Whether it’s sleep or some other issue, roll up your sleeves, and get to work on solving it yourself first
If a man or a woman has questions and they want answers, what do they do?
It depends. There are several things they might do. Exactly what might depend on their personality and what resources they have at hand.
They could get on the Internet and start searching. They could go to Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or one of the other search engines.
They could go to the library and look for a book or magazine.
They could ask a friend who has had some success or seems to know something about the area of concern.
Eventually they’ll encounter somebody with something to sell.
This company usually employs a sales funnel, a sales pipeline, or does something called sales process engineering. The process moves the customer’s attention from a low–priced item or concept onto a higher priced one.
The customer might encounter a website or podcast first with some good, free information.
There could be some equipment to buy. Then there’s a book for $9.95 or more available on Amazon.com or “wherever fine books are sold.”
Ultimately, there’s a seminar at a much higher price.
There’s a cost to the business when it comes to acquiring customers. If you can keep a customer and sell them other services the cost goes down and profits go up. There’s nothing evil or diabolical about that. It’s the way the business works.
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this. It’s a business model, and a very common one at that. It’s how the expert provides him or herself a living. It’s how people can go about solving their problems. Businesses exist is to solve problems. If you want to lose 10 pounds or 10 kilograms, you have a problem. There are plenty of businesses who want to help you lose that weight for a fee. If the price matches what you’re willing to pay, you have an economic transaction and both parties are better off.
They want to keep you hanging on, using their services, and upgrading.
While you want to lose 10 units of weight at first, wouldn’t it be even better if you could lose another 10? Or how about getting in better shape?
For your part, you’ve got to trust someone. Many times you like the service provider as a person. You enjoy going to their shop.
However, it behooves you to be a good steward of your resources: your time; your attention; your money. Your self-interest doesn’t always coincide with theirs.
The way you do this is by coaching yourself.
They way you coach yourself is to identify and remember the fundamentals of anything you do. There’s no reason why you can’t become very good at anything by following your own counsel.
Above all, you should never turn over self-leadership to another person, especially a salesperson or someone else who stands to economically benefit from you having a problem.
Why you want to coach yourself first
Think back to school. Your science teacher might explain something like cellular respiration or photosynthesis. Your English teacher might explain how to diagram a sentence or analyze Shakespeare. Your math teacher might explain irrational numbers or factoring.
You read the book, listened to their lecture and tried to understand what they were saying so you could pass the test.
That’s teaching. It’s a two way street. The one party teaches; the other does their best to learn.
Your coach, on the other hand, taught different concepts, ideas encapsulated in just a few words.
“Lean into the swing.”
“Keep your eyes open when you swing. Don’t close them.”
“Come on! One more! Give me one more!”
That’s the difference between coaches and teachers. Coaches espouse simple, actionable principles. Teachers focus on concepts.
When they’re coaching, however, their focus is on simple, actionable principles.
You’re going to need both types of instructors. When you’re making your way through the world, you need to keep your mind on the simple, actionable principles to make sense of how you should go about meeting your problem-solving needs and the problem-solving needs of those whom you love.
When you’re learning from experience, self-coaching is vital.
At the same time, don’t just rely upon yourself. Don’t bring the chance of success down to a single point of failure.
Pay attention to the basic principles
When my wife and I got married, I got my hair cut at a barber every month and a half to two months. Civilians are free to wear their hair long. Then I joined the Army. The drill sergeants and platoon sergeants were sadistic when it came to haircut inspections. It’s part of military culture. That haircut every six to eight weeks wasn’t going to work for me not if I was going to avoid extra work, pushups, or being the cause of my squad getting punished. I needed to have haircuts more frequently.
One of the problems was the cost. While the cost of a haircut on the post was less than the cost had been outside, my wife and I didn’t like spending so much money on them. The $6.75 plus a dollar for a tip was going to add up. In our eyes, there were other more fun things that we could spend money on like eating out. That money would, for example, pay for a movie at a second-run movie theater or two drinks at a restaurant.
The basic principle of resource conservation is you should only expend resources (money) on the things you enjoy and or find useful.
The basic principle of a military haircut is it has to be short. You also want to make your hairlines even. There are no fancy haircutting techniques, no layers, no volume expanding, none of that.
“I can do that,” she said. We had known a guy who showed up to basic training and advanced individual training with a pair of clippers. The young entrepreneur had made a small fortune cutting hair in the barracks.
If he could do it, she could too, she figured.
She did. No barber college or haircutting license necessary.
While I was the one walking around with the haircut, I figured I’d trust her. If she messed up, I could always have her take it all off and let it grow out. Plenty of people did that all of the time in the Army.
There were little things she learned as she went along. Lubricating the clippers, for example. At first, she didn’t do it regularly and pulled my hair painfully.
When you go to a barber, they know all of this stuff. A wife who’s trying to learn how to give haircuts from a set of instructions included in a haircutting kit, not so much.
