Beware the Self-Confidence Killer - COMPARISON

Contributed by Tami Matheny - Founding Partner of Success for Teams, Owner at Refuse2Lose Coaching and author of "The Confident Athlete"

A Zen Parable

A samurai, a very proud warrior, came to see a Zen Master one day. The samurai was quite famous and had won many battles. He was known throughout his country as one of the bravest, most skilled warriors alive. As he walked into the Zen Master’s humble home his eyes immediately were drawn to the Master. As he gazed upon the old man’s beauty and the air of tranquility surrounding him, the great warrior suddenly began to feel inferior.

He said to the Master, “Why do I feel so small with you? Why do I feel so badly about myself? Just a moment ago I felt fine. I was a great warrior. I was sure of myself. As I entered your home, suddenly I felt inferior. I have never felt like that before. I have faced death many times, and I have never felt any fear — why am I now feeling frightened?”

The Master said, “Wait my son. When everyone else has gone, I will answer you. ” People continued to come and see the Master the entire day, and the great Samurai, as patient a man as he was, began to get more and more tired waiting.  By evening the Zen Master’s home was finally empty, and the Samurai said, “Now, can you answer me?” The Master said, “Come outside.”

It had turned evening and the moon was full. Its’ bright white shape was just beginning to rise on the horizon. Under the moonlight the Master, pointing to two trees over by the side of his garden said, “Look at these trees. This tree is high in the sky and reaches for the stars while this one beside it is quite small. Both these trees have existed side by side beneath my window for years, and yet there has never been any problem. The smaller tree has never said to the big tree, ‘Why do I feel inferior before you?’ This tree is small, and that tree is big — why have I never heard a whisper of it?”

The samurai said, “Because they do not compare.”

The Master replied, “Then you need not ask me. You know the answer my son.”

Comparison is the biggest obstacle for confidence.  As parents or coaches, we do our athletes a big favor when we don’t compare them to others and teach them to base their self-worth from within not from comparing to others.  It’s more productive and beneficial to help them focus on their strengths and what they bring to their sport and team than to compare how someone else does it better (parents and coaches should heed this advice for themselves as well!).  “What we focus on grows.”

Second Year Syndrome

Contributed by Molly Grisham - Founding Partner of Success for Teams and owner at A Person of Influence, LLC

If you aren't familiar with the term Second Year Syndrome, let me introduce you to a phrase that is very present in my world when working with college athletic teams. While there are many reasons a coach may bring me in to work with their team, one reason is Second Year Syndrome. I describe this issue as the rock bottom a team often faces in their second year with a new coaching staff. They find themselves dealing a massive divide between players and coaches. I can't count how many times I have worked with teams who are suffering from this issue. 

Second Year Syndrome typically develops when;
1: A coaching staff is hired close to the start of their first season and
2: They are replacing a coaching staff that was fired.
The combination of these two factors is prime for a difficult and possibly a second year that is beyond repair. 

When a coach is hired close to the start of their season they do not have the time they need to develop the relationships necessary to accurately assess the team culture. As a result, in the rush to get going they often don't realize the real issues/needs they have inherited. The people who have the most intimate knowledge about the team (the previous coaches) are now gone and the new staff is often relying on the Athletic Administration to provide insight. Unfortunately, Administration is often strongly influenced by the voices of unhappy players and parents who are quick to share their opinions on what needs to change. When this is the basis for the information passed on, the new coaching staff is set up for Second Year Syndrome from day one. It's a path for failure because the direction the new coaches are given is based on the wants/needs of young student-athletes who lack the training or expertise to guide a coaching staff. As a result, a new staff may find themselves digging in and leading a team in the wrong direction for a year. By the time they realize it is the wrong direction the shift that is needed in year two is met with strong resistance by a team. 

There are certainly situations when a coaching staff is hired close to the start of the season and is replacing a staff that was fired but the Administration gives the staff the space to form their own opinions about the direction the team needs to go. I have still seen Second Year Syndrome even when the Administration does not strongly influence the direction of a team. In this scenario, the driving force behind Second Year Syndrome is often that a new staff didn't over-articulate the new culture and new direction of the team. They made the assumption that the players "got it" in the first team meeting and then the coaches were off and running. The problem isn't visible during the first year because the players and coaches were still sharing in the excitement of everything that is new - new warmups, new roles on the team, new coaching style, new uniforms, and new opportunities. These all create a fog of excitement that can make reality difficult to see. Once the fog lifts, often after the first season, players and coaches may realize that they are not in the same place and in fact may feel miles apart. The feeling of separation can cause all parties involved to question the legitimacy of their relationships. 

Regardless of what causes Second Year Syndrome, it is important to know that it is a very real and very painful situation for a team (coaches included) to go through. I would also add, it is almost impossible for a coach to "fix" the problem without outside help. Because Second Year Syndrome damages relationships teams often need a neutral person to provide perspective and guidance.

So what should you do if you are a coach, you've taken a job close to the start of a season and you realize that the conditions are prime for Second Year Syndrome? 

  • First, while others may want to provide insight and direction for your program remember who you are and what you are about. Trust that you know how to build the culture you want to create.
  • Second, during the first season over-articulate the new vision and new culture for the program. I often hear coaches who are dealing with Second Year Syndrome say, "I don't know how we got to this point. It's like our players and coaches are miles apart." Ultimately, everyone wants to be at the top of the mountain but it's difficult to do when the players are trying to climb one side and the coaches are trying to climb the other side of the mountain. This gap can be reduced when the new staff spends the first couple of years over-articulating the culture, in fact, doing so redundantly, to make sure everyone who is within proximity of the team understands the plan. 
  • Third, if while sharing the new values and new direction of the team you discover that you have student-atheltes who simply won't get on board you must part ways with those student-atheltes. This may be a long process and while the buy-in from players is partly on the coach to communicate the vision it's also a choice the student-atheltes need to make. In choosing to remain on the old path they are saying no to being a part of the team. Share with your Administration from day one that you will give student-athletes one year to make the decision to join the team. 
  • Fourth, be consistent in the message you share with your Administration about the path you want to lead the team down. When Administration hears complaints, and they will, they will be in a better position to respond to those complaints in a way that reinforces the new direction you want to lead the team. 

