‘Training Our Inner Voice’

This was a wonderful and insightful evening presentation which I felt added another level to the work which Charlie already does, not only with riders directly but also with coaches. The presentation’s study focus resonated threefold, firstly on a personal level analysing our own coaching performance, also as facilitators of a positive learning experience for our clients, and finally in managing team dynamics too.

(A note here that Charlie has written a book based solely around ‘the inner voice’ which will be available around this time next year).

So many of the points raised resonated with me and lead to further investigation on a personal level. As a result with this ‘hat on’ I have chosen to report in numerical chapters each of which are thought provoking.

1. The Music Conductor…

Here Charlie explained that when we are riders there is not just one mind but two (or three if you include the horse)…we have an inner voice and this voice can be negative and distracting for example… ‘This judge doesn’t like my horse’… or perhaps… ’My horse hates water trays’

This voice can be neutral and simply advise avoidance of the issue,

Or this voice can adopt a positive tone and look for learning opportunities… ’What if I try…’, ‘head up’, ‘look up and ride forwards’…

And from this we as coaches in turn have to think ..’When is my voice right to be the most influential?’…and this comes with a warning as at times a positive voice can be just as much of a distraction as a negative one!

2. The Potential of the negative Inner Voice….

This area is huge, looking at other people’s scores for example; studying Facebook comments on the course perhaps have the ability detract from performance….so from a coach’s viewpoint… ‘The quieter things are the lower the inner voice is’…turn the situation around and make it work positively for you. There would be a worthwhile discussion with us, and individuals and also teams on simply bypassing these distractions and concentrating solely on the matter in hand.

3. Breathing

Charlie reminded us that as both coaches and riders breathing exercises and relaxation help to keep the brain in a good place. It helps especially the emotional brain by lowering the heart rate and also blood pressure… the top tip was… ‘Take three deep breaths, to guide the thinking and the ‘joining up of the dots’ in the brain.’

4. Einstein

He states that…’the world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without our thoughts. ’

Unhelpful thoughts such as… ’I didn’t do that very well’ or ‘I cannot do that’ are not performance enhancing. We cannot help our thoughts but we can compartmentalise them… thoughts come along on a conveyor belt and we can allocate them wherever we like. We do not need to be emotionally attached to our thoughts… They are only thoughts so where do we feed our thoughts??? …to the…

5. Dragons

Good dragon’s vs. bad dragons… the one we feed the most wins the duel!!!

The positive thoughts and reflections have the ability to allow us to move forwards as riders and coaches, whilst the negative thoughts and words and even body language inhibit progress.

This doesn’t mean that we think/say ‘well done’ on every occasion but that simply we find a path forward to wherever we may like to be from where we find ourselves.  This is a fine example of the importance of positivity in our coaching practice.

6. Q Cards

This lead Charlie to suggest that as coaches we could now encourage individual riders to notice their own thoughts and when and why they had them. We might advise riders to have Q cards for each discipline for example and the more explicit the Q card could be then the more it should resonate with the rider at the required time.

We could further enhance the Q cards by having a left hand column for dreams and a right hand column for results. Riders are too asked to think positively (remember the dragons) and precisely. As coaches we can prime the filter with phrases such as ‘how about’ or ‘what do you remember?’ or ‘what would you do if you were to do this again?’ as opposed to ‘I should, I ought or I must’ for example.

Charlie touched on team players in the same vein using a polo squad as an example highlighting the need for positive open questions such as, ‘what is your primary role within the team?’, ‘tell me about when you were performing at your best’, ‘what is your blueprint for a great game?’ hence overriding thoughts such as ‘I feel like the team scape goat’ for example.

7. Painting a picture of positivity

For me this was the absolute take home of the evening!!!  ‘How to give an A’ (Benjamin Zander).

This turned out to be a fantastic, entertaining and very amusing 14 minutes and 10 seconds (very easy to find on google.) In short a tutor informs his students that at the end of the year he is going to give them all an A grade. In return they have to within the first two weeks of the first term write him a letter explaining exactly why they deserve that A grade. ‘Dear Mr Zander, I got my A because….. These letters were to be opened at the end of the academic year. Zander encouraged his students to read the letter carefully and to fall in love with the person who wrote that letter.

When you give an A you give a life possibility to live into … you light up a path forward.

Zander’s thinking was to waken people to the power of possibility. If you believe in yourself and encourage others to do so it’s amazing how far all can travel.

Thank You Charlie and when is the next?!

Report by Lisa Morris