The strength of a great coach or mentor comes from their ability to challenge your thinking – to poke holes and push back on it.
When done masterfully, it helps to either develop a stronger belief in your thinking because it holds up or expands it because you realized there was an assumption or bias you had overlooked.
It is a masterful form of mental jiu jitsu.
And one that I learned to leverage against myself in a recent moment of lazy thinking.
I was at the gym in the early morning. I pulled open the app that had my programming from my coach. I noticed one of the sets didn’t specify how many reps to do.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m still ramping up in the morning, any little unexpected thing can shut my brain down immediately.
And THIS was unexpected.
My mind began to race worryingly, “Oh god, what am I supposed to do? How many reps should I do?”
I replied to myself, “Just pick a number, any number is fine.”
I responded panicky, “But how will I know if I do enough? What if the number of reps I pick is not enough to have made this work out count?”
“I don’t think I’m going to do it then since I don’t have all the information,” I rationalized to myself.
I paused for a moment and wondered, what if this is a test?
What if my coach had intentionally left the number of reps off? Perhaps he is testing me by creating an opportunity to practice applying what I know. What if this is a chance to test out an idea and see how it lives in the real world without someone providing explicit direction?
I picked a number of reps and that was the end of it.
DEFCON 1 crisis narrowly averted.
Of course it wasn’t a test. It was most likely an oversight.
But if it WAS a test, I definitely got a gold star.