Sports Psychologist Peter Jensen on Winning Gold in Your Career

Wow, what an amazing journey this Olympic Games has been. I am so proud of our athletes and our country. We have seen the performances that have come as a result of a lifetime of commitment to achieve a singular goal. This week’s podcast is with Peter Jensen, the sport psychologist for the Canadian Woman’s Olympic hockey team, who won gold in 2002 and 2006.

Peter works both with Olympic athletes and with organizations to help with team performance. Here are the 3 keys that he used in his role as their coach to attain the goal they all desired. These same principles, when applied to your career, can make the difference in achieving your career goals.

Energy Management

Managing energy, not time, is the key to achieving high-level performance. If your energy or adrenaline levels run too high, you risk choking because you get too anxious about the outcome. This is true of athletes. Peter Jensen notes that “arousal leads to narrow focus, and narrow focus leads to missing critical information that one needs to perform at high levels.” If you get angry or upset, it will hinder your ability to perform well. If you’ve ever found yourself running late for an interview, you’ll understand how trying to make up for those lost minutes can affect you. Your energy level will peak too early, and you may overlook things that you wanted to say or questions you wanted to ask. When you’re distracted or upset, your body uses up more physical and emotional energy. Energy management is especially important when you are in a situation where you will make a first impression.

Focus

When I talk with clients, I will often tell them about the bulls-eye effect as it relates to curling. The key to curling is to focus on putting the rock at the centre of the ring. You must decide what you want to do, then settle upon a strategy and actions that will move you towards this goal. In the case of the Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, their goal was, obviously, to win the gold medal. In your case, it may be to fit into a new role or do well in an interview situation. As Peter Jensen says, “Once you have a destination, it is amazing what you can get. You will start to notice that everything you read or see on TV shows is [suddenly] lining up with your vision. If you decide tomorrow that you are going to go to Italy, you will start to notice all kinds of Italian things.” The same truism applies if you decide you want to join the police force. This clear and specific vision will open up many doors that align with this goal. Focus will also help you to pay attention to things that will make this outcome easier.

You Still Need to Work Hard

When Peter helped the women’s hockey players attain their dreams of winning the gold medal, he helped them with all of the principles mentioned above: perspective, imagery, energy management and focus. The players were a very talented group of women, and they worked very hard for every goal and win that occurred. Similarly, you need to be talented and work very hard for every interview and career situation. Make the most of each opportunity that comes your way. Otherwise, all of the principles that apply above will not matter. There are some essential job search skills that you can’t leave home without. It is easy to start strong and then burn out just as you are getting the right job leads. Set realistic but challenging goals and assess your day-to-day productivity truthfully. You are your job-search team’s workforce and management. It’s a tough job, but you can be successful!

He shared his perspective on the most important key to winning gold “Once you have a vision and a clear goal, it is amazing what you can do and get”

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Standing tall, along the road with you,

Alan Kearns