Thoughts for 2014 Sport Psych Grads: Generosity

As I ready my cap and gown to celebrate the graduation of another crop of graduates from sport psychology studies, one word bounces around my mind, “generosity.” It seems like a good word for us all to remember when shaping a fulfilling career and supporting a field that is fighting tooth and nail to be legitimate.

Many years ago the wind was depressingly taken out of my typically enthusiastic sails when a graduate student addressed a room of his peers and said, “I really would prefer not to share thoughts about how I practice mental training. Everyone in this room is my competition.” A room of budding professionals not sharing… cooperating… being generous?!? I was not surprised by the sentiment, but struck about how sad a reflection it was on the young man and the field. After a moment of pause, my enthusiasm returned, and I am happy to say that the student has matured over the years.

Sport psychology graduates, be generous.

Scientists that are not generous do not help practitioners practice efficaciously. Practitioners that are not generous do not help science solve real on-field, heat of the moment problems. Practitioners that are not generous fail to see what’s next, because they are not part of rich, creative, and critical discussions. Considering, “What’s next?” leads to efficacious and fulfilling practice. Professionals that are not generous fail to help create a rising tide to help the field float. There are plenty of athletes and plenty of coaches out there… to be accepted a field must have its act together. “Together” is generous.

In this year, I would like to put an additional twist on generosity. Young professionals, please be generous with your patience. This is a quality you will need to succeed in the culture of sports. Yet, also I’d personally appreciate it. As a professional that has been passionately engaged in the field for two decades now, things have gotten a bit hectic. My passion for sitting down over a cup of coffee or pint of your choice is unabated, but I’m a bad juggler. E-mails get missed, my texts read like hieroglyphics, and the second I think I have time to focused something seems to come up (and if that thing is family, you stand little chance of taking priority…).  Please be generous with your patience for anyone that has been actively and thoughtfully engaged in the field for a while. In my experience, they care and are still considering ideas like wild-eyed graduate students. Do not disconnect because of somewhat slow and scatteredness. Perhaps it is part of aging in a still evolving and somewhat disjointed field. Be generous with your patience, we are still building the field with you.

Generosity is more than a politically correct concept, it is a way of being that yields wonderful connectedness and growth.

Cheers to all grads moving on to their next adventures.

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