A Three Part Blog Series
By Chris Plourde
Part One - Consistency
We all have different methods of defining success, whether in our jobs, our relationships, our personal goals of health and fitness. Regardless of what we choose to chase after in life, actually achieving the goals we set for ourselves can sometimes be a challenge.
In my journey in Fitness and Performance Coaching over the past twenty-plus years, I’ve had to uncover my own methods of achieving the success I desire for myself. Through years of consistent practice, I have been able to pass along what I’ve learned to my clients.
HOW I DISCOVERED SUCCESS
Years ago, when I made the choice to commit to Health and Wellness as my profession, my first step was to get better educated and to seek expertise from others in the field. I sought out opportunities for coaching via continuing education, and through this, met an excellent Fitness Pro, Karl List, who really helped fine tune my understanding of movement. Week after week, Karl coached me and a team of others like me, not only the technical aspects of movement, but in how to get the body moving in the most efficient way to produce maximum results.
Along with these tools, I also gained a valuable perspective on what it takes to be successful in fitness.
After one of our sessions, Karl and I were discussing the various components that lead to success, both for our clients and ourselves. Karl’s analysis was simple: “People hire us for two things: CONSISTENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY.” It wasn’t rocket science, but it definitely rang true to my own experience. A steady routine and support from my peers had both been integral to making progress toward my goals.
By making one seemingly small shift – putting consistency and accountability at the forefront of my work – I began to see amazing results! My clients were benefitting and making noticeable strides and my career quickly gained momentum and hasn’t slowed down since.
Over the last ten years, I’ve been able to expand beyond fitness-related performance coaching to also include yoga, meditation, retreats, and consulting for businesses. In countless speaking engagements and presentations around the world, I’ve shared the principles I learned and have seen it spark new conversations and inspire people at a core level.
And gradually, as I’ve observed the energy in the workshops and classes I’ve been teaching (while trying to remain a student too, because there’s always more to learn), I’ve uncovered a third important piece of the puzzle: COLLABORATION.
We are wired to engage and to learn from others’ experiences, to lend support and motivation throughout the process of not just fitness, but of living in general. Regardless of how determined we are, we need each other, a collaborative exchange of ideas, in order to keep succeeding.
So how does knowing these three words help you? Well, now that I’ve shared the components that can help you achieve success, I’d like to dig into the layers underneath where some tangible application can be found.
Let’s first consider the areas of your life where you’d like to see more CONSISTENCY. Having something concrete in mind is a great place to start in achieving our goals and creating new habits that actually stick.
We’re starting here because without CONSISTENCY, accountability isn’t going to mean much. And it’s through CONSISTENCY that we begin to ignite our potential, to find the energy and insight to collaborate with others.
So, ask yourself these questions:
1) Where am I showing up in life, and where am I inconsistent?
2) Are these goals aligning with what I want to achieve in life?
It’s also important to consider HOW you show up.
Is there quality, a deep caring with some emotion attached to it?
Or am I just vaguely present?
As you consider your answers and how to implement any necessary shifts, try to remember that integrity lies in each movement you make. Just as I learned from Karl in those early classes, it’s important to engage your mind and to step in with intention. This intention will set the tone and become the foundation for greater success in the future. For me, CONSISTENCY is the key to developing successful habits and consistency is built a day at a time.
Finding Consistency challenging?
-WHAT IS YOUR CLEAR END RESULT, GOAL OR INTENTION?
-What are 3 action steps you can create to get you towards your goal?
-Call upon a past success that you achieved, remember how great it felt to accomplished that goal, use those emotions as fuel in this new endeavor!
Next, we will continue this three-part series by answering the question “What Is ACCOUNTABILITY?” and discovering “How COLLABORATION is an intricate and vital part of how we engage.”
Stay with me and let’s keep moving forward.
Part Two – Accountability
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years of fitness training and personal coaching, it’s that I simply cannot do it alone. Believe me, I’ve tried. Many times. Relying on my own strength and determination without the support of others worked for a while (sometimes) but in the end, I never reached the place I knew deep down I could have.
If you’re like me, you’re approaching this new year with a mental list of things you’re hoping to accomplish or changes you’d like to make, whether it’s weight loss, a consistent yoga regimen, getting out of debt, shifting careers, eating healthier, or getting in better shape. So it’s timely that after recently exploring Consistency, we’re now moving on to the second phase of Cultivating Success: ACCOUNTABILTY.
