and the unexpected moments of life, to learn that life will go
on. Sometimes they can’t see that, and won’t know how to deal with it until it happens.
EMBRACING CHANGE In 2015 I went on the podium coaches course at the AIS, centring on leadership and emotional intelligence, which has really transformed my coaching and personal development. On completion, I went about changing the culture of my training group, which I felt had become quite negative. I also began talking to a sports psychologist every week to discuss our wins and challenges. I have been really inspired by Dr Ric Charlesworth and how he went about changing the environment in hockey. It’s also been well documented how swimming has achieved success by working on their internal culture. www.coachinglife.com.au
I’m committed to my own personal development, not just as a sport coach, but as a person and a leader. Years ago, I would let the sport become all-consuming, but now with two kids and a fantastic wife, my priorities have changed and it has helped balance me out. I’ve realised that the results in the sporting space, while exciting, are short-term and limited compared to the long-term needs, commitment and loyalty of family. I often get asked the question: What does it take to be successful? My sarcastic comment is always: “No wife, no life, and invest in your career”; but obviously that’s not a recipe for sustainable success! One of the biggest challenges is having a good structured development
pathway that feeds into the system. Personally, I pushed my way into the system, but I don’t think it should work like that. it’s not a formula for success. Triathlon Australia have invested more in coaches and structure than they ever have before, but they can’t pay everyone. In today’s society there’s a big sense of entitlement, but you have to earn your way, work hard, be better than others, be more committed and demanding of yourself and your team. Make opportunities happen, don’t wait for them to come to you. Be passionate about what you want to do and achieve – that goes for all coaches, not just sport.
Stephen Moss and 2012 Olympian Emma Jackson Steve has coached in the Australian high performance Triathlon system at the Elite level for over 10 years and during that time consistently guided Australian athletes to national and international success. He is the current Triathlon Head Coach at the Queensland Academy of Sport, and coaches a number of exciting Olympic and Paralympic triathlon contenders for the Rio Olympic Games. In 2014, Stephen was awarded High Performance Coach of the Year for Triathlon Australia.
MORE THAN WAR: I GREW UP IN QUEENSLAND, MOVING FROM REDCLIFFE TO MARYBOROUGH AFTER YEAR 10. I WAS 16, RIPPED OUT OF MY FRIENDSHIP GROUP AND HAD TO START ALL OVER AGAIN. I DIDN’T DO ALL THAT WELL ACADEMICALLY BECAUSE I WAS REALLY QUESTIONING MY LIFE BUT TRAINING IN THE GYM GAVE ME AN OUTLET. I GUESS I WAS FORTUNATE THAT WHEN I REACHED THAT FORK IN THE ROAD, I TOOK THE PATH OF EXERCISE. I WAS ALWAYS DRAWN TO PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND I WAS CONSTANTLY RUNNING, OUTSIDE ON MY PUSH BIKE, TRAINING, READING. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER WAS A HUGE ROLE MODEL FOR ME AT THAT TIME.
BEYOND THE COMMANDO
By Steve ‘Commando’ Willis
16 // COACHINGLIFE
n leaving school, I couldn’t get a building apprenticeship, and ended up in the army. However, when I got to the Army Recruit Training Centre at Kapooka, Wagga Wagga, I was young, dumb and very impressionable. The next thing I knew I found myself in Singleton at the school of infantry.
THE MAKING OF THE COMMANDO As much as I hated it, I loved it and though it was hard, it was very rewarding as a young bloke, being constantly under pressure, learning discipline, focusing on teamwork to solve problems. It laid my foundation for the years to come. I’ve still got friends to this day who I went through Singleton with, and we’re as thick as thieves, even if we haven’t seen each other in years. Those bonds that you form from an early age, especially through hardship, remain.
Photo: Garmin Australia
Singleton was definitely tough in a physical sense; to say otherwise would be lying. There was the requirement to think on your feet and learn new skills. Most importantly, you needed to be trainable so you could learn the required skills of an infantryman: bushcraft, weaponry, teamwork, taking orders and discipline. Essentially, anything and everything that war requires.
To rise up and become a Team Commander, I first had to get over myself. It requires quite a unique and special kind of person to be able to fulfil a counterterrorism role, but even more so when you move into a command role, where you are looking after yourself and your team. It is such a chaotic environment in close quarters, so the ability to assimilate, react and respond in short periods of time was the biggest factor. You need the ability to make informed decisions in the heat of the moment. Some guys had great skills and were extremely fit but didn’t have the awareness to keep up. It’s like trying to put someone in an F1 racing car for the first time and asking them to drive as fast as a trained driver. They just wouldn’t be able to respond in the COACHINGLIFE
SPORT required timeframe. That is one of the greatest assets that I’ve been able to take away from the military, as it helps build self-confidence and self-awareness. The selection process to become a commando was extremely tough. The objective on selection is to test people and break them down physically, to the point where their true character bubbles to the surface. They can then identify whether someone’s got the character and the required traits to become a special forces soldier. It includes long pack marching, being awake night after night, working on very little food and your ability to work with others to problem solve. You have to have the intrinsic motivation to keep fighting to be there. They only want the best of the best and there’s reasons for that. One time, we were doing an exercise parachuting out of planes at night into water in North Queensland. The drill was: when you hit the water, you pop
one side of the chute connection to your harness to deflate the chute. If there is wind across the top of the water with the chute still inflated, it can drag you under and drown you. These aren’t the recreational skydiving chutes you might expect, they’re big, round things for static-line jumping, which is how you mass-deploy guys out of big, bad-ass Hercules planes. It’s exhilarating. We’d been told that the riggers (who re-pack the chutes after jumping) were having difficulty as all the suspension lines were getting tangled up once wet, so we were ordered not to pop our harness release, to prevent the chutes from getting tangled. So when I jumped and hit the water, I didn’t pop my release. My parachute came down right on top of me. This is a big silk chute that gets extremely heavy as it gets wet, and I started to sink. We would always have boats on the water as safety craft, but I was on my own and freaking out. Rather than popping my Personal Floatation Device (PDF), I tried to reach for my knife on my leg to
cut my way out of it. I was going under and after some time went by, which felt like an eternity, a boat drew up beside me and a few blokes pulled me out. That was a pretty hairy moment! Another time we had to do swimming drills in Port Stephens in NSW. We were caught in a rip in an outgoing tide with webbing on (weighs 7.5 kilos) plus a machine gun and we all had to get rescued that time. Thinking back now that I’m older, the easy thing would be to just pop the PDF. But when you’re younger, you don’t want to be seen as the weak link. However, a lot of that is also what keeps pushing everyone to be better, so it’s a double-edged sword. Now, I think that when weakness is expressed and verbalised, you can actually deal with it. It’s like having a chink in your armour. You don’t want to go into war with a chink in your armour. You want to identify it and patch it up. If weakness goes unattended, it magnifies the harder a situation becomes. There’s a lot of things I see in the world that I wish I could just reach out and change. But for that change to occur, it must first come from within. Growing up with a broken family, not knowing my natural father all that well and having a stepfather who was very hard on us, I always had this fear of failure and not being good enough. I fought extremely hard to create an identity and have a sense of belonging. I would crawl along a bitumen road, bleeding at the fingertips and missing skin, to make sure that I was there
First and foremost, I believe coaches need gratitude, humility and empathy. Be a good sounding board. Listen to people and use observation to understanding what makes people tick. Photo: Fernando Barraza
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standing on the line with the rest of the guys. There is a fair amount of peer pressure, but I’d say, for myself, it’s was quite balanced with my own tenacity and desire to make it. I always had a belief that if other people were doing it, there was no reason why I couldn’t.
THE BIGGEST LOSER
When I left the army, personal training was just becoming a trend and a job. I wanted to help people have what I have so I gained my qualifications, Certificate III and IV, and started working out of a gym. As you might expect, I applied my work ethic from the military. Among other things, I ran bootcamps drawing on my military experience. Then The Biggest Loser opportunity came my way. Standing at the front gate of The Biggest Loser (TBL) house, on camera – it was daunting. The guy that you got on TBL – “Commando” – at the start was very much that military guy. It was all about action, drawing that line, you’re either in or you’re out. That’s how I perceived life and what needed to be done. It was tough for my team, but one of them went on to win [2007 TBL winner Chris Garling]. I loved it. In a situation like TBL, the contestant is doing the work. They’ve made a decision, they’ve drawn a line and said, “Enough’s enough, time for change”. I’ve just been a mentor, a guide, a coach. I cannot do the work for them. You’re not going to stand next to me and vicariously or by osmosis become like me. As the years went by, I was able to better communicate and I could blend my true character with my on-camera persona.
That’s how it was for us in the army. We had certain leaders we didn’t respect because all they did was bark orders. But then you had others who toiled and bled with you, you respected them for that. When I look at Rugby League and Wayne Bennett, coach of the Broncos, every team he’s ever coached has risen to the top. Why is that? He builds rapport on an individual level. He knows people, he cares about people as much as he cares about the bigger picture. That’s what it means to me. First and foremost, I believe coaches need gratitude, humility and empathy. Be a good sounding board. Listen to people and use observation to understanding what makes people tick. Being a trainer, you’re almost a psychologist. If you’re asking somebody to do something because you feel it will work for them, you need to give them greater understanding. Through education and gaining knowledge, people grow. I can recommend an amazing book on resilience and adversity: “Resilience” by Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL.
The Commando Steve brand is not just superficial – there’s a lot of meaning behind it. As much as business is about making money, it’s also a by-product of our intentions and our philosophies – our ‘why’. The partnerships that we have, the ambassadorial roles that I’m in, have been identified because they are a good fit. Their mission and goals are very much aligned with ours.
Now I’m interested in mentoring young kids and helping Australia reach its potential. Leadership to me, is that you’re willing to get in the trenches with your soldiers and do what needs to be done. You lead from the front. If the toilets need cleaning, you’ll do it. If the floor’s needs vacuuming, you’ll do it. Then when those underneath you, see your willingness to go above and beyond, they’ll be with you for life. www.coachinglife.com.au
Photo: Catherine DeWit
Photo: Steve Greenaway
COMMANDO’S TIPS FOR COACHES: • BE PREPARED TO DO EVERYTHING, DO IT WELL AND TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY • BE A BETTER VERSION OF YOURSELF TODAY THAN YOU WERE YESTERDAY • HONE YOUR CRAFT We want people to rest-assured that the information that we’re providing is sound. We build rapport and they come to us as a known source. Many have done our online program and it’s changed their world because they’ve been willing and committed. But the program is just the foundation and framework. Anyone willing to put in the work will find it beneficial. We are also breaking down the big picture into weekly offerings and little training packages tailored to individuals. Technology gives us the ability to do all these things.
Known best by his television persona ‘Commando’ from The Biggest Loser reality TV series, Steve Willis is a former Australian Special Forces soldier in Counter Terrorism. He turned his military experience into big business personal training, became a CrossFit champion, before becoming a household name in fitness through TBL. He is also an author of several books and a motivational speaker. www.commandosteve.com
A HARD LOOK AT THE MAN IN THE MIRROR By Pat Hedges
WHEN I WAS ASKED TO GIVE MY THOUGHTS ON HOW ADVERSITY HAS PLAYED A PART IN FORGING THE COACH I HAVE BECOME, THE FIRST THING I DID WAS TO LOOK UP THE MEANING OF THE WORD: adversity noun noun: adversity; plural noun: adversities 1. a difficult or unpleasant situation. “resilience in the face of adversity” 2. misfortunes, bad luck, trouble, difficulty, distress, disaster, accident, set back, catastrophe, crisis… The list goes on.
hinking about my own journey as a player and coach, I realised that many of the opportunities that had come my way were due to the misfortune of others – either due to accident and/or injury or by the decisions they made. As a player, when leaving one club to join a bigger club, the player I had to displace had injured himself in the first training session I attended. I went on to play the next 200 games.
turns ultimately became my good luck. Getting the opportunity is one thing – you still have to work hard to back it up. In truth, I was probably not prepared for the role of Coaching and Development manager of an entire region at that time, but I was prepared to hit the ground running and was not going to “give up my shirt” without a fight. I realised that my acquired knowledge from personal experience would only take me so far.
Prior to landing my current role, my predecessor accepted an opportunity to take up an International Coaching role (he did not get paid for close on two years and is still chasing his money) as he felt he needed a change. I was in the right place at the right time, was put in a caretaker role and have now held this position for 16 years.
Personal professional development became important, both sports specific such as Advanced Coaching Licences, and formal tertiary education with a Masters of Sport Coaching from Griffith University. On top of this I worked to stay at the forefront and try and master the latest trends in technology and analysis and did plenty of networking. Who you know might get you there, what you know will keep you there.
Their misfortune, bad luck, or wrong
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Who you know might get you there, what you know will keep you there. Predominantly my role as a Regional Development Officer is to oversee Football Queensland coach education and deliver the national curriculum, while communicating with the clubs and stakeholders and promoting educational opportunities. My interactions range from the CEO
(of Football Queensland, my employer) and regional GM of my region, to the State Technical Director, Game Development Manager, other senior managers, State Institute, HAL clubs, Football Community, state, district, club, individuals – so to quote Rudyard Kipling, I need “to walk with Kings and converse with the common man”.
athletes juggle the demands of school study and conflicting commitments, and are also at a crucial point of their football development. This is where player development is put before results – yet the commitment required from the athletes and their family support network is equal to that of their professional counterparts.
My region runs from Murwillumbah in far North NSW to Logan (south of Brisbane) and the Gold Coast Hinterland. This includes 26 clubs, close to 600 coaches and 10,000 players, though I have peers who look after area the size of a small European country. Finding resources for the region is always another challenge.
We talk of adversity and mountains to climb but consider this: there are 10 “A” League clubs with 23 squad players each or 230 players, of which 40 could be visa players. That’s 190 contracts in the professional game in Australia and a national player pool that runs in the hundreds of thousands. Statistically, it is easier to forge a career as a Doctor and your future career would not be reliant on the subjective views or opinions of a Coach.
The High Performance arena is an uncertain environment where young
After winning the NYL Grand Final in 2008/9 – the first of back to back titles. L-R TOP Jordan Farina, Koh Satake, Ben Wearing, Josh Brillante. MIDDLE/BOTTOM Jarred Tyson, Mike Mulvey, Mitch Cooper, Neko Vujavic, Matija Simic, Elliot Ronto, Bobby Russel, Steven Lustica, Mitch Bevan, Zac Anderson Ben Halloran and PAT HEDGES. www.coachinglife.com.au
As the great Wayne Bennett says, “the only person you need to answer to is the man in the mirror”.
