The Way of the Champion: Mental Strategies for Winning with Jerry

Dr. Jerry Lynch is one of our favorite level-headed, clear, and optimistic voices at Soccer Parenting and we are thrilled to have him join us for High Performance Week. As a Sport Psychologist, Jerry has worked with over 36 NCAA winning programs, NBA, MLS and NFL franchises, and supported Olympian, professional, collegiate, and youth players with his keen guidance and support. During this interview, Skye and Jerry discuss how parents should support players with big dreams, processes for helping or children develop a strong, winning mindset, supporting our children with setbacks and disappointments, and much more along the way.


Thanks to everyone who joined this live webinar on Wednesday!

Leave your thoughts in the comments box below, and as always you can find the transcript below too.


Join the Conversation! Post any Comments or Questions about this interview below!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


TRANSCRIPT:

Skye:
Hey, everyone. Welcome. We're going to go ahead and get started timely in just within a minute or so. If somebody wants to, as I always ask, pop into the chat and let me know that you can hear us and hear me, see us. I'm going to open up some other windows here. Hi, Luther. Oh, that's great. Nice to have you here. I'm glad you can see us and hear us. Thanks, Peter. A-Okay. Awesome. Well, I'll give everybody just a minute or two to gather. Jerry, where are you in California? Is that California behind you?

Jerry:
No, this is Santa Cruz.

Skye:
Nice.

Jerry:
I no longer have a residence in... I'm still a resident of Colorado, but we sold our home there.

Skye:
Oh, oh, okay. I didn't realize that.

Jerry:
Yeah. So, we're happy-

Skye:
Where is Santa Cruz? Is that north of LA?

Jerry:
Oh, God. Yes. Quite a bit more. Yeah. Thank God. No, we're south of San Francisco by about 80 miles.

Skye:
Oh, oh, you're that far north, okay.

Jerry:
With north of Monterey. I'm on the Monterey Bay. With north of Monterey by about 25, 30 miles.

Skye:
Gotcha. I didn't realize that. I know my California geography. It's crazy.

Jerry:
Yeah. Well, we're considered Northern Cal.

Skye:
Yeah. Got it. All right. Well, we'll go ahead and get started. It's 1:01. I'm going to go ahead and share some slides just to welcome everybody as everyone's gathering and we will go from there.

Okay. Well, welcome everyone. I'm so happy to have you here. Addition to this being for Soccer Parenting, this is a celebration with a live webinar during our High Performance Week at Soccer Parenting. This has been such a phenomenal week of really some incredible conversations. And what I realized the other day is that so many of the guests that we have during High Performance Week are, unlike Jerry, who's been with us a number of times, thankfully are new voices for Soccer Parenting.

So, be sure to check out High Performance Week, if you haven't registered. It's all free, but you do need to register to get onto the hub. So, you just can register at SoccerParenting.com/high-performance. And then once you are registered, you can head to the hub. And in addition to seeing all of the links to the interviews that we're pushing out this week and the schedule, there's a really cool interactive wall where people can answer a question and their answers get posted, just so a little bit of a sense-making exercise that we're doing around supporting high performance players. So, thank you all so much for being here.

Just a little bit of guidelines about today. I know we have a lot of new people here and registered this week, so we absolutely encourage your questions. I will be monitoring the Q&A box, not so much the chat. So, the chat is certainly usable and I encourage you to use it for interactions amongst yourselves, conversations that you want to have. Those are important. And I, though, just to be clear, will be monitoring the Q&A.

As much as we can be distraction free, if you saw me, I was just putting my phone on do not disturb. I've forgotten to do that, so it's now on do not disturb. That's ideal. And I think we figured out Zoom right now, but if you're having any issues with performance of this webinar, then be sure you just shut down all your applications that are in the background. We are recording this. The recording will be free and live all week long on the hub, so you could send people there. And then the actual recording next week will at our education platform.

Just a little bit about myself, briefly, for those of you who are new to this platform. My name is Skye. I'm the Founder of Soccer Parenting. The mission at Soccer Parenting is inspiring players by empowering parents. We want parents to understand the power that you have to ensure that your child feels inspiration and joy from their soccer and sporting experiences. And I am an active coach. I'm a former player and a soccer parent myself. You can learn more about us at SoccerParenting.com and our education platform is SoccerParentResourceCenter.com.

I always try to bring one of our six Soccer Parenting Value Statements to the table when we're having these conversations. And today, absolutely, the Value Statement that most applies to our interactions with Jerry today is this concept of a Balanced Outlook. So, these are things framing our actions and helping us sort of frame our behaviors with these Value Statement. So, we seek to use a clear perspective when making soccer choices for our children, ensuring that those decisions are in the best interest of our children's long-term health of their content men and having a positive attitude. So, all of those things, we'll be certainly discussing today with Jerry, who we are so lucky to have here with us.

Dr. Jerry Lynch, he's the Founder of Way of Champions. You can learn all about him, check out all of his books and more at wayofchampions.com. Jerry has worked with over 36 national champions. He's worked with many professional sports team. He has partnership with Steve Kerr and Golden State Warriors and doing some exceptional work there. He works collaboratively with our good friend at Soccer Parenting, John O. Sullivan from Changing the Game Project. They host a Way of Champions Coaching workshop every summer that they're doing virtually again this summer, so you can be sure to check that out.

And more than anything, after are all those accolades, Jerry is really impacting people and he is making a difference in people's lives. I know that he has in mine, firstly, just from these wonderful conversations we've had over the years. But also in so many people and parents' lives and their interactions with the children. So, it's truly such a pleasure to have Jerry with us today. Jerry, welcome.

