Episode 4: Your Core Values as an Athlete
Hey, everybody. Welcome to the fourth episode of the Strong Athletic Podcast. I’m your host, Nadia Kean.
(Music by the Little Bicycles)
If you’re tuning in for the first time, first I’d like to welcome you. Welcome. As I said, my name is Nadia Kean. And if you read my name, you might be surprised to hear how I pronounce it. And the way that I like to teach people to say my name is to think about how a horse would say it. So, I think that a horse, if a horse was saying my name which would be pretty spectacular, I think the horse would say, “Neigh-dia.” And so, that’s how I teach people. And then you think of candy canes. And then you get my name. Nadia Kean. If you’re somebody who really likes to pronounce things while reading them, don’t try to read my name or you’ll always mispronounce it.
It’s been really fun making this podcast. And the reason that I decided to start making it is for a few reasons. One is because I was looking for a resource such as this one, a podcast that’d help me get better at coaching. I really like podcasts. I think they’re a cool format in which people can learn about cool and interesting things. So, I was looking for a podcast to help me get better at coaching because that’s something I’m always striving for. And I couldn’t find one. And then, you know, it got me thinking about if there's a podcast that teaches athletes rather than coaches. So, it teaches athletes how to become better at getting coached. And so I looked for that and I couldn’t find one. And so the type of person that I am is if I can't find something and I think it's of value, then I'm going to create it.
I started this podcast because I wanted to create that resource for people in the sports community. And also it's an extension of my t-shirt company. The goal of my t-shirt company is to give people a platform in which they can express themselves. The very, very first Strong Athletic t-shirt, which was designed in the fall of 2013 by Kristin Perks, was made because Kristen had heard me say over and over, “What a fine group of strong, athletic women.” And Kristen heard me say this at derby practice. We were teammates. And I used to call my teammates a fine group of strong, athletic women in protest of us always being called girls. So I was over us being called girls and I wanted to educate people that it was incorrect to call a grown woman a girl. And so, I’d call people this. Well, Kristen took it one step further. And she was playing around with screen printing. And so she designed me this shirt that said, “Strong Athletic Woman” in really bold white letters on a simple gray shirt. She gave it to me for Christmas and that essentially changed my life. So, Kristen I know that you're busy these days, but if you're listening to this podcast, I just want you to know I'm forever grateful for you doing that for me ‘cuz that was a massive thing that you did for my life.
So my t-shirt company, Strong Athletic, has this goal in addition to giving people a platform in which they can express themselves, we also want to help keep people in sports. And this is not to say that we think everybody should play sports or sports is good for everyone to do. But I am positive that being active in some way is good for your health and good for your body and your brain, and that playing sports is a wonderful platform in which you can be active. I also believe that it's really unfortunate when people leave sports prematurely. A premature departure from sports would be one that somebody felt like they were forced into, or the situation on their sports team was so uncomfortable they decided the easiest thing to do was to leave. I think these types of departures from sport are really unfortunate. And one of my goals with my podcast is to give people ideas for how they can better communicate with one another, whether they are looking at that from the perspective of the coach or from the athlete or a teammate. And so if you're finding my podcast useful for that, then I'm really happy about that because that's essentially why I’m making it.
In last week's episode, we talked about your core values as a coach. And if you're coaching and you've never thought about your core values, and you did the exercises that I asked you to do last week, then I hope that that gave you some insight. You might recall that I told athletes that y'all weren’t off the hook, that I wanted you to do the exercises too and think about what you would hope your coach’s core values were. So athletes, if you listened to that episode and you found it useful, wonderful. If you think that your coach is in alignment with those core values, then that's great. But if you are finding that you wish your coach shared more of the core values that you think a coach should have, then perhaps that's a conversation that you need to have with your coach.
If you didn't get a chance to listen to Episode Three, no big deal. After today's episode, go back and have a listen to it because I think it will give you some insight. You'll just be approaching this concept from the perspective of the athlete first, rather than the perspective of a coach. And really, approaching it from one way or the other doesn't really matter. It's just most important that you just do it.
