Motivation is like a Puppy (a second look)

Recently I was in Whistler BC on a ski vacation and ran into Alexa Loo, a 2x Olympic Snowboarder (2006, 2010), a CPA and now Member of City Council for Richmond BC. It was awesome to see her again, she is doing great work for her community. She reminded me of a message that I had shared with the Olympic team back in 2009. I love with this happens… a) it’s very flattering to hear that a message had such a long lasting impact – and b) it’s just fun to have ideals like this brought back to the top of the pile! In a nut shell – as you work on improving – don’t get stuck focussing on only the things you aren’t doing … be proud of what you are doing, work on that, build on that. Be motivated by what you can do, AND be motivated by the desire to do the things that you can’t (yet!) do. hmmm… maybe this is where my thoughts on focusing on your “Done List” started?!! Here it is again….

Apparently getting motivated and inspired is easy. Staying motivated and inspired… that’s the hard part!

Off-season training is a back-to-basics time; lots and lots of volume designed to build and support your strength and fitness. If you get much intensity (fun!), it comes on the back of lots of the volume and fatigue, often making the effort feel sluggish and heavy. But this is not the time to go mindlessly through the motions – it is a prime opportunity to break bad habits and entrench new efficient motions. But we all know this is easier said than done.

Consider the chart Johann Koss drew for us at the Olympic Excellence Series meeting …

Here we show the Olympic Champion as at the pinnacle of Technical Achievement – the gold standard. Under the diagonal line is everything an athlete IS DOING (DOING RIGHT); this increases and improves over time. Over the diagonal line is everything an athlete is NOT DOING (or DOING WRONG), this is decreasing over time as we close the gap on (and become!!!) the Olympic Champion. Unfortunately, as we all know, development is not this nice and linear – but we can dream!

Johann used this chart to caution coaches from getting stuck spending “50%” of time coaching what an athlete is NOT doing (or DOING WRONG) for an entire career.  Certainly a developing athlete (blue zones) has a lot to learn and, in comparison to the Olympic Champion, is doing a lot wrong.  But an athlete who is about to become the Olympic Champion is doing far more right (green) than wrong (red). Johann suggested this needs to be reflected in coaching.

An athlete’s motivation can get stuck the same way. Criticisms always linger longer than compliments,  and it’s far too easy to get caught staring at the ‘red’ zone of what you AREN’T doing than remembering to be confident, motivated and inspired based on what you ARE doing. Don’t forget all that you have achieved in your ‘green’ zone!!  Keep your (respectful) swagger! You’ve earned it.

As you continue to develop as a top level athlete you will learn that inspiration and motivation are like puppies!! Everyone loves to have them around, but they aren’t so great with coming when told and aren’t so great at “STAY” either!

I believe the trait for people who are career champions – those able to be successful time and time again – is that they don’t expect inspiration and motivation to come from the same place all the time. Sometimes they take motivation from the stuff they ARE doing (below the line) and sometimes it comes from what they ARE NOT yet doing (above the line).

Some days you are inspired/ motivated A) to win, to be the best. B) to beat the people around you, C) to not be beaten. (three very different days!) Some days you are inspired/ motivated by the effort and talent of people around you.  Some days you are not inspired at all but you are motivated because those people expect you to be there. Some days you are inspired/ motivated by the beauty and effort of your sport and because you know you are very, very good at something. For me… some days I’m motivated   simply because people expect me to be motivated – so I have to dig and dig and find it – somewhere – in some bizarre little detail. Their expectations can save me on days when they know I have it… but I doubt it.

So… here’s the summation – Yes – you should be looking at a tremendous amount of work in front of you, and it will require a fair bit of critical feedback, you will make mistakes and your motivation and inspiration will be tested. There is a lot that needs to be done in the next 250+ days for you to be successful. And – Yes- you are absolutely capable of doing it all because you have already come so far, and done so much.  You have so many sources of motivation and inspiration in you and around you… Be the champion you are and use them all!!!

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