How Strong Personal Development is the Foundation of High Performance with Scotta Morton, Mental Performance Coach

Dr. Scotta Morton is a mental performance coach from Columbia, MO and owner of Go For It Coaching, LLC. She recently resigned from her position as Assistant Athletic Director of Mental Performance & Psychological Services from the University of Missouri Athletic Department where she served college athletes, coaches, and staff for 11 years. Dr Morton’s work is grounded in strong personal/team development and holistic well-being.


Dr. Morton received her PhD in Sport Psychology from the University of Missouri in 2014. A product of Bozeman, MT, Dr. Morton played college basketball for the Montana State Bobcats (2003-2007). In her spare time, Dr. Morton loves a good game of PIG, exploring nature, and watching live music.


In this episode, Scotta and Cindra talk about:

  • · How to find your best self
  • · The impact of loneliness in our culture today
  • · The importance of developing an identity that cannot be taken away
  • · How strong personal development is at the heart of high performance
  • · Strategies to develop belonging on your team
  • · “Can we set our mind before our mind sets us.”






Love the show? Rate and review the show for Cindra to mention you on the next episode:

“…this one precious life wherever we are in a career… I think we get to really figure out how we want to use them and get clear and put first things first.” –Scotta Morton @Mentally_Strong
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“It’s not about necessarily controlling all the dialogue, but I can control my relationship with to it. ” -Scotta Morton @Mentally_Strong
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Cindra Kamphoff: Well, thank you so much for joining me, Scotta, on the High Performance Mindset. This interview has been a long time in the making. We are just talking about how we had lunch at the Association for Applied Sports Psychology Conference… I don’t know, 2019/2018? And there I asked you to be on the podcast, so you know, 4 or 5 years later and pumped to have you!

Scotta Morton: I’m glad to be here Cindra! I just want to say how much I’ve admired you from afar, especially being a woman in this field, and always flexing her courage muscles, too. So, I’m happy to finally be here with you today.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I’m really excited too! And I’m excited to learn from you and excited for everyone else to learn from you as well. And maybe just to get us started, tell us what you’re passionate about and what you’re doing right now.

Scotta Morton: Yeah, I think what I’m really passionate about is helping people actualize and really fully express their best selves. I know there’s not one of us have met our best selves yet. So that journey and that potential… and finding out really what we’re truly capable of. But even more than that, I think what I’m passionate about is helping people feel less lonely on their journey of high performance, or whatever journey that they may be on, that it doesn’t have to be a lonely journey. And helping them see… you know, qualities and strengths that they might not see in themselves.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, absolutely. And we need coaches to be able to see that. I have my own coach, and I think about the ways that I’ve supported other people, some Olympians, that maybe didn’t even see their potential. And you know, so we have a really important role in that. I’m curious, you know, when you think of this idea of like finding your best self that can seem like, really like, just a big idea. How do you go about helping someone find their best self?

Scotta Morton: Yeah. Well, one question I like to ask is, when it feels good to be them. Like, what values are they leading with? What are some of their committed actions that help them stay, you know, centered in their truth, and go towards their longing? And so, there’s a lot of awareness. I use a lot of the values in action survey to get at the idea of not only who they are, but really what they stand for. So, if it’s kindness or bravery, or perseverance, or resilience. That’s really getting at the core identity of who they are.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, yeah, so powerful. And I think when we understand really what our values are, we can use those as a compass, right, to help us make decisions and help us step into our best. So, I know you played basketball at Montana, and so I’m curious to learn about how you really learn to… how you became interested in the mental game or sports psychology, and what led you to this field?

