26 Apr How Self Awareness Improves Performance in Sports and Life
Allow me to kick your day off with a profound question: “who the hell are you?”
No, really, who are you?
It’s challenging and deep, I know. And if you’re twiddling your thumbs or stumbling over your thoughts, my guess is, you have no clue who you are.
Alas, most people don’t.
Self awareness is something that takes a backseat in today’s day and age, and it scares me.
People are too distracted by their iPhones to sit with themselves in silence.
People are too busy scrolling Instagram to work on their inner demons.
People are too busy finding that perfect SnapChat filter to hone in on personal development.
People are too busy trolling others online to live their own purpose.
It’s sad, to say the least.
And while I want to evade making this article a feisty call-out, it’s too late.
Let’s call some freaking people out.
What Is Self Awareness?
Let me first tell you what it’s not: being on autopilot and unaware of what the hell you’re doing.
And from thoughts, to actions, to tendencies, humans operate on autopilot every. Single. Day.
They wake up, jet to Starbucks, chug black coffee, scroll their Instagram, check their email, scroll their Instagram again, check their email, and head to the office.
They avoid sitting in silence with themselves because well, who even does that nowadays?
But also, people are afraid to escape the mechanical distractions of the world because it forces them to pick apart their neurotic tendencies, personal traumas, and scattered thoughts. They must come face-to-face with who they are, which can be terrifying.
However, don’t get me wrong: being on autopilot can help us to develop small, daily habits that propel us toward our goals. Take soccer training for example: a player with good habits will get to practice on time, do skills work at home, and pump their ball up for practice like it’s second nature. This is one example of this mechanical mindset being beneficial.
On the other hand this mindset becomes problematic when people do destructive things without thinking twice. This, my friends, is low self awareness.
Ever thought why you come home and drink a pack of Bud Lights? A self aware person would ponder, “hmmm I do this because my work life is stressful.” And then, move in a direction that doesn’t rely on alcohol for release.
A person who isn’t self aware, would just go through the motions, ignore self reflection, and drink Bud Light like it’s no big deal.
What Do You Value?
At the heart of self awareness are values. Put simply, what things are important to you? And do you take action to manifest these?
If you value friendship, yet cancel plans with friends every week, then I question your values.
If value a D1 scholarship, yet would rather drink alcohol with your friends and skip training, I question your values.
If you value player development, yet run your 8-year-old-team into the ground, I question your values.
If you value a healthy weight, yet imbibe alcohol and eat toxic junk every day, I question your values.
Too, I question your self awareness.
What do you value? And are you taking action to bring those values to fruition? Asking yourself these questions is a nice wake-up call to get your values on board with your actions.
For me, I value strength. It makes me feel empowered and confident. So what do I do?
I practice it daily.
What Do You Feel?
If you’re someone who declares to their friends,”I’m fine!” when really your life is a complete mess, you lack self awareness.
Feelings, to that end, must be understood. Especially if you want to participate in things that inspire, uplift, and energize you, tapping into your feelings brings you clarity.
As an example, say your friend wants to grab coffee with you. It’s a friend you know talks about themselves constantly, and you can’t get a word in edgewise. So you leave the conversation in one giant energy suck every time. In fact, feel icky going into it. Are you aware of these feelings? Or do you go just because of obligation?
Self aware people would understand their day would get worse from this interaction, so they avoid it altogether, and instead, do things that energize them.
Or how about a Facebook friend posts a triggering political comment on your newsfeed and you’re tempted to chime in and blow his post up. A self aware person would say, “hmmm if I start commenting with anger, I will ruin my day. It is probably better I get coffee with my beautiful wife.”
Pay close attention to everything you do and how it makes you feel. This helps you to weed out the things that make you feel small, stagnant, and soul sucked.
Why Self Awareness Is Critical
This segues me to why this whole self awareness thing is important.
Well, because sometimes, drinking kombucha tea, going vegan, fasting for 48 hours, eating ketogenic, doing month detoxes, reading philosophy books and practicing yoga won’t save you. In fact, people who do all these “personal development” things fail to bring self awareness into the equation and end up being terrible people.
Coming back to another example, all these coaches are shouting on social media, “never stop learning!” yet they’re the first to troll and enter into a conversation close-minded and with the intention of proving they’re right.
In the other corner, a self aware coach would approach a colleague he disagrees with in an open and collaborative fashion and say something along the lines of: “I love what you’re doing, but have you considered ‘xyz?'” or “I love your methodology, but here is what has worked for me and I would appreciate your thoughts.”
And typically, the conversation ends with a virtual high five, an explosion of new insights, and a new friendship.
The funny thing is, if people became self aware of their own bs, the internet world would be a much more tranquil place. Personally, when I was criticizing others early in my career, I realized I was doing this because I wasn’t creating any magical content of my own. This is when self awareness becomes critical so you can create something impactful, and stay on purpose.
Nowadays, I don’t have time to get into extensive social media conversations. I’m too occupied pumping out 1,000-word articles, publishing essays, and living my mission to inspire young athletes. And put coaching on top of all of that, yeah. I’m too slammed to participate in the noise on the internet.
So here’s my model for social media: post my own stuff, then walk away. Like a boss.
To truly be self aware, you must understand your wounds and triggers. Better yet, take ownership of them. If your weren’t appreciated by your mother growing up, is that manifested by your bullying posts on Facebook? Or, if you aren’t crushing it yourself, is that causing you to criticize others who are crushing it?
An even better question: are you self aware enough to work on your own wounds, instead of pushing your emotional baggage onto people on the internet?
Do something meaningful. Do better.
Taking this all outside of career and creative pursuits, this theme extends into youth athletic development as well.
If you’re a player who strives to play D1 and no schools have reached out to you, a self aware athlete would say, “hmm, maybe I should practice with the ball more, be more aggressive reaching out to colleges, or take messy action and go to an elite club team to get seen.”
Or how about this: if you’re a parent or coach who preaches player development, yet focuses on wins and rankings and playing time, then you’re not self aware. The foundation to self awareness is aligning your values with your actions in a positive way that serves others.
That said, a self aware coach would ruminate, “hmmm my players are not happy, are not performing, and are losing passion for the game. How can I tweak what I am doing?”
If you truly represent player development, how are you fostering an environment that touches on tactical, technical, physical, and mental development?
99.9999999% of people suck at the whole self awareness thing. I’m looking at you coaches, parents, politicians, celebrities, CEOs, White Walkers. Even the folks “at the top” aren’t practicing what they preach.
Alas, to give people the benefit of the doubt, we’re all human. I don’t expect anyone to be perfect, and neither should you. But with a little self awareness, we can all move forward. There is hope.
Coming to grips with our traumas propels us into a new direction to become better human beings. Though it may feel gut wrenching at first to scrutinize your every action and tendency, it’s needed.
In Conclusion (I suck at conclusions)
Now you’re probably mind blown that you just read a 1,000-word article on human psychology by a woman in Baltimore, MD who calls herself fitsoccerqueen. And even more ludicrous, she’s telling you to listen to her advice on self awareness.
Yeah. That’s right. Listen to my advice.
But also, remember how the great philosopher Socrates said, “know thyself?”
Yeah. Listen to him, too.