If I were to ask you, what's your best moment on the court and tell me two moments outside of the sport that you feel like those are the best moments of my life. And almost everybody, actually, everybody that has ever described that, to me, in a true sense, has talked about moments where like nothing else in the world matters.
And they're completely absorbed in that moment. And when we're in that space, there's no room for negativity, like, the vision is so strong, the mission is so strong. It's not, I can't get in the minutiae of like, Oh, I just missed the shot, or I just miss my service that yes, and let's go, I can't wait for the next one.
Today's guest on the Mindset Coach Academy is Courtney Thompson. Courtney is such a badass in the mindset coaching world and volleyball world. And in general, she was a two time Olympian, Olympic medalist on USA volleyball, and she is currently the assistant coach at Stanford University. But she's also been a mindset coach for a company called Compete to Create. And so she has learned mindset coaching, as a self as an elite athlete.
And she's also taught it and so she has some really great insight, I can't wait for you to hear this interview. Just a few things that I think were just so insightful. She talked a lot about her routines. As an athlete, as an Olympic athlete, what are the things he actually did on a day to day basis, I think you're gonna really like, and also the four key skills that she learned, as an elite athlete to get to that next level.
And to really enjoy the process of playing under pressure in things like the Olympic Games. There was one thing that we talked about, about midway through the episode, and at the end that I think, was like this exercise that I've heard before, and I've sort of done some iterations on it. But I really, really cannot wait for you to hear this exercise.
This is going to teach about learning to control the uncontrollable learning to control the controllables and let go of the uncontrollable, you're really, really going to like this, whether you do it for yourself or people that you leave. So without further do, Courtney Thompson.
Hi, guys, and welcome to Mindset Coach Academy podcast. My name is Lindsey Wilson, obviously, and I am here with Courtney. Hi, Courtney.
Hi. Thanks for having me.
Absolutely. I have this whole list of things that I want to talk to you about. And of course, we just chatted a little bit offline. I think one of the things that I just want to dive right in, I already talked about your bio and all the amazing things you've done as an Olympian and now she's assistant volleyball coach at Stanford, and you're such a big time. I mean, you really are.
And I think one of the things I've always appreciated about you is not only are you big time, and been so successful on the poor and off, but you are able to talk about in a way that's really relatable and vulnerable. And I'm just really excited for that. And for our conversation today. For all of our listeners, I just want to shout out to you for being that way. I think it's just so so awesome.
Thank you. I heard a huge amount about our conversation earlier. So I'm looking forward to diving in.
All right, let's do this. All right. So I really want to, I mean, obviously the Mindset Coach Academy, talk about mindset, all things mindset, we sit in the student chair, and we nerd out on mindset, and a lot of our listeners are coaches, maybe some are parents, leaders, a lot of them have a sports background. And I think, you know, thinking about your mindset journey, as an athlete, as now a coach as a human.
And just thinking about, if you could sort of start from wherever you want to start. And obviously that would be in as an athlete, I think but where have you worked on your mindset? Where have you struggled with your mindsets? Where has your mindset journey sort of taken you? If you could go into that?
Yeah, well cut me off if I start rambling. But I think, one of the first places my mind goes to is when I was younger, when I failed, or when they didn't get what I wanted and when I was in high school, I wasn't the tallest or the best, but I worked really hard. And I was a little bit obsessive. So I won a lot. And when I didn't, my response to that was I will double down on what got me good and that was hard work. I would do more.
And when I got to college, it was the same. Typically that worked out for me in high school and in college, especially the first few years. That was the case. We would lose and I would work do extra workouts extra rest, and that would help me and I remember my college coach Jim was often like, telling me, the best in the world know how to rest. And it's not always about doing more.
And it really wasn't it didn't sink in until I was on the USA team. After my first Olympics, I kind of continued that pattern. And it wasn't till then that I met a guy named Michael Gervais, who now runs Finding Mastery and worked with the Seahawks and I worked with him at Compete to Create. And he came in and just said, there's three things you can train as a human, your body, your craft and your mind.
And it was the first time that I understood in that way that you could, you could literally train your mind in the same way that I approach, training my body with intention, looking at my weaknesses, and with discipline over and over, and then getting reps doing it, and that completely changed my relationship with unknowns and challenge and comparing myself to others in a way, like, feel like I would read a book when I was younger, like, I read Mind Gym, and I listened to everything I could find about Phil Jackson and the Bulls.
And I was a nerd for that stuff as a kid, but it didn't sink in. And I didn't create lasting habits, I think, until I was on the USA team. And then, I guess what I want to say, competing in the Olympics, with this knowledge was way different than without it. And it propelled me to want to, like teach this stuff and share and help kids, do better than I did and struggle, struggle less than I did in that space. And what I learned in like going into, Compete to Create, we would go into corporate rooms, with 1000s of people or an executive team.
And the things that I wrestled was on the volleyball court of comparing myself or being like, dude, am I good enough to be here? Do I have what it takes to be me in this moment? It was like they were all coming up again. And then even as a coach in a sport that I've played in two Olympics in and had a lot of back into coaching? Do do I know this answer? Like, are they gonna? And it's like your mind, what I learned is that you have the skills yet we have to train them in every context. At least I do.
