The Keys to High Performance with Dr. Doug Gardner, ThinkSport Consulting Services
Dr. Doug Gardner has spent twenty-four years working with athletes, coaches, executives and organizations throughout the athletic and performance spectrum. Doug brings on-the-ground experience, in addition to a theory-to-practice common sense approach to improvement in preparation and performance of both the person and the player. Doug is a respected member in the industry of Applied Sport Psychology, and he has experiences working with the Green Bay Packers, the Boston Red Sox, and the NFL Players Association. In his role with executives, he works to enhance leadership capabilities, build cohesive teams and to grow business opportunities internally and externally.
In this interview, Doug and I discuss:
- The psychology of preparation
- The role of awareness in high performance
- How to think neutrally
- The difference between mindfulness and mindlessness
- What to do when you overthink
HIGH PERFORMANCE MINDSET SHOWNOTES FOR THIS EPISODE: www.cindrakamphoff.com/503
FOLLOW CINDRA ON INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/cindrakamphoff/
FOLLOW CINDRA ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/mentally_strong
TO REACH DR DOUG: firstname.lastname@example.org OR WWW.THINKSPORT.COM
Love the show? Rate and review the show for Cindra to mention you on the next episode: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/high-performance-mindset-learn-from-world-class-leaders/id1034819901
Cindra Kamphoff: Thank you so much for joining us here on the high-performance mindset podcast how are you doing Doug.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Doing great Cindra, how are you today?
Cindra Kamphoff: I’m doing excellent it’s very warm and sunny here in Minnesota so we’re very happy about that, because this is the best time of the year, here in the state.
Cindra Kamphoff: Anyway, it’s great to have you here, and I know we’ve been working on getting you on the podcast for some time, so thank you so much for joining us and I’m curious just to get us started, maybe just tell us a little bit about what you’re passionate about and what you’ve been up to recently.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Oh, thank you really excited to be on this podcast with you well you know recently I’ve been kind of bouncing all over the place, in terms of high-performance environments doing a lot of corporate work with executives.
Dr. Doug Gardner: during the day, then at night I hop on calls with esports athletes 17- to 26-year-olds roughly who play video games for a living.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And in between that I still have my private practice locally and work with kids throughout the lifespan you know, like the beginning stages of the lifespan of the athletic journey in youth sport which I’ve been doing forever and you know so it’s a real my days are pretty interesting bouncing from you know executives to video game players to athletes and coaches and parents and all of the fun stuff so.
Cindra Kamphoff: It sounds like a blast variety, you know it’s interesting on a day-to-day basis, yes.
Cindra Kamphoff: I can’t wait to talk to you about the similarities between all those environments and I think you have such a really cool background.
Cindra Kamphoff: You know, including esports and executives to the green Bay packers and the Boston Red Sox the NFL players association so just such a diversity of experiences in your lifetime, maybe to get us started telling us a little bit about how you got into your business and this work to begin with.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Sure, I mean, I would say, just like maybe 95% of everybody who got into sports psychology I wanted to work in pro sports when I started as.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Before even as a graduate student and that really propelled me like everybody else to go for it and get busy and graduate school and so with my masters and my doctoral training, I utilize that time you know, obviously, to learn and theory to practice approach.
Dr. Doug Gardner: develop my counseling skills and in terms of being able to connect with people, but my focus was on an ED psych doctoral program, so I really thought that, at that time.
Dr. Doug Gardner: At psych was a real critical piece and component that wasn’t necessarily addressed as much at the end of the day, you can be trained as a sports scientist or as a clinician but most of our role is really about being an educator and so that that, for me, was a real critical piece, at a time where you’re either getting a PhD in sports science or a PhD and in you know clinical psychology and I was like well, let me take a middle route and that was very beneficial for me in terms of the work the way I have always described it as every major job that I’ve ever gotten did not exist, prior to me really advocating and pushing to try to create something.
Dr. Doug Gardner: So, the work with the Red Sox at that time.
Dr. Doug Gardner: I was 29 years old.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Ken Ravizza, Bob Rotella, Harvey Dorfman.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Charlie Marja started yeah with the Cleveland Indians, I was an intern under him and 1997 which led to getting hired by the Red Sox you know in 1998 at that time pretty young age to step in and oversaw you know the building of the mental you know, like sports psychology programming and work within the entire minor league system by myself.
