A few weeks ago I was honoured to join Megan Van Petten, MA from the Esports Trade Association on a podcast to discuss mindsets, dealing with pressure, thought patterns and much more.
Check out the podcast and comment with your thoughts.
This is my opinion drawn fromy years experience of playing, coaching and helping athletes and there are some commonalities and obvious things like working smart, earing the right food, training with purpose
But an elite sports mind doesn’t have to belong to an athlete that’s an elite performer
Of course the elite level is the best of the best but you don’t suddenly become the best
There are steps you need to take and you have to start somewhere
So where do you start? What do you have to know to help you create that Elite Sports mind?
There are many variables and factors that drive someone towards or away from building this mindset so let me share with you the three key variables that I believe helps anyone create that Elite Sports mind
Growth occurs when you’re ready to grow
Growth occurs when you’re ready to challenge your current beliefs and values
Growth occurs when you come out of your comfort zone by thinking and acting differently
Have you got an elite sports mind?
Look around at any sport team and you’ll notice a player that stands out
There will be a player that is leading
And although not each leader has the same personality, they have something in common that makes them great leadership material
There are three qualities great leaders posses and I want to share those with you now
Leading is a role not suited to everyone, and some even go as far as to avoid stepping into the leadership spotlight but those that embrace the role do so with the purpose to be responsible for when things go wrong and to share the wealth when things go right
I used to be really shy and the thought of leading sent shivers down my spine. There were others that were louder than I, some better skilled than I and some that were more suited than I, but in those days, I did a couple of things really well…listen and observe.
Perhaps my introverted self allowed me to become a master of listening and observing, just as the stereotypical introvert would, but that ‘training’ served me well because at some point I would step into that leadership role.
I was self critical because I believed, through observation and listening, to be a great leader you had to be the best, you had to be loud and you had to give orders and there was something that didn’t sit right with me, so as the reluctant leader, I forged a way forward in my own way.
Listening and observing came naturally to me so all I had to figure out was how to transfer those skills into leadership skills.
So I asked questions. I asked players what they thought needed to change and what was working well. I’d read books on leadership and the mind and taken some courses and when I learned introverts can be leaders and leadership qualities do include listening and observing, I felt a sense of comfort.
The true secret to leading is to understand each individual on your team and learn what makes them tick and what motivates them to succeed and that involves asking questions and listening, then simply helping them understand what they need to do differently for them to thrive
I don’t believe you have to shout and criticise to get results
I don’t believe belittling someone is a way of motivation
I don’t believe the leader should take credit for all great results
Leading in sports is fun yet challenging and is a role that can be filled by an introvert that listens and observes so if you are the kind of person that likes the idea of leading but doesn’t have the confidence because you’re not loud or the best, think again!
You may just be the leader your team needs!
Do you know someone who wants to be a great leader?
Are you someone who wants to learn how to lead?
I’ve recently launched a new website called Purposeful Thinking which can be found by clicking here and If you want to chat about leadership, book a call
There’s a secret that few organisations understand, because either their focus is on other things they feel demand more attention or they have yet to understand the value and power of this secret.
I’ve been using this secret for over ten years with outstanding results yet when I presented the idea to other organisations, they either ignored them, believed things should be done as they have always been done or had their eyes on other methods to get the best out of a player.
Let me share the secret with you because whether you believe it or not, or whether you have other methods to help a player, at least I have done my bit in passing it on. With the idea simply sitting in my head, who benefits from that?
There’s a powerful lesson I learned many years ago which forms a huge part of this secret and it’s at this point I have to tell you, you won’t suddenly start winning once you know this secret, but the player will learn to be the best they can be and it’s also important to know, and I’m sure you do, there are various levels of ability and no two players are the same, yet this secret allows any player of any ability to be the best they can be.
Many organisations get the formula wrong. They go for the best players, and when they struggle, they simply replace them. I understand why organisations do this, but there is so much more to winning than getting the best players together and crossing your fingers. Even when you have the best players together, you’re not guaranteed to win but start to use this secret and you’ll feel and see the results.
Our performance is driven by our emotions. Our emotions are driven by our thoughts, therefore our thoughts drive our performance.