So as you know, the Strong Athletic Podcast is all about helping you solve problems that you have now or that might come up while you're in sports. And sometimes those problems are sort of heavy and they, you know, they kind of dig deep into who we are as athletes, or people, or coaches, because they have to do with real problems that we really care about. So, we’re going to solve a problem that’s pretty annoying, but it’s really easy to fix. And it’s that I had no idea where to put my cell phone while I worked out. And I like to listen to podcasts when I'm running or lifting or erging, and I didn't have a good place to put it. I put them in my bra, but then my phone would get really, really gross. And so I had heard that Superfit Hero was designing activewear that had pockets in it. And so, I thought I'd look into it. And holy smoke! I'm so happy that I did. So, let me tell you about Superfit Hero if you haven't heard of them. So, they started off as a derby company, but people in all sports wear them. And they just make this premium activewear. And it’s super tough, and it’s great for any workout. They are designed and tested for athletes of all sizes, so from extra small to 5XL. And they're manufactured ethically in Southern California, which I love. And again they have those pockets, so it's perfect for me. The only problem is that I need to buy a couple more pairs ‘cuz I only have one pair and I don't work out once a week. Oh, you know. But I don’t think Superfit can do anything about that, except that they are offering 15% off of your next purchase. So, go to superfithero.com. That's easy to remember. And check them out. And then if you find something that you want and you put it in your cart, use the following code at checkout. Okay. Get your pen out. It’s kind of complicated. The code is STRONGATHLETIC. So, anyway. So, I’m gonna go to superfithero.com and I’m going to use that code so that I don’t have to do laundry all the time. And I think you should too. And hey, Superfit Hero, thank you so much for supporting Strong Athletic.
All right. So now that we've tackled the big issue and dilemma of where am I going to put my cell phone when I work out, we’re now going to tackle other issues. Isn’t that great? We can just scratch things off our to-do list. So, what are your core values as an athlete? S, if you've thought about this, then it might be the case that you haven’t actually thought about what are your core values as a human. So, examples of my core values as a human are, I try to put my family and my friends first. Or, nothing is taken; I earn everything that I have. So, those are my core values as a human. So in a moment here, I'd like for you to hit ‘pause’ and you're going to think about what your core values are as a human. If you came to the session prepared with your Strong Athletic Podcast notebook, then go ahead and jot down your core values as a human. And if you did this exercise last week, then you're already sort of prepared for it and maybe you thought about it more and they've changed. Or, who knows? Maybe it was a big stretch of time since you listened to Episode 3. Maybe you’re not listening to this in real time and it’s been a year. I don’t know. But anyway, write down your core values as a human. And then when you're ready, hit ‘play.’
I’m assuming that you've hit ‘play’ because that's the only way that you could hear my voice. Maybe you never hit ‘pause’ in the first place. Who knows? Anyway, so now we're going to move on to your core values as an athlete. Rather than give you examples of what core values could be, I'm going to go ahead and read you my list of my core values. But before I read you my list, I want you to write down your own list of core values. I don't want mine to influence yours. And then you'll be able to listen to mine and then… Get this. You're not going to believe it. You can hit ‘pause’ whenever you want and go back to your own core values. Fair? Fair. Also, why don’t you go ahead and date today’s date where you’re writing down your core values.It might be interesting to you in years to come to flip back and see what they were on this date. Go ahead and hit ‘pause’ and write down those values. And then when you’re ready, hit ‘play.’
All right. Again, if you can hear my sweet, southern accent, then I think you've hit ‘play.’ And it's time for me to read you my core values as an athlete. And it was interesting doing this because I actually do this exercise myself in preparation for this podcast. You're having to do it. You decide to do it. And I had to do it too. Without further delay, I'm going to read you my core values. I have nine core values. So, you know what they say. Lucky number nine. I don’t really know if anybody says that. But I think my mom thinks 3’s are lucky. So, three times three is nine. I don't know. Anyway, I digress.
