In my opinion, there is nothing cuter these days than watching my 14 month old son waddle around. He is getting faster every day and it seems like his body is just trying to keep up to whatever direction his feet want to take him in! Of course he falls down often and gets right back up, most often without any complaining. It is a whole new world to discover up on his feet and his curiosity to explore everything in sight is infectious!
As I observe my two little ones growing up so full of wonder about the world, enjoying being more physically capable every day, and the incredible rate of Zoe’s language development as she doesn’t even notice she speaks “Franglais” (mixing her French and English) so often now, I’m struck by all the things they do so naturally that are most often associated with reaching our highest potential in life, in sport or otherwise.
Why is it that as we get older a certain self-awareness develops that allows us to be suddenly painfully self-conscious, always comparing ourselves to others, and nervous about what the future will bring? When athletes feel overwhelmed with these natural tendencies that occur as we come of age, sometimes reminding ourselves that if we once did the opposite so well as a small child, maybe we can cultivate the same mindset again when the pressure is on to perform. So tap into your inner child and reconnect to the things that are associated with best performances such as….
1. Staying in the Moment. Although Zoe is already at the age where she gets excited about upcoming events, that usually only happens when I remind her about something coming up. Otherwise, she and Nico are experts at staying totally absorbed in the present moment, whether it being playing with their toys, fighting over their toys, or being engrossed in a story, call it experiencing flow, or being in the zone for an adult. When stuck in the past or too wrapped up in some “uncontrollable” in the future I like the reminder of my favourite quote from the Peaceful Warrior movie, “What time is it? NOW. Where are you? HERE!”. When playing with my kids they remind me to practice being fully present! And they notice when I’m not!
2. Failure is Good for Us! Unfortunately too many athletes self-worth fluctuates wildly according to their last training session or last race result. Lucky for little Nico, he isn’t saying, Geez, why aren’t I walking as well as that other 14 month old over there? Or I wonder if I’ll ever be able to run like my big sister? Maybe I should just give up! Heck no. Kids get up, fall over and over again and keep tyring. Failure is how children learn so quickly and they don’t beat themselves up over mistakes (okay maybe just a little bit if a boo boo occurs). If all athletes could think like a child again, maybe we’d reach our potential faster. Falling and failing is good for us. We learn our limits faster and how to improve!
3. Do it because its FUN! So many times after a top performance, you may hear yourself or other athletes often say, “I was just having so much fun out there!” When children try out their first sports, most of the time they stick with something because they find it fun. When something is no longer fun, we quit. Zoe has recently caught the biking bug and was whoo hooing over the bmx bumps with feet in the air the other day. And that’s why we should continue in sport at any level – because we love it!
Here is Zoe shooing away the Mommy Paparazzi today before she rides on by, with Nico keeping up behind pretty well on foot for awhile too!