The steps to success

By Meeghan, 31 May, 2012

As a young teenager I began playing squash purely for enjoyment. It was supreme fun and I would spend hours every week hassling anyone and everyone to play a game with me. I had no idea where this passion might take me until a life changing moment. At a junior tournament I overheard *Sarah Fitz-Gerald telling someone about a trip she was taking overseas to play squash.

My world stopped for a moment. You can do that? You can play squash overseas as a job? I suddenly and spectacularly learned about professional squash players and decided at that moment that was what I wanted to be. A seed was planted and a dream began.

And for the most part the dream did indeed come true. I trained professionally at the Victorian and Australian Institute of Sports, represented and captained Australia at the U/19 World Championships and at the end of my professional career I had achieved a career high, World number 14 ranking.

After my retirement however, I found myself in a very dark place. I felt I had failed. I had set new improved goals to make the top 10 in the world and 14 didn’t feel anywhere near good enough. Pretty stupid huh? However with the benefit of hindsight and the gift of experience, I am able to share with you how this ‘failure’ was the most valuable thing I have ever learned.

I have decided to write this article because at least once a week I talk with a client who is feeling annoyed or despondent because despite their best intentions results are not immediately forthcoming. Sometimes I am even frustrated, not with my clients lack of results but with the lack of understanding - that results take time! You cannot sit on the couch for 10 years and then expect results in 6 weeks!

However, what it highlights is the disparity of our human expectations. As a teenager if you’d told me I’d one day achieve a world number 14 squash ranking I would have been over the moon. And similarly I’m asking you to think about my steps to success below and how they relate to your personal expectations. You may neither accept nor reject my steps to success but consider them and ultimately begin developing your own.

Step 1. Start with spirit/ soul. Do something you love.

Wanna get fit? Then do something you love like running. But what if you hate running I hear you say? Then try walking or bike riding or swimming or rowing or zumba… Get the picture? Everyone is different but you can get fit in a myriad of ways. You just have to find what you enjoy and what makes you tick.

Step 2. Motivate the mind. Always find a way to move.

Next comes the self talk. Some days it is cold outside and you start an inner dialogue with yourself about why you shouldn’t train. STOP IT, right now! You actually have the power to talk yourself into training. It’s not about willpower; it’s about a sustained positive self talk that focuses on doing something (like a 5 minute workout) rather than nothing.

Step 3. The body is the machine. It will obey what the mind and soul tell it to do.

If the soul and mind are in the right place then the body will follow. Don’t get me wrong the body isn’t a dummy, it has evolved over millions of years to move very efficiently but with all of our technological advancements there isn’t really any reason to move now. So you’ve got to go back to the soul and the mind to find a purpose. Find that purpose for training and your body will follow…gladly.

Step 4. Never, ever compare yourself to anyone else.

It’s hard when you’re training your backside off and you open the latest magazine and get bombarded with images of skinny models and muscle bound men. How can we compete with airbrushing folks? Just be the best you can be! Train hard, eat well and think good thoughts about yourself.

Step 5. When you get thrown from the horse, get back up, quickly.

If you’ve never failed you’ve never lived. A client once shared with me the following quote by Mary Pickford, You may have a fresh start at any moment you choose, for this thing that we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down. Enough said.

*Sarah Fitz-Gerald is one of Australia’s greatest ever female squash players. Among her list of achievements she collected five World Open titles and two British Open titles.

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