We dream when we are just a small child about the possibilities of life. A young man's dream to fight for his country or maybe it's a dream to become a professional athlete. Young girls have the same dreams, we may add some detail and color to our dreams but they don't necessarily differ from our brothers. The common theme among our childhood dreams is that most often we are driven by wanting to please someone. Could be our parents, our idols our friends, other family or God? If we are lucky we keep dreaming and have support systems to help insure we continue to grow down a positive path. Not wanting to tag myself as old because age is really just a mind set, when I was a child we had parents, teachers, friends and people we came into contact with that planted little seeds that either grew to confidence or doubt inside our little dream world. Personally I remember wanting others to believe in me as much as I did, that was a good problem in my case, in my opinion. I didn't much let outside things control my mindset, yet I did still want reassurance. I did get in some trouble with this kind of mindset as well, but hey, how can we expect a kid to not push limits or boundaries as a way to better learn how to fail/fall and then get up and keep moving forward. Hard lessons were learned, broken heart, sucker punched in the eye, wrecked cars, broken bones and even had to call my parents to bail me out over a holiday weekend when family was visiting from out of town. I survived, I had to learn a few lessons in order to know it was me that needed to rethink my actions. I chased certain dreams, I put some dreams to the side and I spent years putting other peoples dreams ahead of my own. More life lessons, not regrets, I learned from every person and every situation.
Today I have realized with my own teenagers and with the closeness to the Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek Development Team over the last 8 years that some things are very different. They dream as we did, they have others they want to please and reasons to keep moving forward. They can have the talent, the support from family and friends, the best equipment and the opportunities that can take them closer to achieving what they have drempt about their entire life. There is a 4 letter word that I believe has been a saboteur of many gifted cyclist., FEAR.... They can't quite put their finger on it. They begin to question everything, their diet, training, ability, strength and worst of all, the question whether they even deserve this chance. It's sad and it is not something they feel like they can fix because it can quickly spiral into so many different doubts and problems that they can't even begin to express how they feel. When they talk about it with coaches or parents we often tell them they are great, just stick with the training plan, snap out of it or that this is just a bump in the road that will soon just disappear. Hang in there!
There is nothing wrong with those answers, we love these people and would really do just about anything to help them. The problem is that the symptoms are the topic of conversation and not the actual cause. What can cause someone to be on cloud 9, confident, strong and kicking butt to feeling the complete opposite. It could have been a bad race, bad luck or the idea that we are not getting where we think we need to be fast enough. Everything today is pretty instantaneous, have we considered how this can mess with our mindset? Hmm...what happens when a young mind sees others getting results, others making it happen all the time on their social feed. I'll tell you what happens, they create a false reality on what they should ultimately expect from themselves. They put undo pressure for results and lose focus and appreciation for the small wins that come with training and experience. Before you know it this sport they have loved for so long has become the center of stress for them. Stress puts a strain physically on all of us and is proven to cause atrophy of the body. It can lower the immune system, we can chemically alter our body and mind with the stresses caused by fear alone.
There is a song I love...Fear is a Liar, read the lyrics, they are so true and you know this only if you have gained self awareness through the struggles you may have encountered in your life.
When he told you you're not good enough
When he told you you're not right
When he told you you're not strong enough
To put up a good fight
When he told you you're not worthy
When he told you you're not loved
When he told you you're not beautiful
That you'll never be enough
Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
'Cause fear he is a liar
What could a 20 year old talented cyclist fear? Letting his parents, coaches, mentors or teammates down because "maybe" he doesn't have what it takes to be a Pro? Our dreams can start with wanting to please these same people that we love and look up to. What we forget is that though these people have encouraged and supported us along the way, they ultimately want us to have happiness. Us "parent types" believe happiness is more important than a medal, a team placement or winning the Tour de France. We want you to do what you love, work hard, be a honest and good teammate, leave it all out there and never have regrets.
Let's say you do work hard and have all these things that are a part of creating opportunity and success but your talent hits a cap, if this is the case please don't forget that it is your heart that got you this far. Your passion and love driving everything else can give you power that does not show up necessarily on your power meter. Your intensity, selflessness, camaraderie, and your ability to get up after you fall will take your further in life than your power threshold. There is life beyond the race team and past the dreams of being a professional athlete. Rest assured that this time in your life and this experience is making you the person you will be for your lifetime.
While you try and believe what I say and put your fear of failure to the side I will leave you with a little list of things to do to help you cast your fears to the fire.
Fear can be combated with:
Affirmations: Make a list of what you are great at, all positive. Let others contribute to this list. Put this list on alert in your phone so it is the last thing you read at night and the first thing you read in the morning. Belief comes from believing, as an added exercise repeat these affirmations when looking in the mirror shaving or styling your hair.
Make your bed as soon as you get up: No, this is not me trying to be your mom, it is proven that the state of our mind for the day is improved with every accomplishment we have, no matter how small.
Create a Dream Board: Write thoughts, add pictures from magazine and put together a collage of your wildest dreams. Planting seeds of happiness that are tied to very specific goals that contain detail and pictures is foundational in regards to actual achievement. Take a picture, post it, put it where you see it as a reminder. Modify it as your priorities may change.
Define your line of choice: Attitude is solely controlled by each and everyone of us. Be very clear that blame, excuse, anger, lies, laziness, selfishness or shortcuts have no place in keeping yourself above the line and embrace this self awareness to keep yourself in-check. Plant seeds in your mind worth nurturing that align with who you want to be. Garbage in, garbage out.
Give back: Whether this is to your family, the sport, your community, giving back is the single most important ingredient to overcoming any types of fear. Realizing your impact on others and how small we are in the scale of life puts perspective to how useless and how much of a waste of time FEAR actually is. FEAR is a Liar!!!!
I am thankful my desire for a big family always trumped every other short term dream I had and that my husband supported this. I still want to have my own business, something with food/baking, growing people into being their best and also provide the opportunity for my own children and people I am connected with to dream and be happy in the life they choose. I am thankful I have good health and mind so I can continue to have dreams and work to align the stars of making them realities. Personally, I want to be strong more than anything else...strong mind, strong body and strong faith. Even 43 year old mom's of 7 still dream and work everyday to figure out how to get closer. We have days where we let fear creep in and we feel paralyzed at the thought of all the overwhelming obstacles...most of which we make up in our head. Trust the process, trust that doing what is right will pay off and that there is a plan for you and it is your job to be open to accepting the challenges life gives you and keep moving forward!! That is what I tell myself!!
Happy Dreaming, fear not!! Rene'
"God placed the best things in life on the other side of fear"...Will Smith