Monday, March 24, 2008

The Secret to Success

I’ve had a fair amount of success over the years but I think it’s pretty obvious that this year I’m looking for more. Way more. And since that’s the case, it would make sense that something different needs to be done. Or at least something extra. There’s a saying: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” This year I’m not looking for any repeat performances. With that mindset, I’ve approached this season with a slightly different game plan than before. It’s all about growth. I have done a lot of work trying to learn from the past and trying to give myself the best opportunity to be successful. I have matured so much as a person and as an athlete over the years and all of it has added up to put me where I stand today and how I am dealing with this season. I’ve been knocked down but I haven’t been knocked out so I know the athlete I am today is much stronger than ever before. That strength comes not so much in a physical sense, but in the mental aspect of this sport that plays such a huge role and which I believe makes all the difference in the world.

This year will be my third trip to the Olympic Trials. Each time has been such a different and unique experience. Back in 2000 I had just finished my sophomore year in college and I went to the Olympic Trials for the experience. In my mind I had no legitimate shot at actually making the team but I knew that four years later I would and I wanted the opportunity to see what it was like and to do have a sort of dress rehearsal. The biggest thing for me that year was that I had jumped the A standard for the Olympics in the Long Jump so I was able to get my own room at the official meet hotel and that made me feel like a big deal. I was stoked. The whole experience was a bit surreal and I remember being in the finals and thinking to myself how neat it was that I was being introduced next to Marion Jones and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. It was the point in my career that solidified the idea of my own desire to become a professional in this sport. Fast-forward four years and I’m back in Sacramento with a real goal in mind. I want to make the team and I believe that I can. During the past four years I had won an NCAA title and a U.S. title in the Long Jump so I now felt like I belonged. Even if that particular season had been less than stellar I knew that the only meet that truly mattered was the Trials and if I could make it all come together on that particular day, I would be elated. Well on that particular day I fouled all 3 jumps in the final.

You could say that that was an unfortunate situation and I had extremely bad luck on that day, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. I didn’t perform and I basically chocked. If I didn’t admit that then, I definitely do now. I had a lot of mental issues I was dealing with that year and they definitely affected the way I was able to approach that competition and how I rose to the occasion. (Or failed to.) You cannot be a champion until you see yourself as one and that was not what I was able to do. I was still in the mode of “hoping” to be a champion. And once I fouled my first jump I “hoped” that I wouldn’t foul the second one…and then the third. So basically I gave my brain the instruction to foul. I’ve spent the last four years trying to regroup and get myself to the proper place so that this time around, in 2008, I am not there for the experience and I am not there to hope. In a lot of ways I thought I had made the breakthrough last year but evidently there was still a few pieces of the puzzle missing.

What I truly believe is that at this level of competition, the difference in talent at the highest level is almost negligible. I’m not saying that there aren’t some who may be more naturally gifted than others, but I don’t believe that is what determines who earns a spot to the Games. I trust in my talent and I trust the training that I’m doing to make sure that physically I am ready to do what needs to be done come the end of June. But what comes with that is the mental edge that allows you to rise to the occasion and become the champion you know you are. I am working on perfecting that because that is what I know will make the difference. For me it has become something I need to practice and actually work at. I read books, I do exercises…I do all the little things off the track that will make a difference when I get on it. I know that the mental aspect of this sport isn’t a new phenomenon, but I am finally realizing the true impact it can have and how much it has hindered me in the past. I’m not going to let that happen this time around.


t.v. said...

Would I be correct in my conclusion that you are battling your fear of mentally failing the Olympics Trials? If my assesment is incorrect then do tell what your greatest fear is, because I get the feeling that "fear of failing again" the originator is of this blog. But I could be wrong.:)

It is said that if we can verbalize our fears, then overcoming them would almost be a certainty.

Bianca said...

Bri, I'm so proud of you. I believe in you. I can't wait for Oregon.

PS I entered another promotional ad for a shot at round-trip tickets and hotel for Beijing : ) I'm praying for this opportunity to come to pass.

melanie said...

hey breeze, i got your vm today and lost my phone before i could call you back. yes, LOST MY PHONE. argh. anyway keep your fingers crossed that it's locked in my dressing room or at the lost and found, and i'll try and get to you asap. talk soon.

dejanae said...

the menatal aspect is a big part people often neglect to work on when it comes to sports

It's as much mind as body

good read

Anonymous said...

Definitely got to be in the right mindset.

I can relate with the feeling though. I tend to let my past experiences in certain situations block positive outcomes later down the road when faced with the same situation.

Working on that.

Anonymous said...

I can appreciate your honesty and willingness to share your ups and downs with total strangers.

For me, having that mental edge is directly related to the strength or weakness of my spiritual life. The times when I allow my spiritual life to become weak it’s difficult for me to sustain a strong mental edge. During my times of weakness I often feel unmotivated, cranky, and it’s hard from me to focus on a task. On these days I often leave the hospital early and regroup by making an early appearance at the gym. But, this only appears to be a temporary stress reliever.

We’ve never met but it’s evident that you have a strong foundation rooted in God. I think this strong foundation will give you an unshakeable mental edge that will even surprise you.

This was one of your best blogs!!! Now I’m motivated to get my swagger back...LOL!


Brianna said...

bi...thank you for simply for trying. i love you too much! are SO right. it starts with your spiritual foundation and i'm working on making that as strong as ever as well.