No that wasn’t the secret, but it is an inight. The insight isn’t to simply know this, but to learn the details that exist in the thoughts, break them down, and remove any challenge or internal barrier that stops the player from being their best.
I’m trained in identifying these details and breaking them down and recognising the real challenge and barriers that exist. I’m also trained in breaking down those barriers and challenges, and creating new ways of thinking with purpose for improved results.
As a leader in an esports organisation, perhaps you’re a former player that naturally progressed into a leadership role, do you believe you know what it takes to get the best out of a player based on what you’ve read?
It’s OK if you don’t. You’ve spent your life gaming without really thinking about why you think and do what you do. There is no shame in not knowing how to get the best out of a player but there is shame in not doing anything about it. There is shame in not consulting or taking advice from someone who knows. Your players and yourself deserve to know how to be your best because when you’re not at your best, all those around you will suffer.
The secret to getting the best out of a person isn’t to force them to try harder, train more hours, push them to their limits. The secret is to actively listen and teach them how to think with purpose.
Thanks for listening and remember to Take action, Reflect, Adjust and repeat
Play with purpose
Who you are today is a culmination of experiences and perspectives and most of the time, how you are is OK. You do OK. But when it comes to professional sports, being OK isn’t good enough. You have to be excellent or at least be striving for excellence but reaching that level takes determination, guts and smart work, but what happens to your focus when something negative happens in your life. Perhaps a death, an injury, a fall out with a family member or even succumbing to pressure and stress.
Many athletes over the years have spoken about their struggles, Frank Bruno, Kevin Love, Michael Phelps, just to name 3 but a quick google search will bring you up a list even longer with no surprise.
So what can you do? What can you do to move away from the struggles quickly and get yourself back on track.
Let me share this story with you
For many many years, a man had taken the same path to work. He saw the same people, saw the same shops and felt the same way. He was familiar with this routine and familiarity gave him a sense of comfort and this comfort gave him happiness. He had no reason to change his route, he had no reason to walk faster, yet one day something changed but he didn’t know what. His thoughts began to niggle at him.
This niggle grew into an itch and after several days, his happiness has turned into anxiety. Instead of smiling at the people he walked past, he was on edge and avoided eye contact and had thoughts of changing something but he didn’t know what or how. He was so familiar with his journey that thinking about changing it, only brought on a fear, so he tolerated and tolerated until one day he decided not to get up.
Sometimes when we feel the need for change, we fear what might happen if we did change, and the sense of familiarity pulls us back from growing and we continue to tolerate, even when you know something needs to change.
But these past events do not define who we can become. Past events do not have to hold you down and stop you from achieving by doing and thinking differently.
You always have a choice to move away from negativity and choose to walk a new path and doing it is as simple as changing the direction in which you walk, who you talk with and recognising when you want change. You have to hold yourself accountable. You have to make new decisions because it’s very unlikely someone else will recongnise you want to change and help you.
So if you feel something needs to change, create that change for yourself!
Thanks for reading and remember to Take action, Reflect, Adjust and repeat
Play with purpose
You’re in a room full of people all wearing hats. You look around and listen to the conversations and notice 5 people have green hats on, 5 people have blue hats on and 2 have red hats on. How many people are in the room?
While you’re working that out let me remind you you’re also listening to the conversations in the room with great interest.
Listening is a skill that few have mastered but many lack the understanding or purpose of listening so let me suggest why listening is a skill you need to master and you’ll be surprised at how easy it can be.
Let’s imagine for a moment you’ve got something you just have to share with someone. Something inside your head is urging you to share this emotionally charged news so you call your friend and begin to talk enthusiastically, sharing as much as you can.
When you’ve exhaled all the news you stop and wait for a response, hoping for some kind of recognition or acceptance.
In sports it’s very common for coaches or managers to talk at the players and expect them to carry out those instructions. The coach talks, the player listens.
Yet some of the better coaches approach communication from a different perspective often giving the players the opportunity to talk, and for the coach to listen. Why is this a good strategy?
