What's Your Plan When It Hits The Fan?

At one point living in Denmark, I got into the habit of eating ice cream every day. Everyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with cookies and cream ice cream. I found a decent (but not great) supermarket brand of this ice cream in Denmark. And every day after lunch, I indulged in a bowl of ice cream.

I’ve done this at various times in my life, the first time being when I went to college and was confronted with the college dining hall buffet with limitless desserts.

At pretty much every time, I knew on some level this was pretty stupid. Is it fine to eat ice cream? Of course. Is it a good idea to eat it every day? Maybe if you can manage to have a few spoonfuls. It is patently not a good idea to eat a bowl of ice cream daily. Yet there I was, scooping away.

When I work with teams and swimmers, I often find them struggling to break a habit that they know is bad, or conversely, establish a new and process for doing things. Speaking with a team this past winter on the topic of change, I asked everyone in the room to come up with one thing they wanted move on.

That part was easy, in fact many people could come up with a long list of things they’d like to change about themselves. Then I asked them what their plan was to enact that change. Like me and my ice cream bowl, their plans often didn’t go far beyond “stop doing the bad thing”. Wouldn’t we all improve rapidly were it so easy?

A frequent topic among coaches is season planning. Although I’ve written a childish blog deriding the practice in the past, it is actually pretty important to do it. It’s important to know where you want to go and how you want to get there.

But as any coach knows, enacting such a plan is not as simple as plugging in the address “18 swimmers to NCAAs” into google maps and then starting the route. Teams are not machines, they are living organisms and it’s not a matter of “if” things will go maddeningly of course, but “when” and “how often”. So beyond making a plan and deciding how to get there, you need a final crucial piece.

You need to have some good ideas for what you’re going to do when the worst happens. This may sound contradictory for me, the Positive Psychology Guy (TM…Just kidding I’m not that much of an arrogant prick), to talk about planning for the worst.

Often I encounter a lot of resistance from coaches and swimmers when I mention planning for the worst. They believe in self-fulfilling processes, that if you devote mental energy to possibly awful outcomes that you are somehow making them more likely to happen. I happen to think that is total bull.

Given the recent news about the Boeing 737 MAX, would you like Boeing, and the airlines to not prepare for worst case situations? Of course not.

In that light, I’m publicly offering a new service here at Chris DeSantis Coaching, a collaborative season planning session. I’ve done this already with several coaches to nice effect.

What I promise is this: at least one hour of time over a video conference, and I will read your season planning documents before the meeting so there isn’t time wasted presenting them. In particular we will discuss tactics to overcome some of the mental barriers both internal and external to executing your plan.

I have charged $100 for this in the past, but I’m offering it for the next two weeks at $75 per session. If you’re interested in that, use the contact form to write me so we can set up a time at your convenience.