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Have you ever felt like you wanted something, but maybe you weren’t good enough?
Not smart enough... or not capable enough... or not courageous enough to speak up and take consistent action towards what you wanted and deserved?
Sometimes there are life experiences that define us until we look them in the face and learn the tools to use them to our advantage... and not to our detriment. Until then, we may not be living up to our potential and the joy that comes along with doing our best.
That certainly was me...
When I was 9 and in the fourth grade, I sat between my parents during a meeting with the ‘headmaster’ (principal) of the competitive private school I attended in Oakland, California. I remember being curious why I had to participate in this meeting, and what I had done. Usually when parents have to go to school, it’s not good news. Strange I thought, because I was an ‘easy’ kid who always worked extremely hard. My parents put me in this school of uber-achievers because my brother went through the Oakland public school system ten years prior which resulted in a GED (barely), a circle of less than desirable ‘friends’, and eventually a two decade struggle with addiction that thankfully has a happy ending (he’s fine, married, and somehow has a gorgeous daughter who is working full-time and studying to be a dental hygienist). Of course, my brother’s downhill slant from 12-32 could not be placed on the Oakland schools, but it’s what my parents held on to.
In this meeting, the headmaster said “Sheryl is currently receiving a B- grade point average, and that will not keep her on track to attend any of the universities that our students attend.” “I do not feel that it is in the best interest of Sheryl or our school to have her continue here.” All I heard was that I was not good enough. Maybe she didn’t understand that I was getting all A’s and B’s in the midst of the chaotic middle-class home life of my alcoholic drug-addict brother and my bipolar mother who struggled with her mental illness on and off throughout my childhood. The only thing they seemed to understood was that I did not fit into the mold that would produce a prestigious acceptance letter from one of the 5-10 acceptable universities on their list. I was 9. I stayed a couple more years, but I was so worried about my grades, keeping up with the other students, and where I would end up, that it was nearly impossible to focus during tests and presentations. My grades dropped, and then I abruptly moved schools.
The headmaster’s voice became my own throughout my education and early into my career. Maybe I am not good enough. Maybe I am not capable. Maybe I don’t deserve to achieve my dreams. I eventually gave up my sport (equestrian show jumping), and I decided to study applied sport psychology at the University of Southern California to find out how world-class athletes could achieve greatness even through injuries, setbacks and naysayers who told them they were not good enough.
How did they remain resilient optimists, train their whole life, then focus and perform their best in those high-pressure moments that mattered?
I’ve spent a better part of the last 30 years studying and working with world-class athletes and business professionals to find answers to these questions in an effort to help ordinary people gain an extraordinary mindset, so they can dream, plan and achieve their best. So they can reach a level of joy that comes along with knowing they are capable, deserving and talented enough to achieve what they put your mind to, and to lay the foundation so they can cross their finish line.
Developing the clarity for your next level of ambition, a roadmap to get there and the Mental Toughness to persevere, even when the road gets rough, is my passion and area of expertise, and it’s my honor to share small parts of this wisdom with you every week through this newsletter. Here’s my direct email if you have any questions, content requests, or comments. I read them all personally.
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