Positive Psychology – We use Appreciative Inquiry to empower and enable positive change.

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This week’s blog focusses on the power of positive psychology.

Michael, a talented and passionate team member of TWBC also runs a small business running cycle holidays and training camps in Mallorca. Below he describes how he actively uses Appreciative Inquiry to empower and enable positive change.

I have a passion for cycling and have spent much of my life training and racing in cycle races and triathlons. When I retired from the NHS I wanted to spend time sharing my love and experience of cycling with my absolute love of the beautiful island of Mallorca (a bike riders heaven). My aim is to support and enable individuals, who want to grow and improve as riders and racers, by sharing my experience and knowledge whilst cycling on the super smooth roads of Mallorca. What’s not to like?

I’m out in Mallorca at the moment with a couple who wanted to explore the island by bike and get in some serious training and preparation for a race on the island this Saturday.

Over the past three days I’ve been helping prepare one of the couple for their triathlon race this coming Saturday. Sally (not her real name) has completed a few triathlon races over recent years, but has not competed in a long race for many years. She arrived on the island having trained hard all winter and on paper had done ample training to successful complete the race and achieve the personal satisfaction of knowing she had given of her best.

While chatting with Sally it was clear that, despite her physical preparedness, she was anxious and nervous about her ability to undertake the demands of the race. She said she hadn’t been sleeping that well in recent days and was constantly rehearsing sections of the race in her head.

We’ve spent a number of hours sitting and chatting over the last few days; not swimming, not cycling and not running, just chatting with a coffee or a small glass of beer. We’ve talked about a whole range of things and have got to know each other quite well. As the conversations progressed we started talking about her preparation, her training and the impending race. It’s clear that she is in good physical shape for the race. However, she started talking about what more she needed to do this week to further prepare. We talked about how well she’s prepared and that there is no further physical training that will have any benefit this near race day. We then turned to the emotional and psychological preparation for race day.

Over our long coffee chats we’ve chatted about focusing on her positive routines and methods of doing things on race day. We’ve worked on mental guided journeys through the race; imagining how she will handle each aspect of the day, how she will respond to things that go well and the unexpected things that will inevitably happen during a long day racing, how she will use the crowds and the positive energy they provide. Sally seems to always have a smile on her face and she is keen to use her smile on the day to greet other competitors, volunteers who help out and the cheering crowd. The odd ‘high five’ on long the run route will be welcome.

Sally has worked through all stages of the race, she has planned her nutrition and the transitions; the kit changes as the race goes by and most importantly she has visioned how she will celebrate when she crosses the finish line after 6 hours of racing and falls into the arms of her loved ones.

This morning was the first time we went out on the bikes to ride part of the race route. This was important as the bike course includes some long mountain climbs and steep descents. Sally was anxious at the start and had a queasy stomach. Again we talked through that she had done all the necessary training and today was about learning the route, knowing when to take in nutrition, when to push and when to hold back. We talked through how to vision that race day is all about her, nobody else. While it’s valuable to enjoy the day and flourish it’s also important race your own race. We talked through how she knows exactly what pace she has to do and that other people rushing by don’t matter. This is her race and she will not be impacted on by others.

We had a great ride this morning. The sun was shining and we chatted all way round. Sally grew in confidence as the ride went on. She stared to own her place on the road and wasn’t phased by what any other person out training was doing. Sally began to relax and her positive attitude began to shine (helped by another coffee and delicious almond cake).

When we good back home and said our goodbyes for the day as she cycled off to her rented house, she turned to me and said thank you and ‘I feel awesome’.

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