So, here we go. Nadia Kean’s core values as an athlete. Core value number one: I am an intelligent human and I can think for myself. Core value number two: I don't have to learn from just anyone. I must be treated with respect if I'm to learn from anybody. Core value number three: curiosity is always my main driver in sport. Core value number four: I need to respect my coach and my teammates. Core value number five: I need to take ownership of my own experience in sport. Core value number six: I need to learn to interpret indicators. Core value number seven: joy and physical health are why I'm in sports. Core value number eight: I need to acknowledge everyday that sport is a human right, but it's also a massive privilege. And core value number nine: I need to stop when I'm no longer having any fun.
All right. So, those are my core values. And I'm pretty certain that my core values that I had three or four years ago would be really, really different from the core values that I have today. So, that's one of the reasons why I want you to date today's date when you write down your core values ‘cuz I think that they’re going to change over time, especially as your priorities and your obligations in life change over time. So, go ahead and hit ‘pause’ now and go back and think about your core values. And you might modify them. You might not. And then also think about my core values and what they might mean to you. And then, good news, you don't really have to guess. I'm going to tell you all about them from my vantage point, and then you’ll have a better understanding of them. So hit ‘pause.’ When you're ready to come back to me hit ‘play.’
All right. Hey, everybody. I'm assuming that you're back. So, let's get into it. So, my core value number one. I'm an intelligent human and I can think for myself. That is my first core value. It's very similar to my first core value as a coach. And in case you didn't listen to last week's episode, I won't give it away, but I really like to acknowledge how I am a human. I'm capable of great thought and concept. And I can think for myself. Sometimes I’ll be coached by somebody who knows way more than me in a sport, and other times I'll be coached by somebody who is my equal in that sport. And then at moments, I'll be coached by somebody who knows way less than I do in the sport. But at any given point, regardless of my coach’s experience or their knowledge base or what they're capable of doing in the sport, I will remember that I'm intelligent and I can think for myself. This is important to me because the thoughts that I have are very important to me. My intellect. The thoughts that I put into my brain. The information I put into my brain. And the ideas I come up with. All of these are very, very special and important to me. It creates my intellectual property. And so, I like to remind myself that I can think for myself.
Now some coaches might hear this and they might misunderstand it. So, what they might misunderstand is they might think that I am saying, “I can think for myself and I do not need their direction.” However, this would be a misunderstanding of what I am saying. When I am being coached, I am inviting information to be presented to me. I'm in fact opening up my brain to another human to tell me their ideas. And so, I do not volunteer that unless I want it to happen. So when I ask somebody to coach me, it's because I respect them. And this is starting to tie into my core value number two. But it's because I respect them. And so, of course I want to hear what they have to say. And of course I want them to coach me. But I also have my own freedom of thought, and my freedom to learn what I would like to learn. So, I can think for myself.
And on occasion, people ask me to do things in sport that I actually don't agree with. And so I have a conversation with them about it because I'm not going to just shake my head yes and say, “Yes. You are right. All of your information is correct. You are the coach. I will listen to you.” No. That’s not the type of human I am. And also on the street, I'm not going to do that. And also in a work environment, I’m not going to do that. So, I’m not going to do it in sports.
So, let’s go ahead and go into core value number two because it really ties into core value number one. But it's that I don't have to learn from anybody that I don't want to learn from. And I must be treated with respect if I'm going to learn from somebody. Have you ever had a teacher that you didn't respect, or they didn't respect you? It was probably hard to learn from them. Learning really, really requires a lot of trust between two people. And you're asking somebody to do an odd thing when they neither respect you, they don't respect you but you want them to learn from you. The teacher-student relationship is a delicate one. And it requires a lot of communication. It requires trust to be there. So, asking somebody to learn from you while they don't respect you, to me is an oxymoron. It doesn't exist.
So coaches, they don't have one opportunity for me to respect them. So it's not like a ‘once I don't respect you, it’s lost forever’ type of thing. But it's an ongoing continuum. So with a coach, I'm always aware of the relationship and if we respect one another. Things that might cause me not to respect my coach really vary. But basically, I start off respecting a coach. So it's not like they have to earn my respect. So, I start off respecting people until they show me reasons not to respect them. There are multiple reasons I might not respect somebody. And that's a whole different show. But I must respect somebody, I must trust them, to want to learn from them.
