Posts Tagged ‘career’

From bad to worse..


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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Rain is a Good Thing – Luke Bryan

My daddy spent his life lookin’ up at the sky
He’d cuss, kick the dust, sayin’ son it’s way too dry
It clouds up in the city, the weather man complains
But where I come from, rain is a good thing

Rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey
Whiskey makes my baby feel a little frisky
Back roads are boggin’ up, my buddies pile up in my truck. We hunt our honeys down, we take ’em into town
Start washin’ all our worries down the drain
Rain is a good thing

Okay so anyone who knows me… and I mean really really knows me, knows that deep down, way down – I’m a country girl at heart.  I can two step with the best of em, I know what “boot scootin boogie” is, and i’ve had more than one long summer night listening to “fishin’ in the dark”.  I learned to shoot a gun in elementary school, know what 4-H is and I just can’t help but fall for a guy in a cowboy hat 😉

So when I heard Luke Bryan’s new song (above) I loved it.  It was simple, it was country cheesy (I mean, there was no talk about losing his wife, home and dog but still…), and it is true-  I mean, a little rain leads to a hot night out!  One thing (rain) creates another (corn, whisky), which results in a night ripping up the main street drag.

One of my best friends, Mae, is such a great example of this.  She’s been trying to find a job for about a year and because of that, has held off on a bunch of things that she wanted to do.  She kept waiting for the job to come in order to figure out the rest of her life but she totally had it backwards – this proving true when she spontaneously adopted a new puppy.  Literally as soon as actually followed her heart and got the puppy she’d been yearning for, she got a job offer.  Coincidence, maybe, but I doubt it.  There is something about doing what you feel is right, regardless of your circumstances, that I believe is the key to getting the circumstances you want.

Which is why I’m a bit at a loss right now.  I am waiting for my circumstances to come together to move forward.  It feels like the right thing to do… feels like the safe thing – almost like I’m waiting for a sign.  But I think what is instinctual is not necessarily the way it works, because I think that instinct is sometimes created by fear.  Maybe I need to move forward and choose something regardless of my circumstances,   and then the circumstances would present themselves.  Mae wanted a settled, financially secured life where she could have a home and a dog.  So she skipped the financially secure part and headed straight for the result… and life filled in the blanks.  Luke Bryan wanted a night out, so he appreciated the rain.  Seems unrelated but is it?

It really comes back to two stepping.  Do you choose that guy that doesn’t really know the dance steps? The one who you know is just trying not to F up the steps and lays his hand stiffly above the small of your back.  He tries to turn you but is so indirect that he just kind of pushes you and you hesitantly spin, missing the beat, almost stepping on his toes and ended up nose to nose and unsure how to get back into step?  Come on, you’ve ALL been there!!!  OR, do you just go with the guy who knows how to lead?  He may not be the man of your dreams, but the certainty of his steps allow you to get lost in the moment and just live  the dance.  You turn, you move together, you may spin once or one too many times, but at the end of it, you know you left it all on the dancefloor!  And you can then choose to dance with him again or not, but at least you know exactly what you are choosing cause you danced full out 🙂  With the other guy, it would probably take 5 dances to finally get some rhythm.  Not that either choice is bad, but my gut right now is that guy #2 is the best option for me.

Which in real life means that I need to just choose boldly my next step and see how life lines up to allow it to happen.  Because being unsure and “open” causes confusion and I never really know what I am choosing between.  So time to let it rain, and grow corn, and make the whisky.  Cause I like my men a little frisky 😉  [insert line about losing my house, my wife and my dog here]

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Paleo-Pup has figured it out!

Meet Izzy, aka Paleo-Pup… this is my coach, Brian MacKenzie’s pitbull.  She’s the sweetest, most gorgeous, and sickly athletic dog I know… I fell in love with her at first sight, and it goes without saying that we’ll be buddies for life.  I’m kind of hoping to get one of my own soon but until then, I get to puppysit!  I chose this picture cause I totally identify with her being injured- the difference is that I’m still nursing mine 1 year later and she was out of the cast and running in 2 months!