When a coach is only giving instructions they are missing part of the bigger picture. Through listening to the players, the missing piece is found and solutions to improving performance can be found quickly.
And by the way, the answer to the question of how many people are in the room is 13. 5 plus 5 plus 2 plus 1 (you)
Thanks for listening and remember to Take action, Reflect, Adjust and repeat
Play with purpose
I’m going to suggest a relationship is the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.
One of the relationships you must pay attention to is the one between you and your coach and I’d like you consider the following three questions and give yourself truthful answers. Noone will see these and you don’t have to show your coach but you can take your answers and choose to do something positive with them.
To be successful there must be mutual trust and respect between player and coach and this relationship thrives when communication is honest, supportive and open with each having the mindset of “What can I do to help others be the best they can be” for when each player and coach has this mindset, their focus becomes more about the team and others rather than a selfish approach that can leave a person blinkered as to what’s possible.
Now let’s consider the relationship between team mates and others. In my younger days I had many teammates and I was very judgemental about their performances on the court. I had something to prove to myself and wanted to be the best I could be but also wanted my team to win so I would challenge my team-mates to step up and improve, if only with increasing their hustle levels. I believe any player, no matter your ability, skill set or technical ability can bring hustle and it’s hustle that brings a small increment of improvement over the course of a game.
If you’re lazy, I will call you out!
When you think of a team, you think of roles, and when you think of roles, you think of the people filling those roles and when you think of the people filling those roles, you can begin to understand what needs to be done to improve or what’s working really well.
The relationship between players again must be one of mutual trust and respect for a team to thrive. You don’t need to be best friends away from the field of play but as soon as you cross that line into competition you shift your mindset and place your trust and respect into your teammates and if you’re unable to do that, then that’s a sign that something needs to change.
Of course you’ll form stronger bonds with some which can sometimes cause a fracture between the team, usually the better players will create their own click so it’s important you recognise the fracture and tell yourself no matter a players ability you must place your trust and respect into them for the sake of the team. Another benefit of placing your trust and respect into lesser players is they will feel your positivity towards them and that can inspire them to play better.
As a recap over these last few episodes, we have explored the 7 pillars of growth that each of us need to spend time understanding when it comes to improving performance and wellbeing.
Moving forward I’ll be sharing insights and tips from my experiences with the aim to help you be the best you can be.
I’d like you to consider the following tasks:
Run a marathon tomorrow
Hold your breath for 4 minutes
Do 200 pushups in 5 minutes
What thoughts and emotions did you just experience?
Sometimes in life and sports, others expect a lot more of you than you are capable of and when these unrealistic expectations are presented to you, one of three things will happen.
You will make an excuse not to attempt to try
You will half-heartedly give it a go
You will do it to the best of your ability
It’s usually those closest to you that set these unrealistic expectations and each person will have a reason to set us these tasks. It could come from family, parents, your manager or coach because they want the best for you. They want you to succeed and somewhere down the line they have heard a person can improve by being pushed to be better and as much as I agree to that sentiment to some degree, if the person isn’t ready to be pushed, those expectations from others won’t be accomplished.
When this happens, there is some trust lost between the two and fractured relationships can occur, therefore hindering any further growth.
So what can you do?
Putting those unrealistic expectations to one side, what do YOU expect of yourself? (Be selfish)
How far out of alignment are your expectations compared to those unrealistic ones, others are setting you?
There is something very powerful about setting your own expectations with the right guidance and I want to be clear on what that guidance is because if you’re a person who really wants to improve, you have to get it right.
If you took away your fear of letting others down and living up to others expectations, what expectations would you set yourself?
Write down three things you improve but make it realistic. As an esports pro you might want to get more sleep, eat healthier or improve your mindset.
Secondly, select just one of those things and tell yourself you’re going to improve in this category in so many weeks, by doing x more consistently.
Now all you do is begin to take action and this is where setting your own expectations becomes powerful.
Now you have a choice.
You will either do it, or you won’t.
If you don’t reach your expectations, you overstretched your capabilities so you must reflect and make adjustments.
If you do reach your expectations, enjoy that feeling when you achieve because that is true growth!