So I guess, yeah, that's a long answer. But I think the skills transfer to everything, which is beautiful. But what I've found is in every context dive in , whether it's with family that, challenging moments, or a relationship or a different job, it's like an opportunity to just like, retrain, and to bring these skills back to life. And there's a there's a rhythm and like a vibration, feeling that I have when I'm on it, that is like the best. And I'm always wanting to tap into that more often.
Did you find that rhythm? Like on accident before? Or was it only when you learn sort of this stuff? Yeah, I mean, like, could you, did you have? I mean, you obviously were super successful without mental training. But were you able, like what? Like, I think about my career, and I literally wouldn't have played division one without mental training. You were, you did it without I mean, I'm sure you had some skills inside just without knowing it. Right. I think a lot of athletes do. But I'm just wondering if that vibration and that energy that you got from practicing, real mental skills. If you found that before, it was just more sporadic or inconsistent, or if it was just sort of after that you got to the another level.
I mean, totally, that's a really fun question. Yes. I feel like I would hit that feeling. And not in a cocky way. But I think the joy because I think joy is in that that feeling. I think I tapped into that more than most people as a high school kid.
And as far as, like, I would naturally be in my room at night and pretend that I just want to state title and just like I'm throwing my hands up. I'm like, I got chills. I got chills just now. Like I was, you're visualizing right. Nobody had no idea. And getting all these reps of like, touching that magic or whatever.
Yeah, I love that.
Yeah, like, some days with my team, we would all become aligned. The stars would align.. And then the next day I’d be like oh, that's gonna happen again. And I’d be like where’d the hell that go?
And so I would do things like eat the same subway sandwich or listen to the same music which occasionally helped. But there was the other part where like, as you know, and I know now, one piece of doubt would come in or something would happen externally that was start this kind of negative spiral.
Or I would feel tired, and then judge myself for being tired or doubt myself and judge myself for being doubtful. So it wasn't always like the actual negative event. It was like how I compiled that by letting myself sit and all that negativity. And it propelled me to train a lot, because I, anxiety can make us, can help us get really good. But I didn't know how to recreate that moment of flow, or just being really present. And that is the thing that I had no idea you could train day to day.
Yeah, I think I had some question about that. But I do want to go to what were the actual things that you learned? I mean, what I'm from an actionable standpoint, I mean, first, what I was gonna say is, I think, I'm glad that you said that there is some good with that, like, tough as nails mentality. I think a lot of times, I want to talk about that transition.
Because I think when I work with an athlete, oftentimes the biggest, what am I trying to say, the biggest struggle for them is letting go of what used to work and gotten there, but it's no longer working. Do you remember that? When you got down with Dr. Gervais, or when you were learning these things, you had been super successful being Courtney obsessive hard on herself, like nothing's ever good enough fear base. And it served you. Yeah. What was that, like from an even from an emotional standpoint of deciding that? You wanted to try something new?
It's funny is I remember talking to you about that. And you reminding me like, Yeah, you're good. But you're telling me you want to be different, and you're doing the same things. And you have a very beautiful way of being loving and also like reflecting reality, you are not in alignment here.
I love working with athletes because they can take
I remember, I remember listening to Mike talk about confidence for the first time. And he was talking about self-talk and training self talk to be productive. And I remember thinking, why is he trying to make me less competitive?
And if I don't beat myself up, like, that's who I've been my entire life, and I've cared more than everyone I've ever met up to that point about working out and eating healthy and training, enough that I felt like an outlier in that way. And this is a huge part of me. And the real conversations with you conversations with Mike helped.
And the crux of it, I think is like when you, when I asked athletes now to articulate what it's like at their best when they're like at their best. And if you, if I were to ask you, what's your best moment on the court and tell me the moments outside of the sport that you feel like those are the best moments of your life.
And almost everybody, actually, everybody that has ever described that, to me, in a true sense, has talked about moments where like nothing else in the world matters. And they're completely absorbed in that moment. And when we're in that space, there's no room for negativity, like, the vision is so strong, the mission is so strong. It's not I can't get in the minutiae of like, Oh, I just miss a shot, or I just miss my service that yes, and let's go, I can't wait for the next one.
And it was one of that finally clicked in for me. That like responding in a more mature way, doesn't make me less competitive makes me more was like, oh, and then there's a years of me still feeling like I needed to externally pout or scream or, and sometimes that happens naturally. Sometimes it was like, Wait, but my whole team knows I'm competitive. So I should probably shouldn't be. That was like a weird identity piece to like, go.
Yeah. Well, it's like, when you are that successful? You feel like, the reason that you're so successful is because you've been this way. Like, why would you change? I mean, I guess one of the questions is, what was the impetus for changing? I mean, what did you have a sense that you could find that flow more? Was it just so hard at that level that you needed to change? Or were you just getting older and wanting to try? You know what I mean, like, what, most people don't change, unless they're trying to get to more pleasure or avoid some sort of pain, right? So why did you end up changing because you've been successful without that?
Good question. I was in a really low, right. I was in a rut. Just nothing that I had previously done was working. So I was doing in the rest of that original story. I was doing more and there was no As we're getting lower and lower, I wasn't making rosters that was in traveling and I wasn't playing well. I wasn't playing free. I felt really constricted.
