When I’m working with a team to teach them how the brain works, I take them through my go-to favorite exercise that illustrates a really important concept, one that is very easy to forget.
- First, I tell everyone in the room to look around for the color red. They might suddenly notice the red sweatshirt, the red button, the tiny bit of red in the painting on the wall, little things that they hadn’t noticed before.
- Then ask them what blue items they noticed in the room, and of course, they didn’t SEE blue because they weren’t LOOKING for blue.
I was reminded of this recently; reminded that this lack of awareness about things that you’re not looking for happens all the time. Even those of us that teach this stuff fall victim to it. That’s why we often need others in our life to remind us to look for opportunities, to see things in ourselves that we take for granted and don’t fully appreciate, to see the goodness in others, or to look out for the color blue.
Simply put, we have to remind ourselves all the time that we ONLY see what we are looking for.
I’ve been a mental training coach for 10 years now, and when I began teaching this, the subject of mindfulness was one that most people were unfamiliar with. I started teaching this before mindfulness was cool, before pro athletes talked about their sports psychologist openly, before Chris Paul was making videos about meditation. So, I had some years of struggle. Okay, more like a LOT of years. I had to fight through trying to grow a business on a shoestring budget, not paying myself, scrambling to get clients, not getting my phone calls returned, and a general lack of understanding of the importance of mental training.
Don’t get me wrong; I had forward-thinking clients that totally ‘got’ what I did, and they kept me afloat. But there were some very lean years.
During this time, I consistently had people reaching out to me, wanting to be a mental training coach. They’d say “Lindsey, I’m passionate about mental training and I’ve seen firsthand how much this is needed and I feel called to work with athletes in this way.”
All I had for them was encouragement.
You see, I was still struggling; I didn’t feel qualified or authorized to teach them. I certainly didn’t want to be one of those business coaches that just sold the ‘dream’ of success to other coaches, without having ever having been successful themselves. I thought it was tacky and irresponsible to start training others to do what I do when I, myself, was barely getting by.
But then, something shifted in my business, in our collective consciousness, in my success; my business became what I’d be working for all those years. People were calling me; I finally had something people craved. I went from surviving to thriving.
But because I’d had so many years of struggle, I was stuck in a mindset that couldn’t see the new opportunity; the opportunity to coach other coaches. It was there, it’s been there for a few years but I couldn’t see it.
Introducing: Becoming A Mental Training Coach
When I launched Becoming a Mental Training Coach last week, it felt so ‘right’ that I could hardly believe I didn’t do it a few years ago. But then I remembered… I wasn’t looking for it.
I share this with you because I know how hard it is to see opportunities that are literally right in front of us. We become blind to them and struggle to change our old way of thinking.
When we are focused on red, it’s almost impossible to see blue.
So how did I actually shift my brain to notice this opportunity? I received an email from someone who asked for advice about wanting to start her own coaching business, and the idea popped in my brain. But this time, instead of discounting it as I had before, I asked myself this: If I was going to teach her how to start her own mental training business, what would/could I teach her?
And I listened to my own response. I brainstormed out a list of 20 things in a matter of 5 minutes. Once I asked myself the question and opened my mind to it, the answers came pouring out.
I looked at the list and I thought: I have to do this.
My point is this: I started with a question. I asked myself, ‘What if I wanted to do this…?’. There was no commitment, no big plan. Just me, a pen, paper, and a creative open-ended question.
So, I ask you this series of questions to get your brain thinking in a new way. Don’t take them too seriously, just ‘play’ with the questions; they are designed to open your mind, so don’t immediately discount them even if you feel silly. Choose one or two of them to brainstorm about (or all of them!) and write your responses down.
- What if you ________? What would that look like?
- What is the opportunity in front of you that you aren’t seeing?
- If you couldn’t fail at something, what would you at least try?
- Pretend anything is possible (live on an island, retire early), what steps would you take to get there?
- If you could totally reinvent and shift something big in your life (career, where you live, diet etc.) what would that be and what would you do instead?
And finally, ask yourself how you can apply this to your athletes? What are your athletes looking for, and what are they seeing? How might they benefit from shifting their mindset? Then, comment in the section below.
P.s. If you are like the coach I mentioned above, and you feel called to do mental training work, please check out Becoming a Mental Training Coach. We are currently accepting applications for this Fall.