Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Shelley Taylor Smith: Stop And Think, Who’s On My Team?

Today we have a special guest who many of you will be familiar with. Shelley Taylor Smith is an open water swimming legend – a 7 time World Champion and 5 time winner of the mighty 48km Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. Known for her mental toughness and fearsome competitiveness, she’s an inspirational figure to us and many other swimmers round the world.

Shelley’s from Western Australia and Swim Smooth are lucky to have her swimming regularly with us in our squads in Perth. Since retiring from elite swimming, Shelley’s turned her energies towards becoming a hugely successful motivational speaker and coach. We twisted her arm for some of her secrets on the mental side of swimming - here’s our first instalment from Shelley, we hope to have her back again very soon.

Hi everyone! Here’s a strategy I used to great success throughout my swimming career, I wouldn’t have achieved what I did without assembling a great group of people around me. I would always think "who's on my team?" :

The most profound influence from the "outer world" is most certainly OTHER PEOPLE.

The people you allow into your life and who you spend the most time with, are the greatest external factors to the direction your life will take. Yes, external influences are that powerful.

It is known that you will be the combined average of the 5 people you spend the most time with; you will have the combined lifestyle, health practices, thinking processes, expectations and income.

Think about it. Whatever is consistently entering your experience ends up becoming your reality. Similarly, whoever is consistently in your experience is bringing dominate thoughts, attitudes and actions to your reality.

Who we spend our time with determines what conversations dominate our attention and the observations, attitudes and opinions we are repetitively being introduced to.
Eventually, we start to eat what they eat, talk like they talk, read what they read, watch what they watch, treat people how they treat people, even dress like they dress and think like they think. All the while this may not even be a conscious transition.

Your associations don't shove you in a direction; they nudge you ever so slightly over time.

Have you ever been out to eat with a group of people who are more health conscious than you might normally be? Did you find yourself compelled to order something a little more healthy than normal? That is the power of associations; you were influenced to match their "stride".

Unfortunately the same compulsion is true if you go out to eat with a group and everyone orders multiple drinks, heavier foods, deserts etc. Even though you will try your best to be a maverick, over time you will slowly but surely start "matching" their stride as well. This is true of attitudes, expectations, perspectives, beliefs, opinions, etc – in every area of your life. Even the most self-contained individual is subconsciously lured into the grip of associations' influence.

But what can we learn from this as swimmers? Well, is there someone that you train with that carries a lot of negativity with them? Someone always looking on the downside or doubting themselves? Even a coach or group leader who has a negative approach or an elitist attitude? If so, seriously consider changing your training routine to free yourself from this negative influence. Like it or not if you're in the presence of this person, they're on your team!

Or, do you know someone you admire who is the athlete you aspire to be? Or someone who has the positive approach or dedication you’d love to have? One great thing about pool swimming is that you might not be as quick as another swimmer but you can be in the same lane or pool and pick up on their positivity and dedication. Ask them for tips or advice, even ask them what their secret is – a few flattering words will pull them in closer, and increase their positive influence on you.

If you’re looking for a training squad or group, make sure you observe the coach or group leaders in action. How do they talk to their swimmers? What’s their approach to motivation? Consider this as important as their technical knowledge as a coach. Remember everyone you train with is on your team - pick your team carefully and they'll start to rub off on you!


Shelley Taylor-Smith, 7-time World Marathon Swimming Champion, Self-Motivation Teacher, Success and Performance Coach. In need of motivation, inspiration, education or a kick in the pants to get you fired up for the year ahead? …then log on at http://www.championmindset.com.au/inspire.htm and receive the fortnightly Champion Motivations ezine…full of tips and tools to boost your self confidence and energise for success!

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