Ego, Culture and the Champion Minded Athlete with Coach Allistair McCaw

Coach and author Allistair McCaw joins the podcast to discuss his journey and the development of his philosophy of excellence. He further gets into the checking of the ego and having an open mind, and how that influences the journey. We also examine commonalities amongst organizations that have a great culture and what makes up the champion's mind. The conversation finishes with a discussion about the keys to coaching.


Hi, I'm Mackie McDonald, ATP tour player, and you're listening to compete like a champion.


J: Welcome to compete like a champion. You're here with Dr. Larry Lauer, mental skill specialist, and coach Johnny Parkes with USTA Player Development. Today, we're very lucky we got a great guest on. His name's Alistair McCaw. You may have heard of him. He's an author of multiple best-selling books including champion mind, it's fantastic book. He consults and advises on leadership team culture and mindset. He's traveled extensively the world sharing his insights and experiences with some of the top leaders, performers, and teams, and organizations. He's worked with many athletes, including Olympic gold medalists, Grand Slam champions, NCAA colleges, professional sports teams, and fortune 500 companies. Allistair, welcome to the podcast.


A: Hey, Johnny and Dr. Larry. Thanks so much for having me.


L: Yeah, thanks for coming on, looking forward to this.


A: Me too.


J: It's been great getting you on. And we've been very fortunate to be able to connect with you over the past couple years, you've been doing some work with the team USA wheelchair team, which we'll get to a little bit later in the podcast. But, you know, we wanted to maybe hand it over to you to give us a bit of a deeper dive into your background and your philosophy. And we'll go from there.


A: Okay, well, thanks very much. And also big thanks to Jason Harnett for connecting us. He's obviously your biggest fan, guys, so shout out to Jason. I'm pretty lucky because I don't have to see him every day, you guys I think do so... Anyway. A little bit about me. First, where do I start, I was born in Northern Ireland, actually won't hear the Irish accent anymore. We emigrated to South Africa when I was six, very, very young. And I think that's for me where my career started so to say, because it's such a sporting nation. So I fell in love with sport at a very young age, played a lot of sports, knew already in school that I would be doing something in sports as a career. And I always remember a conversation I had with a teacher, and this is probably back in the late 80s, early 90s, and I'm giving my age away there, and they asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and I said, I definitely want to go into sports. And I remember the teacher saying to me, well, there's no future in sports, not a business. It's not somewhere where you can make money well, little did she know that it would become one of the biggest industries a few years later, and honestly, thanks people like Mark McCormack of IMG and sports agents, and so on and so forth, dport has become what it is. So I was a professional athlete, I was a professional duathlete, which is running and biking. I competed in five World Championships, and it's a sport that doesn't really make a lot of money. So you've got to be working on the side to keep that habit going. So I started as a fitness trainer, personal training, then from there we did sports performance training, working with more athletes, because it was a job that could give me time to train and to go compete. So it was very, very flexible. So it worked very well for me. I loved what I did, I will always believed that, you know, one of my 10 rules to success, number two is do what you love. And I believe life is too short not to do something you love. So [inaudible] find my passion, find my career, working with other athletes, be able to travel to sports venues around the world, which obviously tennis is one of those which has been a fantastic experience. I didn't go to college, I really didn't have the grades to go to college, but I knew I had one thing in my arsenal and that was definitely hard work. I was always willing to outwork others when it's for the benefit my career, whatever. So from a young age, I was very lucky to know what I wanted because obviously a lot of people, even in college don't really know what they want to do afterwards. So I was in the physical side, physical performance side for a good 20 years probably. I got to work with some other great athletes. My last one was Kevin Anderson, where I stuck with him until 2018. I'd say for the last five to six years I've really being more inside leadership, team culture mindset. You know, my books are written around those subjects as well. Champion minded is very much about mindset preparation. My latest one in, Developing a winning attitude and mindset, is obviously again about mindset. And one of my other ones is about coaching. So my books are almost like a little bit of a journey for myself, as well as the things that I've been involved in, and basically, they're written about as well. So that's where I am today. I've been in the states now for 12 years in Florida, and really just really blessed to do what I do.


L: Thank you, Alistair. And I think one of the things that you're saying that we hear when we talk with high performance athletes is this passion that you have for what you do. And then the hard work, which I think is similar to every other, you know, high performer we talk to, what else do you think personally has allowed you to become such a leader in the industry in working with pro sport and collegiate sport and, well I would say being a difference maker, like coming from, you know, a town in Ireland to where you are today, you know, what is one of the maybe the character qualities that you would say, you've tried to develop in yourself that has allowed you to get where you are?


A: Yeah, well, I believe that, you know, to get anywhere significant, or wherever you are, you have to have great people around you. So, you know, that's a great question, Larry. If I go back to a young age, I had great parents, parents that weren't pushy. In fact, they never hardly attended any of my sports event, not because they didn't love me, but because we're both working 10 hour jobs a day to keep our family going. And I come from a family of four boys. So really from a young age, I had to develop the skills of accountability, of ownership of, you know, like I said, I'd be dropped off at a tournament, dropped off at events and have to fend for myself. So, you know, for me, it's about getting around good people. It's about being in great environments. It's about being hungry to learn every single day. I'm a lifelong learner. I'm very, very fortunate that I picked up that at a young age, where I wasn't great academically, but I was always interested in to see how things work and why, you know, how high performers succeeded and why they succeeded. And you know, we were at a young age taught to be that smartest kids in the class are going to be the most successful. And you know, that was instilled in all of us when we're in school, if you weren't good at math, if you weren't good in science, you weren't going to be a smart kid, you weren't going to have a great job, for example. And, you know, of course, good education is very important, but I think it comes down to finding what you love to do, being hungry to learn every single day, I read a lot, which has helped as well, I mean, and then putting yourself in the right environment, you know. So, likewise, you know, when I go out to USTA there and I see you guys, I love learning from everybody. I would say, and I think this is something I mentioned in my new book is that 10 years ago, as early as 10 years ago, I had too much of an ego to learn from other people that hadn't done as much as I did. You know, I had this mindset of like, hey, I've worked with number one in the world, I've worked with top athletes, I've done this for 20 years, there's not many people I can learn from. And I think a few years ago, probably seven, eight years ago where it changed for me, where I can't really say it was a specific moment, I just think it was just through more humility and more understanding of what life is really about and a big ego or big accomplishments don't get you very far in life. You know, you might think they do, but they don't. At the end of the day, it comes down to the person you are. So I think to answer that question, Larry, it's when I became more open to learn from absolutely everybody, I don't care if they've been in the job for six months, or they've been in it for 50 years, no matter what race, sex, religion, whatever it may be, you can learn from absolutely everybody.


