Total Athlete Development

The Unseen

 

This is dedicated to the visionary's - the ones who have experienced the dark side of inspiration and passion, who've known madness, and created new and better realities from it.

 
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6 Attributes of the Visionary Leader

Action Style: Determination

Endurance

Strategic Analysis

Resilience

Culture / Community

Purpose

Natural Cycle


The greatness of their vision is born in the darkness of potential. They see what is hidden. They see the light within the dark, what lives beyond the edge, what no one else can see. 

A visionary sees what cannot be seen. They see in the dark, eyes brimming with madness as they explore the furthest edges of creativity, purpose, and genius. They submerge themselves in the quest to understand and reveal the deepest reaches of life. The visionary sees the unseen and creates new realities from it.

We know some of them by name - Billie Jean, Steve, Michael, Muhammad, Martin Luther, Winston, Abraham, Thomas. They changed the world. They changed the way we live, and the way we understand ourselves. And yet, for how much they've shaped our understanding, we don't fully understand them. Their passion is fierce, their devotion unrelenting. Their action, determined. They don't serve people, they serve purposes. They don’t play by the same rules as the rest of the world - they innovate and create a whole new set of rules that changes the reality we all live in. The greatness of their vision is born in the darkness of potential. They see what is hidden. They see the light within the dark, what lives beyond the edge, what no one else can see. 

The visionary is resilient in their service to the vision. They are set upon outliving their opponent, and their opponent is not a person, their opponent is the darkness, the madness, the un-manifested vision. It is only when the vision is brought to life that others can begin to understand the madness of the visionary. When others can experience the tangible result of the leader's devotion to their vision, can they appreciate the genius of their madness.

We all possess the power of vision. 


 
It was visiting hours. I stood in the middle of a the psych ward. I was looking out the window - furious and crestfallen. I didn’t know what to say. I loved her, and I also knew I couldn’t help her. I turned around, and  looked her straight in the eyes. 
She stared back at me. 
"You have a choice." I said. "We all have a choice." 
I opened both my palms, as if I was holding something in them.
"Power. It's right here (opening my palms.) It's raw. It doesn't have any rules. It can create and destroy. You choose what you do with it. No one can choose for you. I can't chose for you right now. I wish I could. I know your choice feels made for you. It’s not. You have a choice. Create or Destroy. I’ve been there. I’ve seen the madness and darkness. I know how it feels. I also know you have a choice. So, choose. The power is always there, but you choose what you do with it. Whether you live or die. Create or destroy."
 

To see the light, we must feel the darkness. Then we must choose what to serve.

Greatness comes at a cost. To be great, to be truly visionary, we must be willing to dig into the depths of the unknown and unseen, to travel into the deepest reaches of passion without being consumed by the madness of the visions we see. We must choose - to create or destroy.

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Discover Within, Expand Beyond

Rachel

 

The Art of Coaching

 

This is dedicated to the artists out there. Remember its a dance, lead with your listening, and follow your passion. The rhythm will carry you. 

 
Without listening, action becomes motion. Movement lacks purpose, and power. Maintaining empathy, listening, and compassion in the high-stakes, fast-paced results driven environment of sport is one of the biggest challenges coaches face. 

The 6 Attributes of Dynamic Leadership

Agility

Situational Analysis

Initiative / Competiveness

Networks / Relationships

Task / Role Engagement


Coaching is a dynamic dance between disciplines. A coach is an educator, entrepreneur, artist, competitor, creator, mentor, and cultural alchemist.

If my 2 month foray into the wide and wonderful world of collegiate coaching has shown me anything, it is that the label coach is a huge misnomer. The role of ‘coach’ is way more complex than its name. Coaching is a dynamic dance between disciplines. A coach is an educator, entrepreneur, artist, competitor, creator, mentor, and cultural alchemist. A coach must be as honest, versatile, vulnerable and aware as the athletes they lead. 

