Two weeks ago, I attended the Association for Applied Sport Psychology’s (AASP) 33rd annual conference in Toronto. For those of you unfamiliar with the field of Sport Psychology, in short, we are strength coaches for your brain. Sport Psychologists provide mental skills training and interventions for athletes and nonathletes struggling with psychological components of performance. As you could imagine, gathering almost 1400 individuals interested in sport and psychology leads to many conversations about painful childhoods and parenting issues. Just kidding, but it is a very cool experience being surrounded by individuals who are receptive to your thoughts and feelings and can also talk about current state of mental health in the NCAA. Being the optimist that I am, I had set high expectations for my first time in Canada. I planned to network and expand my skill set as an aspiring sport psychologist. I had no idea this conference would transform my personal viewpoints and provide me with life lessons far beyond my academic interests.
In efforts to remember and share information I found crucial, I have summarized four days of brilliance into five talking points. Unfair, I know. Trust me, I wish you could have been there to experience the talented speakers and amazing leadership. No matter the person talking or presenting, these themes reoccurred. Five points does not do the conference justice, but I find these five points objectives we can all aim to reach every day. I am bringing you five life hacks, brought to you by the brilliant minds of AASP.
- Many of us stumble through the motions of living. We are part of everything but not really present for anything. From the distractions of our daily lives to the stressors we find impossible to overcome, so much of our energy and attention is divided. One thing we can do to make a change is to realize, we must act intentionally no matter the situation (socially or professionally). You are responsible for you. One thing AASP taught me is it is time to step-up and take responsibility. I, along with many others, aspire to “change the world.” I am challenging you, and myself, to start thinking before we act, becoming more intentional with our words, and being the change so desperately with to see in the world. Acting intentionally gives you a rejuvenated energy and “spunk” that people notice. This energy is what makes you, you. It is also the same energy we can use to change the world.
- If I had a dollar for every time I have heard the phrase “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” in the past two months, I would still be a broke grad student, but I would have physical money in my possession for the first time in three weeks. At first, this phrase sounded like an overused and under-practiced weight room slogan. However, it has become more applicable to life the more often I reflect. In life, it is easy to become complacent and comfortable. Whether that being in our jobs, relationships, or our daily routine, we are creatures of habit and enjoy being comfortable. If we all kept this attitude and feeling of comfort close to our hearts, I am convinced we would still be sitting in the dark trying to figure out how to create fire. At some point, someone, somewhere knew the importance of reaching into their discomfort zone and “figuring it out.” We should strive for moments of discomfort to grow as individuals and learn from our mistakes. As appealing as the comfort zone is, isn’t the excitement of the unknown and the feeling of courage and success just as appealing? Stepping into your discomfort zone is the first step into opportunity you never knew existed.
- We all have something to learn from the simplicity of childhood. Recently, I have realized this innocence should never leave us. My main take away from AASP was the need for all of us to be humble enough to grow. As children, in the most obnoxious ways sometimes, we would constantly ask why. This curiosity is something we all must carry over into our adult lives. No matter how educated the individuals I met in Canada were, they were willing to ask questions and admit to their limitations as scholars and humans. Being humble gives us opportunities to learn from our own short comings and fail. As you know, failure is the recipe to success so what better way to start your path to success than stepping out of your comfort zone, failing, and being humbled by the experience.
- Think back to a pivotal moment in your life. At the time, this moment probably did not seem like “that moment” but looking back you would label it as that moment that changed your mind (or your life). Professionals throughout the AASP conference continually mentioned how their big breaks came from the most unexpected situations. Many of their personal and professional triumphs came from moments that did not see spectacular in the moment but ended up being life altering. You never know the moment that will make the difference. We are living to fulfill our purpose in hopes of making an impact and the smallest incident can be the impact of a lifetime. You never know who is watching and you never know what profound impact your actions will have on that spectator. Moral of the story, every moment matters, and we need to act like it.
- For as long as I can remember, I have known, it’s not about what you say, it’s about how you say it. My time in Canada emphasized this point repeatedly. Over 90% of our communication is tone and body language. As astounding as this fact is, it is also exciting news, because; people have terrible attention spans and are really good at selectively listening. I could be the smartest person in the room, but if I am unable to connect and show respect to the person I am communicating with, my knowledge means nothing. Knowledge is powerful but never underestimate the power of interpersonal skills and genuine interactions.
Think About it
- Have you been acting with your purpose in mind?
- How have stepped outside of your comfort zone lately?
- Are you aware of the vibes you are sending to your friends? Family? Co-workers? Supervisors?
- If your thoughts determine your actions and your beliefs, what have you been thinking about lately?
As the keynote speaker, John Amaechi, told us, “You are disproportionately powerful.” This message may have fallen on the ears of less inspired individuals, but personally, I believe that. I believe that we are powerful beyond measure. And I think this belief is where the true power lies.
Thanks for reading!
“At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about what you’ve done with those accomplishments. It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” -Denzel Washington