J: That's awesome. And it's very interesting to hear you say, because you hit on so many great qualities and characteristics of being a champion, the growth mindset, the ability to want to, the thirst for learning and knowledge and to get better and the hard work ethic like you'd mentioned earlier, and it's just brilliant. It's, you know, I think it's something as a young coach to hear from you that perspective because I think at one point, every young coach that comes into the coaching world as a teacher or a coach probably thinks they know a lot more than they actually do. And, you know, that was something for me, I thought you know, you know a lot but then, you know, when you start becoming more humble and opening your eyes and your ears, to just everything and anything I think that's where that's where... So it's very, it's very great to hear you go through those challenges, because I think it's probably something that a lot of us do go through and especially young coaches, so thanks for sharing that, really appreciate it. But I wanted to hit on a little bit more unless Larry, sorry, you want to jump in here.


L: I just wanted to say it reminds me of a good friend and colleague, Ken Revisa. And Ken, a sports psychologist for many years, unfortunately passed away a few years ago, but I remember going out to visit and we had a group of sports psychology professionals coming together and then young professionals like myself, and the first thing he said is check your ego at the door. And I always loved that because I feel like the ego closes off and keeps us from learning and we end up becoming, you know, pretty, what I would say, almost inert and stuck if we allow our ego to do what it wants to do.


A: You know, if I could come in there, you know, especially speaking about ego, I'm actually contributing to a book with a French author, he actually works for a big soccer team in Paris. And the book is really about ego in the sports industry. And of course, we've all been around ego ourselves. And you know, I'm ashamed to say that I had, I had a big ego myself being an athlete and you know, in my early coaching career as well. And if ego is something we're actually fighting every day, ego is our greatest opponent but I really thought about this thing called ego and actually had a lot of time to think about ego, but ego is not a bad thing because ego is very much attached to your self image because very much attached to your confidence. Ego is very much to test your self belief. This is this is my opinion anyway, you know, I don't know if you guys would agree with this, but just to feel confident, to feel good about yourself you do need a certain degree of ego to go along with that, however, it becomes unhealthy when it's too much ego. And like what is real confidence? To me real confidence is an inner quietness and inner calm and inner peace, you're okay with your weaknesses, your vulnerable. For me, that is self confidence, as where a false self confidence is more about arrogance and more on the outside, you know, look at me, look how strong I am, and how smart I am, and so on and so forth. So, it's funny you should touch on that right there, Dr. Larry,  you know, that ego is a massive, massive thing right now that, you know, we all have a constant battle with that. I believe it is our greatest opponent.


L: And yet we need ego, right, to... I'm sorry, Johnny.


J: No, keep going.


L: No, we need that ego as you're saying. And, you know, we look at, there's a documentary of Michael Jordan right now and just how, you know, Michael had a big ego, but he also was very task oriented and very mastery oriented and mastering his craft. And so the belief was, or is, that he was high task and high ego, and that might be the ultimate combination for an athlete, that might not make them the easiest person to be around all the time. Because a lot of being an athlete is about your preparation, your performances and that's an adjustment when they either are going home for the day or they leave sport, but to be able to be aware of your ego and check it, I think, is massive and then as you say it's definitely related to your confidence, related to your motivation as well.


J: I've got a question for both of you on that. I think it's important to understand this before maybe diving into culture knowing that ego is often maybe something that hurts cultures or prevents culture from advancing into the optimal culture that maybe you want for your organization. But you think ego is going to be even more of a struggle to check at the door or contain with this new Generation Z as of everyone being connected to their phones, like it's a piece of their hand. We've talked about Generation Z and its characteristics and maybe its implications on coaching in previous podcasts, but do you think because of maybe the new generation, the life that they're being, you know, that they've been born into an living in now, do you think that's going to make it even tougher for coaches to educate players and athletes or people in general about how ego can either help you or harm you? You know, I wanted to get maybe your perspectives on that.


A: Um, yeah, so I can come in there first, and I'm sure Larry probably has a better answer than I do on this one, but I think you know, as you know, ego is been around forever, since mankind if we can put it that way. I think you know, you just have to look at, I agree with you with the technological side of things and, you know, we call them the selfie generation, well, we've also become that selfie generation me included, where we take selfies and you post them on Facebook or Twitter or whatever it may be. I don't know if that is ego or you just simply wanting to share your experience or whatever it may be, but that's a really good question. I mean, maybe Dr. Lauer can answer that one better than me.


L: Well, I think that we're unsure about the effects of that and whether or not, you know, Generation Z with the ego. I do think that they're more open in many ways. And so, you know, that's something to consider. So I think it's unclear right now what role technology plays with that. Certainly, it lends itself to more focus on the self, but I think it's also where is the motivation coming from, the motivation is to show how your life is, to communicate. So I think it's a mixed bag right now, with knowing what effect that has on people, I think for some for sure, it is related to just making more of an ego oriented approach to life.


A: I think, you know, continuing there from Larry, I think the biggest challenge today is comparison. And you know, that is from you know, social media and Instagram and Twitter and stuff is that you know, we have a highlight reel of everybody's amazing lifes right now. And I find that one of the destructive things and we know that suicide rates are very, very high, especially with young teenagers, especially with girls between the ages of 13 and 15, because of this comparison of lifestyles, and you know, everybody's lifestyle is perfect on Instagram, and everybody's on a nice vacation, everybody looks amazing because of Photoshop, etc. So I think that's our biggest challenge today, when it comes to ego is that we just think everybody else's wife and everything is, you know, way more amazing than us.


J: Yeah. Those are all great points. It's just interesting. I think, as you said, Larry, it's tough to know. I think as coaches if you're clued into a little bit more Generation Z and those characteristics, I think you're trying, you know, for me anyway, I think about it, and try and problem solve, like, what does that mean for me as a coach in how I approach things and then, you know, for another layer of impact there then as coaches, how do we emphasize all the great characteristics that Allistair had mentioned in his intro? So, I think ,you know, it's always great to hear you talk about culture and been able to get snippets of it, you know, little snippets from it through Jason and through the wheelchair tennis team but, you know, I'm really interested to hear from you Alistair, sort of what you feel is the optimal culture for high performance? And maybe we're you know, many organizations struggle to find their way with their culture?


