Discipline

Discipline. What does that word mean to you?

It’s been over nine months since I went to a yoga class. My beloved teacher of many years moved on and I stayed home on Tuesday nights because I didn’t know the new teacher, because it was winter and therefore cold and dark. Winter went and spring came and still no Tuesday night yin class. Spring turned into summer, still no class.

I do have a home practice and a dedicated space for yoga and meditation. Does that mean I sit my butt down on my mat every morning? Um no.

Last week I made a commitment to myself to show up every morning on my mat. Yoga has saved my life over and over again. I’m not being dramatic here. I know it’s what I need to be a better version of myself, to be more grounded, peaceful and present.

Fall is like a New Year’s for me. It’s back to school, a start of new endeavors, the beginning of the last quarter and a time to hustle. A re commitment to discipline.

I started my business seven years ago after my best friend died suddenly. His death was a giant celestial kick in the pants for me. As I grieved for him, I realized life is short. Too short to not be doing what I love and is my calling. Thanks James.

I had done everything else but sports psychology since I had graduated seven years before he passed and I was miserable. The expression trying to fit a square peg in a round hole comes to mind.

It’s been a roller coaster in my business since then unfortunately. I’m not a systems person, I’m a creative so I sought out thought leaders who could teach me what I needed to know. Christine Kane was a creative who put systems into place to develop a very successful business. I read her weekly blog posts and resonated with everything she said.

Then I crossed paths with Lisa Larter at a women’s networking event. At the time, she ran a cell phone shop and was pretty savvy when it came to business and those hand held devices.

It took me three years to fully engage with her. I was so ready to grow and change.

The year I started following her systems I made the most money I ever made in my business.

I believe a great part of that success was intention. I remember sitting on the beach in the Bahamas and thinking about how many clients I wanted to work with over the winter. I felt good about ten. I thought maybe 15 but that didn’t feel right. That winter I ended up with 12 clients. That’s the power of intention setting.

I did fully commit to my passion that winter and didn’t realize till sometime later that the Universe delivered exactly what I asked for.

Discipline means showing up every week and writing a blog post because that’s what I’ve committed myself to.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write this morning. Lisa’s newsletter on the topic of resistance came in and I was inspired. I am the poster child for resistance. I procrastinate starting and finishing projects. Systems are my saving grace.

In my first blog post of the year I said I wanted to write a book. Has the book been written? No. Why? Because I didn’t set up a system to write it nor did I have the discipline to follow through on it. I’ve always known I’ve had a book in me. Just do it were my words for this year. Did I do it? No. Will I? Yes.

The same can be said for a website. Do I have one? No. Do I have the resources to create one? My dad, who is my biggest supporter, has graciously offered to pay, however, I’d have to put in the sweat equity. Has it been done? No. Why? Again because I don’t have a system or the discipline to sit down and create one.

Clearly I am truly my own worst enemy.

When I spoke to my dad a few weeks ago about contacting ski racing clubs this winter, I actually said: “what do I have to offer?” Woo. Really Natalie?

There’s a reason I teach what I most need to learn. What kid would not benefit from my knowledge and tools to help them build better confidence in sport and life?

Sometimes I need to give myself a shake and be my own best friend. I’m pretty awesome and I love helping kids be better people. Period. If they get better results in sport as a result? Great. If they become better humans because I had an impact. Holy.

That’s my sweet spot.

I’m sitting here smiling because I know I will yet again have an impact on young lives on a larger scale this winter and I truly cannot wait.

Here’s to intention, systems and the discipline to follow through. Just do it.

 

 

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Parents and their role in supporting their athletes

Last night I had the opportunity to speak to a group of parents whose kids ski race.

They had a half hour to ask me questions on sports psychology. I found the questions that came up to be good ones so I’m sharing the highlights here.

Athletes your parents love you. They want to see you do well and are concerned about the best way of doing just that. I had question after question on the subject.

How do I best support my kid? How do I help my kid recover from a not so great performance? How do I help my kid deal with their emotions? How do I help my kid prepare for race day? And on it went.

From my perspective, it was really nice to see.

I felt a lot of pressure from my parents, it would have been nice to have better communication with them. Had that been present, my demise might have been mitigated.

My answers to their questions were about being present. Helping their kid re frame their results. Letting their kids come to them and how best to support them.

I spent some time educating them on some of the tools I teach to the athletes I work with.

I spoke at length about the importance and value of the mental game. If sports programs gave as much weight and importance to the mental aspects as they did the physical and technical ones, things would change for the better.

