So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

In my professional (defined in this venue as for which I am paid a regular salary) line of work, we are regularly under the gun to prove our worth to our customer. In most cases, the question is fairly well rhetorical; it would cost our customer far beyond our pay & benefits to contract for an equally-qualified (foolish?) worker, or hire a replacement should we be made redundant. However, we are under the thinly-veiled threat of contract replacement, as well as a pay-for-performance system...which has the unintended consequences of scaring off the highly-qualified potential employees.
It doesn't mean the process of knowing how your customer feels about your work is coals to Newcastle...or what I like to call (when describing some days) a complete waste of make-up. However, the greatest challenge is making certain the customer has the ability to be honest about their opinion...with the hope they will continue to use your service in the future should you make what changes you feel are necessary. It doesn't take a doctoral degree in rocket science or sociology to tell a coach when their athletes are happy or unhappy with the program. If they're happy with the end-results of your training they'll stick around...if not, they'll go off to someone else. When (or if) a coach resorts to survey instruments, especially to ask the opinion of former athletes, it's much the same as if they were invited to drop an atomic weapon at the coach's front door. Merry freaking Christmas, 'Coach.' Once again, I borrow from my wife, who now is a member of the Professional Organization of English Majors (POEM, for those of you into acronyms), and her dictum: ', but try not to care too much.'
I swear, one of these days I'm going to retire and let her coach runners like me. :)A report on NPR's Morning Edition this morning mentioned research which proves non-primate animals have a sense of fairness, and react when things don't seem fair. When trained dogs responded to a command, saw another dog receive a treat, and received none of their own they initially questioned (hard look) the trainer's response. After a while they tried another behavior to get the attention (and the treat) of the trainer. As they realized there was no chance for treats to be had, they had to fight their instinct and look away to not gain hope of a treat. Eventually, the dogs refused to listen to the trainer's command.
My strange sense of schadenfreude comes every so often when I participate at a local race or encounter a former athlete from my training group. I like to see former athletes do well, regardless of whether I coach them or they resort to a book. I hate to see former athletes sustain overuse injuries,'s as though I could have done something to keep them on the right path and not on the injured list. The hardest encounter comes when I see them frustrated at their lack of progress. How do you say, 'well, I could help you with that issue if you wish,' without sounding like an arrogant jerk?
Again, I have to listen and repeat my wife's dictum: 'care, but not too much.'
At least not for the ones who have gone down the road.

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