Dr. Doug Gardner: In the NFL players association, they did not have this type of resource at the time and took about two years and, unfortunately, a little bit of tragedy to occur within the NFL to bring me on board to build out.
Dr. Doug Gardner: large scale programming for rookies transitioning into the League creating and setting up a network of services for athletes in crisis.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And so that was really you know something that had not been done and had to create from scratch.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And then you look into esports and I just I’m a junkie and I want to go into different performance environments, especially as I get older, to see if I’m relevant.
Dr. Doug Gardner: If I can connect with people, and what I need to do to get better as a professional so esports was this just wonderful opportunity to step in and go, you know, can I work with somebody doesn’t have a traditional sport background but is competing in something and really has to learn a lot of the basics that a lot of athletes take for granted that they learned as they come up through the athletic pipeline so.
Dr. Doug Gardner: You know that’s kind of how it is where I have to go out there and build my own private practice I’ve been doing it for 24 years now and will continue trying to push envelopes until I can’t anymore.
Cindra Kamphoff: I love it, what I’m hearing is that you’re always interested in learning and growing and like extending yourself in these different environments and good point that you created all these opportunities and I’m thinking about their people who are listening who maybe are sports psychology or performance psychology professionals, people who have their own business, executives, who are listening leader sport coaches, like a wide variety of people, listen to the podcast and I think about just the power of creating opportunities.
Cindra Kamphoff: What can come from that? What advice would you give to people who are saying ya know I need to create more opportunities; how do I do that.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Right well you know it’s funny I often first thing I say is prepare for failure.
Dr. Doug Gardner: In so many ways, I feel like in my own career, I face more failure and adversity and then a lot of the athletes I work with because they’re out there, reaching and trying to convince people that the work that you do it has value and is important for the development of the people that they’re overseeing whether it’s coaches are athletes and you know I mean just get a ton of no, no, no, or.
Dr. Doug Gardner: If I get in somewhere, I know it’s like a two-year process until I, maybe even get a yes, if I’m lucky to get that, and so I think that’s the real challenge it’s I don’t like to like to put our work in the concept of just sales because I’m not here, trying to sell something.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And I think that most people in our industry aren’t there to sell something they really want to care about the work and care about the people that they work with, and so I think that’s the thing and the challenges to start where your passions are build those relationships build those networks understand that you’re not just going to get a yes right off the BAT.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And if you can build and sustain those relationships, over a period of time there’s a chance that you might end up having someone want to hire you to do a level of work or create something that has not existed somewhere else, and I think that’s important a lot of people like to go to where the work is, and I understand that, but oftentimes if you are building your own business, you have to go out there and really literally build it from scratch and so I have that mentality, I have to basically hunt for my food and my work and that has really framed.
Dr. Doug Gardner: My perspective on the industry and the field and how we go about doing the work because it’s a difficult task, and I think students appreciate, knowing that are young professionals appreciate, knowing that ahead of time and realizing that they are their own business.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And that, in order to do that, you have to go out there and do the things that a small business would have to do and understand it’s going to be difficult there’s really no other way around it in a lot of ways, the parallels to sport in competition with no guarantees of success are right there for us as well.
Cindra Kamphoff: Well, I think what you’re saying Doug really applies to any entrepreneur that it’s like Okay, you know I got to go out there and make it happen and create these waves and attract people to my business, so I think you make some really good points, I was also thinking about for about a year or so on the podcast I asked everybody who I had on their definition of failure.
Cindra Kamphoff: And I was trying honestly to decide what I should define failure as and I got a wide variety of responses like one person said Well it’s anytime I didn’t go for it or anytime I wasn’t Being myself was another definition.
Cindra Kamphoff: And so now whenever I see that word of failure it’s like okay well, failure doesn’t always necessarily I don’t need to feel like I failed if I got to know you know if I was really going for it or You know, giving it a try, or if I was being myself in the process, like, I can define failure consciously on my terms.
Cindra Kamphoff: Which that’s what led me as I looked at everyone’s definition, I decided, I can define failure, the way I want to.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Definitely it’s one of the F words I don’t use much.
Dr. Doug Gardner: There’s another one I use quite a bit.
Dr. Doug Gardner: I don’t like framing things under that concept, and I’ll just share a very brief story about a swimmer I worked with.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And that competed in the Olympics in 2012 and in the finals in the Olympics.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And she won a bronze and I always ask the philosophical question of did she fail? Right, like she finished in third place, like if we just look at it objectively, you know I take everything else out of it like didn’t win the race.