A: Yeah, Getting with different cultures I mean, I have, you know, I have what I call the seven C's and you know, C is a very, very popular name within the culture realm, but for me, and I'll go through those with you number one is, is the right people, you have to find the right people, first of all, before anything else. I mean, you can say, you know, the right people are not necessarily the best people, so you know, hiring on resumes or hiring on what people have done in the past is not a good enough or clear indication of how successful a culture is going to be in the long run. So it's about finding the right people, not necessarily the best people. And this relates to, you know, advice, I guess, parents on finding coaches, for example, don't find that a bad coach, find the right coach. A coach, that is the right fit for your kid, you know. Especially living down here in Boca and you guys are, you know, in Florida as well, it's a very much, we're absorbed in tennis here. And, you know, I'll hear parents just wanting to go to the school or go to the coach or someone who worked with a professional player or a big name player, for example. And it's just the wrong approach, it's better finding somebody that is going to click with the kid that is maybe, you know, the right person for them at that time in their career. You know, I'm not going to mention a name here, but I remember I had a call from a coach who had worked with a number one player in the world [inaudible] and he said to me, Alistair, I've got a 10-year-old kid coming through to my house to hit, they're coming from the UK, what do I do with that kid? And I think to myself on the other side of the phone, I think this is somebody I work with, like the number one male player in the world and they don't know what to do with the 10 year old. So you know, he might be the best coach, but is he the right coach for a 10 year old, for example? No, so that's about finding that, but finding the right people, which is the most important thing. The second one is clarity of vision and purpose. And you know, visiting organizations visiting colleges, visiting corporate, you will be amazed how many people that meet or might know what the vision is and the purpose, they better, but how many people within the organization, the team members that don't know what the vision is, and they're not clear on it either. How can you expect to have a successful culture, a successful environment, a successful team, if not everybody is clear on the purpose, not everybody is clear on the vision, for example. That's the second one. The third one is collaboration and buy-in. Now buy-in is one of those buzzwords we have in cultures that you know, you need to get a buy-in. Well, easier said than done. Here's the thing, you won't have a buy-in if your people don't buy in to the person the leader is. I'll say that again, you won't have a buy in if your people don't buy in to the person the leader is. So that even might be in a position of CEO or management or high performance, whatever it may be. But if the people don't believe in him, they don't buy into him or her as a person, you're not going to have 100% buy-in. Okay, so that's the most important thing, who are you as a person? Your example will be the most important thing in leadership and collaboration. And again, it gets back to finding the right people. Do you have people that are willing to work together? Do you do have people that are, you know, we spoke about ego, putting their ego aside and not necessarily wanting to be right, but rather doing the right thing? You know, so you know, we might be working together as a team, but you know, I might have a suggestion, and you might have a better one, Johnny or Dr. Larry, and we're okay with each other, coming up with the best solution. Again, ego gets in the way of teams collaborating. That's the third one. The fourth one is high standards. It's that the high standards or, you know, I'm not too keen on the word rules, because rules are a little bit more of an autocratic style of leadership, okay, using the rule, which is what we're going to do. And especially talking about this generation, they're thinking, well, those are your rules. We didn't really buy in and agree for those. So there has to be a collaboration in deciding what the standards are going to be for that organization. I know that's something you guys do very, very well at USTA, and Jason's done with wheelchair tennis as well as that there's been a coming together of deciding what the standards are going to be. When you have standards, there's a collective buy-in. Why? Because if you feel accountable to everybody take ownership of it, because it just wasn't the leaders decision, for example. Number five is an open and honest culture, is where there has to be honesty, there has to be almost what I call a no blame culture, but you don't blame the person, you blame the problem. It's so easy in culture to point fingers of where we went wrong. It was her fault, it was his fault. Instead of saying, okay, what is the solution to this problem? In high functioning teams and high functioning corporate organization, they get into solutions quicker because they're not pointing fingers at each other or wasting time on who made the mistake, for example. Open and honest culture is where, you know, gossip, for example, is a major culture killer. You know, we all know water culture cooler, it's where we have a meeting in the boardroom, and then two of us step out to the water cooler, and we say well, that was a ridiculous idea by him or her. And that's water cooler culture, that's toxic to an environment. So we need an open and honest culture, we need an environment where we can speak up the truth, without fear of something happening, right? Because we all know that the 10% that needs to be discussed, is swept under the carpet. It's the conversations, we don't really want to go there, or we don't want to hurt feelings, so we're not going to bring that up. But it annoys you every single day you walk into the office that that person keeps doing that, or that decision was made without maybe, you know, more voices or your opinion, for example. So what do we do? We keep quiet, because we're scared to go into this conversation. So number five, open and honest culture. Number six, accountability is that we all take accountability for our position. I believe that we're all leaders in every position that we get, we might have superiors, managers, etc. But we're all leaders in what we do and we need to take accountability for what we do as well. In great cultures, for example, they're not afraid to put their hand and say I made a mistake, or I need help for example. Again, getting back to number five an open and honest culture. And Number seven, trust. Definitely not the last one on the list by any means in terms of... I think trust is the most important thing. And that is built from the first six things that we just discussed there. the right people, clarity, and vision, and purpose, collaboration and buy-in, high standards, an open and honest culture, and accountability. And overtime, we know that trust takes time. It's just like being in a relationship, a romantic relationship. It takes time until you completely trust the other person.


L: Well, that's a nice run down there Allistair. And I really loved to hear that because it makes so much sense and seems like organization can take that and turn it into action. I want to pick up on something you said and I've had this thought when it comes to open, honest culture, and we often talk about groupthink and organizations falling into a line of thinking and not challenging that, then I think about the people who, I'll label them disruptors, but the ones who are in the system who may play an important role in terms of challenging groupthink, legacy, current thinking, what are your thoughts on this idea of the disrupter as I'm describing it and their role in an organization? Are they positive? Are they negative?


