Stop Trying to Get Your Skills Back!
Hi everybody. I’m coach Rebecca Smith and I’m live tonight to discuss a controversial topic. I don’t know why it feels controversial, but I’ve been feeling so impassioned in the last couple of days. I’ve been seeing these massive confidence shifts in the athletes I work within the PerformHappy community, so I’ve been thinking, “Oh my gosh, I need to get this information out to the world.” So here I am!
If you don’t already know who I am, I am the founder and CEO of Complete Performance Coaching and the PerformHappy community, an online mental training center for young athletes and their families.
It’s time to STOP!
I’m just going to dive in and say this: if you are dealing with a mental block or if your athlete is dealing with a mental block or fears, stop trying to get your skills back.
That might sound completely insane because maybe your athlete has a meet this week or maybe her team needs her points or the coach is going to kick her off the team, et cetera. I get it. There are a lot of consequences that come from having had a skill in the past and then you lose the skill. There are emotional consequences, social consequences, financial consequences, so the family is typically in panic mode when this is happening, especially when the super talented athlete who has been just swimming along all of a sudden puts on the brakes.
You’re thinking, “What’s wrong? Oh my gosh, this is not good,” but again, I’m going to tell you, stop trying to get your skills back. I’m going to explain to you why there is this misconception that when you get this skill back, you’ll be happy.
Getting Your Skill ≠ Happiness
When I was a gymnast, all I wanted was to be able to consistently do my beam series. All I wanted in the world was to just be able to confidently and consistently do it and then I would be happy. Let’s flip that example a little bit. There are a lot of people who think that when you find the one that you fall in love with and you get married, you’ll be happy. Maybe. Maybe you fall in love and it’s so wonderful and perfect, you get engaged, and it’s so magical. Then you show up on your wedding day and it’s just perfect and amazing, and then you’re married and it’s happily ever after, right?
Anybody here who’s married can probably honestly say it’s not happily ever after – marriage is a trek. It’s something that takes commitment every single day. It takes certain frames of mind to be able to tackle things in a kind, loving, patient way, a committed way.
Yes, there are amazing moments of happiness in my marriage, and there are also moments of just insane frustration. Marriage is not the thing that made my life perfect. If I’m being honest, and I think anybody out there who’s married can be honest and say marriage it didn’t solve everything. It wasn’t, “We’re married now! Check! Life is perfect, end of fairy tale.”
Fairy Tales vs. Real Life
I read these fairy tales to my daughters. I’m like, “Oh my gosh. Happily ever after.” When they get older we’ll talk about what it’s really like. I had this idea when I was young that as soon as you find your person and fall in love, it’s going to be amazing. Well, I’m on my second marriage. I ‘m not proud to announce, but my first one didn’t work out.
Now let’s think about other things. When you get into college, then you’ll really be successful. You’ll really have arrived. Well, I got into college, not my first choice, so I already felt like I was dumb because I didn’t get into my first-choice college. Then I went and I didn’t do well because for me, it was like all the emphasis was on getting into college, and I got in and then I just didn’t have the skills.
Beating Myself Up
I was 17, I was young, and I was not prepared. I did not have the skills that I needed and I had a big struggle and I actually ended up leaving college and not going back for a few years because it was I thought, “I’m too stupid. I’m not cut out for college. I can’t do this,” because all the emphasis had been put on that one thing – “I did it!” – but I did not arrive.
Here’s another example. When you buy a house, then you’ll have arrived, you’ll be successful when you get that job, when you have kids, but then you have to fix the pipes when they break in the house and you have to pay the mortgage payment. Then the kids need special help or need special attention or your kids aren’t perfect. My preschool teacher with my little girl said, “Maybe she’s bipolar, she has ADD,” and I’m thinking, “Oh my God, it’s not perfect, but I got the thing that I was supposed to get that was going to make me happy. So what? Am I just damaged and I can’t be happy?” I truly thought that those things were going to make me happy.
That is the thing that we have got to stop doing. We have to stop thinking that when she gets that tumbling pass back, the family is going to be so happy. When she starts doing her bars dismount again, you’re going to be so happy. Because guess what, that is such a minor thing in the big scheme of life. Hopefully, your kids are going to live a really, really, really long time. I want my kids to live to 172 as long (or as the earth can manage that for them). My kids should thrive and live long, happy, healthy lives and I want them to be successful and confident.
The “Milestone Trap”
I know that I fell into this trap that I think everybody else falls into. I can’t say everybody, but a lot of people fall into this trap that you have to get these certain milestones and then you’ll be okay. Here’s the thing – you have to be okay before any of it is going to work out. Here’s what I mean – I was not okay. I thought marriage was going to make me happy. Four months into that marriage, I walked away from it because was not okay. I thought that college was going to make me happy and nine months into what I walked away from it because I was miserable. This happened over and over because I was always told as a gymnast, “Just get that next thing. Get that next thing and then you’ll be okay.”
