Are you being a goldfish? Or an elephant?

bouncing back mental skills Jun 27, 2023

I'm going back and re-watching all three seasons of Ted Lasso. (We can discuss my denial that the show ended some other time - haha!) Any-who ... One of the (many) great concepts from the show is Ted's insistence that we should all "be a goldfish."


Ted (an American coaching football, aka soccer, in the UK) talks to his players about failure, disappointment, and losing. He says that the being with the shortest memory is a goldfish and that when it comes to the frustrations of sport, his team needs to have the memory of a goldfish. In other words, an incredibly short memory.


I feel like sometimes we forget that we, too, are playing a sport. Is it because our sport isn't as physical? Or because our dogs are doing much of the work? I'm here to remind you that it's a sport - even if there are more than enough Qs for everyone!


We prepare, we practice, we compete. We do rehab, we condition, we train. We win, we lose, and sometimes a weekend feels like a tie. We get bad calls, we get gifts, and sometimes luck wins. And all of this is why there is so much emphasis on the mental aspect of sports - because sports get in our heads!


When we have a day or weekend (or even a month or year) that doesn't go our way, we must reach for a little perspective. Mistakes and struggles are part of growing and improving as a handler. And our dogs will make mistakes and struggle, too. It's what we do with those moments that matter. Hence the goldfish.


So often, we give more energy and attention to the "bad" aspects and not enough to the good. If you're feeling stuck in the JOFT club (just one f- thing), then aren't you doing 19 things consistently correctly? Ted's right - we need to have a short memory for our mistakes and focus on growing from our strengths. After all, we get more of what we focus on, and as annoying as that phrase can be, it's true.


My advice is once you take the lesson out of what went wrong, be a goldfish and let it go. Then choose a better thought and lean on those strengths to build. Do more of what got you this far because you're certainly not where you used to be!

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