Mindset Made Simple Tip #110 – Watch or listen HERE.
A new school year. A new team. New excitement.
I spoke with one of my DI softball teams this week and it was AWESOME!
They were FIRED UP and full of POSITIVE EMOTION!
Workouts are great. Everyone is pushing each other. They are all meshing. All is well with the world.
This is awesome news, and it was great to hear their energy!
Fast forward a few days as I was meeting with one of my DI soccer teams…we talked about energy too but in a different light.
As we went through our Losada Line/Well-Better-How exercise, we dove deep into the need to increase our energy and what our responsibilities are to the team to get the best out of both practices and games.
Two teams. Both talk about energy and emotion.
Neither team said much about talent or skill, but both focused on the impact of positive energy on what they were doing in their physical work.
One team is in the “honeymoon” stage. They won’t start team practices until after Labor Day.
The other is in the thick of things and getting ready to start conference play soon.
I asked my softball team what each of them was excited about because I want them to hear what they are saying and I want them to remember this feeling when tough times come…when the pressure is on…when the new kids become competitors instead of exciting new personalities…when they are being pushed out of their comfort zone…when practice gets tough, repetitive, old.
When the excitement wears off.
My soccer team had this same excitement when they came to campus a few weeks ago. Now it is performance time and that energy is harder to muster.
This isn’t a statement or story about either of these teams.
This is a story about ALL OF OUR TEAMS…and each of us as individuals!
Let’s face it. When something is new…a car…a relationship…even a new gym membership…we are usually pumped up about it or we would not have bought it or embarked upon the journey. But as with everything in life, the shiny new thing begins to dull.
One of a few things happens. We either start to notice the scratches or annoying features (of humans or inanimate objects), we get used to stuff and it isn’t as fun anymore or we start to feel pressures that weren’t there before.
They call this getting used to stuff hedonic adaptation. The stuff we LOVED and were so happy with becomes familiar. Heck, even winning the lottery doesn’t make people happy for long (I’d like to try to be sure!).
Winning the lottery is similar to my happy team.
You are PUMPED because you WON THE LOTTERY.
Then you have to deal with the reality that everyone now wants something from you and the truth is, not everyone is happy for you or with you! You start to feel pressure. You get pushed out of your comfort zone. You have new responsibilities. You have to learn new stuff to manage what you now have and play the game at a new level.
Okay, not the same, but you get the picture.
In a few weeks, the team that has won the positive emotion lottery will feel the same. They will deal with the reality that not everyone is happy for them or with them because they are pushing someone, or someone is trying to push them. They will start to feel pressure. They will be pushed out of their comfort zone. They will have new responsibilities and will have to learn new stuff to play the game at this level.
This is where the soccer team is right now. It is GO time. The money is in the bank. Not everyone is happy every day because they are pushing or being pushed. They are feeling pressure…you get the picture!
The “new season/lottery winning” feel is fading.
How do we bottle up the “new season, new team, new start” positive emotion?
Keeping it coursing through our veins in the exact manner as it begins is not reality. But understanding the benefits of it is a must!
First, we must understand that positive emotion/energy is a CHOICE! It is a controllable. It is a decision. It is contagious. It is vital for movement. We go nowhere and do nothing without energy or emotion.
Positive emotion is a choice – or productive emotion for those times that being positive is a stretch!
I was not the master at making this choice work for me as a coach (or sometimes now as a mom). I know what to do, but allow my feelings to drive my behaviors more than I’d like to admit…and so do you!
In time, I will have the same Losada Line conversation with my softball team as I did with my soccer team and the lead question will be, “what can you do to help the team’s energy and/or emotion?”
Here were some answers from the players during this round of “how can we increase our energy” talks:
· Check in with those who are exhibiting less than productive energy/emotion and offer a helping hand.
· Raise the standard on what is appropriate behavior for team training and point out when the standards are not being met with the expectations that team members understand their responsibility to the standard.
· Play music…and if everyone doesn’t want to participate, have a silent disco party (look it up if you just said “a what?”!
· Make mundane drills a competition with yourself.
I am sure you have heard similar ideas.
I added these suggestions.
Brene Brown says you can change the rest of your evening if you choose to walk into your house with a smile to greet your family. Why? Because you entered in with positive emotion…and we all know that positive emotion is one of the biggest predictors of peak performance!
She says that smiling, even if it is for less than 30 seconds sets the tone for the rest of the night.
This does not mean you FEEL like smiling. It means that you are CHOOSING to smile, regardless of how you feel or what is weighing on your mind.
Like it or not, this is what competing, pressure and life demands of us daily. Champions acknowledge how they feel and then act the way they need to feel. They decide that they are going to act in a manner that best serves their performance at the moment, regardless of how they are feeling.
If this is true, and I believe it to be, why wouldn’t it work for walking into the locker room or practice?
Or how about doing something so silly as making a smiley face on the whiteboard as you enter the locker room or practice to remind yourself that you are in charge of your energy? You are thinking about smiling, you know that your energy and emotion matter. Then, if you choose to remain in a non-productive state, you have CHOSEN to skirt your responsibility to the team and are choosing to deal with the consequences.
Or follow the practice of my friend and MLS Columbus Crew Head Coach Caleb Porter and shake the hand of each player before practice starts. Long-time coach Gretchen Weitbrecht suggested this to me decades ago.
You make an immediate connection with each player and they can feel your energy…and energy is contagious so you will be certain to check yours before you spread it.
I tried similar tactics at times throughout my career, but I was too stubborn or stupid to do these consistently…but now you know and I am sure you are smarter than me, so shake, draw and smile away!
Will any of these things keep it as shiny and new as day one? It is doubtful. It is hard to bottle it up and save it for those days/weeks/games we need it.
But acknowledging what is good. Parsing it out to see how it positively affects the team and figuring out ways to perpetuate it is important.
It won’t just happen. It will take effort, self-awareness and a commitment to the team to get out of our own way and do what we know is needed, regardless of how we feel.
We are wired to look for the threat. It takes work to look for the bright spots.
Even in the pressure, the pushing and all the things that make us forget how awesome winning the lottery is, there is always something going well. Working to find those helps us perpetuate that positive/productive energy…which leads to more energy…which leads to better stuff.
It’s not that simple, of course, but acknowledging what the team knows is good and reminding them that they are choosing to see and feel the good that they know makes a difference can help you recreate it day after day. And if you do it day after day, it is just what you do!
Manage the moments and have a great week!
P.S. Want a set plan for weekly mental work?
Remember to keep your eye out for an email later this week with ways we can work together, or if not together, through my programs! Contact me at any time to talk about how we can help your athletes through my 5 Minute Mindset™ program and customized team sessions to keep them on track in their mental game. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 234-206-0946.
Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach
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