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Posts Tagged ‘2010’

From bad to worse..

8-1

That was the score of the Canucks loss last night.  The players looked visibly shocked, the coaches had no idea what to do and a city bustling with Olympic-like pride and gusto was immediately humbled.

Predictions were generous before the game – Canucks were getting better every game, every series.  Luongo seemed poised and confident, and our record was improving – 7 games in the first round, 6 games in the second, 5 in the 4th… and what was left?  A Four Game sweep of course!

So, if not a sweep, now what?

As an athlete and now a coach, I’ve often gotten caught up in the energy of “perfection”.  It’s what makes athletes, coaches, GM’s and franchises excellent – seeking perfect performances and doing every little thing that it takes to accomplish that.  And here’s where it gets tricky… we can train with perfection in mind but the second we try to play games perfectly is where things go wrong, because it’s very rare for a game to go exactly as we planned or envisioned…  We then miss opportunities as we search for the perfect play; we get caught up in our own mistakes, failing to move on from them; and when things don’t go well  we start to play with fear and caution.

There are a couple of ways to analyse why it happens that way- For all of those “The Secret” believers out there- Law of Attraction is the source of this. What we think about we attract.  Fear breeds the manifestation of fear.  Worrying about making mistakes breeds mistakes etc. etc. etc.  Our minds do not know the difference between what we want and what we don’t want.  It just produces what is on our mind.

And for those scientists out there, it’s pretty simple what happens.  Fear and nerves cause blood flow to pool in the stomach, thereby starving the extremities (aka arms and legs!), and so movement is not only restricted but our reflexes are much slower.  Looking back on last night’s game, does that sound familiar?

This is the “perfectionism trap”.  Perfectionism is great when things are, well, perfect.  But it quickly breaks down when things go wrong as it seems that there is no way out as we have already failed to be perfect.

So what now for the Canucks?  How do you regroup and come back from that performance?  I can’t say that I have the exact answer, but I think that the worse thing that they could do is overanalyze their performance.  They could go into strategy and technical aspects of the game and get caught up in what to change, but the truth is that the change that needs to happen is within them already.  They need to be okay with not being perfect, and have a little humour about the lesson they were given.  Trying to avenge a loss, or prove something to their fans will give them just that – a game spent trying and proving.  it’s uninspiring to watch, and even more uninspiring to play that way.

But I imagine they already know this.  They play week after week, in do or die situations.  They experience the best and worst of themselves on that ice day after day and so they are used to this and get coached through it.  They know how it goes.  But what about everyone else?

I’ve always said that the reason I was addicted to volleyball was because I could go through years of growth in 1 hour on the court. There is a start, middle and end to the game; you see what kind of teammate/partner you are; you see how you think and react when things are close- do you make the right play, do you get scared, do you blame your coach, yourself or teammate?  And then you finish the game, debrief, need to forget it and move on, while implementing new better ways to be in the future.  If this is not life, I don’t know what is!

But normally we don’t get to do the whole thing in such a short time.  Usually it gets stretched out over weeks, months, years and it feels neverending.  A bad play in hockey may see your team at a disadvantage for 5 minutes, but in life a bad decision could cost us years of discomfort, which really wears people down.  And so it gets really tough to forget the mistake and move on… to move past it with the information we learned and make different choices.  In fact, often there is so much time between the action and the result that we often lose sight of what caused what.  And then we (accidently) keep making the same mistake over and over and wonder why we ended up in the same place again.

It happens with work, money, dating, and family.  I’ve seen numerous friends find themselves in relationships with THAT guy that they tried to avoid.  Or people that keep ending up working with terrible bosses or who are perpetually broke no matter what kind of money they are making.

The question is, do we need a referee and a coach around or can we figure it out on our own?  When we make a mistake, do we know ourselves well enough to call the penalty, put ourselves in the box for 5 minutes, and then get back on the ice and play differently?  Or do we keep trying to play “through it” and force our game plan no matter what the other team is doing?  And though the Canucks got to walk away after 2 1/2 hours of playing with an 8-1 loss, what does that transfer into in real life?  Losing 8 things in real life is a much bigger deal – it may include a relationship, a house, a job, confidence, trust, time.

For me, I get stuck trying to be a perfectionist for sure.  Because it has served me in the past.  It has made me great at things and yet there is no doubt that there is a cap that it places on my life and so it’s important to look at my current situation and have a sense of whether I’m learning and changing myself or if I’m just trying to change the game.  Because 5 minutes in the penalty box may just be the perfect little time out – I mean, who knows what can happen while you’re in there… !

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I remember being 8 years old, sitting in front of the tv completely fixated on and enamoured with She-Ra: Princess of Power.  I’m not sure if it was her beauty, her strength, or the idea that she could totally take care of herself, but she was special… my superhero.

For those that don’t remember, She-Ra is the alter ego of Princess Adora and the twin sister of He-Man. She was abducted as a baby and grew up as Adora… a seemingly normal girl (not unlike myself of course…!).  When she discovers her power and transforms into She-Ra her destiny is uncovered and this normal girl becomes “The Most Powerful Woman in the Universe”.

But She-Ra was more than just a warrior.  She was nurturing in nature (as opposed to her brother’s more aggressively-based powers), was empathic,  understanding and was able to communication with animals.

Not a bad role model to have, right?