A: It depends how that disruptor is approaching a situation. Is it done in a respectful way? Is it done in that in the correct channels, the correct manner? You know, disruptors who have the right intentions and who, let's call it, for a lack of a better word, have a higher emotional intelligence, they're able to communicate in a respectful way to understand the timing of it, the tone of it. The right person in the right place, for example. So disrupters can be a good thing is that they they challenge the status quo. They're not 'yes' people. In successful cultures and teams, you will find that there are people who challenge the status quo. There are people that challenge how things have been done. We all know that the most dangerous phrase in any organization is, well, that's the way things have always been done here. You just have that that that culture, that team is only going one way and that's down. So if, you know, if it's done in the correct manner, in good intentions, if it's done in the right place at the right time with the right person in the right tone, then I feel it can be definitely a benefit because the last thing you want, and you guys notice especially in the tennis world, is that there's a lot of players that are surrounded by too many 'yes' people, people that are around and they're just agreeing to them and saying yes because, A. they're either trying to keep their job or trying to keep their position. Or they're enjoying life on the tour, for example, so they just say yes. And that's always something I believe that I would not be is a 'yes' person. And believe me, you know, I worked with players where I lasted less than one week, two weeks because they found out that I just wasn't going to be that yes person, for example. So getting back when you have too many Yes people in an organization, it can be very, very destructive to a team culture.


J: And that's where you're coming back to the first step there that you talked about, which is finding the right people, because I think as well, when you're talking about disruptors there, Larry, you're also, and Allistair, you talk there about challenging the status quo. You're almost talking then about innovative thinking or innovation, right, which a lot of companies, pretty much every company, has that word embedded into how they want to move forward. They want to be innovative, they want to show innovation, but do we actually have the right people that are able to, like what you guys are just talking about there, be disruptive in a positive way. Because innovation is challenging the status quo, innovation is asking questions that make us think beyond the norms so that we don't get stuck in that rut of that's the way, you know, things have always been. So do you see that word in a lot of organizations? Allistair, is it a word that companies actually take and do something with and really trying to explore in the right way with innovation? Or is it just a buzzword? Because that's, you know, it's a feeling that we just have to have that word embedded in a culture.


A: Yeah. To be honest, it's a word that's not used enough. It's a word almost, and you know, this comes down to the, you know, getting back to that word, the ego of the leader, of the leadership, are they comfortable with having people that are going to challenge them on issues and they want to be disrupted, for example? So it really starts at the top of of how far that, this is called creativity, the ability to be disruptive like in a respectful way, it all comes down to leader. How comfortable he or she is in allowing that. So that definitely, to answer your question, one of the biggest failings, probably the greatest, biggest failing I see in unsuccessful team cultures are those that are not disruptive enough. And those that are, I call it the 10% sweeping under the carpet, of that we know there's an issue in the room, but it's under the carpet, we're not going to go there. And, you know, that comes down to lack of courage and leadership when those things aren't brought forward. So, you know, to answer your question, it comes down to leadership. What are they, are they comfortable with having those conversations? Are they comfortable telling their team, say, I'm going to challenge you on that or I don't agree with you on that.


L: That's a tremendous point, Allistair, and i think that you know, for leaders, how you manage and encourage disruption in a positive way is is massive. because like you said, if you were falling into legacy and groupthink, then you're going to stagnate and you're going to get behind, you're gonna fall behind. Now, I'm curious as you talk about culture, and you talked about trust and relationships, right? And then you have people who are disrupting, people who are challenging the status quo. There's a lot of people in organizations who are the people who are the relationship builders, they're kind of like the glue and they want everybody to get along and they include people and those people are important as well. So how do you sort of manage these different, because I think in like a coaching staff, you need these different people on your team, how do you sort of get them to work together knowing that, you know, the person who would rather everybody get along and maybe sweep the 10% under the carpet, ad then the the disrupter who will never let things go under the carpet? Like no, no, this is the thing, we got to talk about it, we have to deal with it. How do you get those personalities to mash?


A: Yeah, obviously, you know, in an organization there are gonna be different personalities in a team, for example, but I think that's where it comes down to clarity in the beginning of, and this all is very much in terms of your standards of how you're going to communicate, when you're going to communicate, for example, how that how that information is brought forward. Okay, I have this thing called, you know, it must be the right place with the right person at the right time with the right tone. It's called the TP TP that I follow by, so I think that has to be clear from the beginning, because you'll get some personalities that are more emotional, that you know, they wear their heart on their sleeve. They maybe say something that they, you know, maybe regret, for example, but they really, really speak the truth. You know, because they're just saying what they feel, there has to be an agreement on how the communication is going to be brought forward, you know. Is it in a meeting? Is it in one to one, for example? You know, that's key because I think a lot of times, especially in relationships, and especially in work environments, it's not necessarily the message being brought across, it's more about how the message is being bought across that causes this friction, you know, so I think that's a very important factor to bring forward. It's something that when I go into teams, especially college students, you know, where you have students between the ages of 18 and 22, where, hey, like, when I was 18, or 22, you know, I made so many mistakes and didn't think, you know, I thought I was communicating okay, but you know, you learn as you go along, for example. So, we spend a lot of time on communication of how to bring these conversations across and how to communicate when your emotions are high, because that's when things usually go wrong and also relationships as well is that you say something you maybe didn't mean or say something in the incorrect way that you regret later. So that's a very, very big area that we spend a lot of time on.


J: That's a great response. And so as we look at this then and look at the culture and start looking at individuals within that, I want to maybe shift a little bit of focus here to start talking about champion minded a bit. And obviously, you have your own podcast called champion minded and had some great guests on to talk through that. But also, in your experience, you've been able to really accumulate similarities and differences maybe with working with champion athletes in different sports. So I was wanting to get your perspective on what the mindset of a champion athlete is from your perspective?


