A colleague of mine shared this article by Martin A. Schwartz entitled “The Importance of stupidity in scientific research“. Naturally it got me thinking how important being stupid is in coaching.
Preparing an athlete for high-level performance can at times certainly leave you feeling stupid. That is OK! Nobody has it all figured out and if they say they do then they are trying to sell you something. If someone had “the answer” the magic right way to train then everyone would be great and it would all be quite easy. Fortunately that is not the case. Each athlete and team is a case study of one. That is the challenge and that it what makes it fun. Working together to problem solve and guide them to competitive excellence is the challenge.
This process is not easy nor does it occur in a linear manner on a straight path to the podium. There are many twists and turns along the way where feeling stupid is OK and necessary to progress the athlete to the next level. Fortunately in most cases others have been down this path. Learn from their success and failures, learn when they felt stupid and find out what they did to enlighten themselves. I think that when you study and talk to people who have been down the path that they were as Schwartz said “productively stupid”. Being productively stupid means being ignorant by choice, for me it seeing movement with different eyes. Look for connections and rhythms go outside your specialty. Look at dance, music, study design thinking and complexity theory. Schwartz sums it up quite well: “The more comfortable we become with being stupid, the deeper we will wade into the unknown and the more likely we are to make big discoveries.” My goal for 2016 is to be stupid more often.