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The Trap of Career Progress: Getting to What Truly Matters

men in sport Sep 15, 2022

Without question, it takes a huge amount of vision, dedication, and skill to have gained the experience you have in high-performance sport.

Yet what I'm hearing about time and again is how this devotion to vision, dedication, and skill creates a huge blind spot.

It seems to me that we fall into the trap of unconsciously filling our blind spots by seeking validation for our achievements.

It's of course nice to get that recognition, either financially or practically.

However, many I've spoken with have gone from project to project based on circumstance under the disguise of progress, rather than an endpoint. So the question arises:

Where are you heading with your progress?

During my S&C career, I remember going on a course that discussed the stepping stone approach to careers. It seemed so logical, but it was only until much later in my career that I began to question that linear and limited way of defining progress.

Seeking progress can represent:

  • Not being proud of current achievements.
  • Feeling achievements haven't been significant enough.
  • Perception that no one is interested in current level e.g. It's not cool enough, exciting enough, not working with the winning athletes e.t.c

I think this is why I felt so lost in direction for much of my career, I was aiming for something I couldn't visualize, or most importantly feel.

Is there an ideal job?

We've all been through multiple job applications, where we've aimed to match ourselves with the criteria of the roles and responsibilities thinking "what do I need to do to try and get that?"

Have you ever thought though that maybe it's not a position that you want to do?

Instead, it’s about developing what you're doing professionally and as a person. To stop the carryover of dysfunctional culture that you are currently focused at changing. You want to know:

  • How to be better as a person
  • How to be a better leader of yourself and of the people you're with
  • How to embody and actually live those qualities of a good leader

I sense among men, and certainly, with my own journey, the magnitude of unfulfilled feelings performance staff experience is down to looking outside for validation.

At the core level validation provides acceptance, belonging, and safety.

Maybe progress is us lost on the roundabout of trying to soothe or fill those deeper parts of us.

Yet we aren't aware that we're pouring water into a colander instead of a glass.

When we create space to dig deeper into our being, it provides clarity on what actually matters.


This is what progress looks like for some of the performance staff I've spoken with:

"I want to go from a place of always searching for more and better to a place of peace and presence so that I can be fulfilled and satisfied in my life and with the people I love."

"I want to go from feeling lack of belief and fear of failure to a place of happiness and fulfillment so that I feel like I'm making the most out of the time I've got."

"I want to go from feeling restricted to having options so that i can be free to make the most of my life - what I want, when I want, how I want."

"I want to go from a place of instability, feeling undervalued and not as happy as I'd like to be to a place of stability so I can empower others and find happiness."

Notice how it's not about things, places or being known for something. They describe core emotional feelings. They recognise where they are and what they want to feel instead. 


If you could wave a magic wand and have your perfect life, the questions I want to ask you are:

  1. What does that look like? (Allow yourself to dream/vision)
  2. What working hours do you want? (e.g. start time/finish time, time to train).
  3. Do you want leadership opportunities - for both you to be your best self, and to lead other people? (e.g. the study of work, life, and self).
  4. Do you want allocated space in your week to devote to reflection and your personal growth? (e.g. space to journal, time/head space to devote to do a course for you personally - away from your job.)
  5. Do you want to be free to socialise on the evenings/weekends? (e.g. not struggle with relationships or see friendship circles fade away).
  6. Are you thinking of having a family and want to share 50/50 parenting duties? (e.g. to form a solid fatherly bond).
  7. Do you want to be involved with your children before and after school finishes, without time pressure? (e.g. play in the morning, enjoy being present in the afternoon).
  8. Do you want to have time with just you & your partner during the day? (e.g. make love during the day, lunch date).
  9. How much money is enough? (Think after basic outgoings are taken care of, what do you want/need to be free).

If this resonates with you - BOOK A CALL.

The reason I've given The Lost to Liberated Blueprint its name is simply that so many men working in performance sports have said to me this is where they are - they feel lost in what to do next!

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