As you read this you may have realized that I was describing your program. If that is the case, I want to encourage to ask for help. Most programs that don't get help by or in year two find themselves being micromanaged by Administration in year three because the decision has already been made that year three will be the final season. The reality is if year three is bad you won't get a year four, and if you are a woman the odds that you will ever coach again are stacked against you. I have been a part of programs that were willing to do the hard work to reunite the players and coaches on the same path but they were VERY intentional about the process and needed a neutral person to lead them. Sadly, I have also witnessed coaches who thought they could put their heads down and run faster to get to though Second Year Syndrome. Unfortunately, if the players and coaches are on two different paths running faster will just lead both groups further apart.

Cut The Rope

Contributed by Tami Matheny - Founding Partner of Success for Teams, Owner at Refuse2Lose Coaching and author of "The Confident Athlete"

If you have ever been to a circus or seen one on tv, maybe you have noticed that the elephants are not kept in cages as are the other animals.   Instead, these massive creatures are only contained by one small rope tied to their front leg.  Since elephants are big enough and strong enough to break this bondage why don’t they? The answer lies in their conditioned mindset.  You see, when they’re young and much smaller and not as strong, they can’t break away from this rope. It’s strong enough to hold them. As they grow up, they slowly are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They think the rope can still hold them, and eventually they give into the belief that they can’t break free.”

These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they could not, they were settled where they were. Like the elephants, many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it before. Many of us hold ourselves back by clinging onto outdated beliefs that no longer serve us. We have “settled” where we are because we don’t have strong enough belief in ourselves.

Have you avoided trying something new because of a limiting belief? Worse, how many of us are being held back by someone else’s limiting beliefs? Our beliefs are formed based on our thoughts of our past experiences and interactions.  Hanging onto a limiting belief only ties you down.  The first step is to challenge the beliefs that you have of yourself that hold you back.  Are these beliefs actually true, or have you just fallen into the elephant’s trap of believing them because maybe you have failed in the past or because someone has reinforced those thoughts of yourself

The majority of your limiting beliefs can be overcome.  Challenging them automatically makes them weaker.  The next step is to start changing your self-talk.  Start adding the word, “yet” to your thoughts.  “I haven’t beaten her yet” or “I am not good at hitting curve balls, yet”.  Yet tells your brain to hold on that its just a matter of time.

Another way to build confidence, is to use “I am…” statements.  Start saying, “I am good with my left hand” or “I am confident when the game is on the line”, etc.  These “I am…” statements combined with consistent practice will help you to cut the rope around your ankle that is binding you mentally.

Quit limiting yourself and cut the rope!  Start becoming the you, you are meant to be.

Leadership: "I'll gladly go in the middle."

Contributed by Molly Grisham - Founding Partner of Success for Teams and owner at A Person of Influence, LLC

I could tell as soon as they walked in the room that this was going to be a fun group to work with. My task for the afternoon was to take a corporate leadership team of about 40 people through some team building activities. As I stood before the group I explained that our session would include some fun games as well as some activities that would help them get to know each other better. Heads were nodding and people were smiling. I could sense that the culture in this company was healthy and that people were engaged in the development process.

As we began our first game they came alive. This group was having a blast and laughing so hard. After just a couple of minutes, I felt like I was a part of the group and hanging out with old friends.

The game required the group to be in a large circle with one person standing in the middle of the circle. The objective was to get out of the middle by walking up to someone on the outside of the circle and saying one of several silly phrases. The person on the outside had to reply with the correct silly reply. If they said the wrong thing they had to switch with the person in the middle. If they said the right thing they got to stay on the outside and the inside person had to try again. About halfway through the game, a woman was in the middle and she was having a hard time getting someone out. She was a quieter person and after failing to get four people out she said, “this is why I hate games. I’m not good at them.” The group fell silent, you could tell they genuinely felt for her. And then she walked up to a man on the outside and said her silly phrase and he said nothing in reply, which meant he was going in the middle and switching places with her. The room was still silent as he quietly said to her, “I’ll gladly go in the middle.”

At that moment, my point of contact looked at me and said, “and that’s our CEO” and I suddenly understood the significance of the exchange.

Effective leaders understand the value of letting people fight their own battles, the growth often happens in the struggle and great leaders allow this to happen. But great leaders also stay close to their people so they can help when help is needed. They will gladly take the place of someone else when the request for help comes in. That is exactly what this leader did. He was on the outside, but close enough to help, and willing to step in.

Be the leader that lets people fight their own battles, stay close enough to help, and step in when people turn to you.

Take care of your people and they will take care of you.

Piano Lessons: Avoiding Communication Discord

Contributed by Betsy Butterick - Founding Partner of Success for Teams and The Coaches Coach & Communication Specialist at Butterick Creative Consulting

“Life is like a piano. The white keys represent happiness and the black keys anguishes. Over time you realize that the black keys also make music.”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

For a long time I self-described as someone who “hated confrontation”. I avoided difficult conversations for the same reasons many of us do; because they can be challenging, and sometimes they’re hurtful, and mostly because for me they were very, very unpracticed.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Until age 24 I’d spent most of my life only playing the white keys when it came to communication. I avoided the black keys - what I thought was discord - without realizing that only by engaging with them could there be harmony.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Imagine telling Beethoven or Chopin or Rachmaninoff that they could only play the white keys! Without the black keys these men could not become Master pianists.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Similarly, until we can skillfully engage in conflict and confrontation we cannot master the art of communication.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

We must practice - only by learning all the keys can we make conversational melodies.