And because I believe this to be true as an athlete, then as a coach I know that there's not a good reason for an athlete to want to learn from me if they don't respect me. And so that really helps keep me in check when I coach people because I treat people the way that I want to be treated. And I know that’s sometimes like an overly used statement. But I do have massive respect for athletes when I coach them. And I treat them like the human that they are, somebody who can think for themselves. They have control over their own brain and their own body. And I'm lucky to be able to coach them. In turn as an athlete, I'm lucky to be coached by a person. They're sharing with me information that they've created. And I think that's very, very special. But that respect must definitely be there.
My third core value, curiosity is my core driver. That's an interesting thing to say. And you might not even know what that means. So, good news. I am explaining it to you. So, I am a very curious person. And if you've ever been around me, you know that I ask you a lot of questions. And when I'm listening to you, the way that you know I'm engaged is if I speak back to you about what you're talking to me about. So, if you think that people are being respectful when they sit quietly and listen to you, well I think I'm being respectful when I really engage in the conversation and I ask lots of questions. I think I might have learned this from my mom. My mom’s the type of woman that she could go to the grocery store to just buy something simple like coffee. And I'll use coffee as an example ‘cuz she drinks so much coffee. So, anyway. So, she could go to the grocery store, just buy some coffee. And by the time she's leaving, she knows the cashier’s name. She knows where the cashier was born. How many children that she has. What she does for a living. What she wants to do for a living. That's just the nature of my mom. She just asks people a lot of questions. So I do too. So, I’m a very curious person and a very curious learner.
Now in episodes to come, we're going to talk about questions during practice, and when athletes ask questions, when they don't ask questions, when coaches ask athletes questions, when they don't ask athletes questions. And this has to do with something that I call 'direct and indirect coaching.’ I don't want to give too much away about that, but I just want to let you know that when people ask you questions, it's not necessarily a bad thing or a sign of disrespect. They're not necessarily challenging your knowledge base. So for me personally, I'm a very curious person and I want to ask you a lot of questions. And if you're coaching me at a practice… I'm thinking about my coach, Davis. I made a joke the other day that I wasn't allowed to ask any questions, anymore questions that is, for three more practices because, you know, I can really monopolize practice time sometimes. And it’s just not fair ‘cuz other people have questions. But if I ask you questions, it’s a massive sign of respect, and it’s also the way that my brain works. So, you teach me a little bit. I'm inquisitive about it. I'm curious about it. And then I ask you questions.
In episodes to come, we’re also going to talk about relevancy. So, a lot of people learn based off of when information is relevant to them. So for instance, sometimes coaches end practice and they give a lot of information at the end of practice. And they say, “All right. Remember that for next time. Bye.” But it's hard for athletes to incorporate it because at the next practice, it might not be relevant. So, yeah. I’m a very curious person. And I let curiosity be my driver in sport and in learning with what I should do with my brain and also what I should do with my body.
My next core value is that I need to respect my coach and I also need to respect my teammates. I need to remember that everybody is there for their own reason and their own purpose. And I can't put what I want first because it might not be good for the team. And it might not be good for my coach. Now some of you who have been my teammate in the past, or you’ve coached me in the past, you might be choking on your coffee right now and saying, “Yeah right.” But the thing is that hopefully we develop as humans and people throughout the years. And one of the things that I was noticing at the end of my derby career is the more competitive I would get and the more focused on my goals I would get, I would just put me first. And you know, one person at the forefront of the team is not good for the team. Unless maybe, potentially it's a team of one. And so I really need to keep a check on that and a check and a balance on that, making sure that I respect my teammates and I respect my coach.