A: Yeah. Well, first of all, the reason why I wrote champion minded was, you know, going back to my story, I wasn't the most talented kid in school. So I always had to work harder. I wasn't always the first pick for the soccer team or the rugby team or whatever. And, you know, in school, we play 7-8 sports. So, you know, you're not going to be the best in all of them, but I knew from a young age, that if I worked harder, if I bought a better attitude, if I was more coachable, I would be, I had a better chance of being selected. And I don't know where I learned that from necessarily, maybe it was from my parents, maybe it was from a coach or whatever, but I felt that was my best chance to get selected or get further in life as well. And you know, that's one of the reasons why I wrote Champion Minded because it's not necessarily about all the talent you have, or the skill you have. Of course, that's very important, but I always said your skills or your entry ticket. Your attitude determines how far you go. And that's the same for anything, each job we go into. Good, you got the job. You're entry ticket was your qualification, your resume, your academic. That's nice. And let's now see how far you get in that position through your attitude, and your attitude controls, you know, your work ethic and everything else. I think something else about being champion minded is being well prepared, which is also controllable. All these things require zero talen. The most successful people I've come across, they're very well prepared. They're well prepared well in advance. They have structure to their day, they use their day strategically. They know what they're doing from sunup to sundown. And that's one of the ways I've tried to live my life as well as, you know, when I consult to people it's like, the first thing is, do you have a game plan to your day? Do you have structure to your day? And it's amazing when you have proper structure over time, how that accumulates the small gains every single day, accumulate the great successes later. So the first one is a good attitude. Second one is being well-prepared. The third area is the champion minded people set goals. Okay, so we can talk about the vision, for example, that they know where they're going. They know what they want. You know, we to see as well, and Dr. Lauer, you know, chatted about this last time. We were up in Orlando, and he gave a great meeting with the wheelchair athlete, is that not judging yourself on wins and losses, but judging yourself on the effort you've given your performance. Because you can play your best match or have your best performance and still lose, or you can play absolutely dreadful and still win, so does that way you determine where your performance level is? No, absolutely not. Because there's so many different factors. There's controllables, there's uncontrollables. You can't control how your opponent's going to play or perform. So judging yourself on effort. So when I speak to parents, and it's a book parents read as well, I'd like be forward with that, what are you rewarding? What are you rewarding your kid? Is it the wins or losses? Do you show your expressions of I'm so happy you won, let;s go to McDonald's or you know, the kid loses and it's a quiet car ride home. Or even worse, the parent is coaching the kid to whole way home on what they did wrong, for example. I was listening to a podcast the other day, a very, very interesting story, and I'll just be very, very quick on this. And it was of an NFL football player who had a very short career. I don't remember the name. I don't remember the team. But he said there was something that happened to him as a kid when he was nine or 10, and he scored the winning touchdown and his mother said, you scored the winning touchdown, we love you. And he said he identified love and acceptance from what his mother had said, that when you do something like score a touchdown, we will love you even more. And he said that stuck with him for the rest of his life where it actually became a massive, massive obstacle in his development not only as a player but as a human being as well. So the words you use are so powerful, so what are you rewarding? The wins, the losses? Or the effort, the work ethic, the coachability, your manners, your respect. Do you thank officials afterwards, all these type of things that really matter? Also, being champion minded means learning from your failure? You know, because in life, we're going to fail in life with many mistakes, so how do you learn from that? How do you move on from there? And then the last thing I really want to say with regards to the champion minded is being grateful. Is being grateful for every opportunity that you've been given regardless. I mean, one of the things about the, you know, we're speaking in the midst of the Coronavirus right now, which is a very, very challenging situation. And I've seen a lot more people become a lot more grateful and appreciative for two things. I've seen more families out walking, I've seen more, obviously we can't be in large groups, but I see more [inaudibel] so, you know, I believe that there's always positive things that come out of negative situations.


L: That's great stuff, Alistair. This is why you and I get along so well when we see each other because I think we think in similar ways. I love this just whole focus on process, and I wanted to get your thoughts on this because you've worked with a number of great athletes and teams. When you start to focus on the process, how does that impact things like fear and anxiety?


A: Oh, you know, I should be asking you this, Dr. Larry, it shouldn't be you asking me this.


L: I'm ready to learn something? I checked my ego at the microphone. Well, today.


A: Well, I'm probably gonna repear what you said when I was in Orlando.


L: Don't do that. You won't sound so smart then. You will just podcast one in.


A: Let's see. Dealing with fear and anxiety. I think that was the question.


L: How does the process of focus, I'm sorry, impact things like fear and anxiety?


A: Yeah. I think personally, I always like to know how an athlete sees pressure, because pressure is going to come up in a match, it's going to come up in a competition at some stage or another. So I'd like to see how they do that. I'd also like to go into the areas of, you know, what does it feel like when you're under pressure? What does it look like when you're under pressure? Tell me that experience. So I need to understand from their side what, you know, how they identify that. To me, you know, let's talk about choking, let's talk about fear, anxiety on the court or in an event is that you're not in the moment. You're not you're not, like you just mentioned there in the process. You're in the moment right now. You know, fear comes from either in the past, where we are thinking, Oh, no, here we go again, I always do this at 4-3. I always get broke at 4-3. And what do we do? We just attract it to ourselves every time, every time 4-3 comes up, we're serving, we get broke, because we'll be thinking about it, or fear of the future of something that hasn't happened yet, but you're thinking, oh my goodness, what's my mom going to think about me if I lose this match to this kid? What are people going to think about me? So you're far ahead of where you are at once. So being in the process, you know, is one of the toughest challenges and you'll know this, because it's probably where you spend the most time with athletes is, how do I stay right here right now, present? And I think, you know, you mentioned, you know, a few techniques to the wheelchair athletes last time of self talk, of keeping yourself engaged. You know, Maria Sharapova, for example, talks to herself the whole time when she's on the court. So she's keeping herself engaged. But I mean, it's a massive one, Dr. Lauer, you know that as well, I think that's maybe where you spend most of the time is being present.


L: It is, and we talked about this on the podcast a lot about how do you do that? And the challenge that is in front of us where, you know, life is meant to be lived in the present. There are times to go in the past or times to go in the future, but that's typically not when you're performing a skill or in a game, in a match. So, I think that what we try to teach athletes is to have that flexibility mentally to be able to, you know, you said it earlier, you know, be aware of these things or accepting and yet being able to focus in the present, you know, that, okay, these things are going on. And yet, I have a task to do. There's something that I want to commit to and it truly is a challenge. So I always love to hear from others how they're they're going about that. So Johnny?


J: Well, what you're both saying hits on probably one of the biggest challenges that coaches face when they work with players, whether it be new players or, you know, when I say new players, I mean players that they're working for for the first time that already maybe at a higher competency level, you know, they're pretty good players, whether it be juniors or pros. And you know, Allistair you hit on kind of getting to the parents first and having them understand the words that they use and what they are praising or what are they punishing, so to speak, but when you're working with a kid knowing that they emphasize winning and losing, not just a kid, any player, they emphasize the winning and losing over the effort, what is maybe your process as a coach to try and turn that around to help them become more, like you're just talking about they're both of you, Larry and Allistair, being more process focused, so they do feel genuinely happy with their effort, regardless of winning or losing? What does that process look like? Because I think again, lots of coaches around the country I think would struggle with knowing where to start with getting players to understand process versus outcome.