Scotta Morton: Yeah, great question. So, I would say, it probably came out of my experience as a student athlete. So, I was a hometown kid grew up in Gallatin Gateway, Montana, which was outside of Boise, where Montana State was… and went to their camps, you know, since I was a high schooler. And I always wanted to be a Bobcat, you know… and that was in elementary school. I went to the same class with the same 15 kids, K-9… they even had my mom as a home room teacher. So, when your teacher’s kid, you spend plenty of time before and after school, you know, waiting to finish up lesson plan. So, I got lots of shots up. And I, you know… created stories and dreams in my head about winning the last shot, you know, at Montana State… so anyway, by the time I got to, it was awesome that I get to play in front of my family and friends. However, it wasn’t the most ideal experience, and I want to share with student athletes today. It’s out of what was me.. you know, I end up having 3 coaches and 4 years. So, we had lots of turnover, lots of transitions, and so, at outside of our environment that it wasn’t always especially conducive to high performance. I also had stuff… get my own way, and I was your stereotypical athlete whose identity came from what she did. So, I was a perfectionist. That made me careful, but it didn’t make me great. My stat line mattered, the recognition mattered, and ultimately now, looking back it, I think most times when I performed, it felt more threatening to that… as opposed to opportunity. So, when my career was over, I had a lot of resentment towards my experience. Some burnout… I also had some questions that I wanted to answer too… like you know. What? Why was it that experience for feeling? How did I lose the join… love for the sport? And that led me into some classes in my master’s program for sport psychology. And then meeting Coach McGuire, who wants to be Coach McGuire? Right? That that’s it, that’s all, she wrote. And I came down in my little Nissan, ultimately, to pursue my Ph.D. in the that… so the longing for sports psychology really came from my own experiences and maybe trying to heal some of my old wounds to be honest Cindra.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I mean, that’s how I got interested in the field… to better understand myself. And I had a similar experience in college where just felt like I didn’t step into my potential or my best self… I really got trapped in comparison, you know? And I just felt like I got in my own way a lot. So isn’t that interesting, how our struggles lead us to what we’re most passionate about. And I think, you know, as I think about my college career, it still makes me really… it makes me… even more passionate about helping others, because I don’t want people to suffer like I did.

Scotta Morton: Yeah absolutely, and it’s like you said, even so many years out, and how we can see each other, and you know… our stories, and I think that’s the power of it too… right? Like even honestly, I would tell 17-18 year olds, even Scotta back then… there was no way that she’d really so Scotta. Like even back then she had some really heavy on her… you know, and I needed a coach, but I probably wouldn’t have let myself go because of that, too. So, I think you know, as coaches, the more that we can put ourselves back in their shoes, you know, and understand that pain and suffering… the more that we can open it up to this experience as opposed to that, we’ve got it all figured out. We all know that we certainly don’t.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah. And I heard a few things in your story like that… you were really outcome focused, right? Stats… your identity was tied to your performance, which can be scary, or, you know, especially when we don’t perform well, then we go into a really big low, and that it was more like threatening instead of an opportunity… maybe like you felt a lot of pressure to perform instead of seeing it as an opportunity to show what you’ve been working at.

Scotta Morton: You’re right. Yeah, it felt. Unfortunately, it started to turn into… you know, the love for what I did turn into like this fear-driven hustle like I like… I needed to be the best or superior to others in order to feel good about myself and I think society conditions athletes a lot that way. So, if we could help them reclaim their experience back as theirs… I think that’s really important. It’s about nobody else, but it’s about their relationship with themselves… who they become through the pursuit… that they need to be able to honor that and that sacred for them.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, absolutely. And so, I’m thinking about, your… you know, just your wealth of experience that you’ve had at the University of Missouri. When you were there working with athletes on the mental game and sports psychology… now, in your own coaching practice, called “Go For It Coaching”. And I’m curious… what do you see with the top athletes? And I know you do some work with executives, too, so we can include that in that conversation…. but what do you see them doing differently related to mindset or the mental game?

Scotta Morton: Yeah, I think… looking back, Cindra, like, I think some of the top quote/unquote athletes were just awesome human beings. They were just great people. And I mean if there’s some things that I could pull… they open and curious, they were vulnerable, they were really to put themselves out there with the uncertainty and not be able to control everything. But in the team aspect like, I love working with teams. Right? So, like I, I feel like some of those great teams that lived to their potential just gave themselves incredible sense of belonging for each other. Like… they saw each other, they celebrated each other, and so to me it wasn’t necessarily the top athlete with the top performance that was so inspiring… it was the real heroes were those role players. You know, that that sacrificed and served each other without expecting anything in return. And when you can get a core group of young men or women who are willing to do that for each other and have a purpose that surpasses winning. That’s pretty special.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, that’s really special. And I’m you know, as people are listening, I bet they’re thinking until, okay. Well, how do you create that sense of belonging? And I think the… you know, everybody plays a role in the culture, every athlete or every team member. If it’s a business, you can play role in the culture – every athlete, every team member, or if it’s a business, you know, you play a role in the culture. But I’m curious what you have found, as maybe what coaches do, or what athletes do, or what we can do, you know, as mental performance coaches to help them create that sense of belonging?