In all sports, not only football, families of talented young players relocate from the country regions to the cities all over Australia, uprooting their lives to give young, identified players the opportunity to fulfil some untapped potential in State NTC programs where the percentage of players going into the professional arena is minimal. For close on two-thirds of our player pool, the mountain will be too hard to climb. It is a fact that in a system of talent identification that banded into calendar years, that those born in the first 6 months of the year have a 75% chance of making Rep/NPL programs. That means that if you were born in November or December, you might as well just not turn up. Statistically, you will not be selected. Imagine working in industry where your future potential could be influenced by your star sign! Couple this with a litany of distance issues and lack of opportunities and you have your mountain. I was fortunate enough to be involved with the birth and ultimate demise of an “A” League club, Gold Coast United, which suffered a range of disasters, or, what I prefer to call, challenges amongst little successes. We had 2 NYL Championships and two final run-ins but personally, everything that was learned from that multi-faceted experience was invaluable and I draw on those lessons almost every day. Working in that “professional” environment allowed me to experience, almost, the complete workings of a sporting franchise, from its birth until its untimely end. I learnt the true meaning of trust, honesty, respect and commitment and how it means
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different things to different people depending on who they are talking to and in what context. I realised that athlete management, in all its forms, is as important as your knowledge of your chosen sport. Imagine a professional sports team with a squad of 23 in a changing room. I use the word “team”, but their livelihoods are now in the hands of the Coach. The athletes sit side by side, knowing the man beside him might want his place his place. The same can be said for trialists at training – in the eyes of the incumbents a possible usurper – in an environment of ignored, but still bubbling underneath, insecurity. Everybody has to come to work and “perform” for the players to keep their contracts and the staff whose contracts are reliant on weekly results.
years. My own experiences learning “on the job” in the early days have made me very resilient, some may call me a survivor! Whatever the verdict of my peers, I try and live by three virtues in all my dealing regardless of the company or audience: Respect, Honesty and Commitment. As the great Wayne Bennett says, “the only person you need to answer to is the man in the mirror”.
If one thing is certain, a season is always one of adversity. Unless you are extremely lucky, it will be filled with “misfortune, bad luck, trouble, difficulty, distress, disaster, accident, set back, catastrophe, crisis”. A career in sport is a never ending, daily challenge, but equally, improvement only comes when you step and/or help others step out of their comfort zone. It is an environment where people reach their level and become “the best they can be”. Ultimately, those who are “resilient in the face of adversity” are those who forge successful careers. I do fear though, that our society is so politically correct that “resilience” is not as strong a word as it used to be. I am a rarity in football circles in that I have held my current role for over 16
Pat Hedges is Football Queensland Regional Development Officer, and has been for over 16 years. He is also a current High Performance Coach and Video Analyst with the Queensland Academy of Sport and FFA Coach Educator. Pat was on the coaching staff for the former A League Gold Coast United FC through 2008-2011. www.coachinglife.com.au
Sports Community’s vision is to help build stronger communities by assisting ‘grass roots’ sports clubs to succeed through the empowerment of club volunteers. We believe healthy local sports clubs play a vital role within the community so we passionately endeavor to empower volunteers, around Australia, through the provision of information and training to help them achieve their objectives. At Sports Community we offer support in all areas of grassroots sports including to, club volunteers, association volunteers, council and government staff and peak body staff.
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by Hayden Kennedy
THE MODERN UMPIRE GROWING UP IN ESSENDON, I PLAYED JUNIOR FOOTBALL BUT AS I AM ONLY 168 CM TALL, I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE HARD FOR ME TO PURSUE A CAREER PLAYING FOOTBALL. AT 16, I SAW AN ADVERTISEMENT LOOKING FOR UMPIRES FOR THE LOCAL ESSENDON DISTRICT FOOTBALL COMPETITION BY THE UMPIRES ASSOCIATION AND DECIDED TO GIVE IT A GO.
remember the training vividly as the warm up was 10 laps of the Aberfeldie Athletics Club (4km) and I had already run 6/7km to get to the club! Then we did running drills, training as a running athlete. We had a little bit of coaching but in those days there wasnâ€™t much extra vision to go by, only a few bits and pieces of video. It can be a difficult thing to coach umpires, as there are a huge number of umpires in the community, but a general lack of resources and great variety in ages (16-50 years old) to pitch to. In my first year, I got injured with shin splints so had only 7 or 8 games, but the next year I went back and before I knew it, I was umpiring senior football at 17 years of age. I was then recommended down to the VFL Cadet Squad (as known in those days, now the AFL) so spent half the year with Essendon District and half with the Cadet Squad. Exclusively for the 40 best, up-and-coming umpires, 17 years and up, umpiring U19 football, it was held at Albert Park, and still mostly involved running but there was a little more coaching focus in the drills. In
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total I spent 2.5 years with the Cadet Squad and ended up being chosen for the VFL U19 Grand Final. That meant that just after I turned 21, I was promoted to the VFL Senior list. In 1988 at 22, I had my first VFL Senior match: North Melbourne vs Carlton. It was a huge thrill but I was very nervous! There were only 6 games a weekend at that stage, and I was umpiring one, in front of 30,000 people. Carlton won that day by 2 or 3 points with one of the last kicks going through for a goal before the siren. It was a great game of footy and a huge experience. You definitely feel like a different person having umpired at that level. I modelled myself on Glenn James, my coach through my Cadet Squad years. He was an indigenous umpire at VFL level and had umpired grand finals. I loved his style, as he had an easy way about him, great relationships with players, no frills, just made really good decisions and went about his job. Other umpires also influence you over time, as you pick up on the way they handle various situations. I liked the www.coachinglife.com.au
You try not to take it personally, but there are times when its unavoidable so the best thing to do is to stay away from it. A good strategy is to not read the papers or listen to talkback radio. way the NRL referees pulled players over so they could actually talk to them directly, which I used to do sometimes. Of course, NRL is a stoppage game, so you’re able to do this a bit easier than in AFL.
SIRENGATE Umpiring can be a difficult job as every decision is scrutinised by others – players, coaches and spectators. You can only listen and try not to get emotionally involved in their opinions, remaining steadfast in your view. You also have to have a sense of humour and be able to brush it off. You try not to take it personally, but there are times when its unavoidable so the best thing to do is to stay away from it. A good strategy is to not read the papers or listen to talkback radio. I was one of the umpires on the ground during the infamous ‘Sirengate’ incident in 2006 between St Kilda and Fremantle, where the final siren was not heard across the ground and play carried on, resulting in a draw. I knew what happened and talked to the necessary people at the AFL. There was a whole range of circumstances that led to that particular finish. While it was a huge incident that week where everyone was speculating and giving opinions, for me, it wasn’t hard to deal with as I was confident that I knew exactly what happened. By contrast, the events at end of 1997 were the hardest to deal with in my www.coachinglife.com.au
career. I just had been named as the All-Australian Umpire at the end of the home and away season, when a journalist rang to tell me I had been dropped for the upcoming Preliminary Final. I tried to find answers from the relevant people, but I was left in limbo. In Grand Final week, I fronted the General Manager of the AFL. There were a few things that they thought I could have handled better in the last round of the year, as well as a few other moments where it was felt I could have shown more leadership. Looking back, although difficult, I think it was fair but at the time is was pretty crushing.
MODERN ERA CHALLENGES The decision-making today is definitely the biggest challenge for umpires! It’s what they train and aspire to do, but when a game lasts for 2 hours and 10 minutes, it’s always going to be
tough. It’s a big oval with 360-degree movement and just a small change in body position can prevent you from seeing what just happened. There is a huge amount of tackling, which is a big part of umpire decision-making. There are tactics, where deciding whether to pay a free kick can change a game so we are under extreme pressure with the requirement for instantaneous decision-making. To cope with making split-second decisions, we have now introduced skill drills at training to try and replicate as many different situations as we can. We are doing more work on the mental state and psychology this year than ever before, to get the umpires to understand that mindfulness and a clear head, as well as mental imagery, is important. We use a lot of different types of vision to coach by. There are COACHINGLIFE
retirement. We have a duty of care program, where we have broken the 32 AFL umpires into groups of 8 and an umpire coach is assigned to each. Their duty is to know each of their umpires as closely as possible, and be there to help the them deal with any adversity they face on or off the ground. We also have a really strong leadership group of 4 field umpires nominated by their peers that have constant communication with the whole group.
5 TOP TIPS FOR DEALING WITH ADVERSITY:
1 2 3 4 5
Don’t get emotionally involved Have a support network Prepare for every situation Learn from experience – yours and others Cultivate a positive mental state
3 different camera angles available to us: broadcast vision, down-the-ground vision and another one that sits high on the wing to get a wide angle. If you learn from your experiences, whether difficult or controversial, you become a better umpire overall. When you know what it feels like and you train yourself to get better at that particular area, it leads to a more positive mental state, which makes you a generally more positive decision-maker. To be an umpire in any sport with controversial decisions, you need to have a strong mental character. If you’re not mentally strong, you’re not going to last when times get tough.
TRAINING FOR THE TOP We have a Talent ID program which is now in its third year. The managers of the program meet with each crop and take them through a psychology examination. We discuss issues with them to get a better understanding of who they are as a person, to see if they fit the bill to become an AFL umpire. Talent ID have a list of about 14 guys who are nominated at the start of
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the year, and another list of about 30 that they keep tabs on. The top list can change depending on who is performing well or showing significant improvement. The top 12 are watched about 6-7 times a year, the others 3-4. The talent manager will determine how many are AFL-ready. That could be 2, 5 or none in a particular year. It all depends on how many spots we have available in the AFL umpire list as well, as there are only 32 umpires at the top level. For those at AFL level, if the performance drops then you can be delisted, but as long as performance is maintained, you can stay until
After a while you get an idea of what you’ll face in a year. AFL is one of those games that when everything is going well, it’s brilliant. There’s no better sport to be involved in. But once you don’t get selected for a game, those are the difficult times. Unfortunately, there are 5 people who have to miss out every week to give others opportunities. I think that an honest approach means that they get an understanding, even if they do not agree with the particular decision. That happens often and we will come up against that fairly soon because around Rounds 7/8/9, those who have umpired every game may need to make space for some who haven’t had the same opportunities. These selection decisions are made by the coaches of which I am the head with three assistants and a high performance analyst. Individual decisions may create heartache for the umpires at times when they’ve made a mistake, but the real difficulty for us is dealing with the fact that you might not get a game.
Hayden Kennedy is the AFL Umpire Head Coach. He is also the longest serving umpire in AFL history, umpiring in 495 matches from 1988-2011 including 5 Grand Finals and every finals series, and only quitting due to hamstring injuries. He was an umpire on the ground during one of the most controversial matches of the modern era of AFL – ‘Sirengate’ in 2006.
R E T N I W G I
N I M O SC
IN THE EARLY 80’S, I WAS A NATIONAL-LEVEL MOGUL SKIER, AND IN 1984, WAS RANKED NO.2 NATIONALLY. I WAS ALSO IN THE TOP 4 FOR AERIAL SKIING AT THE NATIONALS IN THE SAME YEAR. THROUGHOUT THE 80’S, I WORKED AS A SKI INSTRUCTOR IN AUSTRIA DURING THEIR WINTER SEASON DECEMBER TO MARCH/APRIL, AND SPENT THE AUSTRALIAN WINTER SEASON TRAINING AND COMPETING IN AUSTRALIA.
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n 1980, we formed a little team at Mount Buller for aerial and mogul skiing, which we called ‘Tribe Gonzo’. By 1986, with a lot of help from the ski resort, we reformed into Team Buller. At that stage, I was able to start offering individual mogul and freestyle ski coaching as a state coaching initiative. I was the first coach for Team Buller, although we soon employed other coaches as our junior development program grew very quickly. We started with 9 ‘CocaCola Kids’ in a program, which quickly doubled, then quadrupled in size in a couple of years. I moved from coaching directly to becoming the Head Coach/ Manager of the club.
o by Ge
This was largely the end of my direct coaching, as 1986 was also the year that Kirstie Marshall came along. Kirsty was ranked No.10 in the world, and by 1990 she had moved up to No.3. While I helped her initially, my abilities as a coach couldn’t match her talent as an athlete, so I became more of a coach manager and found her a coach who was technically better. I ended up at some World Cup events and the World Championships with Kirstie while she was ranked No.10, and we were then lucky enough to find a fantastic sponsor for Kirstie, Michael Vickers Willis, who agreed to employ a special coach for her for 5 months of the year. That was when she skyrocketed to No.3 www.coachinglife.com.au
The athletes and coaches both have to sacrifice a lot because of the overseas training and travel but this in turn creates a strong commitment to success and tight community culture. then No.2 and finally became the first Australian Winter Sport athlete to be ranked No.1 in the World. By this time, the local club at Buller had grown to have 60-70 kids in training and some international coaches. Kirstie had been World Cup Champion (1992) – a first for Australia – then also won a bronze medal at the 1995 World Championships and the became Australia’s first snow sports World Championship gold medallist in 1997. In 1995, the owner of the ski lift company for Mt Buller, Rino Grollo, agreed to invest in an Australian National Team for the skiing sports. Thus the Australian Ski Institute was born that year, and I became the program manager for aerial and mogul skiing, while still working as manager for Team Buller. I went to my first Olympics as a Coach/Manager in 1994 (Lillehammer) where Kirstie won the semi-final and came 6th in the final which was equal to Australia’s best ever result in a Winter Olympics. While these first years of the Institute were all funded by Rino Grollo and Mt Buller together with the Australian Institute of Sport, after the 1998 Olympics (Nagano), the Australian Olympic Committee agreed to take over the responsibilities for a specialist winter sports institute. This first institute helped Zali Steggall to win Olympic Bronze in alpine skiing – our first ever skiing medal. The Australian Institute of Winter Sports, launched in July 1998 and went on to become the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA) in 2001, as it is called today. I had gone from program manager to interim CEO, to CEO in 1998 and brought in new coaches in that first year, and it was fantastic. In 1999, we won two World Championships – Jacqui Cooper (aerials) and Zali (alpine). www.coachinglife.com.au
TEACHING GYMNASTS TO SKI A lady called Rachel Johnson approached me at Mt Buller in 1997. She was both a gymnastics coach and ski instructor, and saw the possibilities for aerial skiing from watching the ‘97 World Cup at Mt Buller with Kirstie Marshall, Jacqui Cooper and first time World Cup skier Alisa Camplin. Together in following years, Rachel and I were able to strategise and pioneer the transfer of gymnastic talent to aerial skiing. I understood teaching people how to ski from my own teaching and competitive background and understood aerial skiing, and Rachel had the understanding of both skiing and gymnastics and had a special skill for being able to interpret the skills clearly to athletes, who mostly had
never seen snow before! We pinned the two together to take talented gymnasts and fast-track them to skiing at 15/16, focusing on athletic and competition skills, through the Victorian Institute of Sport. We obviously had to coach the acrobatics transfer as well, as the dynamics of doing tricks 10 metres in the air, off a ski jump at 60km/hr is vastly different to a gymnastics hall! The first athlete who transferred to that program was Lydia Ierodiaconou (later Lassila), who ended up winning an Olympic Gold medal in 2010 and a bronze in 2014. Since the program began, we have now won 5 medals in aerial skiing. The biggest failure we had was at the 1998 Olympics. Kirstie Marshall was the World Champion and Jacqui Cooper COACHINGLIFE
was ranked No.2 in the world. We also had a male athlete, Jono Sweet, who was ranked No.5 in the world. In 20 years, we’ve never missed making a final of aerial skiing. At the Games, we were obvious favourites to win a medal. However, Kirstie finished 13th, Jacqui crashed, and Jono missed his first jump, so nobody made it to a final. There was a big boil-over to do with athlete conflict with their coach, and I was responsible for managing the team. I did not do enough, early enough, to effectively manage that situation – a lesson very well learnt!
