Go for it!


I am often perplexed, as the more astute readers may be all too aware of. The issue on my mind today is why some of my students do so well? Not all my students you understand, but some. Even with the same raw talent, I see some students just excel were others are content to just be OK. Somehow, I suspect it really is not about fencing at all. Is my perception just a manifestation of the random results for some unknown calculation of cosmic events? Could it be that the old saying, “ You can lead a horse to water” that rings so true?

Some observation may be insightful.

My students that do best set high, sometimes crazy, even insane goals. They work hard at both the physical and mental training. They tend to do this even from the earliest days of training. I suspect they were potty trained by the age of two months; I just don’t know. They are heading to the top and just need some support in reaching it. Yes, they are high maintenance but also high reward types. My “Good” students typically wait around for me to tell them what to do. Not that they don’t try their best, mind you. If asked, they seldom dare to give themselves anything but “safe” goals. They may see themselves as not having the capacity to excel at higher levels regardless of their actual potential. Then there are those students, again regardless of talent, who tend to be set in their ways, don’t accept advice or coaching, and generally try to use their talent to beat up on less talented beginners, who in turn will be beating them in six months. This can all be turned around with introspection and willingness.

Now talent is nice, but if forced to choose, I’ll take the hard worker - the one that is not too proud to learn. Let us confront the reality, my friends, that talent alone will not get anybody to the Olympics. The ability to see yourself on the podium and work for it no matter how many times you fail is a far better indicator of your likelihood of achieving results. Frustratingly, it is very rare for me to see a student that does not have within him or her the makings for some measure of success in our sport. Yes, it takes work, more importantly, it also takes vision. The vision to see yourself as successful. I will not for a minute suggest that this is easy. It often requires we face our inner most demons of self doubt, overcoming negative environments, a history of underachievement and old habits that don’t support our goals. The thing is that these same issues are the ones that can effect our whole lives. Your job, your schooling, your relationships, are all effected by these influences. It is worth the time to address them.

I have noticed to that my high achievers share some other traits. They may really hate to fail in achieving their goals but they don’t punish themselves. They accept defeat as a temporary thing, a challenge to be overcome. Every defeat motivates them and makes them stronger. They love the challenge. These fencers also all have developed a support system to assist them. Sometimes it will be family and friends, but others have had to think outside the box. It seldom matters, as nothing will stop them; events may slow them down but they will get there. They use all the opportunities available to learn, to train, to practice and compete.

A bit of self-reflection...

I have faced enough demons myself to understand be that there are many ways to overcome our personal obstacles. Fencing is just one of a million ways to motivate a person towards success. I am not implying that all “OK to good” fencers are not going to be highly successful; they may have just followed a different path. Even the definition of “success” itself is up for debate. I am suggesting that whatever your goal, if doing the best is really your goal, is to see yourself were you want to go. Keep your daily choices directed towards those goals. Expect to fail many times but never allow these annoyances to hinder you. Enjoy the journey.

coach Geoff