As I shared in past writings, gaining an edge on the competition can take on many points of focus. One can improve their strength, agility, skills, and speed. However, one of the skill sets that often gets overlooked is that of the MIND. I realize that the reason is often a lack of understanding of what it means, along with some MYTHS that cloud one's understanding keeping them at a distance from the experience. I am writing about some myths because if that is the reason why you have not pursued this work I want to attempt to take away that barrier.
Myth 3: Doing MENTAL SKILLS work will be boring, painful, and a waste. I can do this on my own by just trying harder and being more positive.
If you talk to the people I work with, you will find that some started with this very thought. It was not too long before their Mental Skills work became their absolute FAVORITE part of training. It was INSPIRING, INSIGHTFUL, ENCOURAGING, HELPFUL, and maybe most importantly, SO BENEFICIAL!
There are many questions athletes ask when they ponder the possibility of working with a Mental Skills Coach. Sometimes, many questions can be answered by simply unpacking some of the most common myths. In a past blog, I deconstructed one myth.
Today I'm deconstructing Myth #2.
Myth 2: If I work with a Mental Skills Coach it must mean that I am psychologically weak.
The truth is, engaging in mental skill work is more about mastery, leading to increased strength and skill. In other words, we are weakened because we lack skills. Most athletes are not weak people simply because skills are lacking. Over the last 20 years, I have learned that mastery is a long process and as one honors the struggle of mastery they see consistent growth and progress.
However, where our skills are inadequate to the challenge, then weakness is revealed.
In the world of sports when a weakness is revealed, then we become vulnerable. It is this vulnerability that leaves us lacking in getting where we want to go....
Myths are beliefs that guide our thinking and behavior that may contain partial truth while also containing misguided information.
When I was growing up my mom would tell me I could not go swimming after dinner because I would drown from immediate cramping. For many years I thought that eating and swimming were dangerous only to find out that it was not true. I could now eat and the jump in the water! FREEDOM.
I suspect that we all have hooked our wagons to mythical beliefs only to uncover or find out the error of our ways. When myths are uncovered, it is because a NEW TRUTH that dispels that myth is learned or discovered through experience. My purpose for writing about myths and mental skills training is to bring new and fresh information to you in a manner that helps open up new roads of understanding. When this happens, you just may uncover something that could help you reach new heights of living and performance.
Myth 1: You have to be struggling to benefit from mental skills...
One evening I got a call from a young athlete that had tried out for a specific team, and he was struggling to understand why he did not make the team. With great frustration and anger, he detailed for me all the work he did and how angry he was that the work did not seem to make a difference. As is often the case, I dug a bit deeper to understand what was truly fueling his intensity. He went on to describe how many of his friends would be on the team and how sad he was to miss out on those experiences. I replied; “Is there anything else that is hard for you?” He then said; “I know my dad is really disappointed in me. He told me that I needed to work harder to keep improving rather than play video games.”
I have had this type of conversation too many times to count.
Tryouts bring with them fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, joy, relief, and uncertainty.
This blog is not designed to be about the fairness, or lack of it in youth sports, although there might be...
Some months ago I was talking with a young athlete, and I asked him how things were going for him. His response was, “I DONT KNOW.” To most people this response would be a dead end and the conversation would have moved on to something else.
Not this time!
I continued to explore with him what “not knowing” meant. My next question was, “Does 'I don’t know' mean you don’t know how to describe how it is going?" With immediate tears, he said, “YES.”
This experience opened my eyes to the reality that many young athletes are living with deep disappointment, discouragement, and despair without the words to describe their reality. This has emerged as a trend as I have worked individually with young athletes. Much of their experience leaves them confused, frustrated, and without direction.
Recently, I spoke to a young athlete that expressed to me his deep desire to succeed, but with frustration and anger he said, “I have no idea what...
I first thought of this concept when I was on the pool deck of a club swimming team working with individuals as they, one by one, jumped out of the pool for a short mental-skills coaching session. (for 2 hours I rarely have a break because of the interest these amazing athletes have in mental skills development)
Many want to know how they can strengthen their levels of confidence, reduce anxiety, mentally prepare for their races, or move on from a discouraging race.
However, the most often asked question is, “Shaun how do I stay motivated?”
This is an understandable question because most of these athletes train and compete year round. Fatigue, questions about what is being missed out on, and sacrifice lurk under the surface and grow intensely during times of disappointment and discouragement.
Because of the sheer numbers of athletes asking this question I was forced to dig deep and figure out how to respond responsibly to this important question.
What follows is my...
CULTURES OF CARE = WINNING EXPERIENCES
Over the years I have been paying attention! I realize that this statement is quite vague on the surface. One could easily ask, “What have you been paying attention to?” The answer is what provides the clarity and understanding.
What I have learned over 30 years of working in the personal development field is this: what we “pay attention” to is what determines how we think, act, and live. If we have trained ourselves to notice what is lacking, wrong, insufficient, frustrating, or problematic then we are focused on all the information that supports these principles.
I want to suggest that the danger in our focus is not simply WHAT we are focusing on. Maybe the bigger danger is what we are NOT focusing on.
Let me explain. For the better part of 18 years, I have dedicated myself to learn and pass on the most advanced science on what unleashes HIGH PERFORMANCE for athletes, individuals, business professionals, and others...
While preparing a talk for a team that I have invested in and worked with for the past 7 years, one word kept resonating within me...
It was not until after the experience was over that I understood why this word rang boldly within my spirit.
For many years I have held the belief that those who participate in youth athletics are missing a HUGE OPPORTUNITY! Yesterday it was confirmed in an UNPRECEDENTED way that my belief is indeed accurate.
The team gathered with the numbers reaching close to 100 athletes. They each grabbed their chair and formed a group in front of me while talking with their neighbors, as is normal for this group. Rather than use my voice to mark the time to start, I simply stood quietly, observing the interactions and noticing the energy of the group. Without uttering a word the group refocused their attention to the front with a curious aura about what we would doing.
I opened with a story from my teen years describing my first day of seventh grade...
We hear a lot about the importance of focus in discussions about HIGH PERFORMANCE. Rarely is this concept unpacked with clarity and practical application. For this purpose, I offer these thoughts.
First, let me ask a couple of questions:
Do you find yourself with a daily desire to experience more in your life?
Peace of mind
Purpose and Fulfillment
Connection with others
Empty days with endless tasks but very little purposeful results
If you can relate with these then I suggest that generating MORE focus is the equivalent of generating more power in your life. I have learned from coaching thousands of people that the LACK of FOCUS is always CONNECTED to a lack of true POWER in their lives.
Let me explain.
Focus is the capacity to continually invest yourself in the direction of clearly defined goals that connect you to your deepest desires and dreams. The emphasis here is on CONSISTENCY and...
I often get calls that start off like this, “Shaun my son/daughter is really having a tough time this year. EVERYTHING has changed.” They continue by stating, “Something is off.” They conclude by saying, “I do not know what to do to help! Can you help?”
This is truly a difficult spot for a parent to find themselves. Knowing that your kid is struggling and not knowing why or what you can do to help is truly disturbing and a bit scary as well.
This experience has become far too common and as a result, it is going to be the focus of this blog to help give perspective, guidance and some encouragement to those that might be dealing with this currently or in the future. We can all learn something.
Every player that I have worked with over the years WANTS TO DO WELL AND PLEASE THE COACHES they have. Hopes are high, motivation is strong, and most of the time they have invested significant time and energy to perform well. What often transpires moving...