Dr. Doug Gardner: But in the most important race of her entire life, she swam a PR did the best she possibly could like literally we could quantify that metric, and she didn’t quote unquote win so philosophically did she lose?
Dr. Doug Gardner: And we know that you know no she did the best she could she brought all these wonderful outcomes, but at the end of the day, you can do the best you can.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And still quote unquote not win and so that has always stuck with me as a challenging question for people to contemplate that you can literally do your best and quote unquote not win, and so, how do we make sense of that, where I really think, of course, she did win and she.
Dr. Doug Gardner: It was what an amazing opportunity and situation to live through but people like will want to look at things a zero sum like win or lose and I’m like you know that’s why I don’t like that I think it’s more about learning and growing from those experiences, instead of just defining it as something good or bad or what I would call an either-or scenario.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, really good point Doug I was, as I was listening to you, I was thinking about a lot of the elite athletes that I work with specifically with USA track and field, and I was thinking about when they go to like the trials and if they don’t get in the top three to go to the Olympics.
Cindra Kamphoff: Many times, people around them believe that they failed when really maybe they did race a PR or they jumped the longest and they’ve ever jumped and they got fifth, but they didn’t make it to the Olympics, you know it’s like we have such high standards for people, that is only the top three are the winner that equals, you know this best outcome.
Cindra Kamphoff: So, I think we have to be really careful.
Cindra Kamphoff: And not letting other people’s definition of failure impact us as well.
Cindra Kamphoff: Cool well great way to start, you know as I kind of think about all the righty of work that you do.
Cindra Kamphoff: I wanted to start with your work in corporate and with executives and as an executive optimization coach tell us a little bit about what you do with executives and what you see right now that they’re really struggling with.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Great question, I mean there’s so much right now I mean what a clearly crazy time in the world that we’re living in on all levels, I think that, for me, one of the reasons why I got into this industry.
Dr. Doug Gardner: I have always had a passion for leadership and how leaders impact environments for people to have success and so.
Dr. Doug Gardner: All my graduate research was on that fortunate to publish articles and refereed journals Dr Brenda Meyer and her husband David shields, who were the amount researchers and sports psychology back in the 90s, and into the 2000s.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And, as a young coach I wanted to create environments for my athletes to go and play and compete without judgment from the coach obviously.
Dr. Doug Gardner: I coach the opposite of how I was coached I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself than it was doubled by the coaches yelling and screaming at me and so, for me, I stepped into the coaching realm at 18 years old saying I want kids to have a better experience and I had because you know it just wasn’t I needed me when I was their age.
Dr. Doug Gardner: So, doing the work at the executive level is something that I’m like look if you can work and impact the leader or the person in charge.
Dr. Doug Gardner: and help them grow as a person and as a professional then that little trickle-down effect is about helping the people that they lead, or they manage to have a better work life balance to be able to feel like that the work that they’re doing is rewarding that they work in an environment that rewards effort that creates a level of psychological safety for people to be their best and do their work without fear and just because somebody is in a position of leadership doesn’t mean they’re a good leader, and so I kind of call them term Lino a Lino, a leader in name only.
Dr. Doug Gardner: You know that’s what I love about this work is that I get to work with some quote unquote high-powered executive who is successful, but maybe lacks the basic relational skills, the ability to communicate with people, the ability to empower people to grow themselves and not just be successful for the leader or for whatever company, but to be successful, for themselves and help them evolve as a person as a professional so that whether they stay at that organization or that they don’t that they feel like this person in leadership is really helping me grow, which makes them want to do the work and not feel obligated to have to or work in an environment that is just you know miserable or upsetting which then creates the cyclical problem that we also see in sports where the athletes or the employees it within a leadership hierarchy are struggling with mental health issues, because of the environment, they work in and so that’s what I find so satisfying is that I could help impact and a leader and help them grow then that’s only going to create a better environment for those that they lead.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, really good points, did you tell a lie, no leader.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Lino a leader in name only.
Cindra Kamphoff: And leaders in name only.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Yeah, so and we see a lot of that right, I mean if we are to talk to anybody on the street and talk about their work experience oftentimes its people saying oh my manager is awful.