So why do we call her paleo-pup?   Well, her diet is clean.. I mean, super clean.  She eats only raw food, and it’s paleo style which means, in laymans terms, she eats like a caveman (or woman 😉 )  Now, I’m not going to get into the price and the inconvenience of feeding her, BUT today when I was sitting down with a nutritionist, it occurred to me two things:

1.  I need an intervention because I’ve been justifying cinnamon toast crunch as a “healthy grain” and

2.  I feed my dog, my plants and my lawn more purposefully than I do myself

This is coming from a girl who, without a doubt, has tried it all.  I’ve been a vegetarian… had to get woken up by my coach before every practice because I didn’t realize that being vegetarian meant more than eating vegetables!  I’ve done the Zone, measuring and weighing every ounce I put into my body, and filling my parents fridge with countless containers of  “1 1/2 portions of lettuce”, which is about 8 cups!!.  I’ve also done Paleo, where my bank account took a beating and I gained  20 lbs of muscle and lost 4% bodyfat in 6 weeks.  And then I sunk in the sand…  I’ve tried supplements, vitamins, protein shakes, chia seeds… you name it, I could tell you about it and exactly what kind of result you can expect if you do it.

And where does that leave me?  With a whole lot of information, and no plan.  So today I met with Orsha Magyar, who is a holistic nutritionist  (just because I know a bunch of people are going to ask… if you want to get ahold of her, phone 604-737-0799).   She was so practical, so knowledgable and so giving of her time – and gave me REAL advice about how to recover from this injury (anti-inflammatory foods), how to eat to perform both physically and mentally, and how to get the most from supplements.

So why am I blogging about this? Well, I started to think about how important our health is, and what awareness we have about what we put into our mouths.  Do we actually know what we are doing to ourselves?

For me, I have trouble prioritizing something that I can’t see.  Like, okay, if I want to lose weight, then I know I need to eat less calories, right?  So I know that I need to choose certain foods to accomplish that.  But what about some of the effects of eating that we don’t see… and that maybe we attribute to something else.  Is it simply coincidental that I was diagnosed with ADHD 2 years ago when I had cut carbohydrates out of my diet?  I had never had problems focussing, and all of a sudden I can’t keep my head in the game.  Or what about when we get sick?  Is it fair to assume that what we fuel ourselves with impacts our immune system, our ability to fight off sickness and disease?  So can it really be healthy to drink Diet Coke, even though it’s calorie free?

And does it make any sense at all that we know more about what is in our dogs food, or what type of fertilizer we need to use to grow better grass, than we do about what we have for lunch?  Now I don’t mean to have an intervention with everybody about what they eat because god knows I love a good piece of chocolate, but do you think, just possibly that if we saw our own body as a  powerful machine that we have control over, possible of anything from running a marathon, to having amazing healthy children, to fighting cancer, to aging beautifully and gracefully, to winning a gold medal in 2012, that we would change what we do?  I think that if we looked at ourselves this way, we only gave it the absolute BEST because we would love and appreciate it.

And it is impossible to stop at just our bodies if our mind shifts in this way.  Wouldn’t we then only expect the best in other facets of our lives?  Our dating lives, our marriage, our education, our jobs…  Because that which we do one thing, we do everything.  If we cut a corner in our job, what is the chance that we don’t justify cutting a corner with our relationship with our family?  When I lie to myself about what I ate in a day, don’t you think it’s likely that I’ve lacked integrity in another area of my life?  If I continuously honour everything over my own health (like deadlines, kids, job, drinking), then who and what will I attract into my life?

Our health is so vital to accomplishing anything in life.  We are more confident, strong, focussed, and energetic.  And I challenge anyone to tell me one thing that we do in our lives where that wouldn’t be a benefit.  And if that is the case, then why are so many people ignoring this part of their lives?   With this injury, for me, has come a lot of clarity, including the importance of rest and recovery (nutrition is a big part of this!).  Having goals and a plan for this aspect of our lives is as important as making a budget or investing money wisely.  And then honour it; honour yourself because without your health, your mental clarity, your fitness, you truly can’t enjoy the rest of your life! Most people can attest to the fact that our bodies will stop us and make us take notice one way or the other…

Let’s take a little lesson from Paleo-Pup.   She eats 4 times a day, exercises daily, naps, and cuddles often!  And she’s awfully happy 🙂 –  doesn’t everyone want to be  HAPPY?!