And yeah, yeah. And I felt like I was pedaling a bike uphill faster and faster and like moving backwards. And then I was having no fun. Like, I wasn't laughing outside of practice. I wasn't finding any joy. I wanted to quit, like, all those things. And I was like, there's nothing that like, I mean, they're gonna quit or I'm and figure something else out. What else and.
And that's when I really started diving in and getting to your practical question, the four skills that I really jumped into were control. So like placing my attention on what I can control, which required me daily training, I think that was the hardest thing, and maybe the biggest shift for me.
Mindfulness, which, for someone that has a hard time recovering, or letting go things like, I never was really good at winding down. And even just like my whole nervous system, like calm, and then in mindfulness also helped me be more aware of that inner dialogue. So then I could train because I was aware of it, where I was placing my attention and training confidence. And then there's one more that I am blanking on right now.
But those are the mindfulness control and confidence were, oh, really big ones. The other one I kind of mentioned, but just being able to generate calm. So in moments that I perceive to be important, how can I find that rhythm and flow for me and not run too hot? Which is my tendency
To push harder? Yeah, yeah. There's so many common myths like, Oh, yeah. We're down here getting involved. Everybody's move out the way. We're just sometimes worked, but not that often. Okay, let's go even deeper. So an inch, I want to hear what you're, like actual day-to-day habits have been routines, how they've evolved. You know, we talked earlier, and one of the things we talked about a lot is practicing what you preach, holding the mirror up going first, as a coach, as a leader, as a parent, as a, whatever. You want other people to learn mental skills, and instill them in them, being able to do it yourself.
But yeah, from a day-to-day standpoint, what is the thing? How do you actually work on control, not control mindfulness? What do you do when you're trying to build confidence and be calm under pressure? Yeah, what is what are the kinds of routines that you're doing? And how do they differ now from when you were an athlete? I'm sure you had pregame routines and that kind of stuff.
They do differ quite a bit. Now, do you want me to talk about when I was an athlete, or just now?
Yeah, I would love Yeah, I would love it. I'm loving this. And I started training.
I mean, six minutes of mindfulness felt like a lifetime. But it was a game-changer for me. So I would do six minutes, a wake up in the morning. This is when I was competing on the USA team. And I would do six minutes of mindfulness. I usually you recorded a lot for me that I use pregame but I have one in the morning that I would use it was more just kind of a feel-good. You know, calm a few breaths focused on something that you're grateful for.
With a guide or do you do it on your own?
I did guide. I used to do for the morning, I would do like six to 10 minutes of guided meditation. And then I would get out of bed and do a six-minute yoga routine. That was just really nice for me to kind of connect to the body and the brain and get me going before I saw other humans often on the road, yeah.
And then I would pregame do a visualization for 5 to 15 minutes. And then if I was training I would do once I got home from the gym so we had days that were you get there at 7:30 and you leave it 4, for me to wind down I would come home and you tend to 20 minutes not guided just kind of music and just let myself really wind down and scratching usually and uncomfortable for the first eight minutes.
And then I just felt this like systems thinking in and it was like okay, kind of bookending the day and moving, recovery and being outside of the game. Those were really profound for me. The training of control that I did, often was writing down This is very simple, but I was yes, yeah, I would write down two columns. And I would literally write the thing that was stressing me out, I'm not gonna make this roster or they're better than me or, I'm not playing well.
I would write down on the left side, all the things that I could do to get the outcome I wanted that day, like, literally, I can make a teammate, I can get rest, I can work out I can, I can meditate. And then on the other side, I would write down all the thoughts that were real and important to me. But actually, I couldn't control so what the coaches will say, whether people get kills off the sets that I put up, who's passing against, with me, all this stuff, outcomes, parents, families.
And then before I would go to the walk in the gym, I rip it in half and throw away the part I can control the physical way of me to be like, and you will also like this because I've been through the same, some of these mental skills, they felt soft to me at first. And so I wasn't angry, like, I would write this list and be like, I won't say it now, a lot of swearing. And I'm like because it was, I wasn't mad. My intention was to get distracted by the stuff that really mattered to me in my life, like, am I gonna make this Olympic team, I care a lot about it.
Through you for instructing me from this set, and I did it so much that I would walk into the gym and be like, a true human. Like, For talking about the paper that I just wrote. No, I'm not going to waste any time on you today. And the more like, bullish I got about it, the better I was. And bla bla, and you're using your personality? You're using what? You're natural. Yeah, that's awesome. When I'm at my best, I'm a little aggressive on the court. So yes, yeah.
So you got to kind of mad at the thoughts when you were throwing them away.
Yeah. And it was kind of just like, gaining energy to like, no, no, no, not today. Like you. You're my brains doing this thing. Like, screw you. This matters too much for me, for you to get in the way right now. Yeah. And that mentality was really helpful, the more anxious, and the more kind of like all that. All that noise was building up for me, and the more I countered it by being aggressive. It was helpful.
