Lindsey Hamilton is the Head of Mental Performance at IMG Academy where she leads and develops a team of 15 mental performance coaches that oversees the mental skills development of over 1,400 high school aged student-athletes across eight sports. She also leads the IMG Institute through developing and delivering high performance mindset training to executive-level business professionals and corporate teams.
Lindsey holds two bachelor’s degrees from Chapman University in psychology and sociology, a master’s degree from the University of Utah in Exercise and Sport Science with an emphasis in psychosocial aspects of sport, and a doctorate in kinesiology from UNC Greensboro. She is also a Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. Lindsey relentlessly encourages those around her to pursue the best version of themselves and have a fun time doing it.
In this podcast, Lindsey and Cindra talk about:
- How executive and elite athletes train their mind
- 3 questions you can ask yourself when you notice yourself chasing your mind
- How we can’t change what we don’t know
- 3 tips to communicate more effectively
- A unique way of understanding the mental game
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Cindra Kamphoff: Thank you so much for joining me on the High Performance Mindset Podcast! We got Lindsey Hamilton from IMG in the house. So, Lindsey, I’m so excited to talk to you. I realized that I last had you on the podcast in 2019. So, 4 years ago, and it seems like maybe it was 20.
Lindsey Hamilton: Oh my gosh, seriously it… well, first thank you so much for having me, I’m just delighted to be here and engaging in this conversation, and honestly, like COVID, just puts a time warp into everything, and I don’t know if 2019 just happened, if it was 20 years ago, or when it really came. So, I’m glad to be here now, and to continue our conversation.
Cindra Kamphoff: Well, I’m so impressed with the ways that you have kept evolving at IMG, and maybe just to get us started… people might not be familiar with IMG Academy. So just give us a a sense for what you do day to day, and what you’re most passionate about there.
Lindsey Hamilton: Absolutely. So, IMG Academy, for those who aren’t familiar, is a is a sport boarding school, essentially, where kids come to… our institution to go to school, and in a boarding school environment as well as train in one of now 9 sports that we have here on campus, and we have… as young as middle school kids and we have as old as our post graduates, so those who are one year out of high school. And so, they’re coming here at… in a high caliber environment – they’re going to school, they’re doing their training, they get exposure to a whole bunch of high-performance disciplines like strength and conditioning and performance… nutrition and mental performance as one part of that. So, as a part of our work here we have 15 mental performance coaches that serve across our almost 1,500 student athletes. So, our mental performance coaches work with a variety of teams, and they get to really be with those teams for the course of their season, which here really takes the better part of 10 months, where they’ll work with the student athletes to develop confidence, to help them build resilient practice, to foster their commitment to their goals and to the things that they’re trying to strive for, and then being able to provide that support both in education of these topics as well as application of the skills into their performance environment.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, that’s wonderful… and I was thinking about, there’s been a couple of times in the last, maybe 10 years where I visited IMG. One was pre-COVID, and I’m just always impressed with your facilities… and yeah, 15 now, mental performance coaches. That’s just incredible that it’s, you know, expanded so much.
Lindsey Hamilton: Yes, it is, and I definitely have to express deep appreciation for all the mental performance coaches… who were here and started this work here, and the decades of work that has been done that has led us to the opportunity to have 15 mental performance coaches… and you know we really feel passionately about supporting and advancing the field of sports psychology as a whole… so, I’m very grateful that we have positions at all levels of someone’s practitionership. So, we have assistant mental performance coaches, mental performance coaches, senior mental performance coaches, and then, of course, assistant heads and head of department, where I currently stand, that allow people to grow into themselves here as a as a practitioner and get exposure and support through a variety of different applied mental performance works.
Cindra Kamphoff: Excellent! Well, so I know that you played soccer growing up and soccer in college, and I’m curious about how you came to this work…. and you know how you became interested in sports psychology and the mental game.
Lindsey Hamilton: Sure, you know… this story might be familiar to some, but the fact is, as I was in college an athlete, I was a psychology major and an athlete, and inevitably you get to the end of your career, and people ask you what you’re going to do… I say, I don’t know, somebody suggested sports psychology, and without hesitation I say, I’ll never do sports psychology. So first of the day, never say never, if you haven’t heard that one before, because you never know really what’s coming… but to me at the time I didn’t want to move in that direction. I felt in some ways that mental performance would hit too close to home, like I don’t know how many mental performance coaches are out there who didn’t get into this work because they didn’t need themselves, but that’s certainly for myself, ultimately. So… I took a lot of detours. I was in a whole bunch of other industries including the automotive industry just prior to going back to grad school and getting my master’s degree, and really have the intention of staying in the academic space and doing research, that was a part of my background that I deeply appreciated, and on the side I happened to be a soccer coach as well… and then, when I learned that you could do applied mental performance work, and that you could coach these skills for athletes, I just… my mind was blown. And so halfway through my program in graduate school, I decided to take on the applied work as well, and I was fortunate enough to land a role here at the Academy as a mental performance coach right out of… actually, as I was finishing my graduate program, and I’ve been here ever since, so it certainly wasn’t a direct path here, but I’ve been very grateful for where my feet have landed now.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, that’s wonderful, and isn’t that wild? How it’s like, you know, something that you never expected you become. I have a similar story, not in sports psychology, but my husband and I… we live in Minnesota, and we grew up in Iowa. And when I was at UNC Greens Borough, which I know you just graduated from there with your EdD. So, congratulations, we both got our doctorate degree at the same place, but my husband and I would drive from Iowa to North Carolina every winter, right? We come home for Christmas. And one day when we are driving, we made a list of places we would never live, and places we would love to live. And the places we would love to live were like, you know, California, Florida, Arizona, just really warm places… and number one on the top, we would never live in is Minnesota. We thought it was way too cold, you know, in Iowa, when you would see the news, and then, you know, it’s a like… well, today it’s minus 10, but it’s minus 30 in Minneapolis, you know?