A: Yeah, I think Johnny, to be honest with you, it all starts at a very, very young age as a baby, as an infant, of how parents reward kids, how they reward kids for good behaviors, poor behaviors. I think it all starts there. We know that, I don't know what the stat is, but up until the age of five years old, you've already established 60% of your mindset. It was a crazy stat, maybe Dr. Lauer knows this better than I do. But, you know, up until the age of five, you've alreadey established 60% of your mindset, your beliefs, your self worth, for example. So as a coach, when you get a child at eight years old, nine years old, they already have a certain belief system imprinted into them and how they're rewarded. Are they rewarded? Is it a happy family again when we win, and it's an unhappy family when we lose? And it's very much attached to self worth, self image, you know, that story I just gave about the NFL player, where he remembers the story of, you know, when he was a kid and scoring a touchdown, and you know, the parents saying, we love you because you scored a touchdown, and his self worth is attached to that. So Johnny, it's very, very difficult to unwire the belief system of a child of what they're rewarded for. And here's the thing, we know this as coaches as well, you can preach as much as you want to that kid, but the biggest changes are going to come from the parents because they spend 95% of the time with that child. So my strategy has always been about educating the parents of the right things and wrong things they can reward for. And something I've learned, you know, I mentioned this in my book Seven keys to being a great coach, is establishing your standards. Is that I've had to let go of parents and kids that didn't fit my values, my standards, and I say it because it was my business. You know, it's because they weren't willing to listen to that. They were all about the winning, they were all about being the champion under 12 kid champion Under 12, and that didn't fit with me. That didn't fit with my values and my standards, it's almost a winning at all costs type of mentality. So yeah, there's only certaing things that we can change and, you know, parents are the biggest factor, I can put it down to that. I mean, I'd love to hear dr Lauer's opinion there.


L: I agree with you, Allistair, and I think it creates a serious challenge for a coach and we talk about that often that your influence can be limited. I think as children grow and mature, they start looking to others as their reference and there's an opportunity around the ages 10, 11, 12 to have, you talked about having others in a culture, in organizations having the right people, I think as a parent, one of the things, I'll just speak personally now, I've tried to do is have the right people around my children because I know I'm not perfect. And I try to do everything in a good way. But I'm, I know JP is amazed by this, but so you try to surround them with people who can..


J: You're perfect in my eyes, Larry.


L: Thank you, except on the tennis court, obviously. So. But you try to have those people around who, you know, who will support what you're trying to do, but also challenge you in some of the things that you're doing. But I think that kids will start to look out to their coaches as another reference point, who are very important to them. And so you have an opportunity, I'm not saying that it's easy, I think you have an opportunity to change beliefs. But you're 100% correct, Allistair, if you can get the parents on board, and speaking in a similar language to the coach, a language of process and staying present and really working for the long term and developing yourself this open mind, right, to experience and you really have a great shot, you know, to do this, but the parents can be the the greatest factor in either direction in my belief. They can either really get things going in a great direction or they can really stymie a lot of the progress that a coach is trying to make.


J: When you're looking at what underpins the skill that you're trying to help with, right, so like if you're a coach and you're trying to build a business, what underpins that success? Well, where do most kids go? Most kids go to school, you build a relationship there. If you want your tennis player to become a better athlete on court, then what underpins that, it's their athletic skill. In this case, you want to improve the ability of self worth, so they could look at process versus outcome being more process focused, or what underpins that and you just clearly mentioned there that obviously, the parents are going to be the biggest factor in helping gonna pin that. And, you know, maybe having a coach that is also validating process versus outcome and emphasizing that is gonna also attribute that so they've got the same messaging. So I think, when you look at the skills, we always got to go back to what underpins that development. And if I'm not the person that can help underpin that development, I've got to try and help out the people, all the things that do and so I think those are great points that you make there and it's all about going back to the foundation of what underpins what we're trying to work on.


L: Yeah. And I think you know what Allistair's saying too, and correct me if I'm wrong, Allistair, but if you have people on the same page speaking the same language, it also allows that skill development to take off, because now you're all working in the same direction and communicating and collaborating in a similar way, whereas if someone's putting a block on that, or putting the brakes on it by the way they're talking, by whether or not they're emphasizing outcome over process. So you're correct. And then understanding those relationships then are either going to slow down or speed up the process, always. You can get the right coach, but if the parents aren't on board, it's going to really slow things down.


A: Yeah, and that's a good point because that's where I believe coaches fail, is that they put the parent to the side and they just take on the kids, and they'll be 13, 14, 15, whatever it may be, where the greatest buy-in you need is from the parents, because like I said, they're going to be the strongest voices in that kid's ears. So, you know, this is again, this is something where I feel coaches fail because it's maybe an area that they don't want to go into. You know, we talked about it again, courage, especially in this difficult private capacity if you're working in an academy or they're with a kid, is that they don't want to lose that player. They don't want to do that kid, so they're just trying to keep the peace from all sides, but they never have those conversations about, you know, this is the real facts, the real truth, and getting a buy in, for example. So, yeah, it's a very challenging situation. I mean, but I always believe it really starts with trying to get a buy in from the parents first, which can be very, very tough.


J: Yeah, no, that's awesome. And also some great piece of advice in there if there are other parents that are listening to this on maybe how to approach that. But so you touched a bit on there about your book, The seven keys to being a great coach, and I was wondering now for obviously shift gears to this coaching side of things, you know, incorporating some of the messaging, you know, what can you share with those that could maybe help how you can encourage young coaches who are looking to have a long successful career? You know, what can they be doing to go along, start that journey more productively, and keep learning and growing it better, as you've mentioned, that you went through that journey, you know, are still going through this journey? You know, maybe you could touch on some of those those keys to being a great coach.


