The Client-Therapist Relationship

Tag: Rider confidence

One of the things I enjoy most about my job is that I get to meet so many interesting people. I am in the privileged position of enabling them to confide in me about what’s going on in their lives and their riding, how these things are affecting them and giving them an opportunity to be totally honest with themselves about their goals, their doubts and their fears.

A first session with a new client is all about getting to know each other, allowing the client to open up and to tell their “story”. Through a multitude of questions I will aim to gain and understanding of what’s going on and how that is affecting the client and their whole life, with particular reference to their riding. Some clients have many questions they wish to ask me and others have fewer but this initial session gives them an opportunity to ask me anything they wish.

The aim of this is that we establish what is known as a “rapport”. This means that we build a connection based on trust and mutual respect within a safe and professional relationship. Sometimes this connection happens almost instantly – after all we already have a lot in common in our mutual interest in horses and equestrian sport. Other times the relationship takes a little longer to establish and as the therapist I have to use all of my skills to allow the client to begin to feel comfortable and to trust me.

Usually, I find that the people who consult me already have some idea of who I am and what to expect because they have followed my work on social media and/or heard about my work by word of mouth. This, of course, makes it easier to build the rapport we need to be able to work together towards a successful outcome for the client.

I am fortunate that my background in working as a nurse and midwife in the NHS gave me masses of experience in taking a history and helping people to feel comfortable and to trust me.

Whilst the relationship I have with my clients is completely professional, it is also friendly and I will share some aspects of my own “story” as and where this is appropriate. I believe that it’s useful and important for me to use some examples from my own life, and riding, to explain an idea or to show empathy towards the client’s situation.

Of course, confidentiality is of the utmost importance. The horse world is pretty small and, especially in these days of social media, we will frequently have mutual friends and acquaintances. It is vital that the client feels safe to disclose anything they wish and to be confident that it will go no further. I have a rule of thumb which is that if I bump into a client publicly, and they approach me openly, then I will be more than happy to chat to them. However, I won’t approach them directly as I would never want to put them in a situation of having to explain how they know me if the don’t wish to.

Inevitably some clients go on to become friends, or friendly acquaintances, and this is lovely. It means that I get to hear how things are going for them after we have finished working together directly and I get to see photos on social media of their horses and the exciting adventures they have together.

I think the best way to sum up my approach to the client-therapist relationship is that it is one of FRIENDLY PROFESSIONALISM and it certainly brings me great joy.

Rapport is developed whether we meet in person……


Tag: Rider confidence

One of the techniques which I use a lot in my work with clients, and which I teach clients to use for themselves, is visualisation. And one of the many uses of this skill is confidence boosting which has the result of boosting a client’s resilience. Does this sound good?

In hypnosis, or in general conversation, I will ask a client to re-live a super positive past experience, one where they have exhibited mental strength and problem solving abilities, and to really immerse themselves, using all of their senses, in that strong memory. Then, drawing all of that strength and self belief from the past experience into themselves, I ask them to imagine a future situation (which they might perhaps find challenging) and to note how much easier it is to mentally rehearse that future experience with all of their powerful positivity. With practice, this is a hugely useful tool for riders and can be applied to any area of life such as other sports, work or any activity.

I was recently listening to the BBC Sounds podcast All in the Mind and one of the things it was looking at was a research project from the University of Zurich looking at this very thing. The project shows that “Reflecting on Your Own Capabilities Boosts Resilience and looks at how developing a belief that that we have some power and control over a situation helps us to grow in what they term “Self Efficacy”.

So if we learn to recall times when we have shown this skill of self efficacy we learn to be able to tackle new challenging situations more effectively because we truly understand that we can do this. “A self-efficacious person is convinced that they can draw on their own powers to overcome difficult and challenging situations. It doesn’t matter whether this is actually the case, as Kleim explains: “Without believing in your own capabilities, you wouldn’t take on any challenges in the first place.” Self-efficacious people have stronger problem-solving abilities and a higher level of persistence. They also show changes in brain activation in regions linked to emotional regulation.”

How about giving this a go for yourself?

Find somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed for a short while (phone off!)

