BLOG 1: The POWER of PURPOSE: An introduction to Mind Matters

Sport can be one of the the greatest outlets and therapies in the entire human experience. I have felt this for myself and have devoted much of my life to sharing the good things that sport can bring to people’s lives. With now twenty years in sport as an athlete, coach, manager, mentor, judge, salesperson and public speaker I have seen many approaches to athletic pursuit, some which have lead to very successful, happy and healthy relationships between the athlete and their sport to other approaches that have left athletes feeling disillusioned, depressed and angry at the sport that was supposed to bring them joy and success. It is clear that the healthiest approaches are highly personalised and suited to each individuals different needs and reasons for engaging in sport. Helping athletes on this journey, helping find their best approach is what Mind Matters is all about.

“Helping athletes align their training with their purpose is what Mind Matters is all about.”

Mind Matters has been a dream of mine for many years. As a psychology graduate and suicide prevention counsellor I became intimately aware of how POWERFUL the mind, our feelings and our attitudes are to everything we encounter in life. As my personal career as a professional athlete progressed even with this insightful knowledge I thought I was well aware of, I allowed trivial issues to consume my athletic approach and hugely affect my performance. Losing sight of the big picture, of the KEY ingredients of athletic success ultimately ended my professional career but granted me a retrospection of the negative mental cycle/ approach I had allowed to consume my athletic life. Such experiences have helped guide my style as a successful coach and director and has helped form my passion to establish Mind Matters Athlete Coaching.

Crocodile Trophy 2011. Photo: R. Stanger

One of the most grounding experiences I had in not only professional bike racing but in life was competing in the 2012 UCI Tour of Rwanda in central Africa. I was competing here as part of a wealthy American team who along with many other well to do European pro teams lined up against the best cyclists in Africa. These athletes from the small African national teams had the kind of resources we would consider rudimentary at a junior club level in Australia. Riders on second hand alloy bikes, old kit and maybe 1 staff member serving every need of the teams athletes. I fancied my chances at this race, thinking my well supported team with all the latest equipment and support would prove a huge advantage over the bare bones set ups of our rivals. I started well taking a top 10 in the first stage before later in the week when we hit the mountains, I went backwards fast. Struggling up the long, steep climbs of the Virunga mountains I saw the African riders on the alloy bikes and basic gear fly past me and the rest of the professional European riders. These athletes rode with such gumption, grit and determination at a level I had never witnessed before. As I battled through the 7 days of this race thinking about the rigid training program I had followed, the top end bike I was riding, the amazing support I had from my team and the nice hotel I had at the finish line it made me ponder- what REALLY makes the BIGGEST difference in athletic performance. I had world class athletic treatment at my fingertips and was struggling against riders whom had the previous week been working hard on cattle farms and in the fields to make ends meet. In conversation with some of these riders and their teams it became obvious to me what the key element that was driving these athlete’s was- family! A result in this race for many of the African riders meant food on the table for his family, it meant being able to support his family and afford things I would take for granted at home. Their PURPOSE in racing here was serving a more primal level in the ‘hierarchy of needs’ than the wealthy western athletes. Their willingness to struggle was heightened because it meant so much more to them.

Tour of Rwanda 2012. Photo: M. Greve

This race really highlighted to me how important our PURPOSE is in everything we do. In athletic pursuit purpose can be the difference between 1st and 2nd or it can be the difference between winning and quitting. Everyone whom has clicked into a bicycle has done so for some sort of purpose, helping athlete’s align their training with that purpose is what ‘Mind Matters’ is all about. There is a place for power meters, heart rate data and fancy computers and it is so much more effective when it is aligned with one’s goals, purposes and values in sport. It is possible even to train effectively, efficiently and successfully with NO data whatsoever, by focussing on feeling. This all depends on one’s purpose and one’s values. Mind Matters is all about aligning these crucial elements of success.

Cycling and sport in general offers so many wide reaching benefits to life. In a modern, busy Western context sport can be the release, the therapy to an otherwise chaotic and stressful work life. Let Mind Matters help you allow sport to be your release, be your keys to motivation and open up an avenue to getting the most out of your sport! Hope to see you on the road!

Justin Morris, Founder, Mind Matters Athlete Coaching.

“Purpose can be the difference between 1st and 2nd or it can be the difference between finishing and quitting”
Justin Morris