As important as it is, accountability can be tricky. It brings up our sensitivity to critique, and sometimes leads to guilt when we fall short. For that reason, it might be the hardest of the three aspects of Cultivating Success to consider. Accountability means holding up a mirror and looking deep inside ourselves. It means letting someone else hold up that mirror for you, and being vulnerable, which can be scary.
My venture into accountability came when I committed to start swimming. I have always wanted to be a better swimmer. And while I knew that steady practice was essential, I had an inkling that there was something more to really achieving my goal. My first step (because I’m kind of an overachiever!) was to start competing in triathlons which forced me to go to the pool. The pool. For me, jumping in the water was more daunting than it sounds. Much like any form of exercise you know is good for you but don’t find easy, these sessions were honestly something I kind of dreaded.
Then I found a terrific coach. Coach Gerry Rodriguez and his swim club, Tower 26, became just the catalyst and accountability I needed to push me over the hump. Gerry is arguably one of the best open water swim coaches in the world. Intimidating? Yes. But eventually, by diving in (pun intended), I found Gerry’s coaching style and emphasis on supportive community to be right up my alley.
At first, every workout gave me butterflies in my stomach, but before I knew it, I grew to love the challenge and how amazing I felt afterward. After two years of showing up and allowing myself to be a student, open to feedback, the butterflies faded, my times improved, and I became not only a better swimmer, but a more equipped coach in the process.
Yes, hard truth can be initially uncomfortable, but I’ve found that seeking accountability from coaches, as well as friends, my family, even my clients, has been key to cultivating and maintaining success. Accountability has taught me to take down the mask and show my true self. I’ve seen that vulnerability is worth it! It’s been a continual reminder that I don’t have to do it alone. And it’s lead me to realize something that I share often: accountability leads to consistency because how you show up for one thing in your life is how you show up for everything.
FIND YOUR PEOPLE
The important thing in establishing accountability is finding the right people, YOUR people, or person, and creating a safe space with each other where you can give and receive candid feedback. I have had to commit to keeping those people around me and to make myself both open and available within those relationships, even and especially when I want to hide in my safe corner where only I know if I’m actually sticking to my goals.
When seeking accountability, enroll someone you trust: a friend, coach, colleague, team, a mastermind group, (your spouse can be an option, but that can get messy!), and commit to being each other’s accountability.
ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED
I’ve found that the clients who make the biggest strides are the ones who ask for constructive feedback constantly. We can’t always see ourselves objectively, so once you have accountability, try to remain supportable. Remember that welcoming an outside perspective can do a lot for mastering your goals in all areas of fitness, as well as in your everyday life. Ask, or better yet insist, that others be blatantly honest with you, and see how it leads to real growth.
Also remember that growth takes time and patience. Lessons come in ways we don’t always expect. So be open to whatever shape your growth takes, even if it looks different than what you might have first imagined.
SPEAK WITH CARE
With all of my clients, I always try to lead with honest and loving feedback – it’s the only way we can evolve and make progress. The same is true with accountability. The exchange of trust is the most important factor, so when offering accountability to others, wait until you’re invited in. Give feedback, support, and constructive criticism only when asked. Then speak within the context of love and care, not disappointment or a posture of shaming.
ACCOUNTABILITY IN 4 STEPS
As we begin 2018, a new year full of potential and fresh goals, here’s your quick how-to guide in adding Accountability to your process of Cultivating Success:
1. Ask yourself: In what areas do I need accountability this year? What’s most important to me and what do I want to accomplish to make my life better?
2. Then: Who are my people? Who is someone in my circle that I can trust to give me honest feedback, and when asked, provide honest feedback in return?
3. When receiving accountability, remain open. Remind yourself that the best way to grow is by not avoiding the mirror being held up in front of you (and I don’t mean the bathroom mirror that opens you up to self-criticism. I mean, be willing to look deep and respond to feedback.)
4. When giving accountability, make sure it comes from a loving, caring place, the way you’d want to receive it yourself.
Don’t forget: this kind of accountability is not about guilt or shame! It should be encouraging and supportive, so if you hit that wall, take a look at how you’re applying accountability. Make sure that within it, you have freedom to be your true self, setbacks included, and that you’re passing along that acceptance to others who need it too.
Next, we’ll wrap up the series by taking a look at COLLABORATION – an intricate and vital part of how we engage. We’re all in this together!
We’ve all heard the stories. Whether you’re in a creative field or not, in countless professions, collaboration is what so often leads to breakthrough ideas and unimagined success. The old adage, two heads are better than one, is true for a reason. But in the familiar quest for self-fulfillment, we sometimes forget that collaborating applies to more than just our jobs, it applies to our everyday lives too.
