Importance of focusing on the experience rather than achievement

High Performance Psychologist Michael Gervais, PhD explains how being focused solely on achievement can be damaging to kids
Importance of Focusing on the Experience Rather than Achievement
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Importance of focusing on the experience rather than achievement

It’s really easy for us to get caught up in the outcome, whether our child is playing sport, or in school, it’s really easy to be pulled. Because its’ great when things go well, its fun. And when that outcome is working, it’s wonderful but there’s a trap here. And that trap is that the outcome is so important that it becomes more important than the process of being and as parents or coaches and as an athlete ourselves that when we are experiencing that tension between the need for outcome and achievement at a compromise for being and experiencing life a certain way, we are flat out in trouble. And if we can just level set and really clear the pallet there for a minute is to be able to understand the importance of achievement there’s a value in our American Society for it. But a greater way, greater value is the experience of being okay, of being yourself and being able to explore who you are and having fun along the journey of learning. And so as coaches, as parents, if we miss that tension between the struggle to need achievement and outcome as opposed to this way that we want to experience life; this is what matters; the experience of who we are and what we do and that’s the take away from sports. Is that we can teach, we can have both and when both are placed in a way that has value and intrinsic and inherent ability to cultivate. We’re definitely winning, we’re winning beyond sport. Often time’s athletes come in because they’re experiencing some sort of pressure and that pressure is really about this thing is taking place for them for needing achievement, need an outcome, desperately needing it at the cost possibly of not enjoying who they are. Because they believe that they achieve a certain outcome then it’ll be okay, when it’s actually a bit backwards. It’s experiencing life in a certain way it is okay. Results will come and go. That’s what happens, they happen in glorious ways and we can celebrate them and sometimes they don’t happen when we want them most. And the way that we process it and deal with struggles and the victories is really important. Not long ago an athlete came in and one of the best in the world and her sport was gymnastics. So she’s young and the parents made a critical decision which was to say, okay, we’re going to support our child. She’s naturally talented, it’s easy for her, she works really hard at her craft. We need to make a decision, we’re going to take our resources and we’re going to go to California to get some of the best coaching that we can afford, that we can find and fits us as a family. So they come in and they want to do some work because achievement matters. Everything is on the line now. Dad took a new job. Mom is really taking care of all the logistics to go in for this child to have the best coaching that’s possible. So as we unfold the story a little bit the child is certainly feeling pressure and she’s good, she’s really good, really good. And so I say, so what’s the home life like? And she says, well, I spend x number of hours at the gym and I spend x number of hours in school, by the time I get home I’m really tired but you know, there’s a little bit more work I need to do. And I say okay, is that homework or what is it? And she says no, we have a beam in the living room and so my parents want me to do some extra reps there. A saturation of a good thing is too much and so there’s a time and place for everything and when the entire focus is about achievement and that’s what this family had done. They put so much importance on achievement that they actually brought the apparatus of sport into their living room. It becomes way too much for any child for any athlete to be able to really manage when everything is defined by the outcome.

High Performance Psychologist Michael Gervais, PhD explains how being focused solely on achievement can be damaging to kids


Expert Bio

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Michael Gervais, PhD

High Performance Psychologist

Dr. Michael Gervais, a licensed psychologist and industry visionary, is a founding partner of Pinnacle Performance Center. He focuses most of his time on people at the "top of their game," from NBA players, to Olympians, to military personnel. Dr. Gervais has a clear understanding of how performers become and consistently excel at a world-class level. Spending years in the trenches of high-stakes circumstances, Dr. Gervais has developed clarity for the tools that allow people to "thrive under pressure."

Dr. Gervais is a published, peer-reviewed author and a nationally recognized speaker on issues related to high performance for those who excel on the largest stages in the world.

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