The Heart of the Matter

I’ve been sitting on the following quote much too long.  It was a bit of a rant and wise ramble from my dear friend and colleague Doug Gardner (known to the blog at juplimpton or the Twitterverse @thinksport).  A handful of years back we were in the midst of a back and forth via e-mail and this quote made a cross country journey into my inbox.  It really nails a big idea and I’ve been relentlessly sharing it in coaching workshops over the past few month.  At first, I thought it was just a twist to throw in to keep things fresh for me, but it turns out it has deeply resonated with coaches.

The bottom line is that motivation is at the core of everything in sport.  Most people do not understand motivation correctly.  This area is one of the best, in terms of one of the most researched and studied areas in psychology.  Theory and research do reflect the real world.  Most people are motivated through outcomes and many process oriented people think they are focused on the process, yet they use the process as another form of an outcome.  Motivation dictates avoidance behaviors, reveals the true intentions of athletes and provides a baseline of focus.  Motivation reveals how someone deals with failure, adversity and persistence.  Ultimately, motivation reveals one’s willingness to learn.  Instead of judging something as good or bad, can’t we just learn?

When sharing it with coaches, we break it down line by line and we really get at the guts of the matter.  Close examination leads to some real light bulb moments for coaching the mental game.  At this time, I’ll trust you’ll give such reflection a shot on your own (If you are up for getting after understanding this aspect of the mental game in full, invite Doug or myself out to your organization to share in person).

Doug and I have been friends and colleagues for over a decade and a half.  In this time, he has been a sport psych intern to the Cleveland Indians, worked for the Boston Red Sox for six years, and recently played a role in a NCAA national championship.  Spend a little time with him and you’re sure to be entertained, but all that aside, he knows something about sport psyching.  Motivation and learning lead to great achievements… do you “get” them?


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