I consider part of my job as a coach is to be an option facilitator. In my mind, an option facilitator is someone who can give a different perspective or reframe of a particular situation or problem in order to enable the person to see a different path to a solution. Lately I have taken on a different perspective of what that means and how being a good option facilitator is of value.
I certainly have my own ideas and opinions and I realize those come with my own biases. These biases are created from my life experiences. In the pas,t when offering options, I would have a tendency to look at those options in a very black and white manner. With a “this is the way” mentality came judgment on what is “right” vs. “wrong” . For instance, we are currently in the midst of a nutrition challenge which we started near the the first of February. In the past, I may have approached this as the “best” plan for everyone. What I am working hard on is trying to convey with this particular challenge is that it is only one of many different nutritional approaches. There are many different approaches that can help you to improve the quality of your health, mental and physical performance, and ultimately your life in general. The goal is to experiment for yourself to see if it is something that works for you.
If you choose to experiment,then it is my job to assist you along the way and hopefully provide some new perspectives on how to make a successful go of it. We all will have barriers that get in our way. Sometimes we just can’t see a way around or through those barriers. What I hope to bring to the table is the fact that exercise, nutrition, training, and life optimization is my job and what I think about almost all day everyday. Using the nutrition challenge as a example of option facilitation process here are few barriers that I’ve encountered and a few options to address them.
1. How will i have enough energy to train when I’m not eating carbs?
With the exception of Jiujitsu all of our traiing at Alliance is an hour or less. Most training sessions are designed to be intense but short in duration. If you are eating up to 150 grams of carbs a day, you will have enough carbohydrate to replenish your glycogen stores. Once your body becomes more accustomed to burning fat for fuel ,it will be even easier for most. I have found that it may take some time to adjust. It may take 21 days for most and longer for some others. However, the fear of not having enough carbs typically comes from prior information and beliefs which may actually not hold true for us.
2. I like bread, pasta, alcohol, etc. and “can’t” give them up.
The key word here is “can’t”. If you really mean, “I don’t want to or “It’s not that important to me” then that is a different story. If you truly believe you can’t then I would argue differently. One of my favorite quotes I have seen recently related to this is from Gary Taubes. In his book “ Good Calories, Bad Calories”.Gary says that “Sloth and gluttony are not the reason for being over fat but that they are a symptom.” When your diet consist of consuming a lot of sugar you are setting up a perfect storm of hormones to wire your brain to want more of the same. By breaking the cycle you will find your true self.
3. It’s too complicated.
It can be if you make it so but it does not have to be. There are plenty of good and simple recipes in Marks book. Some people like to cook and experiment with new things and that great. I on the other hand am more of a creature of habit and prefer to keep it simple.
Sample day for me:
5:00 am Bullet proof coffee
6:30am 4 scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon
Before training- amino acid and ketone supplement
Lunch- Big salad with either chicken or hamburger
Dinner-Chicken, beef, and vegetables
Nighttime bio coffee with collagen and Heavy cream.
If you choose not to pursue this challenge, then that is fine and no judgment on that decision.This part is not always easy for me. I have a tendancy to get tunnel vision and as I mentioned earlier see things in black and white. However, I am working on reframing how I facilitate options and trying to open my eyes to see even more possibilities.
Another example of option facilitation is how I offer explanation and correction of exercise performance. I am trying to avoid telling someone they are doing something wrong but rather trying to give an option of how to do it better. I like to also think of this as planting seeds. You may not be ready for certain options when I offer them but hopefully the seed will be planted so that those options are still in your mind when or if the need for them arises. For instance, you may have heard these recommendations regarding the performance of the deadlift.
1. Warmup adequately before performing deadllifts
2. Take time to get the setup. This includes getting in the right position with hip hinge and neutral spine.
3. Create maximal tension on the bar and take a breath into your belly before actually starting the pull.
4. Push through the mid foot while maintaining tension through the core (including lats) in order to stabilize the spine and transfer the power from your hips and hamstrings.
5. Reset between each rep to insure you have proper position and tension.
Sometimes you can perform well and not have any injuries or issues without doing all of the above. However, if you do have a problem then my hope is that you will have a process to go back to to correct it when you need to.
So, what in the world does this have to do with David Goggins. David Goggins is a retired Navy Seal and among his many seemingly impossible feats are performing over 4,000 Pullups in 17 hours and running 205 miles in 39 hours. Although he is never named in the book, he was the SEAL that Jesse Itzler lived with in his book called, Living With A Seal. David was recently on a podcast with Joe Rogan. His story was very inspiring especially, from a mental toughness and transformational standpoint. (Just as a warning the language on the podcast is of the rated R variety. )A few of the takeaways for me were:
1. Most of the limits we place on ourselves are based on our genetics or our environment but our mindset.
2. The person we believe we are to be is most often dictated by what others told us we could be and is often not a true reflection of our best self
3. To become your best self you have to face your fears and be willing to fail.
4. Take responsibility. Jocko Willink calls it “extreme ownership”. It’s not that you have to do everything by yourself or can’t accept help but realize you can’t blame others for your result.
5. Ask questions to yourself. As Tony Robbins has said, “The quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask.” David said he used the question of “What if?” What would my life look like if I did this. Another question you can ask is “How is that working for me?”.
In summary, what I often hear from people when I am presented with a problem is that it is hard or that they can’t. In some cases there may be an easier way and to choose the harder path is not necessarily the best. However, sometimes it is just hard. When it comes to can’t, there are probably somethings we actually can’t do. However, in my experience most of the time it is simply a matter of priorities, values, and beliefs. To use myself as an example and how David planted a seed and facilitated a different option for me relates to mobility and stretching. When David says that a doctor told him that he was the tightest person he had ever seen and that he would need 50,000 hours of stretching to correct himself, I thought of myself. I have thought of myself as being “naturally” tight and although I have spent a great deal of time working on finding the problem and trying to correct it, David gave me a different perspective when he says that he spends two hours a day stretching and that he has only missed two days in the last 5 years.
Lastly, I want to facilitate an option or another way of approaching your training. If you look at some of the amazing physical and mental achievements David put himself through you will see that he paid a price physically to accomplish those feats. When we have done crucible training and events in the past such as Kokoro, 20X, 12 Hours of Jiujitsu, the Crucible Challenge, or the 24 Hour Walk, they have all, in my opinion, been focused on survival. In other words you just have to get through and don’t quit. They definitely teach that you are capable of much more than you thought. The seed I want to plant is “what if” you put that same mental energy and focus on the internal aspect of training and tried to do everything better. Just maybe your training would be even better and your body, mind, and spirit would benefit just as much or more.