Goldfish and Leadership

Contributed by Molly Grisham - Founding Partner of Success for Teams and owner at A Person of Influence, LLC

Recently I was doing some research about the process of transferring goldfish from a bag to an aquarium. I should state that I do not own any goldfish nor do I have plans to purchase a fish tank! However, what I read got me thinking about how this also applies to leadership.

Several of the teams I work with are in deep conversations about who their team leaders will be next season. With one of these teams, we are struggling because the players with the most leadership potential are young, inexperienced, and just “not yet ready.”

In my conversations with the coaching staff, we have discussed the fact that we NEED these players to be the leaders but we also need to respect the process of developing them so they can lead effectively. While we would love to just throw them out there and see what happens, we are very aware of the damage that could do to the new leaders and to the team!

As I read about goldfish and the process of moving them from a small bag to a large aquarium tank I noticed some good leadership lessons, particularly in regards to leaders who are embracing leadership for the first time.

  1. Don’t keep your goldfish in a bag forever: If you don’t move a goldfish from a bag to an aquarium there won’t be enough oxygen for them to survive. As a result, they suffocate or poison themselves with their own waste. How terrible does that sound?! We can apply this in leadership as well; leaders need room to grow. While it can be tiring and at times difficult to develop others as leaders we know they will never grow if we leave them where they are. We have to help leaders to move into larger spaces and this means we must be intentional about inviting them into a larger tank. With new leaders, this often needs to be a gradual process. 
  2. Don’t overfeed your fish: Giving your goldfish too much food will simply create too much waste. The excess waste will produce toxic waters. While the intention might be good, the results can be deadly. In leadership, we may be tempted to give new leaders way too much information. When we do this, we literally muddy the waters for them. Give a new leader enough information to make good decisions but respect the fact that information overload is a real thing. 
  3. Don’t make your fish swim in a dirty tank: While goldfish may seem low maintenance it is important that their caretakers are willing to clean the tank. Failure to do so will make survival stressful for the fish. As leaders who are trying to develop more leaders, we must be aware of the culture we are asking people to lead in. There may be times when we need to intervene and clean up the culture to make sure new leaders are able to lead effectively. Let your leaders lead, but stay close enough to support them and help to address a cultural mess as needed.  

As you think about working with new leaders please remember that they, just like goldfish, will need time to acclimate. Good leaders are always learning but the growth curve for new leaders is high as they process their role from a new perspective. When you are intentional about how you welcome and develop new leaders on your team you are able to limit some of the shock to their system.

And just like goldfish, subtle changes can have a huge impact on the lives of new leaders. Be aware of what your people need and respect the time they need to develop.

Goldfish need care, so do your leaders.

Mental Toughness Increases Recovery

Contributed by Tami Matheny - Founding Partner of Success for Teams, Owner at Refuse2Lose Coaching and author of "The Confident Athlete"

The mental toughness of an athlete/person is a great indicator of their ability to cope with a sports injury.  Mental toughness is nothing more than what you focus on.  Therefore, those that cope the best generally are more positive and better able to control their self-talk/thoughts.  In addition, they usually have high levels of consistent confidence and have a belief that what they do today impacts their future.

Mentally, we can help our athletes cope better by instilling in them confidence, positive/productive self- talk, motivation and other mental skills.

Having a “This is Good” mentality is crucial.  When we train our brains to find the good regardless of how bad a situation is, we develop mental strength.  Start by having the injured athlete list as many positives that can come out of the injury as possible.  This may be difficult at first but the more they start of focus on what they can learn from the injury, what they can work on during the injury, etc. the better they will be in the long run.

In addition to focusing on the “good”, encourage athletes to focus on what they can do now versus what they used to do.  Keep their focus on the present instead of the past.

Having positive or productive self-talk/thoughts increases confidence and helps keep a strong mindset.  Some athletes have even found that talking to the injury in a productive light increases healing.

Visualization is another important skill that builds confidence and can be used in recovery. Having the athlete practice their skills mentally keeps them engaged in addition to keeping them as sharp as possible without physical practice.  Having them create a picture in their head of how they want to be once they recover gives them a visual goal to strive for.  As I mentioned with self-talk, many believe that visualizing the injured area healing can speed up the process as well.

Injuries are setbacks but each setback gives an athlete the opportunity to turn it into something good/productive. An athlete’s mindset will greatly determine their mental state during the injury, how fast they heal and how strong (mentally and physically) they will be once the injury has resolved.

For more tips and strategies on confidence, check out “The Confident Athlete: 4 Easy Steps to Build and Maintain Confidence” and follow us on twitter @tamimatheny.  The book is available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

For Your Future Self

Contributed by Betsy Butterick - Founding Partner of Success for Teams and The Coaches Coach & Communication Specialist at Butterick Creative Consulting

Having just finished facilitating a webinar I sat at my desk trying to motivate myself to go ride the bike. It sounded something like this,

“Seriously, Bets? You taught spin for SEVEN YEARS! 45-minute classes, sometimes back-to-back, and you can’t go ride for 20 minutes?”

It was a solid point.

I wondered how that could be - that I could teach for so long and now struggled to find the motivation to head to the gym. Wondering was, debatably, another form of procrastination, but the conclusion I came to was this;

Teaching classes was for other people. This was just for me.