A: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I wrote the book a few years ago. So I hope I can still remember them all. Yeah, definitely with regards to Seven keys, yeah, that was, you just hit the nail on the head there saying that we're always learning. So I were to write that book again, I'd probably change a few things because you evolve and you learn, and I think that's where we're going to start this conversation is, you know, keep evolving, keep learning, don't be set in stone in what we think you know. So, you know, I may have wrote that book five years ago, but if I was to read it today, I'd probably change 30% of it, 40% of it, because I learned new stuff and things that maybe make better sense. But the first key is, you know, in my opinion, being a great coach is standards. And that's a word that we've spoken about a few times on this podcast already is establishing your standard, establishing your values first of all, what you stand for. The second one is building your methodology. You know, we talk about philosophy, for example, it can be something so simple of this is how I warm up, this is how I approach a session, this is how I structure a lesson. That's your methodology. Great. Now, you might go to a course or in a year time you think, you know what, I'm going to warm up rather a different way because this makes sense. I don't need those 12 exercises, six is better because I can see that the kids are not been engaged in this long warm up that I thought was just amazing. So you have to keep evolving. You have to keep changing. Number three, here's a big one, and it's a conversation I had with Coach Ted from Duke basketball when I was at Duke in November consulting. And he said, Allistair, the key, not just in coaching, but in life, is being adaptable. Being adaptable to change. He said I have not coached a single Duke basketball team in 40 years the same. Why? It may be the same game, but the players change. And he said I've had to adapt every single time and that was some of the best advice I've ever received from Coach Scheyer. I was very very honored to spend you know some of the afternoon with him out there and learn from him. But that was a big one that stood out for me, stay adaptable. Don't be stuck in your own ways. So you know, in other words, like Dr. Lauer just said there right now, open minded, adaptable, don't be stuck in your own way. The fourth one is keep a great energy. Now, not every day you're going to feel like a million bucks, but you have an obligation, you have accountability to bring a good energy to your sessions and to your lessons. That is tough, because life happens. We all have problems. You know, we all have issues you go through, it could be at home, it could be a relationship. Now we have to go to work, we have to go to the court or the field and be a super motivating energy type of person. That's tough, but you do have to bring that on. Number five is about great interpersonal skills, ability to get along with others, the ability to understand each other. Number six is about staying close to the fundamental in what you do because any successful sport professional to put that away, they have fundamentals. We're living in an age today where we can get so distracted from the fundamentals. You know, there's so many people that are marketing so much stuff on the internet and YouTube and sending it and, you know, they have no credentials, they have no background, they have no nothing, but they're just marketing and packaging that well. And we find that definitely in the game of tennis as well, there's a lot of sorry to say, but a lot of scam artists out there. You know, do your homework. Who is this person? What have they done? Who do they work with? What are their credentials? Instead of looking at this amazing marketing package that cost them $5,000 but there's no substance behind it. And then number seven, I think it was, is continually keep investing in yourself. That's a massive one, you know, we're doing this right now and you guys are adding value to other people's lives, and other coaches right now thorugh this podcast, for example. So fantastic work and you know, I've spoken to a lot of people that listen to the podcast and have learned a lot from it. So keep investing, we have so many ways you can invest, reading, podcasts, TED Talk, or YouTube. We can go, there's numerous courses, and here's another thing, don't just go do courses that are in your field, go into courses and workshops that are going to help you as a  person as well. Do you struggle socializing? Do you struggle communicating? Do you struggle with certain areas? Then go take a course in that, than taking another understanding another course on serving, or it's important to obviously understand your skills and your story but you know, work on yourself more than you're working your job. I think that was a quote we got on that.


J: That's awesome. And that's some great advice and I wish this book was around when I first started out, Allistair...


L: So do I.


A: I wish I could take my own advice sometimes.


L: Don't we all. Yeah, pretty hard to live up to it every day. But nonetheless, we try.


J: So let's say we got about, we're running a little short on time here, but I wanted to touch on the time that you've spent with Team USA wheelchair tennis and maybe talk about what you did to prepare to work with the wheelchair tennis athletes and the coaching team and helping them build their culture, you know, how was that whole process for you? And, you know, what was some of the maybe some similarities you've experienced or some of the differences in working with the team USA wheelchair team?


A: Well, you know, I've always been one about telling other people to get out of their comfort zones in whatever field it would be. So it was a few years back that, I don't know, maybe four or five years back that I asked myself that question. I was sitting on the couch I think it was three or four days before Christmas, and I was actually at the house of a former player I used to work with, Xavier Malisse, and I was sitting there and he was back in Belgium and I was house sitting from that stage and I thought to myself, you know what, Allistair, you keep telling people to get uncomfortable, what are you doing to get uncomfortable? And I thought about it and I thought, Well, taking on another professional player isn't getting uncomfortable. Taking on another thing that you're used to doing is not getting uncomfortable. And I thought about it and I thought about the conversation I've had with Jason Harnett many, many years ago, you know, we met probably 12, 13 years ago in Amsterdam when he was with the USA team at a tournament there and I thought about it and I said, you know what, I thought about it, but you've never worked with, you know, Paralympics or wheelchair athletes, and for some reason that always scared me. It's like, you know, I know all this stuff on the able bodied side, but I would not have a clue, I would not know what to do with these athletes and that like scared me a little bit. And I first started working with the USA Paralympic soccer team. And you know, that was with athletes that had strokes, some of them, one had been to Afghanistan, there was brain injuries, there was a lot of things. That was real big challenge for me. But the first thing I did is I got on the phone with Jason and I was working with the US Soccer Team before tennis actually. I said, Jason, I have no clue what to do here. Can you guide me? And you know, Jason was fantastic in guiding me in what to do. He said, listen Allistair, they're just like, you and me. They have goals, they have ambition. They have, yes, they do have disability, so you know, do what you were going to do and then modify. And, you know, we took out exercises, and so on and so forth, you know, because at first I was like, I have no clue what I'm going to do, so  scary. Anyway, so Jason with a Jason with a massive, massive help in that area and gave me a lot of confidence in that area. I must admit that the first one or two times I visited the campus to work with the players, I was pretty much out of my comfort zone as well. So, you know, all courtesy to Jason, Jason Harnett. I know you guys love him there, he's your biggest fan. You know, he was a great help.


J: Awesome, and that I mean that's a great message there is get outside your comfort zone. And Larry, what's your thoughts there?


L: Well, I was just gonna say, I mean, Alistair you're living then what you're telling your athletes and coaches that you work with and leaders. And you know, I just appreciate your self awareness and challenging yourself in being humble and opening yourself up to that. Because that, again, as you go back to your journey, it seems to be a theme there that your willingness to do that has allowed you to get where you are, where you get to have these opportunities to work with some of the best and continue to do these great things and evolve.