PROGRAM SUCCESS The program was essentially a laboratory experiment. Having skied previously only very occasionally before in her life, we taught Lydia intensively from July 1999 and by February 2002, she was competing at the Olympics and qualified for the final. Another year later, she was ranked No.2 in the world, and then No.1 the following year. The program has gone on to produce many athletes and continues at the Victorian Institute of Sport with direct partnerships through the AIS funded “spin to win” program, with Gymnastics Australia, Diving Australia, AIS, the OWIA, Ski & Snowboard Australia, and Mt Buller (home of the aerial ski program). This program offers suitable gymnastic athletes a secondary sporting career opportunity with either diving or skiing depending on their age. Our program is largely female dominated and we employ a lot of female coaching staff as we find the dynamics very positive.
ONE KEY TIP Understand your people. Know who they are and, in times of crisis, how you are likely to affect them and how they are likely to affect each other. Alisa went on to win the gold medal and Lydia finished 8th in her first Olympics after only 35 months of training. We had prepared for adversity after the 1998 Olympics by giving each competitor their own coach. This meant that Alisa was able to stay in her “competition zone bubble” throughout the media attention and drama, going on to win, despite never having won an event prior. By then, we had also a short-track speed skating program and a short-track coach through which we famously won an Olympic gold medal with Steven Bradbury in an incredible, come-from-behind win. For the 2006 Torino Olympics, both Lydia and Alisa injured themselves within 8 months of the Games. Alisa was able to come back within 14 weeks to win a bronze medal – a remarkable achievement. Jacqui Cooper won the semi-final with a world record
score, and Lydia, who was leading the qualification round, unfortunately had an awful major knee injury. Again, it’s a credit to Alisa and the coaching staff that they stayed focused and were still able to come away with a bronze, despite our original higher hopes. Lydia had to take a full year off and came back to training in 2007. By February 2009, she was ranked World No.1 again, and in 2010 went to the Vancouver Olympics, qualified for the final (through the added mental battle of it being that moment, 4 years prior, when she had the accident), and ended up having the best jump of her life to win the gold medal and become Olympic Champion. It was possible through the mental lessons she learnt from a variety of coaches, including a very senior coach from Switzerland, Mich Roth. What Lydia wanted was that extreme stability of an older senior coach who would calm her down when
When the 2002 Olympics came around, we gave the two leading athletes in the program a coach each, and a junior athlete as a training partner. Lydia Lassila worked with Jacqui Cooper, and Liz Gardner, who also came from the gymnastics transfer program, worked with Alisa Camplin. Jacqui tragically had a really awful ACL accident prior to the qualification competition for the Games and was unable to compete despite being the favourite for the gold.
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the big moments came. Because she had confidence in her coach, Lydia was able to put everything behind her, see herself in the moment and land the best jump of her career. Dale Begg-Smith famously won a gold medal in mogul skiing in 2006. In 2009, when he’d been ranked No.1 in the world for 3 years straight, he also did a knee injury. Normally an ACL requires a year to recover, but with rotating physios Dale managed to come back for the 2010 Olympics and was unlucky to win the silver medal rather than the gold. He had complete confidence in himself and his coach, Steve Desovich, and in the work they had done together and was able to see through the obvious adversity and the pressure of the approaching Olympics.
ADVERSITY MAKES YOU STRONGER Training in Australia can be difficult. The snow conditions are variable and the season is shorter than in Europe or North America. If you get used to skiing at our facilities, when you get access to world class facilities, your performance is better. For example, in Wandin, Victoria, a friend built a water
jump training centre in 1989. This is where all our aerial skiers have trained. They land in dirty dam water, the ski surface is 35 years old and the jumps are old. When the athletes get to the world-class facilities in the USA, the training is automatically much easier and the performance much stronger. After winning her gold medal, Alisa Camplin told the New York Times that she started off training with leeches. It made the cover. We are now waiting for approval to build a new facility at Lennox Head, NSW. If you want to be a coach and work both seasons, it means you have to be away from home, friends and family for much of the year. The athletes and coaches both have to sacrifice a lot because of the overseas training and travel but this in turn creates a strong commitment to success and tight community culture. Overseas competitors are home every two weeks, but ours leave Australia in November and don’t return until March or April. Adversity, in a positive sense, can also lead to success. I still interview and employ all of our coaches and we try to employ the world’s best. We would like to be an
employer of choice for these coaches. We provide the attraction of authority and autonomy to be able to deliver a program in the way they want, and we invest in them personally as well. The coaching and leadership courses from the AIS have been really effective and are world leading initiatives. These programs allow coaches from various sports to mix and share knowledge and expand both their thinking and networks. For the OWIA, it’s always about looking after our people, giving them opportunities and access to key people. We work in a 4-year cycle and develop a clear strategy for each year. Because winter sport is still a boutique sport in Australia, we have developed great partnerships with the AIS, VIS, NSWIS, NSW government, the Australian Ski Resorts, and our two US sponsors, Snow Basin Resort and Powder Mountain resort. I’m now focused on the PyeongChang (South Korea) Olympic effort as the Performance Director of the 2018 Australian Olympic Team.
Geoff Lipshut was a moguls skier and instructor before becoming the CEO of the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia. He was an integral part of its original inception, through collaboration with the AIS, AOC and Mt Buller, and also pioneered the conversion program of gymnasts to aerial skiing, resulting in several Olympic Gold Medals.
COACHING THE MIND OF AN ATHLETE
By David Berens
COACHING. WHAT EXACTLY IS COACHING? PATTERNS ON A CHALKBOARD? THE X’S AND O’S OF PLAYS AND FORMATIONS RUN AD NAUSEAM IN PRACTICE UNTIL THEY BECOME SECOND NATURE TO THE ATHLETES ON A TEAM? RECRUITING OF INDIVIDUALS TO YOUR TEAM? IT IS ALL OF THESE AND MORE.
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have been practicing my own coaching art for over 16 years and have boiled down my technique to practicing five basic strategies – that’s it, just five. However, during those years, I came to realise that I was missing a gigantic portion of what my students needed. The mental and psychological pieces of the game of tennis became a monumental presence, overshadowing everything else I was teaching. The great baseball coaching legend, Yogi Berra, is credited as saying, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” I began to make notes and address the overlying arc of the mind and how it affected my students. Nine themes began to
reoccur in such strong ways, that I knew these themes were universal. During my lessons, I would not only address how and when certain strategies and techniques should be used but how each strategy and technique would affect my players and their opponents. These themes are simple. When I point them out to you, you will recognise them. However, you might think them so universal that you don’t give them much attention when coaching your players. I would argue that these are just as important as the X’s and O’s, the patterns of play, and the techniques of your athletes. Teaching them is essential. www.coachinglife.com.au
RECOGNISE YOUR SITUATION
It is very easy for an athlete or team to perceive their situation during a game in a negative or positive light. But is that perception accurate? Are recent or past events clouding their notion of whether they have the advantage or if they are at a disadvantage? In tennis, I like to point to the score of Deuce and ask, “How do you feel about that score?” Most tennis players will report that it is a fairly neutral situation – an even score. Then I ask them, what if you were up 40-love and your opponent had come back to tie the game at deuce. Or what if you were down love-40 and you came back to tie it up. Both give very different perceptions of the same score. It is still Deuce and it is important that athletes are able to deal with that situation in a way that allows
them to forget the negative aspects, accentuate the positive, and use the patterns and strategies that they’ve been coached to use in that situation.
MAKE A PLAN
Once you recognise your situation for what it truly is, you need a road map. Playing a game without one is essentially playing a game of chance. You’re hoping to get lucky. This is commonly expressed during a game in phrases like, “We have to win this point.” Or one of my favourites, “Come on, Dave, you’ve got this.” These things are un-actionable. I cannot take either of those and do anything with them, thus I will be even more anxious and very likely blow it! The alternative is to actually come up with a strategy, and not get complicated. To make it complex, makes it harder to pull off under pressure.
When I learned tennis, my first coach was an actual backboard. I quickly taught myself the control it would take to keep the shots rebounding off the wall at the right pace so that I could return them. Again and again and again. Many of the players I work with have never hit against a wall – and it’s readily apparent when they aren’t able to rally more than three balls in a row. So, what does consistency on the tennis court mean? Simply, you are better than the average player if you can make three shots with the same speed, trajectory and target. Three shots, that’s all it takes. This is true of any sport. The things it takes to win are often boring and DO NOT win every point. Often, athletes will execute a strategy or technique until it fails once and then they abandon it. It is important to help them understand that consistency works over time, is never flashy and wins a higher percentage of the points played.
So, what does consistency on the tennis court mean? Simply, you are better than the average player if you can make three shots with the same speed, trajectory and target. www.coachinglife.com.au
Putting a player on an island is a bad idea. The athlete needs to understand you are there for them. Champions often have a long list of people who have helped them and you always hear about it when they win. If you’ve ever seen a professional tennis player win a Grand Slam tournament, the first thing they do after they shake their opponent’s hand is head up into the crowd to their box. All of their support system is represented there from parents to coaches to friends. And that athlete knows how important they were to their journey. Letting a player know that you are a part of their system will make them indebted to you when they are playing their game
JUST DEAL WITH IT
As a coach, and probably a current or former player, you know that there are things that happen in a game that are completely unexpected. If the player has practiced these situations, they will easily deal with it and then move on. If, on the other hand, they have not, you will hear excuses. I can’t hit a shot from there. That guy is faster than me. She has a killer slice backhand. Ok, I know that, you know that, we all know that. Buckle up and deal with it. See #2 – make a plan and Just Deal With It. Players need to know that you have put them into every possible situation so that they will be able to respond when the bizarre, unexplainable and difficult arises in their matches.
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NO LOOKING BACK
On the tennis court, I like to tell my students that it does you absolutely no good to say, “That shot stunk,” or “I should’ve done this,” or worse, “I can’t even make a forehand today.” This is all negative, past-looking visualisation that reinforces the poor result. Our minds are very interesting in that they see those actual errors and the visualised errors as the same. Thus, you are repeating mistakes over and over again, even though on court, they only happened once. We see evidence of this in which a player loses a big point with a poor shot or poor strategy and then loses the next three points still re-living the point they lost in their mind. I encourage players who’ve made an error to turn their negative emotion from replaying the poor shot in their minds to picturing and even saying out loud, “Next time, I will do this.” It forces us to see the shot we want to make and hear ourselves confirm it. Instead of several negative replays of the error in our mind, we get a few positive pictures of how we do want the play the point.
DEALING WITH SETBACKS
Athletes see setbacks in every single match they play. In tennis, we may get up in the set a few games and suddenly the other team manages to fight back. We win the first set, only to lose the second set. Coaching an athlete to deal with these is again an examination of perception. Most journeys that are worth taking have ups and downs. The best
rollercoasters have lots of hills, twists and turns. We love summer, but without winter, would the warmer season be as nice? Athletes must understand that a setback is part of a larger picture, part of the journey, not the end. If you’re not ok with the unexpected, you probably won’t like sports in general. Often, the unexpected is what makes our sport so enjoyable. Take a step back from this bump in the road, examine where you are going, and find a way around it. Circle back to your plan and move on.
There’s a very interesting phenomenon at work in every winner’s life called momentum. It has been referred to as different things from ‘being in the zone’ to ‘the Midas touch’. Everything this winner touches turns to gold. I once watched Michael Jordan make free throws with his eyes closed! But how do we achieve this? Can we make this happen on purpose? The answer is yes, but the actions to take are quite boring. The lessons we all learn in our bicycleriding years are that you push the pedals to move and, on a hill, if you stop, it’s really hard to get moving again! It’s pretty easy to ride up a hill if you just keep pushing the pedals, one at a time and don’t ever stop. But that’s difficult if you look up at the top of that hill and see how far up it is. Many long and arduous tasks are often failed before they begin because the end seems too far away. Though we must focus on where we are going, achieving success often comes from breaking down our plan into small, actionable pieces that we move us closer to our goals. In tennis, it might
look something like this: I want to win the Australian Open. A daunting task indeed! Simplified, it might look more like this: I must win 7 matches, to do that, I must win my first match, to do that, I must win the first set, to do that, I must win the first game, to do that, I must win the first point, to do that, I must hit a better first shot. We’ve boiled down winning a Grand Slam to hitting a better first shot – over and over and over again.
A champion must be willing to learn. Andre Agassi learned that image wasn’t everything. Federer learned that outdated technology wasn’t helping him win. Tiger Woods changed his swing at the height of his career to better himself. Learning is the process you need to keep your momentum going, to bounce back from rock bottom, to experience a fuller, more rewarding life and have success for ourselves and our athletes. The mind is a powerful tool that requires sharpening. I hope you gain and share something from these lessons.
David F. Berens has been a certified USPTA Elite Tennis Professional since 2001. His experience in tennis has taken him from city parks to exclusive resorts and island getaways. Today he calls Knoxville, Tennessee home. He has also been a writer most of his life and has been published in the USPTA magazine, as well as being the author of “Break Point: 9 Life Lessons from the Tennis Court” examining the mental aspect of tennis. You can follow him at www.BecomingAChampion.info.
ADVERSITY: THE GROWTH CREATOR By Mick Miller
I USED TO BE A FAIRLY OVERWEIGHT, BEER-DRINKING, SAILING, BOATBUILDING TYPE PERSON. ONE DAY I DECIDED TO GET INCREDIBLY FIT, TRAIN FOR A SPORT WAY ABOVE MY LEVEL AND PUSH MYSELF TO EXTREMES PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY.
joined a still water rowing club, who told me to leave as I was too small. If I lost 10kg, I could have been a coxswain – that’s how short I was. But I stayed and kept training, rowing and rowing, getting fitter. I enjoyed the weight training with Rod Hinchey at Bayview gym so much that I wanted to become a strength and conditioning coach. It was a complete career change at 27/28 years old. I started with a few basic courses, got my Level 1 Strength and Conditioning, and then picked out some of the top coaches and the five most energydemanding sports I could find to study
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– ice hockey, cross country skiing, long distance running, boxing and rowing. That’s not to say that swimming, tennis, basketball and rugby are easy! From that I worked out my foundation of how to train people. I was also influenced by Ashley Jones while I was at the NSW Academy of Sport. He was working with the Sydney Kings basketball team at the time, then moved on to the Wallabies and All Blacks, among others, and is now working with Scotland’s national rugby squad. I started in strength and conditioning, which then phased into a rehab position. I would rehab team members
physically and mentally so they could return to their squad positions. I’ve always had a passion for psych and mental skill conditioning. It was from this that I decided it was where I really wanted to end up. I saw that there was a gap in the market in sailing, having a sailing background myself and training a few juniors and seniors at the time. I got these people incredibly fit and pretty hardened up in the headspace as well, and the doors started to open after the first year. I told Ashley Jones that I was going to university to get a sports science www.coachinglife.com.au
SPORT degree, but he talked me out of it. He said, “Grab your bag, head overseas and do your apprenticeship. Knock on as many doors as you can, hang out with the best coaches in the world that you can find, and learn your trade that way.” So in 1991, I went to Hawaii and worked with an outrigger canoe team, and then the state Hawaiian kayak team for 6 months. Next I landed in mainland USA and ended up working on the Australian team for the 1992 America’s Cup. The boat was so behind schedule that it didn’t matter if you were a doctor, a rocket scientist, a physiologist – everyone had to work on the boat. I learnt about being involved in a great team, including learning from Iain Murray who is an amazing sailor and who I would later work with on his Olympic campaigns. I was basically a walking sponge for anything to do with coaching, management, people management, defusing ego, communication – which is the real art of coaching. We focused on the positives and how we could reach the outcome we desired. If you have 35 people in an organisation thinking like that, it gives you some incredible fire-power. While the boat failed to make the semi-finals, I decided to stay on in the States, first with the University of Michigan football team and then checking out the Vancouver Kanucks ice hockey team before coming home. On returning, I got a job with the North Sydney Bears rugby club working as a sports therapist. I got back into sailing as well, and set up a strength and conditioning centre at the local yacht club, which I ran for around 20 years. Through this I ended up working with a number of state, Australian and pre-Olympic sailing and rowing teams, as well as some professional yachting teams. I was privileged and fortunate to be part of the state rowing teams from 1992 to the 2000 Olympics and forged lasting friendships with many great managers, coaches and athletes.