That was the difference, but spin wasn’t the only area of life where this rang true.

I admittedly have a history of showing up for others yet failing, at times, to show up for myself. If someone needs me, I’m there. But when I’ve needed me, I can’t say I've always been present. [Yes, this is absolutely related to things like “self-love” and “self-worth”. Understanding your own value it’s a game changer. That journey of self-discovery was not a quick one for me, but I’m grateful for it].

So there I sat, still at my desk and not on the bike. Having realized the difference my question now became, “How could I change my thinking to act as if I was showing up for others when it was just for me?

The answer: my future self. She is someone I haven’t met yet. Her energy, health, well-being, creativity, ability to do things like present and engage and connect and design and everything else – she is who I am responsible to.

Tonight I hop on a plane for in prep for delivering an all-day workshop tomorrow. While standing for 7 hours in front of a room full of strangers, at some point future me will feel a heckuva lot better having ridden the bike for 20 minutes today.

Tugging on my padded bike shorts (super sexy, I know) I was reminded of the old adage, “Do one thing a day that your future self will thank you for.”

This is not new.

What is new, however, is it's application. Most of us have heard that quote before, but how many of us routinely live it? As in, daily?

I’m currently coaching someone who is so far from her ideal that it seems nearly impossible to get there. Nothing in her life has ever shown her that what she is attempting to do for herself IS, in fact, possible.

What she does have is perspective – an understanding that an accumulation of small things over time is what it will take to get where she wants to go. Each night she texts me a list of the things she did that day that her future self will thank her for.

Not just one, but four or five or six… She’s living it. And, it’s working! And I'm incredibly proud of what she's done.

So here’s to showing up. If not for you, for your future self and the way that person will impact the world.

Make Today Special

Contributed by Molly Grisham - Founding Partner of Success for Teams and owner at A Person of Influence, LLC

Last month I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Missouri Special Olympics. My job was to help at the award station. There were about 20 of us assigned to this station. We were all from different backgrounds and different walks of life. We represented several generations and to my knowledge, only two of us had volunteered at this event in the past. We were a team of optimistic rookies.

Before the events began we were given our instructions and then we waited, and waited, and waited. I began to wonder why they had assigned so many of us to the award station and I questioned if my time could be better spent at another station.

And then it happened. Mulitple events finished at the same time and the athletes, their buddies, event escorts, and family members descended upon the award station. They arrived excited and in anticipation of receiving their awards. Little did they know that this ragtag group of volunteers didn’t have a well-oiled system in place.

Before we knew it we were experiencing a slow-moving and unorganized awards ceremony. It took us a few minutes to realize, “this isn’t working” and then we adjusted our plan on the fly and created a much better experience for everyone involved.

But here is why the experience was so special. At no point in the day did anyone express frustration. Athletes and their buddies had to stand in a long line – no problem. Family members had to wait a while to see their loved ones receive an award – no problem. Volunteers were asked to fill different roles to keep things moving – no problem. On some deep human level, everyone just decided that today was going to be special. We unconsciously agreed that we were going to bring our best as well as bring out the best in others.

And here is what I learned; it was a choice to make that day special. We all made the choice to smile, laugh and offer an endless amount of compliments, words of encouragement, and high-fives to strangers.

Every single day you have the opportunity to offer good to the world. The choice really is yours.

Choose to make today special.

How Confidence & The Right Mindset Helps You Overcome Adversity: 4 Examples From the NFL Draft

Contributed by Tami Matheny - Founding Partner of Success for Teams, Owner at Refuse2Lose Coaching and author of "The Confident Athlete"

Stories of people overcoming odds, of rising above adversity are great teachers for all of us.  The 2018 NFL Draft provided several inspiring stories that we can all learn from. The following 4 men have experienced unique challenges, and have all used adversity to fuel their future success.

Shaquem Girffin was born with amniotic band syndrome, causing the fingers on his left hand to not fully develop. Through his first 4 years of life, this caused so much pain that young Shaquem tried to self-amputate his fingers.  Eventually, doctors ended up amputating the fingers on his left hand for him.  He went on to play a handful of sports despite having 1 hand and starred at the University of Central Florida.  When he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks he not only joined his twin brother, but he became the first one-handed player drafted into the NFL.

Shaquem stayed focused on what he could do, not what he couldn’t.  He used his “bad luck” to work on and improve what he could do.  (How many of us focus instead on what we can’t currently do?)

During a game late in the 2017 season, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier went in head first for a tackle and ending up crumpled on the turf.  He had to undergo spinal stabilization surgery, putting his career and quality of life in jeopardy.  Many thought he might never walk again.  However, just 4 months later, Shazier walked onto the stage at the 2018 draft to announce the Steelers pick.

This moment displayed Shazier's character and heart.  While he will not physically be able to play in 2018, his goal is not only to return to the NFL, but to return as the impact player he once was.  Shazier has put his focus on improving instead of dwelling on his injury.  All of his energy is being used to heal and get better.

Zack Golditch - although not drafted - signed a free-agent contract with the Chargers. Nearly six years after being shot at a mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, Zack Golditch’s NFL dreams are now within reach.  Zach didn’t give up, and his hard work and determination would have probably gotten him drafted had it not been for another injury to his hand at the end of his senior season at Colorado State University.

