This makes a difference

When I was at high school I loved volleyball, I lived for any chance to spike a ball. My school was one of the better teams in the nation, so much so that we were always expected to place top 3 in any tournament that we entered.  

In my last year of high school we went to the nationals and at the end of the first day we lost a crucial game to a team that wasn’t even in the top 10!.  We were devastated as this could mean that we wouldn’t make the finals. That night we all crammed into some cheap motel room for a team meeting to figure out what went wrong. Our coach Gilbert Enoka, who is now one of New Zealand’s top sport psychologists, asked everyone to give one reason why we thought that things had taken a turn for the worse. After a long, deep group discussion we came to the conclusion that our team needed to celebrate ourselves more.  

From that moment on we became the most animated team in at the tournament. We weren’t just celebrating a win of a game, we were cheering each other on like we had the trophy in our hands after every point we won. The turn around in our performance was amazing, suddenly we were one of the teams to beat again.  

Exercise can be hard, really hard! For this reason you need to create a habit of celebrating your success when you do it. At the end of every session find something to praise yourself for. Being successful can be as simple as getting yourself out the door or as difficult as holding on for that last 10 seconds when the going gets tough in a session. By continually celebrating your success in training you become more attracted to exercise which will increase the chances of you having exercise as a part of your daily life.  

When I hit my driveway after a run I always raise my arms up for victory, close my eyes and say ‘Yes!’ to myself. While I’m sure my neighbours must think I’m a little strange - it’s an important part of me loving exercise.  

Not every session you do will be one to write home about but every session will have something that you can be proud of, celebrate that. 


This rollercoaster ride we are on

If I was going to draw a line graph representing my growth and non growth periods in my life, I would like to think that it would start in the bottom corner and head straight across to the top corner. Realistically, my life is a little different to that, it’s more like one of those crazy rollercoaster rides that takes you up, down, in, out and twists you in strange ways.  

On my 'life' rollercoaster I love the feeling I get when it’s going up. The “up” time is when I’m doing everything possible to achieve a goal, from achieving my goal right down to turning down a piece of fruit and nut chocolate, my favourite. When it starts heading in the downward direction suddenly all my decisions start to change, I find myself going back for seconds, thirds and more of that tasty fruit and nut.  

When I think about this rollercoaster analogy I realise that I needed to find ways that helped me recognise my tipping point, the time when I’m starting to head in a downward direction. For example; I know that if I’m suddenly starting to drink coke more than once a week, this is a sign I’m not in my good growth place. Once I recognise the signs, even if they seem insignificant, I can spend time reassessing my goals and refocus myself back on track.   

No one is able to continually grow in every moment of their life, that’s not realistic. The downtime after a big growth period is important, but by having awareness of the signs, we are able to turn ourselves around before we drop too low.  

When you are in a growth period, become aware of the bad habits that you have dropped. Once you reach that particular growth peak and start to notice those bad habits creep back in, this is your tipping point.  This is when you may want to sit down and spend some time refocusing.  

Over time you become better and better at recognising when you are heading on a downward period.  Through recognition and refocus, you will learn more about what you need to do to be the best possible version of yourself. This way your rollercoaster will have a lot more ups than downs.  


What is inspiration? 

I was a bit of a failure at high school. Seriously, I only went to school to eat my lunch. There are many areas that I could point my finger at to justify why I was so unsuccessful, but there’s one reason that really stands out in my mind, Michael Jordon. Yep that’s right, Michael Jordon!  

In my fifth form year while I was meant to be going to school to study History, English and how that whole Pi thing works, I found innovative ways to bunk school and watch the greatest basketball player of all time win some of the most exciting NBA finals ever.  

Looking back on that time now, the thing I find most interesting is - I never played basketball, I didn’t even shoot hoops with the boys! Here I was being consumed by this special superstar, but I was never inspired to actually play basketball. 

What is inspiration? The dictionary says; ‘The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something. Michael Jordon definitely made me ‘feel’ something but he didn’t have the ability to make me ‘do’ something. That’s not to say that sporting superstars don’t motivate people to try their sports, I’m sure golf clubs have loved what Tiger Woods has done for their bottom line. But I believe the best inspiration comes when people who we connect with in our day to day lives suddenly grow in ways that seem amazing to us. It’s when your unfit workmate works hard and completes a Half Marathon, or when an overweight friend suddenly loses a lot of weight. When the people around us achieve big things - we think we can to. That’s inspiration! 

So what does it take to be an inspiration? It’s about doing the hard things that most others don’t do. It’s about deciding to say no when others say yes and yes when they say no. It’s about sometimes doing the hard thing, no matter how many excuses you can create for yourself. When you do these things you’ll start to realise that you are becoming an inspiration within your world. This will be shown by people around you asking questions on how you do it. 

My friend Dee, a 60+ year old female Marathon runner, has been ten times more of an inspiration in my life than Michael Jordon could ever be. That’s inspiration. Go on, give it a try!