There is a new piece of art that hangs over the doorway in my living room. It’s a rustic wooden sign from @HarperGrayce that reads:
It’s become my mantra to back up my life philosophy and I love the imagery it brings to my mind in just two words. From my deep valley roots, the word cultivate reminds me of deep rich soil that grows sustainable, high quality things, and calm is the state I recognize as my gateway to peak performance. My new sign reinforces my life philosophy:
“To create calm and connection with every breath and movement.”
Understanding the value of deep calm in my life and home helps me channel it and take it out into the world. Zeroing in on your life philosophy is a fun, creative exercise that helps us drill down on what is truly unique and important to us. Once I realized that feeling of deep calm is where I feel most myself and perform at my best, I looked for more opportunities and techniques in my life to tap into it. Breath work, yoga, writing, mindfulness, and daily movement, are just a few of the ways that I have learned to help me find flow in my life, no matter what is going on around me.
For so many years, I didn’t know I was operating in a state of fight or flight, sympathetic dominant, always waiting for the shoe to drop. That wasn’t a place I could flourish, my body and mind were guarded most of the time, and I wasn’t able to capitalize on my own strengths. It impacted my performance on the court and in my life. Learning how to recognize my state and work with it has been a game changer (thanks @BrianMckenzie and @intrinsicway)! Although understanding myself on a deeper level has cultivated calm in my life, one of the greatest benefits has been being able to walk the walk and help other people understand what they are about by being real and sharing my own story. No one achieves anything great alone and the culture we surround ourselves with is an integral factor to the levels of success we will achieve.
When we know who we are, more and more we find ourselves in places that align with our interests and values, and the conversations and experiences just flow. For me these days, they almost seem to fall in my lap, and I feel the greatest sense of freedom to be myself. Alignment is a magical feeling.
As I chatted back and forth with another beach volleyball player the other day, the words that came to me were
“The forties are a decade of incredible power.”
Maybe that’s by design, it seems that we hit a place in our forties where if we are willing to dig in and understand the layers of ourselves, and what our life has created, we have an incredible ability to step into our uniqueness and power and create culture around us. I call it finding your ‘Type Be’. When we find it, we open up opportunities to create culture around us that points us toward what we should learn (and unlearn) in life. My passion lies in telling the stories that are universal in their struggle and unique in their experience to help people connect their lives with others. Whether it’s a team, a family, a community, or professional environment, when we are able to provide vulnerable leadership, we can inspire culture, and that is exactly what great coaches do.
This week, I reached out to a few mindful athletes and legendary coaches to get their take on building team culture and loved the synchronicity of what I got back from them, both with my own message and between theirs, because they play and coach for different programs. Here is what they had to say:
“The concept of team culture has so much depth. In the world of sports, sometimes winning or losing depends on the strength of your team culture, and the unity of the players. To me, no matter what “team” you’re on, whether it’s your work team, your family, or an actual sports team, one of the key ingredients to success is vulnerability. Having this trait opens the door to so many other things that make or break team culture, like the ability to have courage, trust, be honest, and be whole-hearted in what you do. Being vulnerable with teammates allows them to understand not just the surface of your being, but the deeper layers. And when everyone on the team can see this in each other, the culture comes naturally.” - Katie Kennedy - Long Beach State Beach Volleyball
“At Long Beach I think we have the best team culture. I say so only having been a part of the Long Beach culture, but Alan does such a good job in this aspect. I think it all starts with the coach, manager, and parents. Culture is a huge thing we talk about at Long Beach and that not one person is bigger than the team. We talk a lot about carrying our own luggage, which is carrying your weight, so you can then help people along the way. We always have each others backs and any sort of confrontation/accountability is all from love. Open communication is key.” - Mason Briggs, Long Beach State Mens Volleyball
“For me a strong team culture starts with empathy for others and an understanding of yourself, and that others will operate differently, and that’s ok. Once they can understand that they will see things differently and react differently under stress, they can give each other the space to be who they are, and help to fulfill each other’s needs through that understanding.” - Stein Metzger - Head Coach UCLA Beach Volleyball
All of these quotes reinforce my belief that our ability to lead and build strong team cultures happen when we soften our ego, genuinely root for each other, and compete to be the best version of ourselves. Healthy, interdependent team culture is rooted in a ‘we, not me’ mindset and the ability to hone our own unique skills whether we lead from the sidelines, are the star of the team, or anywhere in between. Each of these quotes remind me of the ripple effect we have on each other and the importance of surrounding ourselves with great people with tireless work ethic who know how to work and love at the same time. Our choices, actions, and most importantly, our ability to understand our deepest motivations, make us leaders that create deep calm in others and inspire confidence to compete without the need to be anything more than who we are in this moment. Work hard, stay present, and trust that the path will appear…even in my most difficult moments, this formula for deep calm hasn’t failed my team yet.
With love & optimism,
Photo Credit: Anthony Moore @amoorephoto_
My song this week - piano and some great lyrics are tough to beat.