Why? Because sport environments are incredibly dynamic and competitive. Constantly changing circumstances challenge coaches to be who they need to be, and for whom, in the exact moment they need to be it. It requires being tough when toughness is needed, calm when calmness is required, energetic when energy is demanded, and silent when silence is best. If they don’t respond timely and appropriately to the needs of the moment - if the response is too late, or too early, too harsh, or too meek, or to the wrong audience, the action, though well intended, lacks resonance, and rather than engaging stakeholders in the dance, it disengages them.

Moment by dynamic moment, they play the role life, and sport, demands of them, when it demands it. 

Ultimately, a coach is measured by their ability to deliver results .  But which results matters most, and to whom? Wins, championships, learning, excellence in the classroom, tradition, citizenship, community, service, career growth, player fulfillment/engagement, transfer rate, happiness, profitability? 

The greatest coaches seem to do it all. They deliver results in all domains. They make a masterpiece of every moment, and in doing so, each masterpiece becomes part and parcel of a greater miracle. Great coaches win championships in every moment. They create the impact that matters most in every situation. They weave miracles thread by invisible thread. Step by invisible step. Moment by dynamic moment. They play the role life, and sport, demands of them, when it demands it. 

To use the label ‘coach’ almost diminishes the actual responsibility these leaders undertake.  They don't just coach sport performance, they create environments for personal exploration, expression, experience, and excellence - safe spaces for athletes to engage in the often messy and uncomfortable process of growth. They balance the demands of various stakeholders while enriching robust cultures of learning and development. They manage teams, teach lessons, organize schedules, build, brand and sell programs, mentor individuals, modify behavior, analyze data, strategize systems, monitor finances,  and energize excellence. The great ones do it all while maintaining humility, discipline, and an unshakeable passion for their art. 

Traction in the Moment:

  • Listen for Specific Demands of the Situation
  • Understand Needs of people within situation
  • Focus on the Impact You Want to Create 
  • Act, Speak in alignment with that impact
  • Reflect on action and short/longterm impact

The secret to mastery in dynamic environments is maintaining traction and versatility within the situation. Aligning words and actions to meet the needs of the situation, and the people involved. Timing is a huge part of successful leadership - appropriate action in the the appropriate moment, which requires vigilant awareness and deep listening to the specific needs of the moment. 

Often, the more dynamic, competitive and results driven the environment, the more brashly we act, and re-act. Hyper-focus on, and desire for external results distracts leaders from pure listening. Without listening, action becomes motion. Movement lacks purposeful and powerful impact. Maintaining empathy, listening, and compassion in the high-stakes, fast-paced results driven environment of sport is one of the biggest challenge coaches face. 

It begs the question - are coaches provided adequate development opportunities  and resources to deliver the dynamic output necessary to ensure the robust performance and growth of the athletes they manage? To whom are coaches ultimately responsible - the athlete, parents, alumni, the university, society, spectators, the media? Does society drain and distract coaches from their ultimate responsibility - the development of the athlete? 

Being dynamic and versatile is not about being a chameleon, and changing colors, it about being a champion in every moment. You can’t be everything for everyone all the time. Be who and what is needed in the moment. Stay true to your art, lead with your listening, and trust the rhythm of your soul.

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Discover Within, Expand Beyond,

Rachel

The Gift of Charisma

 

This post is dedicated to the power, gift and talent within, and the courage to express it. 

 
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6 Attributes of the Charismatic Leader

Speed / Power

Creativity

Confidant Expression

Influence / Collaboration

Inspiration / Vision

Fueling


What is Charisma?

Charisma is the experience of being totally moved  by the raw presence of another human being - their unfiltered, honest, vulnerable, powerful self.

Magnetic presence. Power. Attraction. Charm. A divinely conferred power, talent or gift. It is that certain Je ne said quios, that powerful force of aliveness and passion in the eyes, voice, and heart that inspires,and connects. Charisma draws us in, and it also pushes us away. It creates, and it destroys. It is the experience of being totally moved  by the raw presence of another human being - their unfiltered, honest, vulnerable, powerful self.