If you’ve been with me in the process, you know we’re venturing into the third important piece of the Cultivating Success triangle. First, we aimed to create a CONSISTENT routine, and within that, to seek and find ACCOUNTABILITY. Now finally, we have to understand the importance of COLLABORATING with those we’ve brought into our inner circle. I can’t stress enough the impact that combined effort and the exchange of ideas will have on your path toward achieving success.
I love this part of the puzzle in particular, because there’s something so powerful about being in partnership with other like-minded people. You’ve probably experienced it too—when the ideas start swirling around and someone hits the nail and everything begins to flow in just the right way. It’s so empowering and exciting!
THE IMPORTANCE OF TEAMWORK
I experience this every week in my cycling classes. When you’re fifteen sweaty minutes into a ride, it can seem like it’s only about centering yourself and getting in tune with your own body and your own stamina, finding your personal stride. But having a supportive, collaborative guide in the process—someone in the peripheral to push you harder and feed your diminishing energy—it takes the workout to a whole different level.
As a kid, I played on various sports teams and learned so much about working alongside teammates to achieve a common goal. As we honed our strengths and weaknesses week after week in hopes of a win, not only did we become better players and a tighter team, we gained invaluable tools that have been with me ever since: the ability to trust, to be held accountable, to feed off another’s energy and to send it straight back. We shared the losses as well as the wins, then resolved to get back up and do it all again.
Finally reaching (or kicking) a goal on your own is such a high. But nothing feels better than the moment you realize you’re covered by the opposing team, make a pass to your teammate, and they blast it in for the goal. The assist, that combined effort, is what it’s all about. And In the end, everyone gets to celebrate.
For several years in my adulthood, I forgot the importance of the team. The more I gained independence, the more I convinced myself I could do everything on my own. I was determined to take on the world without help. Autonomy can be invigorating at first, but ultimately, I found myself stretched to the point of not being able to handle it all. I started seeing the quality of my life (work, relationships, fitness goals) really suffer. I was overwhelmed by putting too much on my plate and never asking anyone for help. Eventually, things that mattered to me fell by the wayside because I simply couldn’t keep all the plates spinning.
The only way out was to admit my vulnerability and allow people in. It was an uncomfortable process—to invite collaboration and give up my island—but what a relief when I finally did! Pretty quickly, things started to fit and flow again.
Part Three – Collaboration
COLLABORATION YIELDS MAXIMUM RESULTS
If my own experiences weren’t enough, studies have proven the benefits of collaboration. Your ability to physically push yourself harder raises exponentially when working within a group. We feed off each other’s energy and drive. It makes sense, right? Even if you’re not competitive by nature, who hasn’t experienced that moment of watching the person next to you push themselves to the limit and saying to yourself, “If they can do it, maybe I can too”? And more than just the exchange of energy and motivation, those same people can lift you up, provide needed encouragement, and even constructive criticism that leads to growth.
Today, I’m not sure I can imagine doing what I do without collaboration. For one, it would be much less fun without people to share in my victories (and theirs). But also, I honestly need them. So, I surround myself daily with people to help me create my workshops, to plan my classes, to figure out the best way to inspire and propel my clients. Without collaborators, I’d run out of ideas as well as fuel, and I know I’d enjoy my life and work much less.
As I’ve said a hundred times, how you approach one thing in life is ultimately, how you approach everything. And I’m convinced that approaching everything collaboratively leads to a richer, fuller, and healthier life.
HOW TO COLLABORATE
So here’s my challenge for you:
1. Ask yourself: who can I call upon that lifts me up in life, that gets my creative juices flowing and helps push me beyond my limiting beliefs about what I can accomplish? Who is that person, or people, who I can count on for a perspective shift when things get overwhelming? Who keeps me above ground emotionally when life feels like too much?
2. Write those names down. If you can, list 3-5 people who you’d like to invite to your collaboration team. Maybe you’ll rotate between them, depending on your goals, but it’s good to have a few people in mind whose ideas and input you value and who you can inspire in return.
3. Then give yourself a mental picture. This is such a helpful practice. Actually close your eyes and picture who your tribe will be throughout the next year. Commit them to memory. And the next time you take out your device, instead of scrolling social media, send those people a message. Start the COLLABORATION process now!
Remember, where energy goes, results flow. Direct your energy toward something positive and allow it to come back to you. You’ll be amazed by what a collaborative spirit (focusing on it with intention, every day) can do to fill your life and keep it full, no matter what challenges you face in your journey.