Your Inner Allstar

Growing up, my parents owned a sporting goods store. It was the only one in the area and it drew many visitors, including competitive athletes, recreational players, and those simply wanting to get fit.

I remember the excitement when NHL players would come to the store to sign autographs for customers, and the laughter-filled day when big-screen actor John Candy came in to buy Blue Jay paraphernalia for his family picnic.

Because my dad was highly social and played a lot of sports with a play-to-win mindset, he could easily talk shop and engage with even the finest of athletes. This made his customer service more meaningful because those who trained with competitive goals required more than just the latest equipment; their lifestyle and mindset were big factors, too. My dad could relate.

He was also proud to sponsor local sports teams, take equipment to the hockey rink to play himself, and, of course, to come to the baseball diamond to coach my sisters and me.

Although I was never all that competitive in nature, I did progress from house-league to rep teams and spent a large part of my younger years playing locally and travelling to various regions to play in tournaments.

In retrospect, I see how valuable this all was.

Looking at my childhood and adolescence, there was definitely a theme going on, with athletically minded perceptions and skills being instilled in me that would eventually, without my realizing it, become the foundation of my Brain Fitness and Wellness business. In them lies the how and why of my teaching and the messages I share.

During high school, I served as the girls’ athletic representative on student council and, while I wasn’t the all-star player, I did play on most school sports teams. Because of this, I was asked to represent the school at various leadership camps.

I will never forget the first one I attended, the Hugh O’Brian Leadership weekend.  An organization founded to inspire and develop a global community of youth and volunteers dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation.

The speakers that I recall most vividly at this first conference and countless events thereafter were athletes and coaches who shared their messages of hard work, determination, and commitment to a lifestyle of focus, self-management and excellence conducive to reaching higher levels of performance.

Regardless of whether the audience members were athletically inclined, everyone benefited from hearing these speakers because their insights were transferrable to all areas of life: school, health, relationships, career.

Here are some of the key elements that stood out to me and have, in many ways, been the backbone and inner voice of my personal and professional wellness journey.

  • Vision: Whether it’s to qualify for the Olympics, hold the Super Bowl, win the next game of the season, be the player of the year, or achieve a personal best, athletes have clear goals that they are consistently moving toward.
  • Self-scouting: Athletes are constantly applying the skills of noticing and self-awareness to evaluate and re-evaluate their habits, techniques, tactics, and results. They are open to coaching, and will watch replay videos and consider new ways of doing things to ensure they’re at their best everyday, not just when they’re being surveyed by scouts.
  • Brain & Body Fuel: Athletes are BIG on nutrition. They realize that to perform at their very best, they need to fuel themselves with the nutrients that are going to give them energy, build muscle, keep their system functioning on all cylinders, repair and build their bones, and feed their brains.
  • Exercise: Needless to say, athletes are all about the movement. This is something with which our sedentary society struggles. Not only does an athlete play their sport, they do a ton of cross training before and after.
  • Positive Mindset: Using the powers of visualization, meditation, and positive thinking, athletes can gain a competitive edge in their sport. Shaving off that half second, jumping a millimetre higher, and kicking the ball harder can mean the difference between a win and a loss, a gold and a silver.
  • Stick-with-it-ness: When the going gets tough, athletes work harder. Giving up is not an option for those who keep their goals in mind. Having the unyielding resilience to stay in the game, even after a big loss, slump, negative reviews, or an encounter with disappointed fans, is not always easy, but it’s what true athletes do—every day, every season.
  • Course correct: Doing the same thing over and over is only going to yield the same results. Athletes don’t have time to reinforce a bad habit or repeat actions that do not bring them successful results. They are agile, adaptable, and willing to make change to grow, learn, and take things to the next level.
  • Risks: There are no guarantees, either in life or on the sports field. Athletes do not try out for teams or play in games or events knowing they will win. They simply show up, push themselves, and, in many ways, put themselves in the public eye in a risk that their efforts will pay off.

Whether you consider yourself athletic or not, if you think and act like a pro athlete, you will see transferable results in all areas of your life.