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In Sport and in Life, it Comes Down to...

After having the weekend to reflect on my time spent at the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) Annual Conference, which included over 1,000 attendees in Orlando, FL, there were a number of thoughts that crossed my mind.

“I’m so grateful to catch up with colleagues and friends who are spread out all over the country now.”

“The mentors who trained and guided me are still as incredible now as they were when I studied under them.”

“There are a whole bunch of folks trying to find their way in this field and figure out their niche.”

“The presentations I attended provided incredible insight into what others are experiencing and doing in the field, and there are a number of areas in which I can improve.”

“This field is definitely moving in the right direction and growing each year with new job opportunities and new and different populations leveraging the mental side of training.”

After returning home from the conference, a colleague asked me what the number one thing is that I am taking away from the conference. When I sat back and thought about my time in Orlando and what resonated most with me, I realized the answer is simple: relationships.

I believe that whether it is sport or life, it really comes down to relationships. The ability to connect with another human being is a cornerstone of our human experience. The number of times I listened to others talk about the importance of relationships with the athletes we work with and the coaches we interact with, the opportunity to land a contract, job offers and prospects, or simply networking and collaborating with others helped me recognize that it all comes back to the fundamental basis of the relationships that you cultivate.

If relationships are of utmost importance to grow and develop as a person, how do we go about creating and developing them? Here are my three mindset shifts that will directly impact your relationships with others in sport and in life.

1) Invest and care deeply about OTHERS.

So many times, people can get caught up in what others can do for them. How will you help me reach my next goal? How will you lead me to an opportunity? How will my network support me? I believe it is necessary to flip that perspective and care so much about others that you invest your time, energy, and effort into them. Put the client first in working relationships. Ask yourself, how can I help support others in their careers? What can I provide to help others succeed? How can I share what I have learned with others to make the road easier for them? How can I put myself in another person’s shoes to better understand his or her successes and challenges? These are the questions that help me operate from a place of gratitude and lead me to feel fulfilled in my work.

2) Celebrate each other.

There are many times when the field of sport psychology can be competitive with many highly trained and skilled practitioners striving for a limited number of jobs. When someone else earns an opportunity, it can be very easy to look at the individual with jealousy and tear down his or her accomplishments. An alternative approach is to celebrate the field and the person for the opportunity! Sharing in each other’s joy and building each other up is the hallmark of a strong team and culture. While it may be difficult to celebrate another’s success, even when you feel like you have not experienced it yourself just yet, this mindset shift operates from a place of growth and trust. This journey of sport and life is one we are all making together, and it is such a refreshing and fun place to operate from when we celebrate each other’s successes.

3) Be vulnerable.

Some of my favorite sessions and stories to hear from other practitioners in the field revolve around times they have not succeeded. These are my favorite scenarios not because it is enjoyable to hear another’s struggle, but rather, they remind me that we are all human. We all make mistakes; even those at the elite level are learning and growing every day. It is so hard to admit to falling short, and it is even more difficult to reach out to others for help. Being vulnerable means understanding that we do not know all of the answers. It means allowing others to see the struggles we are working through and reaching out our hands for help. Showing vulnerability is an incredible way to build stronger relationships. It displays humility and creates stronger connections between those sharing in the struggle.

In sport and in life, it comes down to relationships. Through them, we grow, learn, develop, share successes, experience challenges, laugh, cry, and enjoy the process. The connection drives others to be their best and allows us to reach our best as well. Consider the relationships in your life, and ask yourself if there are more opportunities to invest in another person, celebrate his or her successes, and be vulnerable with that person.

There are many times I have fallen short in the relationships I have in my life. The beautiful thing about sport and life is that you can alter the trajectory of your path simply by choosing to do something about it. How will you foster incredible relationships in your life?

“I don’t want to look back in five years time and think, ‘We could have been magnificent, but I was afraid.’ In five years, I want to tell of how fear tried to cheat me out of the best thing in life, and I didn’t let it.” - Unknown

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