The gift of charisma, to which we are all privy when we deeply connect to our own source of passion, is that of pure power, energy, charm, and spirit. Charisma invigorates, inspires and magnetizes. It makes transformation possible. To lead with charisma, a leader must be willing to be unconventional, willing to invoke and express emotional depth, and creativity in a simple, relatable, responsible yet emphatic way. 

Below is a personal expression of my experience of charisma. I wrote the words as they came to me. 


 

Power Action Style

 Affirms, invigorates, inspires and influences action with captivating energy and presence

 

The audience senses her presence. They feel it in their bones - they lean imperceptibly toward her even though she's invisible. They don’t know why they do it. All they know is they can’t help it. They are magnetized by her - by every word she says, by the way she says them, by the message of her presence.

She walks in the room. The silence gets deeper, more profound. Her shoes click against the hard wood floor. Poised, powerful, and undaunted by the pressure of the audiences’ clinging, she strides to the podium, asserts herself firmly behind it, clears her voice as if to speak, and then, she smiles. Its the type of smile that puts you at ease, rescuing you from the trance of expectation. That's her welcome, her way of instructing you to take your seat, open your ears, and simply listen.  Let yourself be moved, the smile says.

Then, the smile fades, and for a moment deafening silence overtakes the room.

And then, the lion roars. Words flow from her. She doesn’t say them, she expresses them with the totality of her being - her voice, her body, her eyes - with the courage of her unconventional passion.

The lion roars.

Words flow from her. She doesn’t say them, she expresses them with the totality of her being - her voice, her body, her eyes - with the courage of her unconventional passion. She shocks them with her ruthless honesty, and engages them with the articulation of her message, and purpose. She feels every word she says, she lives every word - she expresses each one with the force of her being, deeply respecting and trusting the rawness of her voice. 

Confidence oozes from her pores. With every ounce of her being, she believes, and her belief infuses the hearts and minds of those around her with a sense of belonging, power, and promise. She knows the danger of her gift. She fears her gift - its ability to move, spark and inspire. She fears the responsibility that comes with her gift - the gift of freedom and greatness. 

She chooses to step into the fear. To let life, and the gift, gravitate toward her and flow from her. She doesn't pursue it. Pursuit pushes the gift away. She welcomes it, and lets it come to her.  She understands that to share the gift, she must be responsibility for it. The gift can create and destroy. Power is never neutral. The choice is hers, and hers alone. 

Impact of magnetic presence

  1. Engage through ability to express powerful and passionate message
  2. Energize through strong emotion
  3. Express unconventional, courageous vision
  4. Infuse with Belief
  5. Connect through powerful presence
  6. Transforms  

So she chooses to use her gift to help others discover their own natural charisma - their personal spark of presence and passion. She knows she mustn’t let them cling. She mustn’t diminish them, or herself. She must use her gift to help them discover their own power, to magnetize them to impactful cause, not to a person, personality, or prestige. 

For the gift, the human gift, the gift of energy, of charisma, of power, is a force field - it draws us in and repels us away.Charisma is the gift of grace. It is volatile, and beautiful.  It creates. It destroys. 

Share your gift. She dares you.

Discover Within, Expand Beyond

Rachel



 

 

The Shepherd Leader

 

This post is dedicated to my Mom, the greatest, most impactful, quietest and humblest leader I’ve ever known. 

 
The best leaders don’t actually lead - they listen, and the way they listen subtly shapes and shifts the listening, and perspective, of those around them.  
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6 Attributes of the Shepherd 

Mobility / Flexibility

Adaptability

Optimism / Grit

Empathy

Growth Mindset

Relaxation

 

The Shepherd Leader

  • Leads with Listening
  • Encourages Contribution and Leadership
  • Creates the Container for individual freedom, group cohesion, and greatness
  • Understands and connects by being part of the group
  • Sees and serves the big picture

The most impactful leaders don't use flamboyant words or flashy action. They don’t preach, instruct, tell, or teach. The greatest leaders live unnoticed, little seen or heard - celebrated not by name or fame, but rather as the invisible force of possibility and aliveness within each person and situation.

The best leaders don't actually lead - they listen, and the way they listen subtly shapes and shifts the listening, and perspective, of those around them.  They listen for space, the opportunity for greatness to emerge in others.


