A Coaching Model Created by Deborah Roos
(Business Coach, UNITED STATES)
Simone Biles. Cristiano Ronaldo. Usain Bolt. Serena Williams. Mikhail Baryshnikov. HafþórJúlíusBjörnsson (aka “The Mountain” in the HBO series Game of Thrones). At some point, these athletes have been recognized as the best in their respective fields. They have made such impressions on their sport that a first or last name reference is often enough to identify the superstar. These people, and others of their caliber, are inspiring, exciting, impressive, and perhaps even mind-boggling. “How is that possible?” is a common reaction: How can she flip like that? How can he navigate the ball like that? How can he run that fast? How, how, how? These athletes seem almost supernatural.
Almost. They are super. But they are also quite natural. They are human. As such, we have to remember that they were not born on the cover of a Wheaties box or a podium, even if they were born to be there. Before they were Olympians, Grand Slam Champs, or Kennedy Center Honorees, they were simply gymnasts, tennis players, and dancers. They were simply people working at their craft.
Working at a craft extends beyond the pitch, the court, the gym, and the studio, however. It extends to more traditional places like an office, a cubicle, and a desk and professionals like executives, doctors, lawyers, accountants, and bankers. These people have their own training methodology: hours of practice, exhaustive study, painstaking skill refinement, tests of courage, the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat. Cleats are traded for computers; Lycra for linen; crowded stadiums for conference rooms. While the gear is different, the dedication, passion, and commitment are not: these people are athletes in their own right.
To be a professional athlete means to train like a professional athlete, regardless of the venue or the clothing. To train like an athlete means to be coached like one, having someone to take your game to the next level. And the best coaches have a plan, a methodology, an intentional way of helping athletes find their ensuing greatness.
Inner Fitness is a methodology for business athletes. Its componentry is simple:
- Eye on the Prize
- Inner Strength
- Inner Flexibility
- Inner Endurance
InnerFitness: A Coaching Model Explained
Eye on the Prize
- What’s in it for me?
- What do I want to achieve?
- What’s the point?
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know if you’ve arrived?– African Proverb
When Dorothy abruptly finds herself in Munchkin Land in the famous 1939 film the Wizard of Oz, she is overwhelmed. She doesn’t understand how she arrived in this strange place. She is afraid because she made enemies of a wicked witch. And she has no clue how to get home. While the story is a fairytale, Dorothy’s experiences are surprisingly common among business executives, managers, and professionals at every level: How did I get here? If only this person would quit plaguing me! What can I do to get out of this mess?
These and similar questions can haunt professionals for a season or a career, causing them to walk in endless circles looking for answers. With the best intentions, we seek counsel from trusted advisors such as spouses and colleagues. We read articles and books. We attend workshops and training – anything to get out of the vicious loop.
Simply enough, such searching ends when people can identify their destination or their goal. Once we articulate where we want to end up, the journey can actually begin because we know where we’re going. In Dorothy’s case, Glinda the Good Witch, advises her to see the Wizard in The Emerald City, thus providing the necessary target for the wayward heroine. A little more advice moves her into action: follow the Yellow Brick Road.
“Eye on the Prize” is about identifying the client’s Emerald City. Working with the coach, the client explores the coaching destination, identifying the goals and articulating the ultimate outcomes.
- Who am I?
- What am I good at?
- What can I count on from myself?
- How do I leverage my gifts?
It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.– Sir Edmund Hillary
When Dorothy begins her journey to the Emerald City, Glinda gifts her a pair of Ruby Red Slippers. The Wicked Witch is desperate for the shoes as their magic is very powerful. The charming slippers carry Dorothy down the road to meet “friends” who help her learn about intelligence, compassion, and courage. They help her stand her ground against bewitched trees and flying monkeys. And they eventually help her return home after defeating all foes and righting all wrongs. Eventually, the once-naïve girl from Kansas learns who she is and what she is really capable of – all in technicolor fashion.
