We are all products of our environment and that’s okay. Every one of us was raised by people. It may have been a biological or nuclear family or it even may be more than one person or home, but regardless of who our ‘family’ was, we all grew up somewhere. And where and how and by whom we grew up had an impact on us and that’s okay. I know for myself, I continue to learn about the impact of where I came from on who I am and the decisions I make. On occasion, I gain insight into why I respond a certain way to people or situations. And when that insight happens, I have choice. I can learn and grow and make changes. Or I can continue to respond in that same, familiar way. Being kind and compassionate in those moments can allow us to get closer to the truth. If we are kind, we are better able to learn. Below is a podcast that was shared with me that talks a bit about the power of being kind … to ourselves.
This is a podcast that talks about how being kind to ourselves makes us better. Kristin Neff, the founder of self-compassion theory, helps us understand the underpinnings of this process.
This is an article from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) on the importance of being kind of yourself:
This is a link that describes the 3 insights people have when they think about past trauma and those are:
- Violation of Human Rights. It’s against the law.
- If the mind of the person who hurt you did not exist, you would not have been hurt and harmed.
- Traumatized minds make traumatized choices.
Dr. Leslie-Toogood was featured by the Canadian Psychological Association during February in celebration of Psychology Month.
Adrienne and Michelle were on a podcast with California Prunes discussing the importance of maintaining mental and physical health during the global pandemic. It is a 20-minute conversation that I think you will enjoy.
Our latest Heroes:
Jocelyne Larocque. Olympic Hockey Player. “Pressure is privilege, that’s how I see pressure. I think it’s exciting.”
Jayme Menzies. Founder, Agoojin Volleyball Club; MASRC Female Coach of the Decade. “…over the course of the past 15 years I’ve worked really hard to actually make that idea a practice and to make it a part of my coaching every day. And not only to bring my whole self but to allow space for my athletes’ whole selves.”
Donna Harris. Certified Professional Coach. “Recovery is really important. When I’m talking about recovery I’m not talking about holidays and extended vacations, I’m talking about daily self-care.”
Season Two, ‘Unapologetically Human’ starts in April. We cannot wait to introduce you to our latest heroes.
Please also find additional tools and resources at ‘buildingheroesmb’ on Instagram.
Take good care. Be well.
Parents and Coaches, this blog post is for you.
I was asked to speak with a group of coaches last week. We decided to keep it an open format, but coaches were asked to submit their questions in advance. As I read the questions submitted, I noticed a theme. Almost every question was around this topic “how do I keep my athletes motivated during this time”, “my junior athletes are fine, but my high-performance athletes are really struggling. I am at a loss for what to say”.
I received the questions a few hours before I spoke with them. As I jumped on by erg and listened to a podcast, below is how I chose to respond.
I started the conversation by being honest. Athletes, especially the high-performance ones are not motivated; because this is not what they signed up for. They signed up for sport because they are competitive, they love to compete, and they love pushing their limits. They did not sign up to spend hours in the basement with no competitions. So it is no wonder they are not motivated. They are not and never have been motivated for that.
I think it is important that we are honest with them. I think we avoid being honest because we want to protect them. We don’t want to admit how much different it is right now, and we know how much it is going to hurt when we admit that. But I think we need to start there. We need to accept the reality of the situation and we need to allow the emotions to come out.
When the Olympics were postponed, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield spoke with the athletes through the Canadian Olympic Committee. And he said that we are in a new reality. The old reality no longer exists. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we will be able to embrace being the best we can right now.
And that is powerful.
In my work, I help athletes have hope and continue to believe. After sometimes devastating and heartbreaking losses. I am the master at helping people grab lessons from really tough hardships. And I firmly believe that we do grow through pain and loss and challenge. But I found myself struggling as things got cancelled again and again and yet again. I ran into this quote by Brene Brown “empathy is not racing to turn the light on, it is the brave choice to sit in the dark with people”. And that really resonated with me. My job might not be to make it better. And perhaps I can’t. Maybe my job is to sit with them, wherever they are. So they are not alone. And maybe that is your job too – with your athletes and your children.