Allow your mind to take you back to a super positive past experience (it doesn’t have to be a riding memory but that would be extra helpful ). It’s important that this memory is one where you have solved problems and overcome challenges in a positive way, rather than just any old happy memory. Allow that memory to grow and strengthen – where were you? Who were you with? What were you wearing? What was the weather like? What can you hear? Perhaps even what can you smell? What personal strengths did you draw on?

Allow the pleasure of that positive past experience, and the self belief associated with it, to grow and develop and draw it into your very being.

Then look forward to your new situation and see how you can handle it so much more easily because you’re using all of that power and self belief from the past. Perhaps start by imagining a mildly challenging situation and then once you’re familiar with the technique you can use it any time you need it.

The University of Zurich study showed that “Our study shows that recalling self-efficacious autobiographical events can be used as a tool both in everyday life and in clinical settings to boost personal resilience,” 

If you’d like some help and support to learn how to use this and apply it to your own life and riding, so that you too can become more resilient, then just drop me a DM.

Recalling a time when you have used personal strengths to overcome challenges is very powerful.


Tag: Rider confidence

Most of you are probably familiar with the quote (minus my additions) in the title of this post but have you thought about what it means for all of us? I think it is especially relevant given the worldwide pandemic situation that we have been in since early 2020. What it means is, that as human beings, we can’t, and don’t, exist in isolation. We are dependent on each other, we are part of communities and societies. We need other people on many levels and there is masses of research which shows the negative effects of isolation on people from physiological effects such as poorer immune systems and poorer sleep through to severe mental health effects such as anxiety and depression and even suicide. An interesting article worth reading, if you’d like to know more about this, was published in The Scientist looking at the effects of isolation during the Covid pandemic.

As horse owners and riders I do believe that it’s important to build a supportive team of people who can help with different aspects of horse care, riding skills and general support and encouragement. It doesn’t have to be formalised in the way that, perhaps, a professional rider would have a team including various coaches, equestrian professionals, grooms and riders. Most of you reading this are likely to be single horse owners, or owners of a small handful of horses but you can still build up your team rather than feeling that you need to be able to do everything, and know everything, yourself.

So who is in your team? Do you make the effort to establish a good relationship with the professionals you consult to help you care for your horse such as your vet, farrier, saddle fitter, physio etc? Getting to know these professionals can really make a huge difference to your ability to fulfil your riding goals and to maintain the health and longevity of your horse. Such things as having your horse ready on time and paying bills promptly always help of course! But also having a good communication helps too, asking for advice when you need it and then following it will always help you to care for your horse and the professional to do their job.

Other people in your team are likely to be coaches and instructors who help you to develop your riding skills and grow your experience plus, increasingly these days, a mindset and confidence coach who will help you with the psychological aspects of riding. Some coaches are trained in this area but not all and there are times when you might need to consult someone with the necessary skills and experience to help you.

Investing in professional help might sometimes feel like a luxury when you have chosen a pastime and sport which consumes a lot of your precious income, but when you look at it from the point of view of saving yourself from making expensive mistakes, through well meaning lack of knowledge, in the long term it is likely to be a sensible investment.

Other people in your team are likely to be friends and family and those around you on your yard if that’s where you keep your horse. These are hopefully people who care deeply about you and who have your best interests at heart. The ones you share your goals and dreams with and are there to cheer you on or to console you when needed.

There has, sadly, been a lot of publicity over the last few years about bullying within the equestrian world. This is NEVER acceptable and I believe that we each have a responsibility to stand up to it and challenge it when we see it. Plus to take personal responsibility for our own behaviour making sure not to join in idle gossip or spreading of rumours. I’d love to encourage riders to be more aware of those around them who perhaps don’t seem to have a “team”. Think about including them when you’re making a cuppa or a simple smile and “how are you?” can make a difference. For riders who are struggling with loneliness or with mental health a good starting point is Rider’s Minds.

Personally, I keep my horses at home but I like to think I have a solid group of people who I can ask to help when needed and who can offer advice when required. My horses are getting old but I’m hoping that they can continue to live their happy retired lives for some considerable time yet.

