As a parent, there’s nothing more upsetting than hearing your kids say: “I think I should just give up.” This was something my son said to me when he was first trying out for football.
As a former high school football player, I was excited for my son to experience all the amazing things that come with playing the game. When I was that age, there was nothing like working with my team to defend my home turf and coming home victorious.
That said, there were some not-so-good things, too.
For starters, as picturesque as playing football in the middle of a rainstorm looks in the movies, it was just another obstacle for us to overcome. The rain wasn’t the worst of it, though.
The worst of it was the trash talkers. Both the ones in the stands and in our heads.
Trash Talkers Pop Up EVERYWHERE!
I’ve definitely had to deal with my fair share of trash talkers in my head. For me, they popped up whenever I started a new job and, of course, when I first became a parent.
For my son, they popped up when he first tried out for football. And I had to help him deal with those trash talkers the way I knew how. By having him keep his focus on the game.
“Do you really believe you can’t do this?”
I pulled a page from the Thoughtfully Fit coach’s playbook and asked my son some questions when he came to me and said he wanted to give up on football. I asked him, “What’s going on that makes you want to quit?”
He explained that he was having a difficult time with practices and that he wasn’t as good as some of the other kids on the team. Listening to him, he sounded stuck.
Trying to be encouraging, I said, “The whole point of practice is to work on getting better. Improving yourself. Do you really believe you can’t do this?”
He shrugged his shoulders.
“What can we do right now that’ll help you?”
Asking these questions helped my son and me understand his insecurities and where his self-sabotaging thoughts were coming from—and the best way to tackle them.
Some situations call for Endurance, others Strength.
But none call for perfection when we’re training to get Thoughtfully Fit!
Darcy Luoma (00:02):
So I was telling my colleague Jill about a conversation that I had with the president of a company that we are working with. We are doing some coaching of their executive leadership team, and also coaching the president. And at the end, Jill said, “You need to share that in your Thoughtfully Fit Thursday, because it’s just such a great reminder of the power of being thoughtfully fit and some of the practices that when you train and practice, you can lead thoughtfully.”
Darcy Luoma (00:40):
And so the president was sharing with me that one of the members of the executive leadership team was not performing well. And so a couple weeks ago he had a tough conversation and basically said, “You either need to step it up, or, you know, you’re a valued member of this team, but you’re not performing at the level to be on the executive leadership team. This is a multi-million dollar company. And so if you can’t step it up, then let’s find a different role for you. And you can lead at a different level in the company, but to be at this level of leadership, we really expect more. And I appreciate you and all you do, and how hard you work, but right now, for this level, it’s not enough.”
Darcy Luoma (01:36):
And so we were talking and I’m going to fast forward through the conversation to the end result, which was that what the president realized is that he was really strong at the courage and delivering a tough message. He was very strong at the compassion and delivering it in a way that this leader could hear it. But what he forgot or what he missed was the curiosity piece. And if you remember, when we talk about having balanced conversations, when you’re thoughtfully fit, you have all three Cs. And what he realized is he didn’t ask any questions. So he said to the executive, “Let me know what you decide.”
Darcy Luoma (02:23):
And so this person came back a week later and he said, “I’d like to stay in this role. I want to step it up a notch, assuming you aren’t telling me that that’s not an option.” And the president said “No, that’s definitely an option.” But he said, “Darcy, it’s been a week and a half, and I haven’t seen him step it up.” And so when we worked through it, what he realized is he forgot the piece about asking him, what does that look like for you, to step it up? And when I tell you that I need more, what are you hearing? And what are you going to do to lead at the level that I’m needing?
Darcy Luoma (03:04):
And then the other piece that he realized he didn’t do, that he knows to do, but he forgot, is to design accountability and the next steps. So he had the tough conversation, but now he’s like, “I don’t know what to do. He’s not stepping it up. I haven’t seen any improvement.” And so where he left that conversation was with two action items, one saying, I’m going to go back with curiosity and say, “Hey, how do you feel you’re doing? What does it look like for you if you lead at the level that is necessary to be at the executive leadership team level? And what does it look like for you to step it up?” And then also he was going to go back with some courage and say, “Here’s what it looks like from my standpoint. Here’s what I think needs to be done.”
