Measuring Mental/Emotional Capabilities in Athletes

August 30, 2010

We’re getting some very fascinating results lately assessing some of the world’s top athletes with a new assessment instrument – the Emotional Intelligence Sports Inventory. The tool measures the key performance competencies that separate average and elite athletic performers. This is exciting because it is the first time that Emotional Intelligence and performance have been linked to sport. What’s also exciting is that athletes are measured vs. other athletes. Assessment tools typically used in the market are primarily general personality instruments shifted over to the sport space. Self-Awareness, Self-Reliance and Self-Confidence are the backbone of the tool making room for the athlete to enable other powerful competencies that impact their performance.

The key competencies after much research in this area are: Self-Awareness, Self-Reliance, Self-Confidence, Self-Control, Achievement Drive, Competitiveness, Resilience, Focus, Flexibility and Optimism. The ESi assessment tool gives a great measurement in each of these competencies and coaching solutions to improve them. The package also includes an Action Plan for coach and athlete to work on a plan moving forward.

Over the next number of months, I’ll update you on our findings. We recently had several PGA Tour winners take the assessment and NCAA and Olympic athletes are experiencing the tool.

Have a look at The tool will help athletes get to the next level.

Much more to come on this.


Tiger Woods and Self-Awareness

December 7, 2009

Tiger Woods is the most emotionally intelligent golfer there is – he is incredibly consistent and the results from week to week, year to year show it. He is one of the world’s great performers.

But he now has work to do in his life.

I don’t need to explain the details of Tiger’s recent behavior. If you’ve listened to a radio or watch TV, you know the story. It’s a very sad story. One of a young athlete who has always gotten everything he wanted. When feelings of wanting beyond his marriage emerged, he very simply acted upon them confident that he could do what he pleased and not worry about getting caught. After all, he’s Tiger Woods and he can do whatever he pleases.

Well, Tiger’s life has now changed – and he’s feeling stupid and has tremendous feelings of guilt. There are others to be accountable to (his wife and children) and his lack of awareness of those around him and the damage his actions have done are a red flag that there’s work to be done.

There are arguments whether this personal gaff will impact his golf career. I believe that unless Tiger deals with his emotions head on and expresses them through counselling or other means, a new negative self-image could be a blow to his performance on the course. He will come back self-conscious – and guilty feelings will rule until dealt with. Negative emotions will impact his thinking neutralizing the #1 weapon Tiger possesses over competititors – his superior emotional/mental abilities. The line is fine between good and great and he’ll need all his abilities to continue his domination.

Tiger lost his #1 emotional caddie several years ago – his Dad Earl. Earl was a key figure in Tiger’s life and provided him direction and counsel. It may be hat losing his “caddie” may have played a role in Tiger getting off the rails and staying focused on what was truly important – his wife and kids.

Tiger is the world’s #1 contender in golf but it seems he’s got work to do to be a contender in other areas of his life.

I won’t judge Tiger. I hope he learns from his mistakes this week and comes back stronger than ever. There certainly will be alot of interest in finding out.

Where You Come From Impacts Where You’re Going!

October 19, 2009

Very often, where a person comes from is a factor overlooked in performance. Most examination in how a very high performer reached their heights looks at how much work they did to get there – we’re hearing all about a 10,000 hour threshold now – and how great performers seemed to work on the right things to get to where they are.

And all of that may be true – and obvious. Yes – work hard and on the right things and results may come. But, lots of performers work hard and on the right things – and fall short.

How often do you ever hear about the performer’s background, the stability and support provided by parents and caregivers – and how important this might be in where the person is now? How can this possibly be overlooked when your foundational memories and experiences happen during this time and this memory shapes your thinking later in life?

It has been my experience working with performers in different areas – that their backgrounds define who they are and this shapes their thinking in performance. Some performers come from what I call a “Peak” background where parents and homelife were stable and emotional experiences were positive. These performers had positive relationships at school … and at work and had the foundation to give back later and reach the “peak” of performance. Some performers come from a “wedge” background where home life was unstable and parents lacked self-awareness. These performers may have stuggled with relationships at school and at work and are left with negative emotions “wedged” inside of them. These emotions take up the space and focus inside the person and there is less to give back.

It is very possible a “wedge” person can move to the peak side “and back again” – and vice versa for a peak person. Circumstances in our lives can create shifts.

My point is that in order to look at average and outstanding performance and performers, a factor that must be considered is the performer’s background. Their emotional memory and experiences shapes thinking later on – shaping behavior and ultimately shaping performance.