Dr. Doug Gardner: You know what a toxic environment I work in and we often think about how you know I always think that coaches either coach the way they were coached or they coach the opposite of how they were coached, but I think when you go into kind of the work environment, how many people in positions of leadership are really trained or even think about how to lead correctly and obviously there’s a variety of different ways to lead correctly, but oftentimes they view leadership as a way of I’m in power I’m in control, you know and that’s not necessarily their fault it’s just the environment that they come in and they learned what leadership is so if we can impact that then we can impact the lives of so many people.
Cindra Kamphoff: Absolutely it’s a trickle-down effect, and I was thinking a lot about how as people are listening, they might think wow you know there’s a lot of difference between performance psychology principles in business and in sport or a sport or whatever kind of sport we’re talking about, but the way I kind of think about it Doug is that we perform every day.
Cindra Kamphoff: We perform in our jobs as an executive, or we perform in our sport, or we perform I perform as a mother, or I perform as a friend and so these principles are all similar How would you describe it in terms of you know helping people thrive in the executive space, what are some similarities that you see in terms of mindset or performance, I called you principles that are consistent, no matter what domain, it might be in.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Yeah, it’s a great question and that’s kind of high-performance weather and I feel like we don’t.
Dr. Doug Gardner: As a society look through that lens that the work that people do is a level of high performance and expertise at what it is that they do it’s just that they’re not getting paid millions of dollars or on ESPN when that when that occurs, and so, for me, I want to like really recognize that, with people and acknowledge the fact that what they’re doing is requires a level of high performance and I think it always goes back to the concepts of awareness and I just I always go back to basic foundational tenants within our industry that the true concept of theory to practice is yes, we have theories that we want to apply, but what are some of the most foundational pieces of intrinsic motivation.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Learning environments ability to communicate ability to understand what’s going on, internally, as well as externally.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And for people to develop a greater awareness of themselves and like how their actions, their words their nonverbal behaviors impact others and legitimize adaptive or maladaptive coping behaviors and That to me is so critical and so oftentimes, that is, the work within leadership in the executive environment where they lose focus on the fact that what they’re doing and what they’re saying is being viewed by so many different people.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And that, if they’re not aware of their own behaviors the power of their words, the power of the body language, then they are setting the tone for a potentially toxic work environment, so that people can thrive and, and that is clearly in sport it’s the same thing, like how many athletes are not able to perform at a I’m not saying that highest level, but at a consistently high level, because the environment that they’re in is one that warrants them to hold back, because if they make a mistake, or if they demonstrate in competence in something or they’re stressed over something, and they don’t bring their best performance, then the outcomes that the coaches, will you know elicit in terms of whether you get playing time or not will impact them, and so it becomes this this cyclical process that oftentimes people in positions of leadership don’t understand the pressure they’re exerting on their performers and so to me if they can become aware of that and recognize that and connect with people on a human level and really understand how to build relationships that aren’t just transactional I think we’ve moved away from that a lot as a society, what does a coach or a leader mean.
Dr. Doug Gardner: In some ways it hasn’t changed at all, I mean you know there’s ways to look at that, through the lens and so to me that’s really important that’s where I really want to try to push the envelope, because when people are given a good environment to perform and not be so critically judged but you know, learn and get constructive feedback and information to grow, then you’re going to be able to see the best of people, even if they don’t succeed 100% every time.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, what really good points Doug I was, I agree that high performance starts with awareness right and as people are listening.
Cindra Kamphoff: I’m going to encourage them to think about you how do you impact, those that you lead right, and I think we lead at home, we lead at work, we lead our teams, we lead in a lot of different ways, but being aware of how your actions and even emotions impact other people, I think, is really important, and I, where I think high performance starts when you think about a known what are the topics, you talk a lot about is the psychology of preparation so I’d like to talk a little bit about that, and maybe just give us a high level idea of what that means, because I know we talked a lot about maybe the psychology of performance right or high performance, but what do you mean by the psychology of preparation.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Well, you know it came from my background and coaching before I started graduate school, so I competed in baseball tore up my shoulder couldn’t play anymore its surgery went through that experience, and that was another crystallizing experience for me to go through, as so many people do.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Understanding the impact of what injury can do it very young age, and then coaching, when I was in school, and most of us we get exposed to kind of these mental skills that we want to teach athletes, which I think are important within context but at the end of the day, I’ve always seen sports psychology silo the mental side we’re going to go do the mental side over here but we’re going to go do the physical side over there and I believe in an integration of that and it’s not necessarily intention of mental skills within practice which is important, I mean once again I’m not trying to downplay that but I think it’s about purpose of what am I working on a day to day basis that I need to get better at and if we’re not addressing those things in practice and we’re not dealing with that focus then, how do we expect ourselves to be thinking differently in in a in a pressure situation and performance Ichiro Suzuki the famous baseball player.