I don’t think that I’ve thought about She-Ra since I was 12 or so.  Today I walked by a Lululemon bag that said “Unwrap your Super Powers” and of course she came to mind.  Which led me to the question: what happened when I started growing up that I forgot that I once had this character that I dreamt about being and perhaps even truly believed in at some level?  Did I replace it with something else or did I just stop imagining?

I’m not sure what the answer is, but something tells me that it’s a combination of both.  I have a feeling we are encouraged to get “realistic”.   Do we stop believing in the magic of transformation and do we cease to see our own unlimited possibilities? Maybe we start to succumb to the societal assumption that we can only hope for that which our parents had, only experience 50% of our marriages being successful and grind our way through our 30’s,40’s and 50’s in hope of security only to realize that we forgot to truly live life along the way.

And while I had a relatively awesome childhood I still struggle to see past some of my own limiting beliefs about myself. I notice that I sometimes buckle to my own insecurities and the more I do it, the more normal it becomes.  Many of the people around me do the same thing and  it becomes so engrained in who I become that I stop seeing that it is not true, it’s just the reality that I’ve surrounded myself with.

See, the thing about She-Ra was that I let her into a place in my imagination that defied my own reality.  And I think I knew deep down that I didn’t have the magic that would transform Spirit into Swift Wind (a talking winged unicorn), but it opened up a part of my mind to start believing in things outside of my own experience, circumstances and existence.

One of the most unusual and creative sport psych tools I have ever heard about was with the sliding team prior to the 2010 Olympics.  They individually met with a Shaman who helped them connect with their own spirit animals.  John Montgomery, skeleton Gold Medallist had a turtle.  With the symbol placed on his helmet, he visualized the turtle sliding with him down the track- smoothly, effortlessly and quickly…

I think there is something about stepping outside of what we consider our own limits, our own bodies and our own minds.  In times where our inner excellence is tested, a fear is being realized or a limit is being set on us, what if we connect to our own inner superhero?  Whether it is one that already exists that possesses all of the qualities that we yearn to have, or perhaps one that we create on our own, why not step into their world, even just for a moment, and see if solutions appear and goals are met.  AND at the same time creatively play in this world!

So in my life, She-Ra has been rediscovered.  I see her differently now than I used to.  Where I used to take her battles at face value, I now see how similar they are to my own.  I see how she never uses her magic sword on the offensive, but only to defend herself if need be.  She never hurts human beings, and she always finds time to connect with family and animals.  Sure, she is beautiful, but it’s no longer about her long blonde hair- her beauty is more about how she finally knows who she is.  And lastly, where I used to notice what she was doing, I now notice how she was doing it.  There is an art to the way she moves and the way she handles a challenge.

So what is my Super Power?  Today it is unleashed imagination!  I’m not sure that Swift Wind will show up on my doorstep, but the fact that I don’t know what will show up means I’m on the right path…

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So 2010 has arrived – somehow, someway a decade has passed since the monumental arrival of the 21st century!  I honestly cannot believe that it has been ten years since the world was supposed to end 😉

This year was a big year for me – I turned (gasp) 30; “lost” myself, “found” myself;  lived in Orange County and Vancouver; dated a lot, didn’t date; played the best volleyball of my career as well as the worst; was in the best shape of my life, and got injured; I learned how success is a product of  focus and commitment, but how it can be trumped by mindlessness and overtraining; and I learned that the source of greatness is in happiness and fun!

So now that 2009 is over, it’s time to declare my intentions for the new year.  To learn from and remember the past, but to not be defined by it so that I can create anything and everything I want – BOLDNESS, BEAUTIFULNESS and BRAVENESS in 2010.

Bold

So when I think of boldness, I think of that feeling that you have as a kid- the one where you believe that anything is possible, life is limitless and where you don’t think about how you need to be … you just ARE.  This year I am making my intentions bold and I know that in doing that, all the decisions I need to make and actions I need to take will be crystal clear.  In volleyball, I want to have a top 10 performance on the AVP, and be in the top 25 on the FIVB.  I know that’s a big goal and I’m ready to go after it boldly and with focused intention.  And I’m going to have lots of fun doing it! 

“Laugh at yourself, but don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself.  Be bold.  When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on the shore.  Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.”
– Alan Alda   

Beautiful

I love beauty.  I think that there is beauty in every single human being, animal, moment and piece of this earth and I want to have awareness to be able to see it.  I also want to create beautiful things this year for others to enjoy, whether it is through writing, producing, or designing amazing swimsuits with www.vivvos.com!!  Life is only as good as your ability to share what you do!

“A heart in love with beauty never grows old”
– Anonymous

Brave

This is the part where character comes in… when push comes to shove, who will I be?    When I’m serving on game point, will I go for it?  When faced with a decision in love, will I take a risk?  My answer this year is YES!  I will subscribe to the notion of a high risk, high reward life and see how it rolls out.  And be okay with however it rolls out- win or lose 🙂

“Be convinced that to be happy means to be free and that to be free means to be brave.”
– Thucydides

So this is the way that I’m starting 2010 and I know I will need to be held accountable.  I know there will be moments when I’m indicisive, where it seems easier to play it safe, or to do what I know  rather than that which will take me to new places in my life.  I guess that’s when I am going to lean on my family and friends and ask them to remind me of the big picture and of what I committed to.  So…  here’s to 2010  (clink!).

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