Well, that's a very, very beautiful, warm welcome. And I needed that today. That's good. Thank you.

Good, good. Well, it's funny how those things happen. On my way into the office, one of my good friends called me and I'm like, "This is perfect."

Jerry:
Yep.

Skye:
And he's like, "I'm so happy, I could be the appetizer to your conversation with Jerry." But he really kind of got me in a good headspace, too. And that's just to where I want to be with you today, because I know that you have so many, such great thoughts and experience and wisdom to share with us. So, we're really, really happy to have you here.

Jerry:
I'm thrilled to be here. This is wonderful.

So, this is High Performance Week. I'm kind of curious as we get started here, I've gotten some, as expected, like pushback from some friends and colleagues that were calling this like "high performance." But I'm just kind of curious for you with this premise of the week and just your thoughts on that. The idea being is that these are difficult times, for our children, there's so much stress. We want them to have dreams and anything we can do to support them with our dreams, we want to sort of continue to be those moments of inspiration for them. So, just curious, what do you think about this concept of high performance or this week that we're trying to push out?

Jerry:
Well, it's a very thought provoking concept that you're bringing up to me. It's sort of a mixed bag in a way because sports are supposed to be fun. And a lot of people think that, "Well, if it's going to be fun, how are we going to have this high performance pressure on the kids, always having to be whatever." But my overriding philosophy on all of that, Skye, is, raise your hand if you don't want to be the best version of yourself. And so as a parent, you want to be the best parent you can be, you want to be the best partner you can be, the best friend. And we all agree with that.

Well, why don't we want our child to be the best version of themselves, whatever that is. And I think the key, the operative word there is themselves and what did they want. Too many parents are taking the cue from their own self and they're projecting their own desires and wishes and they're trying to live vicariously through the performance, the high performance of their children, as if, if they perform at high levels then we must be better parents.

But if we take the cue from the child, from the youngster and ask them, "What do they want? What do they want out of this? Why are you playing soccer?" Or whatever sport it is and I'd like to encourage more than just soccer here, because I think if we just get into a rod of playing one sport, I don't think you fully develop as a human being, physically, emotionally, mentally, and what have you. But having said that, I think we need to go to our children. I have a book it's called, Let Them Play. I'd to add to that and say, let them decide. And if they decide to play, well, then let them play and let them have a good time, but let them determine.

Your kids are pretty astute. If they don't want to play up, if they don't want to play at a higher level or a competitive level, you have to listen to them. And when you listen, I advise not to hear them. Now, I want to make that differentiation because I'm trying to make this important point. When you hear kids, your kids talking, if you are trying to develop a response to what they're saying, you're not listening. What you're doing is you're hearing what they're saying and then you're going to project your influence on them. When I say, listen, what I mean is you have to have the mindset, Skye, of talking with your child and saying to yourself, "What can I learn here?"

What a different approach, as opposed to hearing them and now, I'm forming my, formulating my response to them, telling them what I think is the right thing to do or I'm really truly listening to them. And by listening what I'm saying, my mindset is, "What can I learn here?" And when you learn things from your kids, you'll really be, your parenting will be a lot easier. So, listening closely. Gosh, I learned from one of my kids, he doesn't like this or he doesn't like that. Well, gosh, well, I want to support that. I'm going to be a high performer in that, because I think it will really be good for him, but that's not what he wants.

Skye:
Yeah. And then the other layer that I kind of would love for you to rip out a little bit is listening is not always related to exactly what they're saying. It could also be related to what they're doing.

Jerry:
Absolutely. What a great point. And thanks for reminding me of that. It's not only what they're doing, but listening to how they're feeling. I can tell you're feeling uplifted. You're feeling very positive. You're feeling very confident today. You're feeling very optimistic. I can tell that just by listening with the third ear. And that third ear, "Here's the way you are." And we can do this with our kids. We can listen to them a lot more deeply and yes, their words are saying something and we can listen to those words and learn something, but we can also take the non-verbal communication.

Look at their are eyes. The eyes are the windows to your soul and the soul of your child speaks through their eyes. And any good parent knows that. If they really want to know where kids at, you got to look at them. And so, you pick up the body language. Are they open this or are they shut down that? So, and I'm glad you brought that point up. So, there are many, many aspects to listening.

Skye:
Yeah, it is tricky though, as a parent, trying to find that balance between supporting them with truly what does appear to be their goal or dream and not pushing too hard. Finding that nuance of space to operate. Any thoughts on that for parents?

Jerry:
Yeah, no, absolutely, and I know where you're coming. There's a middle ground. The middle ground is people say, "Can you give me any advice on anything?" And I always say, "Go to the middle ground. Don't go to extremes. Go to the middle." So, with a parent, one end of it is everything that they feel that they want and then there's the other thing is giving them what we feel they need. And that middle ground is that comfortable place of really not knowing what's best for our kids, but at least nudging. It's a gentle nudge in a direction.

So for instance, I had a son, I have it. I still have that son, thank God. I have several sons and daughters. My son came to me in high school and he was a sophomore. He is playing JV basketball. Very, very talented, talk about high performing. He was quite a point guard. He still is. But anyway, having said that he came to me and he said, "I don't want to play basketball anymore."

Well, I mean, it was like, "What are you kidding me? You have to play. You're so good. Your team is going to," and all of this. I didn't go that route. That was one of my better days. There you go. Sometimes you have good days. Sometimes you have bad days.