Dr. Doug Gardner: There was an article that that he did an interview back in 2003 and the sporting news came and find it anymore it’s on online anywhere, I have hard copies of it.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And he talked about the concept of I want to prepare, and I want to perform and what he called a normal state of mind I need to be normal in my preparation and then you’d be normal in competition now we’ve heard that terminology turned into neutral thinking.
Dr. Doug Gardner: People within the industry, which is fine, but like I credit EG row with the first person I ever you know her talk about that I’m not saying he invented it if people have been doing it for, for you know eons right.
Dr. Doug Gardner: In life to survive, you know from an evolutionary standpoint but when you start thinking about that normal mindset that really means that hey I’m working on things so that when I’m in a game situation it’s, not that I can turn off my brain and let my body takeover like I think that’s an oversimplification of what happens I think it’s about getting your mental REPS in so a very simplistic example is you go and watch any baseball team from the major league level down and when they’re in batting practice a lot of hitters which is swing at every pitch and BP because they think I have to get my work, and so I got a hit and other guys have to hit it.
Dr. Doug Gardner: So, if I’m swinging at every pitch and pitch up pitch down if it’s in a pitch away it’s kind of like what are you training yourself for?
Dr. Doug Gardner: Are you training hey I’m a guy who likes to hit the ball middle in or I’m a person likes to hit the ball middle away Why am I swinging into pitch that’s not in my zone, so why are we not practicing that, in practice, and if you think about a hitter on game day they started the batting cage to hit off T they get soft toss they’ll get some life pitching in a cage to go out on the field and how many times do they swing at pitches that aren’t pitches they shouldn’t be swinging out in a game, and what are they training themselves on so that’s like this concept of mindlessness in preparation and then we talk about mindfulness but the way our industry is kind of frame mindfulness recently has been more about you know, being a Zen like state.
Dr. Doug Gardner: You know, clear your mind, and think, but mindfulness is about being mindful of what you’re doing and that goes back to the work of Ellen Langer at Harvard University, with her book mindfulness, this is a very impactful book that that I read and was able to watch her you know give lectures at Harvard back in Boston when I was at Boston university.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And so, to me that’s the essence of it are we working at integrating the mental components, the variety of mental components, we need in our preparation, so that when we step into a performance environment we’ve gotten our mental REPS in we know how to make decisions we have worked on things we’ve developed competencies and so that we can take those into games and into competition and I don’t see enough of that.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And that is where I really like to bring my work because a competent performer is a confident performer and so, if you’re working on competencies and you’re doing that purposefully in practice then you have a better chance of bringing that into competition than not really practicing with purpose and then expecting to perform at a very high level when you haven’t really prepared at a very high level.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I’m thinking about Doug how it’s how we practice is how we perform right and we’re really developing these mental skills in preparation I’m curious about this idea of like would you say normal thinking in neutral thinking is, Are they the same thing and as people are listening, maybe describe your perspective of what that actually means and how do you develop that because I think that’s really difficult.
Cindra Kamphoff: And I think it applies to not only sport, but also sales being an entrepreneur, an executive and sometimes we can get so high, and so low and create this meaning around things that then like leads to us by rolling.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Oh tremendously, I mean here’s the thing um my high school coach called me and mental midget.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Like every day, every day.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Oh yeah, he told me a lot of things yeah, the 80s were an interesting time to be an athlete are you still working through that now, you know a little bit I mean I think it’s one of the reasons.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Why, I do what I do, but you know too much you think too much, and we hear that industry, all the time right like here.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And I have always believed that.
This the reason why I named my business Think Sport because I think that we people are thinking it’s a question of what you are thinking in are those thoughts helpful or hurtful to you at this moment, and so to spend a lot of energy to try to help people not think.
Dr. Doug Gardner: It’s over simplistic and I just don’t think we can just
turn our brains off and even if we turn our brains off there’s no guarantee that that’s going to lead to high level performance on a consistent level like it could be, you could be in the zone.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Like Kevin Ravizza and I had this one talk years ago and he’s like talking to me about the zone, and I was like you know can you’re in the zone 1% of the time what the hell, do you do the 99% of the time or not.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And then he hopped on a radio call me because he was getting on a radio show up in northern California and then he sees on the radio show, and someone says oh this zone, the zone and he’s like yeah you know but 85% of the time when you’re not in the zone, what do you do and I just started laughing.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Because you know you know we just got off the phone call and that’s really what it is, I think that that you have to be a thinker, you have to understand.