The thing is, it’s a skill she has now. It saves us at least $200 per year, probably more.
When you don’t keep your mind on the basic principles — when you don’t act like a coach — you end up with those overwrought solutions that waste your resources: your time; your money; your attention.
It’s like that exercise bike that sits in a corner and serves as a place to hang your clothes you never get on. You got that to get in shape but discovered you didn’t like being inside so much. The bike was boring. You don’t want to use it to exercise.
What you needed to do was keep you mind on the principles of what it is you enjoy doing. Life should be enjoyable.
Maybe you’d like and use that exercise bike more if you put it outside and put a fan next to it that would blow cool air on you.
Maybe that bike just isn’t a very good exercise machine for you. Maybe a much better exercise machine would be a pair of comfortable shoes and a smartphone and a pair of headphones so you could listen to music or podcasts.
Maybe the trouble isn’t the bike at all. Maybe it’s that you don’t feel like you deserve to take any time out for yourself, that deep down you see exercise as a waste of time.
Maybe it starts with you telling yourself that it’s okay to have fun.
When you identify and keep your mind on the basic principles you make less mistakes.
Fundamentals of sleep
The basic principles of sleep start with going to bed with enough time in which to sleep. Then it starts with being able to relax, close your eyes and drift off. You want to spend enough time resting, ideally uninterrupted, and then you want to wake up refreshed. Powerful benefits accrue to people who can sleep enough and regularly.
Another basic principle of sleep is that it involves your body. That means if you don’t take care of your body that it’s going to have an effect on your ability to sleep. It’s all interrelated.
Furthermore, basic principles from other areas also apply to sleep.
You like to have fun so the time before you go to sleep should be enjoyable and relaxing.
Worrying doesn’t change anything you’re worried about. Therefore, you need to develop strategies for limiting how much you worry.
It’s easier to relax if you’re comfortable. The place you’re relaxing for sleep should, therefore, be comfortable.
Simple stuff, sure, but there’s a whole industry built around making it seem more complicated than it has to be. The basic principles all comes first before someone trying to sell you a solution, a program, or some other new thing should be considered.
A lot of people want to convince you that you have a special problem. They want to sell you something special to fix it. You can call it internal coaching or you can call it wisdom, but if you have it, you’re only going to get it if the basics are covered.
Humankind is endlessly creative. People will try to solve your sleep problem with an expensive mattress, with new bedding, aromatherapy, noise machines, trips to the sleep lab and all other kinds of other gadgets. The only way to resist is with clarity.
Yes, it might be that you don’t need the scent diffuser, the high-tech pillow, the bed that cools you or something else if you’re not able to sleep. Save those things for the people who are already sleeping well and are looking to improve on an already good thing.
All it might come down to is that you’re not spending enough time in bed. You need to go to bed earlier.
In order to be the best coach you can to yourself, you need to figure out the basic principles of what you’re trying to do and then do them, keeping yourself motivated in the meantime.
Self-coaching is respected by others
If you’re actively involved in trying to solve your own problems, you’re going to be able to speak fluently about them. People respect that.
You’re not going to be able to solve every single last problem for yourself. Sometimes you’re going to need help from other people. When you figure out the basic principles of what you’re trying to do, and then do them, you’re more likely to get respect from the people whose job it is to help you out. They might even be less likely to try to sell you services you don’t need.
Even if they try to sell those services on principle (for example, dentists who always try to take out everyone’s wisdom teeth even if they’re not causing pain to the patient at the time or air conditioner repair people who always try to sell a new system rather than repairing the old one), you’re going to be more likely to make good decisions about them.
Coaches keep the basics at the forefront
Good coaches keep basic principles at the forefront of their coaching. They call them “fundamentals.”
Basic principles give clarity in a world where it’s in other’s best interest to make things deliberately complex. The trouble is that they’re so basic that they’re simple (“Duh! I know!) to forget.
Intellectually, you know what goes into hitting a baseball with a bat. You swing the bat and it connects with the baseball. The ball bounces away from the bat because of the impact of the bat.
Everyone knows this. It’s a concept that’s so simple people seeing a baseball game for the first time know what’s causing the ball to go into the field is the impact of the bat.
Yet, swing mechanics is a big part of what goes into a baseball player getting a hit. You can take two equally strong and athletic baseball players. One very well may have a much higher success rate at the plate than the other.
One may be more patient (“Wait for your pitch!”).
Practice the fundamentals (bunting).
Or have a smoother swing with better mechanics.
This is what the hitting coach does.
Find the basic principles both general and particular to the activity you’re doing, whether it’s sleep or otherwise, and you’ll always get the most for your efforts. You’ll save money, resources and time and gain immunity from sales pitches through mental clarity.
Everyone needs to have people on their side, on their team. It starts with you being your own and then leading it.
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