The art of self-correction

daisies growingSeveral years ago, I spent time as an athletics coach, coaching young people in the long jump and triple jump. It was one of these things that just kind of happened.

I had no previous coaching experience, and certainly wasn’t a technical expert in the logistics of jumping, but the existing coach was moving on and asked if I’d take over. I’d been training in the long jump myself but mostly got by on raw speed. So without a great deal of know-how, I decided to do it my way.

During each training session I led the athletes through basic routines – things I’d done myself. But throughout each training session, my strategy was mostly about lifting the spirits of each athlete in the squad by saying positive things that helped them feel good about themselves. I’d noticed that my chemistry teacher at school did that with me.

He always made me feel good about myself, pointing out how well I was doing, that I had potential, expressing joy when I’d got an answer correct. As a result, I loved being in the chemistry class, excelled in it, went on to university and finished up with a PhD in the subject. I wondered if the athletes would excel in their own ways if I did for them what my chemistry teacher did for me.

It seemed to work. The athletes made great improvements. So much so, in fact, that every single one of them became medallists in their age groups at the year-end national club finals.

The athletes would often notice by themselves where they could improve in the technical aspects of the event. That’s what happens when you’re enjoying something. They also learned by observing each other. Then they made many of their own adjustments accordingly. By coming from inside themselves rather than just from my instruction, they seemed to take more responsibility for their training and more pride in the event. Success, for them, was an inside job.

I call this kind of thing, where we make adjustments by ourselves, ‘Self-Correction’. It’s where we identify where we can improve and make corrections when necessary. It’s an aspect of self-awareness, but where we then act on what we become aware of.

We can apply it to all manner of things. If you’re learning mindfulness, for example, because you need to manage your stress levels, you can self-correct simply by noticing when you’re not feeling calm and doing something about it.

I apply it to personal growth work. I used it extensively when I was working on my self-love (self-esteem) project. Regular awareness of how I was feeling and how I was acting in particular environments helped me a lot to make useful adjustments.

It seems like a no brainer, pretty obvious stuff. And it is, but you’d be surprised at how little we actually do what we know. That’s why I shared my story of athletics coaching. As simple as it sounds, just knowing that you can make big improvements through self-correction helps enormously. If you’re trying to reduce stress, for example, knowing that self-correction can help will actually cause you to notice times when you need to relax.

A simple awareness of the power of self-correction generates a feeling of hope. And that hope shifts the centre of gravity away from seeking solutions in other places, and into yourself.

And that makes all the difference.

4 thoughts on “The art of self-correction

  1. Sue Shaver

    These messages that come to us “for free”, are such valuable bits of information! I am so thankful to have
    read some of David’s books, and now to get reminders on ways to live happily…..makes a big difference.

    What I’m trying to say is: THANK YOU, DAVID! It’s good to meet folks that really just want the
    best for our world….(I also love getting messages from the Intenders….check it out!)

  2. Hi David,

    I want to thank you for your Daily Heart Boosts, I read them very day, I love your style and they make a difference. I have been going through my own Breakdown/Spiritual Awakening recently and I’ve just had my eureka moment while reading your blog and feel compelled to share it with you.
    I had got lost on what my passion and purpose is in this life. Sometime ago I had a Vision/Dream (as it was in the middle of the night) where the words TORMENTED to CONTENTED appeared in the sky. Until this moment I didn’t have clarity as to what it was all about. Thanks to your words (and some other wonderful life coaching work I’m doing, as you know it’s all interlinked) I now know what these words mean. TORMENTED (try saying it with an Irish – for me/Scottish accent- for you of course, is our Lack of self-love, self-respect, self-esteem and CONTENTED is when we are LOVING our-self and our life.

    Thank you David.


  3. David R. Hamilton PhD

    Hi Doreen,

    Thanks for your kind words about my Daily Boosts. I’m so pleased that you were able to get that insight … upwards and onwards now, as they say. 🙂

  4. David R. Hamilton PhD

    Thanks Sue. 🙂

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