Scotta Morton: Yeah, you know, it’s always… I forgot where I heard this, too… and I might not quote it right, but we talked about, you know, if you ask coaches at the end of the season, the reasons why they didn’t live up to potential? Was it because of the technical tactical X’s and O’s, or is it team stuff? Was it jealousy? Was it… the so called mediocrity, or whatever that other team stuff that gotten away? And you know, 95% of the time they say it’s team. And then we talk about how much time do you actually dedicate the focus and team that’s outside of the X’s and O’s, and it doesn’t quite match up. So, I think it’s something… it’s not just one cool team building activity you do once a week or a couple of times before precincts. I think that’s… what we think it is that we’re just gonna go ahead with each other. It’s something that’s intentional… that’s something you nurture. It’s something that you give ownership to them. You give them opportunity just to learn how to establish deeper, richer connections with each other, and then the joy that comes from that… some more of those soulful deep wins, I think Pippa… called it soulful winning. Right? This… establishes more of those deep wins than shallow wins. So, I think it’s something that you just did best in daily, that you may just as part of your practice plan, you make it part of your culture plan as well.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I love that… and soulful winning. I haven’t actually heard that. So, tell us where that comes from, what that means to you.

Scotta Morton: Yeah, I think Pippa would talk about there’s the shallow wins when we’re attached to, and again, that’s kind of the outside validation and the recognition that we’re doing it, you know, for hustling for our self-worth… the rewards outside of us, and so even when we get those things, they feel kind of shallow because one, that’s never enough… and you always just want more right? And then the deep, soulful winning is when you’re attached to the struggle, you’re attached to the mess, there’s a deeper calling or a purpose, and why you’re doing what you’re doing, and so you feel it more at a soulful level.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah. And I’m thinking about how so many times we want it to be perfect, or we want to not fail or miss a shot, or we want it to be easy. But I like… I like that you said that it’s like attached to the mess, because it can be messy.

Scotta Morton: Sure.

Cindra Kamphoff: Even high performance isn’t perfect.

Scotta Morton: That makes you think of our great Ken Ravizza. Right? He would say, are you that crappy of a player that you always gotta be feeling good to play well, and part of sports having a good crappy day. So don’t think about flow, think about embracing the suck, and that always resonated, I love that.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, yeah, there we go. Ken Ravizza. I love it. Well, when you’re thinking about, you know, teaching mindset, if it’s with athletes or the executives that you work with, what do you hear yourself saying over and over again. You know, what’s kind of a main message that you talk about a lot?

Scotta Morton: You would probably hear me say, you are not your thoughts. You’re not your thoughts. You don’t have to buy in or entertain everything you think… so if you’re not your thoughts, who are you? You’re the observer of them. And I think that’s something I got wrong early in sports psychology, and even as an athlete, you know, it’s they’d say so much like part of mental toughness is just control what you think. Just control what is on your mind. Like okay… so, I’m having this thought that I suck. And so, you’re telling me this is a negative thought, so stop it, and then replace it with a positive thought… and I would try that. And it was just not working out for me, partly because I didn’t believe in it. So, I think part of the evolution of you know, my approach has been a lot more based in mindfulness to understanding it’s not about necessarily controlling all the dialogue, but I can control my relationship with to it. You know that it that it doesn’t have to take up all the space in my head… kind of to have more than non-judgmental awareness and then also get curious about where that belief is coming from and kind of change the narrative. So, when you say that first to someone who is an athlete that you are not your thoughts, they are like, huh? What do you mean? Because I think they’re often taught like, yeah, just control what you think. And that actually becomes a more of a distraction when you’re trying to battle your mind or fight or flee it rather than just to accept it, and then move on to being here now. So of course… you are not your thoughts.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I think that’s really powerful, because we all have these thoughts that pop into our head that we don’t choose, and that are limiting in some way… if it’s building up business, or, you know, thriving in your job, or you’re doing well in athletics, you know, there’s doubt that can happen. I think… and doubt isn’t always a bad thing, right? Because it can really teach you about what’s most important to you.

