Discover Your Cocoon of Quiet Confidence: Five Ways to Go Within

Goal setting can either be a help or a hindrance, depending upon how we go about setting our intentions. An Outcome Goal makes a definitive statement about winning a race, or defeating an opponent. While these intentions can serve as great motivators in practice, they will serve as a detriment just prior to our competition. Why would I say this? When we place the outcome of any experience in the hands of others judgment (which certainly hands them a great deal of power) or performance (we cannot control our opponent) we create anxiety and self-doubt. These feelings take our focus away from the actual task at hand. Instead of thinking only about what we can control, we’re too busy worrying about what we cannot. As soon as this happens we have automatically limited our performance before it even begins! Instead of focusing on what will get us down the pool faster, our energy goes to outside influences. Sound fun to you? Performance Goals, as you may have already surmised, are a more advantageous strategy for the elite level competitor. Performance goals are those that help us focus only on what is within our control; Attitude/Preparation Thoughts Technique Race strategy Desire/Challenge your opponent to match your intensity By focusing on these we are better able to free our mind for a peak performance because, essentially, we don’t have to think or worry about anyone else! We can call up our strength in order to fuel our intentions. When we accomplish this challenge, we have created our “cocoon of quiet confidence.” Much like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, our mindset becomes impenetrable....

5 Steps To Motivate Adolescents

One of the biggest challenges for educators and coaches over the past several years has been finding proven methods for engaging young people in creating self-direction, and empowering them to overcome the obstacles in their lives. In other words, how can we get students, and student-athletes to be more intrinsically engaged in their endeavors, and best manage their emotions and behaviors? There is a difference between motivation and self-regulation. Students, and athletes, can be motivated to succeed yet lack the necessary regulatory skills to get started, or to complete the task. While some are able to see the end goal, and take initiative, others have difficulty generating momentum, or find themselves disengaging when the going gets tough. While there are a myriad of explanations for this reality ( a topic for another article!) the central question remains; How do we help these students, and student-athletes, progress? Self-Regulation Theory (Zimmerman), Self-Theories (Dweck), and Flow Theory (Csikszentmihalyi) all speak to strategies that help individuals exert more control over their thoughts, feelings, and actions in order to best optimize their performance. Unfortunately, many young folks are taught to focus only on outcomes (grades, test scores, time standards, winning, etc…) without looking at the involved process required in order to get there. Again, what can coaches and educators do? Help them access their strengths Teach them to monitor their thoughts and feelings; In many ways learning and achievement is an emotional construct. When we do not feel good about our ability to fully understand, or engage, or reach a prescribed outcome, we feel badly about ourselves, and therefore lose our initiative. Provide constant...

5 Ways to Maximize Sport Performance

By establishing and connecting with your personal preparation (mental and physical), understanding and acknowledging your unique qualities, and celebrating with the people who believe in you, you begin to embrace improvement and feel good about your effort and progress. This creates a cycle of success! When we experience any degree of success, we learn to look for, and expect, good things to happen. You begin to feel in control of your life, and your sport. You might consider the following techniques to get you on a roll. Develop an awareness of your intentions. Knowing what it is that you want sets in motion creative energy that merges with your potential. Remember, you are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. When you discover this synergy, you are well on your way. Be willing to accept the challenge of the task. We may be given wishes, but they do require work to make them come true. Celebrate your desire to create your future in advance. Place attention on your intentions When we place attention on what it is that we want, it allows us to bring ourselves fully to our training opportunities, commitment to nutrition, our rest and sleep, and our sense of joy, passion, and fun. Consider a growth mindset. When we focus on our growth, we allow ourselves to we open to mistakes and setbacks. When we expect ourselves to be perfect, or think that we absolutely must make a time standard right now!, we create a fixed mindset that creates a good/bad, talented/not talented approach. If you have ever...

Academic Coaching to learn the most in the least amount of time

What the Best Students Do Learning is much more than simply memorizing facts and spitting them back out on a multiple choice or short answer exam. In fact, students whose main goal is to simply get through the assignment, miss out on the joy of learning that particular subject, and decrease their passion for learning in general. We start our work with students by examining the areas that they are already “experts” in. These topics range from sports, to video games, to technological puzzles, the arts, music, television show characters, etc…The list is virtually endless, and everyone is an expert in something! By tying together the attitudes and behaviors that lead to deep learning, we begin to examine the concepts of best practices in learning and memory storage. We call this step; “Moving to Greatness.” From here we support our students to maximize their learning in the shortest period of time by utilizing empirically based strategies for moving new knowledge into long-term memory. These steps are short in duration, thus enabling our students to self-regulate their actions, leading to more success and more confidence. Finally, we follow our student’s lead in determining what subject areas, and pieces of knowledge, that resonate most deeply for them, and then challenge them to make connections and expand their horizons! Once accomplished, all learning is FUN, and...

Positive Psychology Coaching for Enhanced Performance

Unpleasant emotions (anger, fear, sadness) outnumber pleasant ones (happiness) by a ratio of 3:1. Convincing empirical evidence indicates the evolutionary progression of our brain’s development trends negatively, suggesting that our reptilian brains were formed for the sole purpose of avoiding threats to survival, thus creating an inherent fight, flight, or freeze response. This unavoidable and integrated relationship with negativity has been with human beings ever since. As a result, we tend to view setbacks and difficulties as either a comment on our character, or as a problem to be fixed. Sound familiar? Interestingly, when viewed from this lens, very little ever really changes. We chastise ourselves, our mate, our children, or our organization for things we do not like, and lo and behold, years later, these same traits still exist. Why? According to positive psychology, we need to view these beliefs and circumstances from the other side of the perceived lack. That is, by recognizing and utilizing our gifts and strengths to move forward in our lives, problems notwithstanding. Research on this approach is quite convincing. In fact, not only do positive interventions (see below) lead to increased happiness and well-being, the resulting positive emotions lead to future success. In fact, people in positive emotional states are more likely to take on challenges and to exert power and volition in the face of adversity. Consider the following theories, and try one or two of them on for size. I am willing to bet these strategies will change your perspective, and your sense of well-being: Remember past successes. Better known as mastery experiences, these remembrances create an increase in positive...