On working with coaches and mentors, our daily focus quota, and handstands

Happy Monday,

When I started learning to handstand over seven years ago, I could barely hold myself up against a wall. At the time, the advanced hand balancing skills I’m working on today seemed lightyears away.

I didn’t grow up doing gymnastics and don’t have a typical gymnast’s build. So I’m by no means a natural, and my progress over the years has been slow. But I’ve stuck with my training through the ups and downs, and am immensely proud of all the progress I’ve made.

Of course, none of this would have been possible if I had tried to learn handstands all on my own. Learning from others is a key part of getting better at anything.

Finding great coaches and mentors to learn from is one of the greatest joys of life; it’s also not easy to do.

I’ve been lucky in my handstand journey to have found a handful of incredibly skilled teachers that have helped push me to levels that wouldn’t have been possible without their knowledge and encouragement.

I’ve also learned a lot about working with coaches and mentors along the way.

One lesson I’ve learned is that some of the most talented people may not be the best teachers. In my experience as an adult learning new skills, it’s best to work with people who themselves have struggled to learn the skill they’re teaching — as opposed to working with people to whom the learning came seamlessly to.

As you get more skilled at your craft, whether it’s handstands, music, writing, or growing a business, it can become more difficult to find coaches and mentors that can keep pushing your potential. This is a normal albeit frustrating part of getting better at anything.

It’s also common to outgrow your coaches as you improve. This shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing but as a positive sign of growth. Each coach or mentor can represent a chapter in your learning journey.

The most important thing is to keep learning, no matter where you’re at in your journey.

What I’m reading —

Your ability to focus may be limited to 4 or 5 hours a day. Here’s how to make the most of them / The Washington Post

Most of us realize we can only focus for a certain amount of time each day — this article explains why. Focus takes energy, and when you focus for long periods of time, your brain gets tired and needs to rest.

This is why chunking your day into shorter periods of work and making the time to rest, take a walk, and recharge in between work sessions can help you be more productive and avoid burnout.

What I’m listening to —

Open: An Autobiography by Andrew Agassi (audiobook)

Andre Agassi is an American former number one tennis player and a fascinating human being. Growing up, he had his life completely mapped out for him — his dad was intent on making him a top tennis star even though Andre hated the sport.

In Open, Agassi writes about how he a navigated life he felt he didn’t choose, his uncomfortable relationship with fame, and how his interest in philanthropy helped him find new joy in life.

A quote that inspires me —

“What you feel doesn’t matter in the end; it’s what you do that makes you brave.”  — Andre Agassi

What I’m training this week —

Handstands (yes, still!).

My hand balancing coach is in town for a few weeks so I’ve been working hard to improve my strength and technique while he’s here. If you’re interested, you can see some of what I’m working on here.

Three new workouts from last week —

Bodyweight Blaster HIIT Workout (12 minute, equipment-free)

255 Rep Medicine Ball Challenge Workout (Time challenge, plyo box, medicine ball)

228 Rep Sandbag Strength Circuit (Time challenge, sandbag or dumbells)

And here’s an equipment-free shadow boxing workout I posted on Instagram.

Remember, you can get these and all future workouts right in the 12 Minute Athlete app when you subscribe as a Super Athlete (this is WAY cheaper than joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer! In addition, you’ll be helping to support the site and making future features to the app possible.).

As always, I value your feedback, so please feel free to reply directly to this email if you have any questions or comments (yes, I am a real human). I get a lot of emails and messages, so I can’t reply to all of them, but I do read everything you guys send me!

Here’s to embracing lifelong learning,

– Krista Stryker


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