Gold Medalist Kerri Pottharst On Winning Sports - And Life - At A World-Class Level

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Australian professional beach volleyball player and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Kerri Pottharst offers her insights into winning at the world-class level.

Those insights included recovery from a serious injury, what rehabilitation takes, life in an Olympic Village, and how some of the world’s greatest athletes engage in disciplined eating and then gorge after their events are over.

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Kerri Pottharst
to do lists crazy, that’s something that we all have. And sometimes they get incredibly long. And I’m one of those procrastinators, I’m somebody that can look at my to do list, even these days. And back then it was a different to do list when I was playing now it’s more of a business or corporate to do list. And I can look at it and go, Whoa, where do I start in the mornings, I get my coffee, and I sit down and, and there’s my to do list, you know what, the best advice I can give is to just get started, you’ve got to just get started, take that first step. Part of our preparation for the Olympics was to walk on hot coals. Our coach had us walking on hot coals to get us to develop a belief. And he said to us, he said, once you take that first step, you have to keep going, because if you don’t, you’ll just burn. So he related that to anything we did in life and and in the planning and the preparation to the Olympics, just get going, get that first one ticked off, get the next one ticked off. And of course, there’s a priority in those. And I like Sunday nights, and even every evening before I go to bed, it makes me sleep more peacefully if I have a list for the next morning. And I actually start the list at the top with the most important things I need to do and get them out of the way first. And sometimes I do leave the most important things to last. And I find I don’t get to them because things get in the way I have a child and and you know, house in a husband and a business and it all gets in the way. And I kind of kicked myself because I should have done that that day. And the next morning, I’ll make sure I knock that off first. Over the years, I’ve done so much motivational speaking. And so many people have asked me what do I think the keys to success are. And I really break it down to three areas passion, I think if you have the passion for what you do, if you love what you do, and if it’s just it becomes your life, you’re involved in it to the point where you just don’t think that you’d be able to do anything else that is one step to success. The second one is preparation, doing all the planning, all the hard work, all the training that we did for hours on the beach, all the work in the gym, that was the preparation. And the third one, and I think this is the most important key is belief. belief in yourself belief in your journey, belief in your team belief in your business belief in your choices. If you believe what you do, the passion will just come out. And people love to flock to people that have belief. If you’re not 100% sure about either what you’re talking to a client about, or the plan that you’ve decided to take on or the coaching that you’ve decided to, to get involved with and invest your own money in, then you’re not going to give 100% of yourself, you’re not going to get the most out of it. So for us, the belief was so important because leading into the 2000 Olympics, we knew that to win the gold, we had to beat the best team in the world. We’d only beaten that team one time out of 17 matches over three years. But that one time. And that was one of our goals to beat every team in the world that one time gave us that tiny sliver of belief that we needed. And we just grew on that little sliver of belief. But we also did other things just in case, we couldn’t achieve that little goal, the stepping stone to get to the Olympics. So we did things like walking on broken glass and walking on hot coals that was all about looking at something that you think you can’t do that you think is impossible. And then just having the courage to take that first step. And once you’ve taken that first step, you can keep going or you have to keep going on the hot coals, but you keep going. And then when you’ve done it, you look back and go, Wow, I can’t believe I did that almost. And that was so easy. Yet I’ve been telling myself that I couldn’t do it. And that gives you the confidence to next time when you come up to a challenge. You think back to that moment and go well, I did that. Whether it’s picking up the phone asking the question, giving some advice, whatever it is that you don’t think you can do. Once you’ve just pushed yourself have the courage to give it a go, you look back and you go, I can do that I can do it again. And then I can do it again. And I can do it again. And at the end of the day, it’s the belief that gets you over the line. It’s the belief that wins you the gold medal. It’s the belief that makes you successful in your own business. When I first started playing beach volleyball, going from six people, even 12 people, a team and six on the court for indoor volleyball, I switched to beach volleyball, there were just two of us. There were no substitutes. And all of a sudden, the first thing I started to do if things weren’t going well, I started to think, well, it’s not my fault must be her fault. And I started to think well, you know, and blame and make up excuses for why things weren’t happening. And very quickly, I realized that there was no way we were going to have success. If I was doing that. I realized very quickly that I had to take responsibility for my half of the team and trust that my partner Natalie cook would have responsibility for her part of the team and then together we would be the best. So whether you’re in business in a role ship or in sport, I think if you take responsibility for what you do, it’s it’s like being a role model for your staff. If you’re a leader in your business, if you’re taking responsibility, and your staff see that that’s happening, they will emulate that. And they will accept that they will trust that they will respect you more, and they will start doing the same thing. So it’s like being a mom, I need to take responsibility for what I do. My son sees that I’m a great role model. And then hopefully, he does the same in his life. I was 100%, volleyball, volleyball, volleyball most of my life, because I absolutely loved it. So balance became pretty important because I needed to be able to switch off. And even during a match, we needed to have that balance of when we stepped onto the court, we were 100% focused on what was happening in that little box. When we stepped off, we could just open up our focus, talk to each other, communicate, talk about the next point, and then get back on the court and be 100% focus. So there’s an example within the game of being balanced with your focus off the court, I needed to make sure I still had friends, I still had family that that cared about what I was doing, I didn’t want to be 100% just volleyball, volleyball, volleyball, because I knew that that wasn’t healthy for me. So I made sure that I spent time and I allocated time. And luckily, in our sport, we get to travel the world with people from countries from all over. And so for me, the way I created that balance while I was on tour for three months out of the year, I was living out of a suitcase was to just make friends with some some different teams and different countries. So I would have that friendship and that downtime. And, you know, fun times away from the seriousness of let’s play sport and let’s get you know, let’s try and win. So balance was incredibly important. I think it can be dangerous if you start to to be affected emotionally by how successful you are. And I had to really be careful of that because even back when I was 10 years old, I remember losing it my own birthday party pin the tail on the donkey, and I was a terrible loser. And I got all upset and that’s the earliest I can remember of being so competitive. So I had to learn how to lose and that balance really helps you learn through those hard moments and and you know, take something out of it to be able to move forward.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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