I love that. Okay. I think that's good stuff. I mean, I love that last exercise. I mean, I've taught it and I've done it in other ways, as far as like, burning the piece of thoughts that aren't helping you or throwing things away. And, as a, as a hypnotist, I know you we've done some guided imagery and metaphor work like, those metaphors are really powerful. And clearly, it's not just a metaphor, you're actually throwing it away. But that physical act. There's a lot to it. Not just, you know, and so I think that's really, really cool. And something that something actionable that we can all do, of course, I love all that little actionable thing that
I also, I'm curious, maybe anything about this that you sent me, and this is what I started doing the most. You sent me personalized visualizations when I was overseas, and I was really struggling and started to work with Mike on this stuff. And then I was like, okay, yes, and I want something a little more me. So you sent me a few.
And I remember doing them in my room before games. And what when I was in my best I was tapping into the feelings that I got when I was like touching that magic. But I was laying in bed just thinking about like putting walking into the arena. And I think I'm way more muscular than most people. So I don't know if that works for everyone. But it really just helped me get rid of all this noise appear. And then they would just keep, keep.
Well, I think that as I've talked about earlier, part of our certification now is the performance visualization specialist. And it really is one of the most powerful tools, our mindset coaches learn. Because you can be working on all this stuff. Or if you're lucky enough to work with a mindset coach, whether individually or with your team, you have all this space in between the time you get to work with them, and especially working on the stuff on your own.
And it's great to have things you know, that are tangible that you can do on a day-to-day basis. And it's also really good to be able to close your eyes and get those mental reps and put in it's not about the coach they do the guided visualization for you but you are doing it in your mind and you're reminding yourself that you can touch that magic whenever you want.
And then like you said the mental reps of connecting with your mind on a deep subconscious level. I don't think there's anything like it. I mean I'm biased because that's what I do both in my coaching and what I teach our mindset coaches in the academy but I'm really happy to I've actually kind of forgotten I remember doing some for you but that was a while ago and yours. Did you Oh that's so cool.
Well, that's my, that's what my coach did for me. And I would, I had a little library of ones that he had done for me and I would use them at different times. And then I had ones that I went to for pregame. Yeah. And it's like, you have this, like 10 minutes where you are like, in your brain, you have a guide, so you don't have to like walk, your mind doesn't wander, and you go wherever you need to go. And it's so empowering.
It is. The COVID I'm sure your coaches, you're teaching them, which is also really cool. Because I remember you asking, you send a few and then you're like, what words are resonating? What are the ideas? What are like, yeah, where do you drop in the most? And then you would send another iteration of like, alright, let's use that. And that's a really fun process to be in as an athlete.
And now, when it's like, oh, because if I'm able to answer that, I'm really aware. Yeah. And then as a coach, it's also really fun for me to get to help other people like, where are you dropping in? And I think that's so important. The thing I get kind of fired up about now, as it relates to this, and I'm curious, your thoughts is that, we talk about front-loading mental skills a lot. If we don't do this stuff, and then the night before the game, you call on the lens and struggle a little bit, it's like, squat, let me go get strong the night before the game.
You're gonna be tired. Like, it doesn't work like that. And I think that when you're really stressed, and you're so innocent, your whole nervous system is responding in a way that feels like you're flooded. You can't think your way out of that. So when we tell kids to calm down or like, hey, just focus on this. It works in a classroom. And we can gain skills to do that more efficiently. And I know you're nervous. I'm just saying, I didn't think of it this way before.
But if our whole system is flooded, it's hard to go to thoughts. And so when we're tying in more of the like, cinematic stuff, and like, Oh, my heart, and this is how I actually calm down in then I can put my attention here. To me, that's really fascinating. And I almost I usually would teach thoughts to like, oh, just do this, like. And I think now, I have more awareness around like, oh, yeah, this is really hard when you're flooding. I don't know,
It's interesting because I went through some trauma this summer, I'll tell you all, offline, but I remember talking to my therapist, and she's like, it's sometimes when you're in trauma, or fight or flight and your sympathetic nervous system gets activated. There's nothing you can do, except on the physical side. Right? Like, you're you have to, as you said, you can't think your way out of it. You have to go back to the body.
And, and that's why I love hearing about, like, calming the nervous system and, and, cold showers. And obviously, a lot of us go to work out to control our parasympathetic nervous system. And breathing, and so I think one, there's always that mind-body connection, I think it's really important to athletes really get because you're right. I mean, once you, I was just to another podcast this morning, I was just talking about. Yeah, it was a softball podcast, and we were talking about, like, if they missed the ground ball, there's nothing new to say, at that moment that is going to help.
And so if you haven't practiced some sort of routine, it's going to be really hard because we go back to routines and systems. If we practice them enough, that's what we can go back. That's what that's our anchor, so we can hold on to get us out of it. But you're right.
The training of your like in that if you have a system or like Hey, I do these three things, that is calming, and you are placing your attention on something and you've drifted, you've done those. The other natural advantage to being on a team is like connection helps with that. And like where you and I were talking about before this idea of like coaches embodying what we're preaching, sometimes easy and sometimes really hard now that I'm on the coaching set.
I'm like, Oh, I get it now this is not easy when you care a lot and you've invested a lot but I just think you get what reminded me is like there are moments where there's, well, first of all, there's a lot of timeouts and volleyball and challenges take like 20 minutes like there's a lot of time you have It feels like you don't have time with your athletes.