Skye:
Channeling your inner profession here.

Jerry:
Right. Yeah. So, I listened. I tried to learn something from him. And I asked questions and I said, "So, what brought this about?" And then he went on and gave me the reasons. And then I said, "How are your teammates going to feel?" I'm always asking questions. "Well, I think they're going to be all right with this. I talked to this guy, this guy."

And I said, "Well, you're very athletic. You have any idea of what you'll do with yourself, athletically, if you don't play basketball?" And he came right back, he says, "Dad," he says, "I can play soccer. I could be one of the best soccer players on the team. And I love soccer, too." I validated that. I said, "You made a good point. That's really, I never thought of that."

Now, here's where you, your point comes in. So, I didn't just say, "All right. Go on your way. It's all over. You decided." And I didn't say, "You're crazy. What are you nuts? You can get a scholarship to college the way you play right now."

So, I said to him, "How about this? How about you take a week. Go to practice. Feel it out more. Collect more information. And let's have this talk next Monday. And if you still feel the same way, I'll totally support it. If it's changed, I'll support that, too." Within three days, he came back to me and he said, "Dad, I don't know what I was thinking."

Skye:
And you're like, "Whew."

Jerry:
Inside, I did, but I didn't want to do that out here because then that shows my tremendous need to have him do what he might not want to do. So, what I did was I just sort of like I was a duck on the top of the water, but underneath I'm going like this. And thank God, he went on to play for a state, the first and only state championship team in California as the point guard and to this day, he's a basketball coach.

Skye:
Wow.

Jerry:
But anyway, so as a parent, I didn't just tell him what to do and what I thought he was crazy not doing it and I didn't just sort of let him go. Because if I just let him go, he would have quit. So, the guidance comes with the middle ground and you've got to listen and you have to ask questions and you have to validate. So, that's L-U-V. I call that LUV, listening, by finding out what you need to learn, understand by asking questions and then validate when your child is making a good point, but there's always that point.

Then you can have your influence and say, "Here's what I think. And here's what I believe. How about taking another week or how about taking another day or how about trying it?" Whatever.

Skye:
Yeah, yeah. I'm having this flashback to this interview that I did with somebody a while ago. And he was talking about his children and this interaction that he had with them. And during the interview, I'm going, "Oh, this is so stressful. I don't agree with this." But I was also curious if maybe I don't agree with it just because my children wouldn't have responded well. So, let me explain it and then I'm interested in your advice.

So, it was the typical conversation with our children have a goal and they say, for instance, "I want to play Division 1 in college soccer." "Great. Okay. So, what are you going to have to do to do that?" "Well, I'm going to have to get to stronger. I'm going to do this." "Okay, great." So, then the next day, I'm protecting the identity of this person a little bit.

But so, then imagine the next day the dad, this man, is going to the gym to go work out and he's like, "Hey, son, you want to go to the gym, get stronger? Just like you were talking about." And the boy was like, "No, no. I just want to sit here and play my video games." And then the pushback from him was like, "Well, you said that you wanted to play Division 1 soccer. And we know that one of those things that you need to do is to get stronger, so you should be coming to the gym." "No, I really don't want to."

And so, then the dad leaves. And then later the conversation was, "Well, how do you feel about that? Or what do you think about the choice you just made?" And I feel like these kinds of things are where it gets really stressful for us as parents because we want to push our kids, but there's clearly got to be a time where it's too much.

Jerry:
Yeah. Of course, I don't know where to start with that, but I can start by saying, why do you want to push your kids? And why do kids, I mean, I think we all have to ask that question. Is it because we'll get our self-worth based on how much our kids are going to achieve? Are they making up for something we didn't do? I know clearly I made that a mistake.

I made that mistake. I blew it in high school. I was a national class athlete in high school, running the mile. I could have had a scholarship to almost any college on the East Coast when I was living in New York and I blew it. I get in with a bad crowd and I gave up sports and put on 30 pounds and didn't find sports again until I was maybe 31. And fortunately, it wasn't too late.

But when I had a child who was just like me, a runner, state champion, I found myself pushing. And you know what, it backfired. It backfired. I mean, I didn't push like force or make him, but I really aggressively pursued his career for him and I make a point in saying it that way. It's not what he wanted though and I found that out later. And fortunately, he didn't lose his love for running. And at the age of 31, 32, he loves running still.

But I made a mistake that, and I write about that in my book, Let Them Play, and fortunately, I got time to recover from it. But we have to question whether or not, again, you say it's a delicate balance between suggesting, nudging and pushing and forcing. We think we know what's best, but we don't know. In that incident that you are bringing up to me, as a parent, okay, the old Jerry would do exactly that thing. The new Jerry, when I learned from those mistakes is, so I'd ask him questions.

"So, what is it about the workout that, you don't want to do. And I'm confused. Help me understand. On the one hand you say, you want to do it, but here you're not saying you do." And I'm not forcing him to go there. I'm just helping to clarify the situation. And then, so I can get more information. If he still says, "You know what? I just don't want to do it. I'm burn out. I'm tired." "Oh, great. Wonderful decision."

When people are burned out, it might be too late, but empower him/her to make that decision on their own. Now, If it turns out that they don't get a Division 1 scholarship and they don't develop into what you as a parent probably know would be an amazing athlete, it's their choice. And there are consequences. So, at the age of 23, they come to you and they say, "God, I wish I had done that." Yeah, so you have some regret about that. Well, maybe that's something we can use. Maybe that's a lesson you could use going forward when you're confronted with other decisions as to what to do. Because these are all teaching moments, aren't they?