HIGHS AND LOWS The highest point of coaching is when you sit down and work out the plan for www.coachinglife.com.au
an athlete and you know that everyone is doing the best they can to achieve it. Those are the incredible moments. As is the patriotic feeling of knowing that you are a small country without a huge budget (compared to some countries) but still able to perform and succeed at the highest level. The low points are when you come off these teams. After the Sydney Olympics, the government was cutting back and the jobs weren’t going to be available for the next Olympic cycle. Without reflection and rebuilding, I jumped onto the next project, which was Iain Murray’s 2004 Olympic sailing campaign in the two-man Star class. I was his rehab coordinator, strength and conditioning coach, and mentor. We travelled around the world going to sailing regattas. In the lead up, however, Iain got pneumonia and was unable to compete so Colin Beashel was selected instead, so I helped Colin’s team instead. Iain had another successful campaign for the 2008 Olympics and I learnt a lot from him in terms of communication, being present in the moment and resolving issues. You have to surround yourself with the right people. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or do everything on your own. Every single person I have ever asked for help has been keen to provide support to anyone with the desire to ‘have a go’ in sport, coaching or development. Being successful doesn’t come into it. A lot of people look at coaching and think you have to be successful, but realistically even the leading coaches in the world are running at about 70-80% success rate.
AND THEN CAME CANCER I had some health issues in 2013. Looking back, I believe it was due to the stress and load I was under, and perhaps that I wasn’t looking after myself as well as I could. I could have reduced the pressure I placed on myself and celebrated the wins more. It became like an MBA in personal development for me, and I believe if you want to manage other people, you really have to know and manage yourself at a high level.
A lot of people say to me that the cancer must have been a bad time, but I see it as an experience rather than being simply good or bad. It all happened very quickly. I was swimming the length of the beach a couple of times, around 6km every second day, and was doing weights and yoga. I noticed a small bump in my neck. By the second week, that was taken out and by the third week I was in hospital. I went from 75kg to 50kg. I couldn’t talk and had a food tube in my stomach. Essentially, I went from a 4-year Olympic cycle to a 10-minute cycle where I would lie on the bed and be grateful for everything I did still have. There was no energy to put into the things I didn’t have. The nurse would come in and I couldn’t say anything back, so I would look at the ceiling and consider what I did have at that moment – I could blink my eyes, I could move my toes, I had two arms, and I was still here. Then there was a day when I would slide to the edge of the bed and feel the floor with my toes, so I celebrated that. Then there was a day where I could stand for 30 seconds, which was great. For 70 days, that was life. After I’d had a couple of operations, I found a bump in my throat. I chose to be angry and not allow support from my team for a few days, until the nurse came to me and said, “I think we’ve operated on the wrong part of your body. We should have operated on your ears because you’re not listening to one word we’re telling you. If you keep trying to do it all on your own, you’re not getting out of here alive. We’ve got a 33-person team here to help you if you decide you want it.” At the end of 70 days, I had learnt about expectations. Finally, I was told COACHINGLIFE
I was leaving the hospital then 10 minutes later I was going into isolation indefinitely as my white blood cell count was less than 1. I could be there a day, a month, half a year – they didn’t know. I was expecting to leave, I was excited, and it was taken away. Through my coaching there were a lot of expectations to win. If I wasn’t successful, I wasn’t going to be able to get my next job. I put so much pressure on myself. Now, I very rarely use the word expectations. I look for outcomes. Most coaches now don’t use the word “winning”, they will use the word “outcome” and talk about effort. I ended up in isolation for 2.5 weeks. A lot of people say to me that the cancer must have been a bad time, but I see it as an experience rather than being simply good or bad. You can grow and learn from an experience. The last couple of years of my life, it’s changed my outlook and how I view everything. Since getting out of hospital, I still go back every second week to help people coming out who are going through what I went through.
ADVERSITY = EXPERIENCE = GROWTH The greatest challenge faced by coaches is the pressure of expectations, as well as being really able to celebrate each day’s achievements – the good, bad and ugly. Try to be present in the moment, not dwell too much in the past or the future. Where do you want to put your energies and your time? Look at what you can do and study the things you can improve, rather than dwelling on a moment in the past that didn’t result in the desired
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outcome. Turn it around and use the 3x3 system: write down 3 great things, and 3 things you need to improve. Nothing is ever bad. If you can review yourself on these things constantly as a coach or an athlete, then you end up with serious horsepower. To manage these expectations as a coach, first get rid of the word ‘expectations’ and change it to a word you are comfortable with, e.g. outcome, goal. If you can change what words you mentally feed yourself, it actually gives you a better playing field for achievement. It’s a bit of an art but it’s what elite athletes do. For example, consider what Jonathon Thurston says to himself before kicking a goal. What are the words he uses to get himself focused and present, to have a good chance at a successful outcome? There is no shortage of distractions, but you have to prioritise and get completely present so you can reach your outcomes. Many coaches are using this attitude already, such as Wayne Bennett (Broncos) and Des Hasler (who I was associated with at the Sea Eagles). As coaches, we are constantly reviewing processes for our athletes to perform at a high level, but I think that coaches need to sit back and have time to review themselves, work on their own processes and rewards. Their foot is always on the accelerator trying to achieve their KPIs. If you reward yourself for the little things, imagine how that changes your day. We need to have adversity. Today where I sit at home, I look out over the bay and the wind is gusting up to
30 knots. The trees all around me are getting challenged by the weather. The trees are just going to hang on and not do anything too radical. But once the wind stops blowing, the roots go deeper and the tree gets bigger and stronger. It’s the same with people. We need adversity and to be challenged. We need it to grow. You can say that the adversity was bad, but then you will not grow from it. If adversity can be an experience, then the bigger the adversity, the bigger the growth.
Mick Miller is a sports manager, a high performance coach, and a Strength and Conditioning Coach who been involved in six Olympic campaigns for both sailing and rowing. His work includes NRL teams, and international rugby squads. He is also a cancer survivor and now motivational speaker, focused on mental strength, purpose and positivity. www.mickmiller.com.au www.coachinglife.com.au
COPING WITH SUCCESS By David Lush
CHASING THOSE 5 RINGS
lazyllama / Shutterstock.com
In 2004, after spending 15 years following the black line, chasing an Olympic Dream, it was time to hang up the goggles and cap. I had been lucky to represent my country a number of times and felt as though I had gone as far as I could as an athlete â€“ however it was extremely difficult to walk away from the pursuit of those 5 rings.
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y mentor and coach at the time offered me an assistant coaching role, which perfectly complimented my busy university timetable. I was lucky to assist the Head Coach in developing a number of great athletes, who would go on to represent Australia at the highest level (including the Olympics). I had never planned on being a coach, however, the feeling I got when seeing my junior athletes achieve a personal best, knowing that you had guided them to that moment, had me hooked. It also dawned on me that maybe MY own personal pursuit of the Olympic Dream wasn’t over – maybe I can coach my way to those 5 rings? In 2008, I was appointed as Director of Swimming at Brisbane Grammar School, a prestigious boys school in central Brisbane. As there was no swimming club, I was simply charged with the delivery of aquatic exercise prescription to 80 or so Year 8-12 students for the duration of the “GPS school swimming season”.
After a successful GPS School Swimming season, I needed to quickly think of a way to entice the boys to continue swimming – as most boys at this time, historically, would take up another extra-curricular activity, e.g. cricket, volleyball or football. I approached McDonalds, requested 500 Big Mac vouchers, and promised the students one free burger if they turned up to training each week. The initiative brought the boys through the door, however it was now about creating a positive and competitive environment, whereby the students would no longer need the extra incentive to bring them back. After settling in at Brisbane Grammar and implementing a number of favourable initiatives, I submitted a proposal to the school, giving voice to my interest in establishing a swimming club, which was successful and now known as BGS Swimming. To grow the club in the first instance, I approached the local state schools, citing the world-class facilities Brisbane Grammar School has to offer, including an
I had never planned on being a coach, however, the feeling I got when seeing my junior athletes achieve a personal best, knowing that you had guided them to that moment, had me hooked. indoor 50m and 25m pool as well as a gymnastics hall and fully equipped strength and conditioning gym. We also opened the doors to siblings and parents of students who were keen to train. The program gathered momentum as the number of swimmers increased, which resulted in significant growth from 2011-2014. I was really fortunate in that I effectively managed to identify a couple of good swimmers from those peripheral schools. One was Minna Atherton, who recently finished third in the backstroke
BUSINESS at the 2016 Hancock Prospecting Australian Championships, narrowly missing out on Australian team selection for the Rio Olympics by 0.2 seconds. At only 15 years of age, she is also the current World Junior Record Holder in the 100m and 200m Backstroke and clearly has a good future ahead of her. As the number of swimmers increased and the calibre of athlete continued to improve, it was obvious that the “one man show” was becoming inefficient. I started to develop great relationships with a variety of professionals in the local area. These professionals helped form what is now known as the “BGS Swimming Health Professional Network”, which include a sports physician, biomechanist, physiologist, nutritionist; several strength and conditioning coaches; several physiotherapists and a yoga instructor; all of whom provide athletic development support to the swimmers and fundamentally to the BGS Swimming program as a whole. In 2010, we had 4 athletes compete at the National Age Championships, and by 2014 this had grown to 15 competitors. The club program continued to progress markedly and by 2015, with a couple of extra coaches on board, we sent 22 athletes to the National Age Championships. In May 2015, Emily Seebohm, an extremely successful backstroke swimmer and two-time Olympian, asked if I would coach her, as her previous coach, Matt Brown, was relocating to Victoria. I was, and remain, incredibly humbled to have been asked to take responsibility of such an amazing athlete. With elite athletes like Emily Seebohm, scenarios both unexpected and challenging presented themselves. I was already somewhat busy, but when you add Emily Seebohm to the mix, I instantaneously jumped from approximately 17 points of contact to 30 stakeholders, some of whom are actually groups of stakeholders! All of these stakeholders impose management at various levels of the process, resulting in additional emails, extra phone calls, and more dialogue
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focusing specifically on the pathway to the Olympic Games and the success of Emily. Emily is an extremely successful athlete so it is essential to be able to maintain her focus, discipline and energy. To do this, both Emily and myself need these people who construct the support around her, to maintain her rigorous training, other obligations and continued success. In addition to the stakeholders, we have her Mum and Dad, who are fantastic and unreservedly supportive of what we are doing within the program. You then have to add the boyfriend, the manager and external media – which can often be unpredictable. We also have SAL Media, who are more protective and predictable but necessitate management. Obviously, we also add the many sponsors that want Emily’s time, my time, pool time, and club time to promote their brand. I have correspondingly been exposed to the professionals who regulate and expedite the budget for major event preparation (e.g. Olympic Games) and trips to competitions. Preparing the budgets takes time and research.
at a high performance level, but it is a complex process to know how to utilise and manage the pathways. Sometimes, as coaches, ego can obstruct the holistic vision but I have learnt quickly that you have to let that go a little and allow the professionals around you to maximise the potential of the athlete and their performance. Elite coaching is about productive compartmentalising and making the most of the moment! The 2016 Australian Olympic Trials concluded in April, with Australia sending a strong team of 34 athletes and 10 coaches. The Australian Swimming Team has capped 121 coaches with the honour of representing Australia at the highest level. On Saturday 7 May, 2016, I was announced as Australian Team coach number 122, heading to the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games – I finally got those 5 rings.
I have been extremely fortunate to have great mentors and support within Swimming Australia, including Jacco Verhaeren (National Team Head Coach), Wayne Lomas (High Performance Manager) and John Bertrand (SAL President). The most challenging aspect for me has been maintaining the responsibilities of my role as Director of Swimming at Brisbane Grammar School, coupled with everything related to running the BGS Swimming Club, whilst also taking on all of the aforementioned layers of coaching several world-class athletes. All of this is positive, but it can be very daunting when you haven’t dealt with it before. I have needed to rapidly improve my communication skills, and develop new and efficient ways to utilise the support people around me. Swimming Australia have been fantastic in making me feel welcome, coupled with acknowledging my program by providing the immense number of support structures associated with coaching
David Lush spent 15 years as a competitive swimmer, representing Australia several times, before moving into coaching. He is now the Director of Swimming at Brisbane Grammar School and head coach of the BGS Swimming club. Most recently he became the new coach of two-time Olympian, Emily Seebohm, and has been named as one of the Australian swimming coaches to the Rio Olympic team.
BUSINESS COACHING Â»
JACK DELOSA Entrepreneur & CEO of The Entourage KIM YABSLEY Principal Consultant, Stratcomm MICHAEL COOPER Financial Planner/Performance Coach KAREN BROOK Entrepreneur & Business Coach
This article is adapted from Jack Delosa’s new book, Unwritten – Reinvent Tomorrow. A book about innovation, entrepreneurship and living a life on purpose.
By Jack Delosa
THE HIDDEN VALUE OF ADVERSITY I BELIEVE THAT LIFE IS A CONTINUAL PROCESS, GROWING OUT OF AND INTO YOUR BEST SELF. I BELIEVE THAT’S ULTIMATELY WHY WE ARE HERE: TO HAVE THE EXPERIENCES THAT WILL ENABLE OUR OWN PERSONAL EVOLUTION.
