Archive for Bill Aris

Importance of the Process


Program Design

You have all heard by now my emphasis on proper program design.  It is key.  It can be revolutionary if one is just practicing techniques or just emphasizing skill acquisition.

All these things can be important but some things have been neglected too long.  This is true often in the casual Yoga practitioner and typical gym/exercise rat.

First we don’t have proper goals.  They often are too lofty and general.  That big type of goal is fine but there has to be a way of measuring it someway.  It has to become practical.  Just wanting to be fast or healthy or stress free is by itself inadequate for developing a training program.

Once we have a practical and measurable goal that supports and leads us towards our larger/generalized goal, we need to develop a proper Program.

Here I just want to introduce briefly a very successful High School Cross Country Coach of a Girls team at a public school in suburban Syracuse, N.Y.  His name is Bill Aris.  Listen to his talk here on YouTube about building a Championship High School Program.

His HS girls team have won 9 national titles in 9 years.
It seems to be the HOW of his program not necessarily the what.
He merges Stoic and Spartan philosophies across lifestyle issues.

Perfecting the Process

It is so true of what he starts out saying in relationship to hard work.  People/Us come up with some great and lofty ideas.

To achieve a goal implies a lot of hard work.  To image a goal and think and be inspired by such takes very little work.  The latter is where many start and end in their training.  The day to day grind of sitting in our meditation seats or going to the gym or studying a difficult topic starts to wear our resolve down.  We end up quitting in a few days, a few weeks or a few months.

Inspiration is fine but without perspiration it is ineffective.  Perfecting the process means to me to constantly be re-evaluating and asking more questions than we  have answers for.  It then provides a fertile field for proper exploration.

Are we moving in the direction of our goal?  What are the markers that show us we have some part of what is needed?  For some, it will just be showing up for practice initially.  Later one needs to keep track of what and how one is training.  There are many details that initially would be overwhelming.  Start and then CONTINUE working the program.  This idea of work and sacrifice is too undervalued.

Utilizing Family and Community Support

How many people plan on losing weight or starting a meditation practice, only to give up too early.  We are usually very good at starting because we just start something else the following week.  This poor design can be repeated for years and decades.  Then we end up with defeat and complacency and despondence.

I love this quote by Carlos Castaneda:

We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy.  The amount of work is the same.

Again let’s get back to WORK–and work the plan/program.

We all need support.  I like Bill Aris’s emphasis that support that is effective is not acquiesce by those around us.  Support has to be proactive and requires the community of friends you select or the family members to be invested in you and your training.

This investment is not financial of course (although it can be a part).  It is not that others do our work and pick us up when we fall down.  That is our job.

This type of support requires commitment of others to actively inquire and help guide us.  It should be something in a relationship of friends and family that we feel we need to report in and measure up to what we have set before us.  The best supporter doesn’t do the work for us.  It creates an environment that helps hold ourselves accountable with a deep understanding that grows out of the relationship of the whole “team”.  The team of the student/participant and the supportive members–who ideally are in similar circumstances (a la support group).

Most successful people always refer to those who have been especially/critically and lovingly helpful.  How many have thanked their moms and dads and school teachers.  Some of us have had great friends too.  It is the growing feeling of love and support with accountability that seems to work.

Program as a Journey

Just like life, which is a journey and not just a goal, the program has an important aspect as a journey.  It is to take us to a goal.  Along the way is the journey, which has richness beyond the supposed goal we have set for ourselves.  So take care to work the journey for all it is worth.

This journey is the process.  A process oriented approach for some becomes too amorphous sometimes.  We lose our way and just move in no particular direction.  Some even laud and speak about how that is the way life truly is.  Well just look around at any physiological/biological or astronomical process.  They don’t move around blindly hoping/expecting all to workout.  There are definite foci and methods to achieve particular results–otherwise life ceases.

So return to the program that leads one to the goal.  Here the details are key and will only be mentioned as I have above.

Other Considerations

There are many more things we haven’t spoken of in any detail.  What is the stage that the person is at?  Have they successfully trained in any discipline.  Have they trained in the area they currently wish?  Are there limitations to resources? Etc…

Realize that Bill Aris has developed championship teams from a public high school setting.  That means he cannot recruit outside of his district like the pro’s and colleges.

He has really typified a great teacher/coach that not only inspires but successfully trains the team.  Their limited resources are not the reasons they fail to fail.

Do not look at what we do not have.  Look at these great examples of people who take what is there and through consistent and hard work bring out and together the attributes needed to succeed.

There is not a special technique or secret skill that is being missed by the rest of us.

It is perfecting the process of consistent hard work towards measurable goals.  Only then can it seem to become effortless.