Today I took my son to see Kung Fu Panda 3. In the movie, Po, the Dragon Warrior, was challenged to become an instructor of Kung Fu. In his transition from student to teacher, Po realized that he had to find his students’ strengths in order to make each one the best version of themselves, not to try to turn them into him. This hit home because as a coach, I feel that it is my duty to help my athletes become the best that they can be, not the best Wayne they can be. Being the best Wayne is my job, and a full time one at that. When I was a new sergeant in the Army, two of the jobs we had were conducting sergeant time training and conducting physical fitness training. For the first several months, I made the mistake of thinking that I had to turn all of the soldiers into me, instead of focusing on helping them be the best soldiers that they could be.
This is why I stress the importance of the initial assessment or consultation between an athlete and coach, or a student and teacher. This is a time to discuss strengths and weaknesses and goals. The teacher or coach needs to know how help the student or athlete set and attain realistic, solid goals. This is the point in which short term, mid-range, and long term goals would be discussed. This is also when the student or athlete would provide an honest assessment of where they are at, so that the teacher or coach could work on building the plan that will help the individual reach their goals.
Once the coach or teacher has done the assessment, they will know where the athlete or student is starting at, and what their special talents or strengths are. A triathlon coach would see which of the three disciplines an athlete is best at, and the one that needs the most improvement. The plan can be built with a strong focus on the best of the three, or by focusing on building up weaknesses, or some type of combination of these. This will, of course, vary from athlete to athlete.