Why Variety Sucks & Feedback is King
I have a confession to make. Recently I have been feeling a little out of sorts with my own training and physical fitness. For me, honestly this is not something I have had to deal with before. And as a coach charged with the responsibility of preparing athletes to perform at their peak, this has been slightly alarming for me! Usually I genuinely enjoy training and consider it a reward as opposed to a chore. Lately though this feeling has changed somewhat.
Don’t get me wrong its not like I have stopped training at all or my nutrition has dropped away much or at all. In fact I think overall I probably would have maintained my intensity or even increased it at times over the last month. However the way I go about my training has slowly changed due to circumstance and dare I say it: complacency.
The funny thing is, the vast majority of athletes I work with have recently tested extremely well in their fitness assessments and many have taken their conditioning to new levels whilst my own performance and motivation has stalled. Even funnier is that the only real training I have been managing to get in are sessions I am doing alongside these athletes. Now you would think that if their results are improving I should at least be maintaining my performance levels or improving also. Granted it is impossible for me to do every session these guys do I still found this very interesting.
After wandering around for a few days feeling pretty confused about the situation I realized that it was true, a few things had not gone my way (I had been overseas and way out of my routine for a long period and had no time to adjust upon my return), but one variable had changed significantly over the past few months. I had stopped training for ME, and assumed that what was good for others would be good for me. This change led to another huge change. I LOST MOMENTUM. Momentum is huge when it comes to improving physical performance and pretty much anything else. You loose momentum when you lose or stop paying attention to feedback.
Momentum only comes with consistent effort and attention to feedback
My complacency led to the assumption that any training that others were doing which might be similar to what I had been to doing would ‘get the job done.’ I stopped tracking my own training and instead trained when the opportunity arose. I followed no set plan as I usually do and my efforts to improve performance were based on someone else’s ideal plan for success. However that plan was not put in place for me, but for someone else. Since this was the case I could not follow it as I would my own plan.
The thing is, when your looking to improve performance, you need to measure and track your progress. This is the only way to know if what you are doing is working or is a complete waste of your time. Peter Drucker, the man who is widely regarded as the father of modern business management said: ‘what gets measured gets managed’. Now this is a great example of how effort counts for ZERO without objective measurement & feedback systems in place.
The reason that feedback, and the awareness of it are crucial for success is lies in the way our brains work. The subconscious part of the brain (the part that is really running the show) is cybernetic in nature. Basically this means our brains are goal-seeking machines, and are always working ‘toward’ something. This is great news IF we take the time to provide our brain with something worth focusing on and working toward.
This is the reason why those who set goals are more productive than those who don’t. Goals are like the highway that leads us to the results we are after. Feedback is the road signs, which let us know how far we have gone, and need to go. Feedback also tells us if we are headed in the right direction or may need to change course. Those who write down their goals and pay attention to feedback are steering the wheel and control their own destiny. Those without goals are passengers who have no control, and put their faith in a driver who has no clear directive about where they are going and is relying on their ‘sense of direction’ to ‘get the job done’. They might end up somewhere, but there is fair chance the result is not a pleasing one.
Paying attention to feedback helps to keep us heading in the right direction
I had jumped in someone else’s car and assumed we were both headed to the same spot. Improved performance. The lesson I learned is that improved performance means something completely different to everyone. Since everyone responds differently and perceives the world in their own unique way.
So my commitment is to regain my momentum and ensure that my training provides me with feedback. Since writing this post I have regained my momentum one training session at a time, and so far the road signs are telling me I’m back on track. Also, as expected, my motivation has returned and I am once again enjoying my training.
If you are looking to create results in your life, or are wondering why you’re not seeing any, you can learn from my mistakes. Answer the following questions:
- Have you set any goals with regard to these desired results
2. Are these goals linked in any way to your values (read this post to find out more)
3. If you have goals, have you set up any feedback systems related to your goals?
4. If you have goals and feedback systems, are you paying attention to them?
Terry Condon is an Entrepreneur plus Fitness and Physical Therapy trainer for high performance athletes and teams. His blog www.terrycondon.com always has great inspiring content that is useful for both entrepreneurs and athletes alike. Terry is pictured above kitesurfing, one of many active hobbies.