There is something deep in us that resists change. We say we want a new congress, but rarely do we vote anyone out. (There are exceptions.) And then, even our new congressional representative has difficulty in changing anything.
This resistance to change certainly makes our job as a coach very difficult, but also gives us a unique opportunity. If we can figure out some secrets to help people change, we will be in high demand.
Timothy Gallwey figured out some secrets. They surprised him. They were counter-intuitive.
If you tell me I am doing it wrong, I will take it personally – as if you are saying You are wrong. And I don’t like that at all, but I won’t say so because you are the coach and I’m supposed to at least pretend that I am willing to do it your way. But underneath my seeming compliance, I will look for subtle ways of resisting.’ – Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Work
Instead of coaching the problem, Gallwey would always coach the person. He would, in his words, eliminate the interference.
The interference is that voice inside of us that tells us we shouldn’t have to change. Here are some phrases you may hear from that interfering inner voice.
- I’m not a leader.
- No one ever listens to me.
- I don’t have a college degree.
- That would never work here.
- You can’t fix stupid.
- I have fat genes.
Gallwey proposes that if you can silence the interference, people have the capacity to learn or to do almost anything. He never coaches the problem, he coaches the person.
Gallwey learned these lessons as a tennis coach.
What I observed on the tennis courts is that the biggest difficulty in changing a habit is the fact that people have identified themselves with their particular way of hitting the ball. It is as if they were saying, ‘For better or for worse, this is the way I do it. And don’t you dare try to change me, even if I ask you to. – Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Work
The most striking part of that quote is the last phrase, “Even if I ask you to.” Ouch.
As coaches, we need to learn to identify that inner interference. Listen for it.
- Moses had an inner voice that said, “I can’t persuade anybody of anything.”
- Thomas had an inner voice that said, “If I can’t touch it, it isn’t real.”
- Peter had an inner voice that said, “I don’t even know this guy named Jesus.”
The point about voting out our congressional representative comes out when we start to say things like:
- It isn’t going to make any difference anyway.
- It could be worse with somebody else.
- There just isn’t anybody worth voting for.
- I don’t want to throw away my vote.
The coach needs to silence or change that inner dialogue.
There is a famous video of Gallwey teaching a 40-ish, non-athletic woman off the street how to play tennis in 20 minutes. Watch this six minute video.
What did you notice about the way Gallwey silenced her inner critic?
How could you apply these methods in your own coaching sessions?
Write your answers in the comments.