From a business point of view my team consists of the coaches I collaborate with, advisors who can help me with tech and business advice where needed, my husband who encourages and supports me and my friends who are always happy to hear about my work and to share my delight when things are going well and understand when I might need to have a moan (which TBH is very rare!) – my clients are amazing!

Currently a great team member for me is my friend and colleague Anne Currie. Together we have developed a three week online course to help riders to create harmony between their body, mind and horse. The course is running from 26th April and if you would like to find out more or to join then simply follow this link

MY LITTLE HORSEY TEAM


So my advice to you is to build yourself a team of people who’s opinion and knowledge you value and that will support you. We can’t all be experts in every aspect of horse care and riding skills so when you have doubts or concerns, if you have built your team, then you’ll know who you can turn to. WHO’S IN YOUR TEAM?






Tag: Rider confidence

I have twin brothers and today, March 23rd, is their birthday so this is an easy date to remember in my family. It is of course a full year now since the start of the first lockdown period and a day when lots of people are making time to think and reflect on their experiences over the last year.

Thinking of my family, the first thing which comes to mind is that we have hardly seen each other. I saw one brother briefly last year when he called to visit en route to a mini break in NW Scotland – I made him camp in the garden as we weren’t supposed to be having guests in our homes at that stage! He did sneak in to use the loo and shower, which in theory was breaking the rules but hey, who hasn’t broken or bent the rules at some point? I haven’t seen my other brother since late February 2020 when our family was all together for our Mum’s funeral. Mum timed her passing perfectly in some ways, she was at the end of a long and happy life and we have said frequently over the last year that we are glad that she didn’t have to go through the loneliness and isolation that so many have experienced. We are a close family and can’t wait to get together again before too much more time has passed.

My husband’s family are mostly in Ireland so, of course, we haven’t seen them for over a year now either. Our experiences of missing our families are no different to those of our friends and everyone else throughout the country and beyond. We have been accepting of the situation, frustrated and saddened at times but made the best of other forms of communication and it has been fine.

I must admit I found the first couple of months really quite a relief. After the few weeks leading up to it, when we knew that there was a serious worldwide situation going on, it did feel good to me when things finally shut down and I felt safer in our own little part of the world. I think, in some ways, I needed that quiet time which came so soon after Mum’s death and followed on from losing my mother-in-law in 2019 and my father in 2018. Life had been very busy for the past few years lurching from one elderly parental crisis to the next and so a time to pause and be quiet felt good. Spring 2020 was beautiful and those early days of sunshine and fresh air walks, seeing virtually nobody were a special time here at home with our animals.

Long Summer evenings and this view helped us in the early lockdown days.



When things eased up a bit last Summer and early Autumn we managed to make the most of a couple of short break opportunities and enjoyed seeing a few of our local friends. Then it quickly became obvious that we would have to return to tighter restrictions and that is where we still find ourselves.

Like many others I’ve found the more recent period more challenging than the earlier days. There were times when I did feel afraid with new variants springing up and infection rates soaring. The more I learned about Covid the less I wanted to catch it. Now in March 2021 I feel optimistic about the future, grateful to have received my first vaccination, appreciative of the hard work and dedication of health and care professionals and other key workers and thankful that we have remained happy and healthy throughout.

I have learned an immense amount over the year in many different ways. I’ve done a couple of major online learning courses and will write about them separately. On a personal level I’d just like to mention a couple of things which I’ve learned.

I realised that I need to constantly challenge some of my own personal self limiting beliefs so that I don’t allow them to hold me back. For example, I tend to describe myself as a technophobe who is pretty clueless when it comes to using technology. This just simply isn’t true! I have embraced and learned all sorts of new things and new ways of working over the past year. I’ve either been able to work out for myself how to do things or I have found an expert who can help me where needed! No more technophobia for me…..!!

I also believed that I could only do my job well when working with clients face to face. Again, this has proved to be untrue and I have truly enjoyed all the encounters I’ve had with new and existing clients online over the past twelve months. This has allowed my work to develop in ways which I had never anticipated or particularly thought about and I am excited about continuing to grow these new ways of working and helping horse riders throughout scotland and far beyond.