Lindsey Hamilton: Oh my gosh!
Cindra Kamphoff: Anyway, we’ve lived here for 15 years, so there’s that.
Lindsey Hamilton: So funny, that’s the way life goes isn’t it?
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, isn’t that hilarious? Well, I know there, at IMG you work with sport populations, and you also work with corporate… in the corporate world. And I’m just curious, because people who listen to the podcast, you know there’s a mixture of both people who are athletes and coaches and parents and they want to learn more about the mental game… but then there’s, you know, leaders who listen and executives, and I’m curious what you have found… how can executives train their mind like athletes, and what are the benefits that you see in that?
Lindsey Hamilton: Yeah, you know, I have just really valued my time working in the corporate space, because it’s a… totally different avenue with similar psychological challenges, right? And so really, they’re gained an interest because a lot of corporate executives were like, what are you doing? What can we learn from the athlete side that’s going to help us in high performance? Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.
Lindsey Hamilton: So, what I find is that it’s a reconnection for our executives to remember that their work is a performance, too, and that they can put themselves in a position to be prepared to perform, and that is something that they feel… that you can often feel stripped away from, right? Is like you just show up to work, and you have to do these things, and you know you got to get through this list, and you have to have those conversations, and you just got to get through your day, and then we don’t really one, have the time… but oftentimes we don’t have the strategies to help us take a step back and say, how can I do this better? How can I bring my best version of myself here? And that’s one thing that I really loved about the corporate space just reconnecting those dots for the executives that are going through this process. And then, you know, like working with the high-performance executives is… like the demands are high, the risk and the rewards are their own set of challenges and opportunities as well, and so really providing support to executives to allow them to engage in these spaces is something that I have really appreciated.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, yeah, I agree that you know… their work is a performance, too, and you know, maybe the performance for athletes is the sport. But their leadership and their career is their performance, just like I think about as a mom, right? I can use performance psychology and sports psychology to continue to be my at best as a mom, you know?
Lindsey Hamilton: Absolutely, I mean, if I didn’t become a sports psychology consultant at some point, because in the future I would be a parent like… I oftentimes am so grateful for the skills I get to use, you know, in my own living room, let alone in the locker room or the boardroom.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, absolutely. So, give us a sense of when you’re working with the you know the corporate athletes will say, what topics do you find as most meaningful and helpful for them, and maybe just give us a little insight on what we can learn from some of your teachings there.
Lindsey Hamilton: Sure. So, there’s probably 2 different areas that I spend the most amount of time on, and one that probably seems to make the most sense to align with the our sport athletes are things like handling pressure and focus. And their pressure is rampant in a lot of… corporate spaces, and being able to focus under distractions and make… and really still engage critical thinking skills and effective decision making in those environments. And so being able to work with the corporate executives to again provide them with some of the simple tools on like how to focus and how to identify what your distractions are, and making sure that you’re engaged… engaging some of the focus queues that you can use in these moments… that’s probably the… a very, very straight jump from what we do with our athletes into what we do in the corporate space. What I find myself working a lot on within the corporate space, above and beyond that is helping them to identify… how to align their mission, or who they are as a leader with their actual behaviors, and how they work with their the people, their staff, or the people that they have the privilege of working with, or that even their clients, right? Because we, as business professionals… you know, we have… an intention for how we want to come across and what we’re trying to accomplish, but the people that we’re working with oftentimes have their own experience of our intention, and what we find is that they can just be so far apart. That’s a massive gap, and when there’s a massive gap, we know that there’s that’s where assumptions are made, that’s where difficulties arise, and so helping to work with corporate clients to close that gap between what’s their intention of who they want to be, and how they want to show up, and the behaviors that allow their staff or their clients to experience…. experience them in that way.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, that’s great, and I know people are listening and they… they’re thinking, well, I experience pressure, and there are times where I have difficulty focusing… and hmm… does my mission relate to my behaviors? And does that my behavior support my mission? Can you give us a sense of like… let’s dive into pressure just a little bit. And you know, why do you see that athletes or corporate athletes might experience pressure? And then what do you think is you know, one way we can… relieve that pressure?
