On (Never) Being Satisfied

IMG_8441In late December I was afforded the opportunity to spend the day with the Milton Heights Racing Program. With no snow on the ground, it made for challenging conditions for training but gave me the opportunity to talk to some young minds about engineering their performance.

I was brought in as the Performance Engineer to speak to the group about goal setting, sleep, nutrition and their environment. It was amazing to get these young athletes to see how much they could control certain particulars in their environments and what they needed to let go of.

The group was a mix of athletes from U10 to U18; so I had to make it engaging for the eldest group but simple enough for the younger athletes. Overall it was a success and I think these young athletes are poised to have their best season yet.

As we went through goal setting I challenged the group not just to think about outcome goals but to also think about process/progress related goals. One insightful athlete said that his goal this season was to be satisfied with every race run.

Imagine stepping back immediately after each race, thinking about how to be positive when you execute a race no matter what the outcome. This is something I have been working on with athletes for sometime, and something I try to employ in my own training regiment.

When I coached skiing and was a course facilitator I always started video sessions with, ‘tell me something you like in your skiing.’ And while I would often hear something negative from the athletes and candidates when we started the process, I would stop them and say that I didn’t want to hear what needed improvement (see what I did there?), but to first find the positive.

Too often I find we focus on the negative and trying to fix something. But when you build from a strength it makes it easier to fix a weakness. And more than that, stop letting the negative bias take control and let the positive bias shape your outcome. Again the words ‘needs improvement’ have a very different meaning than ‘that’s wrong.’

I do sincerely hope that athlete can follow his own advice. And that his peers look to him and add being satisfied to their list of goals.

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While I advocate on looking for the positive, I should also add that there is an element of never being satisfied that makes good athletes great. It’s that individual hunger and desire to work hard and to be great that fuels athletes to push limits.

Finding that balance of being satisfied with never being satisfied is different for everyone. As you set your 2016 goals play around with what makes you satisfied and what keeps you hungry.