Perspective vs Positivity
Successful people are very good at making the best out of every situation. This is not positive thinking. It’s choosing a perspective, deciding how you will approach each situation and then acting on it. With the National Team, instead of using the term “weaknesses,” we use the term “opportunities for growth.” Would you call this positive thinking, or would you call this perspective?
I often refer to The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson because it’s a genius book, and it has many golden nuggets. You won’t be surprised, as the title of the book suggests, that thinking positive isn’t something the author believes in. In fact, he advocates seeing things exactly how they are, and once we do, we can pop the balloon of illusion and get down to what needs to happen. For example, if I let a goal in, positive thinking is “I’ll get it next time.” Yes, maybe that is true but I will let it in again if I don’t change something.
As a professional athlete, I can break down video, see a situation I want to improve on or change and apply those changes in training and games. Not everyone has access to video footage of all or any of their play, however. I also believe in journaling after sessions and taking notes on certain situations. (My only caution with journaling is that, although it can be extremely therapeutic and helpful for learning, how you feel a situation played out versus what actually happened can be quite different).
I think it is important to always have a good relationship with your coach, whether they are the head coach or keeper coach, or for whatever sport/activity/career you have. If someone can have a different perspective on how a situation occurred than you, they can help with the changes you are moving towards. I firmly believe no one makes it to the top alone, so… welcome help, and build an honest relationship with your coach/teammates/co-workers. Make sure they understand your personal perspective on a situation.
One of my favourite books is Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl (who survived a concentration camp during the Second World War) because he believed that no matter what situation we are in, no matter how brutal, there is one thing no one can take from us, our freedom to choose- our freedom to see things from our own perspective. I’m not saying don’t be positive. What I’m saying is, thinking positive isn’t enough. You must have some sense of what is real in a situation, know where you want to be with it, and then believe you can improve it.
When people say to me, “Think positive. You will come back to the game even better,” I don’t think of that as being positive encouragement. I think of it as being my reality. To me, it comes down to what I can control, which is playing well every day and showing my coach I am a world class keeper. That’s me being real. Thinking positively is hoping my coach will see my strengths and give me the opportunity to play- the hope– that’s the only place where I think the positive thinking exists: When things are out of my control.
What am I saying? Haha! I’m saying be real. Have the courage to see yourself and where you are now. Love that person no matter what, and then see every situation as an opportunity. I have changed my vocabulary from saying failures and mistakes to risks and learning opportunities. My sports psych, Alex Hodgins, told me an interesting fact about Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. He evaluates his day based on a risk scale. If he takes no risks, he gets a -1. If he worked hard, he earns a 0, and if he goes out of his comfort zone and pushes the boundaries – unconcerned with the result- he earns a +1. I know what I want for my career and my life. The steps on how to get there are not clear, and they are ones I must find for myself. But if you are like I am and wanting to be the best version of yourself, my point is to be self-aware of your current state. Have a healthy perspective on challenges, and go towards them. Turn all your beliefs and “positive thoughts” into action.
To quote one of my fave movies, “Do or do not do, there is no try.” -Yoda