Between Information and Application…

It is no longer surprising to hear athletes make statements such as “I should focus on the process rather than the outcome.” Compared to when I first started coaching, both coaches and athletes today are better informed about the need to focus on the process.

However, there is still a gap between information and application. Despite being better informed, athletes often do not know how to let go of the outcome and refocus on the process.

From what I’ve observed, there are three related reasons that are limiting their ability to do so.

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The Problem with “Motivation”

‘Control your Controllables’ (CYC) is a resilience program facilitated by the blind and experienced through the Paralympic game of Goalball. Earlier this week, my team conducted the program for a group of junior college students who did not manage to progress on to Year 2.

During the session, the students were asked to reflect on possible barriers that could stop them from putting in the necessary effort to pass their exams. Many of them alluded to some version of the same problem – the lack of motivation.

Does the problem really lie with the lack of motivation?

I asked the students if they were disappointed that they did not pass their exams, and why they wanted to progress on to Year 2. Indeed, these may seem like redundant questions but I was trying to get them to understand that they do not lack strong reasons nor motivation to strive for better results.

“The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.” Steven Pressfield

The problem here isn’t about the lack of motivation. The problem lies with the ability to direct their motivation towards the goal of passing their exams. The problem has to do with procrastination, specifically, they were motivated to do something else rather than to study.

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Cocky on the Inside, Humble on the Outside

I recently shared an article about a controversial and outspoken local athlete on my Facebook. The responding comments were somewhat polarizing – some felt that he should be more respectful towards authority and his rivals, yet many felt that his arrogance was justified.

Even though I really wanted to join in the discussion, I hesitated because the thread seemed to be spinning out of control. Hence this post to share my thoughts about the underlying tension between arrogance and humility and also some suggestions on how to develop confidence without being outwardly arrogant.

Confident or Cocky?

One of my friends on Facebook commented…

“A truly competitive athlete usually display arrogance. In order to be the best, you have to believe you are the best…”

It’s a valid comment and confident athletes often envision themselves as a great athlete. These athletes will not hesitate to make use of positive self-labels to play up their own skills, and may at times play down or undermine their opponent’s abilities.

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However, in a country like Singapore which has been described by Michele Gelfand -author of ‘Rule Makers and Rule Breakers’, as having a tight culture*, athletes who are overtly confident and outspoken are likely to run into trouble with the gatekeepers, since they are likely to be perceived as being disrespectful rather than confident.

Hence, if you are a coach or athlete, it would probably be in your best interest to learn how to develop a healthy self-concept that supports strong self-confidence without coming across as being arrogant.

Continue reading “Cocky on the Inside, Humble on the Outside”