I had the pleasure of attending Dan John’s presentation last Sunday at the 2012 Midwest Performance Enhancement Seminar, hosted right here at IFAST. If you don’t know him, Dan John is an old-school coach whose advice is always worth reading. He’s seen it all and he’s tried it all.
All that makes for a pretty good coach. But what makes Dan John a GREAT coach is the way he makes us reflect on things are bigger than “just” training. He is a natural storyteller, and his stories have a way of making you think “yeah, I knew that already, but I really couldn’t have articulated it so clearly!”
In my mind, that’s how you know you’re dealing with greatness.
Anyway, for me, the big takeaway from listening to Dan John for 7 hours this weekend was the answer to a very simple question:
Why do you train?
Typically, answers to this question range from “I want to get off my diabetes medications” to “I want bigger biceps.” If you are an athlete, you might say “I want to win a gold medal at the Olympics” or “I want to make the JV team this year.” All of these are fine goals, in my opinion.
Dan John’s answer is a little different. Yes, people train to beat other people in competition. Yes, we train because we want to look sexy. But that’s not the whole picture.
You see, Dan John is not just a coach. He happens to have degrees in history and religious education. He is a father and a husband, and a theology instructor.
So for Dan, the answer to the question, “why do you train?” is obvious: we train to become better human beings.
If you are training to win the gold medal at the Olympics, and that training makes you a worse spouse, you might want to reconsider your training.
Now, I’m sure that many Olympic athletes would disagree, and that’s fine. But personally, this fits perfectly with the way that I think about training.
Whether you’re a musician, an athlete, a dancer, an artist, or anything else, practicing your craft should make you a better human being.
Of course, we all know “great” athletes who are terrible human beings — rock stars and superstar athletes with huge egos and dysfunctional lives. But Dan John would argue that these people are missing the point, and I agree.
I see this all the time with my clients. They come in, work hard, lose 20 lbs. or 2 dress sizes, and they start walking and talking differently. It’s partly that their posture has improved, but they’ve also become more confident, and fundamentally happier, too.
This makes them interact differently with the world: with their neighbors, bosses, spouses, children, friends, and enemies. A happier, more confident person can afford to be more generous and magnanimous. They smile more. They spread happiness more often, rather than worrying about their insecurities.
Okay, so not everyone who comes into IFAST magically becomes an angel overnight. But I do think that Zach and I aspire to be more than just coaches who can help someone lose 20 lbs. or jump higher or run faster or get really nice-looking biceps. We aspire to make people’s lives better through our coaching, and we hope that in some small way, our clients become better people through having trained at IFAST.
So thank you, Dan John, for reminding us of our role as coaches, and for giving us an example to aspire to! You are an inspiration!