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Finding the balance of energy and emotion

There has been a lot of talk from my coach the past few weeks about motivation. Perhaps because it's the off season and difficult to focus. Perhaps because it's 17 degrees outside and who wants to leave their house let alone go for a run?

But in trying to find some books to recommend to her athletes about the mental and emotional side of training, she stopped dead in her tracks.

All that we need to succeed, she reminded her athletes, is already part of us.

We can want to be successful athletes or go back to school, or learn to play the guitar .

But the drive it takes to get there -- the intangibles if you will -- each of us already possesses.

It reminds me of the Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy is trying desperately to get home. Little did she know she had the power the entire time. All she had to do was learn how to use those ruby slippers.

Of course, everything isn't as simple as wishing it were so. There is work to put in. There is even hard work to put in. But that desire and determination and mental clarity to do that work and achieve your goal? Well, we're all pretty much born with that.

One of the great things about my job is watching college sports. And Sunday, I was able to watch the St. Bonaventure women's basketball upset No. 21 Michigan State. The Bona team has been impressive the last few years, growing as a group and putting itself in a position to turn some heads in their Atlantic 10 conference games.

Sure, the Bonnies are talented, but they're not the most talented. Heck, Michigan State probably had better pure basketball talent on its team than the Bonnies.

What made the difference was the way in which the Bonnies approached the game.

They played a total team game -- allowing each individual to contribute her strength. Collectively, the whole is stronger than the player. They had confidence in themselves and their teammates.

Most notably to me, they had the ability to play with energy without getting sucked into an emotional roller coaster.

Playing (or racing or competing) with emotion is a key component of success. But it's a balance -- it's easy to get caught up in emotional swings and get too high or too low during the course of a game, a race or even a season.

It's not a magical formula, finding that right balance of energy and emotion. But that ability lies within each of us.

We just have to tap into it.

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