February is Inside Out month here at Real Pilates.
Boy do I have a lot to say on that topic!
I could write about the obvious concept of Pilates working the body from the inside out. But instead I want to talk about being uncomfortable.
Becoming good at something, really anything, requires that you go through a long period of discomfort. Becoming good at something, requires you start from a place of ..well, being bad at something. By the time you graduate from your teacher training program, you will have been uncomfortable teaching for quite a bit of time. When you finally embark upon your first teaching job, you are once again uncomfortable, struggling to find your rhythm, style, and rapport with your brand new clients and classes. But after a while, we all settle into a routine. The pattern of your day, your shift, and your individual teaching hours become rote, rehearsed and dare I say, comfortable. And this moment is precisely when your teaching stops getting better. It’s the beginning of the end of your career. Stay on this path and you will surely flounder. Sure you may achieve a level of success – working “x” amount of hours per week to cover your bills and take a trip now and again. But anything beyond that will be distinctly impossible.
Unless…? Unless you make time to be lousy at something. And by lousy I mean new. Become a beginner again. It can be something slightly different than what you know. Or something you know nothing about. The important thing is that you make time each day or week to see something differently through the eyes of a beginner. Consider this. Your brain is a bundle of nerve connections. Each connection is a pattern you have built by rehearsing a movement, technique or activity. Once you master the activity, you won’t make any new connections unless you challenge yourself with new material. In essence, your brain stops building when you stop learning. Making your success in your field pretty limited.
Think I’m wrong? Look around at your peers. Identify the rock stars in your midst and ask yourself: what are they doing to advance their learning? What do their schedules look like? I’m guessing they are full to the brim with personal improvement and loads of clients. Take a look at your bosses or role models. Do they stick to the same techniques year after year or do they push the envelope, reinvent the wheel day after day. I know it’s the latter. And I know that pushing that envelope is uncomfortable. It requires focus, creativity, determination and drive. And it requires a good deal of discomfort.
One year ago I started dabbling in Ashtanga Yoga. I sucked at at. But I could see all the elements of Pilates in the practice and I wanted to be better at it. I wanted to be able to bring those moves, ideas, inspirations into my PIlates teaching so I stuck with it. It was uncomfortable. Incredibly uncomfortable. Not just physically. I was uncomfortable emotionally being incompetant at something. I’m used to being good at what I do, and I wasn’t good at this. But I worked through the uncomfortable, I got better and as I did, I was able to pull ideas and concepts into my teaching. Being bad at something made me better at something else.
Six weeks ago I started my Master’s in Nutrition program. I am having a very rough time writing research papers and executing proper citations, not to mention the fact that biochemistry is not my forte. I’m more of a physics girl. It’s uncomfortable for me and I expect it will be for some time to come. But I’ll get better at it – and along the way I’ll be better at other things because of it.
Start to turn your teaching inside out and upside down by learning. Learn a lot. Read about business, practice a new physical activity, watch documentaries about unusual things. Find a mentor and study. Then find another mentor. Suck up every piece of information you can from as many resources as you can. Turn exercises around. Try new cues, new tempos, and new approaches. Be uncomfortable. And get comfortable being uncomfortable. When your teaching is new and inspired every day, you will truly feel new and inspired every day. And so will your students.
And isn’t that the point, after all?