BLUF – Be cautious on too much contemplating, thus removing the opportunity to experience. Be open to reality and the lessons it brings.
One of my duties as Affiliate Manager for 907 CrossFit is to oversee the class programming. I performed both of those duties when I was Affiliate Manager/Head Coach of CrossFit Holloman, and it is definitely hard work. At 907 CrossFit we’ve split those duties to a separate Head Coach, who provides me their programming for me to post on our website and social media. I publish the programming to the coaching staff, organizing coaches to fill each class for the week, and serve as the overall focal point for organization, comments, concerns, and ideas for our athletes. It is a very rewarding duty and I’m happy our coaching staff and athletes trust me with the responsibility.
Recently one of our newer coaches (newer to being a coach, anyways), Adam, volunteered to program for the remainder of the 2018. His enthusiasm was welcome, as I personally could’ve done the programming, but had a feeling that it would be best to offer him the chance and stay within my role as Affiliate Manager. Not everyone gets a chance to both author and implement programming at their CrossFit box, and I was confident that Adam would learn and grow from the experience. When he first sent me the programming, I reviewed the month he sent me and felt it was ok. Nothing spectacular, but ok. I posted the workouts as usual for the next couple of weeks, and then finally got some feedback from the coaching staff. A handful of the coaches felt like there wasn’t enough challenge in the programming and that it was lacking that feeling of “earning a good sweat” after some of the workouts. My first reaction was in defense mode, reminding the coaches that they have the freedom to fill in the hour for the class as they see fit so they can make our athletes and themselves aren’t wasting their time. Some side conversations happened as well, all professional, and all just sharing their concerns that they felt Adam’s programming could use some improvement. I didn’t disagree per se, but I also shared my intent that I was providing creative freedom of maneuver so he could learn from this experience.
I also took responsibility for the programming, stating that I allowed Adam to program they way he felt as a new coach and wanted him to experience his feelings of success or failure (probably too strong of a word, but you get my point). I was at an advantage over the other coaches because I could see the forest (month) versus the trees (week) of programming, so they didn’t know that the current week of “lighter” workouts were going to be followed by “heavier” workouts the following week. In addition, when I shared this feedback with Adam, he replied that he was disappointed with the lack of feedback I provided him in his programming, because his limited experience didn’t give him enough confidence to know if he was moving in the right direction. He would comment that he is trying to do his best for our athletes, not trying to write the “most badass programming” or looking to punish them. I apologized to him for not taking a more active mentor role in his programming…which meant I tore apart his draft programming and offered detailed feedback. Sometimes I fixed it, sometimes I told him to fix it. I think in the end we both learned some valuable lessons and texted some gifs of bro-hugs to seal the deal.
This story draws parallels to last week’s article on overcoming fears and learning through experiences. Bruce Lee once stated, “To contemplate a thing implies maintaining oneself outside it, resolved to keep a distance between it and ourselves.” Adam and I could’ve run a drill where he wrote some programming and then I reviewed/commented on it in theory over email. We would go back and forth in how we think the programming would be executed and probably sharpen the overall attempt. The discourse is what Adam was looking for the whole time, but it was only part of the solution. If this exchange stayed only in theory, the programming, Adam, and myself wouldn’t have reached the full potential of the experience because it was never executed in reality. We wouldn’t have had the experience to give each other feedback on what was lacking, the coaching staff wouldn’t have been able to express their concerns with me, and we wouldn’t have improved the programming framework to offer more insight into what the objectives are for each class. There are different lessons to be learned when one explains life and when one experiences life. Sometimes you’ll be in a position to learn for yourself, and other times you’ll be in a position to assist others in learning. An important ingredient in achieving this level of benefit is to understand yourself and surround yourself with others with an understanding that we are all on the same path of learning, just at different points on the path. Importantly, we all have the opportunity to learn together. Leaders have the responsibility to offer environments of learning with the safety of failure, and learning works best when fully experienced by everyone involved, not being trapped in a cloud of theory.