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The Role of Perspective in Playing Our Roles!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #114 – Watch or listen HERE.

As my son was getting ready to go to bed in his normal procrastination posture the other night, he filled up his post teeth brushing rinse glass and asked me if it was half full or half empty. This little guy goes back and forth (like most 10-year-olds) on his volume of water perspective, but overall, he’s a glass full type of guy.

A few days after the half-full question, I had the opportunity to talk with the students in my Principles of Coaching class about how their seasons were going thus far. Two of the soccer players in the group are back from injury this season and talked at length about what they learned as they sat on the sidelines during their recovery. In fact, they both said they do not think the team would be where they are today without that experience.

It's that time of year. Kids are hurt. Line ups are being formed. Expectations are being met...and not being met.

And in the middle of it all...PERSPECTIVE.

Getting hurt is hard. Playing a role other than the one you want is hard. Not getting what we expected is hard!

All frustrating . All discouraging. All true.

But if positive emotion is one of the biggest predictors of peak performance, now what?

As teams go through the forming, storming, norming and stages, our perspectives play a significant role in how the final stage…the performing…plays out.

How can we steer our team toward better performance by managing our perspective on whatever comes our way?

Let’s start with the injured athletes.

Since almost every doctor’s visit I attended with my players ended with the dreaded “here’s what you can’t do” instructions, let’s start by getting them to ask a few good questions!

We know that asking questions prompts our brain to look for solutions, so starting with “what can I do?” can be an instant perspective changer. We had a list of things our kids could do based on an upper body or lower-body injury. This may seem like a bit of overkill, but handing an athlete a list of options, highlighted based on her/his abilities that day, can help with engagement and discouragement.

As I heard on a podcast the other day, we are shining a light on what is going right!

Instead of having a list of things ready as options, maybe you’d rather ask your athlete what she can do like a Division I (replace your level here) athlete today. She may not be able to run like a DI athlete today, but she can eat like one, sleep like one, visualize like one, etc.

One last idea is to ask her to write down 5 things she wants to get out of today. Writing this list focuses our attention on what we want instead of what we are trying to avoid…or what we can’t do or control. You know as well as I do that if we write things down, we are much more likely to do them!

This simple task can help us keep our thoughts, feelings and behaviors moving toward our goals and help us see the importance of our contributions to the team in our temporary role.

Next, what can we do with those kids who aren’t starting?

This may be even harder than helping those who are injured stay in a productive mindset. Those who are injured are not dealing with the ego blow of sitting on the bench because they were “not chosen” to be in the lineup (which sometimes makes being injured attractive when we aren’t in the starting 9, unfortunately.)

First, let's use the same questions. If asking questions help us look for solutions, let's get these kids to ask "what can I do?", too!

This is now not about what everyone else is doing or what others have. Comparison takes our focus off our work. It’s a distraction. When we focus on others, we become reactive. It’s when we focus on improving ourselves and what we can control that we become more innovative. We find ways to make things better!

This may seem like a lot to shift from WHY to WHAT, but changing our focus can change our behavior...and the more we contribute, the more likely we are to contribute even more!

Once we start looking at what we can do, this can be where the power of YET comes in.

This simple word is a HUGE perspective changer. YET implies that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that some things are worth waiting for and that we need to keep moving because we just aren’t there YET!

Say it, “I haven’t won the championship YET” or whatever your goal is! It is freeing. It is hopeful. It is productive.

Using the phrase “I’m not a starter YET” may help our athletes understand that to get the position they want, they first have to play the one they have to the best of their ability! No effort.

No chance!

Aside from implementing the 5 things they want writing prompt from above to keep them focused on what they want rather than what they don’t have, another perspective changer for this group may start with them evaluating their competitiveness.

No doubt that confidence wavers when athletes are sitting the bench. I am sure you have heard how you have ruined kids’ confidence by not playing them at least once in your career.

Let’s change this starting = confidence equation (don’t we wish starting was the antidote to a lack of confidence) and talk about confidence being a feeling and competitiveness being an action…something we can control.

Have your athletes ask themselves how they can be more competitive, no matter what their role or opportunity. Here is a subtle but significant shift in perspective.

Again, this not about what everyone else is doing. It is about doing more of what we can control we can ALWAYS be competitive, no matter what we are against!

The real question is, what do competitive actions look like and what actions are we willing to take to be more competitive? I don’t mean talking about how competitive we are. I mean taking a few minutes to think about what competitiveness LOOKS LIKE, ACTS LIKE and MOVES LIKE then writing down our “when/then” plan and evaluating it at the end of the day.

Keeping the non-starters focused on their improvement and what they can control will not only help them move their needle forward, rising tides lift all boats!

As a coach, you know that your injured contingent and your non-starters are vital to your success. They all have the ability to change the program. Getting them to ask the right questions and look to the future with the “we’re not there yet” attitude can make a huge difference in norming and performing of your program.

If they only knew how hard it is to watch them struggle…a perspective they may never see! Even so, helping them shift their perspective can help them reach their goals…and that’s what we want for everyone!

Manage the moments and have a great week!


P.S. Need an outside voice to help hit home the importance of perspective on performance? 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 help them make the most out of the opportunities in front of them! Email me at or call/text 234-206-0946.

Julie Jones

Mental Performance & Mindset Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946

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