So it isn’t just my clients who have self limiting beliefs which they allow to hold them back from reaching their goals! I have them too and that’s something I need to be aware of and keep on top of. We are ALL works in progress!

I’ve also learned that there are many others out there in the equestrian world who I can enjoy making connections with. I joined the wonderful Small and Supercharged mastermind group, run by Rhea Freeman, and through this have made many delightful online friendships and have benefitted from many opportunities which have come my way through this marvellous group of people. Just because we are all isolated in our own corners of the world it doesn’t mean that we can’t support and encourage each other and that is just exactly what this group does.

So as we can all hopefully start to look forward to doing more of the tings we enjoy and seeing more of the people we love and who are important to each other I know that I will always continue to learn and, for me, that is one of life’s great joys.

Photo credit: Joanne Boyle

Tag: Rider confidence

Yesterday I took part in my first room chat on the Clubhouse Social Media platform, which I have just discovered and joined and which looks promising as a source of sharing, supporting and learning for the equestrian world. Have you seen it yet? I believe at the moment it’s only available on i-phone but you can find out more here .

As conversations generally do, the chat moved from topic to topic and some interesting questions were asked and answered by various different equestrian experts.

At this stage I was just listening and wondering how this new app worked and wondering how best to get involved.

The conversation quickly turned to having fun with horses, playing games with them and a few associated equine behaviour issues which were all very interesting.

Up to this point I had thought to add something to the previous topic which was more mindset related but there were quite a few people who wished to speak so by the time I was invited to add to the conversation we had moved on to having fun with horses.

So I rapidly re-thought about what I could add at this stage and simply changed my input to applauding these equestrians who wanted to play with horses to stimulate them and strengthen their bonds.

I was also reminded, and reminded the participants, just how important it is that we all do remember to have fun. As a mindset and confidence coach it’s easy to stay on the lines of goal setting, gaining focus, developing resilience, staying calm under pressure, managing success and challenges and many other topics BUT it’s really important as a confidence and mindset coach that I remind the people I work with about simply having fun on and around horses.

What are the fun things which you enjoy doing? They’ll be different for each of you but remember to do plenty of the fun stuff, whatever it is. There’s a time and a place for strengthening your mindset but always remember to KEEP THE FUN FLAG FLYING.

This was such a fun day and my friend and I were definitely flying the fun flag !

Tag: Rider confidence

2020 has certainly been a challenging year hasn’t it? I don’t want to dwell on those challenges though because there have been many good things during this year and I choose to focus on these.

For Horse riding with Confidence Scotland the year began with some lovely new people getting in touch with a view to collaborating for talks, workshops and clinics and I hope that these ideas will be able to come to fruition in 2021, as lockdown has meant that they didn’t all happen this year. I always enjoy meeting and chatting with other equestrian professionals about how we can combine our skills and experience for the benefit of horse riders.

When lockdown kicked in I, like so many people, had to embrace online working and this has proved to be a great success for many clients. In fact, despite the pandemic, I have had more new clients this year than I had in 2019. I’ve enjoyed working with riders at all levels helping them to overcome confidence issues and develop a stronger mindset for performance and competition.

I have managed to get to a couple of camps with Equiteam Confidence Camps when we have been allowed to get together. These are always hugely enjoyable and the team are great fun to work with so I thank them for their continuing support of the work I do.

With life being a bit quieter during the first lockdown period I enrolled to do the Centre 10 APEC foundation course. This is a course in applied psychology for equestrian coaches and I was able to join because of my experience working with riders. I loved the 12 weeks of learning so much that as soon as it finished I signed up for the advanced course with them and I’m about half way through that as I write here today.

I have done many courses over the years in various aspects of psychology, psychotherapy and counselling but this is the first time I’ve found something specifically for the equestrian world. I have been hugely impressed with the ideas and the quality of teaching and materials so I am loving this new learning.

I have also used the extra time when things have been quiet socially to do some more writing of blogs and have been a regular contributor the the Horse & Rider magazine “Ask the Experts” column which has been fun.

My sponsored riders Jodie Neill (Eventing) and Jodie Campbell (Dressage and Showing) have done what they’ve been able throughout the year and both have continued to be a great support for the work I do. Towards the end of the Summer Natalia Mallon joined the team and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and supporting her in re-finding her confidence and love of show jumping.