And then there is Baker Mayfield.  Baker doesn’t fit the mold of the 3 men mentioned above in that he hasn’t had to overcome a physical hardship.  Mayfield started college at Texas Tech as a walk-on and became the first walk-on to be drafted number one.  At Texas Tech he was the first walk-on to start his first game.  From Texas Tech, he transferred to Oklahoma (as a walk-on again!).  At Oklahoma he lead the Sooners to the Playoffs two of the last three seasons and put together back-to-back years that were the best, passer rating-wise, in the history of the game. He then won the 2017 Heisman Trophy in one of the biggest landslides in the award’s history.

Baker is a perfect example of believing in yourself despite what others think of you.  If he had listened to everyone’s opinion of his skills, he would not be where he is today.

With the right mindset, injuries, hardships, and perceived ability are nothing but challenges for an athlete to overcome. Without a consistent confidence that comes from within, these 4 athletes would not have been able to overcome the obstacles they have faced.  The next time you waiver in the face of adversity, may you use the story of these confident, mentally tough athletes to help push past your obstacle.

Why knot start today?

Contributed by Betsy Butterick - Founding Partner of Success for Teams and The Coaches Coach & Communication Specialist at Butterick Creative Consulting

You always remember your first time.
The first time you forgot to tie the strings together before throwing pants into the laundry only to have them emerge with the drawstring sucked irretrievably into the waistband. 
For years I’ve been tying my strings in a simple knot to prevent just this sort of madness. The loop is easy to tie and just as easy to undo – one tug on both strings and ta-daaa, no more knot. A few weeks ago I was putting laundry away and tugged on the strings of my favorite yoga pants. The knot didn’t budge, so I did what we all do and pulled harder.
I was suddenly faced with the Fort Knox of knots. Stubbornly tiny and tight, I realized I would knot be wearing my awesome pants anytime soon and sighed in frustration as I tossed them into the drawer.
Over the next week I probably pulled those pants out three or four times only to remember the knot and toss them back into the drawer. I was always rushing to get dressed or just didn’t want to get into what I was sure would be a long, epic battle with my tiny nemesis.
The day I finally grabbed some tweezers and turned my attention to the knot I was shocked that it took less than a minute to undo. I laughed as the metaphoric lessons flooded in…
I thought about how often we try and fix things with force; we pull harder, try harder, or give greater effort when a more gentle approach is what’s needed.
I wondered how often we let little things hold us back from what we want. I let a tiny knot keep me from putting on my awesome pants. I just kept tossing the pants back in the drawer instead of meeting the problem head on.
I kept tossing the pants back in the drawer because I thought the process of undoing the knot would be difficult and time-consuming. I had other pants I could wear, and so I avoided the knot again and again because in the moment it was easier to simply choose something else. 
I thought about often we allow ourselves to stay stuck instead of doing the work to fix whatever is holding us back. It took tweezers and a few moments of attentiveness and patience to get back into my favorite pants. I dreaded having to undo a tiny knot when bigger things like jobs, and relationships, and limiting beliefs about ourselves are the really important things that can keep us stuck for years.
I realized, however, that no matter the complexity of our knots the process of undoing is the same; we need tools, attention, and time. Undoing can be painful. It can be frustrating. It can seem so challenging that choosing other things becomes the easy way to navigate around doing the work it would take to get free.
Yet as daunting as it may seem, if acquiring the right tools and giving whatever has you knotted up the time and attention required gets you back into your awesome pants - well, I’d argue that’s worth it every time.

Just Keep Showing Up

Contributed by Tami Matheny - Founding Partner of Success for Teams, Owner at Refuse2Lose Coaching and author of "The Confident Athlete".

Confident athletes keep showing up believing that one day it will be their turn.   

Desiree Linden, the winner of this year's Boston Marathon exemplifies this very belief.  As she tweeted last month, “Some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better.  #Keepshowingup”. After her 5th try (she was leading and caught at the end in 2011, losing by 2 feet), she became the first US woman to win the historic race in 33 years.

Several factors related to confidence aided Linden's victory.  First, was her preparation. While many of the runners said that this year’s Boston Marathon had the most difficult conditions they had ever run in, Desiree was prepared by her training in Michigan during the winter. This preparation allowed her to embrace the difficult test in Boston that sent 81 runners to the hospital. In addition, she made sure she knew the course well, running 18 miles of it on Monday, 14 miles on Tuesday, and 20 on Wednesday.

She also prepared mentally.  She envisioned the race and what winning would looe like.  “I haven’t looked past Marathon Monday,” she said. “I think about it every day. I bring a winning attitude every day. I picture being a winner every day.”

Linden also took control of her self-talk. She admitted that she was thinking about dropping out of the race because she just didn’t feel it.  However, she was able to get past that feeling mentally and finished strong.

While preparation and one’s self-talk are critical to maintaining confidence, helping others is important as well.  When we assist others it intrinsically makes us feel better therefore boosting our confidence.  Linden told her good friend and fellow American runner, Shalane Flanagan, that she would do whatever she needed for her.  At one point, she slowed her pace to help Flanagan catch back up to the lead pack.  In doing so, Linden fueled herself as well.

Confident athletes put in the work; mentally and physically. They keep a strong mindset and they see themselves winning and being a winner. Most importantly, they keep showing up. On Marathon Monday Linden showed up and achieved a major victory. 

What do you need to keep showing up for?

10 Things Preteens Can Do To Grow As Leaders

Contributed by Molly Grisham - Founding Partner of Success for Teams and owner at A Person of Influence, LLC

A few months ago I had a speaking engagement. I was talking about leadership and after the event, a mom and her son pulled me aside to ask a question. I would guess the young man was in 5th grade. His mom shared that he was a reserved person but that he really wanted to be a leader on his team. He just wasn’t sure where to start. This post is a direct response to that question.