Athletes would be better equipped to deal with wins, setbacks, and injury. They would come back stronger and faster after an injury. They would be able to quickly recover from a less than desired performance. They’d handle their emotions better and not get swept up in the roller coaster of moods. They would cope with life better.

I love what I do. Helping parents be better supports for their athletes is just part of the work I do. It brings me great joy to see the kind of interaction I saw last night.

 

 

 

 

What does a Christmas craft market have to do with sports psychology?

So what does a Christmas craft show have to do with sports psychology exactly?

I love watching human behavior. I was at a Christmas craft show this week. Being a social creature, I interacted with a lot of the vendors. What was interesting was watching different vendors interact with the public.

There were those who were gregarious and welcoming. Others who were quieter and more self-effacing.

Furniture has a huge impact on social interactions. Think about it. If ┬ásomeone is sitting behind a counter, there is an automatic barrier between that person and potential customers. I saw all kinds of interactions while at the craft show and one thing is for sure, it’s really important to engage with your customers.

If you are selling anything other than food, which seems to produce easy sales once you have samples. How else are you going to engage that potential customer?

I noticed the crowd effect happen many times. At any booth where there were lots of people, sales were brisk. Why? Because people are social animals. If a booth is busy, people are curious as to what is being sold and want in on the action.

I had a positive sales experience with a booth whose owner was one of the most outgoing and chatty people at the show. Some would say pushy. But you know what? He was selling. He rarely stopped talking about his products and I was charmed by his gregariousness. The result: brisk sales.

I went to another booth and the owner was demure, self-effacing and not very present. She was a paper artist. I was interested in some of her pieces and asked whether she had a promotion if I was to buy more than one piece. She seemed taken aback by the question and quickly said no. My response? I walked away. She lost a sale.

As an artist myself and someone who often has to educate and persuade clients of the value of my services, I would not let a client walk away.

It’s really that simple: do you want to sell? Then let’s make a deal.

As humans we connect and buy from people we like, know and trust. As a vendor at a craft show, you don’t have very long to engage with a customer and make a sale. You have to capitalize on every opportunity to interact with people, to establish rapport and to educate them on your product. It really is that simple.

I had a great time at the craft show, as a matter of fact, I went back a second day for more.

How does this relate to sports psychology?

Simple. It’s about mindset. As an athlete do you have growth mindset or a fixed mindset? Are you open to learning, engaging and being successful? Are you willing to build on success?

Sales and athletic performances are not so different are they?

 

 

Rest

Rest.

An important factor in any athlete’s life.

One of my clients was disagnosed with mono earlier this winter. His family is very A type, no rest for the weary. He’s still playing tennis and wondering why he’s not getting better.

There is no remedy for mono except rest. I know, I’ve been there.

I sometimes wonder what it’s going to take for this athlete to slow down because the Universe sure is giving him a message.

Unfortunately there is very little I can do when it comes to situations like this. I can speak to the athlete and his parents but ultimately the decision to stop is up to them.

This client has played through injury and now this.

Rest is part an athlete’s life. It’s just as important as training.

Please make it a priority before it forces you to.

 

Injury

Injury.

It’s heart shattering for athletes isn’t it?

Having been through a severed achilles that sidelined me for the better part of a year, I know exactly how it feels.

I was speaking to one of my clients the other day who was playing through injury. He’s a tennis player and has a rotator cuff injury from overuse.

He’s had to cut back on playing significantly, however, he is playing in a tournament this weekend.

My question was: “Why are you still playing?”

He had done a camp the week before and played 35 hours of tennis. 35 HOURS with an injured rotator cuff. Um hello?

This is a kid who pushes himself to the extremes.

He told me a story where he had sprained not just one but both ankles on the court and refused to get off even though he was injured. An official begged him to get off, saying he’d happily refund him his money.

I was laughing so hard as he told me this story because I could just picture it.

We had a conversation around managing himself. About strategies to deal with the pain when it does come when he’s on the court in a match. To stop. To listen to his body. To give it the time it needs to heal.

I taught him how to do healing imagery to help his shoulder.

I reminded him of his breath, his court rituals and that he’s got this.

Sometimes that’s all you need isn’t it?

Someone to hear you, give you some strategies if needed and to believe in you.

How do you handle injury?

Believe in yourself

Believe in yourself.

What does that mean to you?

I was on the phone with a client yesterday whose number one roadblock is herself. She works hard, wants to fix her technical and tactical aspects all while getting caught up in her big brain.