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ften, the periods of our greatest growth come in response to the times of our greatest challenge. Adversity invites us to think, encourages us to explore and sometimes forces us to find greater depths of strength in order to rise to the challenge that now lies in front of us. When you are somebody who is living a mission-based life with dreams of creating a bright future, growth is most likely one of your highest personal values – one of the things you cherish most in life. As such, the coming
of adversity is simply the universe responding to one of our highest requests: the request for personal growth and evolution. I believe that challenge does not come to leave us defeated but rather, to invite us to expand who we are and to become more of ourselves, in order to create the future we are envisaging. Often, there is little difference between personal pain and the longing to be without it; pain carries a greater sting when we try to disown it. When we accept that to be challenged and www.coachinglife.com.au
stretched to a healthy degree can enable us to flourish, we find comfort in the discomfort that we used to wrestle with. It is through this soothing sense of acceptance that we are more open to discovering the lessons and the hidden value that lies in every experience – both ‘good’ and ‘bad’. One wildly successful person who found her foundation through adversity was Joanne Rowling, better known as J. K. Rowling. She is, of course, the author of Harry Potter, the best-selling book series in history, having sold over 400 million copies. The movies that were based on them grossed $5.3 billion in total, making Harry Potter the second-highest-grossing movie series ever. Perhaps more importantly than her commercial success, Rowling is credited with getting colossal numbers of children reading for pleasure, many of them for the first time. ‘I was not the world’s most secure person. I wasn’t someone with an enormous amount of – in fact, I’d say I was someone with not much self-belief at all and yet in this one thing in my life I believed. That was the one thing in my life – I felt “I can tell a story”,’ Rowling told Oprah Winfrey in 2010. Rowling had been writing almost nonstop since she was 6, and then one day, while on a train at the age of 25, an idea strikes her like a bolt of lightning: ‘boy doesn’t know he’s a wizard goes to wizard school’. Not having a pen on her at the time, Rowling sat on a train as the ideas came flooding in. That night, she began writing her first Harry Potter book, Harry www.coachinglife.com.au
Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Her mother had always been a huge supporter of her writing. Yet, six months after she had started writing Harry Potter, her mother passed away after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. Rowling had never told her mother about Harry Potter. ‘And I would have done. You know? I would have told her about it and I know she would have really liked it. I think it was six months before she died I started writing. Yeah, and I never shared it with her.’ Rowling points to the fact that her mother’s passing, while understandably traumatic, shaped the Harry Potter series into being what it was. ‘The books wouldn’t be what they are if she hadn’t died. I mean her death is on virtually every other page of the Harry Potter books, you know? At least half of Harry’s journey is a journey to deal with death in its many forms, what it does to the living, what it means to die, what survives death – it’s there in every single volume of the books.’ Here we see a clear example of Rowling taking something that is traumatically difficult and using those events to help her move forward. ‘If she hadn’t died I don’t think it’s too strong to say there wouldn’t be Harry Potter. There wouldn’t – you know? The books are what they are because she died.
Because I loved her and she died. That’s why they are what they are.’ The years after her mother’s passing were incredibly hard for Rowling. In her own words, this was when she entered the dark period of her life. After
Find the gift in the adversity moving to Portugal, Rowling married. Still a struggling writer, she became an English teacher, and within a couple of years she gave birth to her daughter, Jessica. Soon after Jessica was born, her marriage ended, and she decided to move to Scotland. ‘I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded . . . and the fears of my parents, and those I’d had for myself, had both come to pass. By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.’ Today, Rowling openly discusses that period of her life. Acknowledging that at the time she questioned whether she would get through it or for how long it would stretch. She now views it as COACHINGLIFE
When challenge is seen for what it is, the result is rarely heartache or despair, but a deep sense of growth and acceptance. There is a hidden value in every experience, particularly the hard ones.
providing the very direction she needed in order to focus on the work that mattered to her: being a mother and telling great stories. In a Harvard Commencement Address in 2008, Rowling reflects, ‘So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.’ In life, it is not what happens to us that determines who we become, but rather how we choose to interpret what happens to us, and therefore who we become as a result. In J. K. Rowling, we find someone who, like many others, had to endure the depths of her own pain in order to reach the heights of her own fulfilment. The key question I’ve learnt to explore whenever I’m presented with great challenge is: If this happened for a reason, what would that be? It is in the stillness and the pausing to feel our way through such a question, where we can shine a light on an otherwise dark experience. Regardless of how painful the present challenge may be, often this reflection can lead into a beautiful exploration of self. Some further questions here that you might find useful are: • What was this experience here to teach me? • Did I need to learn about the value of life?
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• Did I need to learn about the realities of loss? • Did I need to learn to move beyond self and live in the service of others? • Or did I need to learn to take better care of myself? • Did I need to learn to love more wisely? • Did I need to learn the true value of integrity? • Did I need to move from one chapter to the next? • Did I need to refresh my personal values to reflect who I had now become?
When challenge is seen for what it is, the result is rarely heartache or despair, but a deep sense of growth and acceptance. There is a hidden value in every experience, particularly the hard ones. As yourself, what was the most challenging period of your life? If that period happened for a constructive reason, what would that be? How did that experience help you to become the person you longed to become? You know you’ve found the hidden wisdom when you view your deepest scar as your greatest gift.
• And, ultimately, did I need to achieve higher levels of self-love?
Sometimes, the answers are immediately available. Other times, you need to ask yourself these questions for years before the answers become clear. The adversity might be preparing you for a period that hasn’t even happened yet, meaning you may not be able to make complete sense of it until those future events present themselves. An OPR (Other Person’s Rule) that we’re brought up believing is that ‘the truth hurts’. I do not agree with this. The real truth never hurts. If it hurts, it’s because you haven’t found the highest truth yet. You’ve bought into a story you created or borrowed from someone else, and you’ve been running that story ever since. You haven’t got to the true essence of what the experience was there to teach you; you’ve yet to find the gift in the adversity.
Jack is a leading voice for entrepreneurship, for more advice on building a business and life that is meaningful to you follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Jack is the CEO and Founder of The Entourage and the innovative initiative, The Beanstalk Factory. To order your copy of Unwritten, visit www.reinvent-tomorrow.com.
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BUILDING RESILIENCE INTO ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE By Kim Yabsley
rganisations that experience adversity as part of the everyday, offer an uncommon opportunity for coaching impact. They are usually comprised of a workforce made up of individuals who occupy one or more of the following categories: 1. Experienced in looking for, and quick to embrace, alternatives to create more harmony within the organisational environment; 2. Aware of and managing the personal impact of everyday challenges that occur within the environment; 3. Lacking insight and responsibility for their role in or contribution to the current culture, or; 4. Burnt out from prolonged exposure to the above and disengaged from the possibility of improved workplace culture. Many organisations have an embedded culture of negativity which is evidenced through behaviours such as gossiping, complaints and bullying (to name a few). Perhaps even more difficult to
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address are the less overt behavioural patterns, such as the formation of cliques which cause fractures within the team, withholding work or passing along work that could easily be completed. Sometimes, very ordinary and seemingly inconsequential occurrences (like not cleaning up communal eating areas) can be interpreted as a sign of disrespect and contribute to a decline in morale, which often precedes an escalation in conflict.
or understanding of what they are exposed to and almost never receive public acknowledgement of their commitment to protecting society through rehabilitating offenders.
THE PRISON SYSTEM
• vicarious trauma through prolonged exposure to prisoner behaviour
Some organisations are particularly prone to dealing with adversity on a daily basis. Working in the corrective services environment, prison staff (Corrective Services Officers) encounter a range of complex and challenging situations as part of their everyday work environment. Adversity is an ongoing element of the organisational culture. They face potentially perilous situations as a matter of course during their work day and receive significant public backlash when an event or incident is reported in the press. They rarely experience appreciation
Additionally, there is an entrenched set of cultural dynamics that makes it hard to unify individuals at times. These include: • a rostered workforce who are not consistently working together and building rapport
• a distinct split in the employee base of: A) More experienced staff with the firm view that things should be done as they have always been done, despite their observation that the prison environment has changed over time, and; B) Younger staff who may hold qualifications that outrank their more mature counterparts but lack the maturity and experiential depth of these colleagues. www.coachinglife.com.au
CHANGING NEGATIVE THINKING
Given the rostered nature of staff and the distinctly different approaches of each generation working in the same environment, it is essential to find the common vision that underlies their commitment to working in the field. I find that there is always a fundamental commitment shared by the majority of the workforce. In the case of Corrective Services Officers, the commitment to community safety underlies opposing approaches. Once you work back to this baseline commitment and have group consensus, you can then rebuild culture. In coaching groups around these types of complex issues, the place to start is the same as all standard coaching frameworks:
skills within the group, and can begin to mend some of the relationship/rapport issues by re-establishing the two-way flow of communication. Sometimes it is also necessary to take a sidestep into a kind of debrief discussion that disrupts the group trajectory (the current culture), inspires insight at the individual level and creates pathways for action. This then reorients the group towards the shared vision and fundamental commitment that lead to organisational outcomes. Itâ€™s a particular kind of dance which weaves itself in and out of honing an individual focus and broadening the view to cater to group needs.
Mostly, as humans, we want to be right rather than to collaborate for improved outcomes. I think this is largely a result of the interplay between certain organisational elements that prevent powerful communication and improved outcomes at the group level. Commonly, wherever I see conflict, I see stress, change and poor resilience (at the personal, team and broader organisational levels). Stress and change are the Punch and Judy of organisational dynamics these days. They travel everywhere together, playing off each other and exacerbating reactions and responses that add to a decline in culture and create intensified experiences for individuals. There is true neuroscience behind vocabulary.
1. Address individual needs through working through real-life scenarios, identifying current and desired states. 2. Clarify barriers to bridging gaps then develop potential solutions. The application, however, is slightly different as it requires a multi-level approach, working with individuals while simultaneously managing the energy of the group. This can be achieved through group check-ins to manage listening and create alignment of interpretation. If effectively facilitated, these discussions also bring forth the peer support model by leveraging diverse www.coachinglife.com.au
BUSINESS Language sparks a reaction in us that brings forth feelings, thoughts, memories and past experiences associated with those worlds, thus our words have the power to create worlds. When people get locked into positional communication and their interactions are driven by cortisolfuelled interactions rather than stimulating oxytocin, they become fixed on their ideas and, perhaps, closed to considering win-win scenarios that blend, for example, experience with innovation, or the tried and tested with something fresh and new. On the upside, there is always some stuff that works about organisational culture. For example, sometimes cliques form a necessary peer support model. Within specific teams, I regularly hear individuals reporting how great their own team is, how well supported they feel and how comfortable they are debriefing and sharing openly with their immediate peers, even while collectively the group speaks of organisational dysfunction. Employees uniting is not always a bad thing. The ultimate, of course, is to assist and enable individuals to harness their energy to create improved outcomes within the culture and for the organisation as a whole. Because, let’s face it, at the end of the day an organisation’s culture is the sum total of all the positive and negative behaviours, attitudes and thinking.
If we want to change the culture of the organisation, we must first impact the thinking of individuals. People always to me say “What about those people who really don’t want to change? The ones who are really attached to their negativity and want to bring others down to their level? You know, those really difficult personalities?”. My first reaction is that when someone is categorised into an inherently negative space, our own thinking has been pulled toward that energetic vibration. We are now seeing
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that person through a specific filter that keeps them obstructionist. Everything they do becomes a mirror of that filter, a reflection for our own thinking. That way of thinking creates a very fixed response from our side, where we can only see black and white, right or wrong. Essentially, judging others keeps us in negative space ourselves. A more powerful context is to ask ourselves how we might approach this person to enable or engender a more positive outcome. I call it communicating for outcomes.
BUILDING RESILIENCE One of the most constructive ways to build skills around communicating for outcomes is through the development of resilience. Resilience is a foundation for healthy response mechanisms. It’s one of those qualities we develop in the background (through self-care, emotional intelligence, social connectivity and cognitive advancement) that is simple to understand but not easy to build. It requires real presence and commitment to something that no-one will really see until adversity strikes, when it becomes observable and aspirational. There is a specific framework for building resilience that applies to organisations and works at either team or organisation level. This approach centres around building ‘cultures of excellence’ where the organisation commits to individual wellbeing through the provision of psychological education – providing opportunities for personal growth through reflection. Importantly though, for real engagement, there must be pathways to translate individual insight into action that then results in organisational
outcomes, otherwise there will be no perceivable benefit, for the individual or organisation. Pathways for action include an organisational gap analysis that addresses 4 fundamental areas (or thematic categories) that most employee issues can be categorised into: 1. Leadership 2. Communications and culture 3. Workload and resources 4. Personal and professional integration This analysis can only be undertaken authentically once individuals have reflected personally and made the shift from judgement to observation, identifying clearly what works and what does not work for the desired outcome. Underpinning all of this, there must be a genuine approach to integration and engagement that is based on two-way communication. The organisation must be truly committed to engaging with, and listening to, what employees have to say if they want to cause a genuine shift in culture (including behaviours and attitudes). Positive attitudes create positive behaviours, and positive behaviours result in improved organisational outcomes. For a win that motivates true change, all parties must be open to an approach that is driven by: • Relationship Management • Outcomes Based • Action orientation • Human performance improvement
Kim Yabsley is a Principal Consultant at Stratcomm Pty Ltd, which runs public and in-house workshops to assist clients in building a Culture of Excellence. For more information on the Cultures of Excellence model, please visit www.stratcomm.com.au.
DEALING WITH FINANCIAL ADVERSITY By Mike Cooper
THE FIRST THING THAT I DID WHEN I WAS SUFFERING FINANCIAL ADVERSITY WAS SET UP AN ACCOUNT TO BE CHARITABLE. I REALISED THAT IF I COULD GIVE MONEY AWAY (NO MATTER HOW BIG OR SMALL), I MUST BE OK. SOMEONE ELSE IS WORSE OFF THAN ME AND I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN HIS OR HER LIFE. THIS SIMPLE ACT MADE ME FEEL GREAT.
WATCH THE PENNIES AND THE DOLLARS WILL TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACE IS STARTING.
any people deal with adversity when it comes to money. It is not always easy to go on without having a good and stable income. There are plenty of people that have money troubles and have no idea how to deal with the failures that come along with it. It is important to keep a good, open mind that will help relieve their stress so that they can find happiness and success. Firstly, make good connections. Use family and friends as a support network to talk to and help with coping mentally. Talking to trusted sources and getting their support is important and something that you can do to feel better about yourself and what you’re going through. Set some goals. Taking the smaller steps and dealing with the tasks one at a time is something that will be a great help. Set goals that are going to make you feel good about yourself and your purpose. When it comes to money, you need to figure out ways to make more of it, without more headaches.
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Most of all, your clients need time. It often takes them 40 years to make the mess and very rarely will it unravel overnight. Many people do not know how to manage money, but it is something that can be learned. Keep in mind that when it comes to dealing with financial adversity, you just need to stop spending for one day. Try to get a grasp on the situation by: • Knowing exactly how much you have in the bank right now. • Going online and check all your credit card balances.
ONE CARD TO RULE THEM ALL The first thing is to get rid of all, but one credit card. Once you have that credit card, only use it for emergency purposes (not for shopping sprees). There are a lot of credit cards that can be cancelled and still be paid on. If you end the credit card line today, you’ll still continue to lower your balance, but not have the option to charge anything. Talk to your credit card companies in this manner so that you can keep yourself
from further debt. There are some people who have the discipline to use credit wisely and some people who struggle.
FIND YOUR COACH The second thing that you’ll want to do is get someone that you trust to help you with your personal income and spending. Try to get someone who is experienced and good with their money, such as a professional who specialises in finance and money management. While it is good to have family members support you, there is a good chance they have the same beliefs, modalities and education that you do! Consider what is right and what is wrong with your finances. You may simply have over extended your income, which now requires a 2nd job to maintain. Remember that the credit score is hard to fix, but within 5 years it will be out of the red and into the black. Consolidate all credit cards and perhaps refinance the mortgage so that you can have fewer payments a month. www.coachinglife.com.au
Consider combining all of the credit cards into one payment so that there is less to worry about each month. This is the perfect way to get rid of debt as well. If you are unable to reconsolidate or refinance, then you are going to have to fix two things: income and outgoings. Cut back on spending. This might mean going without restaurants and bars. Reduce big gifts and spontaneous spending and don’t act like you have more money than you do. If you are able to limit yourself to $50 a week for things like drinking, entertainment and take away, you’ll be able to save money.