Lindsey Hamilton: Yeah, it’s just a great question, especially across both of those spectrums. I mean, you know, the first place that we start is that very question is like, where does pressure come from? And oftentimes pressure makes people feel really out of control… and you know, then, if we can take a step back and say, okay, well, what is contributing this pressure? Where is it coming from? Maybe it’s expectations from other people. Maybe it’s expectations from a boss or from a coach, or from a parent or from a a collegiate recruit. Maybe your pressure is coming from your own expectations of what you think you should be doing right now on a very specific timeline. And so, you have a a time constraint of pressure, you have a social pressure, you can have… you know the pressure and just in terms of like the space that we’re in, right, the physical space that we’re in, or the space that we’re trying to move into. But helping them understand of where pressure comes from, because ultimately we can’t change what we don’t know. We can’t navigate pressure if we don’t know where it’s coming from, or what it’s doing to us, and that second part of what is it doing to us is really important, because ultimately the pressure is likely impacting us in two ways – it’s impacting our body and how we’re physically responding into this space, and it’s impacting our mind and how we are experiencing the pressure or the task. So, whether it’s clouding our judgment or whether it’s… is speeding us up. It’s making us go faster, or whether it’s making us have some self-doubt. So really, allowing the athlete or the client to know that that pressure shows up from these places. Okay, where’s that impacting you? How is it impacting your body and your mind? And so, being clear on what that is… and once you can do that, then we can jump into some possible strategies, right? So if we’re recognizing that we feel a lot of our body, a lot of our pressure in our body, right? We might… do a couple of things first, obviously breathwork. I’m sure we talk a lot about that in mental performance, making sure that we’re taking a breath and allowing that to be slow, and allowing that to be centering and knowing that you’re not just taking a breath to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. You’re taking a breath because it’s activating this vagus nerve that’s actually settling your central nervous system so that you can take the tension out of the experience that you’re having, and you know also, like, if I will add anything, it would be sleep.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.
Lindsey Hamilton: So, all people that are burning both ends of the night, you know. We want to make sure that sleep is an important part, because that’s helping us build resilience ultimately, too, and giving us the resources we need for that. And if we feel like our… pressure is maybe more cognitively impacting us, right, like we can’t focus very well or we can’t, you know… we are having a hard time making decisions. You know, one of the realities of mental performance is that oftentimes we just need to simplify ourselves, you know, we start thinking about all the things… things that happen, things that will happen, the things that could happen, you know all of this kind of stuff, and if we allow ourselves to simplify… so, asking ourselves, maybe one question of like, what’s one thing I need to do right now? Or what’s the most important thing that’s going to make me have the best outcome? You know, what’s one thing? And oftentimes when we can start with that one thing and bring that clarity, then it allows our mind to re-center and build… and that’s where we want to get to. We want to allow our mind to build onto what it is that we want to be doing, and oftentimes simplifying with asking ourselves some of those clarifying questions can really help us get there.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, that’s super helpful, Lindsay. I think about, you know, the people I work with who experience a lot of pressure. They tend to be focused on the outcome, right? And the outcome is uncertain, and they feel like… judged by the outcome in some way, you know. I appreciate what you just said about the breath work, slow and centered to activate that vagus nerve, and we can’t change what we don’t really know… so getting clarity on when you experience pressure. I’m curious about… when I think about… you know, when you teach mindset. And I’m curious about what you hear yourself saying over and over again, so what do you think about that?
Lindsey Hamilton: Yeah. When I get into these conversations. It’s always so interesting to me because like I said to your to your point about you know, handling pressure… and people like I said, people just feel really out of control, right? And so, like when we start providing some of these strategies… again, like you said, the outcome is out of our control.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.
Lindsey Hamilton: But that process and those little things that breath, we can take that one clarifying question, that’s something we can control. And so, when I find myself talking to athletes or corporate clients, they feel out of control with their mind… they’re like, I must be crazy.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.
Lindsey Hamilton: This is… my brain is doing this thing, surely there’s something wrong with me… and what I find myself recognizing is helping people understand what their mind is actually doing, and why it’s actually doing it. So often times, I use this analogy that our brain is like a puppy… and people can relate to that right? I don’t know, Cindra, if you have any dogs at home or…
Cindra Kamphoff: Oh we do, he’s cute.
Lindsey Hamilton: Okay so, if we can remember what life is like with a puppy, that you get this really cute little excited dog, and you bring him into this space, and you sit him down because you want everyone to look at him, and then you turn to shake someone’s hand, and the next thing you know the puppy is off. The puppy is running around the house, the puppy is exploring all the things, and you think, Oh, puppy, puppy! Come back! Come back, and you go, and you collect your puppy, and you bring him back down to where you are, and you sit him down, and you say, stay, puppy, and then you turn your body some way, and he’s off again… and that is the natural way of a puppy. The puppy’s excited, the puppy’s exploring, the puppy wants to know what’s going on, and it’s active all over the place… and the reality is, our mind is very much like that, right? That as soon as we’re like, but mind, please settle down, and then the next thing you know is, oh, my gosh! I just got to make sure that I that I get my kids to school on time, and then I got to make sure I get to that meeting, and oh, my gosh! Did I prepare that? And did I take my clothes to the dry cleaner? And you know our athletes, on the other hand, are, you know, going through the same thing, but asking themselves different questions. So, our mind is doing that, not because it’s bad, not because it’s mentally weak, it’s because it’s our mind, and that’s how the mind functions.
Cindra Kamphoff: Right, yeah.
