CARVER Coaching & Performance Newsletter

Hi, Paul here,

I hope this finds you well. This week’s theme is…


(The ‘A’ of The CARVER Framework)

The process of developing a deeper understanding of self is a critical step in maximising our potential and capabilities. Personal awareness prepares us to cope with the stresses and challenges that life presents; it assists us in understanding our place in the world. Awareness of the environment is also a valuable trait, allowing us to seize opportunities and respond to threats.

The development of personal awareness starts with identifying what it is that we Value and understanding what it is we want to achieve. This requires us to think deeply and to be as honest and open with ourselves as possible. Our Values and belief systems act as a guide to move forward, a North Star. This is a great starting point for developing self-awareness. However, it is important to note that being self-aware is a dynamic process; adaptability and evolution are vital in maintaining and strengthening our own personal awareness. Journaling is a highly effective method of developing self-awareness and can lead us to a more authentic and unique version of ourselves. Through our Reflection on life experiences, we learn more and more about who we are. Thus, we become increasingly self-aware, and we can continually refine and progress our beliefs and values to reflect a more authentic and unique version of ourselves.

In life, sometimes we become bogged down in absolutes – winning and losing, success and failure. A growing awareness can help us to step away from the world of absolutes; we can learn to walk the middle path and acknowledge that every situation is not a matter of life or death. This can allow us to gain perspective; it allows us to become more self-compassionate. The ability to remain focused on the present is a skill that requires deep self and environmental awareness. Focusing on the future, and performing well there, can lead to anxiety, consume our energy and result in missed opportunities. A heightened level of self-awareness can help us to remain grounded in the present, focusing on what we can control.

Observation is a key skill in the early stages of developing environmental awareness. Take a moment to observe 5 things that you can see, 4 things that you can hear, 3 things that you can touch, 2 things that you can smell, and one thing that you can taste. This is a technique used by many athletes to ground themselves and increase their awareness of the environment they find themselves in. This technique assists us in activating and increasing our awareness of our senses, helping us to remain present and grounded.

Identifying a mentor, or a small group of mentors, that you trust can also have positive benefits. Seeking positive and critical feedback from others can serve to increase self-awareness and in turn our performance. The seeker becomes the finder.

The Johari Window is an excellent learning self-awareness and personal development tool designed by Luft & Ingham in 19551 . The window has four panes:

1. The open area which summarises what is known to self and others.

2. The blind spot which highlights what is unknown to self, but known to others.

3. The hidden area that captures what is known to self but not to others.

4. The unknown area, that is the aspects unknown to both self and others.

The deeper our self-awareness and authenticity, the larger the open area. We should all strive to increase the breadth of the open area and reduce the size of the other three quadrants. A consistent feedback loop and mentoring relationships can have a significant impact on our self-awareness by reducing our blind spots. Open communication and authenticity can serve to decrease what we hide from others, while journalling and reflective practices can help us to unlock our hidden capabilities and maximise our potential.

What steps can you take to expand the breadth of your open area? Can you be more authentic? Do you have a mentor? Do you engage in reflective practices?

1. Luft, J. & Ingham, H (1955). “The Johari window, a graphic model of interpersonal awareness

CARVER Insight

So it’s the new year and many of us are motivated to perform better in a number of areas of our lives. This is a busy and important period for me professionally. I am writing, consulting on a number of projects and in the process of trying to build out ‘this thing of mine’; I really need to perform. Home life is also important to me, and the best of me is needed there too. I have long espoused the power of journaling for wellbeing and performance and recommend it to all those I work with. One element of Journaling I feel is particularly useful in all performance domains is Habit Tracking.

The late great coach John Wooden loved words. He was an English teacher with an immense grasp of the English language, which he utilised as a superpower in his coaching. He frequently used simple sayings, rhymes and quotes which went on to be referred to as ‘Woodenisms.’ One such ‘Woodenism’ was:

“There is a choice you have to make in everything you do, so keep in mind that in the end the choice you make makes you.”

In brief, if we want to be excellent, we must make excellent choices and we must make them habitually. We are the products of our habits. We get strong by consistently doing things that require strength.

One of our challenges as human beings is that we are designed to drift; human nature is constantly working against us. We are often motivated for change and performance, but our choices let us down and we struggle to remain focused and consistent.

Life is seasonal, so after a long, relaxing and enjoyable Christmas, I am motivated for change. Moreover, I need to change my choices and behaviours of the past few weeks because the holidays are over and I need to perform. I like simplicity, so last Sunday the 1 st of January, I asked myself what choices and behaviours will help drive my performance for the month of January. In other words: What choices will I have to make, to make the ‘me’ I both want, and need, to be this January?

Here are some I came up with.

  • No TV for January

  • Up by 5:20am on weekdays

  • Journal Morning and Evening- Plan on Sunday- Reflect on Saturday

  • Time Block Plan on weekdays

  • Minimum 30 minutes reading daily

  • Minimum 2 hours writing daily

  • Minimum of 2 litres of water daily

  • Phone on flight mode from 8pm to 7am

  • Minimum of 15 minutes walking, and do my exercises daily

I use the tracker in my journal to guide and observe my behaviours and choices. As a human, I have an innate disposition to compare myself to other people, but this process can help me to compare myself to who I was yesterday, and the day before and so on. My aim is to assemble my performance, action by action… choice by choice. Little things are not little… stuff adds up.

You will see from my tracker below that I haven’t been perfect, but by and large my choices have been a vote for the performance I want, and need, to elicit.

Maybe habit tracking might help you.

To paraphrase the great Stoic Philosopher Zeno of Citium,

‘Performance is realised by small things… but it is truly no small thing.’

Happy New Year,


Copyright Paul Kilgannon 2021
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