Lynn Schoener 

August 16th, 2012

Coaching Creatively

Fostering an Olympian Obsession: Calculation and Calibration Fuels Commitment


When I read Vicar Matt's lifeNotes, in which he mentioned his avid following of the Summer 2012 Olympics, I realized I saw only one event, on a restaurant television in Atlanta. Two people were jumping off a diving board at the same time, eerily synchronized as if they were of one mind, one body. All I could think about was the number of times they had to repeat that process to get it so precisely right. How many conversations and calibrations went into the moment I was witnessing?


My seventeen-year old niece spent last week with me. She is a triple-threat. An author, an artist, a singer. Seriously. She published her first illustrated novel three years ago, brag brag. We traveled to different libraries in Cincinnati every day, working on our respective writing projects. As of August 1st, she can count a thirty-five pound weight loss among her list of accomplishments, and she is laser-focused on offloading the final fifteen.


Watching Amy go for her weight-loss gold was like being a spectator in the training camp of an Olympic athlete. Every time she ate anything, she scanned the product's barcode with her smart phone. A fitness "app" calculated the calories of that item, how many calories she had left for the day, and how much time on the treadmill could wipe out that particular indulgence. If she splurged, she trotted right downstairs to our exercise room, no whining, and worked it off. After making a sizable dent in a package of Pepperidge Farm goldfish crackers late one night, she wouldn't go to bed until she'd been on the recumbent bike for 22 minutes. Obsessive? Yes, maybe, but doesn't every big, life-changing goal worth reaching require an obsessive mindset, in the best sense of that word?


The most impressive thing, speaking as her aunt and from my coaching perspective, is Amy's newfound appetite for measuring and monitoring her progress. Believe me, this gal is easily bored and distracted, as we creatives tend to be. But she is in constant conversation with her "app," calibrating her intake and output based on the feedback it gives her in the form of simple data. No advice, no judgment, no step by step instruction. She doesn't need that--she just needs to know where she stands. The practice of regularly checking in on her current state reinforces her commitment and informs her very next move. She's having fun with it, as she embeds what I hope will be a life-long habit of making healthy choices.


The "Ready to Go?" phase of coaching includes helping a coachee decide how to measure and monitor progress toward their goal. The "Did We Grow?" phase is focused on discussing the actual progress made, milestones reached, obstacles encountered. To build momentum, help your coachee establish a system of frequent measurement checks. Rather than thinking of your role as an accountability partner, why not think of how you can function as their favorite "app"?


Headed to the soon!





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