Last year, I calculated that I was going to spend over three hundred hours, driving to and from Loughborough, for training. I thought that was a lot of time to waste in one year, so I decided that, whilst commuting, I would listen to podcasts to educate myself further in some areas of interest, including the environment and psychology.
Although twenty-sixteen was generally a year of under achievement, the decision to start listening to podcasts was definitely a triumph. Not only have they made me more astute, but they have greatly assisted in my development as an athlete.
One example, to demonstrate how they have aided my development as an athlete, can be shown simply by recounting a story that happened at the beginning of this year. Whilst driving to training I was listening to one of my podcasts when I came across a simple tool that facilitates the opportunity to become more acquainted with yourself and your thoughts.
This simple tool requires you to ask yourself three whys in a row.
The answer for the first why will always be simple, the second why will be a bit harder to answer, but by the third why will usually require the brain cells to start firing up. Answering it will result in a greater understanding of yourself, and in turn, if used correctly, will enable you to have a much wiser future.
Hearing the advertised benefits for using such a simple tool, I was very intrigued to see if it would work. Still driving, I started to ask myself some simple questions, coming to answers I already knew.
Then I decided ask myself a more elusive question:
‘Why did I feel so deflated coming into the new year?’
Technically I shouldn’t have been feeling down at all. I had just had a wonderful Christmas with my family and friends, prior to having a number of my closest friends over for a New Years Eve party.
Why 1: None the less, the first answer was simple. It was because I’d felt a strong sense of underachievement from the previous year. So I asked myself the second why; ‘Why did I feel this sense of underachievement?’
Why 2: Again the answer wasn’t too hard. It was because of my injury and also my inability to get a job as an environmental consultant. Already knowing the answer to why I got injured, the third question was; ‘Why hadn’t I got a job as an environmental consultant?’.
Why 3: This is where it got tricky, because I realised I had to be brutally honest and open with myself. After pausing the podcast to help me think, I finally reached the honest truth. I wasn’t trying hard enough. I know when I’m really trying and I could be trying a lot harder.
Finally, I had got to the root of the problem.
I was unhappy, because I had deceived myself.
At that very moment, I came to accept something my close friend Nooney had said to me a couple of months prior. I recalled him telling me that if I really wanted a job, I would be trying a lot harder. He has always been a supportive friend, but suddenly having him be so brutally honest with me took me by surprise.
I remember at the time going home grateful that he felt he could be so honest. But, just like I had done on a similar occasion a year before when another close friend, Sam, had made a similar remark, I regarded his opinion on the matter briefly before choosing to discard his comments as nonsense and carry on coasting.
Only when I asked myself the three whys, did I acknowledge how accurate their observations about myself really were.
Whilst sitting at some traffic lights in Loughborough, I promised myself that I would start to try a lot harder to get into my desired profession and more importantly pay heed to my friends advice in the future.
After finally discovering the source of my unhappiness and a new found appreciation of my friends’ efforts to help, having been too stubborn to listen, I arrived at training with a great weight taken off my shoulders.
It was the first training session after the Christmas break and I was excited to catch up with my fellow training partner, Joe Harris. I remember finding him in our usual corner of the HIPAC, stretching. Asking how each other’s training had been going, the light hearted conversation very quickly transformed into him telling me, very seriously, that I had lost my focus and commitment to my training.
An hour ago, his invaluable observations would have probably been ignored. Instead, I instantly took them on board. Then quickly agreeing with him, we discussed how I was going to get back on course, developing a plan of action regarding my training and how I was going to attain some work experience.
Without the three whys, I wouldn’t have been any wiser to the truth.
Since asking myself these simple three questions, January has flown by. It’s such a wonderful change knowing that a month has already past this year, but instead of panicking, wondering where the time has gone, I’m relishing in the simple fact that it’s gone by so quickly because I’ve accomplished so much and enjoyed every moment.
I couldn’t be any happier at the moment. Work experience is going well, my throwing is constantly improving and I have just received another enormous motivational top up, after an extremely inspirational and educational javelin training camp.
I now employ the three whys every day, to everything. Why am I happy/sad? Why is training going well/bad? Why did that throw go far/short?
Reflecting as much as you can will only increase your understanding of outcomes and allow you to become aware of the origins of an issue that you were ignorant of before. With your new found awareness you will either be able to tackle issues in the proper manner or simply understand why things are going so well.
I encourage you all to employ this tool to your life.
Maybe you’ve been thinking of creating your own business, but haven’t yet. Try asking yourself; Why do you want to start your own business? or Why haven’t you started it yet? and follow on with two more whys after that answer!
The three whys is such a versatile tool that will just keep giving. You just have to be honest with yourself! I hope this tool is as useful to you as it has been for me!