We have exciting plans for 2021 with a new online opportunity for riders to get their mindset boosted to set themselves up to make the most of 2021. This will run as a membership group on Facebook throughout February and if you would like to join in then just follow this link

In the Autumn I worked with Joanne Boyle Photography who took some lovely pictures for me to use on my website and social media. You will see her photos on many of my posts. Here is one of my favourites.

On a personal note, once again, there has been sadness in my family. My lovely Mum passed away at the start of the year. We had lost Dad in 2018 and then my mother-in-law in 2019 so we still do feel a bit raw. Mum had some happy times in her care home after Dad died but became increasingly frail and dependent until she slipped away in January.
Mum was a teacher and therefore it seems fitting that in the year of her passing I have done so much learning. I dedicate all of this new learning to her.

Mum (with the plaits) never rode a horse but she had fun at the beach on this donkey ride with her sister!

Tag: Rider confidence

Last time I wrote about general communication and how we can all try to be more open to improving our communication skills. This time I thought I’d delve a bit deeper into Effective Listening, which is quite probably the most important aspect of good communication.

The Art of Effective Listening

Why Listen?

We listen to obtain information, to understand, to enjoy and to learn.

Good listening skills require a high level of self-awareness.  It is important to practice ‘active listening’ i.e. to make a conscious effort to both hear the words being said and to understand the total message.  It is also very important to let the other person know that you are listening; otherwise, it can feel like talking to a brick wall.

There are five key elements to active listening:

Horses are great listeners (and they keep your secrets!). (Image: Sophie Callahan)
  1. Pay attention.  
  • Give the speaker your undivided attention
  • Look directly at the speaker
  • Put aside distracting thoughts
  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors
  • ‘Listen’ to the speaker’s body language
  • Refrain from side conversations if you are in a group setting.
  1. Show that you are listening.
  • Nod occasionally (NB this does not necessarily imply agreement)
  • Smile and use other facial expressions
  • Note your posture and show it to be open and inviting
  • Encourage the speaker with small verbal comments e.g. ‘yes’ and ‘uh huh’.
  1. Provide feedback
  • Our personal filters, assumptions, judgements and beliefs effect what we hear.  As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said.
  • Reflect and ask questions
  • Paraphrase e.g. ‘What I’m hearing is…….’, ‘Sounds like you’re saying…..’
  • Ask questions to clarify e.g. ‘ When you say……what do you mean?’
  • Periodically summarize the speaker’s points.
  1. Defer Judgement
  • Interrupting wastes time and frustrates the speaker
  • Allow the speaker to finish
  • Don’t interrupt with counter – arguments.
  1. Respond Appropriately
  • Active listening is a model for respect and understanding
  • You are gaining information and perspective
  • You add nothing by attacking the speaker or putting them down
  • Be candid, open and honest in your response
  • Assert your opinions respectfully
  • Treat the other person as he/she would want to be treated.
  • If it is especially important to remember what has been said to you or if you are being given precise instructions then take notes

KEY POINTS

  • It takes practice and determination to be an active listener
  • Be deliberate and remember that your goal is to truly hear what is being said
  • Set aside all else while you listen
  • Ask questions/reflect/paraphrase
  • If you do not do these things then what the speaker says and what you hear can be very different.
  • Take notes if necessary.
When did you last feel that someone truly listened to you?


Tag: Rider confidence

I often hear people bemoaning the fact that the people they come in contact with don’t communicate very well. Either they don’t listen, fail to say what they mean, just don’t tell you stuff or talk “at” you and hog the conversation! This can be very frustrating and lead to misunderstandings and disagreements.

I was reminded the other day about a talk I gave at a local business, many years ago, on communication and listening and after a trawl through some old files on my laptop I found that I still had the information. So I thought I’d share it….



So what is communication?

Communication is the exchange of thoughts, messages and information by speech, signals, writing and behaviour . In all communication there is a “transmitter” and a “receiver”.

Effective communication promotes self-confidence, intelligence and enhances relationships both personal and in social and work situations.

