Putting It All Together

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Putting It All Together – by Laura King

‘Failure to plan is a plan for failure.’

When I work with clients, whether riders or trainers, we create a plan that is built upon setting achievable goals. Goal setting, and achieving those goals, requires dedication, perseverance and, most important, a plan. Goals are derived from challenges. When you know your shortcomings, you are then able to formulate your goals. Last month we covered the ACHIEVE process that begins by defining these challenges. I am being repetitive, and for that I apologize, but in order to tie this all together we must clearly understand the language of change and how the subconscious responds.

What is a goal? A goal is something you intend to achieve, which sounds simple, however, it is important to recognize the difference in a dream and a goal. Learning to listen for the difference in your students is important. A goal is something you intend to achieve, whereas a dream is something you would LIKE to achieve, but for which you have no plan. Dreams are often so vaguely worded that they are not readily planned for, e.g.:

“I want to improve my performance and achieve peak performance.”

Wanting something does not imply that you are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to achieve it. What constitutes improvement; and what will it take to “improve”? Peak performance? Everyone wants that! But without a plan, knowing precisely what areas must be improved upon, how can you, as their trainer, help them?

Goals are most useful when they are worded as outcomes. Remember an outcome is a specific, clear statement of what you want to be doing at the end of a specific time frame. By specifying the outcome you and your student want, it will allow their mind (and yours) to create a mental time-line, complete with deadlines and action steps.

“I will cut my time on my jumpers for my Grand Prix class by 10% and have consistently clean, clear rounds within three months.”

This goal, worded as an outcome, is certainly more attainable. It is a clear statement of what this student wants to be doing and thinking at the end of a specific time frame. Outcomes must be:

  • Measurable (“by 10 percent… in three months”)
  • Reachable (measured against the physical ability of your student)
  • Worded in the positive (“I will…” – Remember that the brain doesn’t know what to do with the word “not”, for instance, it is impossible to NOT picture a purple horse sitting across from you. Similarly, creating an outcome that says, “I won’t fall off my horse” is a surefire way to fall off your horse.)

Let’s talk about confidence for a moment. Confidence is bolstered through consistent improvement in and out of the ring. As a trainer you can help your student by finding those areas where they need to improve prior to competition; and then determine what changes will help them improve. This process will allow you and your student to develop a plan to make consistent incremental improvements.
Using the ACHIEVE system, which we covered in last month’s article, challenges were broken down and then reworded to reflect the desired state in six areas:

    1. Physical State
    2. Positive Self-Talk
    3. Focus
    4. Emotional State
    5. Mental State
    6. Expectations

Now is the time to work with your student to formulate three outcomes you both agree upon, based on the challenges they are facing. The premise is that of a road map – you must know what your starting point is in order to most effectively reach your destination. When you put an arrival time to your “travel”, you can then make your plan.

Use the ACHIEVE system for outcome creation, planning, and achievement. This system takes advantage of hypnosis’s ability to turn suggestions into behavior, and NLP’s program for manifesting the outcomes you desire. In essence, this is where we integrate hypnosis, NLP and your students’ own abilities and wishes to produce what they have defined for themselves (or you have defined for yourself) as “peak performance”.

Remember that clear communication during lessons helps in creating optimal results. Ask your student to repeat back to you what they understand your instructions to be. Clarify with them what they are asking of you. We don’t all communicate the same, so make sure your are hearing each other and that your student completely understands the whats, whys, and hows of your expectations. If you don’t, you are both sabotaging their progress… and you know your student will be quick to blame you – their trainer.

Do a weekly evaluation with your students and help them develop a plan to overcome the challenges. If their self-talk is negative, remind them to cancel the negative and find something they are grateful for in their lives – or simply think of a purple elephant. If they get foggy headed during practice, find out what they ate prior to entering the ring. Remind them of the importance of protein. Assign them homework. Have them read their outcomes each night, ten times prior to going to sleep to reprogram their subconscious. Create a weekly chart and hold them accountable for the exercises you are assigning them.

Either your student is doing their assignments, or they aren’t. If they have not done them, then they will know why their goals haven’t been reached. As Pat Riley says, “There’s no such things as coulda, shoulda, or woulda. If you shoulda and coulda, you woulda done it.”
Also suggest that they create a daily riding journal for themselves to keep track of their progress. Have them also keep track of their thoughts and feelings about taking responsibility for reaching their goals. This is a good guideline:

    1. The best part of my riding today was:
    2. My feelings during my lesson today were:
    3. What I learned about my riding ability today was:
    4. I learned the following about myself today:
    5. I learned the following about my trainer today:
    6. I learned the following about my horse today:
    7. I am grateful for these things in my life today:

This will help build ownership of the process in your students. As they see the work they are putting in and the improvements come to fruition, you will see them brimming with pride for their achievements.

Success is rarely an accident. If your student has complete devotion to the things he/she want and they are dedicated to putting in the work needed to follow the steps of the plan, success will be theirs – because they already believe it is!

There is no magic elixir for peak performance. But there is a process that combines the technology of the mind with the teaching of a great trainer. As long as your student is willing to do his or her part, the odds of them achieving peak performance increases exponentially.