This summer, as our youth programs continue to grow, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with and get to know several new young athletes, coach some of our mainline classes, and continue to facilitate our portion of the Heroes of Hope program. Working with such varied ages and skill levels has reminded me just how different people can be and the importance of recognizing and working with these differences.
We all know that on some level, everyone is different. These differences can make our daily interactions sometimes so fascinating and rewarding, while other times downright frustrating. In many ways, who we are is a culmination of all these experiences- our triumphs and struggles, our loves and losses.
Over the years, I’ve enjoyed working with athletes of all ages as individuals and in groups. I have learned to identify and appreciate their strengths and areas of challenge. Through these interactions, I have found that it is critical to maintain an open mind and try to observe and listen to others objectively. This is crucial to understand their life experiences better and to develop empathy for what makes them tick. As coaches, we must strive to achieve empathy to help the people we work with to reach their potential.
While people have diverse experiences and varied intrinsic motivations, what we have in common are the positive feelings that come from progressing and achieving. When it comes to fitness, a common thread in all sports is the opportunity for improvement. Making progress increases confidence. Therefore, we strive to create programs for people, whether young or older, to continue making and measuring physical progress. This is bolstered by a positive and supportive environment, ensuring participants will be excited by their progress and reinforcing a desire to keep improving.
My experience has taught me that we must:
Embrace our differences with empathy
Once we have empathy for what makes someone tick, making a plan moving forward will help lead them to improvements and continues motivation.
Ask questions and actively listen
To get the best out of people, they need to be understood and supported. This understanding and trust comes from each genuine interaction.
Taking what we’ve learned to help others succeed
In working with a variety of people, using what you have learned in your other relationships helps aid others in reaching their goals.
Whether small or large, people thrive on making measurable progress. Therefore, it is essential to create opportunities for improvement and then celebrate achievements, which helps build confidence.
People, in general, are very social creatures, which is no surprise as our historic survival has depended on our ability to work together. Creating a community of individuals working hard to improve themselves goes a long way in keeping people on track towards reaching their goals.
When we take the time to get to know each other, amazing things can happen. With a good understanding of what makes each person unique, we can help them reach their goals. Taking the time to ask questions, listen, and use what we have learned to plan for continued progress goes a long way to ensure that motivation is maintained and increased confidence and success is achieved.