Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Thoughts on risk and success


Ted Talks is an amazing phenomenon in our digital culture.  A place where people share their thoughts; often delivered by folks who've been at something a while and whose message has some resonating quality that in many cases shifts perspective.  I enjoy Ted Talks - tune in every now and then to listen, learn, reflect, and give myself the opportunity to see the world through another person's lens.  I recently tuned in to a couple of Ted Talks videos that I wanted to share out because they have particular relevance for working with youth and thinking about the risks and benefits in the choices we make.
Chandra Crawford's story is remarkable in its accessibility.  With Chandra, you get the feeling that anything is possible.  Her story includes the remarkable gift of using her success as a platform for inspiring girls and young women to have confidence in themselves and strive to be their personal best.  She embodies this work by embracing her role as a mentor, role model, and agent of positive change all the while striving for her own personal excellence.  We need more Chandra Crawford's in the world.  What Chandra models about success is that the most important piece is about the platform for influencing others in a positive way.  Her Tedx Canmore talk brings this message home.  Definitely worth the 12 minutes to watch on the link below.
Grant Statham is a mountaineer and guide.  He speaks to risk and the acceptance that some risk is worth taking because the outcomes outweigh the potential for negative consequence.  Some risks aren't worth the potential for harm or injury and so need to be avoided or minimized.  When we work with skiers we work with risk.  There are the inherent hazards associated with cross country skiing.  There are the other risks associated with introducing kids to competition. How do you balance risk with potential positive outcome?  Statham has some good ideas in his Tedx Canmore talk on the link below.
In my work with young skiers, I have come to see that there are many things that go into transitioning young skiers from 'i'm doing this cause my parents want me to do it' to 'i love this stuff'.  Some of that has to do with how risk is framed.  Is your club a space where finish position is championed? Is it ok for kids to be in a learning space and feel valued and recognized for their effort?  How is success framed in your club?  these are good questions.  I've my own ideas about these things. 
Creating success means framing the work i do with kids to reflect effort, skill improvement, and achieving both process and outcome goals.  Creating success means recognizing the power of relationship between the coach and the athlete.  The tone I set in my interactions with kids is something i think a great deal about.  Keeping things lighthearted, respecting boundaries, and ensuring I have an appropriate balance of personal interactions as well as focused reinforcement or teaching interactions are important to me.  I have been reading a book called 'Visible Learning' by John Hattie lately.  Hattie's work is in the meta-analysis of thousands of studies focused on teaching and learning influences on achievement.  One of the gems from yesterday's reading from Hattie's work is that the Teacher (or Coach) is the variable with largest d value or effect on achievement - in his work Teachers (the person) have a d=0.49, compared to Curricula where d=0.45 or the Teaching (what the teachers does to teach) which has a d=0.42. 
What we do as coaches to balance risk andn define success is important work.  I use my role as coach to be an influence of positive change, of growth, of skill development, or positive relationship, and of creating a positive culture.  I encourage you figure out what is important to you.  As Hattie points out, there are lots of things that work when it comes to learning, what we need to do as coaches of adolescent skiers is figure what what works better.
Canmore, AB

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