But also, there are pockets of there are only so many things we can say. You know, and as a young athlete in a huddle is a little bit, you're saying all these things, and it's like, come from this place. Like, what's the one thing we want to say right now, we don't just stay alive. But what I've found to be really helpful is these moments, physically connecting, or eye contact, taking breaths together, or just like holding it or calming for a minute, like, hey, that natural pause you have when you're really grounded and feeling like calm and like, connected to the vision and the mission is like, I got you to do this one thing. You're gonna be fine. Right? Now, I need you to do this.
Something like that. Or like even like just standing shoulder to an athlete, rather than, like, face to face. You know? What do you think about this? Or what do you feel in on this and just like little moments, to find a different way to connect rather than just words. I'm not saying I'm good at this. I'm talking about this. Like, I'm on it all the time. I just noticed myself being like, wow, I just said something that doesn't even make sense. Like, thirds, or whatever, they come off the bench and say something that I don't even know what I meant by that. You know, like that came out really wonky? Or there are just only so many things you can say, in a game?
Well, yeah, I mean, I think our dependency on words is I remember my husband was I was laughing about, like, how many times you're in the huddle. And, you're like, do ABC and the athletes go out and do XYZ and they get in it? And I think, but back to like the fight or flight response. I mean, it don't you think so much of that is the feeling of safety. Right? Like, I'm getting a high five, someone is looking at me, everything's gonna be okay. The Saber-toothed Tigers gonna kill me right now. Because that's what it feels like. I mean, that's got to be part of it. Right? I mean, that's where my breathing helps. I would imagine. That's why some of that other stuff is so helpful. Because
you can be yourself. And that's celebrated. And I'm free to make mistakes, mistakes 100%?
Well, there's that research on the NBA teams that because of like, correlate their success with how many times they high fived, or did, like, yeah, there's some research on that. But I love that. Okay, so you brought up failure, though. And that's that idea of psychological safety. Right? That's a big thing in society. But I want to talk about that, from a sports perspective. And from a coaching perspective.
So a little bit of a segue, but it's all almost all such mindset stuff. And you've mentioned that, and I think I actually had it on my list, like, the two things that I think are really important from a mindset standpoint are, how do you prepare to be successful? Prepare your mind to be successful, your subconscious mind to be successful? And how you deal with failure? And I'm interested in how Courtney Thompson does that first of all, and then I'm also interested in how you cope, that how'd you prepare yourself to be successful in your life? Is there anything that you do is there? You're driven, you're a very driven person, and you've been really successful? What kind of mindset stuff? Do you do? I mean, you said you visualize as a young girl.
So now, okay. Yeah, I do. For me, the foundation of mindset skills for me is meditating. And I think that can look a lot of different ways for people. But in my experience, there are so many traps to looking externally for answers. And there's so much wisdom if we are able to get really clear on this actually feels right to me, and this is what I want.
Or there's some sort of dissonance for me right now. And maybe that's my tone. Maybe it's something I'm picking up. I don't know. I don't know if that makes sense. But to me, that's been kind of the work now as a coach, is let me get myself aligned, so that I can show up fully engaged, and giving and loving and all that stuff. It takes a lot of discipline.
Let's go counter to what we've always been taught, right, like, Courtney, you spent your whole life doing a lot do less, don't do nothing.
It's incredible. And I will say one of the things that I've noticed or the gap that I have missed on one of the biggest gaps and missed as a coach. So I was coaching clinics before of all ages, kids, and coaches. And then I jumped into coaching at Stanford. So In 22-year-old, young woman, I would ask questions they wouldn't see, and they would respond like, well, this happens in a year. But what did it feel? Like? They're like, well, I saw this and did this and like, yes, and go further.
But they're like, what I've learned is, I think it's really challenging. And I almost forgot how long that took me as an athlete to be aware. And I've made a career of being aware of my thoughts, and feelings and emotions in my teaching. I was kind of blown away by like, I'm like, wow. And I think a lot of has to do with our environment right now. Phones, even to get into college is like all these external versus if that's a deviation.
What, what is it? I think there's a huge opportunity for coaches, to continue being more aware of themselves and also for the athletes to just improve that self-awareness. And I also remember talking with Tamara was my best friend, we played at Washington together, and she's the assistant coach on the USA women's volleyball team.
Now, they just won a gold medal. And two years ago, I remember asking her what is the biggest challenge you think you see in the athletes? And she said, awareness, I think, as coaches, I've struggled with and trying to be better at asking better questions and then giving them time to improve their awareness.
Because, like, we learned how to coach confidence, and I just want to dive into thoughts, but most young kids have never once considered, what are their thoughts? Like, when I asked someone, what are what is the nature of your thoughts in the night today? I bet you can answer that, because you've committed your life to be on this path, and you're around and you talk about it, you live it.
But that's a really hard question for people what do you what does that even mean? You know, are they? Are they fast? Did you do you feel right? You feel heavy? Are you out here? Are you kind of in your own experience? And anyway, I think that's, for me, the biggest killer.
It's such an interesting, I love that answer. Because, so many people, when you ask about, like how they plan for success, it's like, well, New Year's Day, I write down all my New Year's resolutions, and I have a vision board. And hey, I'm into all that stuff. Like, I think that's, that's great. But the idea that one of the pillars to your success is finding that space to, to essentially listen to yourself, right? I mean, that's kind of what you're saying, and that maybe your athletes are they don't have that space, where they'll have that practice of finding that space.