Scotta Morton: Absolutely. I think I used to… David was a permission to feel. But you know that that emotions aren’t directive their data, you know, and they are signals of what you truly care about. And I love that too, and it’s and so it’s the ideas like whether we call it, or inner critic, or we call it our Gremlin, or I like to think of it as like the younger Scotta, but still trying to protect big Scotta, like ‘No, it’s really scary, don’t do that’… I still go through that I’m like, so that I still feel like… the childhood… you know, like I have more of a compassionate relationship with her like, hey, you’re just trying to protect me. I hear you, I see you, but we’re good. We’re good. We’re going to be okay here. As opposed to this something that I have to fight, you know, like the wolves, and which one you feel… like to have more of a compassionate lens to that old running tape that’s running in my head.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah. And that’s something I think that I’ve learned to do as I’ve gotten older is just work to be kinder with my… that self-talk and you know, have more compassion for myself. And I wish I would have known that when I was a college athlete.

Scotta Morton: Me too. Me too, Cindra.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.

Scotta Morton: Yeah, it’s noticing that some things are easier than others so we can notice ourselves being really hard on ourselves, for sure.

Cindra Kamphoff: So, let’s think about this a little bit more… like you are not your thoughts being an observer of them, and it’s less about controlling your mind than just like noticing and not judging the thoughts. Can you give us an example of maybe a time where you did that? Or maybe you worked with an athlete or an executive? You have obviously no names, you know, keep it confidential, but maybe a time where they you think that really helped.

Scotta Morton: Yeah. So, one activity exercise I like to use is… I think it’s by Kevin Polk, but the ACT matrix. So, I use that with a lot of clients and with teams. And so yeah, I’m at… you know, sometimes I feel that pressure, Cindra, like I get, you know, with time management, but sometimes the only time you could get with them would be on game day, you know, or traveling. And so, I’d get 30 minutes, and so obviously it wasn’t going to be anything where I was going to teach them a new skill, but something I could really ground them in and help them set their intention before game time. So, you know, we often do the ACT matrix together as a team. So, we talk about their values and what’s most important to them. And then as a team, they list, some committed actions that support those values. They listed their own… thoughts and emotions as a team, and then, when they act on those, the actions that actually move them away. So, they have this idea in the middle, right? There’s that me are noticing… And so, then you just get in them talking and understanding that, yeah, fear and doubt, like you said are always going to be there, but they don’t have to be in the driver’s seat, and so can they set their intentions and hold themselves accountable to those committed actions. So, basketball that would have been like the one more. You pass one more, right? One more play… it’d be great energy on the bench. It’d be the ‘next play’ mentality. And then they, you know, pick out some pictures to help that really embody those committed actions. And that’s how we wanted to judge their success… we coin, that as ‘out’ teaming. Like we want to ‘out’ team and other team with our committed actions. So that’d be something to help them understand about what that relationship could look like, again, they don’t have to fight or flight it. It can be that nonjudgment awareness, and if I can be open and go there it is, we set our mind before our mind sets us.

Cindra Kamphoff: Mhm, awesome, can we set our mind before our mind sets us? I love that. Say more about what that means to you.

Scotta Morton: Yeah, I think if we’re not intentional, you know, it’s part of that visualization and attention before you go out for a big performance… like if we get really clear how we want to experience ourselves. So, if we want to leave with courage and bold, or be authentic, or be present. If we’re not intentional with those committed actions, we’ll find ourselves buying into those unwanted thoughts, right? Because we love the path of least resistance. That’s not our fault, that’s our armor to protect. So, if we could set our mind before that old story, that script that sets us.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah. And I like this idea of, can you set your mind before your mind sets you, right? And because that to me means that you’re being intentional. You’re being thoughtful. You’re showing up with your mindset the way you want to show up instead of like letting it be on automatic pilot or on these… and I like the idea of like the unwanted thoughts. And maybe just by saying, hey, these are just unwanted thoughts. I’m not my thoughts.

Scotta Morton: Yeah.

Cindra Kamphoff: … I don’t need to believe them.

Scotta Morton: Correct, yeah. Yeah.

Cindra Kamphoff: And what’s the… Scotta,  what would be like a unique way that you might teach the mental game or mindset? I’m curious about that.

Scotta Morton: Yeah. So, taking the unique way, I think all the times that… you know, we’ll probably talk about epic failures here soon, which are fun. But you know, yes, in the ACT matrix, when I find kind of some silly, fun games to get them talking. So yeah, I… one point I brought in… and maybe this wasn’t my original idea. I don’t know what ideas are original at this point, Cindra. Probably all things I’ve learned from you, and you know, and our great cohort or McGuire. But I did bring in the Operations Board game, one time. Oh, cool! And that aged me because I don’t think very many have actually even heard or played it. So, they, you know when you hit the buzz like jarring. And so, we use that as a way, how do we move on to the next moment to not build a story about what’s happening. We’ve brought in the trick jellybeans.

