by Dr. Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com
You’re at your desk. An athlete knocks. She comes in.
“Coach,” she says, “I want to take it to the next level!”
WHAT DO YOU TELL HER?
She is asking to get to a place different (a better one, hopefully) than where she is now. But does she know what that new place will feel, look, smell, sound like?
And, what if, instead of that athlete wanting the next level, it is YOU who wants to crank it up?
KISS THAT COMFORT ZONE GOODBYE
Getting to the next level, regardless of what next level means, and regardless of whoever wants to get there, is rarely a comfortable process. It entails working harder, being smarter, and being prepared for opportunities when they appear.
Those steps, critical parts of the process of getting to the next level (let’s call it NL from now on), throw most people out of their comfort zone, and because of that, many fail. It is easy to get blinded by the rewards of the NL and then blind-sided by the process of getting there.
Here’s an example, a family friend was smitten with the idea of climbing to the top of Mount Everest. He was a climber, with some experience, but nothing under his belt to prepare him for climbing Everest. He talked constantly about being on the peak, but never once did I hear him mention about preparing for the trip.
So when I got the email that he pulled out of training for the climb, after three weeks, it was not too much of a surprise. He was blinded then blind-sided.
WHAT DOES YOUR MOUNTAIN TOP LOOK LIKE?
I’ve heard from numerous coaches that they want to get to the NL. As soon as I hear the desire to “go up the mountain” I bounce two questions right back at them:
Q1: What does the NL look like to you?
Q2: If you never got to your NL, staying right where you are, how would you suffer?
It is pretty obvious how committed the person is to getting to the NL by the responses to those questions, and not just in words, but by the passion they present them with.
So, let me ask you those same two questions: 1. What does your NL look like, and 2. If you ended up staying at your CL (current level), how would you suffer?
Stop for a moment and answer those questions. Really-stop-and-answer.
I’ve taken to using the mountain-climbing metaphor quite a bit. Let’s bring it closer to home. Here are a few things for you to consider, once you’ve gotten bit by the NL-Bug.
Consideration #1: What are the in-place opportunities? Is there a system established to get you to the NL, like promotions, or will you be going off-road to get there?
Consideration #2: Who can help you get better? Can a mentor, coach, peer help you achieve your goal? Other people, it turns out, can be very helpful in getting to the NL. Who can you count on?
Consideration #3: What would be the price of failure? You try. You fail. Are you penalized? Lose your job, house, family? It won’t be all roses and chocolate trying to get to your NL. In fact, there could well be poison ivy and Brussels sprouts. But that’s why you do you homework beforehand, so you know the prices.
Speaking of homework
Motivated for the NL? Then let’s get there using these five core steps:
Step 1: Imagine what the view is like from your NL. Come back to your basic senses. How does it feel, sound, taste, smell, look?
Step 2: Get more knowledge about where you want to go and how to get there. Now put some flesh on the sketch you did in Step 1. If your NL is a better coaching position, find out all your can (good and bad) about coaching at that level. (What’s the pay? How many hours are you working? How long do people last in that position?) Dig and get the answers.
Step 3: Now reverse engineer how to get to your NL. How did the people who are already at your NL get there? What did they have to do?
Step 4: Take action. Go. Begin. Take your first step. Take the info from Step 3, and put one foot in front of the other. Up the mountain you go.
Step 5: Compare your results to the original drawing. When you finally arrive, take a breather and compare where you are to your original image (Step 1). Is it everything you thought it would be?
SO TO SUMMARIZE
The Next Level can be a cool and rewarding place; or a frightening, crushing place. Before you attempt to get there, do your homework. Don’t go off blindly or you might get blindsided.