This is another piece of self-awareness – performers must understand their emotional memories and what key experiences shape their thinking. Negative emotional memories have a very bad habit of popping up and shaping thinking when pressure increases for performers – and many performers don’t understand where this comes from.

Contenders Find a Way Under Pressure

October 15, 2009

If you’re a golfer and saw the President’s Cup on the weekend, you saw one of the world’s top contenders do it again to his competitors. On Saturday morning, things looked bleak on the 17th hole for Tiger Woods and his partner, Steve Stricker. Woods and Stricker were down one hole with two holes to play on the 17th hole of the match. Their competitors, Mike Weir and Tim Clark were about five feet from the hole in two shots. Woods and Stricker were about 25 feet from the hole in two shots. Woods was putting the ball from 25 feet, Weir for his team from five feet. Things looked mightly bleak for the Woods/Stricker duo. If Woods missed the 25 foot putt and Weir made the five foot putt – by far the most likely scenario – the match was over.

Enter one of the world’s top contenders – Tiger Woods.

[picapp src=”d/7/0/d/Tiger_Woods_and_55d4.JPG?adImageId=6188124&imageId=6768974″ width=”234″ height=”164″ /]Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker at the President’s Cup

Woods proceeded to putt first and hole the difficult, breaking 25 foot putt under extreme pressure – knowing that if he didn’t make the putt – his team was probably doomed.

It was then Mike Weir’s turn to make his putt and take a lead to the 18th hole and guarantee his team at least a tie. Obviously shaken by the Woods putt, Weir wasn’t close on his short putt and he and Clark allowed Woods and Stricker new life in the match. Woods and Stricker went on to win the 18th hole with a fantastic shot by Woods and win the match.

This is a great example how performers are separated – this example at the highest level of a sport. While Mike Weir is a fantastic golfer with great talent, the ability to allow talent to flouish under pressure is reserved for those with high levels of self-awareness and the key competencies enabled as a result of that self-awareness. Contenders consistently perform under pressure, others can’t quite make it happen as often as they’d like.

What Separates Average Performers and High Performers?

October 4, 2009

Any conversation in regard to performance must begin with one concept – the concept of self-awareness. Without self-awareness, consistent, sustainable performance is impossible. Contenders have self-awareness and know what makes them tick. Pretenders lack self-awareness and hesitate in knowing what makes them tick.

Here’s the problem and one of the primary reasons I wrote the book – “You are a Contender! Build Emotional Muscle to Perform Better and Achieve More … in Business, Sports and Life” – a very small percentage of people have a significant enough level of self-awareness to be truly consistent. In our research approximately 2 out of 10 people have a reasonable level of self-awareness.

What is self-awareness?

Very simply, it is the ability to know and understand yourself.  You may be self-aware if you can answer yes to the following questions –

1. Do you understand how your emotions impact you and your performance from moment to moment?

2. Do you understand how your emotions impact others?

3. Do you intimately know your strengths and limits? Can you write them down?

4. Do you solicit ongoing feedback from others about your performance?

5. Are your values and goals always aligned with your actions? Have you clearly defined your values and goals and written them down?

6. Do you make time for self-reflection and thoughtfulness?

This is a starting point to determine your level of self-awareness. We also use assessment tools with our clients to help them understand where they may need work and where their strengths lie.

Let me step back just for a moment –

Any performer knows that the ultimate state of high performance is a high level of belief in yourself and your abilities. The sad reality for most performers is that in not knowing themselves well and understanding what makes them tick – what exactly are they believing in? This is the situation I found myself in playing high level professional golf in the late 80s and early 90s. Sports psychologists and supporters constantly told me to “believe in myself” and that’s all I needed to move myself to the next level. While this was great advice and the truth – the problem was that I didn’t have enough self-awareness and know myself well enough to know what to truly believe in. I was attempting to believe in something I didn’t understand.

So self-awareness is the starting point and the foundation for great performance.


October 1, 2009

I am new at this – so be patient!

I’m beginning a blog to share some thoughts with you around my new book “You are a Contender! Build Emotional Muscle to Perform Better and Achieve More … in Business, Sports and Life” and continue the conversation over the next number of months about performance and what truly separates average and outstanding performers. See the “About” section for some background about me and why I’m writing this blog.

The book will be released on December 15,2009 – but I’ll preview some ideas in the book and share thoughts about how the book came to be.

More later about Contenders and Pretenders.