‘You’ve got the job’, you will start tomorrow’ Tears welled up in my eyes as I took these words in and at that moment I knew it had all been worth it.
I had just accepted my dream job, to work with elite athletes at the age of 23 and months before even graduating. At this time I was one of the youngest (if not the youngest) coaches in the country. Some people within the industry were shocked and openly questioned whether I was ready for this level of responsibility. But as I have come to learn, whether you feel ready or not is irrelevant when it comes to taking your chances and performing on the big stage.
What the doubters didn’t realize was that I had been single mindedly working toward this moment for 5 years. When I arrived in Melbourne I could not even get a job at a local sports store let alone work with elite athletes. I knew nothing and no one, the only thing I knew was what I wanted to achieve.
At my first university lecture I was told: ‘on average there are five full time strength and conditioning positions within Australia each year, there are also well over five thousand graduates from this course. Competing for these five positions will also be people who have already had experience from this country as well as others’.
After 5 years of up-skilling myself, accelerating my learning by doing well above and beyond what was required within and without of the course, and working for free or a pittance, I felt that had paid my dues and deserved the chance I had been handed. So there was no hesitation on my behalf when I was offered this job. I knew I may not have been ready, but I sure as hell felt worthy of the opportunity to live my dream.
Recently, two players debuted in the same game for the team I am contracted to. One player was a first round draft pick, who had been earmarked for greatness from a young age. The other was a mature age recruit who had been repeatedly overlooked for years before getting his chance.
When it came time to perform on the big stage the mature age recruit made more of an impact in my opinion than the first round pick. The funny thing is, both players were picked in the same draft and had both spent the summer training together for this moment, one was no more prepared or ‘ready’ than the other. However I believe the mature age recruit felt more worthy of his chance and this accounted for his greater influence on the day.
Knowing both athletes well I can tell you that there is absolutely NO difference in their desire to succeed. And both are first class people. The simple fact is that the older player has had more life experience and had dealt with more adversity related to fulfilling his dream. These factors combined to mean that on the night, the older player was able to access and express more of his ability, despite the fact that they had trained together in preparation for the occasion.
I have come to realize that we can never be ‘ready’ to take the chances we are given, because it is impossible to fully account for the unknown. In my case I believe it was because I felt worthy that I have been able to live my dream, not because I felt ready.
To test this assumption I recently asked a group of elite athletes the question: ‘when you got the chance to live your dream and compete at the elite level, did you feel ready?’ Every single one of them said no.
For me, I needed to believe I was worthy of the job I was offered. This meant I had to feel comfortable with the fact that people would doubt me, I would make mistakes & learn many lessons. Because I felt worthy I took the risk (of falling flat on my face) and approached my job with assertion and confidence. And this has proved to make all of the difference.
Self worth (the opinion you hold of yourself) is very important when it comes to accepting the opportunities that constantly present themselves. Your level of self worth occurs in direct response to the stories you tell yourself about who you are and what you have experienced.
Feeling worthy is paramount in order to give yourself permission to take these chances when they arise in life. Time and time again I have seen athletes who ‘can’t seem to catch a break’. These are usually people who on some level do not feel ‘comfortable’ or that they ‘belong’. I have noticed that these are the athletes who tend to under-perform (relative to their ability), are frequently injured and recover slowly from injuries.
I believe these type of comments may elude to a lack of self worth. The crazy thing is, this is rarely a truth. The first round draft pick was no less worthy than the mature age recruit. Both trained hard and did what all that was required to get their opportunity. However it is the perception, which makes all of the difference.
A lack of self worth can rob us of the expression of our skill and ability since we might hesitate to take the chance (or not take it at all). We doubt ourselves; avoid taking risks, being proactive and bold like we normally would in our ‘comfort zone’.
The key to performing at the highest level is rarely how much training you do or how much you might know (since everyone at higher levels trains hard or has a lot of specialized knowledge) but how worthy you feel of the opportunity.
The key to self worth is to look inside and ask yourself the simple question: do I feel worthy? If the answer is an emphatic yes then you have nothing to fear. If the answer is no you would be wise to ask yourself another simple question and challenge its response: Why not?
Terry Condon is an Entrepreneur plus Fitness and Physical Therapy trainer for high performance athletes and teams. His blog www.terrycondon.com always has great inspiring content that is useful for both entrepreneurs and athletes alike. Terry is pictured above