Action Style

Trust

Acts freely and firmly with confidant, humble ease, and high acceptance


We call them Shepherds, these invisible, silent, devoted listeners that guide life into its unique possibility in the simplest of moments. To the Shepherd, leadership flourishes in follower-ship - in the ability to listen, adapt, and serve with patient, steadfast optimism. The shepherd is a watcher who understands the needs of the group, nurtures talent within the group , and encourages expression and contribution of those talents. The Shepherd serves with fortitude and humility. Quiet, yet expansive and powerful, the Shepherd celebrates leadership not as an act, but as an art, a force to be experienced within and entrusted to the entire group. 

Who have been the Shepherds in your life? Take a second to celebrate the people who've listened, who've quietly - without pomp or cheer - seen you, and served you - the people who've shaped the way the you listen, and who've made space for you to emerge in your own unique greatness. Celebrate them, and then devote yourself to becoming a Shepherd, a quiet, invisible, and nameless servant of the power in another.

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Discover Within, Expand Beyond,

Rachel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show the Way

 

This blog is dedicated to Paige Elenson, Bethany Lyons, the Baptiste Yoga team, and my fellow Level 2 graduates who showed me the way last week - in word, listening and expression. 

 
 
The greatest leaders embody their words. They say less with greater impact. They mind the details of practice as if each detail held the magical secret to life. 
 
Photo by  Jamie Roberts  (instagram @the.jame)

Photo by Jamie Roberts (instagram @the.jame)


6 Attributes of the Leader By Example

Technical Skill

Self Assessment / Regulation

Awareness

Communication

Goal Setting

Organization / Prioritization


 It’s not what I say that matters, but how I say it and live it that creates the impact. Do I say, express, and practice my message with the conviction of my body, voice, and action?

We live in a world of words, inundated by words on social media, in books, in conversation. Even this blog is a bunch of words. A story. Words are powerful. They are messengers that convey information, shape perspective, and  inform experience. Both the words I say, and the ones I don’t, impact my interaction with, and understanding of the world. 

The greatest leaders don't just speak, they embody their words. They don't tell me what to do, they show me how to embody it, and create space for me to embody it in my own way. They say less with greater impact. They create themselves as models of possibility, living with rigorous vulnerability, and a deep respect for how the way in which they work, express, and interact, informs how others work, express, and interact. They mind the details of practice as if each detail held the magical secret to life. 

Praxis Action Style

Disciplined Practice

types of practice 

  1. Default Practice: normal, unconscious, day to day mode of practice
  2. Deliberate Practice: focused, specific, measurable, growth-oriented mode of practice
  3. Deep Practice: intense, felt-experience of the practice

Leadership Language

By Example

The foundation of all great leadership is self-leadership, personal mastery, and disciplined practice. It's not what I say that matters, but how I say it and live it that creates the impact. Do I say, express, and practice it with the conviction of my body, voice, and action?

A leader delivers a message in order to mobilize specific action and behavior within a group of people. A leader by example delivers the message through personal experience and expression. They lead through the work of self. Becoming the model of possibility, exploring each moment with the courage and wonder to discover an opening. The leader by example exposes what's normal motion - the default - in themselves and works deliberately into the simple, deep practice of personal expression. They learn directly from experience, and relate to others from that experience. They realize that the world around them is a mirror. Before they say a thing, they believe the thing, because they've experienced the thing. 

A leader by example says less, and inspires more. Do you?

Discover Within, Expand Beyond,

Rachel

 

 


 

Below is an inside view into the personal work I did last year in preparation for the Olympic Games. What's possible for you?

 

Results that Matter

 

This post is dedicated to Kylie, 13 years old from New Jersey, and all the athletes competing this weekend.

 
Photo by Planet Hockey, Ned Dawson

Photo by Planet Hockey, Ned Dawson

What matters is the person you become through the toils and spoils of sport, and what becomes possible for you, and the world around you, by virtue of your daily choices.”

