Forever a Student of the Game

Student of the game - "a learned person; someone who by long study has gained mastery in one or more disciplines."

Forever - "for always, continually."

I never want to stop learning. I always want to have the curiosity to ask questions, research, inquire, read, and explore. Knowledge is very powerful, but it is also constant - especially in the world of strength and conditioning when things are ALWAYS changing.

One of the most interesting assignments I've had in my masters program thus far was completing Gallup's Strengths Finder. It's a questionnaire-type exercise that forces you to answer 120 questions in a short amount of time (20 seconds each question). From your answers, it gives you 5 different unique strengths that reflect your personality. I know, I know, how does an automated survey actually give you an accurate reading? But let me tell you, it is INCREDIBLY accurate. My five strengths were restorativefuturistic, positivitylearner, and arranger. I won't go into too much detail except for the learner strength.

Even through the Strengths Finder test it is apparent that I always want to be learning and evolving as both a coach and a person. As much as I have learned a lot in the past six years in the industry, I still have soooooooo much to learn, and I'm okay with that. I think I'll be saying the exact same thing 20 years from now. As coaches, we all have unique philosophies, mindsets and experiences, and that's what makes the world of sports so diverse. Keeping an open mind to others thoughts, opinions, techniques, I believe, is very important. Just because you don't do things the same way, doesn't mean it's wrong.

Here are the top 3 ways I continue to learn on a daily basis ...

(1) Network

I love meeting new people, it's probably one of my favourite things to do. Getting to know someone else's path, what makes them tick, and what they enjoy is so important for broadening our perspective on coaching. Everyone's experience is different and we all have a very different hybrid of coaching, so the more people you know, the more access you have to swap knowledge with them. Not only that, but have you ever head of six degrees of separation? It refers to knowing everyone in the world through 6 individuals ... the older I get, the more accurate this becomes. One important lesson my mother taught my brothers and I at a young age was to never be afraid to talk to strangers. This is a great lesson in both coaching, and in life ... you never know who you're going to meet.

(2) Read

Or listen, or watch - whatever you enjoy and whatever way is best retained for you (understanding HOW you learn is also important)! There are so many different sources to choose from, from books to podcasts, to videos - the resources we have access to are endless. I try to read/ watch at least one thing a day. It could be a quick article I pass on Facebook related to training or nutrition, or perhaps it's something a little more in-depth like an article from the Journal of Strength & Conditioning. There are also somedays I dedicate strictly to personal development - I move other work and obligations aside to give myself a chance to dig a little deeper into some topics. It shouldn't feel like work if it's something you really enjoy!

(3) Experience 

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPONENT TO LEARNING. Yes, caps was necessary. I have said it before, and I will say it again ... experience has taught me more than any textbook/course/article/podcast/video has ever taught me. Diving head first into experiences and learning to fail have been where I've seen the greatest growth. Failing is what helps us learn. Sure, we can read all the textbooks we want, but what if you have an athlete that doesn't respond the way the textbook said they would? Then what? Maybe they respond to something completely different than what you read about ... that's learning.

Everyone's learning styles are different. Some are hands-on learners (that's me), others learn through observation, listening, reading, etc. There's no right or wrong way to learn, you just have to put the effort into it. There are opportunities all around ... go out and find them!

What's your favourite way to learn?