Lindsey Hamilton: So then, when I think about mental training and how mental training is then incorporated into this puppy mind we have. What happens is then that puppy mind wanders away, you know, we go and we don’t berate it for running off, we gently invite it back to where we are, right? And we say, oh, this is your home… like can you stay here for a moment, and inevitably that minds going to wander… and if we know that that puppy is going to leave, then we can gently bring it back. And the reality is that the more that we bring it back, the more that we invite it back to this space, then the easier it comes when it’s called, and the longer it stays… and yet we know, because of the way our mind works, it’s going to leave again… and that’s okay, we’ll just go and bring it back. And then we can talk about different strategies that we can use to bring our puppy mind back. But that’s something that I find myself saying over and over to our athletes and to our corporate performers, is helping them understand nature of their mind. And so that they don’t have to… they can give themselves grace. They don’t have to judge themselves for their mind doing these things, we can bring it back, and then we can work on strategies that’s going to invite our puppy back faster.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I love that analogy, and I think about when we had our puppy at the beginning, right? This is about 5 years ago… it was really hard to control that puppy, and sometimes now it’s like he barks when you don’t expect it, and you know… but I like the idea of like controlling your mind and training your mind like a puppy, right? And the more that you train it the easier it becomes at that. And I think I heard you say earlier this idea of like chasing your mind. Tell us about that, and how you think that we can really work to train this mind that we have that’s like a puppy, mind.
Lindsey Hamilton: Yeah, I mean, I think when our mind starts doing these things, our initial, our gut reaction is to chase it, right? Like, of course, if your dog’s going to run off and then you start chasing it because you think you need to get it back, which is important, cause you do. And also, then we get stuck in this race, right? And we’re like chasing this puppy… we’re chasing our mind down, we’re like, no, you can’t be going all over the place, or you start to feel bad that you’re spiraling, right? It’s like the thought train… the thought train is taking you someplace that you don’t want to be. And so, you know, one of the things that I’ll do is, I’ll identify like 3 things that can help you when you want to bring your mind back, right? When your mind is.. when your puppy mind has run off, and you’re chasing it, what are 3 things we can do to get it back to where we are? And the first, the first thing that I often offer to my athletes or to my clients in some way are asking yourself, is this thought helpful? Because it’s usually the thought that takes… that starts the chase, right? The thoughts that spiral, the thought… that’s gonna take us somewhere, and then we have all kinds of feelings that come with the thought. We think that we feel might feel bad about ourselves, we might feel disappointed that something’s happening, we might question what we’re doing… all of the kind of things where we can move in this in this massive spiral of the wherever the dog is taking us… but if we ask ourselves, is this thought helpful? Then it allows us to pause and answer that question, because what we find is that if the thought is helpful, then you’re on the right track, right?
Cindra Kamphoff: Sure.
Lindsey Hamilton: Now sometimes… you’ll notice that I’m not saying is the thought positive or negative, because sometimes we can have a negative thought that actually puts us on the right track, right? We might have a thought that’s like this isn’t good enough, and then that spurs us to think differently, right? So, if the thought is helpful, then great, let’s continue to explore where we are here. If we can identify that the thought is not helpful, then it often unhooks us from continuing to chase it… and either we’re going to let that thought go, and we’re going to allow it to dissipate into the wander of the field wherever it’s running, or we’re going to say, this isn’t helpful, let me bring myself back. But until we can identify that, it’s not helpful to us, we have a really hard time, because oftentimes the questions we want to ask ourselves are, is this thought true? And you know what, sometimes we have very true thoughts that are very helpful, you know?
Cindra Kamphoff: Right.
Lindsey Hamilton: Sometimes you that’s not exactly where we want it to be, either. So, I’m not asking, if this is positive or negative? I’m not asking if the thought is true? I’m just asking if it’s helpful, and that’s where we can start and to help us when we have this chasing mind… the next piece that I’ll ask after we can identify if the thought is helpful or not, and we’ve unhooked ourselves from this thought train that we are. Is asking ourselves, what can I do right now to be successful? Like, what’s something I can do right now? So in in the sports space, you know, obviously, if you just got off the ball stripped off you and it’s running, you know, they’re running back the other way on the field… generally speaking, the most helpful thing I can do is get back on defense. But when we’re chasing our thoughts of oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I just got beat. Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe that just happened. The coach is going to take me out… like when you start thinking all those things you can’t think about what you need to do.
Cindra Kamphoff: Right.
Lindsey Hamilton: All you can think about is that… but if we can ask ourselves, well, what do I need to do right now that’s going to help me be successful? We can answer that question. Oftentimes in mental performance I find that we don’t have to have the immediate answer, but if we ask ourselves the right question, we’re going to put ourselves in the direction of getting to what we need to get to. So first asking, Is this helpful? Second asking, what can I do right now to be successful? And then, thirdly, offering ourselves… what’s one word that I can use that is going to describe how I want to be when my thought… when I’m chasing my thought? Or how do I want to be… when I’m when I am recollected, when my when my puppy mind is sitting right here with me, what does that look like? What does that feel like? And can I put that into one word? So, I might want to be strong. I might want to be focused. I might want to be calm. I might want to be creative, whatever that might be…. you know, in the sports space, you might want to be fast, or you might want to be helpful, whatever it could be. But when we… again, if we circle back to what we talked about before just simplifying our mind, right? If we can get that into one word that’s going to drive, how we want to show up in the space when we are operating on all cylinders that’s going to allow us to again anchor back into that space. And when we connect that to this kind of puppy mind analogy, when you have that one word that can call the mind back… right, like usually for a puppy, it’s the dog’s… or it’s a dog’s name, or it’s their… it’s come, or it’s one command that is simple… that dog understands it, and they know right where they need to be. And so, putting one word around, you know what you want to show up when you are your best self, or what you want to show up when your mind is, is doing what you want it to be, and allowing that word to really serve as the representation of who you are, and how you perform is one simple way that we can simplify and unhook from that chase that ultimately we’re trying to avoid. So again, again… is this thought helpful? What do I need to do right now to be successful? And what’s one word I can use to describe how I want my mind to be? Those are 3 things that you can do when you find yourself chasing so that you can call that puppy mind back as quickly as you can.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, super helpful. So, is this thought helpful? And so that helps us unhook. What can I do right now to be successful? And what’s one word that I could use to kind of recollect myself so that I’m not chasing my mind? Can you give us an example of maybe, how you use… how you have used these 3 questions, or maybe one of your clients.