Skye:
Yeah, exactly, yeah.

Jerry:
They're all wonderful, juicy, delicious moments for our children to learn without us telling them what to do.

Skye:
Yeah. That just kind of layers in perfect to another question that I wanted to ask you about supporting our children through setbacks. How do we need to show up for our children when they do have, and I'll put it in the air quotes because you'd probably go there, a "setback?"

Jerry:
Oh, setbacks are our life. Life is filled with setbacks. Let's see what's today, Wednesday? I've already had six this week. And how am I doing? Well, I'm doing okay. I'm doing all right. How do you feel about those setbacks? I'm not so sure that it was as bad as I thought it was when I first heard it, because I think I'm learning something that I didn't know and it's going to help me going forward. And maybe, it wasn't the best situation for me. Maybe it wasn't to be this path. Maybe I'm supposed to be on that path. Well, I've already answered some of those questions and it already appears that, you know what, I'm better off because of it.

And so, what I think it's what it is too many parents are trying to protect their kids from setbacks, mistakes, errors, failure, all of that. I see a whole generation of kids out there who can't cope with setbacks and failure and they're 30 years old. And so, we have this generation of kids who were protected. They didn't win a championship, but they got a trophy. Okay, so now, they're entitled. It's like they're entitled for not working. And so, the lesson of not winning something is you don't get a prize for not working hard. You've got to work hard to get a prize.

Back to your issue of, your point of, "Well, what about this situation where they had a setback or they failed?" What a wonderful, glorious opportunity to embrace a lesson that's going to really set them on the right path when they're 30, 40, or 50, when everyone else around them, because they didn't have that opportunity from a parent who was just wise and mindful, they're going to succeed.

So, all of my failures, if you're looking at me now, and you look at my resume, people will say, "Oh, wow, you've done this. You published all these books." Yeah. You know what? But what you don't know is that my best seller in 13 languages was refused for publication 15 times. Now, if you don't think that's a lot, try writing a book and have it rejected once and then twice and maybe five times. When you get to 13 and 14, you're ready to throw it in. That's a lot of rejection.

But I learned from that. I learned how to write a better book. I learned that I can deal with that kind of setback. I can handle situations where I'm rejected and not only that, but rejection and failure, they're my greatest teachers. They're my gurus. And so, I think this is a wonderful opportunity for parents to jump on board with that.

Skye:
Yeah, absolutely. And I want to go just one step deeper into the actual moment and actually what we say to our child. So, they literally open up the computer and see the team posted and they did not make the team or they have, well, let's just use that as example. But that could be one of 50 things, but it's a real, sincere, feels like a big setback in that moment.

Jerry:
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. you should have seen me Monday when I heard, when I got a setback from something. "Oh, my gosh." So, Jan, she's right here and she hadn't gone off to work yet and she said, she just sat down and she used LUV. She doesn't do this all the time. I don't want to create this image that there's these perfect people together because we have the same struggle as you do. We have the same worries. We have the same fears. We're human beings. We're all into it up to our eyeballs.

Now, having said that LUV again works. So, you listen. At that moment, you listen to your child. You say to them something like maybe an open, "Oh, boy. That's got to be disappointing. Oh, gosh, that really hurts. Doesn't it?" And let them speak. Let them speak and listen with the intent of what can I learn here?

And of course, the biggest mistake that anyone could make is trying to shut them down. "That's okay. Don't worry about it. There'll be another time. Don't worry about. It's not that important anyway. That wasn't the greatest team you could have been on." That's shutting down their feelings and that's shutting down their connection with their own life.

And so, you say to that child in the moment, you have to understand this child is devastated. It's devastating for us as adults. Imagine a child, who can't see the future. So, you say to them, "God, that's got to be devastating. I can't imagine how you must feel right now. How do you feel?" "I feel like crap. I feel this." "Yeah, boy. It doesn't feel good. Does it?" "No, it doesn't. And the heck with them. I don't care about them." "Yeah, yeah. You want to just get away from them." That's what you're thinking.

And you kind of reflect their feelings by listening. You validate whatever they have to say. Ask questions. And then, you know what, in about three hours the kid comes running in, "Mom, can I go down and get an ice cream cone from them." And all of a sudden, it's like, "What? Huh? They forgot it already." The reason why they can come back so quickly is because now, they have a parent, a teacher who understands how they feel.

So much of the pain in my life has come when people don't listen and they don't understand. That's a struggle. That really hurts inside. Now, I have a person who understands how I feel. And you've given them a chance to sit back and look at it globally, more effectively in an open way. And so again, here we go, back to the LUV, how that. You got that, right? Makes sense?

Skye:
Yeah. Yeah. No. It absolutely does. I remember one of our previous conversations, we were talking about sideline behavior and we were coming up with this idea of, I don't know the term that you used. I'm going to use the word like mantra. Something for me to say to myself so that I would remember the type of parent that I wanted to be for my child. It was basically what we also came up with was duct tape, in this conversation, it was kind of a joke, really.

Jerry:
Duct tape. Yeah, that helps.

Skye:
Yeah or just put duct tape on your chair as a reminder of that-

Jerry:
Or just put a little piece of tape on your wrist or something like that.

Skye:
But maybe that's kind of, I'm kind of feeling these same things we need to have this sort of mantra, if you will, for parents as they're going through the actual moment where their child has a setback. To just pause and reflect and come back to ourselves and acknowledging that. We do have feelings as parents. We're not going to just be okay with our children having a setback. That's not what we're asking. It's just how we reflect that and how we respond internally to that as well.