As a transmitter of communication it is your role to ensure that your message is given in a way which can be understood by the expected receiver and as the receiver it is your job to understand the meaning of the message


Non-Verbal Communication

Non -verbal communication is of equal importance to the words which are spoken. It regulates conversation, communicates emotions, modifies verbal messages, gives insights and can give clues to meanings.
NB remember that these things can vary between cultures.


.

In conversation there should be a dialogue which includes:

  • Turn Taking. Generally “You talk, then I talk” will be effective. In conversation monologues aren’t helpful.
  • Connecting. What each person says should in some way be connected to what the other person has said.
  • Mutual Influencing. Each person in a dialogue should be open to being influenced by what the other person has said, it’s best to be open-minded.
  • Co-creating Outcomes. Good dialogue leads to outcomes which benefit both parties.




    Therefore:
  • Say what you think, not what you think others want you to say.
  • Express your views clearly, positively and in a non-threatening manner.
  • Express you views in language which can be understood.
  • Listen actively.
  • If in doubt check the meaning of what you are hearing rather than assuming you understand what was said.
  • Give full attention (put down your phone during conversation!).
  • Give the speaker the respect of hearing what they want you to hear.
  • It is equally important to give respect as to receive it.





    Non-verbal communication includes:
  • Bodily behaviour – posture, movement, gestures
  • Eye behaviour – contact, staring, avoidance
  • Facial expressions – smiles, frowns, raised eyebrows
  • Physiological responses – blushing, breathing rate, pupil dilation
  • Physical characteristics – height, weight, fitness
  • Space – how close a person chooses to be during conversation
  • General appearance – grooming, dress.


    To check your skills at communication ask yourself the following questions.
  • What are my attitudes towards the other person?
  • How would I rate the quality of my “presence” in the dialogue?
  • What attitudes am I expressing in my verbal behaviour?
  • What attitudes am I expressing in my non-verbal behaviour?
  • Do the above two points agree?
  • Does the other person find my communication effective? If necessary, how can I be more effective?
  • In what ways am i distracted from being fully engaged in the conversation? How might I handle any distractions and emotional responses?
  • Am I truly hearing what is being said? How do I know?
  • Am I allowing my own interpretations of what is being said to distract me from the true meaning?
  • How can I learn from this dialogue so that I can improve future communications?




We won’t get it right all of the time but by learning to be more present, more aware of ourselves, more emotionally intelligent and more open then we can all improve our communication skills.

Next time, I’ll look at developing listening skills in more detail so keep your eyes open for that post.




Tag: Rider confidence

I’ve been thinking about giving and receiving praise recently so decided to write down a few thoughts about this subject.

In today’s internet society everything is constantly rated and reviewed and there are many rating sites we can look at before making a holiday choice or picking a restaurant, for example.  The same goes for choosing a service or when we are looking for somebody to help us with an aspect of our lives where we naturally tend to choose the one who has received most praise.

Here at Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland I rarely ask for or publish client testimonials due to the importance of confidentiality. An unnamed testimonial saying ‘Show Jumper from Scotland says Jane is wonderful’ is unverifiable and meaningless and I want my clients to feel that it is entirely their choice whether or not they share that they have consulted me for help with confidence or mindset.

However, on a recent facebook post some riders were kind enough to make some very positive comments about how I had been able to help them and by choosing to say this publicly they were obviously happy to say that they had used my services.  Other riders prefer to keep quiet about needing help with confidence issues and choose not to share this and I am more than happy for them to do that.

I, like most people, love to receive praise and get a great boost when somebody gives me positive feedback.  I also enjoy giving praise to others for example, I like to praise my clients for the hard work and commitment they show towards overcoming the nervousness which interferes with their enjoyment of riding or for the hours of determined practice they put in before a competition.

Whilst enjoying receiving and giving praise what really gives me the most satisfaction is when I can praise myself.  When I can feel inside that I have done a good job.  When I can tell, by their body language, that audience members at a talk are listening and understanding what I say.  When the look on a client’s face changes from one of tension and worry to a big and genuine smile.  When I can look at my animals and know that I have done a good job with them and given them a good life.  When I can go to bed at night feeling that I have acheived something worthwhile during the day.