And there's many ways that you can show respect for people. Not everybody shows respect in the same way. So for instance, I was talking to my wife the other day and she was saying timeliness is a sign of respect. So when you show up on time, you're showing somebody that you respect them. When you don't show up on time, you're showing that you disrespect them. So, timeliness is an important indicator to her for if you respect her or not. I was talking to another friend the other day, and she was saying honesty is a sign of respect. So, if you're honest with people, if you tell them things honestly, or if you lie to them, then that’s a sign if you respect them or not.
Regardless of if you show respect in one way or the other, start to try to take note or keep track of how your coach shows you respect and how your teammates show you respect. And then start to show them respect in the same way. So for instance, if you're not a very timely person. So for me personally, I really do not like quote-unquote timeliness. I think that things should be done when they are done. You should get places when you get there. But apparently most of the world doesn't agree with me. So I know that timeliness for many people is a sign of respect. So I show up on time. I change what I would prefer to do to do what they need me to do to show that respect. If you’ve never thought about respect that way, then I'm glad that this is giving you some new ideas that you haven't thought about.
All right. So my core value number five. I need to take ownership of my own experience. So I don't know if you've ever thought about that, but you need to take ownership of your own experience in sport. We're talking about this from the perspective of an athlete. Right? Some of you are on teams with a lot of people. Know what that means? Your coach has to coach a lot of people. Your coach can't always focus on you. They're going to have to focus on other people because it's good for the team. It's good for your teammates. And so, you have to take ownership of your own experience. So if you're not having the experience that you want, you yourself need to make changes to have it. If you don’t… Excuse me. If you don't have a great relationship with your coach, you need to approach it in a way that will change things. But again, you need to take the lead on that. You can’t expect your coach to do that for you. If there's teammates that you don't have a great experience with, you need to take the lead on modifying those relationships. If you're super stoked on your team, then you need to take control of the experience and make sure that you're doing things so that you stay super stoked, super happy. If you're not happy on the team, if you're miserable, then again, you need to be the driver, the leader of those changes.
So, nobody's going to do it for you. Or if they do, you’re lucky. But you really need to be doing things for yourself. If you don't feel like you have the power to do things, or you don't feel like you're the person to do it, or you feel embarrassed or nervous about this, then I respect that. And hopefully throughout the Strong Athletic Podcast episodes to come, you're going to be given tools that will help you feel more comfortable taking control of your own experience. Ultimately I need to remember that my experience is driven by myself. And that's important to me. That's empowering to me. That keeps me in check.
My next core value is that I need to learn how to interpret indicators. Now this was also one of my core values as a coach. And so I'm going to have an episode on what indicators are in the future. To put it quickly, an indicator is anything that you do in sports. Today for instance, I was on a row with a woman named Tracy who was visiting from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. And she just happened to ask me if I wanted to row today ‘cuz it's her last day in town. And I said, “Yes.” And so as we were rowing, she was sitting right behind me. And she noticed that I was doing something with my shoulder. And she was asking me to modify it, or recommending that I modify it. And first this was rad ‘cuz I haven't been in a boat with a doubles partner who's coached me in a while. So, it was just a super treat. But also as I was talking to her and listening to her, she was telling me when I was adapting and making changes that were correct or not. And so, I was able to listen to her and make modifications on my own, and then listen to the coaching that she was giving me, i.e. indicators, and that was helping me to determine if I was doing it correctly or not. She gave me some cues to look for that would help me understand if I was doing it the way that I should, or if I was not. And so those are all indicators. So as an athlete, you need to learn how to interpret indicators. And so do I. And that basically means you need to learn how to instill what your coach is coaching you on.
My last three core values might surprise you but they're important to me nonetheless. Joy and physical fitness are now why I do sports. I was coaching a rower recently. And she told me she was getting nervous for a race she had coming up. And so I just reminded her that the key reason that she did rowing was for self-fulfillment. And I used the word joy. I asked her if she thought about joy as she rowed. In athletics, maybe you don't want to run that run this morning. You know? Maybe you don't want to lift at the gym. Maybe you don't want to do that erg workout at CrossFit. But if you can find the joy in it, the joy in being able to do something good for your body and your brain, then, you know, I really think there's some satisfaction and pure happiness. So, I do sports nowadays to be physically fit. To be healthy both with my body and my brain. It really helps out my Hashimoto’s. And also I do it just to feel that pure joy.
