Positive Psychology Enhances Coaching & Athlete Productivity

Shawn Achor has been an innovator and key promoter of the principles in Positive Psychology.  As a researcher in this arena for the past 10 years, the results are gaining traction in numerous fields – but none need it more than in the field of coaching education.  Old school methodology, and hard-nosed tough guy approaches in coaching are not only antiquated….but they are ineffective, inefficient, and miss huge opportunities to allow the athlete to train themselves mentally.  Achor’s background includes his graduation Magna Cum Laud from Harvard and a graduate degree in Christian and Buddhist ethics.  In 2006 he became a Head Teaching Fellow for “positive psychology” which soon became the most popular course at university. Consider this TED TV Talk by Achor and the implications for your team or organization.


Achor is the author of The Happiness Advantage and recently was featured in the cover story of the Harvard Business Review and later paraphrased in the HBR blog article “The Value of Happiness.”  This approach and key methods for turning our focus into a productively happy one does require discipline and attention which Achor believes can be done in as few as 2 minutes per day for one full month.  His research suggests that each individual, coach or athlete can practice the same method and receive huge benefits merely by shifting our attention to these exercises:

  • Write down three new things you are grateful for each day;
  • Write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours;
  • Exercise for 10 minutes a day;
  • Meditate for 2 minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out;
  • Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member on your team.

As simple as these suggestions are (and for athletes the exercise piece is already taken into account – but not all coaches do this) the active engagement of these activities everyday for a full month the transition will be significant.  Want to give it a try?

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