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh, you mean the ones that taste really bad.

Scotta Morton: Yeah, that tastes bad. So, when we do like a mindfulness exercises, we usually do the raisin exercise… and now we do with the Jelly Belly one too.

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh man.

Scotta Morton: Yeah. We’re still supposed to stay present with that moment to my own experience, without ejecting out of the hard thing right and still sit with it, even if you didn’t like the taste of it. And so, then we’d say, ‘Okay, what does that mean for a game time when you don’t like the call that’s made, or the turnover? How can you like that?’ So just find some other, you know… try to be somewhat creative to help them and create some more meaning, and, like you said intention before they go out and perform.

Cindra Kamphoff: Well. Both of those are really sticky, right? And can I think of… I think we have an operations game downstairs; you know that my boys used to play, but right? But like it is jarring… it’s you know… And how can you stay in control, or, you know, not get flustered…

Scotta Morton: Yeah.

Cindra Kamphoff: …or focus on what you can’t control, when there’s this jarring call… or something that you don’t like.

Scotta Morton: Exactly. And if they messed up everybody watching you, too, so that… pressure to that social evaluation like, how am I doing? What are people thinking that’s taken away from being here now? Yeah… next task.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, yeah. I think there’s, you know, so many important principles about what you just said about staying present and kind of next play… right moving on quickly and it’s really hard to do that. I think even young athletes don’t even realize the importance of doing that. Yesterday, I was speaking to coaches, and I was talking about a tool I talked about in my book called “learn, burn, return”. It’s just how to quickly move on, and things don’t go perfect. And one of the coaches in the audience… she started crying towards the end. And I thought, well, maybe it was just like a story I told, you know…

Scotta Morton: Oh wow, yeah.

Cindra Kamphoff: …like what she what she was just moved by, and she told me at the end she said, you’re the first person that has ever given me permission to move on quickly when things don’t go perfect. And she said, like.

Scotta Morton: Oh wow.

Cindra Kamphoff: She said, I’ve always… that’s always been like a positive, like a strength of mine, and people have shamed me for that like that. I should hold on to things more quickly, like, hold on to mistakes more quickly, you know. Yeah, isn’t that really interesting? And it was so interesting how… I think the way that maybe we respond to people. And you know, maybe we expect them to hold on to things when really, right, this idea of like next play is so important because our mind can’t be in two places at once, anyway.

Scotta Morton: That that’s a really great point. And an interesting perspective from that coach, too. is. Yeah. It seems like sometimes for a conditioned… like in in order to show you how much I care, I have to show you how upset and angry I am about what just happened. Even understanding that that’s limiting… You know, my potential in that moment… because you see it with a lot of coaches… you see at athletes are reactive, and then you watch coaches at the events, and that’s often something that the coach is modeling… so frustrated. Their athletes. Can’t get on the next, and then it’s like coach… Well, you just spent that entire time talking to the ref about a call you didn’t like, and you had no idea it was going on the court for the next 4 positions in your calling plays. So sometimes I think, yeah, right some ways to model that present awareness and not to react, but to respond. The ability for that coach to do that, and for that coach, how she’s getting permission for all of her or her players to do the same. I think that’s huge for modeling composure for coaches.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that the power of that is like that’s something that we can be aware of is that we are a role model for emotional outbursts and reactivity versus responding and being really intentional about that, but we are a role model as a leader. Right? I’m thinking about with my kids. I’m a role model as a coach, your role model, absolutely… and you know one thing that I know that you believe and I was as I was looking at your website, Scotta, I love this statement that you said, like strong personal development, is the foundation of high performance. And I really wanted to dive into that because I agree with that. And when you said, you know, what are the best athletes do? And you said, you know they’re just great people – they’re open, they’re curious, they’re vulnerable, they’re not trying to control things… and that takes a lot of personal development. So, tell us what that statement means to you to kind of just get us started on that idea.