Lindsey Hamilton: Yeah, absolutely. So, I’m happy to do both. Most recently I was working with the track and field athlete, and she really took to the analogy in particular. But you know, and it allowed her to kind of step outside from thinking like she was her mind, right? And so we feel really connected that every thought we have is true, that every thought we have is real, and it means something about us. And so, it allowed her to step and be like, oh, that’s my mind doing that, okay, now, I can use these skills to work on that… and so, you know, she used the helpful/unhelpful question a lot, and that, really, again, was another aid to allow her to unhook from that. And you know, when she ran 800 meters, and so like it… her asking that question when she started to get into like a lactic acid phase of her sprinting, or that inevitably that third quarter of the of the run which is the hardest of all of… the phases, you know, it allowed her to clearly identify – what do I need to do right now? What’s the most important thing out of the gate? What’s the most important thing when I take my first turn? And allow her to process through that regularly, and then you know her… one word was explode… kick and explode.
Cindra Kamphoff: Cool.
Lindsey Hamilton: And that was the one thing that she felt like when she was at her best, it was… she was able to do that effectively. And she was able to then massage how she kicked at any various run… like phase of her run, which then, you know, became very helpful for her throughout the course of the 800 meters. But that’s one way that she was able to use that with her athletes. I think the way that I ask myself the question all the time, is this helpful?
Cindra Kamphoff: Right.
Lindsey Hamilton: It’s wild to think that even as a practitioner asking ourselves these questions and we do this work every day, and yet our mind is made up of the same as all of our clients, right? It’s natural…
Cindra Kamphoff: Yes, our mind can be puppies.
Lindsey Hamilton: We’re all puppies, I love puppies. But our mind is doing the same thing, and so, even as a practitioner acknowledging that that’s the way of the mind, that doesn’t mean I’m mentally weak, and here are the strategies I can use. So, I ask myself all the time, is this thought helpful? And you know, especially when I might feel overwhelmed with something that’s going on, or at the end of the day, when my kids are really active and explosive, and you know, they are doing their thing, and I might be just trying to keep up with it… but okay, what’s the one thing right now I can do to be successful? And then I always have a word, I think, though I think the word is such a powerful tool that we simplify with. In fact, what I tell my core corporate clients is that once they identify what their word is, is to use that word if you’re able in your whatever your corporate spaces like, I know, we have to log onto our computers. And so, we have to have a password to get into our computer, and my password is always something around my word…
Cindra Kamphoff: Cool.
Lindsey Hamilton: Because then every day when I sit down, it’s my word, and I’m re-centering on what’s important to me, and who do I want to be, and how do I want to show up? In this one way and just the repetition that we have in in calling that word into our life… you know, is something that I find to be really valuable.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I love that last question like, what’s one word that I, you know, want to be right now, and because it’s more about like your identity, right? And we can come back to like our values and who we’re about… I think it helps center ourselves, and both these you know, the second and third, your answer to those second and third questions are very simple, and that’s also what I appreciate is that you know, we can… sometimes we complicate what we should be doing, instead of just like redirecting it to like, what’s one thing I can do? Or what’s you know… who do I want to show up as right now? And those are… those are great questions.
Lindsey Hamilton: Yeah, thank you. I think there’s both parts of it, right? There’s like, what’s the performance tool that we can use in the moment that’s going to help us re-center and realign ourselves, especially when it becomes values based… and there’s some also exploratory work that needs to be done too like… you don’t just pick a word that is one of your values without exploring what your values are, and how do they show up in the space, and what value is going to lead you into who we want to be in this moment or right now? And so, you know, or even if I think about like, what’s one thing we need to do to be successful? Like we have to understand our triggers, we have to understand, you know, what are… the distractions we might be facing that that I need to be brought back from?
Cindra Kamphoff: Yes.
Lindsey Hamilton: And so it’s not just… it’s both/and, right? It’s really understanding a little bit of these, asking us these questions, but really having a simple tool that allows our mind to be like, oh, yeah. Because most often those tools the one simple word, as much as we deal with our spent our head up in… up in our head, you know, our mindset, like all of these things ultimately will lead you to action, and that’s the thing that’s going to help us get out from under the chase of our wandering mind. That’s the thing that’s going to drive us to be the most confident version of ourselves, or to be the highest performer is ultimately what we do. And so, going through this process of exploring those, identifying one word that drives us to the action is really where the magic happens.
