Stupid Test or Learning Opportunity

Learning Opportunities

Maddie on the Frame

All animals except man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it. -Samuel Butler

I hope that everyone has enjoyed taking the psychological skills evaluation. If you haven’t tried it yet, sign up for the Cognitive Edge newsletter and I’ll send you the link to register for the questionnaire. And, please don’t hesitate to let me know if you’re having any trouble getting to it. It’s a valuable tool that you can use to help guide your development.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The psychological skills evaluation questionnaire, and many others like it, are used all the time to get an idea about an athlete’s mental strengths and weaknesses. The reaction I get from people completing it, run the gamut. From “Wow, that was great. I learned a lot about myself” to “Stupid test. It doesn’t know me at all”. Really, both reactions, and everything in between, are valid. The questionnaire is not trying to determining if your answers were right or wrong.

What matters is what you do with the information you get. You have a choice, and really, what more can you ask for. You can take the results and chuck them, bury your head in the sand and continue doing what you’ve always done before or, you can use the results to direct your training, develop strategies that maximize your strengths and work on improving your weaknesses. Take ownership of your results. They’re great motivation.

I want to share a story about me from my younger and more athletic days. I think it shows just how important taking ownership of your performance is and how making the choice to be an active participant in your training both mentally and physically pays big dividends.

John Cullen Sutherland Cup Champion

Me with the Sutherland Cup (Ontario Jr.B Provincial Championship) 1994

When I was younger, maybe 16 or 17 years old, I was in the middle of my first junior hockey season. We were a terrible team, winning only 1 of every four games. Most of the teams I played on were like that – middle of the pack and below .500. I remember having a conversation with my dad and I was griping about how bad our team was. I told my dad that I thought that it seemed so unfair that I was always on losing teams and my younger brother was always on winning teams. I was a touch jealous. My brother’s hockey teams regularly played in provincial championships and competed for the top spot in their league.

I’m not sure of the exact moment, but I know that somewhere between the “We suck!” and the “It’s not fair.”, it dawned on me. It seems obvious now, but I finally figured out that there was a reason that my brother’s teams were always successful. It wasn’t just blind luck, he played on them! He was what made them good.

For me, I believed that being a member of a successful team was luck. I was unlucky to be on a poor team. I was a passive part of the team and had little impact in determining the success of the team. How I did, depended on how everyone else played. For my brother, it was the exact opposite. How my brother played, determined how the team did.

Three years later, I was winning a provincial championship. What was the difference maker? The way I thought of myself as an athlete. I was in control of determining how successful I would become. It wasn’t luck. I made it happen. The team was good because I made it good, and all it took was a change in mindset.

Whether your weaknesses out-weigh your strengths, or vice versa, you can always make the choice. Take ownership of your performances. Choose to be a champion.

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge one for yourself”
-James A. Froude

Leave A Reply (7 comments so far)

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  1. Rachel Blackmer
    7 years ago

    I have to admit, taking that questionnaire was painful. I know I have weaknesses I have to address, I just didn’t know that they were as far ranging as the questionnaire implied. At first I was in the “chuck it” category. That lasted a short time, then I was in the “it was rigged” category. Finally I realized that I need to own the information I was given. Not just for my dog sports. For life too.

    So, John, thanks for the pain, and the growth opportunity.
    Rachel
    (And borzoi boys, Finn and Quill)


  2. Bonnie
    7 years ago

    I really like the take responsibility for your actions and your thoughts comment. We do control our thought process, we can’t control the fact that a course is difficult but we can control what we think and say and if we emphasize the positive it can only improve our mental state of mind. As soon as I think I’m going to fail sure enough I will fail. I am really going to try hard to always think I am going to nail every run. thanks John


  3. kelly
    7 years ago

    I found the test very interesting. There were areas that I expected to have a weakness in because that was why I was taking the test in the first place. Then I was very excited to find areas of strength. I wasn’t sure I had any, but the most shocking to me was my reaction to the label of average….I did not take that label well. For me it is acceptable to be great at something and have weaknesses that need improvement. It is not acceptable to just be average. One of the statements still replays in my mind “average in average out” That has been a great motivator for me lately. Can’t wait to see where it takes me. Thanks for the insight John


  4. Ninnie
    7 years ago

    The test was surprisingly correct. I got 61 and that’s about how it is. In the top part of the middle pack 😉 The first thing I will do about this is to stop thinking of myself as “the top part of the middle pack”. Expect more as Bob Bailey says. More like “I’m sooo going to nail this course”! We can do it :)


  5. Laura
    7 years ago

    Examining the different assessment domains was insightful but now I’d like to take the next logical step…interventions. What “interventions” are recommended for remediation of weaknesses in any specific domain? I assume in my situation, it’s time to get a coach to provide me the opportunity for direction in my training and growth, but that’s speculation. Maybe there are other interventions that I’m not thinking about. Assessments are great ~ but the goal is to find the right intervention.


  6. MRB in Oz
    7 years ago

    Well my result wasn’t much of a surprise, it told me what I told it.

    I know I’m crap at goal setting and most excellent at procrastinating. Now what do I do about it? “Just do it” is enough but doesn’t work reliably.

    I have won a lot of (field) hockey grand finals. And for the most part – blotted GF losses from my memory. Winning Grand Finals is almost always about the mental game. Even if you think the other team is better (skills and fitness), and all you do is concentrate on playing your own best game (early passes, never give up), you can help the rest of your team by playing well, and inspiring them to play their best too.

    I like to be not the best player and not the worst player on any given team. Being the worst – does horrors to your self confidence and you don’t want to let them down by being out there, and being the best is just frustrating, as all your good efforts are wasted by the rest of the team.


  7. Dianne
    7 years ago

    So much in this post. What you do and how you approach sports, work, or what ever has a big impact on those around you and how you do a team. I worked in a small office and I notice how when one person came in sour everyone was that way all day and work suffered. When someone came in really happy about something we were all on high and in high gear. So I played games a few times and came in sour and then other days great and happy to see if it really did “control” the office. You would not believe what I could make happen good and bad. I also could change the office mid-day.

    I have also coached youth soccer. I had a U10 boys team. I had my normal stars complete with the pushy parents and I had one skinny somewhat uncoordinated boy with glasses. He had always been tucked back in defense out of the way and rarely touched the ball. (I knew lots kids from other teams over the years). We had a pretty skilled group this year. I placed that boy in center the second game of the season(a dad blew his stack – his son should be there). I had talked with the boy and let him know I knew he could do it and gave him a few points to remember. That boy bloomed that season. Once he knew he was in control and not what other said he did great. We lost in the Championship game that year to finish 2nd,(the girls team I coached won that year). I heard from his mom that school went so much better after that too.

    I am just starting out in Agility but I have raced skijoring with my dogs for years and often was a basket case before races. I know the dogs could sense it. I have been working out this and I have no been so bad at Rally, hockey, and other events. Looking forward to the course.

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