This is a great short animation about the difference between empathy and sympathy:
And this is an excellent animation that helps us understand the importance of allowing people to sit with their pain
But in order to do that, we need to accept the current situation. Maybe we have to grieve this loss. Maybe we need to let ourselves be honest about how difficult this time has been.
And once we accept and get to the other side, we can embrace the challenge.
What do we know about Hardiness? What do we know about people who do well when things get tough?
- We know that they know their why? Your athletes need to re-visit if they want to do this. They have to know why. They have to know what makes their heart sing. They need to decide if they want to do it and if they do, they need to figure out how.
- We know they embrace the opportunity to get better. They embrace challenge, they are open to how they will learn and grow. Life has handed us an unbelievable opportunity to grow our emotional resilience and that will make all of us better when sport returns.
- They know they need other people, and they are not afraid to reach out for support once they need it. So let your kids be truly seen. Let them be honest about how much pain they are in. Don’t make them act like they are doing better than they are.
- Finally, they focus on what they can control. We can control our reaction to situations, we cannot control the situation themselves. As Viktor Frankl reminds us in books such as ‘Yes to life in spite of everything’, “between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.
I have read the book “Win in the Dark” by Joshua Medcalf with several of my athletes. For all those athletes continuing to strive and all those coaches trying to help them, grab this book. Have conversation and figure out how you want to pave your way during this time. As
shares with us, leading during crisis is not about having a map, it is about using a compass. Know what you value and makes decision based on that. This is new territory. There is not map or guide for how to thrive right now in sport or life.
Before Spring Break, the principal at my daughter’s school sent an email to all of us reminding us that we are living history right now. At some point, people will look back and read about how we responded and reacted to this time. I can’t say that I wanted my children to experience this situation as I watch my daughter in grade 12 apply to schools and my son who is in grade 10 have his hockey season canceled. But I do know that I cannot change it. And that for whatever reason, this is part of their story. At the end of the day, I no longer want them to hope to get through it. I want them to have the courage to live it. Every moment of it. Because this is still a part of their story and their life.
Take good care of yourselves and each other. When we get through the emotional part, I cannot help but think the motivation will be there. Things may be canceled again and we may get hurt. But that is okay. Because we lived and we tried and we strived. And that is what makes us human.
At Toogood Consulting, we want everyone to be a hero in their own lives. For us that means having the courage to live your authentic path, to be fully present in big moments and to be the person you want at home, work and play. And for that reason, our monthly reflections will now be called a “heroes journey”. Because we feel that human beings need tools to live courageously and we need each other and when we lead, we have work to create a culture where others are able to be brave.
Adrienne’s Monthly Reflections …
As I booked a skiing engagement with a friend (cross country skiing as I live in the Prairies), I thought about how nice it felt to have this on my calendar. In fact, I am finding that I have a lot of engagements with friends. Much more than I ever had in my life. And I remembered that I love ‘being with’ friends. For myself, as a busy professional; I have always been on my own. Flying solo. Doing things by myself. I listened to a podcast about “hacking happiness”. One of the questions she asked was “what did you do when you were 10 years old?”. I played. I ran around my neighborhood and the highlight of my day was when someone rang my doorbell and asked if I could come out to play. We rode our bikes, played hide and seek and just sat on swings and talked at the park. This whole being an adult and professional thing is interesting. As we speak about vulnerability, how many of us actually allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to learn what we truly need to be whole. Do we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to find out? Or do we protect ourselves before we ever allow ourselves to get there? So, as I booked that ski date and my friend, she said “I look forward to it”. I sat for a moment and said that I do too. And I really did.
Some great finds this month:
This podcast about hacking happiness has some great ideas. It very much starts from the place of knowing who you are. Want to be happy? Be you and live YOUR best life.