All these feelings come from within and I believe that is where our enjoyment of life truly comes from.  We should be wary of needing others to constantly praise us and work towards true self acceptance.

As always, thanks for reading this and any comments are very welcome.

Whether your session is face:face or online I want you to feel comfortable that I am there just for you.


Tag: Rider confidence

Last week I went on a little adventure, heading all the way to Bath for a three day course to begin six months of training with Centre 10 doing their Advanced Performance Psychology course for equestrian coaches.

As you know, all my work is done “off horse” and I don’t teach riding skills as such, but focus on the mindset and rider psychology aspects of the sport, so this course is right up my street. I was delighted to be accepted onto it based on my experience working with riders at all levels.

As you probably also know I am a believer in lifelong learning and am always open to new ideas and new ways of looking at old ideas.

So the week was a real treat as well as an adventure. It felt like an adventure because in this year dominated by Covid-19 just simply having a few days away from home is a novelty and the treat was staying in a beautiful country house hotel on the edge of the City of Bath.

There were lots of highlights including meeting the other coaches on the course plus meeting Charlie, Sarah and Steffi from Centre 10 who are all inspirational people, athletes and coaches.

Today I would like to talk about two of the exercises we did last week which were great fun but both brought home important messages and helped me to look at things I already knew from a different and useful point of view.

The first exercise was that we were give a block of wood with a nail hammered into it plus 10 other identical nails. The task was to balance to 10 nails on the one in the block!! We were in a team of three….

It was fascinating to see the approaches of my team mates as well as my own. One person decided that this wasn’t for them and encouraged the remaining team mates from the sidelines. I had been allocated the job of handling the nails (Covid meant that only one person was to do this) and my other team mate was coming up with ideas.

Initially we didn’t actually know whether this was possible of not but after a short while we were told that it WAS possible so were trying with renewed vigour. Then we were given a simple clue to help us understand HOW it was actually possible.

Interestingly my team mate who has a biomechanics background found the next stage of the exercise easier than I did and under her guidance we managed to complete the task!

When you BELIEVE something is possible it BECOMES possible.

There were several learnings from this exercise including:

  • Once you believe that something is possible then it becomes possible.
  • Rather than being given a list of instructions we were given a clue which then allowed us to work out the answer for ourselves, a far more sustainable approach.
  • These seemingly simple ideas can be applied to any life area including helping people to find answers to their own challenges.

The second exercise, which was also hugely entertaining but also a great opportunity to learn, was target shooting!

This is something which I had never tried before so was keen to have a go at. Again we were in teams and we were delighted to be coached by the UK No. 1 modern pentathlete Kate French who trains at the amazing sports facilities at Bath University.

This exercise was all about looking at the process rather than the outcome. We were encouraged to break things down into a process such as our body angle, our breathing, lining up the sights and squeezing the trigger rather than focussing entirely on trying to hit the target.

I soon found that if I DID focus on my process then I COULD hit the target!

Then the exercise got more fun as we had a competition again in our teams so as well as demonstrating our new found skills we were adding the element of competition pressure.

We had a round of what we thought was the competition only to be told that it was a trial run and the teams were then handicapped according to their places in the trial run. This gave our team a 30 second advantage over the next team. We had a team talk, worked out a time saving hand over process and then were ready for competition.

I was the last to go and the next team was catching us up…….!

I had spent some time while the others were having their go breathing, visualising and focussing on my process so felt kind of “In the zone”.

My turn came and YES! I shot five out of five on target giving our team the WIN!! Great fun, not at all serious but again loads to learn and apply for other life areas including riding of course:

  • Focus on the process and the desired outcome will happen.
  • Find a method to focus which works for YOU.
  • In competition stick to your plan.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to other competitors.
  • Control what you CAN control.
  • Learn from mistakes.
  • HAVE FUN
Focus on the PROCESS and you will hit the TARGET.

I’m home again now and have enjoyed digesting all of my experiences from last week. These three days are just the beginning of six months of more learning online.

I’ll be posting regularly throughout the six months to share what I am leaning and I can’t wait for my clients to benefit from new ways of looking at things so that together we can work to help them to achieve their goals.