Cindra Kamphoff: These 3 questions are great. I think they represent… like a unique way that you teach them a mental game. Is there another strategy or a topic that you can share with us about, you know… that’s a a unique way that you teach mindset or the mental game?
Lindsey Hamilton: Oh, sure, you know a lot of times what I find myself talking about is it’s kind of twofold… it’s actually helping coaches or people who oversee other people and help them manage potentially difficult conversations. So, whether you’re… and even as a parent, you can ask yourself these things, too… and as a practitioner, as another applied sports psychology practitioner being able to have an armor of questions to ask yourself to identify – how am I going to engage this person? What needs to be communicated? Things like that… so, the 3… questions that I offer when it comes to identifying an opportunity for communication is the first one is, does this need to be said?
Cindra Kamphoff: Okay.
Lindsey Hamilton: And often times when we are a coach that we’ve seen our athlete perform a certain way, or we are a parent, and our kid is doing whatever they might be doing… or even sometimes just as a teammate, a staff member, you know, like as a colleague in the workspace, like, does something need to be said? Does something need to be addressed here? And that’s going to be like the impetus of our communication, right? Like something needs to be communicated, and if you can identify that, yes, it does, great, because sometimes it doesn’t.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.
Lindsey Hamilton: Like if you think about like how many times… like our athletes already know, they messed up. So, do we need to address… do we need to, you know, remind them that they did that? Or something like that… so, asking, does this need to be said? The follow it from that if it’s the case that yes, something needs to be addressed, is asking yourself, does this need to be said by me? Because there are so many people in our support circle, and in our professional sphere, in our team that really can potentially land the message better than we can. And just because we might know that something needs to be addressed, and we have the repertoire to be able to address it, what matters most is how it’s received. And oftentimes who it’s received from is going to be a big factor in that… and so, as a coach, sometimes even as a mental performance coach, like I can remember being an athlete going through this circumstance at the end of the game they were really disappointed, something, you know, that… I think that you know they had an unfortunate moment of sub optimal performance at the end of the game that cost the game, and I’m thinking this needs to be addressed, right?
Cindra Kamphoff: Sure.
Lindsey Hamilton: And my… you know, then I ask myself, okay, as I’m gearing up, I’ve decided this… I have to go make sure that I say something to the to this young person walking across the field, and as I’m walking toward her like a teammate, comes over and wraps her arm around, and then they kind of start going in a different direction. And they’re talking… and I’m like, that’s even better, right? Because, like that’s what she needed, she didn’t need me talking to her as a coach… what she needed was a teammate helping her, knowing that she’s you know, all of these things. And so, you know, whether as parents or as professionals asking ourselves like, does this need to be said… but does this need to be said by me? And is there somebody better suited to have this conversation. and then, should it be the case? Yes, it needs to be said yes, it needs to be said by you… the next, the real… follow on from that is, does this need to be said by me right now? And timing is everything… timing is everything. And so, when it comes to reception of communication, you know whether that’s at the end of a game, does a parent need to be having this conversation right now? You know, or when something just happens and the presentation was just botched, and you’re overseeing the staff member that did it, does it need to be addressed right then and there when they probably have an emotional upheaval? It’s why… why coaches have a 20 hour rule for parents to talk to them, because and if you don’t, maybe you can consider that… but it’s why it’s why that happens, because timing really matters in receptivity, and ultimately the real opportunity for communication is creating connection and creating behavior change. And if we’re not creating connection or behavior change through our communication, what are we doing? And so, timing, who says it, and whether or not it actually even needs to be addressed. All of those things are things that I often offer as questions that we can ask ourselves before we determine, you know, launching headfirst into a communicative opportunity.
Cindra Kamphoff: Such a great questions, and so helpful. And as I was listening, I was thinking about myself as a parent, and how I could use these 3 questions. I think, as a leader, you know, when you’re supervising people… or you know, wanting to give feedback and I like the question of you know… so, the 3 questions, does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? And doesn’t need to be said by me right now? How have you used these questions personally?
Lindsey Hamilton: So I think one of the… I mean, I have definitely used them in my family life, I use them in my work life, you know? I can explicitly remember one time I was…. overseeing some of my staff as a leader, and had just witnessed a performance that I think that all of us would venture to say wasn’t exactly what we would have wanted it to be. And in true form, one of the things that I really appreciate about the ethos of my team is, everybody really wants to get better, and feedback is very constant part of that work here, and I’m very lucky to be a part of a team that that fosters that and asks for that, and we’re walking away from the presentation, and the person asks, well, do you have any feedback on the session? And I had to go through… I mean, obviously something needed to be said, and I was the person to be saying that. But I knew that I wasn’t the one to be communicating that right now, not because we were in a public space, not because potentially, you know… they would benefit through their own reflection of the process, but because I was livid.
Cindra Kamphoff: Sure, yeah.
Lindsey Hamilton: I was very disappointed, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to communicate effectively in that environment. And so, often times when we ask ourselves, does this need to be communicated by me right now? That question is time bound, but that question is also taking real inventory of yourself and the other person, and using your emotional intelligence to queue whether or not right now is the time to have that conversation. So that’s one example that comes to mind at the top of my head.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, that’s a great example. Because I think that question, you know, right now by me is helpful, because are you in this space to really like, give that feedback? And so, what did you do? What did you… I just, I’m thinking… this really helps other people as they’re listening – what did you say, you know? Did you meet with them the next day? Like give us a sense of how you handle that from there.
