What does Australian Open winner Ash Barty have in common with the Richmond Tigers, winners of three of the last five AFL premierships?
Besides both drinking Powerade, they work with Ben Crowe.
Both credit Crowe, a mindset coach, with transforming their on field results from disappointing to the best in the world in their respective sports.
He’s now using his techniques to teach people how to live happier and more confident lives. His secret sauce is three distinct mindsets. Each answering a question every human wrestles with.
The connection mindset helps answer the question: ‘Who Am I?’.
It’s about celebrating your imperfections and finding unconditional self-worth.
Unconditional self-worth is about refusing to place conditions on your worth such as how you look or what you achieve. To believe you are enough as you are.
Without it you can’t authentically answer the question “Who Am I?”. I learnt the hard way.
My late teenage years were victim to the destruction of identifying with my prior achievements. Growing up I was a talented Australian Rules Footballer. I won a few competition MVPs and heard whispers that I’d play professionally. My whole identity became based on my ability as a player. However, a combination of teenage distractions, height-related genetics and injuries led to my dream never coming to life.
An identity crisis and shame storm promptly followed. Unfortunately, I didn’t have Ben Crowe in my life, so rather than celebrating my imperfections, I began seeking validation in the perspectives of my peers. I became a people pleaser. My behaviour dictated by what would gain my peers approval. Being a teenage boy this often involved being a rascal and dumb antics.
Over the years I became a master chameleon, shapeshifting my identity to the environment I found myself in. Not by choice, but need. Without external validation I lost my identity. I found myself without any control. The answer to the question ‘Who Am I?’ was simply: “whatever makes my friends laugh”.
I’d never been more social in this period of my life and never had so many ‘friends’. However, it’s only upon reflection that I realise how shallow the relationships were. The reason is found in Brené Brown’s work, she shares how the heart of connection is vulnerability. In other words, our imperfections are what connect us the most. A by-product of my chameleon ways was I failed to be vulnerable and therefore connect with those around me.
It’s only once I found unconditional self-worth that I felt empowered to stop any behaviour where I felt I wasn’t myself. A small example being after what was around 212 Saturday nights in a row, I cut binge drinking from my life.
The purpose mindset helps answer the question: ‘What Do I Want?’.
Are you just here to show up, win and make a lot of money? Or do you fundamentally stand for something you believe in? Is there something that lights you up? A legacy you want to leave?
Crowe uses chapters based on Joseph Cambpell’s hero's journey to describe the mindset change from someone showing up for exterior motivations to someone with interior ones.
Chapter one is all about yourself. You’re striving for self-achievement and you identify with that achievement.
Chapter two is all the crucible moments in our lives. They’re the challenges that either lead to post-traumatic stress and hold us back, or project us forward, post-traumatic growth. It is within these crucible moments that our unconditional self-worth is tested. Without it you risk reverting back to chapter one and seeking it within external validation.
Chapter three is about realising a great truism: that life isn’t about you, it’s about the impact you can have on someone else’s life. It’s the chapter where our purpose gets revealed, when we find our sense of meaning, fulfillment, contribution.
Crowe describes the journey from chapter one to chapter three as the journey from I to We.
My journey through these chapters can be traced back to 2020. When starting my first full-time job coincided with lockdown. Lockdown was a crucible moment for everyone, and for me it took the form of finding my ‘enoughness’ in a form other than my friends validation. With my social life taken away it forced me to reevaluate who I was. Something I was already doing after failing to find fulfillment in what I thought was my dream full-time job. These two events caused me to spiral into what I describe as my ‘quarter-life crisis’. I became gripped by the usual existential questions of: Who am I? What’s my purpose? What am I doing with my life?
I was fortunate to be guided out of my crisis by a gentleman in his 70’s by the name of Errol. His worldly wisdom helped me find unconditional self-worth. To not seek validation in other people, that I was enough as I was and to behave in a way that made myself proud.
I emerged from this state with the realisation that my purpose is to ‘Empower Aspirational Change-makers to Find Their Zest’.
It wasn’t until I identified this purpose that I realised I only considered the previous job as my dream because it provided me the status I believed my friends would approve of. And that I only did this because I was still in chapter one of the hero's journey.
It was only with unconditional self-worth that the crucible moments led me to identify my desire to serve others.
The performance mindset helps answer: “How do I get there?”.
How can you focus on the things you can control, be the best version of yourself and not get distracted by the fear of failure or focusing on the results?
Crowe breaks this mindset down into three actions. The first two support preparation, and the last one is for mid-performance.
James Clear in Atomic Habits shares “you don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems”. For human’s these systems are our habits. What do you need to do regularly to continue moving closer to your goal?
Coming out of lockdown my goal was to remain connected with my sense of self and not to become lost to the noise of everyday life and other people’s perspectives. This led me to implement a morning routine of meditation and journaling which empowered me to start the day connected.
Over time my habits have evolved to include personal goals such as continuing to write. After my morning routine I now write for 60 minutes every weekday.
Jim Rohn states you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. This is due to thermodynamics, a physics principle which explains why if you combine hot and cold water, the water becomes the average of the two temperatures. From this perspective who in your life supports your goals and the person you want to be and who is a distraction?
After lockdown this forced me to assess how friends were showing up in my life. Who were the friends that I only engaged with to go out drinking? Who were the ones who had similar career aspirations? Who were the ones I wanted to be more like as a person?
It’s never easy to let go of a friendship however if they aren't a positive influence in your life how much of a friendship is it really?
The definition of anxiety is focusing on something you can't control. In sports and life this is the expectations of others and the outcome of your actions. To minimise distraction only concentrate on what you can control.
The major challenge I faced coming out of lockdown was showing up as this new person that I had become. Gone was the partying thrill seeker, I was now someone chasing purpose and meaning in my work. The problem was everyone still saw me as the other person so when I no longer conformed to their expectations friction was created. I was faced with a decision: to seek their approval and revert back to my old behaviour? Or trust that if they were a real friend they would accept me for who I now was.
I continued to be who I was and eighteen months later the breadth of friendship has diminished greatly however the depth of them has increased exponentially, and that’s more important to me.
Questions for you:
Take a moment to ask yourself:
Who Am I? - Do you have unconditional self-worth?
What Do I Want? - Where are you in the hero’s journey?
How Do I Get There? - What habits do you have? Who do you surround yourself with?
To learn more:
If you hope to build a perspective to embrace your weird, own your story, find your mojo and live a happier and more confident life, Ben has is own app: https://mojocrowe.com/app
He can also be found on the following podcasts:
Dyl & Friends: this is my favourite episode of any podcast I’ve ever listened to. I wish I could download the learnings into my brain: https://open.spotify.com/episode/2AY1GfD9eE7R2OTf7O4f0b?si=6cf702cd35274f80
The Imperfects: If you enjoy above you’ll also love this pod:
The Conversation: Learn about Ben’s work with Ash Barty:
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