Belief Systems & Learning
By Michelle Boland
A belief system is an interconnected set of principles or tenets which together form the basis of a philosophy or moral guideline. Principles and guidelines shape how you behave and how you perceive, whether you are aware of them or not. A moral guideline is necessary for you to perceive because you can't look at anything without a hierarchy of value. Our emotional significant towards something elicits value, in which we only pay attention to things that we value.
We use our belief systems to form a cognitive framework that helps to predict potential outcomes and to utilize when we are exposed to an anomaly. They become inherent qualities of mind and character to frame how to interact with the world and understand our place in it. Our belief systems reveal what we think is important, significant, valuable, and irrelevant or useless.
- How you feel towards something that deviates from what is normal, standard, or expected?
- How will you respond to it?
- Is this good or bad?
'What we see, reveals how we see' – Charles Eisenstein
As fitness industry professionals, what we deem to be important (value) in training and exercise is based upon our belief system towards training. Any time you get into thoughts about, is this good or bad, you are tapping into your belief systems.
- Is this good or bad exercise selection?
- Is this good or bad program design?
Your beliefs about what is good or bad can be provided to you by academic or governing institutions (NSCA, ACSM), our previous fitness instructors, social systems, modality systems, internships, or mentors. There are pros and cons to belief systems. The pros are that they create a cohesive narrative, assist in decision making, and allow you to formulate opinions about good vs bad. The cons are that they can blind you and bias us in our decision making.
The pros and cons can be elaborated within a spectrum of rigidity and permeability. If we are too rigid, we view our opinions as facts then protect and justify these rigid beliefs possibly creating conflict and restricting personal growth. If we are too permeable then nothing matters, we have no values, and can be swayed in our opinions with every new thing we learn. If you are too permeable or have no belief system at all, when you experience an anomaly you may experience anxiety.
There is utility in both having a belief system and anxiety. Having a belief system provides you with a mode of being when you experience an anomaly and creates meaning when you have a belief system that resonates with you. Experiencing anxiety in relation to your belief systems will allow you to transform and become better, it is what you are supposed to face.
Discover Your Belief System.
Discover your belief system by articulating what you already do. Write down your training principles and values. Also know that they will change with new experiences.
- What is important to you in training? What are your training principles?
- What is it good for?
- What are they leaving you blind to?
The sweet spot to adapting your belief system (shaping how you feel and respond to anomalies) is to be curious and interested. Too bored or too threatened can impact how your belief systems are adapted or reinforced. Your ability to adapt and grow your beliefs relates to the amount of anomaly you are ready for.
A personal reflection towards the relative quality of a belief system is a difficult one. As lifelong learners we should explore our curiosity and avoid a polarized view. We should also reflect on our need to engage in conflict to maintain our belief systems. We typically misunderstand the causes of others' opinions and behaviors when engaging in conflict. Understanding what constitutes another person's belief system and what may be too threatening to that system may allow for better communication and creating a learning environment to allow safety to explore.
Doing the best we can, until we know better may be a virtuous moral guideline in how we ought to act. New information can allow us to adapt our belief system (shaping how you feel and respond to anomalies). Safety to learn and curiosity will provide the most beneficial environment.
It is our job as fitness industry professionals to determine what matters. What matters to you as a coach is embedded in your training belief system. Belief systems supersede decision making. Your coaching style, program design, and selection of training modalities is a reflection of your belief system and the belief system you choose to provide to your athletes/clients. The words that you choose to say and the exercises you choose to use as strategies will become your athlete/clients' perception of what training and exercise IS…
How are you going to be responsible for that?
Responsibility can be taken in continuing to evolve, learn, and do what is right (not what is expedient) until you know better. Outline a road map to guide your learning. However, be willing to adapt the map as you embrace uncertainty within the unknown. The resources within this Resource Map should expose you to information that may deviate from your current belief system and create some anxiety. Some may even be too threatening or too boring to not resonate with you. Hopefully you find resources that will create curiosity and interest which you will find safe to explore and to adapt your belief systems. Exploring topics outside your domain is a great strategy to expand your beliefs and get better at your current domain. Enjoy.