Scotta Morton: Yeah, I think… part of the goal is to help performers build an identity that can’t be taken away from them, regardless of how they perform. And of course that’s gonna goes back to those values and committed actions. But I think it’s so easily I ever this on that ‘We Can Do Hard Things’ podcast with Abby… and Glenn and Doyle, and a great conversation is that so often the athletes become what they do, and they actually become, even up to that level, starved of self… that they don’t have a sense of self, and, in fact, sport wants it that way, because that’s kind of exploiting their care, you know, they wanted to say totally committed to the sport. And so there can be sometimes an emptiness of not really understanding who the person is behind the jersey or the uniform… and we want people that are full of self… selfish, but more full of self. Hmm. On the same podcast, as the other day, Megan Rapinoe talked about this, this myth, this idea, that people have to sacrifice to be on a team, and she’s like I don’t like that like the idea of buying and like to sacrifice like, what? Does that mean like to sacrifice your individuality? Like, we need more people to step fully into their individuality, into their roles, and be seen for that. And when they’re seen for that, you’re just willing to give and do more for the team. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you always can get you want as far as playing time. But the idea of sacrificing yourself for the good of the team! It’s like… the cliche ‘we over me’. It’s like a powerful… “we” is made up of a lot of really awesome “mes”, you know, we you do need everybody do need everybody a step in your full truth and individuality. And as much as you want people to do that, you also have to celebrate people for that.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.

Scotta Morton: So, I think, yeah, I think that strong personal development is, I think you get this idea as a mental performance coach that we come in and just talk about mental skills or confidence or visualization. And we… we’re talking about what it means to human in this world and how to build connection relationships and meaning and purpose. And I think from the positive psychology stuff that really on that higher well-being and building happy and strong… people is really that prerequisite to have strong performers.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, that’s powerful and identity that can’t be taken away, right. Like taken away by… if you failed, if you don’t start, if your coach leaves, you know. What have you seen, in terms of when the identity can be taken away… How is it taken away?

Scotta Morton: Yeah, I think that’s something that’s kind of modeled in sport… and Coach McGuire always talk to me about… what sport does say is… they don’t say I love you just as much as you are, and go out and try your best. It says, go get good, go get really good. Go, be the best, and then we’ll love you, right? Some messages that we send out… it’s like, even we’re trying to nurture this idea, it’s like, then they leave our time with us and they get on social media, or they talk to their parents. They’re even easily thrown back into that intoxicating world where that’s that that fear-driven hustle to be the best, or to feel good about themselves like that rugged individualism. And we are dependent creatures, like we need each other to be at our best. So, I think it’s what we… what you’re trying to nurture in a locker room space, with a safe setting. And then when you leave there… you’re against a lot of other forces that are tearing that apart, and that that’s the unfortunate thing. I think that’s what robs athletes of the joy that they have with their sport.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I think that’s so helpful because I think about as I’m listening to. I’m thinking about my 2 boys, and they’re 16 and 14. And you know, this year, during track, they were trying to beat each other a lot. They were on different teams and eighth grader and a tenth grader. But they were trying to… you know, outdo each other. And it was like, you know, hey, why don’t we work to be our best. And we’re gonna love you, no matter if you PR or not. And I think that’s so important to talk to kids about because we can have our identity so tied to our performance or our times, or, you know, in our business, the money we make, instead of doing it for the love and the purpose of the game.

Scotta Morton: Exactly. I think… again, those are lessons I’ve had to learn over in my career, too, is that the success of my career is not going to be dependent on the size of the stage that I’m on… You would ask me 10 years to be like, oh, it’s like I work with that professional team, or when I do this there was still some childhood wounds that I was trying to prove to others that I was competent of worth. And now it’s like, no, it’s more about giving/serving without expecting anything in return, and when I can sit in that, and know that I’m not always perfect, I so much enjoy the work that I do, because… you know, that’s my ego that gets in the way. So, whether at 18 or 38 or whatever… that’s something that we always have to seem to be re-learning for me, anyway.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, we’ve talked a little bit about failure today. I kind of put it in air quotes because, you know, I think about okay, what does actual failure mean? And I’d love to get your take on this. How do you define failure and tell us about a time that didn’t go so well for you and what you learned.