For every young person who wants to become a leader, don’t wait for someone to assign you a title or appoint you as a leader. Leadership is a skill and the only way to get better at leading is to practice your leadership skills. Below you will find some tangible ways that you can begin to grow as a young leader.

Please feel free to share this with young people who would benefit from this list! 

10 Things Preteens can do to Grow as Leaders

1) Ask, “How can I help?”: One of the best ways you can develop your leadership skills is to ask, “how can I help?” This shows you are willing to serve others. When you see someone doing physical tasks ask, “how can I help?” Great leaders are always looking for ways to help others. When your coach is setting up the field before practice ask, “how can I help?” When your coach is carrying equipment to the car after practice ask, “how can I help?” If a parent is bringing water to the field ask, “how can I help?”

2) Connect with Your Coach: To be a leader on your team, you may need to serve as a bridge between your coach and your teammates. Be intentional about connecting with your coach. Take a few minutes each week to get to know your coach as a person. Ask them some simple questions. For example; where did you go to college? Did you always want to be a coach? What do you love about coaching?

3) Connect with Your Teammates: In order to lead your teammates, they will need to feel a connection with you. There will always be some teammates you connect with more than others, but each teammate will need to know that they have a connection with you. During the course of a week purposefully divide your time between your teammates. Ask different people to warm up with you or to do drills with you, sit by a different teammate on the bench, and walk off the field with different players so you can connect with them.

4) Express Gratitude: One of the ways leaders can grow is by expressing gratitude. Be intentional about saying thank you to the adults who are a part of your team. This includes your coaches, the referees, and parents. By saying “thank you” are practicing gratitude which is an important leadership skill.

5) Do the Dirty Work: It is important that as a leader you are willing to do the tasks that others do not want to do. Look for moments when you can do “the dirty work” like picking up the trash around your field, carrying equipment, or collecting balls that might have gone out of bounds.

6) Take Care of Your People: Leaders are always thinking about others. When you know a teammate is struggling with something reach out to let them know you care. A simple text, a card signed by the team, or inviting them out for lunch when you know they are having a hard time will let them know that you care for them.

7) Find a mentor: All leaders need a support system. As a young leader think about an adult or an older teenager that you respect. It doesn’t have to be a coach. It can be someone who leads people in other ways. Ask this person if they will serve as your mentor. Request to meet with them face to face so you can ask them questions about any challenges you are dealing with. Use this time to learn from someone else who has been in your shoes.

8) Ask, “What do you need from me as a leader?”: Be willing to ask your coach, “what do you need from me as a leader?” This will demonstrate to your coach that you are willing to grow and do whatever the team needs. By asking this question you will better understand how you can best be a leader on your team.

9) Support Another Leader: Great leaders understand the value in supporting other leaders. When you see a teammate stepping up as a leader be sure to support that person. If a teammate speaks up, look them in the eye and give them verbal feedback. Say things like, “you are right” or, “that’s a good idea” or, “thanks for speaking up.” This lets them know that you support them in their desire to develop as a leader.

10) Be the First: As a leader, there will be times that you will need to “be the first.” When your teammates are complaining about the officials you may need to be the first to say something positive. When the team isn’t giving their best in practice you may need to be the first to give your 100% best effort. When the game takes a physical turn and players are getting out of control you may need to be the first to tell your teammates that this isn’t how we should act. Great leaders are willing to be the first in difficult situations.

Patrick Reed: Mental Toughness at it's Best

Contributed by Tami Matheny - Founding Partner of Success for Teams, Owner at Refuse2Lose Coaching and author of "The Confident Athlete"

Patrick Reed may be the least loved Masters winner of all time but he has to be near the top for most mentally tough.  He seems to thrive on pressure; from being disliked.

Mental toughness is nothing more than what you focus on and Reed demonstrated that throughout his 4 day reign at Augusta National. When McIlroy received the bigger cheer walking up to the first tee for the final round, what did Reed focus on?  “Not only did it fuel my fire a little bit, but also, it just takes the pressure off of me and adds it back to him.” This reframe is a character trait of mentally tough individuals. They take whatever circumstance or event and turn it into something that fuels them. I like to tell athletes I work with that everything can fuel you or fail you, and you are the one that gets to decide which one by what you focus on.

During the final round, Reed had numerous opportunities to choke.  He gradually saw his 3 stroke lead evaporate yet each time it looked like he was on the edge of faltering, he came back with a tough shot or save. Athletes often change their focus when they lose a lead instead of getting back to what it was that got them to where they were. As Reed said, “…I just went out there and just tried to play golf the best I could and tried to stay in the moment and not worry about everything else.”  Choking happens when an athlete focuses too much on things that should be automatic. Mentally tough athletes learn to change their focus and it appears Reed was able to do just that.

Additionally, Reed was for all intensive purposes alone out there with just his caddie and himself while other golfers had the emotional support of the crowd. However, confident athletes learn to be their own best friend. All that matters when you are competing is what you think and if your thoughts are helping or hurting you. I’d guess the majority of Reed’s thoughts were framed to help him.

Whether you like Reed or not, you can definitely learn from him. Start changing what you focus on and watch you game improve. What you focus on grows.  #TheConfidentAthlete

For more tips on how to improve your confidence, check out “The Confident Athlete: 4 Easy Steps to Build and Maintain Confidence". It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

How to End an Argument

Contributed by Betsy Butterick - Founding Partner of Success for Teams and The Coaches Coach & Communication Specialist at Butterick Creative Consulting

For much of my life I was that person who “didn’t like confrontation”. Arguing or fighting with someone tied my stomach in knots and knowing that someone was upset with me left me feeling sick until the matter was resolved.

