As you may have noticed, process and attitude are two central themes in my triathlon story thus far. Conversations between my coach and me continually come back to executing even the smallest details on a daily basis to achieve incremental gain in every training session. I would say this actually applies to professional growth and performance as well as sport.
More recently, one word that has emerged in our discussions about process is: mastery.
In this vein, my coach recently recommended Ariana Kukors’ interview with Michael Gervais in his podcast, “Finding Mastery.” It may appear to be a long interview, but make the time. You won’t regret it. Once I started listening, I couldn’t tear myself away!
In this incredible interview, Kukors defines mastery as:
“A continual advancement in skills. Just a hunger of knowledge, and progression, and moving forward, and taking in all these things but also trusting yourself. Trusting that in my craft, my body knows. My mind knows. I’ve been there before. The certain amount of trust and risk that go into creating that moment. That race."
Kukors’ account of the heartbreak, frustration, determination, meditation, and ultimately, joy associated with her quest to achieve excellence brought memories from my journey to defy boundaries in my own pursuit of greatness at every step of the way, from elite figure skating, to NCAA rowing, to my academic and professional careers, and now in my journey as a professional triathlete.
One thing that struck me was the role that gratitude played in Ariana’s quest for mastery. She constantly comes back to having an “attitude of gratitude,” and appreciating every opportunity, every race, every person who touched her along the way. This was so refreshing to me, because it can be all too easy to get wrapped up in what we don’t have, what we’re missing, where we fall short, etc. etc. I find I’m happier, more focused, and perform better when I’m in the moment, operating in what you might call a “state of grace” … And I’m certainly more pleasant to be around!
Acknowledging that I’m human and we all have bad days, I decided to adopt one of Kukors’ practices to train gratitude just like I train my body and mind in workouts every day: each evening, I’ve begun writing 3 things I’m grateful for. And so far, I’m finding that this practice keeps me centered and focused on all the good in my life, no matter how my day has gone.
With the Thanksgiving coming up this week, it’s the perfect time to start practicing an attitude of gratitude!