I like that. They don't have that practice,
I think so.
And for them to, to be able to, as we start at the beginning, they all at this level has touched the magic, it's just about like, how do we recreate it more often? And when it's not there, which is 90% of the time? What do we do then? Like how can we be our best in that, all those moments? And I think it is a disservice to not talk about being more work, because that's like, how do we turn any of this stuff? And just from a personal standpoint?
I'm also wondering if they're kind of scared of some of those thoughts too, like, is it okay to be nervous? Is it okay to fail and feel like I don't belong here? And like all those and that was kind of a next thing about like, how do you deal with failure, but I think some of that comes down to, like, the shame of let's call them negative thoughts. Right? Do you see any of that or? Yes?
No, I think there's attractive success and impostor syndrome and comparing yourself to others. Those are like the three STLR, especially at a place like anybody at a high level a different type of person is able to get into Stanford, I'm not one of them.
But you're over the fear of failure. Yeah, I think it's, I think it's rampant and it's strong. And it's, it's interesting because a lot of kids these days are getting tons of praise for all these external outcomes, which is great. But it's like, I think the measure for me is like if we're, if we're winning, let's say, as a coach or as an athlete, and your first feeling is a relief. Or you get a kill was the end of the game and it's like, the same job that's over instead of like a celebratory mood, we did it a joy. I think we're missing.
To me, that's a sign of like, I'm constricting, or I'm Hope. I'm not hopeful. That's a good thing. But I'm letting fear of failure drive my behavior, or I am so tied to this outcome that if I don't get it, my identity is at stake. And that requires some work. Yeah. Know what we're doing in life. So for me, I guess, am I talking too much?
No, I'm glad you're saying, Meeks. I want to hear like how do you deal with failure or prepare to deal with failure or work on your thoughts around failure?
I mean, that's a hard thing as a German person. It is hard. And I will say it's been really good for me to be back in the Marvel world. Because there are all these things as a mindset coach when I was only coaching clinics, and I was like, come on, like, it's not about winning or losing. You're like, dude, I'm in it right now. Like, oh, I have a great perspective, I have mental skills, and I'm still kind of in it.
So for me, it's I am constantly reminded that this is a daily practice. Confidence is a daily practice, control is very practiced. When the other one that stands out to me is when I'm anxious, it's not the anxiety that is killing me. It's what I do. So am I judging myself? You know, or am I right? I'm like, Oh, hi. Okay. There you are. I've seen you before. This means I care and lovingly work through it rather than like, you're an idiot. I can't believe that I can I have a very embarrassing story.
I love embarrassing.
So I'm telling you to share this with many people other than my family. And they laughed. I mean, this was after, but they laughed so hard because they couldn't believe this happened. So I'm a two-time Olympian, I was a mindset coach for five years. I'm now coaching at Stanford, and part of my role at Stanford is to help the girls warm-up.
So I'm talking volleyballs, which I've done for years at clinics, I've never had an issue. And we're in a game that I didn't feel very anxious about, like, I didn't get anxious about winning games, because I do feel very convicted. Like when we're learning we're going.
And for whatever reason, I've talked about in my center, it goes over the net. And I like, I'm like, Oh, that was embarrassing. Okay, the next one is I tend to read often. And so they're looking at me, they those kinds of giggling the next one, I tossed over the net. I got to like the straight-up, Lindsay, I know, I've got you guys it was bad. And then I like freaked out. And I was like, I was just beating myself up about it. I was like, yeah.
And the girls are like, dude, aren't you months? Like, what are you doing? I was like, Oh, my God, this is mortifying, but I got like in my head, and it was like, I don't know, we don't even go too far in it. But all this stuff kind of outside of coaching, it was just anxiety and all this stuff. And what I learned from that is, it was a very humble reminder that like, we're all in pursuit of our best. And when you're on the edge and willing to go for it, like you kind of never know when things get tough. And there's no magic, there's no like, Oh, now I got it.
Now I totally do actually have to get back to practicing these things. And I called them. A few close friends of mine, one of which is getting her Ph.D. in psychology is also an Olympian. And she's like, dude, I'm in it, too. I'm like, I'm getting my tests. I'm doing all these dissertations and stuff, and I'm waking up with my heart rate up and it was like, oh, so we don't get immune to this. We just get better at working through it. And I'm like, dammit. Yeah, like, where's the immunity button?
Yeah, what and like, the, our perception of pressure and how we do it all changes throughout our life. You know, I mean, you set it in Olympic Games, and like, you were okay. But now you have other things and you're doing you're screwing up and warm-up and feeling bad about it. Like, it's like a moving target. And I feel like we've all done really hard things and amazing things. And then there's another arena, so to speak in our life where we have to then learn this stuff and practice the stuff and relearn it.
Yeah, and it's humbling and it reminds you that it that we all are and it, I was thinking about coaches and I think sometimes as an adult you think well, and I remember talking to a coach about this, like, it's not, you're not struggling to pay your mortgage, it's a game of and yet to kids, you need like a little league person a kid, or like, that's a big thing. And the pressure is our perception of pressure. Right? And so we'll have that fight or flight response. We're all just our brains all just trying to survive and keep safe.
The bombers sometimes.