Jerry:
Yeah. Remember all your feelings go right into the child. So, if you are feeling frustrated and you are feeling angry, they're going to feel that way. It's like a good code. You get into a muddle and it's a game and it's a critical moment in a game. And the coach is all nervous and upset and angry and all this. The players are going to feel that. But if you come into a circle and the coach says, "You know it doesn't get any better than this. I like where we're at." Inside again, on the outside, you look like the duck above water, but underneath the water like he's going, they're a mess. Well, of course the parent is going to feel that for the child.

I don't want my kids, I don't really hope that my kids have rejection and feel bad. I have a son right now, he's a basketball coach and because of COVID and so many other things, there are so many rejections going on out there and he's trying to get a job coaching. And, oh, my God, I feel really bad for him. But yet, on the other hand, I don't need to feed that fire. And I can just listen again and come back and say, "You know, these are frustrating times. My experience in life says that sometimes we just wait it out. The best will come to you in some way."

Now, I don't know if I've answered your-

Skye:
No, you did, you did. I wanted to dive into that with you. So, this week with all of the guests that we've had through High Performance Week, we've had some excellent coaches, performance experts, people that have been in the game for long time. And some key themes have come up when we're talking about athletes and when we're talking about children and high performance mindsets or thoughts like resiliency. Erica Dambach from Penn State talked a lot about growth mindset in her conversation with us. Steve Cook talked a lot about this concept of an athlete having the sense of ambition.

I'm interested in your thoughts when it comes to kind of helping our children develop a strong powerful mindset for sports, for life, for everything. What are kind of those building block, words or terms or thoughts that you have related to that?

Jerry:
You don't do it. The child builds it within based on the opportunities that are presented him, success or failure. And we just got finished talking about failure and the beauty of failure and the benefit of failure. I'm not the most talented person out there. I'm going to tell you the truth. I'm not the most brilliant. I'm not the best scholar. I'm not the greatest writer.

But you know what, I have qualities that, after being rejected 14 times for publication, I got knocked down 14 times, I got up to 15 times. Now, that was learned. That was learned from understanding that failure is going to teach me something. And so, you mentioned resilience. Fortitude. Fortitude has won World Wars. Grit. we talk about grit. We talk about courage, patience, perseverance, integrity. These are all learned values. And I know we're not prepared as parents. We get a license to drive a car, but we don't need a license to raise a child, a human being.

I was not prepared to be a parent. My role models were not the best. And what we need is we need a cadre, a group of parents out there who are willing to understand that it's human nature to learn these qualities. We're not born with them. You never see a child who's born with courage. It's learned. You never see a child who's born with resilience. It's learned. Respect.

All those qualities are learned behaviors based on how we, as parents, help our children navigate the turbulent, uncharted waters of life and sport. And you know this, what I'm going to say, Skye, because this really where I come from with all of my work, it's all about life. I use sport as a metaphor. It's a vehicle to transport yourself and/or those in your life to a place they would never be able to get to or at least not as quickly. I mean, in a soccer game, a child aged 14 or 13 or 12 or even seven or six, I don't know how old, are they playing at two yet?

Skye:
No, not yet.

Jerry:
Not yet. Okay.

Skye:
Somewhere, I'm sure.

Jerry:
Probably recruiting about age of five right now. But what a wonderful opportunity. I see sport as a microcosmic classroom for life. I want parents who are listening out there to understand, when are you going to get on the train that takes your child to the place they need to be by learning lessons through sport, instead of focusing so much of your energy and time on whether they win or lose, score a goal or not. If they don't score a goal, that's a lesson for life. If they lose, that's a lesson for life. If they win, it's a lesson for life.

It's all, a soccer game is worth, I'm going to go out on a limb here now. One soccer game, for however long it is, is worth 30 days of living. Because in that one soccer game, most kids are going to experience the highs and lows. Every feeling on a psychological lexicon in the dictionary, they're going to experience a majority of those feelings in one game. And if we ride home in the car and we're concerned about where their position was and how they could have done this and, "You got to look up, you got to keep your head up and you've got to." It's like forget about that.

Just ask them, "Who wants to have lunch?" That's what they want. And then when the moment is there, when they come to you and they're frustrated or they're depressed, or they're feeling down because of a loss, that's a teachable moment. Look out for those teachable moments. Let's use sport as that at microcosmic classroom for life. Because I'm sitting here with you as a successful career human person, whatever, I've had so much failure. I've had so many disappointments. I can't, yeah, I just can't.

I am who I am, who I am today, everything that I am and know about life is the result of my competitive days in sport. That's it. I don't remember my victory. I mean, I can. I'm going to have to really scratch my head and kind of remember back, but those victories where I won this, or I won a state championship or a national championship, that's not what stands out to me.

What stands out to me is who I am as a person, who I am as a human being. And do I have, can I win the game of life? That's the biggest game we're going to have to win. And I'm here to say, I have learned that. And I'm not always successful at it, but I have learned it. And I think it's time all of us as parents and coaches to see how we can facilitate and help these kids navigate these uncharted waters of life.

Skye:
Yeah. I feel like a lot of our, I mean, of course when I peel back the layers and put myself in a really vulnerable space, I can talk about the failures that I had as a parent were the opportunities that I missed. But I also believe that a lot of us, as parents, really are pretty levelheaded and we're trying to do the right thing within a structure that is fighting against that on a daily basis.