A: Thank you, I appreciate that. That's certainly one, you know, one thing I'd love to get out there is, you know, get yourself out of your comfort zone as much as possibl and, you know, go and experience new things and don't be afraid to ask for help. I think getting back to where we started this whole conversation with ego, which is such a big thing is that my ego probably got in the way of me asking for help. So, I think maybe it's a thing that comes with age as well. You know, I wish I had known this earlier. But I think it's a thing that comes with age. Age, in a way, humbles you. You know, if you're willing to look deep within yourself and become more vulnerable, for example, I think that's also my latest book as well, I've definitely become a little bit more vulnerable in that as well and I don't feel I'm 100% there yet, but it's definitely been liberating to just like let go as well.


L: That's excellent. I would agree with you, age is humbling and you become more vulnerable because you start to see, you know, all these experiences, you know, that you can rely on and realize, you know, in hindsight, of course, it's 2020, man, if I had acted this way or knew this, I could have done something differently, and maybe I could have improved faster or done more, you know, been a better athlete myself. I think about that, you know, if I knew what I knew now, but what you're saying is, it might be literally in our maturation, it's pretty hard to bring all that in, I guess, without the experience.


A: Yeah, sorry. I know we're a little pushed in time here, but that's a great point, because I think we probably did hear the messages when we were 20-25, but you know, you have to be ready to get the message. You know what that quote is, When the student is ready, the master will will appear. I think, is that it?


L: I believe that's it. I've heard that one. Yeah.


A: Yeah. When the student is ready, the master will appear. And it's so true. You know, it's like, when I go into colleges, and I share this message, and then, you know, the coaches will say to me, why don't they just get it? And I said, Well, in all honesty, did we get it when we were 19? Or 20? You know.


L: I know I didn't, I won't speak for JP. Amy got it?


J: Yeah, no, these are all great. I mean, I'm just sitting here absorbing because this ,you know, again, I mean, I feel like I'm still in a massive learning stage. I know I'm always gonna be because, so hearing these experiences and this sort of this process of being humble essentially over time is amazing work and it works on all fronts, right, as a coach, as players, and you know. Again, I mean, Larry, have you got any other further questions here? I know, again, we're we're short on time here. I just wanted to make sure you got your questions in here.


L: No, I think what we should do, Allistair and JP, is we should plan for another get together, another go around because I would love to maybe even dig deeper into the coaching side. This has been awesome and really just to listen to a little bit of how you got to this philosophy and your ideas about culture and coaching and the champions mindset has really been a benefit and I know it's gonna benefit our listeners.


A: No, I just want to thank you guys as well and the whole team for having me on here. Yeah, I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation and also learning from everybody on this conversation as well. So you know, thanks so much again.


J: Yeah, so Allistair, I'm not letting you go just yet. I'm going to squeeze all the minutes I can. So Larry usually delivers the drop the mic moment, I feel you've given us, many, many drop the mic moments throughout this, which has been incredible. But I wondered maybe you could give us because I haven't had a chance to read it yet. You mentioned your new book, which is Developing a winning attitude and mindset, 50 ways to positively transform your career, your relationships, your life, maybe just give us just a little insight into the book before we before we finish up here.


A: Yeah, sure. I mean, [inaudible] all the time, to be more positive and have a more positive mindset, that is easier said than done. I think, you know, the essence of it is that, you know, everything is a skill and developing a winning attitude and mindset is a skill. It's something you deliberately have to do each day. So [inaudible] to the 50 lessons, I've shared some of my own life experiences, I've shared some of the things I've learned from other other people, obviously, in this book and try to put it in a very practical term. You know, the chapters are very short and very bite sized, that you can take a lesson from it. You know, everything in there is from how I see people with, you know, working in services become, you know, very high up in companies within three, four years just because of their attitude, just because they took the opportunity to serve somebody, you know, with a little bit more extra kindness and a little bit more attention. And you know, how these small things in your attitude and every day the way you live can create greater opportunities. Also, you know, I try now use less words like success and happiness, even though I do use those words. But for me now, fulfillment has become a massive thing because success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure. It's that if you're not fulfilled with you're doing, how can you say you're going to be a success? Yes. You made a lot of money. Yes, you have a nice car in your driveway. Yes, you wear an expensive watch. Those are all material things that last very, very, you know that, you know, you're maybe excited for a week or two and then you know, they disappear. Fulfillment is something that you feel the joy. I think that's been my journey as well is that, you know, I might have had some success. I might be happy now and then but I want to know what fulfillment is. Like I wake up each day and I'm, like, fulfilled. So I can talk about the book for ages. But I think that's what it comes down to.


L: Definitely looking forward to that Allistair and it's in bite sized pieces so I can handle it.


A: You know, it's funny, Larry. People always say to me that, your books are so simple and easy to read. And I said yes, because some of the smartest guys to write very detailed book, for example, so I'm glad it comes across that way.


L: Hey, common sense is not so common these days.


A: There you go.


L: This is actually not commen sense. This is brilliant stuff and the brilliance is in the simplicity, which I always hear in my good friend Jose Higueras. The same thing is the brilliance, the genius is in the simplicity that everyone can understand it in a way it's communicated. Yeah.


J: Yeah. No, that's fantastic. So, listen, I know we are out of time now and I can't squeeze you for any more minutes here. But I think like Larry suggested, I think it'd be great to do another deeper dive into this at some point and I just want to appreciate all your time and everything that you're doing is someone that many, many people follow. And so just appreciate the work you're doing to help us all get better every day. So thank you for joining us.


A: Again, I'd be happy to come on again and chat with you guys. It's been a great conversation. So, and thanks for putting this out to all the coaches and parents, and athletes, and anybody that listens to this.  It's ofgreat value. So big thanks.


L: Thank you Alastair. Appreciate that.


J: Awesome. Alrighty. Well, that that's a wrap for this week's episode of compete like a champion. To connect more with with Allistair, he does have his podcast, champion minded. It's a great podcast, dives into a lot of these areas we've discussed and so be sure to check that out and subscribe to that podcast. As mentioned on this one, Alistair has some, again, just phenomenal books that he's got. He's got four books he's out with at the minute. We've got champion minded, seven keys to being a great coach, we've got the becoming a great team player, andnd the most recent book, which is developing a winning attitude and mindset, so we'll put a link on to both his podcast and the books where you can get more information. So for this week, Dr. Larry, that's been a fantastic episode, until next week, we're checking out.


L: Checking out JP