By Team ICG® Master Trainer Jim Karanas
I’ll switch gears from my recent posts on using public speaking techniques to enhance our teaching to talk about what we say. In The Art of Cueing, I discussed the use of cues to bring depth to the class and make it more than just a workout. Cues concerning the science, the music, the video, your personal experience, even philosophy can make your class more interesting and more impactful.
Philosophical cues are the most difficult to incorporate. Instructors don’t typically cover philosophy when they teach because they don’t think people want to hear it, or they don’t feel comfortable talking about it. Someone who doesn’t teach might say the first is true. But maybe that person hasn’t yet heard a well-delivered philosophical message and is just uninformed.
I understand not feeling comfortable talking about it and will address that later.
Adding philosophy to a class so it doesn’t sound like preaching is what I call “messaging.” A class without messaging is just a workout. It might even be a good one. But the instructor’s power will weaken over time, just like playing the same workout video over and over. It diminishes with no message. All the public speaking techniques in the world can’t compensate for a class that lacks substance.
Unforgettable lyrics are unforgettable because they send a message. A public address goes viral on YouTube when it sends a message. Messaging will touch a person’s life beyond the great workout you just delivered and compel him/her to come back to your class again and again.
What’s a message? Any life concept that you bring to the class and that can be experienced in the class as result of the training you’re providing. A couple of examples:
Coaches often tell you to “stay focused” but rarely tell you how. Focus is not simply directing your attention to what you’re doing. That leads to thinking. Thinking will weaken focus. Focus is complete engagement in what you’re doing. A focused mind pays no attention to distractions. Fast descending takes focus. If you’re not 100% engaged and non-reactive to distractions, you might crash. How do you train yourself to be this way – not just during a dangerous descent, but right now, so you get the most from your workout? That’s the essence of our class today.
Something that happens outside of you that you consider “motivating” is not a strong incentive. You might see someone overcome great adversity or hear a story that strikes a personal chord with you and feel filled with motivating energy. These external motivations work temporarily, but have far less impact than motivation you generate by yourself. I want you to look at motivation as something personal. Then you have the ability to train and get better at it. You can train yourself to be motivated the way you train anything else.
When you understand how to do this, motivation is endless, limitless. The only time you won’t feel motivated is when it’s a personal choice, and you’ll recognize it as such. You’ll no longer look to me or to anyone else to motivate you to train. You’ll rise to the occasion again and again because you’ve trained yourself to do so. I’ll show you how to do this in today’s workout.
As an instructor, all you have to do now is deliver a physical practice (the day’s ride) that delivers the results you just promised to deliver in your message. If I’ve enticed you, and you want to learn how to focus or be consistently motivated, the solution is simple: Come to my class. That’s the power of good messaging.
The messages you can deliver are many: how to engage fully, how to sense meaning, how to expand your concept of what you can do, how to sense your life energy, how to direct it, how not to react to adversity, how to develop discipline, how to go beyond hope and fear, and on and on.
How do you, as an instructor, learn to deliver these messages, both verbally and physically? First, you must want to. Second, you must become a student of philosophy. You study and you ride, and you bring the lessons that you learn from your study to the bike, and then to class.
I have a small library of what I call my “Life Books”. These are about 10 books that I have found extremely helpful. I’ve read each of them dozens of times. A good philosophical book is one you immediately realize you need to reread. My first Life Book was Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives. It was the first book to encourage me to approach my training from a conscious perspective. I have several copies with dog-eared pages and many handwritten notes throughout.
Physical movement has been part of spiritual training for thousands of years. It was not meant to provide exercise. Daily activity was supposed to do that. Keep a conscious attitude, go beyond the workout, and deliver a message every time you teach.