SAVE NOW Finally, learn how to save money. Saving money is hard, because you feel like you have a lot more money than you know what to do with, however, you need to save and make money through investments. To start with, these investments could simply be interestbearing accounts. Use simple things like savings accounts so that you can keep yourself from debt. The higher the amount you save, the more complex and rewarding these investments become. You have to earn the right to invest, by saving first.
HOW TO BE MORE UPBEAT You’ll find that a lot of people have a hard time staying up beat, but for those who do, their life is very different. You’ll find that with a positive attitude, anything is possible. There is a lot more to life than just going to work and home. Find some passion in your life in order to find the positive, instead of allowing yourself to wallow in self-pity. Try to do something that is constructive and positive. Keep in mind that when it comes to financial adversity, it is simply a negative attitude. Your clients have experienced adversity and things seem to go from bad to catastrophic and their thoughts follow the same path.
Remember: THOUGHTS lead to FEELINGS lead to ACTIONS, which lead to RESULTS Society has a tendency to reverse the process: Results, Actions, Feelings and more often than not Failure. When you think about the end RESULT of becoming financially free or reducing debt, you focus all your energy on the result. Often when results do not happen radically, it is easy to be discouraged and negative in mindset and actions. “See this wasn’t for me; I’m not meant to be rich. You have to be corrupt or misaligned to be wealthy.”
A lot of people are looking to find success and money as quickly as possible. They make not-so-bright choices and later on pay for their mistakes. Think about the choices you have now. If something seems too easy, then it’ll only lead you to disappointment. Keep in mind that the best things in life take time and plenty of hard work to achieve. If you learn how to take one day at a time, you’ll be able to come out on top.
“Money isn’t that important to me anyway, it’s not my highest value”. We have all heard these before. People either move away from pain or towards pleasure (with the pleasure being the more enduring and robust style of motivator). When they harness positive thoughts, it leads them to feel great about their decision to make change. It would only take the smallest of movements or progress in the right direction to encourage them to stay the path and push for greater achievements. So remember: • Positive Thoughts about making change • Success comes from a repeatable performance executed daily. • Make sure your actions are in alignment with your Values and Goals. Your actions need to inspire you to keep moving forward even in the face of adversity. • Set realistic goals to ensure you keep moving forward. Once you are out of the red – then you can set some stretch goals. All of these combined and repeated will produce lasting change and positive
Financial Advice is provided by Planning Perspective Gold Coast Pty Ltd (AFS No 422133) a Corporate Authorised Representative of Madison Financial Group Pty Ltd (AFSL No 246679). This information is of a general nature only and neither represents nor is intended to be specific advice on any particular matter. We strongly suggest that you seek professional financial advice before acting www.coachinglife.com.au
outcomes, breaking the pattern of poor money management.
Michael Cooper is a Financial Planner, Performance Coach and a Motivational Speaker. He achieved great success in the sporting arena personally then moved on to coach athletes to success including working with the Sydney Kings Basketball, as assistant strength and conditioning coach, and finally a supporting role with the Australian Boomers. Michael provides the solutions and systems, which eradicate fears and frustrations around money, as well as facilitating change and the realisation of one’s true potential.
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IN CASE OF EMERGENCY: AVIATE, NAVIGATE & COMMUNICATE
By Karen Brook
THE WAY I SEE IT, YOU ARE THE PILOT OF YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND CAPTAIN OF YOUR OWN LIFE. SO IF THINGS ARE STARTING TO HEAD ‘SOUTH’ AND YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE LOSING CONTROL OF WHERE YOUR BUSINESS OR FINANCES ARE HEADED, THEN READ ON…
am a pilot and have grown up around aviation. I have been flying around outback Australia with my Mum and Dad since I was a baby. Our plane was our mode of transport. It was more ‘normal’ to get in the plane and fly 30 minutes to a sports carnival than it was to jump in the car and make the two-hour road trip. I got my own private pilot’s license in 2012, at a time when my own branding and design business was doing it tough. If it wasn’t for learning to fly, I would never have had the desire or knowledge of how to turn it around. I could see very quickly the synergies between learning to fly and running a thriving, profitable business. Let me explain…
When you are a pilot there are three little words that pretty well sum up the whole process of flying and being a good, safe pilot: “Aviate, Navigate and Communicate”. “Aviate” means to fly the aircraft first, always be in control of your aircraft, before you think about anything else. In terms of business, we can think of this as always being in control of your business. If you don’t feel like you are, then what needs to happen to take back that control? Once we feel we are safely flying the aircraft, we then “Navigate”. This is about situational awareness; knowing where you are and where you want to go, then setting an intention and a plan COACHINGLIFE
As a pilot, we make radio calls to let other people know who we are, where we are and what we are planning to do. But we don’t make these radio calls unless we are in control of the aircraft (Aviate) and we have some kind of plan (Navigate). In business, you can relate this to talking to your employees, your customers and your prospects.
to get there. It’s true, sometimes our plans have to change. We have to try another approach, go via a different route but without that clearly defined goal of where we want to get too and why, we may be tempted to just throw our hands in the air when things get tough! That is the surest way to crash and burn, both the aircraft and your business! And finally “Communicate”. This is all about letting people know your intentions. As a pilot, we make radio calls to let other people know who we are, where we are and what we are planning to do. But we don’t make these radio calls unless we are in control of the aircraft (Aviate) and we have some kind of plan (Navigate). In business, you can relate this to talking to your employees, your customers and your prospects. Here’s how you can easily put these principles into practice in your own business:
7 WAYS TO TAKE BACK CONTROL OF YOUR BUSINESS, YOUR LIFE AND YOUR OWN FINANCIAL SECURITY
On a sheet of paper, write down exactly how you are currently experiencing a situation or circumstance. Describe it in all of its detail. This is where your mind is at. Your results always tell what is going on at a subconscious level in the mind. On another sheet of paper, write down exactly how you would like to be experiencing the situation
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or circumstance. Take and burn the negative and focus only on the positive written description you have made. Read and write it out every day. You are starting to reprogram your subconscious mind, through the power of repetition, to experience and expect a new result. This activity may sound simple but it is powerful. You are now taking back control of your thinking and organising your mind in line with the results you desire to experience.
Express gratitude. Being grateful for what you do have sets up a powerful force to attract more good into your life. To form the habit of gratitude, every day for 30 days, sit down and write 10 things you are grateful for beginning with “I am so happy and grateful now that…”. Remember that you can express gratitude for things past, present and future. At the end of this activity, sit quietly for five minutes and ask for guidance from source and then send love to three people that might be bothering you. You will feel really good after this activity and it will set-up a powerful attractive force in your life.
If your concerns are financial, stop putting things on your credit card! I learnt this the hard way. I once had upwards of $25,000 in credit card debt. It’s been years since I’ve used credit cards, and I now pay for everything in cash and have no credit card debt. It’s a great feeling to know you can do what you want, when you want, with your own money! To get out
of the credit card cycle, first create yourself an ‘emergency account’ and build this account up to an amount you would feel comfortable with (for me it was $2000). The idea of this is that, if something was to happen or you needed money quickly you would have it and not have to put it on your card. It also gets you used to the idea of having money again. Once you have money in your ‘emergency account’, cut up your credit cards, and start paying them off. You may have to curb your lifestyle while you work on repayments, but it is worth it in the end!
Following on the finances route, talk to your bank manager. If you have any business loans, make sure you are getting the best deal and be confident in your dealing with them. This is your business! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Over my business career, I’ve got myself into many tricky situations and I was too embarrassed to ask for help. Stay in control and always be proactive.
Keep a close eye on your bank account and your book keeping. It’s ok to have someone help you, but if money is tight then you need to have your finger on the pulse everyday! I’ve met so many people who are trying to improve their financial position but don’t want to look at their bank account or their books! Ask your bookkeeper or accountant to explain what the numbers mean to you if you don’t understand. www.coachinglife.com.au
The three basic principles of flying “Aviate, Navigate & Communicate” can be applied to any situation or circumstance.
Discover and set a clearly defined goal. Get creative! What do you really want? You are the Captain of your own life, so lock onto what you really want to create. A goal that is big, bold and beautiful will cause you to grow in your business, to bring more of yourself to the game, to innovate, to refresh and push. It will bring a dimension of creativity and inspiration to how you experience day-to-day life and give you the motivation you need to turn things around and keep on going.
And finally, a word on time. There is no such thing as time management! You can only manage activity. Form the daily habit of writing down six goal achieving activities that you can do each day to move you in the right direction. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get through them all in the beginning, but this habit will quickly
help you develop your ability to focus and identify what activities are most important in helping you reach your goal. You will quickly find yourself becoming calmer and more productive on a day-to-day basis. Everything I have shared with you here comes back to being in control, knowing where you want to go and letting people know your intentions. The three basic principles of flying “Aviate, Navigate & Communicate” can be applied to any situation or circumstance. As you start to take control of your thoughts, feelings and actions in line with what you really want, your results will begin to change. Make sure your dominant thoughts are in line with what you want, then follow that through with positive action and you will transform not only your business, but your life! Now get back out there, it’s your time to fly!
Karen Brook is a leader, a connector, a facilitator, a motivator and a synthesizer of all that is around her. She is also an entrepreneurial expert, a results mentor, and someone who is truly focussed on converting thinking intro results. For more information, please visit www.karenbrook.com.au
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU»
IF YOU ARE READING THIS, THEN MAYBE YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO JOIN THE ELITE AND BE PUBLISHED IN COACHING LIFE. THE PROCESS IS PRETTY SIMPLE. YOU SUBMIT AN ARTICLE BRIEF AND OUR TEAM WILL REVIEW IT. WE THEN GIVE YOU OUR EXACT REQUIREMENTS OF WHAT WE NEED TO FIT IN THE SPACE WE HAVE. IF YOUR FOCUS IS ON SPORT, BUSINESS OR LIFE COACHING, WE HAVE AN AUDIENCE THAT WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU.
WHAT ARE MY CHANCES OF BEING PUBLISHED? We cannot guarantee that your masterpiece will make it into the published version but we will also allow a number of exceptional articles onto the electronic and web version that don’t make it to print. This means that you have lots more chances of getting the recognition you deserve. WHAT DOES IT COST? It costs nothing to submit a brief, but if you are accepted into the published magazine, it will cost you time to write the article. We don’t charge or pay for articles.
WHAT DO I NEED? Firstly, you need a great article that will be useful or inspirational to other coaches. Each issue of Coaching Life Australia is themed, so it is important to ensure you are addressing the theme from your perspective. Articles are expected to be between 1,000 to 1,500 words though exceptions are allowed. Of course, if we need to trim or change your article, we reserve the right to do so. If your article is accepted, then you will need to supply a print-quality photo of yourself, professional details and a signed release for your article.
WHAT DO I GET? If your article is accepted, you get recognition of your peers, family and friends as a published author. WHAT ELSE DO I GET? As published author, you also get preferential treatment to any future articles you want to submit. You may also be asked to help the team with surveys and thoughts as an industry leader.
COME ON.. WHAT ELSE? OK. You will also be added to a Private Contributors Group where published authors can discuss the upcoming issues and industry hot points. This group will also have special access to upcoming Coaching Life functions.
I’M IN, NOW WHAT? Go to the Coaching Life website and complete the Submission Form www.CoachingLife.com.au/Submissions and we will be in touch.
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MARK BOWNESS Life Change Catalyst STEVE PULLEN former Australian Ironman Champion JO BASSETT Head Coach, Living Savvy Coaching JOHN & THERESA NOVAK Head of Mind Management, Canterbury Bulldogs
LIFE COACHING Â» www.coachinglife.com.au
COACHING POWERFULLY THROUGH PAIN
By Mark Bowness
HERE I WAS, AT THE AGE OF 26 YEARS OLD, SITTING IN FRONT OF A COMPUTER WITH EMPTY CANS OF BEER LITTERED AROUND ME, HAVING GOOGLED “QUICKEST AND PAINLESS WAY TO DIE”. RIGHT THEN, IN THAT MOMENT, IT FELT AS THOUGH THE FLOORBOARDS OF SANITY HAD CRUMBLED IN MY MIND AND THERE WAS NOTHING LEFT TO LIVE FOR. THAT NIGHT I ATTEMPTED TO WIPE MY EXISTENCE OFF OF THE FACE OF THE PLANET. LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT MY BREAKDOWN WOULD BE THE REVELATION OF MY PURPOSE. LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT AS A RESULT OF THE MOST PAINFUL EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE TO DATE, A MOVEMENT WOULD BE BIRTHED, A MOVEMENT THAT WAS DESTINED TO CHANGE THE WORLD.
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oday I find myself at the centre of a “life change” movement consisting of an online following of 100,000 people, spanning across the Globe and as a result have appeared in 500 media outlets including Good Morning America, Today Show and the New York Times and have had my work filmed for 18 months as a 5-part prime time series that has aired in the USA, Australia and the UK. Now, let me show you how your greatest moments of adversity can become the launch-pad to building a significant coaching business. Let me take you back, for just one moment… I was brought up as one of six children, in a religious household, ensuring that we did not miss a day of Sunday school. Every Sunday I would cause the most utter disruption, hating “religion” because deep down I was wrestling with a crisis. I knew that I was gay. However, my religious upbringing told me that my sexuality was, at best wrong and at worst, demonic. I hid my
pain and progressed within the church. My undergraduate degree was Theology and I held fast to the belief that God could heal me of my “illness”. I hid, I ran, I threw myself into building a nonprofit organisation and became a church leader who was speaking in churches around the world, in front of 1000’s. I published two monthly magazines and wrote a book – I was fast becoming an emerging church leader. I was fast becoming a fraud. At the age of 23, I got married and every Sunday morning would preach in the pulpit in front of an adoring congregation who thought that I was the greatest. Every Sunday afternoon I would come home to endless arguments with my wife. As my work grew, my life was falling apart, as the speaking opportunities increased, so did the arguments until one night we had the argument to end all arguments and that was it, the marriage was over. I couldn’t do it and so I opted out of living. www.coachinglife.com.au
The more we are open and honest with our audience about what we have been through and are currently experiencing, the more we stand out from those coaches who project a “perfect” image.
The next day I work up in hospital with a profound revelation of how precious life is. I began to understand that I had been living the life that everybody else had wanted me to live as opposed to taking responsibility for who I was and the life that I had been given. From that moment I dedicated myself to understanding the principles of life change. I read every single Tony Robbins book that I could get my hands on. I devoured the works of Wayne Dyer and I trained as a life coach with the goal of setting up a coaching business that enabled others to experience an incredible breakthrough in life, the same way that I had. As I saw coaches building businesses under an old model, creating websites that positioned them as a business owner, trying to sell people the solution to life transformation. It was a crowded marketplace of coaches trying to sell solutions for dollars when I genuinely wanted to make an impact. To do so I realised that a coaching business would never have allowed me to take my transformational message to the world and so, I birthed a movement. Let me ask you: Do you have a life changing message tool or technique that the world needs to hear? A message that you know could transform lives in the millions? Yes? Is your current www.coachinglife.com.au
business model allowing you to serve an audience at a mass level? No? Then read on. My breakdown was the beginning of the revelation of my purpose and I became intent on a vision to empower 1 billion people to live the life that they were created to live. Let me share three keys as to why your pain and adversity are the keys to unlocking your business and transforming lives at the level you were created to do.
