Finding Motivation and Focus During This Messed Up Time – Work In Sports Podcast

Hey everyone, before we get into today’s special Friday edition of the Work in Sports podcast a couple of notes:

1: We developed this really robust curriculum focused on the strategies and tactics everyone should learn and utilize to get hired in sports. We’ll over the last month, I made an abridged version, and we’re giving it away for free on WorkInSports.com — that’s right, Academy Essentials is 100% free to all users. 

2: You also may be wondering — why should I visit WorkInSports.com right now — wit no games, there must be no jobs. That would be false. In the last week, we’ve added 183 sports active jobs — now that’s way off our average, we’re normally closer to 75 fresh sports jobs a day. But there are jobs and opportunities out there, so if you need work, we have the opportunities.

3: Which brings me to my third point — starting next week, we’re going to make all part-time jobs free to access for all users. We know many of you working game day events have been furloughed or laid off, so we’re making access to all the seasonal and part-time roles free on our site.

4: And finally — look for an email from us early next week. We are dramatically dropping the price of a WorkInSports membership to serve you better. Yes, we are a service site, we provide a value of fiding all the sports jobs and putting them in one place for you…and we charge a fee for the service…but we are dramatically dropping the price to help as best we can.

Ok, let’s start the countdown… 

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning at WorkInSports.com and this is a special Friday edition of the Work In Sports podcast.

So…I want to be really honest with all of you right now. 

I’m not one of those guys that always tries to act like they have all the answers and that their model for doing things is perfect. I get annoyed when I see “motivational speakers” always having all the answers, never sad, never conflicted…the world appears very black and white to them, and they are the only ones who know where the right color is. 

When you know in reality, backstage they are popping pills to get them ramped up. Or they have a failed marriage for cheating on their spouse, or they are miserable in their day-to-day. 

Not all, but many. 

All that is inauthentic to me. To come out and preach a system acting as if the sun is always shining in your world. 

It’s not. 

So, I try to be honest. There are things I am very confident in, and I speak on them as often as I can, with all the authority that I can. BUT, I am far from really having anything figured out. 

This week was tough. 

I’m struggling with motivation and focus, so trust me this is not at all an “I’ve got this figured out, come follow me!” 

It’s more of, I know I am struggling with this, which means you likely are too — so let’s see if we can figure some things out together.

I mean… my wife texted me a picture of an emoji yawn from upstairs in her office, and it made me yawn downstairs at the kitchen table. I’m so unmotivated right now. 

The weather isn’t helping, it’s been Seattle here for the last week. Light rain, grey, low clouds, cold, raw. I love Seattle, lived there for 10 years… but I moved for this reason. 

The weather is not happy. I’ve definitely realized that about myself, my own little self-audit, I am affected by weather. Sunny and cold, I’m fine. Grey and cloudy… not good.

I watched a video of James Harrison crushing an egg in his biceps — damn thing popped like a zit. And I thought to myself…  I should try that, that looks like fun. 

That’s what our days have been reduced to!

Now, I get it to all those people saying Anne Frank spent 761 days in a secret annex and I’ve spent 2 weeks in my nice home so suck it up…and I get that I should have some perspective, but I’m sorry some days it’s hard.

I’m looking at things I am supposed to do and I’m like …”meh”. I could upload more videos to our youtube channel… blah. I could put together a more complex social media strategy for once we get back to normal… ugh. I could go shoot some videos… but I need a haircut. 

I’m in a figuratively bad place, as I’m sure so many of you are. I miss social interactions. 

So what do we do? What can we do – To help with motivation. 

Monday and Tuesday were tough for me… so I actively decided to spend all day Wednesday self-analyzing what the differences are for me during times I am super-motivated and then times I am the procrastination king.

The first thing I realized is: Over-thinking is my big problem.

When I give myself too much freedom to decide my next move, that is when I start to see too many options and choose none. 

Without deadlines, and schedules and some sort of mandate… I fall off. This made a lot of sense to me, I came up in the sports industry working in a highly deadline focused world – without it, without that pressure, I drift. And once I drift… it’s hard to get back on track.

In the past, I’ve discussed this as learning how to work in space. 