With time, a little maturity, and plenty of practice I’ve been able to reframe “confrontation” as “caring conversation”; understanding that without the negative connotation, confrontation can be a very helpful, direct, and respect-filled process of communication.

Just as confrontations can yield valuable results, arguments can actually improve relationships and deepen the connection between people when tackled skillfully. In service of finding the silver lining in any tiff, here is what I’ve observed over the years as the most effective way to end an argument.

1. Apologize - Identify something in the context of the argument for which you are genuinely sorry for having said or done. There exists a common misconception that the first to say “I’m sorry” loses. In truth, the first to say, “I’m sorry” gifts themself initial control of the arguments resolution. A sincere apology is much like putting your weapon down – an unmistakable gesture of a desire for peace.

Note: Saying, “Well I’m sorry you don’t see it my way” isn’t the type of apology we’re looking for here. If you’re struggling to find something to apologize for try something along the lines of, “I’m sorry our last conversation ended the way that it did.” Remember, this is a peace offering.

2. Accountability – Take accountability for your role in the argument by using “I” statements. Express your perspective or interpretation of the situation while taking complete ownership of your words and actions. If at any point during the argument you feel you were out of line or acted inappropriately, this is the perfect time to admit it openly and honestly.

3. Acknowledge – Recognize the viewpoint, feelings, opinion or position of the other person. This is the part where you can articulate the differences or points of contention in the argument without being combative. Doing so shows that you have heard and understand the other side of the argument (even if you don’t agree).

4. Ask – Inquire about what steps can be taken to resolve the issue at hand. Even something as simple as, “Can we agree to disagree on this one?” signals that you are making an effort to move towards resolution.

5. Accept – To accept is to recognize that people will move through their own process at their own pace. Accepting means doing your part to bring about peace, and then letting the resolution develop without expectation. Accept that despite your best efforts some folks may choose to hold on to anger, or will need time or space before they are ready to engage again. 

Ending an argument isn’t a linear process and you can move through the steps above in whatever way best suits your resolution. Below is an example for resolving an argument that arose from causing someone to be late.

“Can we talk about what happened yesterday?” (Ask) “I know how important it is to you to be on time” (Acknowledge) “and I’m sorry for making us late for the show” (Apologize). “I wanted to finish the project I was working on before picking you up, but I realize now that it could have waited, and that my decision was selfish” (Accountability).

Armed with this knowledge, may you fight the good fight and bring peaceful resolution to battles big and small.

Do You Suck or Are You Due?

Contributed by Betsy Butterick - Founding Partner of Success for Teams and The Coaches Coach & Communication Specialist at Butterick Creative Consulting

Let’s set the stage: Major League Baseball is featuring Game 3 of the National League Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets. The series is tied 1-1 and it’s the top of the 2nd inning. The score is 0-0 with two outs and runners on 1st and 2nd as Yasmani Grandal steps up to the plate for the Dodgers.

A stat pops up on the screen and the announcers tell us that Mets fans have something to cheer about as Grandal is a whopping 0-22 when at bat with runners in scoring position.

My friend’s Dad, an ex-Dodger himself, says “Alright Bets, 0 for 22… does he suck or is he due?”

The optimist inside me screamed, “He’s DUUUUUE!!” and was promptly punched in the gut by the reality of 0 for 22. Reality told me 0 for 22 was bad. Really bad.  If I knew nothing about baseball and you asked me if I wanna put a guy at bat who hasn’t driven in a run the last 22 times he’s had the opportunity I’d think you were crazy.

0 for 22. Does he suck or is he due?

The pitcher wound up and Grandal answered our question with a bullet through the gap to drive in both runners. He was DUE!

The Mets went on to win Game 3 but I couldn't stop thinking about Grandal and the question, “Does he suck or is he due?”

The poor guy failed 22 times before he succeeded in driving in a run. With the weight of going 0 for 22 staring him in the face, something in Grandal defied the odds and changed the game.

Think about it - in Grandal’s situation it would be sooooo easy to suck. So simple to get up there, take your cuts, and sit down at 0 for 23. I mean what’s one more of the same when 22 tries have all told you, “you can’t.”

Now think about this – what an incredible difference it would make to think with every failure that we're now one step closer to success.

0 for 22 is a lot of failure. 0 for 22 makes a strong case for sucking. And, 0 for 22 is a helluva stage for success.

Think about where you’ve been failing recently. What is it that you arguably suck at? Where is it uncomfortable to go right now? What could happen that hasn’t yet?

The choice is up to you if you suck or if you’re due.

Let’s change the game ;)

Deep Roots

Contributed by Molly Grisham - Founding Partner of Success for Teams and owner at A Person of Influence, LLC

When I was a kid there was a tree in our front yard. I used to race home from elementary school to climb that tree. I wanted to see just how high I could climb. I loved to push my luck as I inched dangerously higher and higher than the day before. As a kid, it was all about how high I could climb but as an adult I often find myself thinking more about a tree’s roots and less about how high the branches extend.

Roots matter. They provide a tree with the nutrients it needs to survive. Deep roots also provide a tree with the stability it needs to withstand a storm. Strong winds may come but a tree with deep roots will survive that storm.

But the redwood trees are an exception to this truth. These trees often grow to well over 300 feet tall and many can be found standing strong at 20 plus feet in diameter. People travel the globe just to see the redwoods with their own eyes. These trees tower over all other trees and their height alone should make them susceptible to damage. A redwood should be an easy target in a heavy rainstorm, a tornado, or when lightning is present, but these trees are very resilient. By looking at a redwood one could easily assume that their roots go to the center of the earth to supply all the nutrients and stability that such a massive living structure would need to survive. But that isn’t the case. The redwoods have a unique root system that typically goes just 6-12 feet deep. How is it possible that these trees rarely fall over?

