I was very pleased with an athlete I work with recently when I watched an interview after an okay but not stellar performance. Obviously I was not pleased with the result, and she was undoubtedly more disappointed than I was. But I was impressed by her assessment of the situation. She simply mentioned a couple of mistakes she made, and explained where she lost her advantage.
She owned up. She took responsibility. Taking responsibility is a turning point in all our lives. By blaming others or circumstances for my situation, I am giving up the power to control my life.
Yes, sometimes things can happen which have a huge impact on our lives and we can nothing about them. But day in and day out we make decisions and we must deal with the consequences of our decisions.
I try to give my athletes as much responsibility as they can handle, to sometimes sit back and let them figure things out for themselves.
This can start with very young kids, by not blaming the referees for the loss, by explaining we have to be better. As they grow they learn what training entails, and how it contributes to success. They learn about choosing and maintaining their equipment, dealing with coaches, sponsors, and federations. The list goes on and on. And as they advance and mature, they should become more and more self-sufficient.
I had the pleasure and privilege of learning from 3 athletes in 3 differ sports about this. Glenroy Gilbert from athletics, Pierre Lueders from bobsleigh and Patrick Ortlieb from alpine skiing. All 3 were Olympic and world champions. And all 3 had figured out that their results were ultimately up to them. They worked very hard on the things that they needed to have to win, and made changes when they realized the present situation was not conducive to achieving their goals.
I hope that I have a hand in my athletes’ success. But I know that I am not the main reason that they win or lose. I want them to understand that winning (however it is defined by them) is basically up to them.