Ok, admittedly it’s a title designed to draw in a little extra search engine traffic on the back of a certain film. Still, there is a deeper meaning behind the moniker though… Why, as an industry, must we always see things in black and white? Why can’t we embrace the grey?
The digital age
As much as the 21st century would have you believe, life is not digital. Life is analogue. And therein lies the beauty. We are not ‘happy’ or ‘sad’, ‘strong’ or weak’. We’re always somewhere in between. The important variables in life are continuous, not discrete. Whilst robots may deal in absolutes, I hope that as humans we read between the lines.
Right or wrong
In the words of Dan John, whatever happened to reasonableness? Polarising points of view as in absolute terms such as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ gets our industry nowhere. Worse still, it’s likely to be sending us backwards. What are Joe and Joanna public meant to think when they see us infighting over whether you need to be ‘low carb’ or ‘low fat’? I mean if the ‘experts’ can’t even agree then what the hell are they supposed to think?!
Why are you here?
Whether you’re an S&C coach, nutritionist, PT or whatever, we’re in this vocation to make a difference. We’re here to positively impact the life of an individual using the knowledge and skills we’ve spent our hard-earned time and resources on to develop. In order to make a real difference and fully utilise our arsenal we need to be able to connect with that individual. We need to know how to win friends and influence people…
You don’t influence with negativity
In your job you should be confident that your way of doing things is the best way of doing things, at least given what you currently know. But it’s hard to bring people round to your way of thinking by condemning what others are doing or espousing. Even if you can, I certainly don’t think it’s the most effective way. Because attitudes are so phenomenally contagious, if we want to nurture an environment of positivity then we must be ourselves be positive.
The ‘right’ shade of grey
When we’re faced with ideas and concepts that don’t mesh well with our beliefs, let’s start off by focussing on what commonalities do exist. What parts of that idea are the ‘right’ shade of grey from our standpoint? For example, all good training or eating philosophies share certain principles such as systematic, progressive overload and an emphasis on eating unprocessed foods. These also tend to be the foundations upon which everything else is built. Let’s embrace this. Make this grey the basecoat when you’re painting the programme or intervention.
Build the layers of grey
With your basecoat set, you can then begin to paint your own picture. Yes, you’ll draw inspiration from your mentors and your peers but it will be your own unique picture. Whilst certain shades and combinations may look like what others are doing, your picture will be lighter in some aspects and darker in others. Moreover, much like snowflakes or fingerprints, no two paintings that you create will ever be truly identical
You need a big pallet
Although you’re the artist of this picture, it’s being commissioned by someone else. What skills and approaches, what ‘shades of grey’, does the athlete want in their picture? Perhaps more importantly, what do they need? You need to have all of these shades on your colour pallet in order to paint the best picture for that athlete. If these shades aren’t at your disposal then it’s time to get down to B&Q and improve your knowledge base.
You need to know how to mix (and why)
You also need to know what shades will and won’t work well in your picture. Can you layer ‘shadow grey’ over ‘chrome’ and expect them both to stand out? Can you incorporate both high intensity interval training and hypertrophy training and reap the benefits of both? Yes, you only truly find out what works by practicing and observing, but you need to know the principles behind chromatics and spectroscopy to avoid randomly throwing colours on a canvas and seeing what works.
Wrong should not exist
Who’s to say what’s wrong anyway? As an outsider when can never know the true context of a situation. Let’s stop throwing stones and get back to what we’re good at… making a difference. Focus on what you do and make it the best it can be.