Lindsey Hamilton: Sure, absolutely. So… they asked, and I said, oh, my gosh, thank you so much for asking for feedback. I would love the opportunity for us to discuss, you know, the session. I think you know I would… why don’t you go ahead and take some time to reflect on it, and I’ll do the same and that way we can come together and have a collaborative conversation. And in that way my intention was to say, this is what we support… we support asking for feedback. We want that… I want to continue that as a culture. I surely don’t wanna say, hmm! Not really the time, because you’re not going to like it.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.
Lindsey Hamilton: Because, you know… then they’re going to be in trepidation all the way up until we schedule this meeting.
Cindra Kamphoff: Exactly, and they’re going to keep ruminating on that.
Lindsey Hamilton: Exactly! Exactly, and so in that instance, I was hoping to, you know, support the fact that feedback was requested, demonstrate that I wanted to be able to do that, and then offered an alternative time in which we can do that, but then trying to also position it in a – why don’t you do this and I’ll do this, and then we can come together and collaborate. And I think oftentimes that gets missed in feedback, right? Is that we think that feedback is one directional, but if we’re not asking questions in our feedback and we’re making assumptions about how things happened or why things went. We’re really not doing justice to the people that… to the thought process that people had, and if they didn’t have a thought process, great opportunity to identify that and circle back to it… but that was that, was my response is just being really receptive, oh, my gosh! I would love to do that, you know, why don’t we carve some time out, because this is really important to us… you do this, I’ll do this, and we’ll come back and collaborate together. And, truth be told, you know, I took 48 hours and wasn’t even ready the next day, and you know, I definitely followed up by putting a meeting on the calendar so that we could have that time. But I had to really be clear on letting my emotions go through what they were going through, and then be very, very direct with myself about what is important that we get out of this meeting now? It’s not just for me to tell them that they didn’t do a good job, it’s for me to reset the expectation, call ourselves to the standard, identify strategies that we can use, make sure that I’m putting myself in a position where I’m asking them what support can they have? How can I help them? Reach what the standard is, and really orchestrating the conversation from there.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I love it. And I think in those situations we also know really how it went right. So sometimes that I even might ask the person, How do you… how do you think it went? Right before I kind of dive in with the feedback. One of the things, Lindsey, I want to make sure we cover is your dissertation. So, you just finished in May your EdD, so congratulations!
Lindsey Hamilton: Thank you.
Cindra Kamphoff: Just incredible to be able to call you doctor, I should call you that from the beginning, and so I tell us a little bit about your dissertation, and what are some, you know, top takeaways? I know you did some work on mental skills and kind of in this live performance space… so what did you learn that you could share with us that could help… improve our lives?
Lindsey Hamilton: Oh, awesome! I’m so grateful! Thank you so much for the celebration, and also I’m obviously delighted to talk about the lessons that I have learned. Ultimately what I was really interested in was transfer of skill. And so, it’s one thing for us to talk about skills in the… classroom or in a workshop or in a conversation which is really important… it’s another thing for us to be able to like, go into the environment and be under that pressure and use this strategy when everything in our mind and body is saying, no, I don’t want to, I’m upset.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.
Lindsey Hamilton: And so, I wanted to really explore – how can we close the gap in that transfer and get us to being able to utilize the skills in the performance environment? And so, what I did was, I really started exploring – how can we make the training environment and mental skills more representative to the psychological demands that we see in our performance environment?
Cindra Kamphoff: Okay.
Lindsey Hamilton: And so all of the pressure of a game, like you can into practice. Surely you can’t bring all the pressure of… giving a presentation at work like you can when you just put yourself in the boardroom, but how can we close that gap? And so ultimately, what I found is that we did have great transfer of usage of the performance skills in the space, and also ultimately the outcomes… like, not only were we able to… we were able to move that needle that they did become more focused, and that they did become more relaxed as in like tense environments as a result of this. And when we solicited feedback on maybe what contributed to that, a variety of the qualitative feedback that received was, I could do this with the ball in my hands, and wow, it was really great to use these skills actually on the court. So, I basically designed an intervention where everything was all on the court… I didn’t have any classroom sessions, and then was able to teach through actually having the ball in their hand, putting them in environments of pressure. And you know, distraction and different things like that on the court, because it was basketball at the time… so that we could, we could really leverage some of those… performance arena for us to be able to use the skills, and I would say that really can transfer in so many of our performance environments, right? So, when you’re preparing for a presentation, putting yourself in the room that you’re going to be doing that… and if you can’t, then creating some imagery around being in that space, right? Putting yourself up against a mirror, it’s one thing to recite your presentation, if that’s some away that you choose to prepare. It’s another thing to look at yourself in the mirror while you do it. It’s another thing to do that to a family member and do that. It’s another thing to invite close colleagues to practice. And you know there’s a lot of different opportunities and environments that we can constrain to manipulate the demands that we might experience so that we can actually put ourselves in those environments, use those strategies that we want to use, and ultimately get us closer to a more successful performance.