The redwoods stay standing because their shallow roots intertwine with the roots of the other redwood trees so they are literally holding each other up. The trees grow in close proximity to each other so they can share nutrients and physically support each other. Beneath the surface, it’s as if the redwoods are standing with their arms locked together. They are saying, “we are in this together, we are one, if you want to knock one of us down, you’ll have to knock us all down.” Their roots provide strength and their strength lies in their connection with each other.

The moral of the story? Plant yourself next to good people and find ways to purposefully connect with them.  When you do you will find that you can survive the most difficult trials by relying on and providing for those around you.

Being connected to others matters. When people and teams stay connected they share their resources and provide strength for each other and when that happens everyone has the potential to grow to new heights.

What are your roots connected to?

The Struggle of the Butterfly

Contributed by Tami Matheny - Founding Partner of Success for Teams, Owner at Refuse2Lose Coaching and author of "The Confident Athlete"

New life and new beginnings are synonymous with Spring time.  One of my favorite metaphors for athletes as we spring forward, is the “Struggle of the Butterfly.

One day a man found a cocoon lying in the grass and he picked it up. When he examined it, he noticed a tiny hole forming on one of the sides and as he looked inside, he could see the soon-to-be butterfly. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.  The man thought the hole looked too small and that the butterfly was stuck.

So, the man decided to help the butterfly. He took out his penknife and enlarged the hole. The butterfly emerged easily, although it had a swollen body and small, malformed wings.

He kept waiting for the wings to develop so that the butterfly would be able to fly.  But that didn’t happen. The butterfly spent the rest of its life unable to fly, crawling around with tiny wings and a swollen body.

Despite the kind act of the man, he didn’t understand that the struggle required by the butterfly to get itself through the small opening was nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into it's wings to prepare itself to fly once it was out of the cocoon.  The butterfly needs this struggle for healthy development.  Robbed of this struggle, the butterfly is crippled.

Moral of the story for parents:  When parents want to help and protect their children, they can inadvertently hinder and even stunt their offspring's emotional and athletic development.

Moral for the story for athletes:  Struggles will develop your strengths. Without struggles it’s hard to grow and get stronger.  Frustration, adversity and challenges are necessary in order for you to become the best athlete you can be. You don't learn to get tough without going through tough times. Start embracing the struggle!


What My PC Taught Me

Contributed by Betsy Butterick - Founding Partner of Success for Teams and The Coaches Coach & Communication Specialist at Butterick Creative Consulting

Though I grew up in a Mac family I sometimes use a PC for work. Before a webinar yesterday my PC alerted me that it needed to update. I began the process and after a few minutes a blue screen popped up with the following message, 

“Working on updates 3%
Don’t turn off your PC. This will take a while.
Your PC will restart several times.”

I sat looking at the screen and began thinking about that message and how it applies not just to computers, but also to people.
Think about all the times you’ve interacted with others while some major update is processing internally. Except there’s no blue screen. No clear indication that we’re going through something and may not be operating at our best.
Sometimes we lack the words to say, “I’m not okay” or “I could use some help” or “there’s a lot going on but I don’t want to talk about it”… all the while silently hoping that people will be patient with us.

“please don’t turn me off… this may take a while.”

Life is full of updates. May we support each other through all the restarts.

Tiny Hands

Contributed by Molly Grisham - Founding Partner of Success for Teams and owner at A Person of Influence, LLC

I recently did some leadership development and teambuilding with a high school hockey team. On my closing day, they gave me a gift bag. One of the items included was a pair of tiny rubber hands – I know, I was confused too! The girls could sense my confusion and they started yelling that I needed to put the tiny hands on my fingers and pull my shirt sleeves down to make it look like these were my actual hands. I complied and we all had a good laugh, but I was still a little confused.

The coaches explained to me that during the previous season the term “tiny wins” was their catchphrase. They were building the program and they focused on the little things, the little wins, and fittingly the tiny hands became symbolic of tiny wins.

I strongly believe that healthy cultures focus on the tiny wins. Leaders who do this understand the behaviors needed to create those tiny wins are the same behaviors that create the big wins.

Many years ago I took over a college soccer program that had hit rock bottom. In the previous season, the team had gone 1-18-1 while giving up 84 goals. I knew my first year was going to be about teaching them how to win while not actually winning very many games. It was going to be a long process but I was confident that we could teach them the skills needed to be successful. My plan was to place a high value on academics knowing that winners need good time management skills. We drew a hard line on alcohol consumption knowing that winners have self-discipline. We had clear expectations about what to eat because winners make good decisions. We didn’t just set these as rules for our program, we also talked about how we were developing the skills which would lead to wins. Additionally, we filled our training sessions with competitions and we celebrated each of the victories. We created opportunities for tiny wins in our program.

We also spent an insane amount of hours doing service learning projects in our community. This was a positive experience because of the deeper sense of connection that we made with each other, not to mention the value we added to our community. As a result of our service in the community, we were given an award at our athletic department banquet. The award was a surprise to the team but I’ll never forget the moment. One of our juniors who really struggled with the on-field losses said to me with a massive grin on her face, “it just feels so good to win SOMETHING!”

And, our tiny wins added up. The next season we went 8-5-5 and it was the first winning season for those seniors. It wasn’t that we magically became great soccer players, we simply learned how to do the little things. We were intentional about creating moments for tiny wins.

If you want to change the culture you are in think about the tiny wins you can work toward. Invest in those areas and celebrate your success. The tiny wins will develop the skills need to create the big wins.

Also, you should buy some tiny rubber hands to serve as a reminder of what you are working towards ;)