16/11/2015 4:50 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

How Sport Got My Career In Shape


There is one day in the year 2000 that I remember very clearly; I was jumping around the living room, cheering like I had won the lottery.

Well, there was no winning lottery ticket but the Hockeyroos, the Australian Women's Field Hockey team, had just won the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics. Best. Day. Ever.

One of the players on the field happened to be my sporting hero; goal scoring machine and field hockey legend, Katrina "Triny" Powell.

At 12, I wanted to be just like her, winning gold for Australia.

At 14, I did a fake interview with her as an English project.

At 15, I made my Women's A Grade Hockey debut. Naturally, I was terrified.

Not long before the match, my coach pulled me aside. Honestly, I was expecting her to tell me that I wasn't ready and not to expect much game time. Truth be told, I was kind of hoping that's what she'd say. How wrong I was...

It turned out that for the next 70 minutes my job was to mark Triny Powell.

Well, 70 minutes passed by and I survived. It was be no means my best performance but this one game changed the entire trajectory of my career and my life.

Here's how that game shifted my mindset dramatically and how it can help you navigate the business world:

1. "Why not me?"

Everyone -- CEOs, world class athletes, movie stars -- they're all people. That's it. Instead of thinking my heroes were magical Gods, I started thinking that if they can do it, I can too.

This one change in mindset gave me the courage to move across the world, and the confidence to go after jobs and relationships that otherwise wouldn't have been possible.

2. How you react to failure determines your success

You know what.. Triny made some mistakes (much to my relief!), but what struck me was how she reacted to errors on the field. Instead of beating herself up about it, which was something I was prone to do (hello, hot-headed 15-year-old), she moved on and made damn well sure she got the next one.

Learn from your mistakes, but don't beat yourself up about it. Everyone makes mistakes, so why let them negatively influence your present or your future?

3. Know your weaknesses, play to your strengths

I realised pretty early on that trying to match Triny on stick skills and one-on-one play was going to end in tears, specifically my tears. As a fresh 15-year-old, my strength was speed. So I changed my strategy, and repeated over and over and over in my head, "Just beat her to that ball. Do not let her touch the ball. Beat her to the ball."

I have never sprinted so much in one game! It's funny to think about now, but at the time I managed to convince myself that if she touched the ball, I could never play hockey again.

While I don't race people around the conference room (I value my heels too much), I always look for ways to enhance and use my strengths.

4. You're never gonna be ready, so just do it

Surround yourself with people who are better than you, and push yourself to rise to their level. When you're out of your depth, you get to choose: Sink or Swim.

From that point on, I made the choice to swim.

Now, I consciously take on challenging projects so that I can grow and push myself to be better. Instead of looking at projects and thinking, "Oh no, I've never done that before", I think, "Okay, I can figure this out." And with that...

5. Never, ever, underestimate yourself

Seriously. Stop selling yourself short -- right now!

If someone had told me that morning that I could hold my ground against a two-time Olympic gold medalist, I would've never believed them. One of the key differences between high performers and the mediocre is that they throw their hat in the ring. Don't tell yourself you can't do something before you've even tried.

And with that, here's a great Henry Ford quote I want to leave you with;

Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right