Yeah, I like eliminating curiosity, though, this idea of not judging ourselves for having, not all thoughts are going to be easy or perfect. And that idea, I think, when you have a curiosity, you can kind of step back and say, I feel like I do this sometimes really well. Because I think of it as, as a mindset coach, like, oh, this difficult thing is actually gonna help me coach better, because I can kind of look at and say, Well, how is this react? But other times, I'm just in the middle of it.
And I like it's so true. Same, I think, record question of how or what do I do, I think I'm more efficient at getting to curiosity, which is so important. And I'm also more aware of when I resist something. Like when I first started to get anxious, or like, oh, it's starting to get weird again, it's like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, I'm like, vetrix compounds it, it's almost like, so for me that and then I'm more open with other people. So this happened to me overseas, it would have been probably six months of wrestling with it by myself.
And now I'm like, oh, I need to call a few friends that I know I can trust. And because I know, for me, that's like, what works that helps me get through something difficult. And to be overly emotional, I've gotta like, blurt it out, I gotta be I call it dramatic, but you could just call being real. And like, the more dramatic I got about that process, like, I need to do something physical, because I'm angry, get it out, I need to call people I need to, and then I need to get to what I can control. Like, for me, those are the steps. It was kind of, I almost felt like in coaching, I got lazy with it. And then I was like, Oh, I have to do it. I don't know how to do this. I just have to be able to know.
Yeah. That's amazing. I mean, it's so cool to hear how you've been able to take the things you learned in sports and practice, at a really high level and are able to translate it to your life, which is actually also at a high level but different.
That's really cool.
Toggle between feeling very good. And just incredibly
Well, I mean, I think that's like, the journey and all of that, as, again, like, as leaders, people that are listening to this podcast, it's like, we don't have to have it all figured out. We'd be vulnerable to be on the journey and slog through it. And like I said, hold a mirror up, which a lot of people don't want to do. They don't want to talk about the times they weren't able to control their thoughts the times they felt shame, or the times they weren't, they feel on their face that it is easier to keep those things hidden.
I like what you said before, recording though, that, like, when we do that, as coaches, it's everyone can feel it. You know, when I pretend like I'm good, but like I know, they know, I think they know, oh, we can just be real, it doesn't have to be this thing. And they do to kind of in it. And this is why and so this moment. We're all in this together. And I mean, as athletes, you, you're pursuing these unknowns and these challenges, and you want to be in it with people that are doing that. And it's a really cool opportunity to coach and I do think that takes a high level of confidence.
I think it is particularly hard in the athletic world, maybe every world where it's sort of high level, people and a lot of pressure. It's like, Wait, we're supposed to admit that we're scared, or we're supposed to admit that we don't feel I mean, I don't know that I was able to do this at 18 Even though I'm really trying to do it now. Where it's, it's so much about ego and competitiveness and trying to get to the top of the pile so to speak top of the mountain on your team or whatever it's like to also say that I have doubts going into games, or I'm nervous before this shot or whatever you like that.
I think we're taught not to admit and maybe it's not right to admit in the moment I mean, there is some like, that's fine. but to be able to talk about him, I feel like that's, I don't know if you've experienced this with your work with teams, but like, I feel like so much of some of the mindset work is similar to what you're talking about, which is just helping people be aware, but also helping people understand they're not alone.
You know, like, everybody's struggling with this. And that's why your story is so powerful, because when you talk to people that have played at the highest level in the world, and you say, well, they struggled with these things, and there's not an athlete in the world that hasn't they're being honest. And you don't feel as alone, you don't feel crazy when you have those thoughts are not like, oh, well, no wonder I'm having these thoughts, because I'm not good enough to be here.
It's so true. It's so powerful.
I think that's a big thing with mental training is making people feel not alone and not crazy in their own thoughts. Okay. I have two final questions. This has been amazing. I think nobody answered this. But if I was someone that didn't know anything about mental training, didn't want to be successful and listen to this podcast. And I was like, What would Courtney, what's the what's the low hanging fruit of mindset that, like, what is the one thing you would have someone do in their life or add into their life?
I would say, just some something in your life that is causing you to feel less than yourself, or anxiety or whatever. Where do you want to use it? Write down? I would do the control exercise? To me. It's tangible. It's simple. It's like,
tell us tell us take it down. If you're teaching it to me, I got my paper here. What am I doing
I would say, hey, let's write down a situation in your life that you are struggling to feel like yourself, whether you want to feel more confident in or feel more motivated or resilient.
Write down the situation,
your situation. And then I'd say get under that only write two columns. On the left side, I want you to write down things I can control. On the right side things, I can't control. And under the can control, I want you to write down everything that you can do today, today, or this week, let's say five things or two to three things that are 100% within your control, that will give you the best chance to get the outcome you want.
So you're applying for a new job, and you're really nervous about it cool. You can make sure you exercise before the interview, you can study the industry and have three points you're going to talk about, you can call two other people in that role, and talk through, whatever, oh, I can do all of those things today. Cool. On the other side, I need to write down all of the thoughts, you're having that matter that has real consequences that are important to you. But ultimately, you can't control the outcome. How it feels in the room, the temperature. who's interviewing you what they're gonna ask, like, all the things that you're worried about your brain goes to,
if they liked you. Yeah.