And so, what I was thinking as you were speaking was that I wish that I had just been more in the moment and thoughtful and reflected. Because I wasn't saying, "You should have won," or saying, "Why didn't you score the goal?" I was never, ever that. I just look back on my children's experiences and I think I could have just flipped the script a little bit in that moment or I could have been more in the moment in this situation. Not that it was bad, what I did, but it was almost an opportunity that I missed more than anything.

Jerry:
Yeah, right. And guess what? For everyone listening, this is why you're doing the work you're doing now. You're making up for it. You've learned your mistakes. And now, what you're doing is you're helping others not to. Isn't that beautiful?

Skye:
Yeah.

Jerry:
What a wonderful thing, so we took something like you had this setback or you had this sort of kind of a regret. Not huge, but kind of regret. Now, you're bringing in people like me and other coaches and yourself, and you're doing some remarkable, brilliant work, which allows us all to benefit from your mistakes. That's why, this book here. Can I show this book?

Skye:
Yeah, post it.

Jerry:
But this book, Let Them Play, it's one of my 15 books. It's about mindful sports parenting. And you know what this book is? This book is about, I was able to write this because I learned from all of my mistakes. With my first child, I must have made 5,000 mistakes, 5,000. So, I don't know if you can beat that. But the second child, I made 500. So, man, what an improvement. By the time the fourth child came along, I only made 175. But what did I do? I made 175 mistakes.

I took all of those mistakes and I took my wisdom from all the things I teach. And what I do is I wanted, I became a new parent to myself by writing this book. And this book will really put it in perspective, won't it? Because you are familiar with this and you know.

Skye:
Oh, yeah. It's-

Jerry:
But I just need to say, this is why you're doing this work and that's why I wrote this book. I want to help people.

Skye:
Yeah, yeah. The last topic I want to talk about is really an important one that needs to be addressed more and that is an essential one when it comes to helping parents. Before I get into that, I just want to thank everyone for being here and for listening. And this topic of self-awareness of mental health and athletes, of the role that we play as a parent when it comes to our child's self-image that they develop, I was just torn apart from hearing about Katie Meyer from Stanford, the goalkeeper, who played there, who committed suicide.

And I just feel like we have a responsibility as parents to support our children in developing this healthy self-image that's based on just a true love of the game. What can we do or what needs to be done differently when it, to helping our children just feel this deep sense of love for themself, not related to their athleticism at all? But that those things can still be learned through sport.

Jerry:
Yeah, it's a great point. And we were doing a podcast, John and I, John Sullivan and I yesterday. And the last question that came up, we were talking with Sandy Barber, who's the Athletic Director at Penn State University. And we threw this on the table and it's a very hot topic right now. And a big concern of mine and obviously of yours and all of us, and it should be, this idea of mental health again.

Well, first of all, the kids need a lot of love. They need a lot of love and not love because they scored goals and not love because they won a championship. You don't love them for that. You like the fact they do that, but you love them because they're human beings. And you love them because their intentions are pure and they're beautiful human beings and so, we need to... great coaches know this about their team. John Wooden, UCLA Basketball, when he retired, he said, "The reason why I was so successful was there was a lot of love in my coaching."

And we convey love in different ways. As parents, we need to do two things. We need to, oh, two things. Let me take that back. We need to do a thousand and two things. I mean, Jerry. One of the things we don't want to overlook is it's not wrong to demand from your kids. In fact, when you demand something from your children, because we talk about love and we think it's all, just give them love and they'll be okay. But we need to demand from them certain things and demand, demanding from your child is only because you want the best for them and demanding is not contrary to loving.

In fact, when I demand from my kids, it's only because I love them. I wouldn't demand it from other people I don't love, whatever that happens to be. So, let's not be afraid of asking our children to do certain things out of the fear that they'll think we won't love them. And I can even make that statement to my kid. I'll even say, I've said it to some of my children growing up. I say, "You're not going to like what I have to say, and you're not going to what I'm going to ask you to do, but I want you to know where it's coming from. It's coming from a deep place of love and caring and respect for you. And if you take it that way, I think you'll be better," and all of that.

So, we need to give them a lot of love. But beside that, aside from that, everything that we have talked about since this recording began is relevant to the mental, overall mental, emotional, psychological, and may I add spiritual wellbeing of our children. They need to be listened to. We're not listening to them. We're listening to ourselves and hearing them. And as I said before, hearing is about hearing their words and we're getting ready to impose our agenda upon them. When I'm saying listen, which is really a very different mindset. It's the set where you come in and say, "What can I learn here?" If some of these kids are listened to, they're going to feel a sense of self-worth.

To your point, you're talking about self-image, self-concept, self-assessment, self-being, being aware. Your self-worth comes from outside, not from within, and it can either be lit up or it can be cast into darkness. And so, listening, you'll have to do this for yourself, but when I feel listened to, deeply listened to, I feel good about myself. When people, when I feel important, not based on my achievements, when I feel valued, not based on my achievements, but on being the person I am. Being kind, being generous, being considerate and all these things, that's what develops the image of self. That's what develops my sense of self. I'm a good person.

When you look at a lot of these athletes and I have and I've talked to many athletes over the years, dozens and dozens of athletes, the bottom line is they don't feel good about themself. And you would say, "How can that be?" I mean, she helped her team win a National Championship. Without her, they probably wouldn't have won it. How could she go down that rabbit hole? Well, it could happen to anybody. Well, if you trace the patterns there is that sense that they don't feel good about themself and they didn't get enough of what they needed.