On this podcast, I was particularly drawn to the idea of living forward. If you want to live in an infinite way, don’t live in the past. Don’t unfold events based on pre-conceived notions or past experiences. Instead, embrace the moment you are in and tell the story.
This is a really short video on sitting with people in their pain. Allowing them to feel what they are feeling. THIS is healing. We are all experiencing grief and loss right now. Let others be vulnerable. This is a gift.
And this is a beautifully illustrated children’s book on living with our human fragility:
If you want a deeper dive, this is a great listen around having the courage to be your true self.
This was an article in the Winnipeg Free Press where Dr. Toogood spoke about the need to be honest about mental health in order to thrive:
Dr. Toogood was on a webinar entitled “whole athletes, whole communities” where she joined other sport leaders in Canada to discuss the human behind the performance:
Take good care everyone!
Our latest heroes are worth listening to:
Dave Blatz, National Team Athletic Therapist. “It’s always learning, and interpreting, and then figuring out how you can use it on your athletes to better them.”
Hector Vergara, International Soccer Referee. “I wouldn’t hesitate to do the right thing when I thought it was the right thing, including if it meant sending one of my brothers off, which I did”.
Leah Kirchman, Team Canada Olympic Cyclist. “The things you view as setbacks or failures can really set you up for future success if you’re able to learn from them and approach those moments with the right mindset”.
Dallas Ludwick, Team Canada Diving Coach. “My overall goal is to provide a platform for awesome young people to be VERY COURAGEOUS and to constantly strive to become the BEST VERSION OF THEMSELVES. While I strive to do the same. I hope that, in turn, the athletes I work with will go on to improve what’s around them in some way.”
Stay tuned for the second season of Heroes: “Undeniably Human”. We are so excited for this deep dive into how humans are surviving and thriving during COVID-19.
Take time to read Adrienne’s article “Emotions are your superpower” that she wrote for California Prunes. It brings together many of her favourite authors who write about emotion.
We are thankful for each of you. Be well.
Welcome to 2021.Read more >
My family spent a few days at a cottage during the break. Upon arrival, I walked onto the lake and looked at the trees surrounding me. And I quickly felt peace. Peace I did not realize I needed … until that moment. I took a breath and realized that for ME; nature heals.
Click here to view Mindful Monday for October 12, 2020
Click here for Mindful Monday, October 5, 2020
Click here to view Mindful Monday for September 28, 2020.
Click here for Mindful Monday, September 21, 2020
The September 13 Mindful Monday document can be viewed here
View the September 7 Mindful Monday document here
View Mindful Monday for August 31, 2020 here
At the outset of COVID we partnered with the Winnipeg Blue Bomber Football Club to provide nine topics of mental health resources for young athletes in Manitoba. After the first nine were completed we felt there was more to say, so we continued with 11 more subject areas to create a toolkit of 20 mental health concepts to support young athletes. The entire package can be viewed below. Please note that the remaining topics will be added as they are finalized.
#1 – Breathe
#2 – ABC’s of Focus
#3 – Mindfulness
#4 – Mental Health Meter
#5 – Process Goals
#6 – Imagery
#11 – Recovery is Key
#12 – Be Kind to Yourself
#13 – Make Stress Your Friend
#15 – Processing Loss
#16 – Re-entry
#18 – Life is Messy
#19 – Scouting Report
#20 – Your Legacy
View Mindful Monday for July 20, 2020 here.
Toogood Consulting has partnered with Johnston Group to provide support to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving forward we will be sharing one short email a week that highlights either mental health resources and tools or shared experiences (quirky, funny, heartwarming, scary, etc.) related to our current reality. Mindful Monday for June 1, 2020 can be viewed here.
Toogood Consulting has partnered with Johnston Group to provide support to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Twice a week we will be sharing short emails that highlight mental health resources and tools (Mindful Mondays) and another aimed at sharing experiences (quirky, funny, heartwarming, scary, etc.) related to our current reality (Thriving Thursdays).
