Finding Your ‘Why’, and How I Found Mine

Yesterday – April 14 – was the CTS’s 17th birthday! Each year I make sure to take note of April 14 and use the occasion to reflect on the path CTS has traveled and contemplate the landscape ahead. This year I have been particularly thinking about “The Why”. Finding or reaffirming your purpose – individually and/or the purpose of your team or company – can help ensure your work and activities are moving you toward goals you value.

Anyone who has met me knows how highly I think of my coaches and staff. They are all smart and skilled individuals, and as much as I value their commitment to the profession of coaching and to CTS, they know as well as I do they have the brains to be successful in whatever field or profession they choose. Collectively we all chose coaching, but why?

I participate in camps and work directly with the coaches at all our training centers, and I also get to meet a lot of CTS Athletes at camps and events around the world. With the benefit of perspective gained over the past 17 years, here are my thoughts on why we do what we do, and maybe some insights into how you can answer the Why? question for yourself.

Transforming Lives

As I travel to our centers and events around the country I meet and ride with current and past CTS Athletes, as well as athletes who have used our media products and attended seminars and events coaches have led. These athletes tell me about the rides, runs, and triathlons we prepared them for, and the goals we helped them achieve. More than that they tell me about how we transformed their lives, and in a few cases even saved their lives. The work my coaches do changes people physically, from accomplishing massive weight loss to sometimes reducing or eliminating the need for medications for treating high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiac risk factors. The relationships we build with athletes help them cope with stress, gain or regain self-confidence, and has even saved relationships. Like any personal services company we don’t have or claim a perfect record for success. Nevertheless, athletes who worked with a CTS Coach 10+ years ago approach me at events and thank me for the positive impact their coach had on their lives, and invariably they remember exactly who they worked with.

In this time of pervasive cynicism I know all too well that some people will read the paragraph above as hyperbole, marketing buzz, or unsubstantiated boasting. If that’s you, nothing I say is going to change your mind. But I would encourage you to find out for yourself, whether it’s with CTS or someone else. The point is that the impact of coaching extends way beyond improving your power output, which is good because merely improving athletic performance is not enough purpose to sustain a meaningful career.

Results, Results, Results

Depending on your mindset any fantastic job can be reduced to drudgery, and a lousy job can be elevated from being mundane. One of the quickest ways to reduce a person’s job to soul-sucking drudgery is to dismiss or ignore their accomplishments. With our coaches spread across the country and working with thousands of athletes, it’s one thing to recognize individual accomplishments, but another to take a step back and recognize what the coaches and athletes achieve on the whole.

When I was talking about this post with my long-time media director Jim Rutberg, he showed me a folder of photos. I scanned through hundreds of photos of athletes on podiums, crossing finish lines, and smiling arm-in-arm with their coaches. There were athletes climbing Mt. Lemmon for the first time, finishing their first Ironman, and crying tears of joy after coming back from injuries to finish goal events. There were athletes winning local criteriums, ultramarathons, Olympic and Paralympic medals, and World Championships. Individually they represent great moments in athletes’ lives. Aggregated they represent proof of purpose. Why do we coach instead of doing something else? We coach because we get fulfillment and joy from playing a role in creating those moments for and with you.

The following feel-good video is just a small sample from our ‘Podiums and Hugs’ folder:

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All for one and one for all

As I travel and spend time at each CTS Training Center it is clear each has its own personality and style, but some things are universal. The coaches all work tremendously hard and focus on delivering the highest quality of service to athletes. The Athlete Services department frets over each coach-athlete match when bringing new athletes on board. My operations staff (HR, accounting, marketing, etc.) strives to support the coaches and company by making sure we use the best technology and practices, and searches high and low for affordable health insurance and great business partnerships.

Across centers everyone – coaches, Athlete Services, marketing, accounting – has each other’s back. Athletes who attend camps at different centers marvel at the consistency of the service and hospitality they receive. Independently camp coaches, articles on the website, and the folks answering phone calls in Athlete Services echo the advice and guidance athletes receive from their personal coach. Everyone has his or her individual style, but we all speak the same language and reinforce similar principles in training, nutrition, and recovery. I can send any coach to any center to support any camp knowing he or she can jump right in like they have worked there for years. When illness, injury, or a personal struggle impacts anyone at CTS, the support from the rest of the company is immediate and unconditional. This level of cohesiveness and compatibility is exceedingly rare in any company culture; my staff’s concern, appreciation, and respect for each other makes me proud and grateful every day. Coming back to the question of Why?, as a leader I wanted a hand in creating an environment I – and more importantly, the people on my team – want to work in!

When CTS started 17 years ago it was just a few of us, and as the coaching staff grew and the number of CTS Athletes increased, the company and its accomplishments far outpaced and outdid anything I had or could have done on my own. That was exactly what I was aiming for, and I thank every athlete, coach, and industry partner who played a role in helping CTS fulfill its purpose and live its Why.

Now, let’s go and crush Year 18!

Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach of CTS

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Comments 8

  1. I love your DVD’s and I’m signed up for the Climbing 101 camp in Brevard next month. I’m really looking forward to it!

  2. My “why” has always been the same…… to honor the too-short life of my 4yo daughter. As time progressed, I’ve included as many other angels I’ve met through the support group, Compassionate Friends. I may not podium, however, I finish, and I feel I have the biggest smile afterwards.

  3. Find this article very interesting… came by through Google. What a nice concept. Does anyone know if they have coaches in Europe and how you can read more on that?
    Seems like the concept is very much focused on triathlon, but I am a former pro cyclist. I would like to know more about that 🙂

    1. Hej Anders
      Not sure if they have coaches in europe. I live in Switzerland, my CTS coach in Califonia – we use Training Peaks, emails and Skype. Works fine. Advantage is that he being in Califonia, I don’t need to have my sessions with him during my working hours , but can move them to after dinner time 😉

  4. Coach Thad Walker has helped to do more with less training time. i am the type of individual that needs to be slowed down or i end up too tired o hurt. he has helped me bring balance along with sevrral prs and first places in time trialing

  5. I always feel that Chris’s articles are written specifically to me. Great writing! I’m getting great coaching!

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