Now, that's not to blame anybody. We're not pointing a finger and say, "You didn't do this. You didn't do that." It's a lot more complex than I'm explaining. And I certainly don't understand the brain. If someone tells you, they understand the brain, I would avoid going further with them, but we don't understand. We understand the heart. We really have a lot of research on that. But what happens up here is really not understood too well.

From a behavioral place. I know personally, I also know as a professional that what's missing in a lot of these young people's lives is the genuine sense of feeling good about themselves. And how we can do things like listen well. Well, I want my kids to feel important, not because of their achievements, so I tell them their are important and here's why. I'll go into an audience, filled with people and I won't know one of them, and I'll say, "I really value you," and then I'll proceed to tell them why I value them. And I value them because their intentions are so amazing that they're going to listen to what I have to say, and then go out and make changes in the world. I value that because I think it at a world, if we're making those changes.

And so with kids, it's like just valuing them for who they are as people and making them feel important, empowering them. I believe in you. That statement, "I believe in you," four words. You don't even have to explain it. I believe in you. Now, you hear that over and over from different people in their life, it's got to really change a lot of ways that you look-

Skye:
Kids today, there's just so much confusion about self-awareness and identity because of social media. And just how many likes you get on this or taking this picture in this way and pushing it and getting this response. Whatever these things are, are just so much pressure on our children. Obviously, my instinct is to protect our kids just by having conversation about social media. Making sure that we're speak to these specific issues that are unique to the environment in which our children are growing up.

Jerry:
So, to your point, there are ages when you can have that conversation with kids, the early ages, maybe up until about age 14, 15, and they become teenagers, then you cannot have that conversation with the kids. And then they get to be young adults and then you can revisit that conversation. To your point, I really think it's important that parents have some kind of control. I mean, you just can't let a five- or a six-year-old walk around with a smart or a dumb phone, whatever you want to call it, with a phone and playing games.

I mean, you have to have some kind of control over that and some kind of regulation and boundaries. Once a kid becomes 14 and 15, it becomes more delicate. And of course, as young adults, I have young adults in my life right now, 25 to 38. And I don't say much to them at all, unless they come to me and ask for help. But boy, those teenage years with social media, you're absolutely right, it's so, it's scary. It's scary for me because a lot of our self-image is it's taken from whether we have enough likes.

Wow, enough likes. Gee, I don't even know if I have any likes. But I know this. I like who I am and I love my kids and my family and you. I mean, I know, these things I do know. But I think the conversation can happen at a younger age and then when they get to be teenagers, I think you can invite them to talk about it and see where they're at and listen to what they're saying.

And of course, like I went to a restaurant, this is three years ago before COVID. I remember this. It's like night and day, like it was yesterday. Jan and I are sitting there and there's a little family over here and there's four of them, little boy, little girl. Both of the kids were under the age of seven. They were on their devices. But guess what? Guess who else was on the devices?

Skye:
Mom and dad.

Jerry:
Mom and dad. They weren't looking at each other. They weren't talking. He was answering emails. She was texting. I'm sitting here. I could see all this going on and here's the kids going like this. Now that's not to me a good role model for the way we need to be in today's day and age with social media being what it is. The heart is from the home. We have to establish a connection and you make connection by connecting heart to heart. And with your conversations and you make that connection and the kids feel secure.

All my kids know at their age, if they have a catastrophe, the first one that's going to get a call is their mom and dad because they feel that secure. But they never come to us and ask us anything. We don't know that much yet.

Skye:
This is, the common theme that I'm sort of distilling out of this week in all of these interviews that we've done and are going to be pushing out is this idea of, well, kind of two things, interaction and the value that we have and the importance of interaction. But I would say the other word that a lot of people have talked about is this concept of sort of intentionality. And so, I think that also sort of frames a lot of what I've been feeling as you've been speaking is just being very intentional in interactions.

It's like taking these moments for what they are. They are the moment. They are where we are. And that is what matters and how we treat one another matters. Who we have in our children's lives, impacting them matters. And so, those are the key. That's kind of a key thing that I'm thinking of right now as your talking.

Jerry:
It's the only thing that matters, because what you're talking about, Skye, is you're talking about being mindful in the moment, meeting them where they're at. Not projecting something into the future or hold them accountable for something way in the past. It's where they're at. This is where things are at. I'm not the same person I was last year. I'm not going to be the same person next year as I am now. We're in a constant state of evolvement. And what we have to do is we have to look at the moment and that word intention is so, so vital. And the kids can learn that through the parents, right?

Skye:
Yep.

Jerry:
And it comes back to that most important word in your kids' life and our lives as parents as whatever we are and that is why. Not what and certainly not how and when. It's why and that's the intention piece. Why do I work at my age? I could have retired 10 years ago. I don't need the money. I'll take the money and I'll invest it into my kid's future or I'll give it to some charity.

But I'm working because of my why and my why is I love my work because I'm making a difference. I want to change the status quo. And because of that why, I feel strongly that I can't retire. I need to rewire and re-fire. And I need to find ways that I intentionally, I have to have the intention of fulfilling my why. Now, why is that important? "Well, it's good for you, Jerry. Look at you and all this stuff and everything." No, no. I'm a human being and I've noticed my life and every time I was in touch with my intentions, my life was successful.

That doesn't mean I didn't have downs. I had ups downs, but basically the downs felt fine because it was all along the line of the intention. Why don't we do this with our kids? Why don't we ask them the question? So, why. You're going to go back to soccer. "Why do you want to play soccer?" And just have them examine it.

