Anyone who ever competes in any type of sport – from individual sports like golf, tennis, or track and field, to team sports like football, basketball or volleyball – gets to a point where they have to make a decision that involves this question:

When things are not going well, do I tense up and fight myself? Or do I trust my training, go for it, and just by myself?

You would be surprised how many people I work  with both in the business and sports world ask themselves that question and choose the ‘tension and fight myself’ option. Rather than do what is best for themselves, their team, or their business, they choose the route that seems easier, faster, and that avoids conflict with the person that they really are. However, when we make the best choice that is the decision that lines up best with who we are and the values that are instilled in us, although it may be a tough decision to make that moment – it shows courage. And that courage, especially when shown around a team, can inspire hope and act as an incredibly powerful motivational tool to others that may be going through something similar.

So, the question is this: when in this critical transition period of having to choose between self-commitment and tension [aka being someone you are not], what can you do to help gain confidence and trust yourself and your skills in that moment? Here are three things that you can focus on to help build that trust:

Remember that you have trained for tough situations

One of the goals of practice is not just to learn a skill, but it is to become confident in your ability to do the skill. Just as when you start learning to ride a bike, you not only learn how to do it, but each time you get on the bike, you feel more confident about your ability to do it right and your fear of falling down eventually disappears. The same goes for any skill in any sport that you have practiced.

The hours and hours of work you have put in have prepared you for this moment. And if you have a good coach, not only have they taught you the skill you are looking to achieve, but they prepared you for the MOMENT in which the you are in. You discussed it, you practiced it, you visualized it. Those three things, right there, are such incredible courage builders that once you reflect on them in a completion, you will begin to trust yourself extremely fast.

 Remember your affirmations [aka your behavior traits]

When I start working with either businesses or teams, before we even build a personal philosophy, is to identify the values and behavior traits that define who they are and that matter to them. I believe that this is the first step in your journey of not just self-discovery, but finding your most courageous self. Once you have identified what those 5-10 values and traits are, and learn to use them effectively [which we are going to discuss in just a second], then I believe that your will not just become courageous, but not matter what the outcome of a performance, you will know whether you were true to yourself – which as we said earlier – could not be more important.

How you use these words are at the root of confidence and positive self-talk. You don’t become braver by telling yourself that you suck. You don’t gain courage by doing something that is out of character [click here to read last week’s article on why training character is so important]. You gain confidence and courageousness by reminding yourself of the affirmations of who you are. You are strong, tough, smart – you are a bad-ass. And they are not just words, they are who you are. That is a pretty strong weapon to have in competition.

 Take a deep breath and relax.

It is pretty hard to make good, rational decisions when you are tense and not enough air is getting to your body. When we are not getting enough oxygen not only can we not do the things that we have trained to do effectively, but we don’t think clearly and we begin to panic. When we start to panic, unless you have trained to do the opposite – we start to thing negatively.

One of the strongest weapons that athletes fail to use is their breath [and not because of its odor]. Being able to just take a deep breath and relax, even for two seconds, can make an enormous difference in your ability to make courageous decisions. Reason being is that this breath not only will help slow your heart rate and get more oxygen to the body, but it gives you a moment to come back to center – to the center of who you are as a person, reminding yourself of your past work so you can trust yourself, and back to the center of focusing in on the moment.


One more note about courage: Athletes right now are showing courage all across the country for standing up for their beliefs. Whether you agree or disagree [I would love to hear your thoughts on this too, email me at], but what they are doing is courageous. And they can make these decisions to stat up for what they feel is right – because they know who they are and what they believe in. And that in itself, it a powerful thing. Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Just believe in yourself.


I would love to hear how you deal with tough situations that require courage, so email me at and share your ideas! It’s not easy to be courageous. But if you can just slow down, take breath, and remember your training and who you are – you will be off to a great start.




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