Not literally space, like the moon and stars…more like a left tackle. 

Why do Left Tackles make so much in the NFL? Well, because usually, they are on an island by themselves against the other teams best pass rusher. A guard has help on the left or right, same with a center, they have structure around them… a tackle, they have to be able to work in space and cover more ground.

Same thing as a person. We have times as entry-level employees or mid-level managers where everything is structured for us. Daily expectations abound. Make these calls, edit these videos, design these advertisements.

Then we advance to higher levels and we are the ones setting the to do’s, building the strategy, pushing the business forward with more projects and ideas — that’s when we have to learn how to work in space. 

This all gets back to the larger point — scheduling yourself is connected to your overall focus and motivation – because, you put your decision-making on autopilot by giving your goals and time and place to be executed.

I found this quote and it struck a nerve with me: 

“If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”

Not bad, makes sense. 

So ok, a schedule — stay on task, have your priorities and the daily things you want or need to accomplish. Got it, what’s next.

Well, I also observed in myself, that during my standard routine — lets call is pre-covid. I had things that broke up my day even just slightly. I didn’t sit at my computer for 8 hours straight, but recently I’ve been trying to do that…and it has backfired astronomically. 

I need changes throughout my day. I need to have highly focused 45 minutes and then shift gears for 15 minutes. This makes me feel really motivated and focused for the next 45 minutes. 

Drifting from that was something I didn’t even realize I was doing. I’m getting back outside, taking a walk, going for a short run, reading a book, messaging a friend. Anything to break the mold here and there. 

Ok, next …

Habits. Routines. I don’t think of myself as a creature of these processes, but the more habits I form, the more it frees me up to be creative in other ways. I need those creative times, but it’s the routines that make it possible.

I’ll explain — I keep thinking of something Katie Gillen Manager of Social Media for Atlanta United told me on the podcast. She said that she and her team “do a lot of research and planning so that they can be freed up to be creative, the two work hand in hand.”

So by forming a habit to plan, and structure their activities, that allows them the time to be creative. Structure isn’t the antithesis of creativity, it actually allows for it!

I’m reading a book right now, it’s one of the best I’ve ever read – it’s called the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon — it won the Pulitzer prize, its fantastic. I did a little research into the author…and you know what he did, he wrote every night between 10 pm and 3 am. That was his structure, that was what allowed him to create a masterpiece. 

So how do you form habits?

3 steps:

1: make the routine super simple to start. The start is always the hardest part. Make something really easy, be your daily trigger. Starting a new running habit? It all starts with getting on your outfit, or putting on your running shoes, or stretching out your hammy’s.

2: make a time commitment – when is it going to happen? Stick to it.

3: Connect it all to a final goal. Give yourself something you can see at the end that is of great value and accomplishment.

I have found over my life, that when I am feeling my worst, instead of pushing harder, or expecting myself to snap out of it, I look to the past. It’s like a pitcher who can’t find the plate… they go back to the video and look for things they were doing differently before when they were highly functioning. 

I do the same, I mentally analyze what has changed for me, and try to make the appropriate adjustments. 

What became clear as I went through this activity is that it wasn’t about motivation or inspiration at all. I kept expecting Rocky music to start playing in the background to get me ready to act… but we all know that is short-lived. How many times have you seen a movie of a champion of some sort, or a great guitar player, or a war hero and for a moment afterward you felt like dedicating yourself to whatever it would take to reach their status. 

That is fleeting. That motivation or inspiration goes away.

What we are all truly looking for is establishing good consistent habits, when we formulate these habits, we bypass the need for motivation… we go right past it! – because we achieve by following our own lead.

This was a big moment for me. A moment of clarity and realization.

Since our kids have been out of school, we set them exact schedules. From this to this you’ll do these math projects, here to here science, here to here break outside. 

And they have been thriving. 

All the while, I had nothing like that for myself… I was thrown out of whack… and was floundering. It wasn’t until I investigated myself and what had changed, that I turned a corner. 

So, be self-analytical right now. Understand what motivates you and what’s different now. Find habits you can create for yourself and stick to them.

That’s how we will all persevere through change. 

Alright everyone — have a great weekend. Stay safe and keep your distance.

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

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