At some point, the game will end. The whistle will blow and your work on the field will be done. Maybe you won, maybe you didn’t. I don’t care about that. I don’t care if you saw playing time, or how much. I don’t care if you were the superstar, watergirl, coach, parent, or referee.

I do care about the result, though. The result that shows up in everything you do - how you compete, how you smile, how you cry, how you treat people, how you work, how you engage in the tough conversations, how you handle adversity, how you experience and contribute to the world around you.

The result that matters is the person you become through the toils and spoils of sport, and what becomes possible for you, and the world around you, by virtue of your daily choices.

Sport is a vehicle like a car or a train. It moves you from one place to the next. It’s a tool like a shovel or a chisel to shape yourself.  Every experience you have, on and off the field - every interaction, decision, game, drill, and word will take you someplace new. Every moment will shape you.

Decide what success means to you”

How it shapes you and where it takes you happens by chance or by choice. I beg you please don’t wish and hope your way through your life. If you want something, work for it. Take whatever box life offers you, make a sturdy ship, set your sails, trust the winds, and trust yourself. Everything you need you already have, you just have to be willing to discover it within you.

Start now, and start small. Make your bed, brush your teeth, hug your mom, say thank you to the janitor at school, ask your dad how his day was. Make someone smile, even if that someone is you.

Decide what success means to you. What does it look like? Feel like? Sound like?

Choose a desired outcome for your sport experience. What do you want from it? What brings you the most joy? Pick a measurable result, like a certain milestone or progress marker, and choose a feeling-based result. Ask yourself this question, when the game is over, how do I want to feel?

I don’t care what outcomes you choose. Everyone's intended outcomes will look very different.

The important thing is that you choose outcomes for yourself from where you are right now. Choose something that lives a little beyond your grasp - something that lights you up and scares you at the same time. Something that seems a little impossible, but you know with work will become entirely probable.

So from time to time, get quiet, and listen to the beating of your own heart. Look in the mirror, deep in your own eyes, and choose the path that awakens your soul. Your gut will rumble with nerves. Trust that feeling.”

And when that desired outcome becomes reality, when you've gone beyond yourself, start again. Set a new intention, and work into it.

Along the way, listen for the input of others - me, your parents, coaches, teammates. There's value in listening. Do it with an open mind. Remember that ultimately the choice is yours, and yours alone. So from time to time, get quiet, and listen to the beating of your own heart. Look in the mirror, deep in your own eyes, and choose the path that awakens your soul. Your gut will rumble with nerves. Trust that feeling. That's when you know.

Not everyone will understand your choice. That doesn't mean it is wrong. It just means that there is an opportunity to share your perspective and have a conversation. That conversation may be difficult. But it will be worthwhile. Don’t avoid the tough conversations.  They will open your eyes, or someone else's to a new perspective. Be honest and respectful, and remember that what matters most is how you have the conversation.

Just like I care about how you have the conversation, I care about how you compete, and how you pursue your desired outcomes. I care that you compete in a way that nurtures the best in you. You will stumble a million times. You’ll stand up, and then stumble again. That’s how babies learn to walk. I care how you respond to the stumbles. That you choose to keep learning. You’ll meet bullies along the way. They will try to push you down, and sometimes you'll push yourself down. I challenge you - don't be a bully, and don't accept bullying from anyone, including yourself.

Prepare yourself in a way that makes winning possible. Do whatever it takes to make that happen, and when it is time to take the field, let go of all expectations and fears. Trust your preparation, play free, show yourself exactly as you are, and trust what comes of that. You won’t always win. Your heart will get broken, and that will hurt. Its okay to hurt, and feel pain. Let the pain break you wide open to new adventures.

I care that you use the work of sport to shape the person you are and continue to become. I care that you trust yourself. I care that you build sustaining habits and undo the destructive ones. I care that you chose to play in a way that lets you give to and serve those around you.

A million people will to support you in all you want to become, but remember they can only support you if you support yourself. Start supporting yourself. Look in the mirror, and choose to support yourself in all you are, and all you want to become.

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Discover Within, Expand Beyond,

Rachel