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”

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Running in the Zone

One thing that I know in my sport, and that most athletes know, is that we play best when in the zone.  For those who don’t know what that is, it’s this mental place where time seems to sit still, everything feels like it’s moving slowly (like in my sport, I see every cue a hitter gives me as to where she will hit the ball), I feel “on”, the game feels instinctual, and there is flow.  It is creative and though the game changes as I go, I just mold my game plan to it (I’m not attached to my plan), finding opportunities and ways to score no matter what I am given.  The one thing that always strikes me is that when I’m in the zone, I don’t seem to remember every single play that happened and I don’t think about every play that will happen… I am mindless, in some respects, but at the same time, totally mindful. Simply put, I’m present.

In a work situation, I notice the same thing. There are days where everything just works.  People are positive, documents get finished, time flies, yet all is accomplished, solutions are found.  And in relationships, it doesn’t feel hard.  You know where you stand, you may not know where you are going, but you trust the future.  We are in the zone and making things happen. 

 There are hundreds of books, writers, and sport psychologists making shitloads of money showing people how to get into the zone.  They give you tricks, processes, ideas, and yet it’s all to get to this coveted place “the zone”.  So what if it is actually simple?  What if the trick is actually to not TRY to get into the zone, but to LET yourself go into the zone.  But how?  What can we do to turn our minds off, so to speak?

Last year, I had one of the profound opportunities of my life.  I was face to face with  my favourite writer, Eckhart Tolle.  I actually had the chance to ask him anything I wanted, and here’s what I asked:

“How, when I believe that something matters and I want an end result, do I not think about it and just play?”

The reason I asked that question was because I found that when I was playing I would struggle with thinking too much about the outcome or the past when the game mattered.  I knew it wasn’t a state that allowed me to perform to the best of my abilities.  Simply put, my mind was getting in the way.

So what was his answer?  Well, he just stared at me.  Seriously.  He stood 1 foot from me, face to face and just looked at me. 

So here’s a little peek into what my mind was thinking during this time: 
“What’s he thinking? What is he going to say? Was my question good? Did he understand what I was asking? Am I supposed to be doing something?  Do I look away? Is this awkward?  Yes.  This is awkward.  No, this is nice.  Hmmm…”.  And then, I thought of nothing. 

Almost at that moment he finally spoke “Leah, do you know what I was just thinking of?”    No.     “Nothing”. 

Why?  How?

He said that when he was younger he spent loads of time thinking, analyzing, considering, and as he got older, he realized that he had more truth in BEING than he had in THINKING.  He was not his thoughts.  Truth was not in thoughts (and I just gave you a glimpse into some of my crazy thought patterns so this is a good thing for me!!) .  And it reminded me of a great stat that I learned about some of the top athletes in the world.  Compared to the 10,000 thoughts that normal human beings have a day, those elite athletes only had 2,000.  And they are experts in performance.  So then… less thinking = better performances?  Seems that is the answer to my question. 

So this is what I did (care of Eckhart) – for 1 hour a day, I practiced presence.  Every movement, touch, smell, taste etc. I focused on.  If I was washing dishes, I felt the hot water on my hands, smelled the soap, felt the coldness of the plate, and I took my time.  My eye was on the prize, and the prize was the moment.  If my mind wandered, I gently brought it back.  And I’ll tell you how surprisingly relaxing and refreshing this was (and I thought it would be boring!).  The notion was that if I practiced “turning on” my presence doing mundane tasks, then it would be more accessible when I needed it on the court.

If you agree that the only path to the future comes from the present, then shouldn’t we  focus on every present moment?  Like the dishes, for example.  I focus on washing them, putting them away, because later that night I will cook a meal, serve it on the clean dishes, the meal will be digested, and used for energy which will then allow me to perform on the court.  So washing that dish IS important in the chain.  Eckhart said this “either everything is important, or nothing is important”.  It’s a mantra that sticks with me. For me, EVERYTHING is important.

So, let me know if anyone has any other suggestions and ideas with how to be present and practice presence .  And is everything or nothing important?  I’d love to share and discuss!

www.vivvos.com (presently the best under?wear in the world)

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