While clients aren’t gifted Ruby Red Slippers at the beginning of an engagement (although that is something to consider!), they are gifted with a journey to meet “friends,” encounter opportunities to stand their ground, and a way of understanding what they are really capable of. This part of the model is called Inner Strength. And it’s about exploring, defining, and cultivating a language of self-awareness. Investing time in developing Inner Strength provides a foundation for the balance of the coaching program.
The self-awareness exploration helps clients articulate qualities, values, behaviors, and beliefs that make them uniquely them. This process lets clients clearly and confidently identify their superpowers. When people feel like they have something they can rely on – a superpower or Ruby Red Slippers – it provides a source of control and energy for the journey ahead.
Inner Strength is a process of understanding who the client is – and isn’t – and galvanizing the magic in that knowledge for the likely encounter during the coaching journey of lions and tigers and bears (oh my)!
- What do I stand for?
- What else is possible?
- Where do I draw the line?
The most important factor in survival is neither intelligence nor strength but adaptability.– Charles Darwin
Even beyond their infamous brain-heart differences, Dorothy’s first two companions, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man are opposites. The Scarecrow is floppy and structureless, requiring iterative support to stand, walk, and make his way down the road. The Tin Man, in contrast, is rusted solid and needs frequent oiling to prevent him from seizing up again. One lacks a spine; the other is too rigid. Both characters respective design makes the journey difficult for them and Dorothy, grappling with the terrain, the elements, and the trip other challenges.
Clients can show up to coaching scarecrow- or tin man-like. People-pleasing, high-achieving, uber-responsible people who iteratively say yes can find themselves buckling under the weight of overwhelming expectations or endless to-do lists. Precision-seeking, goal-minded, futurists who can paint a vivid picture of tomorrow can find themselves stuck in place or unable to adjust their footing even slightly when the wind shifts.
Somewhere between too loose and too rigid lies the work of Inner Flexibility. Where Inner Strength grounds us and establishes roots, Inner Flexibilityprovides a framework for adaptability. Clients learn the dance of sturdiness and fluidity, stability and relaxation, focus and creativity.
Inner Flexibility is the process of finding the sweet spot in life’s extreme situations to be appropriately responsive. In so doing, we keep ourselves from injury – physical or emotional — when we encounter one of life’s big challenges as we learn to sway like the topmost part of a tree in a tempestuous wind versus breaking under its power.
- How do I recharge?
- How do I power through?
- When do I rest?
No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear.― Greg Kinkaid
Dorothy’s travels are almost cut short when sepia-toned Professor Marvelconvinces her Auntie Em is heartbroken by Dorothy’s departure. But a 15-minute movie wouldn’t have done Hollywood much good, and Dorothy wouldn’t truly have learned “there’s no place like home” without a big adventure.
Footed with her Ruby Slippers, Dorothy starts down the Yellow Brick Road, knowing only that “it’s a very long journey” to the Emerald City. Along the way, she encounters haunted forests, the wicked witch (again), and poisoned poppy fields. She also meets new friends, finds companionship, and discovers joy. The length and difficulty of the journey are forgotten as she experiences both the bad and the good along the way. At the movie’s 60-minute mark, the foursome reaches their destination: The Emerald City, and by implication, the Wizard. Eye on the Prize. They – and we –could be done.
But there are still 41 minutes left in the iconic film. Like life, the Wizard of Oz pulls us into a new marathon of adventures: a test posed by the Wizard, kidnappings by flying monkeys, the storming of a castle, the exposure of fraud. Even after the heroine victoriously presents the spoils of battle to the Wizard as her ticket home, the hot air balloon leaves without her. How much more can this poor person possibly take?
It’s a question that professionals often ask themselves after encountering setbacks, professional difficulties, and career disappointments. Obstacles are to be expected as careers span decades and lifetimes – their own version of a very long journey. Surely there are miles of flat land, friends to acquire, and plenty of stories to be shared. But there are also steep mountains, potholes, and evil villains who slow the journey, trip us up and bring us to our knees.
Inner Endurance is learning to pace ourselves through a professional marathon. Ladders and landings are equally important. Knowing how and when to use them respectively creates the necessary endurance to build resilience, enjoy the ride and stay the course until the credits roll.