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Pursuing Your Dream: Pot of Gold or Yellow Brick Road
Submitted By Josh Hamilton on Wednesday, March 6, 2019
By: Matt Brown, Sport Psychology Consultant 
Article Submitted for Brampton Hockey by Nic Martins - Manager of Player Development

Original Article written for Hockey Canada as part of their Minor Hockey Player Evaluation Guide

Pursuing Your Dream: Pot of Gold or Yellow Brick Road By: Matt Brown, Sport Psychology Consultant When asked about their dream, most people describe outcomes that they hope to some day reach: Olympics, degrees, a fancy car, a prestigious job, etc. But a performance educator in Virginia discussed ‘dreams’ with top performers in a variety of fields and discovered that theirs look much different. Their dreams are about knowing how they want to feel every day, and setting out to create that for themselves. They live their dreams every day. This article will help you to do the same.

It is easy to become fixated on end products. We see athletes on television glorified in victory. We’re bombarded with advertisements about things that will ‘make us truly happy’: cars, vacations, clothes, etc. We see praise going to the top performers in school, sport, and business. And we fall into the trap. When we see a long path ahead of us, we envision a magical endpoint, where everything will come together and be worthwhile. Like the mystical pot of gold that is supposed to lie at the end of the rainbow. But what happens to the people that seek the gold? Can they truly appreciate the colours of the rainbow? Unfortunately, they cannot. And how about those of us who use our outcomes as the bottom-line? Can we fully appreciate the path we took to get there? No more than the gold-seekers enjoy the rainbow.

Each day holds bits of magic for those willing to grab hold of them. But how do we do that? Doug Newburg from the University of Virginia has interviewed top performers from many different fields. To date, he has interviewed over 350 people: athletes, surgeons, musicians, business executives, even the top serial killer profiler in the United States. He chose these people not only because they were the best, but also because they seemed to be happy and “into” their work.

He discovered that all of these people seemed to live their lives in a similar way. They started by deciding how they wanted to feel everyday. They paid attention to the times when they felt most engaged in what they were doing. In other words, they were so lost in the activity that they lost track of time, they weren’t looking around to see what others thought of them, and they felt fulfilled by what they were doing. They also paid attention to where they were when they felt this way and whom they were with. Once they had discovered what gave them this feeling, they had their DREAM.

This kind of dream is not something you wait for, but rather something that you make happen on a daily basis. But to do this you have to do the work. If you take up hockey and you get a taste of the feeling of carving up the ice, you may wish to master that skill. But that takes work. Anyone who plays the game knows how much sweat, focus, and patience it takes to create that feeling consistently. So you have to make a decision: Is that feeling, that part of your dream worth the hard work, time, and commitment it will take to get there? If it is, you set out to create it a little more each time you’re on the ice.

The next piece has to do with obstacles along the way. Many of us come to obstacles and get focused on them. We might lose a game, fail a math quiz, have a fight with a friend, and focus on why we lost, what math problems we struggle with, or what our friend did to upset us. The performers that Doug talked to approached their obstacles quite differently. When they ran into problems, they reminded themselves of their dream. What did they love about their sport? What does it feel like to solve math problems properly? What do they love about their friend? This allowed them to engage in the dream again. Their obstacles then just seemed like part of the work again, part of what it takes to create their dream.

So these people start and finish with the dream. By keeping the way they wanted to feel front and center, they were able to stay engaged, to enjoy the journey. Most of us know the story of The Wizard of OZ. Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Lion set out to find OZ, who would grant them all their 64 wishes. Along the Yellow Brick Road, they found a sense of belonging, wisdom, love, and courage, not by focusing on the Emerald City in the distance, but by focusing on the Yellow Brick Road, the journey, and each step along the way. Not surprisingly, OZ had little to offer that compared to the dream they’d been living on their path.

You too can live your DREAM everyday. Pay attention to the feelings you love the most. Do the work to create them. Return to your dream when you come across obstacles. This will allow you to keep from anticipating the glory of the pot of gold, the “Great and Powerful OZ”. Instead you can enjoy your Yellow Brick Road, and all the wonders it will reveal along the way
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