Scotta Morton: Sure. So, I would probably take the failure definition for Michael Gervais. I loved how he spins failure and ‘go for it’… and tie that with probably one of my favorite quotes to share is the man in the arena by Teddy Roosevelt, or the woman in the arena depending what audience I’m talking about. So, failure is not about right going for it and going all in and testing the outer edge of your ability or your potential like, if you’re doing that, you should be failing because you’re testing the outer edge, right? That’s where the growth happens. Sometimes you’re successful, sometimes you’re not, right? So, the only way we could really define a failure then, if it’s about the going… you’re coming up short or it’s hard to be successful. The only way we can to find failure is from the not going… not going for it… out of the fear of what other people might think. It’s not staying within our integrity. It’s not staying within our truth… managing our ego, right? Or image of trying to be a perfectionist. So, it’s…  the not going for it. Well, then, yeah, that the easiest failure would be the senior year Scotta, who went from being the starter her junior year, and got her butt bench for senior year. To hardly got into the game… and I felt huge team mascot, right? And so, I was big time hurting and in a wallowing in myself pity. I remember one funny story with another teammate… this is the third coach that came in… that we have a great relationship with now, but I literally got up from these metal benches Cindra, and Amanda pulled out a splinter like this big out of my shorts. We thought that was the most hilarious thing, that I’d sat the bench so long that she actually pulled a legit splinter, and I had no idea where that came from. Anyway, when I think of time that that I failed… it’s I miss my opportunity to lead. As a senior on that bench, I miss my opportunity to lead, and by doing that I didn’t allow the rest of my teammates to go out and still play free, because I know they still look up to me, and so the pain of not going, and not still acting within my integrity… my values probably would be worth more… than actually getting benched to be quite honest. And then, you know, throughout my career have been not the many times again, where I would let my ego win, where I was still probably approaching interactions with the need to be liked… that I needed more approval and hustling for more for validation rather than staying in a genuine connection with people that I served, so that could have been times where I got too close to coaching staff, where I maybe could, should have them more accountable than I did, or vice versa, with athletes… and in those moments stick with you. You know where you kind of betrayed yourself for the approval of others, and countless for sure.

Cindra Kamphoff: I appreciate you just sharing that because I think you know, when you’re vulnerable, we just get closer to you, and we understand… you know what you went through. And I think we’ve all been in places where we choose, maybe more of that lower level of energy of victim or self-pity, because we feel bad for ourselves instead of like, okay, taking a step back… and what’s my purpose here? And your identity was just really tied to that starting position, instead of being a senior and a team captain.

Scotta Morton: Yes, you’re exactly right. I think that identity had been, you know, at that point 18 years of that, you know, that I was supposed to be Scotta the starting stud. And so there was a huge crisis when well, if I’m not this, then who am I? But I think one thing that you said is that pain and suffering can be the greatest catalyst for change, and had I not gone through that, I don’t know that sports psychology would have been what I pursued.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.

Scotta Morton: So yeah, so it’s easier in hindsight, right?

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, it’s easier to look back and say, Okay, what did I… what did I learn from this, or what’s led me to this passion and purpose? And I think about sometimes like, how can I grow through this, not just get through this? You know… and like sometimes I felt like my senior year, I was just getting through it and not necessarily growing too. I wasn’t really tapped into this soulfulness that you’re talking about today with purpose and meaning. So yeah, it fuels us now.

Scotta Morton: Yeah, and to your point, even more reason why we need coaches then, right? To kind of help point the way and to help us… yeah, it’s a… we can’t go alone.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, absolutely.

Scotta Morton: If we could I probably would figure it out by now.

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh, love it. And you know, I think about your own practice now… being at University Missouri, and now your own practice that Go For It mental performance coaching. What do you think are the top couple of takeaways you have from working with clients as we work to wrap up our conversation?

Scotta Morton: Yeah, I think just kind of going off our last conversation. I think a big takeaway is just the understanding that we need each other. We just do… and it when we don’t share with each other like what we see and what we’re capable of, we just walk around entertaining that BS, the limiting beliefs… that we do need each other, and I think the second one is cliche, as it sounds… but like knowing that our true worth and value is our true source of power. And if we can sit in our innate enoughness, and that’s a journey I’m still on, like knowing that I’m in that I’ll always be. Then then achievement no longer the goal. Achievement is no longer the goal, you know. I’m something little bit deeper, richer, like you said it’s more soulful… and that’s something that, regardless of if it’s a 13 year old to a 60 year old walking in… it’s…. we all seem to have that deeper longing to feel closer with ourselves or with others, and that seems to be just some common trends, regardless of who walks in or out of my office.

Cindra Kamphoff: I think about how I grew up, you know. And what was rewarded was the achievement. It was the fast times for me, a track and field athlete, it was like running a PR or winning a race… how you got not only your family, but the coaches, and you know the community that I lived in was, that’s what was reinforced… so it’s hard to… It’s hard not to achieve, because that’s been reinforced to you growing up.