I’ve been working with her for three years now. We have tried a number of approaches together. She’s taken the tools I’ve given her and run with them. She has these moments of brilliance, like last season where she won her first race, and is on a high then crashes.

Consistent, solid performances are the nirvana of every athlete.

It’s what I want for all my clients.

How do you get there?

By building foundational pieces. By working just as hard on your mental aspect as you do on your physical, technical and tactical aspects. Repetition. 300 repetitions forms a habit.

By using the tools I teach and figuring out which ones work best for you in your mental recipe. By focusing on how you want to feel in your best performances. Feelings drive actions and great results.

I attract clients who teach me what I most need to learn. There is no such thing as coincidences. I learn as I teach them. I get as much, if not more, out of my conversations with the athletes I work with.

I too need to get out of my own way. I need to believe in the gift and value that I bring to these athletes and the power that lies in spreading this knowledge out to the Universe. The ripple effect is huge.

The tools I teach are as good for sport as they are for life.

Believe in yourself. It changes everything.

Trust

Again it’s been a long while since I’ve written. Forgive me dear readers, life events in the past few months have taken precedence.

I was in the treetops on the weekend with a friend. An aerial park with ziplines and obstacles. I did not think twice about engaging in this activity. The first one in our group to go. I took on the cold metal bars of the high ladder, ready for whatever came my way.

The course was new to me. The first obstacle was a breeze with very little thought. The second, a set of moving wooden swings, where the goal is to cross by putting one foot onto the next swing suspended in midair with two lifelines between you and the ground.

I moved through the swinging obstacle swiftly. Midway through my brain caught up to me, with it came fear, doubt and if I had let it: paralysis. Thoughts came flying through my head: “This is scary and not so fun anymore.” “Can I do this?” “Am I going to be stuck here?”

As I moved on the committee engaged. You know the one. I have spoken of it here before. The itty bitty shitty committee. Thoughts popped up like: “OK that was not fun.” “Are there going to be more like that one?” “What if I freeze up and burst into tears and can’t move forward? What am I going to do then?” I had the perfect storm brewing.

Fortunately I chose my company well. My friend is tough, confident and more than capable of figuring things out. She’s also not prone to flights of emotion like I am. Half a dozen obstacles in I turned to her and said: “Why am I rushing through this like my life depends on it?” Her practical reply: “You didn’t have to go first.” Gee thanks, that’s helpful.

We had just finished a zipline and were on the ground. Ziplines are fun. I just have to make sure I remember to put my brake hand behind the pulley and not in front of it. Ouch.

The entire course took between two and three hours. We caught up to the group in front of us. All of a sudden the pace slowed. I started kibbitzing with the lovely woman in front of me and her daughter. I shared that my field is sports psychology and suddenly I realized the course was my mental training ground.

Trust does not come easily to me. I have been through significant life changes in the past few months. There have been many endings and losses to process. I am bruised, sore and still grieving on many levels.

I realized I was not doing a very good job of trusting myself or my equipment. We often teach what we most need to learn don’t we?

I pulled out my mental toolkit and started using some of the tools I impart to my athletes. I sang. A wonderful distraction method when something is not familiar to you. First in my head and then out loud. Why out loud you ask? Not because I have wonderful singing abilities but because I hold my breath.

I have spoken about breathing as a tool here before. Suddenly everything slows down. Breath connected to thought, connected to feeling and finally, to action.

I’d like to say things got easier as we went along. The reverse occurred. Fatigue set in. I don’t know about you, but I do not hang from my arms every day. Midway through my arms felt like jello with the shakes to go with. I also made the mistake of not eating properly before I left, energy dropped as a result and cold set in.

Luckily I was well surrounded. I had an excellent guide on the ground. He climbed up an obstacle and made things easier as I struggled across. The following zipline I started going backward because I did not have enough forward momentum. As I’m hanging off the obstacle, my arms screaming in protest, holding on, I am yelling for my treetop mate ahead of me. Thankfully she comes back and grabs me while I unceremoniously drag my caboose up onto the platform. Not fun.

Every now and again I’d stop and look around me. Here I was in the forest, surrounded by color, the smell of fall tickling my nose and the sun playing hide and seek with the clouds. I would look down and think to myself: “I would much rather be hiking right now.”

I tried to make the most of the outing. I’m sore and bruised in the strangest places today but grateful for the experience. I was able to trust myself enough to make it through while enjoying the company of those around me and the feeling of flying through the air surrounded by beauty.