Dr. Doug Gardner: But what happens is that we can views our thoughts get impacted by our emotions, and so we can’t be neutral, we can’t turn off our emotions, like Mr. spock.
Dr. Doug Gardner: I’m dating myself probably a little bit with that reference, but I think that that’s where the integration of understanding how to think through things is critical and when athletes are performing at a high level, I argue that they are thinking acting decision making.
Dr. Doug Gardner: This whole process of seeing what’s going on and acting accordingly it’s not that they’re just turned off their brain and they’re not thinking know they see that person over in the corner that’s wide open.
Dr. Doug Gardner: They know there’s someone behind them that’s trailing them as they’re driving to the basket.
Dr. Doug Gardner: They know where that that wide receiver is going to be on the certain play, they can read defenses and understand where the the seams are and so there’s an intellectual element to sport that I think is often dismissed.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And, but it’s also, at the same time given a tremendous amount of credit oh this this player has been in the film room, you know they’re studying their iPad they’re doing their homework well.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Why aren’t we encouraging to develop and help athletes be more student more student minded like the office I work with I talked about you’re getting a PhD in your sport; you need to treat this like its graduate school you can’t just show up and play.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And that often is what happens with the NFL the College football player that transitions to the NFL it’s the minor league baseball player that gets to double a triple A or even to the big leagues.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And now all of a sudden, the competition is better, and you have to do more, but if you haven’t built up that, you know let’s call it a routine or that ability of ways to get yourself ready to go and to study and to prepare, then how once again, do you expect to be able to execute make good decisions in competition in a high stress environment if you’re not applying those concepts in practice and so that to me.
Dr. Doug Gardner: is just I don’t know like I’ve always said it’s common sense um, but a lot of times, people say I play sports because I don’t want to study and I didn’t want to go to school and like as you get up to that reverse funnel the talent is only better and better and it’s your ability to think through that and if you study the grades, why are they the grades, maybe.
Dr. Doug Gardner: They have great physical skill, but if you were to study any great athlete there’s so much more than their physical ability, if any of it sometimes their physical ability isn’t that great Wayne gretzky wasn’t the best hockey player in all of the metrics that they would define.
Dr. Doug Gardner: But he was the great one I mean, so you can go on and on and insight so many examples of that but to me that’s where the core of this is that.
Dr. Doug Gardner: There is the thinking component to every physical activity you do in performance are you working on that as much as you are the physical component.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, excellent really good points Doug I was thinking about when you were saying that neutral thinking or normal thinking, I think, to me, what that means is that evaluating things not as good or bad.
Cindra Kamphoff: More just like that they are what they are right, and I think about when someone is preparing there’s a lot of judgment that can come in, I’m thinking about the work I do with USA track and field and it’s like well, I didn’t jump very well today I’m probably not going to do very well at worlds right or my legs aren’t feeling quite right, and so, instead of just like noticing how your legs are feeling or noticing what’s going on in practice, but not putting any judgment on, that is, how is that how you would describe it as well and if so, as people are listening, how would you say is how do you develop that.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Yeah, I think that you know you give great examples, sometimes you’re not 100% sometimes you’re 60% are you going to be able to maximize that by figuring out, what can I get done today, what is it you know I don’t like to sound cliche when I say this because it’s always said, like what do I control right, I think there’s layers there’s always layers to the onion of that and, and I think that you’re right the judgment is also hedging is like, if I don’t perform well and I’m preparing myself for that ahead of time.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And for me what I really try to drive home is aspect of what does it mean to be a competitor.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And so, we hear the legends of a competitor this person is a competitor and I’m like well what really is a competitor, and my definition of a competitor is someone who competes regardless.
Dr. Doug Gardner: You may win you may lose; you may not be at your best.
Dr. Doug Gardner: You got to figure out what you need from yourself on that moment in that day and that hence comes back to the concepts of self-awareness like where, am I, what do I need.
Dr. Doug Gardner: What am I, what do I need to focus on right now and that ability to adapt and adjust in the moment given what’s going on and that ability to think through things to analyze make decisions and act upon those decisions.
