Recently, I reconnected with my mentor, Mike Robertson, and we covered how I go about prepping high school and college basketball players off-the-court. If you're interested in checking it out, then click here.
At the end of the podcast, Mike asks me what is one piece of advice that I would give younger coaches and one of the pieces of advice I gave was to "avoid comparing yourself to others".
I give an example of how I did that with a number of colleagues of mine when I was younger.
It lead to reflection on who I was back then and where I am now.
It lead me to realize that there a parallels with business culture and how we process information and apply it.
I'll start with business culture.
For a number of years, I would have coaches reach out to me to see if they could swing by and see how we operate, how we coach, and how we go about working with our clients.
Although it's become more common nowadays for a good number of coaches and facilities to allow "outsiders" to come in and observe and ask questions, 3-4 years ago it wasn't that common practice.
People put their walls up. They didn't want someone coming in from the outside and gaining access to their systems and the way that they did things. It was like in their mind they had to hoard what they believed were the best kept secrets of training and that their solutions were unique to them and they didn't want to share.
In a way they were right. Everything they do is unique to them. However, due to their obsession over protecting what they had they were unable to see that even for those outsiders that they allowed on the inside, there is no way that they could duplicate their culture.
That's why I've never said "no" to anyone who wanted to come in. I've even allowed local competitors who were just beginning to start their gym come in and see what we were doing so they could get ideas.
They can't do what we do. They simply can't. I'll hand deliver you all of the documents that I have with my philosophy on training, coaching, business systems, etc and you still won't be able to do what we do. This isn't unique to us. This goes for any business.
I won't go into great detail here, but I'll just say that to me all of the things that other coaches were trying to protect (information & systems) isn't what makes them unique. What makes them or any other business unique is HOW they express the information, values, and systems into the day-to-day operations and interactions with their clientele. How they express the information, values, and systems will result in a certain aura around that brand that people either associate positive, neutral, or negative feelings toward.
Now how does this play into how we, as individuals, process and apply information?
Well, I go back to comparing myself to my colleagues early on. Thoughts like "man, I wish I was more like Bill" or "man, I wish I was more like Eric" become irrelevant. I'm not like Bill. I'm not like Eric. Visually we see the same things. We hear the same things. But how that visual and auditory information is processed in our brains and put into practice will never look the same. There will be elements of what we put into practice that are similar, but as for the experience that we provide for someone it's going to be unique not only with each one of us, but it will take on it's own element of individualism based on who we are working with.
Years ago when I started caring less about what others were doing, I started realizing (without even realizing it) that how I process information and apply it is unique to me. I had put the pressure on myself for years that I had to do things a certain way, and once I took that pressure off of myself and just let me be me, I started enjoying myself more. I started valuing myself more. I actually started learning more too because I wasn't trying to make learning a certain way.
I learned that the expression of my learning and organization of information was unique to me and that's why people valued my professional insight. My way of thinking is my equivalent of brand culture and your way of thinking, processing information, and organizing it to help you navigate life (both personally and professionally) is your culture.
Our "culture" is what makes us all artist and now we just continue to learn and evolve along the way to help share our story in a more effective and meaningful manner as time goes on. Nobody can copy that.