One of my favorite things is to wake up to an inspirational text from my friend Chrissy. She is an amazing writer and mom (check out her blog Life with Greyson + Parker) and when we met 10 years ago, we were trying to figure out the ins and outs of having kids on the autism spectrum, even though neither of us actually had diagnosis’s yet for our children. She is one of the best silver lining humans that I know, we are kindred spirit introverts that just get each other. As we went back and forth this morning, waxing philosophical even before we had had our coffee, our words pointed to what I was already writing about this week…our tendency as humans to compare ourselves to one another and the jealousy that it can create. I’ve learned over the last few years that there are so many ways to do life, and once we find the courage, it’s just easier to be ourselves, without apology, than think we need to copy anyone else’s journey.
For me that has meant connecting deeply to the world of sports…a place that has always been an outlet for my nervous energy but also one where I feared that I couldn’t hang. As a younger athlete, I lacked confidence and it became the thing that I most wanted to teach my kids, not just on the court, but in life, so they could find and pursue their passions, whatever those passions may be, and nothing makes me happier than to see them learn to lead doing what they love to do. We all need that place in life. As athletes my older two have had some of the highest highs, like achieving their dreams of playing at the Division 1 level, and also battled through lows like injuries (I think Lauren inherited my weak ankles) and heartbreak, (let’s get this reinstatement taken care of @gostanford), but above all have come through difficult circumstances on and off the court that shape their character and build their resilience in life in a way that makes me so proud. Through my parenting journey, I have seen how much the world of coaching and parenting intersect, and how comparing our lives to anyone else’s, diminishes our potential to make the impact we were meant to make on the world. Even saying you have the desire to make an impact is scary. It brings out the fear of failure and the dreadful feeling of imposter syndrome, that “who am I to" (fill in the blank).
As humans we have a tendency to compare and even be jealous of what other people seem to be or have in their lives when all that does is contract our own unique path. It’s got me thinking about the impact comparison and jealousy have on our happiness and performance, individually and as part of any team. Teams come in many forms…work, families, sports, clubs…anything that has an established culture that we are a part of, for better or for worse. This week I had the privilege to get the feedback from an masterful Championship winning volleyball coach and a 2016 Olympian on how they handle these concepts in their own lives, and on their own teams. I’m so grateful for these conversations and connections, here is what they had to say:
“Everyone on a team has to feel like they are an integral part of the team. People may have different roles on a team/organization, but each individual needs to feel appreciated, they add value to the central mass, and that they have freedom to fulfill their individual role. As the leader, I need to convey to the troops what is the environment that THEY would like to be part of. I then give verbal praise in front of the entire group whenever I see actions of the culture we want. Then almost a competition can develop of who can do the most “positive actions”, because generally people like to be praised! One of the first messages I will say after saying “hello” is that we are not going to have jealousy for one another. If I give praise to someone for positive actions, we are NOT going to talk negatively about the “doer of good deeds”. I ask for each team member to take a symbolic one step forward if they agree to not to be jealous of the doer. Then when I give the first positive comments to someone in front of the group, I will IMMEDIATELY joke and say to the group something like, “hey, we’re not mad at so and so are we?”. At the end of the practice, I ask for players to nominate one another as the “player of the practice” and the players have to be SPECIFIC why they are nominating a teammate (“Suzy reassured me after I mad an error”, “Sally’s servers were on and scored many points”, “Sam had that one incredible dig”. I make a point we want to honor physical plays AND selfless actions as well. This makes the less athletic kids know they can be honored by being selfless teammates. -Tommy Chaffins, Prep Volleyball Coach of Year, Max Preps Coach of Year, Daily Breeze 11x Coach of Year, Redondo Union High School Head Coach (and someone I have seen personally create culture where teenage girls learn to both support each other and compete!)
“I think jealousy is a good teacher. Usually when we feel bouts of jealousy they are signals that someone else has something we would like to have ourself. I think recognizing this before it becomes detrimental to yourself and/or your team is the number one key. Since feeling jealousy reveals those things we wish we could have, it can act as a gateway to walking the path to finding the best version of yourself as a player, teammate, athlete etc. If you feel feelings of jealousy because your teammate is starting and you aren’t, what actionable step can you take to improve your chances of seeing playing time more? Do you need to spend some more time getting extra repetitions at a specific skill? Do you need to spend more time in the weight room building foundational strength? This is just one example of how we can turn feelings of jealousy into positive actions. Another way to look at jealousy is through the scope of building your own internal confidence and high self-worth. Your feelings are ultimately in your control. When we are in an environment where jealousy is at the forefront it’s a signal that there is inner work yet to be done. There is never anything anyone is doing outside of us to make us feel jealous, those feelings are solely felt because of our own perspective of what is going on or what is being conveyed to us. Within a team we want to feel connected, and build trust and have a foundation of confidence from the coaching staff to the training staff to the players. Valuing one another and treating others with respect and full support is the main goal within a team. So those very fragile feelings of jealousy can easily be released if we focus the right kind of energy on them and take actionable steps to rid ourselves of them too. - Carli Lloyd, 2016 Olympian, Professional Indoor Volleyball Player, expecting mom, May 2021, writer of her blog, Show Up With Me - and someone who has the one of the greatest blends of compassion and competitiveness I have ever seen.
We find our purpose when we use our passion to create something unique to us that has an impact on something larger than ourselves. When we connect to our higher self on the most intimate level, our goals become so specific, there is no way to compare them.. Every week that I write, I get closer to making that impact that I want to make: to raise generational consciousness and teach life lessons through sports so we can make our greatest impact and develop deeper empathy for all of the stories of the human condition. My challenge to you this week is to get so clear on the impact that you want to make on this world that you can see who adds beautiful connection and collaboration to your life and that you you would never again dream to compare yourself to anyone else.
With love & optimism,
Photo credit: Anthony Moore (@amoorephoto_)
Brenda Cash (@brendacashphotography) for the photo in my email if you get my blog updates there;)
And because there is always a song that comes to mind. when I write….