Dr. Doug Gardner: That’s where you come full circle, to the psychology of practice is that you are giving yourself a foundation to come back to assess what’s going on with you and what’s going to give you the best opportunity right now to adapt and adjust in the moment to be able to do the best you can, given the circumstances you’re in because if we’re only wanting to be in an ideal state whether it’s mental or physical or both.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Then what happens when you’re not and most of the time you’re not you’re not always going to be at your best.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And then people get into that you know emotional side of thinking and that’s what I call this either-or mentality either got to be great or it’s going to be awful.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And I’m like there’s a lot of gray area there and what are we doing with that gray area and if we’re working within the Gray.
Dr. Doug Gardner: That means we’re an active participant in thinking and making decisions and acting on what information is telling us whether its internal or external in the moment and if we’re not practicing that we have nothing to come back to in competition to get out of our own heads and to get to a normalized or neutral level of thinking.
Cindra Kamphoff: Excellent so as you think about that Doug what advice would you give to people, and I know we’re almost at time here.
Cindra Kamphoff: But um what advice to people.
Cindra Kamphoff: You know who are listening and really thinking Oh, I want to develop this idea of neutral thinking.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Not going to work on things you suck at.
Dr. Doug Gardner: That that’s my eloquent way of saying it.
Dr. Doug Gardner: That’s awesome Oh, I think that what ends up happening is, if you if you work at things, you’re not good at.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And you see yourself, improving on those things, then, what do we know from theory and research that you’ll spend more time and effort into it you’ll understand that I have to work in order to get better and that that structural process can then be applied into really almost every domain of your life and it’s something that.
Dr. Doug Gardner: I myself have always worked on, I was not good at it, when I was an athlete, I learned about it when I was like post competitive.
Dr. Doug Gardner: But I would do these types of things where I would work on things, I was not good at, because I realized if I could get better at that I would be better at what I was doing.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And, and that was an old around a lot of sports even like I played hockey and stuff post my baseball career.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And I would just skate the opposite directions that I wasn’t good at skating and my friends like what the hell, are you doing everyone’s skating around the circles in this direction and you’re the only guy on the ice going the other way I’m like I can’t move this way and if I’m going to play hockey I got to be able to go in all four directions and people look at me like I was a nut but I was like.
Dr. Doug Gardner: I’m just trying to get better and I’m trying to become a complete performer, and so I think that that empowerment of working at things you’re not good at.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And that you know you need to be good at it you’re not avoiding because most people avoid the things, they’re not good at because they want to demonstrate competence in front of peers in front of coaches and they don’t want to show weakness, so they avoid working on things they’re not good at.
Dr. Doug Gardner: But then it always comes out in competition your weaknesses always get revealed and so why not work on those that’s empowerment, that is applying a mental component to your physical development and, as you improve on something and then you see yourself doing it, you’re becoming more of a complete performer and so that to me is kind of a core value of mine is identifying what people need to get better at because that’s what’s holding them back to a certain degree.
Dr. Doug Gardner: And let’s not be afraid to work on that and let’s not a think it’s going to happen overnight and be realized that the benefits of it taking time makes you realize that learning takes time.
Dr. Doug Gardner: But if I really work at learning and I apply that, then I become empowered as a result, because I worked at something I improved, and it makes me want to take that mindset into other domains or other areas of my performance or my life.
Cindra Kamphoff: Excellent Doug well I’m so grateful to spend some time with you, and thanks so much for sharing your wisdom, with the high-performance mindset Community tell us how people can find more about your coaching and what you offer through your business.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Sure, I, like everybody I’m on Twitter at things for, and I have a closet website that I haven’t finished yet I think support.think.com
Dr. Doug Gardner: That’s where you can find me or do a Google search and you know reach out anytime so.
Cindra Kamphoff: Thinksport.com and here’s what I got from.
Cindra Kamphoff: The conversation today I love that you said, like high performance high performance right doesn’t matter what domain you’re doing it in and awareness is really the important part of the kind of the first step, we talked about I liked our conversation about failure at the top of the call, and what that means, and then this idea of neutral thinking and the ways that you can develop it and really that means like no judgment and avoiding this kind of either or mentality which you talked about, and then at the end, working on things you’re not good at to develop your ability, I think, to fail forward and it’s Okay, not to be perfect at everything give yourself permission just to be you and keep trying and keep growing, so thank you so much for joining us I’m grateful and I know everyone who’s listening is grateful to that you joined us today.
Dr. Doug Gardner: Well, thank you Cindra I appreciate it.