YOUR ADVERSITY BRINGS POWERFUL DEPTH TO YOUR COACHING
I share my personal story of transformation in everything that I do – webinars, events and TV, Radio and
Newspaper interviews and on average I receive 30 emails per day from people who have connected with my story. I am intentionally creating an open and vulnerable space which gives them the permission to do the same and so they make contact, share their story with me and then ask me for the solution. Did you read that? I don’t have to sell my products, people ask me what my products are and how they can buy them. As a coach we feel as though life has to be perfect. We are encouraged to place ourselves in a position of authority over our audience, so that they want to come and learn from us. The reality is that your audience do not want to learn from a perfect guru. They want to gain insight COACHINGLIFE
LIFE So Coach, back to you. You have two options:
Keep your guard up, never be vulnerable or show your pain and as a result never have the depth of impact that you were created to have in the world or
Be honest, be real and be authentic and build a growing audience who love you for who you are and what you do. An audience who receive a deeper level of transformation and as a result become a hungry tribe who share your work, vision and passion around the world.
from an authentic servant who has waded through their own pain to bring a deeper level of healing. Someone who doesn’t feel as though sharing their pain devalues their product or them as a coach but instead enhances who they are in a powerful way. The more we are open and honest with our audience about what we have been through and are currently experiencing, the more we stand out from those coaches who project a “perfect” image. The result is that we no longer have to chase “leads”, but simply serve those who come knocking on our doors.
THE POWER OF SHARED PAIN
My work is focused on helping coaches to shift to Thought Leader. Tony Robbins, Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, Brendon Burchard – these thought leaders have an incredible following of people who absolutely love them. That is the goal of a Thought Leader. In order to build such a following, a movement or hungry tribe of people, it’s important to tap into the power of shared pain. We all rally around pain – whether it’s the pain of our football team who aren’t doing so well, the pain of not being in the career that we want to be in, the pain of being single or the pain of no money. Pain is a powerfully effective motivator and when you tap into the pain of your
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audience and share your vulnerability based upon your experience, then you are building a movement that has a deeper level of purpose.
So what’s it going to be?
THE SHIFT FROM PAIN TO PURPOSE
Have you ever been in the presence of someone who talks about their pain, all the time? You may initially feel sympathetic, but as the “woe is me” attitude continues, you start to tune out. Whilst pain is a fantastic motivator it does not sustain your movement over time. The goal of a coach is to take people away from their pain and guide them towards pleasure and purpose. In order to shift from pain to purpose, it is important to give your growing tribe a vision as to who we could be together. A message that brings about personal transformation and cultivates a tribal mentality of impact. I have a vision to empower 1 Billion people to “live the life that they were created to live”. I do so strategically by helping 100,000 coaches shift to Thought Leaders and build their own movement of 10,000 people each. It is the purpose that we have as a community that results in book publishers wanting to work with me, in working on a TV show concept for the Australia market and that has even gained interest from the Ellen Show.
Mark Bowness is a Life Change Catalyst who is dedicated to seeing you shift from coach to Thought Leader and utilising the power of the internet, mass media and traditional book publishing to build your own movement that has significant impact. Ready to start? Head to www.thoughtleadermastery.com and download Mark’s “Thought Leader Mastery Toolkit”. Through his Facebook “I Work In Personal Development Group” Mark provides free tools and resources to over 14,000+ coaches from around the world.
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Our Diploma Course Includes: least 100 Hours of ü At‘in-room’ Training Our diploma program includes 11 days of ‘live’ training in a room with a real life person! Step Personal ü12 Coaching Program All TLCC Coaches are taught how to Coach and market our Trademark 12 Step Personal Coaching Program.
Therapies Training ü Matrix Learn to clear the negative influences of people and events in your client’s past. Recognition ü International Our Diploma of Life Coaching course is recognised by the International Coach Federation. NLP Practitioner ü 7OurDayDiploma Course includes the 7 Day NLP Practitioner Certification.
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At TLCC we teach you your very own Coaching System. We call it the personal Coaching Program (PCP) and it gives you the first 12 coaching sessions (scripted) for you to have with your clients. This gives you a systemised product that you can take to market complete with marketing to support you. We have found over the years that this system is the best way to assist coaches to build their coaching hours and experience as they grow their Coaching Business.
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TWO YEARS LEFT TO LIVE By Steve Pullen
AS A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE AT 17 YEARS OLD, I’VE HAD A DIFFERENT LIFE TO MOST. I WAS A PART OF THE NUTRI-GRAIN IRONMAN SERIES WHILE AT SCHOOL AND CONTINUED TO THE BIG-TIME AT 19, COMPETING WITH HOUSEHOLD NAMES IN THE UNCLE TOBY’S SUPER SERIES WITH PRIZEMONEY OF WELL OVER $1,000,000.
moved to Queensland with my girlfriend (who would later become my wife) and competed well for a few years making good money, and was crowned Australian Ironman Champion at 23 in 1999. My wife was obsessed with the small amount of celebrity that surrounded the sport but I just loved the competition. After having a beautiful daughter, Jade, things changed. Although competing would always be in my heart, I knew that I had to provide more for my family, so building houses became the new competition for me. I suffered as most athletes do with loss of identity from no longer competing in a sport that was all I ever knew. I missed winning gold medals, winning races like my hero Trevor Hendy, the thrill of the competition and my mates who had become like brothers. I was depressed and became overweight. I focused on my work and created a second life, but during the rush to get
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there, the Global Financial Crisis hit and a lot of money was wiped out of the housing market. I found myself with a few problems, one of which was a wife with post-natal depression. We ended up splitting and sadly, I haven’t seen my daughter now for 6 years. The court costs to gain access cost me and I ended up using whatever spare change I could find to try to salvage my business. Eventually, due to reasons out of my control, I was forced to liquidate the business. I had a few very bad days, but I had to push on because I know that one day my daughter will want to see her Dad for herself and I knew what I wanted her to see. Soon after, at the age of 35, a great mate basically forced me to start training again and enter the Coolangatta Gold, one of the most challenging Ironman endurance races in surf sports. I reconnected to the training and regiment. I made the commitment www.coachinglife.com.au
Being a professional athlete is hard and hurts like hell, but having to tell your parents that you have two years to live is unbearable. to train three times a day, every single day. I went from a very sorry 110kg and running 5km in 35 minutes, to 82kg running a 16 minute 5km. I was back on track physically and mentally. I ended up finishing 5th only a few minutes behind the winner and loved it. You need to put in around 30 hours a week to get to the top performance in an area, so that breaks down to around 4 hours a day. It’s a big commitment but when you put in a big, consistent effort, the results are amazing. I remarried a few years later and exactly a year into the marriage, I was training for another Coolangatta Gold and Ironman series. At that time, we owned a portable house and renovation business, a coffee shop and plant nursery. Life was going well again. Then one morning, I woke to tingling toes which seemed to be no big deal. But a 5km jog later left me unable to walk properly for 3 days. I started losing muscle and my times were going backwards. Off to the doctor I went, and after months of tests they diagnosed me with Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP). This basically www.coachinglife.com.au
meant that my immune system was eating my nervous system. The prognosis wasn’t great with anywhere from 2 to 10 years in leg braces and crutches; to a total paraplegic and death by organ shutdown. Nobody could give me a cure or timeline, just a 2 weekly visit to the hospital for a blood product infusion that made me very sick. As if things weren’t bad enough, once the wife was aware of my prognosis she told me that she “didn’t do sick and
that I would have to fight this on my own” which resulted in the end of my second marriage. Once again I was left with no money and a few suitcases of clothes. Three mates stepped up and looked after me for a few months as my health continued to deteriorate to the point where I was unable to walk. The doctors finally sent me for a PET scan at the hospital where it was discovered that I had an enlarged spleen and four large bone tumours. Having a friend who was a radiologist, I clearly knew it was cancer. COACHINGLIFE
Never give up, never give in. No matter what you are told, your body and mind can achieve the impossible – you just need to make it happen. Being a professional athlete is hard and hurts like hell, but having to tell your parents that you have two years to live is unbearable. I couldn’t break Mum and Dad’s hearts over the phone, so I rang my brother to go and tell them. They drove from Port Macquarie to Nambour the next day and stayed with me until I was due for chemo. Another month of testing for a lymphoma-type cancer, that seemed like an easy fix in my eyes, actually came up with Poems Syndrome. I was 111th in the world to be diagnosed and the 4th youngest at 38. Age was on my side but results weren’t, so after a few uneasy days, I decided to become an expert in killing cancer and learnt everything I could. I was a professional athlete again, eating the cleanest fresh food and water, and taking alternate medicines. This was now the race I had to win. My ski training reduced from 15-20km a session to 1500m, swim from 10km sessions to 1km, running was nonexistent – a stagger in leg braces and crutches was it! I couldn’t feel below my knee and even broke my leg getting out of the shower one day, which I managed to keep from Mum and Dad as they didn’t need more worry. I had fantastic mates that treated me normally and kept me going, even holding a fundraiser to help with treatment, although life after treatment didn’t look promising. I kept positive, kept training and always had a perfect PH alkaline diet because I was determined I was going to survive. I was going to walk and race again even though statistics were overwhelmingly against me.
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Massive waves are frightening but seeing two horse-sized, chemo-filled needles getting injected into your heart is worse, but I was ready for the fight. I had my yoga mat, juicing machine, PH neutral water and great food being delivered to hospital. I was due for an 8 week stay and was feeling ok for 6 days. I was exercising daily and aiming for the hospital record of 6 x 70m laps walking around the ward. I only managed 4 laps and was devastated. The physio bought in 1kg dumbbells to keep me exercising when I couldn’t walk, which is all I could lift so things weren’t looking good at all. One day, I decided I needed to try and break the 6 lap record around the ward. I put on my leg braces, grabbed my walking stick and only made half a lap. I was covered in sweat, crying my eyes out and feeling like I had lost all hope when Nathan Meyer, one of my oldest friends, came around the corner. We had trained together as kids and raced fiercely for 15 years, but that was the day he kept me from giving in and saved my life. He got me around the rest of the lap back to my room and, in so many ways, helped me to live. I was in hospital for 18 days, exercised for 14 days, and watched 6 people die. I looked into every room on my walks and saw 34 rooms of people who gave themselves only two options. 1. Live because the doctors fixed them, or 2. die because the cancer won the battle. I chose my own option and decided to force my blood around my body and heal it through positive thinking and exercise. Everything I’ve learnt through sport,
extreme effort training and positive thoughts got me through the toughest race ever. I’m almost back to normal walking now, the cancer has gone and I’ve now gone past my 2-year expiry date. Never give up, never give in. No matter what you are told, your body and mind can achieve the impossible – you just need to make it happen.
Steve Pullen is a former Australian Ironman Champion, Business Owner and Coach. Steve started his professional Ironman career at 17, competing in both the NutriGrain Ironman Series and the Uncle Toby’s Super Series. At 23, he was crowned the Australian Ironman Champion. 2 years ago Steve was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of blood cancer and given only 2 years to live. This is where Steve’s story begins. He drew on his years of training, determination and fitness to take on the toughest race of his life.
BURN BRIGHT THROUGH CHALLENGING TIMES By Jo Bassett
MY WORK HAS GIVEN ME A LEGITIMATE WINDOW TO LOOK INTO THE LIVES OF OTHERS. PROFESSIONALLY, I HAVE CHOSEN A CAREER WHERE PEOPLE IN MANY SITUATIONS CHOOSE TO SHARE THEIR STORIES AND EXPERIENCES WITH ME AS A LEADERSHIP AND WELLBEING COACH, AUTHOR, EDUCATOR AND CREATOR OF LIVING SAVVY TV.
he day to day lives of the people I work with can appear very diverse on the surface. Athletes competing at the top level of their sport, entrepreneurial business owners, emerging leaders focused on building lasting professional careers, young people transitioning into early adulthood, senior executives – all people who live full lives while handling a multitude of competing responsibilities that don’t miraculously disappear (even though they sometimes wish they would!). Looking deeper, the people I work with all share something in common: when faced with adversity, they have come through. A life completely adversity-free (if that’s even possible) is not really desirable.
We will always face challenges, and there will be times of sadness, disappointment, pain and grief. This is part of being human. The people I work with have overcome adversity by asking big questions, digging deep to learn about themselves and taking sustainable action. They understand that it is not about having all the answers up front or making overnight transformations. The key is to commit to the process – to have the courage to reflect on questions they may not know how to answer, to take small steps forward, and then to review and take action again. Just like I have been doing over the past 12 months. 12 months ago, change came sweeping through my life. Though I had some warning, it was still a time of shock, COACHINGLIFE
I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff and the ground was crumbling under my feet. I honed the practice of living mindfully, seeing and feeling the smiles of my children, enjoying the company of dear friends and being captivated by my work. I began to move forward through this difficult time, focusing not on what was coming in the next few months, but on what needed to happen in the next hour and remembering the words of a yoga teacher I practiced with: sometimes life is “one breath at a time”.
JO’S 8 STRATEGIES FOR BURNING BRIGHT IN CHALLENGING TIMES STEP UP
1 uncertainty and fear. I had faced adversity in the past and wondered how I would keep going, I questioned my ability to get through. I can’t recall ever being in a place like I was last year. At that time, I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff and the ground was crumbling under my feet. I felt sad, scared, anxious, and despairing. I am someone who is recognised for her determination and resolve and yet I was sobbing down the phone to a friend, “I can’t do this.” In that moment I’d lost faith in myself. It was a dark place to be. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff and the ground was crumbling under my feet. I was questioning decisions made and patterns of behaviour left unchallenged
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that had led me to this place. I let go of long term goals and parked dreams. I was feeling a potent mix of sadness and anger, and in between there was a big black pit of fear. There were moments when I recognised this change would bring renewal, and in those times, I would hold on tight to that precious feeling of hope. It took an enormous amount of energy and effort to stay hopeful and constantly skirt around the edge of the pit of blackness without falling in. I was (and continue to be) blessed to have people in my life who believe in me. People who had faith in me when my own seeped away. When my doubts drowned out possibility, I chose to listen to these people and see myself through their eyes.
Stepping up and taking responsibility for making the changes that are needed for you. Shifting responsibility to others or expecting others to find the answers is not a successful strategy in times of adversity. You get a choice in the life path you take, so make each choice count. Ask yourself: What do I want to experience today? What do I want to be different? How do I want to feel when I end my day? What do I need in my life to be at my best? Build your life around these people, events or activities.
FINE TUNE THE ORDINARY
Start simple and practice doing something a little different each week. Find something in your life that you take for granted or give little thought to. Order a quirky coffee flavour, flip to a radio station you wouldn’t usually listen to, smile at a stranger in the check-out line, turn off the light and burn candles www.coachinglife.com.au
8 instead. Welcome opportunities to try something new and you might be surprised by what shows up.