We live in the moment, we exist in the moment, yet it’s easy to get distracted by the past or think too far into the future and I want to start with talking about the importance of recognising where you are because when you accept your reality, you can begin to set realistic and achievable goals.
I want to talk about goal setting because in sports, goal setting is important to help us gauge our growth and development and this gives us a sense of purpose and accomplishment. How great does it feel when you accomplish a goal? I’m right handed and remember practicing to make a left hand layup, a shot in basketball. I was in the school gym with my mate in the lunch hour and it started off with a simple question, shall we practice left hand layups. So we started. Of course we sucked at them! Hitting the bottom of the ring, missing the ring completely, but all the time we were adjusting and repeating until we eventually got one in! And although we managed to make one and accomplished our goal, we instinctively wanted more. Making one wasn’t good enough so now could we make three in a row.
We tried, we made one, maybe two before finally making three and again, goal accomplished. But we wanted more.
The goal now was to be consistent.
After being consistent could we make them under pressure
Then could we make them in games?
Our reality was very much in the moment, and we didn’t assume we could go straight into a game and make left hand layups, we had to learn the basics and fundamentals before moving on and the recognition of our reality kept us grounded.
How often do you compare yourself to others? How does that make you feel?
It’s easy to begin to compare yourself with others who are either more successful than you or not as good as you then begin to judge yourself based on your judgements of others which isn’t fair on you because their journey to where they are was very different to yours.
This unfair comparison can raise anxiety through thinking you’re not good enough, or bring a sense of complacency thinking you are so much better, but when you focus on your journey, your needs, your goals, improving becomes something you can control and feel at ease with.
Be proud of where you are, be accepting of your current level of ability and if you really want to improve set yourself realistic targets based on your needs.
Thanks for listening and remember to Take action, Reflect, Adjust and repeat
Play with purpose
YOUR IDEAL VISION
Looking to the future gives us something to focus on and work towards.
Imagine a ship with no destination, the crew and captain may be completing tasks and surviving but to what end, for what purpose are they simply sailing around with no destination?
Do you remember learning to fasten your shoe laces? Probably not, as it’s a skill learned when you were around the ages of 6 or 7 and now you complete that skill without thinking twice, but there was a time when you found the motivation to learn that skill.
But for what purpose?
Although you can understand the point of learning to fasten your shoe laces, ask yourself this question – For what purpose do I want to improve?
Your answer may surprise you or a least spark some interesting internal dialogue around why you do what you do.
We all have our motivation for wanting to improve and when you really connect with your purpose, you will jump into improving with an almighty splash and begin to feel and see results quickly, but if you’re unsure as to why you want to improve, improving won’t come easily to you.
In The recent docuseries the Last Dance about the Chicago Bulls, NBA team of the 90’s, Michael Jordan, arguably the best player that ever lived, told a story about how a young player had got the better of him in a game, scoring 37 points. It was said that after the game the player, LeBradford Smith uttered something to Jordan like “good game’, Jordan took this small comment as fuel to motivate him for the next game and said he would score his opponents full game total of 37 by half time next time they met. Jordan went to score 36 and proved a point.
But here’s where his motivation goes to another level. The comment Smith made, was never made! Jordan allegedly made up the story, meaning it wasn’t the verbal comment made by Smith that lit his fire, which in itself would be a good mindset, but it was simply his inner voice, creating a scenario that fuelled the fire.
Can you imagine! The desire to win and improve so badly was simply created by imagining another player said something disrespectful to him! Now that’s on another level but it is possible to create motivation from anything and it doesn’t have to come from an external source.
In this instance, Jordan’s vision was to beat the same team that beat them the night before and get revenge on a young player.
He simply needed to tell himself the right words.
When creating your ideal vision, think short term, as in next few days, medium term, next few weeks and long terms, next few months/years and keep it realistic.
You can’t tell yourself you’ll be the best in the world if your diet is poor, you are constantly tired and you aren’t even close to being great.
But it’s important to get into good habits so you can achieve your short term, medium term and long term vision.
It’s habits that will help drive you forward.
So now, with that new perspective, ask yourself, for what purpose do I want to improve?