So, if the kid doesn't say, "I want to have fun." Then you have to suggest that as a parent. You have to say, "Oh, you have all very good reasons. Have you ever thought of fun? Is it fun for you?" "Oh yeah. I forgot that. It's fun. No, it's not fun at all." "Wow. It's not fun, huh? Why isn't it fun?" Maybe you need to know something parent. Maybe you need to know why.

So, what we need to do is we can train and that's how we learn kids with intention, so that if you're going to do this, understand why you're doing it. Why you're still playing soccer after all these years? Because it's really fun. I really have a sense of belonging. I really have a sense of being connected. I have friends. OMG. I mean, this is why they're doing it. If they're just playing it for a scholarship, now we're talking about pressure pushing, all that stuff. So, we can help kids develop intentionality by asking them the question around why because why and intention are intimately connected.

Skye:
Perfect. I love it. I love it. There's a question here from Luther and then we'll wrap up...

Jerry:
Luther.

I wonder if it's the same Luther I know.

Skye:
It is. It is. Hi, Luther

Jerry:
Hello, Luther.

Skye:
So, he's saying, "Jerry, you have so many great questions that you ask people to be curious about any situation. Where did you learn all of these? And do you have a list of questions in any of your books? How did you get good at this?"

Jerry:
I love Socrates ad that's the truth. Philosophically, the Socratic method is all about questions. Question is an interesting word, Luther. You know this. And I probably told you this in one of my conferences, but it comes from the word quest and when we ask the right question, it tends to help us guide and lead and go forward.

I do not have a list of questions, but there are certain times that I do. I might ask the same question to a lot of people. "What's keeping you busy?" That question communicates to others, "He's interested in me. He's interested me. He wants to know about what I'm doing." And then that will then organically lead to a whole host of other questions based on what, how they're answering that.

So, I have a mindset when I'm listening to anyone to learn, and as I'm learning, I maintain an element of curiosity. And I think that's the word I've been trying to get to. I'm curious and if I'm curious, I'm going to ask a question. "So, Luther, how is your day going? Hey, Luther, I never asked you this. What is your favorite go-to comfort food?" Luther can't talk to me, but let's say he said, "Oh, it's definitely lasagna." And then I'm going to say to Luther, "Have you ever tried rocky road ice cream on top of that?"

And you're laughing and he's laughing and we're all laughing. Why? Well, it's not about the ice cream and the lasagna. It's about connection. It's about the question. And so, whenever I ask you a question that has to do with you in your life, it shows that I'm interested and I am interested. And the only way to do that is, "What, really?" Something that really annoys me is I can meet someone new and I'm asking all the questions and at the end of it's like I've learned a lot. But then I also had the realization, they never asked anything about me. They don't know anything about me. Well, that's their deal, but I know a lot about them. And so, I don't take it personally, but there are a lot of people out there, they will not ask questions and I don't know them.

Skye:
I think that has something a little bit to do with ego. I've been interacting a little bit with Drew Bratton, who's the fear coach from the UK and talking about moving past our fear, moving past or really being in touch with ourselves. And I relate that a little bit, just to a sense of insecurities and such. But that is a conversation for an entirely different broadcast webinar.

Jerry:
That could be an hour.

Skye:
Yeah, I know, I know. And we don't have that. We're wrapping up. Any final last bits of advice as we're thinking about High Performance Week, supporting parents who are raising children who have big dreams.

Jerry:
Be aware. Be mindful.

Skye:
It's a quest.

Jerry:
You're very powerful as a parent. You have much more of power than you imagine and I don't mean power over. You have no power over your kids. Let's leave it at that. You really don't. And if you continue to exert power over them, they're going to rebel at some point. And then, you really wonder why they've lost it. But you have the power to influence. You have power to make a difference. You have the power to love. You have the power to create joy in their life and you've got to be mindful of that.

And that mindfulness is the key piece. It's becoming aware, not super imposing what you think is the best path for your child. Opening them up to possibilities and then listening to them as they start to make their choices and validate them, or give them feedback as to what they maybe want to think about. So, this whole idea of let them play in my book is really let them live. Let them live their life. You don't have to live their life for them.

And if you're really honest, look back at your parents. Those of you who had really admired your parents, your parents let you do that. And if you didn't have a good relationship, it was probably because they didn't let you be. They didn't let you grow. And maybe they didn't ask you enough questions, right?

Skye:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Jerry:
Or maybe too many questions. I don't know.

Skye:
That's perfect Rabbi advice. Everyone who is listening, if you are on the High Performance Hub and you go to our Resources page there, there is a link to Jerry's website and all of his books. You can catch up with, he's written so many wonderful ones. My personal favorite is Let Them Play. That's just a guide for mindful sports parenting. So, of course, it's something that resonated deeply with me, so be sure to check him out. And the Jerry's website is wayofchampions.com.

Jerry, you're getting lots of thank yous here in the chat. There were a couple of other questions. Marcel will get back to you on that. And everyone-

Jerry:
I feel great. To say, I'm grateful for this opportunity would be a massive understatement. I love being here and that's why I do it. Again, we don't talk about that enough. And I love being here and why? Because you're so important. You're doing such great stuff. I come in, yeah. But you're bringing me in here. You're exposing people to this thinking and yeah, I have it. Just turn me on. Press the button and I'll go. But you're doing the work.

Skye:
Well, thank you for showing up today with such blunder. I've been looking forward to this conversation. You're truly one of my favorite people, so it's been just such a privilege. Thank you everyone for being here, for being part of our soccer parenting community. Take care, Jerry.

Jerry:
Thank you so much.

Skye:
Bye-bye.

Jerry:
Bye.