Cindra Kamphoff: Excellent! Are there any things that we can do as a result of your dissertation. So like, I like what you’re saying about putting yourself in that situation… I’m thinking about I do a lot of speaking, and if I get there the night before I can go walk into the space and just kind of get a sense for it and imagine myself on stage, right? Any other takeaways that we can actually implement into our lives that you learned?
Lindsey Hamilton: Yeah, you know, there’s some things that we can consider is… if you think about what throws you off in a presentation, and potentially considering those or putting inviting other people to set you off, you know, one of the things that I that I can remember back is when Michael Phelps is training for you know all the golds that he got.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yes.
Lindsey Hamilton: And his coach stepping on his goggles before a race, and him having to race, and under those conditions… and so you know, identifying what are the conditions that I tend to come up against that create tension for my performance and seeing, and inviting those into our space. And you know my hope would be that as we are performers in all of our spaces that we can, you know, invite other people to support us in… creating some of these environments or challenging ourselves in some of these environments, but surely Cindra, I think, being in the performance, space is massive, and how many times do we go up into a space, and you know, we get there 20 minutes early to plug in our computer, and we’re like, oh, wait! This is how big the room is?
Cindra Kamphoff: Right.
Lindsey Hamilton: Oh, wait, like people are going to be sitting in rounds and not auditorium, and then that’s going to impact where I can walk, and how I normally do this work. And whether you are a presenter or your performance environment is something completely different… and you know, envisioning, you know, if you tend to be in maybe small group conversation like… if somebody asks you a straight question right off the bat, how are in this moment of my presentation, how am I going to circle back to it? How am I going to come back and reel that back in? And really like bringing some of those constraints into our training that allow us to be prepared for performance.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, super helpful. And I love that example of Michael Phelps and his coach, like, you know… breaking his goggles so that he could perform regardless of things not being perfect, and I think that’s exactly what that allowed him to do is like… alright be resilient, and whatever happens, I can handle it because I can swim without goggles or goggles that are broken.
Lindsey Hamilton: Exactly. And the alternative, you know, if we go in the other direction… then we can see the negative performance that, like habits that come from that. As an example, I worked with an incredible young woman who was a strings instrument… and she was trying… she was auditioning for the… a massive part in this huge orchestra that she wanted to be a part of, and she would prepare meticulously, and she would practice all the time… and then she went into her audition and unfortunately tanked it. She got so nervous that she had to ask them to start over, and she asked them to start over 4 times in the audition, and when we were… and she didn’t make it. And then, when we were reflecting on that situation, what we found was that when she practiced every time she messed up should start over.
Cindra Kamphoff: Start over, yeah.
Lindsey Hamilton: So, she didn’t know how to work through the miss note, and so ultimately to your point is, in our mental world… in our lived world, we don’t get a chance to start over. And so, the real opportunity is, how can we use some of these questions? How can we prepare ourselves to continue in the face of difficulty, right? Mental performance doesn’t keep us from difficulty, but it arms us with tools and encouragement to continue forward when difficulty arises, and when maybe the performance isn’t what we want, so that we can continue. Thankfully that story of my strings instrument player does come full circle, because they ended up inviting her to a second audition, because she thought that they thought that she really had something, and it was really just a poor, nervous audition, and they invited her back, and she ended up getting the seat that she wanted too.
Cindra Kamphoff: Cool.
Lindsey Hamilton: So, you know, not all stories end that way thankfully, for this one did, but it is a wonderful reminder of us to evaluate – well, how are we preparing? And… is it really what’s going to happen when I get to my stage, whatever that stage might be.
Cindra Kamphoff: Excellent, super helpful. I love what you said about mental performance doesn’t stop us from having any difficulty. It’s more about like helping us handle it better. So, excellent. Well, Lindsay, I’m so grateful that you’re on the podcast here today, I’m going to do my best to summarize. Today, we talked about pressure and focus at the beginning, and I like what you said about we can’t change what we don’t know about ourselves. And so, you’re really talking about simplifying ourselves, taking some breaths to slow down and impact that that vagus nerve like you mentioned. You talked about the… our puppy, mind, right? And we can ask ourselves 3 questions – is this helpful to help us unhook? And… what can I do right now to be successful? Was the second one, and number 3 is like, what’s one word I can use to guide me right now? And then your 3 questions of communication – does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? And does this need to be said by me right now? Thank you so much for joining us here today. How can people reach out to you or learn more about your work if they’d like to follow up?
Lindsey Hamilton: Oh, sure, the email… emails, are probably the best option – firstname.lastname@example.org. I am available by email… I technically have my social media accounts which is @lindsay08h, I will say I’m on a current social media hiatus… so, I’m not active there, so I apologize to everybody who might be messaging me, but I will come back at some point. But email is a great place to start, and I would welcome any conversation, to continue and support this work, and support others in their own.
Cindra Kamphoff: Awesome. Thank you so much, Lindsay. Do you have any final thoughts or comments to share with us?
Lindsey Hamilton: No, I just so appreciate you having me on here, and hopefully there was… you know, this can… just again, when we ask ourselves the right questions, we can oftentimes lead ourselves to answers that get us to the actions we need. So, it has been just such a delight for you… to have this conversation with you and to be here… and hopefully, maybe we’ll do it again in 4 more years.
Cindra Kamphoff: Excellent! Well, congratulations again, Dr. Lindsey.
Lindsey Hamilton: Thank you.