Scotta Morton: You’re right, you’re right, and it still is, too, right? And so, I think that’s a part too that… I think understanding… it’s like achievements is not saying like, you know, don’t go out and meet those audacious goals, or have an idea of where you want to go. But if it’s, if that’s to the exclusion of everything else, if you’re just setting the goal to prove your worthiness. You’re gonna have it for every time, right? And I think that’s a hard thing… we maybe probably in parenting and coaching like if we have interrupted that story for ourselves… to them, you just end up passing it down, right? And so those are those things too, so sometimes as coaches, and especially in leadership, we really have to interrupt the stories, so we can really help lead those differently… because it still is the message still is the message.

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s a good clarification… okay, so we need each other. And we need to keep reminding ourselves for understanding, our true value and our being enough. When you mentioned Michael Gervais and his definition of failure… I had him on the podcast during COVID. This might have been like, maybe 3 years ago. And I asked him that question, what does failure mean to you? And if people aren’t familiar with surveys work. He has a podcast called Finding Mastery, and he gave me this definition… and he said, well, failures anytime I don’t show up as myself. And I’ve been using that to help guide me. You know, when I’m on a big stage speaking… because sometimes you can get in your own head, and you could be thinking about what people are thinking about you. And then you… you’re not really your to self.

Scotta Morton: Yeah, I love that.

Cindra Kamphoff: So, like… what if today I’m just like my true self, and that’s my definition. And every time I pry myself with that idea it’s awesome, because, you see, like the real Cindra. And then I’m not overthinking anything and I have more connection with people, because I just show up as me.

Scotta Morton: I love that. And even here you say that makes me feel in my, you know, even in my heart I go yeah… like that is that to, and it’s like at the end of the day, don’t we just want that for athletes? To go out and be themselves? But they have to know the self,  thyself, to have that too.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, they do. Yeah. And it’s a journey. I feel like I’m still learning more about myself, even though I’ve been in this profession for 20 years or something.

Scotta Morton: Oh, hands down.

Cindra Kamphoff: Well, Scotta, tell us a little bit where we can find more information about your mental performance coaching… so just tell us a little bit more about that.

Scotta Morton: Yeah, so… speaking of growth mindset, I was just laughing with Cindra that I think I’ve had to get you know… starting a business for dummies, I got that book down my lower shelf over there, so I’m still having a growth mindset about my social media and my advertising and marketing. But, you can find me at, I have an inquiry page, and then on Instagram @goforitmpc.

Cindra Kamphoff: Awesome, wonderful. And you shared so many just wonderful ideas today. What would you have… you know, what advice would you have for everyone who’s listening and working to be their best self today?

Scotta Morton: Yeah, going after theme of authenticity Cindra, I love that. I think sometimes we get so busy feeling like we have to perform, or we get so busy just leading and coaching that I love this word… [authenticity] to get back to just what it means to be human. You know just a human instead of always having to feel that we have to perform… so we only have so many heartbeats left, you know, this one precious life… wherever we are in a career, and I think we get to really figure out how we want to use them and get clear and put first things first. So, whatever that would mean for the people that are listening.

Cindra Kamphoff: Wonderful. Well, I’m going to work to summarize today.

Scotta Morton: Great, you’re always really good at that, I’m always like wow.

Cindra Kamphoff: Well, today, we talked at the beginning about working to be your best self, and you shared with us just some ideas of values, and really helping us think about what does that mean for us. I love how you said, like the best athletes are great people…. and just this idea of like continuing to work on your personal development is a gateway to high performance. And just this idea of like continuing to create a sense of belonging on your teams… and I think that team that can be in your family… could be your team and your if you’re an athlete or a coach, that could be your team. Your business can be your team, and I think that’s the essence of what we want anyway as people, is just to feel like we belong. Love your idea of you’re not your thoughts and can just continue to be an observer of your thoughts – can we set our mind before our mind sets us? Got some snaps for that right there, and just continuing into develop your identity so your identity can’t be taken away from you. And at the end we are talking about two things that you see in your own practice is just, you know, that we need each other, and just continue into really get connected with your own value, and that you’re enough. So Scotta, way to bring it for everyone who’s listening today and thank you so much for being on the podcast today, many years in the making, and I’m grateful just for your wisdom and sharing with us a little bit more about your thoughts and what you do.

Scotta Morton: I’m truly honored to be here Cindra. Thank you.