Darcy Luoma (03:56):
And then to say, also in design with this leader, when do we want to follow up next? And how often do we want to create check-ins? Because what he realized his pattern is, he’ll have the tough conversation, but then six months will go by, and what he realized his fear is, is that six months will go by, and the leader will not have stepped it up and then he’ll have to end up demoting him or letting him go in the long run. And it’s not because this person doesn’t want to do better. He realizes it’s probably because he’s overwhelmed. He’s like a deer in the headlights. He doesn’t have a lack of willingness and ability to do better. He just doesn’t know where to start or how to do it.
Darcy Luoma (04:47):
And so the president said that he’s going to go back and design some accountability and say, “Okay, how about if we check in, tell me what you think, but I’m thinking if every Friday we have a 15 minute check-in. And how does that work for you?” And that he’s going to co-design it together because the leader’s overwhelmed. He might say, “Oh, can we do it every two weeks?”
Darcy Luoma (05:16):
So when you’re leading and you’re using these skills and strategies, it’s okay if you don’t do it perfectly, and it’s okay, he’s like, “Oh, that’s right. I completely forgot the curiosity piece.” It’s like, it’s not too late. “Oh, I forgot the accountability piece, and to design the next steps.” It’s not too late. You have the first part, which is courage and compassion. Fantastic. Now you can loop back because it’s not a one and done. When you’re creating a balanced relationship, you’re balancing what you want and need with what the other person wants and needs. That doesn’t happen in one conversation. That’s okay.
Darcy Luoma (05:56):
So if you recognize there’s something, even as you’re listening to this, you’re thinking, oh gosh, I need to have, maybe you want more courage. Maybe you’re strong on compassion and curiosity, but you aren’t stating what you want and need, and you need more courage. It’s not too late. With new awareness comes access to new actions. So if you’re having that awareness right now, great, go, have that courageous part of the conversation. Or maybe your courage is high, but you realize, oh, you shut the person down because you forgot the compassion. And now the relationship is strained because you went and delivered a tough message, but you did it in a way that the other person didn’t feel appreciated or valued or respected.
Darcy Luoma (06:44):
So I want to let you know that this is a journey, and you keep training and you keep practicing and you keep learning and growing and you keep getting more thoughtfully fit, just like you keep training and practicing to be physically fit. And with that, I’m off to go mountain biking. Thanks, everybody, for joining me. I’m Darcy Luoma. I love being on this journey, trying to figure out these complex dynamics and relationships. Life’s hard. Keep training for it. Thanks so much.
Tackle Your Trash Talkers with Endurance
When we’re up against self-sabotaging thoughts, the feeling of wanting to give into them can be overwhelming. It’s understandable to want to quit, and it’s a good sign you’re venturing out of your comfort zone. The key is to keep your focus on the game and not let trash talkers determine what you do next.
It starts by creating awareness of the self-sabotaging thoughts you’re having—I think I should just quit, I’m not good enough, or I stink. Face the trash talk head-on.
For my son, his trash talkers were saying he wasn’t as good as everyone else. Instead of telling him that wasn’t true, I asked him what else? He said he needed a lot more practice if he was going to get better. A-ha! Now we have something to work with. Listening to the trash talker helped us identify our next step. That switch is where we start making our thoughts serve us. What small step can we take?
My son and I took extra time to practice. This small step allowed us to move past the completely normal feeling of wanting to quit.
We may not be playing high school ball anymore, but like my son, when we’re trying something new, we can definitely get slammed by our inner trash talkers. This is something that even as a Thoughtfully Fit coach I still struggle with from time to time. But when we focus on the game and take on these trash talkers with Endurance, we can have our thoughts start serving us instead of sabotaging us. Our trash talkers don’t need to shut us down. They can help us identify our next step.
One-Minute Core Workout
Pause. The next time you’re trying something new and start feeling like you should quit, Pause!
Think. Ask yourself: What are my trash talkers saying? Do I really want to quit? What step can I take that’ll help me move past this?
Act. Take that first step—no matter how small it might feel.
While our high school football jerseys may not fit like they used to, our trash talkers still take up plenty of room in our heads. That doesn’t mean they have to sabotage us. Listen to your trash talkers and then choose what you want to do next.
When you’re training to overcome your internal trash talkers, it’s helpful to start with the little things. This is a concept Rick Hanson, Ph.D. encourages his readers to internalize in his book, Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. Recommended by Thoughtfully Fit coach Sharon Barbour, Hanson offers simple, scientifically supported practices that help readers build greater inner strength and confidence.