Is it time to get a new coach? 

How has the one you’ve got been treating you?

I mean, how does he or she talk to you when things are not going well, when you are not performing as you intend? Are his or her words condemning? Is the tone harsh? Is there comparison to what others are doing better than you are? When you’re faltering does he/she try to shove you down further in an attempt to motivate you to get back up?

Is that coach the voice inside of you? 

I just listened to a powerful interview Tim Ferriss did with Dr. Jim Loehr (“world-renowned performance psychologist and author of 17 books, including his most recent, Leading with Character”). A great deal of it was about retraining that inner voice, the inner coach.

Let me highlight some moments in that interview that caught my attention and after that, I will add something important to his recommendations for developing a better inner voice.

(You can also view the transcript of this interview).


Podcast Highlights

[Minute 29:00]

” And as I began to realize what really mattered, in a really significant way was the tone and the content, as you said of the voice no one hears. I came to understand that the ultimate coach for all of us in life is that private voice. And that private voice can be brutal, can actually be a detriment to being the best you can be.”
“And what we learned was that the more an individual can understand what that voice is saying to them, what the tone of that voice is. They can begin to look at this and see, “Wait a minute, is this really helping me? Or am I carrying a lot of baggage here? And these are voices. These are not my voices. Even though it seems to be my voice, I’m carrying the voices of a lot of other people.” And if those voices are constructive, it’s fantastic.”

This links up nicely with my previous post on self-compassion and its role in your performance

[Minute 35:00]

The powerful tool of writing down or scripting how you would like to be speaking to yourself. 

[Minute 37:00]

“And once you get that voice right, your happiness, your feeling of satisfaction, you’ve got a great coach in your head, and that will be with you. And that’ll be the only coaching voice you’ll have until your death. And it’s the only one that no one else can hear.”

[Minute 42:20]

“…the most precious resource we have is not time but energy.”

How you invest your energy has more of an impact on who you become and how you perform than merely by how you spend you time.

[Minute 44:50]

” It’s really your treatment of others…. [that]  is really the gold standard that we always use — and will use — to determine our success as human beings on this planet.”

This resonates with a standard of morality I find appealing – how one treats his opponents, his enemies, those less powerful – that a strong indicator of the quality of one’s moral system and character. 

The interesting twist here is to apply that to one’s treatment of self as well. Jesus is quoted as saying, “Love others as you love yourself,” which can imply that your ability to give genuine love to others is intertwined with your ability to give genuine love to yourself. 

[Minute 49:00]

When one keeps striving for some achievement, maybe even hitting it, but yet he is not satisfied by it in the way he was hoping. There is still something missing… that indicates that there is a “hidden scorecard” that needs to be uncovered – something else this person deeply needs or values that the achievement didn’t actually end up satisfying. 

[Minute 56:00]

“I like who I am and I like how I’ve dealt with these things.”

Even when striving for the ultimate achievement, can one still derive satisfaction from the process, from the experience of working toward it, even if they end up not getting all they were aiming for? 


Finding A Better Voice

I won’t get into the research basis for this here, but let me point out that humans are predominantly social organisms, not solitary, self-sustaining ones. There’s a good case for the view that we do best over the long-run when safely co-regulating with others not self-regulating, despite how much self-regulation is valued and emphasized in the western view of psychology and medicine. Joining with others who are giving off safe, positive social energy is going to take us farther than generating it alone for ourselves. Self-regulation, like mobilization, is an important self-protection feature, but not something we are meant to be doing most of the time without great cost. We actually learn proper self-regulation through experiencing proper co-regulation.

We pick up the negative inner coach voice from the authority experiences (especially in our early life) and that indicates where humans get the voices in the first place, whether negative or positive. We develop an inner voice based on the models we’re exposed to, based on how we’ve been treated. We’ve got to experience the kind of love we intend to turn and give to others. We’ll get there a lot easier if we experience compassionate coaching from another so that we can acquire the pattern of compassionate self-coaching within. 

If you want to develop a better inner coach, you need to expose yourself to better models of external coaching. Your brain needs to learn from patterns that already exist among other people. Find someone or groups of people who talk to one another and to you in the way you want to talk to yourself. Immerse yourself in their attitude and language and tone, and especially be exposed to them when you’re going through tough times so that you can experience their patterns applied to you, so you can see how to treat yourself. Eventually, your inner voices will start pulling up those patterns because you’ve made them available by your persistent exposure to them. 


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