The Ultimate Performance Training Resource Road Map: SECOND EDITION.
This is a resource to find good resources.
This list is not to overwhelm people, it's to support you in creating your own learning road map for topics related to performance training, health, behavior change, and fitness.
There will be a long road ahead. Getting better at the strength & conditioning profession or learning more about the field of fitness/training should have twists, turns, peaks, valleys, and tough terrain. It should not be a narrow, smooth road.
My friends in the fitness industry and I get asked frequently about resources for specific subjects so I decided to ask a few of my friends to help me put those resources in one place.
The RESOURCE MAP includes 16 subject areas and most of the resources within those subject areas include hyperlinks and WHYS.
The SECOND EDITION includes 4 NEW subject areas and OVER 100 NEW resources.
The NEW subject areas include:
- 0. Biggest Recommendations: Advanced S&C (Challenge Your Belief Systems)
- 13. Motor Control & Dynamical Systems Theory
- 14. Fitness Entrepreneurship and Business Development
- 15. Working with People in Pain & Pain Science
I will continuously be adding to this if multiple people send me resources along with a WHY.
You will never know everything, but you should try anyways.
Creating a Road Map
Step 1: Create a Goal. What do you want to learn about? Example: Coaching
Step 2: Establish a Purpose. Create a reason WHY.
Step 3: Create a Road Map. Write out actionable steps for the process.
Step 4: Pick a step and START.
Step 5: Implement and apply new knowledge and strategies. Self-reflect on effectiveness of application and knowledge. A journal would be a good tool.
Step 6: Create another destination.
Example Road Map: Coaching
- Create a WHY: Long term learning about Coaching: Your success as a coach is related more to how you interact with others than your program design.
- Layering Context: Knowledge about exercise science, exercise physiology and/or strength and conditioning. Learning more about coaching will provide you the means to apply your training knowledge to others. I highly recommend completing a personal development road map first. You need to better yourself before you attend to others. Recommendation: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
- Resources from Experienced Coaches: YouTube Channels & Podcasts: Learn from highly experienced coaches to gain direction. Physical Preparation Podcast with Mike Robertson Favorite: 20 Tips for Young Coaches April 17, 2017. The Coach K Show Episode 31 On Empathy and the 80/20 Principle w/ Kyle Dobbs.
- Resources: Choose 1-2: These resources will provide you with knowledge that will carry over to the next grouping of resources. These resources include information about grit, deliberate practice, habit, and the limitation of ego. This information is useful in long term learning and interacting with others. Coaching is greatly dependent on your ability to interact with others and understanding that you will not always be right.
- Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin or Grit by Angela Duckworth.
- Legacy by James Kerr or Above the Line by Urban Meyer.
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.
- Give and Take by Adam Grant
- Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
- Resources: Choose 1-2: These resources are more direct in coaching tactics and long-term pursuit of mastering your craft.
- Conscious Coaching: The Art and Science of Building Buy-In by Brett Bartholomew
- Mastery by Robert Greene
- Resources: Articles:
- It’s NOT about the Grind, It’s about BUILDING by Michelle Boland
- How to Lock-Down Clients for Life and Earn a Ton of Money in Personal Training by Dr. Pat Davidson
- Implementation: Spend time connecting information from chosen resources. Implement new knowledge while coaching: Write about failures and success in journal. Be self-aware and reflect on knowledge that you gained from the resources and how to relate to clients/athletes.
- Application: Start introducing yourself to some of the best coaches: See website blogs to follow and social media mentors. Seminar & Course: Rethinking the Big Patterns by Dr. Pat Davidson: Watch one of the best coaches' talk about bonding with clients, coaching techniques, and models.
- What Now? Learning about Human Behavior and Stress as the next step will further improve your understanding of your clients/athletes.