Did they like you? Yeah, what did I just say? Was that a good answer? Was that the right answer all these things. And then, as a practice, like do that in the morning, or at night, and then rip the paper down in the middle, and just physically throw away, the things you can't control as a way of saying, okay, all day today, my intention is, every time my thoughts wander to the piece I threw in the trash, I'm going to say, No, thank you, that's not productive. Let me drive towards something I can do over here.
And the research behind controlling increases motivation and resilience. Obviously, when we feel like we can impact the outcome and say, I'm going to do more of that. That's from a personal perspective, it's just a joy when we feel empowered, and it's so shitty to not feel empowered. And we all will have that choice. Yeah. So to me, that would be let's do this for a week and see how you feel.
I love how tangible that is. I mean, I can just imagine somebody in their car right now that has a job interview or something that's making a presentation or something that is causing them a lot of angst or anxiety or whatever. And, and doing that exercise and getting some real results. Okay, final question. What is next for you in the sense of what's the next area of growth for you with your mindset?
Oh, that's a great question. I think the question I'm, I guess the work I'm aspiring to do every day is answering the question like, where am I coming from? And really coming from that like a grounded loving place, as a coach, as a partner as a sister as Amazing little ones that I love so much like, in these little moments, like, Okay, where do I, where am I coming from right now?
Because when I can like drop into that, it's like I can connect better with people. I'm more honest with myself with other people, which I think is great. I'm more clear on what I want. So for me, as a coach, like, Am I coming from this like heading? Is this good enough? Or is this like a fear-based situation? Or is it like, oh, no, I'm really clear on what I want them to feel like today when I'm with them. And this is how I'm gonna go move through that. And it's, to me, it feels like when I'm in that it adds energy to my life. And when I'm not in that everything becomes like an energy suck.
Does that question? Is that question sort of bringing you into like, the present? Is that how that feels? I'm just sort of referring to it.
Yeah, I guess that's yeah, that's a good way to tie it. To mental skills. Really? Yes. Yes. And I'm connected, I think, to revision I want for like, where's the meaning in this day, or this experience? Or this activity? Like, where's the meaning for me? And the more I'm connected to that, like, everything is better, and performance is better? I think I'm a better coach. I have more fun.
It just feels like Yeah, I think, and then the other one, this might sound aggressive. Lately, you might be ready, the Buddhist tradition of meditating on death. So that we live better. This sounds very strange to a lot of people. And maybe it's triggering to some, but for me, there's a kind of an honoring of like, we really don't know what's gonna happen. And it brings me the gratitude that brings me to like making the most of things.
So I've been doing that project quite a bit, nothing too formal. And then the third one, I think, is I like asking people, when is the last time you lost your shit laughing. And when I'm working with corporations, or athletes to ask this, because I know when I'm coaching or playing, and I'm not doing well, I probably can't remember the last time I did that. Because everything gets tighter than I'm doing more than it's like, adds all constricting. And so I know that if I'm not laughing really hard outside of work, or in work, it's like, something's got to change. So it's all in perspective. And then lastly, which is kind of a weird combo, but I love it.
Maybe that's the perfect combo. Like everything we need. This is awesome. I am so excited for this interview to drop. I think as I said, You're my first guest, and I knew you. I knew you'd knock it out of the park. We always have great conversations. But I just wanted to
we could talk for hours.
Oh, we could? I mean, I think Yeah. Well, we'll have to have you back on. That's all there is to it. But I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your candor and your vulnerability. And I know there are quite a few nuggets that I learned and I know our listeners are going to take things tangible from it's not only the understanding but the guarantee that tangible exercise in particular, that I love into their everyday life. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you for taking the time. Courtney Thompson. You're awesome.
There you have a guide to interview with Courtney Thompson, I hope that you took away so many nuggets of insights. I think Courtney Thompson, in general, is so vulnerable and insightful and studied and live this stuff at such a high level, under really the biggest pressure in the world's biggest stages in the world.
Okay, take care.
And I of course really just love talking to her. And I hope you try that exercise that she suggested about the controllable. I'm excited to try it myself and with some of my clients. So I hope that you got some stuff out of this little nugget, small things you can take away and try in your own life. Before I leave though, I want to remind you that if you're interested in the Mindset Coach Academy with some great things coming up, we have a certification opening end of February applications.
And we have a couple of things coming up as far as if you want to get started. We have something called the ultimate mindset coaching toolkit to get started working for your first time which is totally free. I'll put the link in the show notes. It's also on positiveperformancetraining.com we have our eight-day challenge coming up in mid-February and this is really for aspiring mindset coaches.
If you were all interested in being a mindset coach, if you've ever thought about starting your own business or having a side business, a side hustle working with a few clients here and there if that has ever been on your mind, you're gonna want to go through this eight day challenge is also free. But it's going to take you through eight steps of building the foundation of your business.
And look, maybe you'll decide you don't want to start your own business, but at least you will know this is going to take you through that process. People love this challenge. It's really really helpful. So go to positiveperformancetraining.com and snag your spot. As always come over Instagram. Let me know how you liked this episode at Lindsay positive perform, and please, please, please share this with someone that you think would enjoy it and leave a review. So So appreciate it. Alright guys, bye for now.