And instead of being a human being, I was a human doing. If I’m doing okay, then I’m okay, then I have value. If somebody’s paying attention to me, I’m okay, I have value. I never learned that I have value in and of myself regardless of what I do, regardless of how successful I am, whether it’s in business or with my kids or what grades my kids get.
When I had this big turnaround – and if you guys have checked out my sport confidence blueprint training than you know a little bit more about my story and how I have this big crash and burn and then this turnaround – when I met my husband, I was in a place where I thought, “I am whole. I am complete. I don’t need a partner. I’ve got a truck and a dog. I don’t need no stinking man. I love myself, I accept who I am, and I’m okay being alone.” It was at that point when I attracted the man into my life who has swept me off my feet and become the most amazing partner over the last 10 years.
Then when I decided, “I am okay. I can go back to school, I can try, I can fail, but I’m going to try. This time I’m going to try to do this thing and I’m not going to be perfect. I’m not going to take a hundred units at once. I’ll just ease in and just see what I can do.” Then I got these amazing results in school. I ended up with a 4.0 in grad school. Me, the girl who couldn’t keep it together for one year at UC Santa Cruz.
You Have to be OK
There was this thing that had to happen first before the success could happen and for me – I had to be right with myself. I had to accept and love that me and all my flawed glory was exactly right in every way, that me right now with my mental block on my back walkover on beam with my social anxiety, with my B+ in biology, I am just fine.
I don’t have to be perfect, nor do I even want to try. Being somebody I’m not in order to impress people, I didn’t have to do that… I just had to be Rebecca. That’s who I am and I show up and I reveal myself to the world because I’m okay. The reason I’m okay today is not in spite of but because of the struggles that I had in life… because of my mental block on beam, because of my divorce at 22, and because I dropped out of college.
The list goes on, and because of all those things that were hard for me, I have surrounded myself with the best, most amazing community of people that have shown me that you can do absolutely anything in this life, no matter how hard it is, if you’ve got support and if you don’t need to be perfect and you just try your best. That’s the way that I live my life today. That is the foundation of the PerformHappy mindset.
It’s Not About the Skill
Here’s the crazy thing that I’m seeing more and more as my perspective shifts on this and breaks away from my industry a little bit on this. It’s not about the skill. If you don’t get your skill, you are no less valuable. As soon as it’s not about the skill, it’s not about the performance. It’s not about being perfect and it’s not about doing better. There is this peace that comes over the athletes. There is a peace that comes over the family, and the tension that’s leading to that heightened state of anxiety, it drops, and then guess what happens? This is not the point, but what happens is you get your confidence, and you don’t just get your confidence back, you actually earn your confidence because you’ve been through hell with dignity, with grace, and with a really good attitude.
Maybe it wasn’t always good or easy, but when you climb out of the rubble like that and go, “Who cares about the stupid skill? Thank you, coaches, for working with me. Thanks to my teammates are still supportive. I’m just going to put one foot in front of the other and do what I can here. I’m going to show up because I love my friends and I love my sport, not because I need to win.”
Setting the Skills & Results Aside
Those kids who get out there when they have the anxiety, they feel like they’re going to throw up, they feel like they are going to let somebody down at every moment of their life, this I know intimately – those kids are miserable. Then there are the kids who are like, “It’s all good. It’s not about the places, the scores, or the skills,” guess what happens? The places and the scores and the skills come because they’re no longer this ball of nerves that’s completely miserable, surrounded by frantic people who are trying to fix the problem. You start just going through the journey and getting that peace of mind that comes from being in the moment and knowing that everything’s okay.
This is so much bigger you guys than one stupid skill. It’s bigger than points and bigger than scores. This is bigger than places, metals, podiums, so much bigger. If you’re making it about the stupid skill, you are missing everything.
So there’s my little crusade, there’s my soapbox. For those of you who are already in PerformHappy, I will continue my crusade with you on the live training. What I’m doing is developing this group of kids that are bulletproof, not because they don’t fail, but because they do. They do it with grace and they do it with dignity and they do it with a great attitude and then they talk about it. When they fall short, they forgive themselves and they accept themselves. They have the tools to do anything in this world. They have that ability to really trust themselves, to speak up for themselves, to be who they want to be in this world, not just do what people tell them they need to do in the world.
So there we go. Stop focusing on the skills and just fall in love with the journey. If you want help doing that, if you haven’t already, join us in the Sport Confidence Accelerator free Facebook group. You can also watch the replay of that sport confidence blue blueprint training here. You’ll get more of my story and more of the how-to behind finding that PerformHappy mindset. Thank you for watching. I’ll see you soon.