FILL YOUR HAPPINESS CUP DAILY
At the beginning of each day, take a moment to ask yourself: What can I do today that will make me feel happy? Try to choose events or experiences that do not require investments of money or time. Things like: throw a coin into the guitar case of the local busker, take a bunch of flowers to work, bake a cake and share at morning tea, put together a ‘happy’ playlist and play on the way to work, eat lunch in the sunshine.
SET A POWERFUL INTENTION
There is magic in a well-crafted intention word or phrase, an intention that we can hold easily in our mind as we go about the day. Pause in the midst of being overwhelmed, refocus and prioritise based on your own values, then make better decisions that reflect who you are choosing to be, right here and now. Stay in touch with what you truly want and know you are heading in the right direction.
BUILD YOUR WELLBEING MUSCLE
These muscles are as essential for our ability to stand upright and move through the world with ease as any of the physical muscles in our body. www.coachinglife.com.au
Just like the muscles in our legs or our backs lose strength and flexibility when neglected. Wellbeing muscle is built by doing those things that promote positive feelings. Engaging and connecting with others brings a sense of achievement and will have you focus beyond yourself.
LET GO OF JUDGEMENT
Last year, Oscar-winning Australian actress Cate Blanchett revealed that she “felt judged by other mothers during the school drop-off who questioned why she couldn’t ‘brush her hair’”. Why do we care so much about what other people think? Lean back from judgement by identifying three people whose opinion matters to you (this may change from scenario to scenario). Seek out their views and turn down the volume on other perceived or real voices of judgement to make room for self-assuredness and self-trust.
HONOUR YOUR FEELINGS (WHATEVER THEY MAY BE)
How do we process our feelings of loss, grief, anger and fear alongside the constant urging to focus on what you still have? These reminders can feel like an emotional gag. In times of adversity, acknowledge the power of your feelings and choose how you let them free.
GRAB MOMENTS OF GRATITUDE
Sadness and fear can be a companion to gratitude. Shifting your perspective to take notice of the good is an important step in moving through adverse times. Practicing gratitude is more than a habit or something that you ‘do’; being grateful is the person that you are. As you go through your day, recognise those moments or experiences that are good and hold onto them. These could be something as simple as getting a park in the city or getting into your car and finding the fuel tank full or being first line at your favourite coffee haunt.
Jo Bassett is head coach at Living Savvy Coaching, working with talented people to burn bright without burning out. She believes you can achieve big without sacrificing joy, wellbeing and contentment, and shares stories and tips for achieving sustainable success on twitter @livingsavvy or facebook. com/LivingSavvy. www.jobassett.com
WHAT YOU PUT OUT IS WHAT YOU GET BACK
By John and Theresa Novak
THE BOOMERANG EFFECT
SUCCESSFUL ELITE ATHLETES ARE MASTERS OF DEALING WITH ADVERSITY, CHALLENGES AND OBSTACLES – OTHERWISE THEY WOULDN’T BE THE BEST.
rom 25 years of experience working with the ‘best of the best’ athletes, not only do they wholeheartedly accept adversity but welcome it into in their lives. This offers them the very opportunity to challenge themselves to truly become their best.
football code, the 3-month pre-season is gruelling and gut-wrenching. Similarly, a 12 week pre-fight training regime is physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exacting. If the preparation is not sufficiently challenging, the ensuing battle will not end favourably.
WHAT IS ADVERSITY?
Professional golfers on the US PGA tour compete for over 30 weeks each year and practise long hours for the remainder of the year to fine-tune their technique and skill set. For example, Tiger Woods in his heyday would practice from dawn to dusk 6-7 days a week (60-70 hours) to not only hone his game, but improve his
A simple dictionary definition for adversity is a difficult or unpleasant situation. Adversity means a variety of things and presents itself in a myriad of ways. Every sport has its version of adversity to deal with. For example, in any
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mental toughness. Tigers’ father, Earl, intentionally agitated and frustrated his son during his practice sessions. Earl’s well-documented persistent antics provided Tiger with the opportunity to mentally endure unpleasant situations. Thus, simulating adverse situations helped create the great golfer that Tiger became, leading him to brazenly state “I am the toughest golfer mentally”. Tennis luminaries such as Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are known for their assiduous physical and mental preparation for the ATP tour. Torturous and punishing sessions in preparation for competition guarantee physical and mental grit. Arduous and difficult training mimics adversity. The reasoning is simple: the more an athlete practices facing and overcoming adversity, the better the athlete deals with the pressures effortlessly and calmly. Further examples of differing types of adversity come in sports where weight categories must be met such as wrestling, boxing, weight lifting, judo
and MMA, in which extreme dieting is part and parcel of competing. The right mind game is crucial in overcoming this inevitable challenge. Being able to fully accept, adapt and achieve the desired weight by using a strong mind game considerably assists the athlete in their quest. The most common form of adversity in sport is recurring and niggling injuries. With lengthy seasons between 25-40 weeks in local sports such as AFL, A-League, NRL, Super Rugby and overseas in the NBA, EPL, NHL, injured athletes back up week after week, often without being adequately rehabilitated. Commonly, these athletes deal with the adversity of incessant physical discomfort and the frustration and disappointment of injuries limiting their capacity to play or perform at their best. All professional sports have to endure the relentless mainstream media and invasive social media. The intrusive and sometimes insidious 24/7 prying eyes of probing public scrutiny, all impact on
the mental state and wellbeing of the 21st century elite athlete. Competition, the battle itself, is obviously challenging. Against the clock, a fired up opposition, a passionate and committed opponent, a fastidious referee or judge, demanding weather conditions, dangerous surfaces, even life threatening competitive situations are exceptionally difficult and unavoidably confronting! The above points succinctly outline some of the examples and versions of adversity that athletes must get accustomed to dealing with. By and large, any reputable competition in sport is fraught with constant difficulties and arduous challenges. Essentially, the whole elite experience is filled with adversity. The two are inextricable! As adversity wears many masks and is continually changing, it requires a variety of responses, strategies and interventions. In researching the area, it became evident that there is a gap in the literature. No comprehensive mind
program existed. To address this gap, the Boomerang Effect, a systematic and holistic mind game system was developed. This framework noted in diagram 1. provides a guide for athletes to effectively and consistently address the full gamut of mind challenges, including adversity, in the best possible manner. The work is a synthesis of Western positive psychology and Eastern concepts such as Zen. It recognises the importance of an athlete viewing themselves holistically and comprehensively. The Boomerang Effect proposes the best way to address adversity is: • Win, lose or draw, vigilantly endeavour to see the positive in every situation • Always strive for growth and improvement • Be totally driven to excel technically, tactically, strategically, physically and psychologically • Never lose faith • Never doubt or question yourself • Be unperturbed by adversity, rather invigorated by its presence Indeed, this view may be idealistic, even utopian, but the ‘best of the best’ athletes aspire high and are wildly optimistic especially in the face of challenges. This is what makes them great. From the research, personal experience and decades working with athletes and coaches, the Boomerang Effect assumes the following about adversity: • It provides lessons and tests. • It is a teacher, a guiding light for athletes to achieve their ultimate best. • The greater the adversity, the greater the lesson, the greater the benefit and opportunity to exponentially grow. Whilst this may be simple to understand, these assumptions are exceptionally difficult to action,
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implement and habitualise. In other words, it’s easier said than done! For example, every elite athlete knows the importance of keeping their ‘head in the game’, remaining focused and positive in order to achieve success. However, many athletes haven’t mastered a consistent process to train, focus and respond with positivity. Positivity is the cornerstone of achievement and facilitates consistent and beneficial consequences and directly contributes to a person’s resilience and grit. The Boomerang Effect Positivity Model: [DIAGRAM 2] The subsequent core positivity strategies become athletes ‘go to’ when faced with adversity. Golden rule: Words, thoughts and actions always positive. Work towards wide-ranging positivity. Practising positive responses to adversity allows these challenges to feel small and insignificant. Boomerang Effect: What you put out is what you get back. If an athlete perceives adversity as a teacher then the up-shot is growth, development and success. On the other hand, if the adversity is perceived as catastrophic, unbearable and unacceptable, then this makes a challenging moment far worse.
Mindfulness aims to focus in the present moment, by controlling your attention on a chosen focus and letting go of unwanted distractions and negative thoughts. Best choice: Help or hinder. The most important question to ask is: Will catastrophizing or over focusing on a mistake help or hinder? The key is realising that in every moment before, during and after competition you have a ‘help or hinder’ choice at your disposal. Positivity is a great foundation and can be augmented with numerous Eastern strategies. From an Eastern Zen perspective of impermanence, adversity, like all things, is everchanging. In response to perennial change, athletes must become mindful, accepting, flowing and adaptable. www.coachinglife.com.au
Developing mindfulness practice is essential for any elite athlete. Mindfulness aims to focus in the present moment, by controlling your attention on a chosen focus and letting go of unwanted distractions and negative thoughts. Being present and mindful in each moment allows athletes to quickly accept each situation they face. Acceptance enables athletes to effectively address each adversity rather than get frustrated. Not accepting a mistake, a referee’s poor decision or judges score creates negative thoughts and angry emotions which can lead to a downward spiral. Commonly, athletes ask ‘why me’ when adversity strikes. Accepting and reframing the question to ‘why not me’ and ‘this makes me stronger’ facilitates
an attitudinal shift that leads to viewing challenges with ‘positive eyes’. Becoming more mindful, accepting and positive facilitates optimal performance.
10 BOOMERANG EFFECT ADVERSITY STRATEGIES:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Negativity is the enemy and must be minimised, if not eradicated at all costs. Identify and aim to repeat your Best Self in mind, body, emotion and spirit. You are limitless. Let go of selflimiting thoughts and beliefs. To know yourself is imperative to do anything well. Your answers lie within.
Adversity is the very reason great athletes are great. When athletes graciously accept adversity into their lives, this is a clear indication they truly know and appreciate that they can overcome challenges, bounce back and consequently are ready to flourish at the next level of their sport. This recognition facilitates growth and perennial evolution. The power of combining multiple Boomerang Effect strategies like positivity, best self, mindfulness and acceptance, empowers athletes to quash all types of adversity and grow strong, resilient and mentally tough when facing competitive and every day challenges. For elite athletes, embracing adversity is the gateway to becoming their limitless best self!
Journaling helps you examine the best ways to deal with hurdles.
Develop ways to better manage your emotions and reactions.
Regularly remind yourself of what you love about your sport.
JOHN NOVAK (BA; MA; LLB; Dip. Counselling) has over 30 years’ experience in the areas of sport, wellbeing and motivation. John is a speaker, writer, television/ radio/video presenter, sports manager and mind coach for Commonwealth, Olympic, professional athletes and teams in over 20 sports. Currently he is the Head of Mind Management for Canterbury Bulldogs. In 2011, he helped secure the NRL premiership for Manly Sea Eagles. With several karate schools and a 3rd Dan Black Belt, he has won numerous State and National Karate and Kickboxing tournaments.
Longevity in sport requires a balanced lifestyle.
Humour, laughter and joy are the elixirs of life and lead to exceptional sports performance. Practice thanks, appreciation and gratitude for your challenges.
Each of these strategies fit together like a jigsaw, not only to assist the athlete to address challenges and adversity but to develop a strong, resilient mind game to successfully compete on the world stage.
THERESA NOVAK (BA App. Sci. Occupational Therapy; Dip. Management). With two decades of experience working in the areas of fitness, wellbeing, life coaching and positive mental health, she has extensive experience in individual interventions, group work, staff management, education and training. She has headed up research teams, published on sensory interventions in mental health and is currently researching the Boomerang Effect Program in schools. She is passionate about promoting positive mental health, wellbeing, resilience and teaching the tools to flourish in the 21st Century. COACHINGLIFE
GET COMMANDO FIT BY STEVE ‘COMMANDO’ WILLIS (2015) Published by Hachette Australia, Get Commando Fit is a testament to Steve Willis’ desire to see more Australians get off the couch and enjoy life. It has both practical explanations of exercises, easy to follow fitness programs for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced level readers, and handy recipes to get your diet on track. Fully illustrated and suitable for anyone looking to kickstart their health and fitness journey, we can definitely recommend this as a great starting point, whether you’ve never lifted a weight, or if you’ve been a gym bunny of old and need a helping hand to get back into the swing of things. More advanced, regular gym goers might find this a little too easy, however it is intended to be a 4-week workout plan that can be scaled up depending on your desired intensity. Well worth a look, well designed and easy to follow. A perfect choice to get started before next summer!
TRAVELLING AUSTRALIA MICK’S WAY BY MICK MILLER (2016) Top sports strength and conditioning coach and cancer conqueror, Mick Miller, left home one day in a 1968 sky blue Volkswagen Beetle. and spent the next 16 months travelling around Australia. Leaving no stone unturned, he circumnavigated anti-clockwise around the country, revelling in the wonders and beauty Australia offers, and being grateful for every moment, every experience. Travelling Australia Mick’s Way is a gorgeous, photo-heavy work showcasing not only the gorgeous locations but also detailing Mick’s journey – the friends, the laughs, the moments that we easily take for granted or forget to appreciate. Mick’s unique perspective on living life positively each day can only encourage you in the same.
UNWRITTEN – REINVENT TOMORROW BY JACK DELOSA (2016) As a young entrepreneur on the BRW Young Rich List, having founded Australia’s largest education institution for entrepreneurs, you could say Jack Delosa knows a thing or two about the qualities that make up a successful person. Drawing on insights from the stories of great names including Richard Branson, J.K. Rowling, Elon Musk, Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey and more, he highlights the skills and attitudes we need to learn and cultivate to be able to build and develop our own life and business journeys. Peppered with personal anecdotes and key questions, Unwritten provides both entertaining and educational reading. Take a leaf from this practical and inspirational work, and start living your dreams and invent a better tomorrow for yourself.
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THE LAST WORD… “If we want to change the culture of the organisation, we must first impact the thinking of individuals”
“Understand your people”
“A champion must be willing to learn.”
“become better at communicating and become more efficient in utilising people around you”
“If adversity can be an experience, then the bigger the adversity, the bigger the growth.”
“Learn from experience – yours and others” Hayden Kennedy “Find the gift in the adversity”
“There is no such thing as time management! You can only manage activity.” Karen Brook
“The biggest challenge you face is starting.”
Jack Delosa “Be a better version of yourself today than you were yesterday.”
Steve Willis “Adversity is the very reason great athletes are great.”
“People who work hard get results.” Shane Flanagan
“Sometimes life is ‘one breath at a time’.”
Jo Bassett “Don’t try to be something that somebody else wants you to be.”
“Be honest, be real and be authentic”
Stephen Moss “your body and mind can achieve the impossible – you just need to make it happen.”
“As the great Wayne Bennett says, ‘the only person you need to answer to is the man in the mirror’.”
DOES GENDER AFFECT HOW YOU COACH? SHOULD IT? WHAT ABOUT YOUR CAREER PROSPECTS? We tackle the Mars vs Venus, Mr vs Mrs, Guy vs Gal questions in our Gender Edition.
plus so much more!
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Face adversity? We expose the secrets to overcoming adversity featuring Commando Steve, Jack Delosa and NRL's Shane Flanagan.