Building Heroes: April 2021
We often talk about the importance of focusing on what we can control. It is interesting how sometimes the easiest of concepts ring so true. And as I think about this and talk to others, I find myself thinking that perhaps even more important is the idea of controlling what we need to control for us. Each person is different and each of us needs to control different things to feel like we can thrive. So, let’s be honest with ourselves about what we need to be the best version of ourselves. Rather than be frustrated, let’s pay attention and learn what we need to take care of in order to be our best selves.
Breathing is a great tool for helping us stay in control. This 10-minute TedTalk teaches us how breathing works and helps. I personally love the tactical breathing that comes from this talk. In for 4, hold for 4, out for 6, hold for 2. I always feel better when I take time to breathe.
I ran across this podcast with Brene Brown and Simon Sinek where they talk about the idea of life being an infinite game. We can have finite goals within that. But ultimately it is so important that we align finite objectives within the infinite goals we have for ourselves in who we want to become in our lives.
You do not have to settle. We are often told limiting conversations about what we can possibly become. We do not realize it, but we set limits based on what we see and how we are built. What if was truly a matter not of whether we could do something, but rather how we WILL do it. Working with Paralympic athletes has inspired this perspective for me. I wonder how many of us place similar limits on ourselves and what we are capable of accomplishing. A couple of resources in this space.
And perhaps stepping back and realizing that the present moment is beautiful and the same for everyone is incredibly empowering. Let’s own more moments in our life. For those who want help being reminded of this. Sign up for the Daily Stoic with Ryan Holiday. Below is a portion of the daily reminder email which was sent on the 25th of January 2021 where Ryan talks with us about Marcus Aurelius:
“The present moment is the same for everyone, he said, no matter their job, no matter how well or how terribly things have been going. The present is all anyone possesses. To waste it, to let it escape you, to fritter it away with fear or frustration, is not only to set yourself up for failure, it is a rejection of a beautiful gift. Focus on the now. Be where you are…while you still can.”
Our latest Heroes and the end of Season One:
Kylo Harris. Coach and Sport Administrator. “Be purposeful and be open. Be purposeful in what you do, do it with some intent, and be open to the opportunity. None of my success has really come from me being self-directed in it, it’s been being open to what’s been presented.”
Leisha Strachan. Professor and Coach. “The idea of allyship, I think is really, really important. You know, that’s not just us trying to push our agenda, but that we have friends who are there and supportive and will have our back and listen to the things that we want to talk about and change in our communities. And that’s just so key.”
Nadya Crossman-Serb (Team Canada Canoe Kayak). “It felt like I belonged in there in that place [in my boat] and it felt like I was connecting to my Métis ancestors”.
Shannon Kehler. High School Coach. “Be grateful for all moments.”
Michelle Sawtzky-Koop. Olympian & Heroes In Our Midst Co-Founder. “I decided to be the best I could be and not try to be better than anyone else.”
What is next with Heroes? Well, Season Two of course. We will be launching the second season in April called “undeniably human” where we will speak with many heroes from all walks of life. From a firefighter who returned to work after experiencing PTSD to an RCMP emergency response team member, a high school Principal and an emergency medical doctor. Oh and we have people you will recognize from sport too including Blue Bomber head coach Mike O’Shea, Hockey Night in Canada strong hold Ron Maclean and local legend Andrew Harris. But here is the thing we hope you learn from listening. Regardless of who they are or what they do, they are all human. And when they are the best versions of themselves, they are all heroes. When we embrace our humanity, we elevate our performance. And that is why we love the stories we hear at Heroes in Our Midst and why we are so proud and thankful to be able to share them with each of you. Subscribe. Tell others. Enjoy these heroes and the gift of their story.
Also check out our partnership with Football Manitoba. We are partnering on the HUMAN series and you can find some great podcasts and resources at either @football.manitoba or @buildingsheroesmb on Instagram.