When I'm no longer feeling joyful in sport, I don't actually stay anymore. So, recently I was at a capoeira practice and I just left ‘cuz I just wasn't into it that day. Wasn't feeling it. And it was nothing that anybody was doing wrong. I just didn't want to be there. And my coach contacted me later and was like, “Hey. Are you alright? You just disappeared.” And I was like, “Oh, yeah. It just wasn't the day for it.” And he's like, “Okay. Well next time at least tell me before you leave.” And I was like, “Oh, yeah. I should have totally done that.” ‘Cuz otherwise he just thinks I’m mad at him or something. And of course I'm not. I just, like I said, I wasn't feeling that joy that day. And so I left practice. Didn't give myself a hard time. And then I went back to practice the next day. And, you know, it was fine. And I actually was really happy to be there. When I'm in rowing practice if I'm not feeling satisfied that day, I can't necessarily jump out of the boat and swim to shore. I might have a lot of rowers that were really puzzled. So, you can’t always leave practice. But if you're doing a workout one day on your own, or you're on a run on your own, or you’re lifting on your own, and you're just not happy. And you feel awful doing it. And you feel angry and mad and you’re raging, don't continue to do it because the next time that you go to put your gym bag in the car to go to the gym after work, maybe you’ll remember that negative association with it rather than the happy association with it. Yeah. So, joy. I try to find joy when I work out.
And you know, that's really a great lead-in to my next core value, and it’s that every single day I try to acknowledge that I think it's a human right to be able to play sports and to be physically active, but it's actually a massive privilege because not every single person in every single country gets to do so. Depending on where you live, if your country is in a war zone or if it's in a peaceful place, the language you speak, or the gender that you were born into, or the gender that people think you should identify as, the religion that you are part of, how your parents treat you, how your spouse treats you, the obligations that you have. You know, all of these things are factors that impact if people can be in sports or not. And so, although I do think it's a human right to be able to play sports and be physically active, people don't actually have that human right everywhere. And so I think it's a massive privilege to be able to be active and play sports. And I try to remind myself of that. You know, the next time that you're getting ready for a serious competition if you do compete at a really high level, maybe just remember that. Maybe just have gratitude when you're sitting there on the track. You know, if you’re a jammer and you’re scared shitless because you look to your left and you'll see the best jammer in the sport, maybe sit there and just have gratitude that you've made it there. Or if you're a swimmer. Or if you're a runner. Or if you're a lifter. Or if you do capoeira. Or if you do ballet or gymnastics or acro. Just remember that it’s actually a massive privilege to be there.
My final core value is just that I've made a pact with myself that I will only continue to do sports as long as it's fun and it brings me joy. And if it no longer is fun and it no longer brings me joy, then I'm not going to do it because the bottom line in life is that there's so many things that we have to do, that we’re obligated to do, that aren't that enjoyable. And so because of that, I'm going to choose to spend my time as much as I can choose to spend it in the way that I want, doing things that satisfy me.
Those are my core values as an athlete. And I am positive that if we had talked about my core values four years ago, they would not be the same. But, that's great. You know? We all progress as humans and we progress as athletes. And I have too.
If you tuned in for today’s show, I'm super stoked. We've talked about this before, but you know I only make the show for you. You are listening to the show, so I'm pretty sure you know how to get the show on your phone or on your computer. But if you aren't quite sure how you came to listen to it today, then I want to tell you that you can find it on Apple iTunes. You can find it on Spotify. You can find it on Stitcher. You can also find it at PodOmatic. Or you can find it at strongathleticpodcast.com. And there's also a link at strongathletic.com.
We'd like to thank today’s sponsor. So thank you again, Superfit Hero, for sponsoring the show. And we’d also like to give a shout out to Little Bicycle, who provide the music.
Strong Athletic Podcast is produced by Strong Athletic. And again, I'm your host Nadia Kean. I'm really happy that you joined me. Tune in for the next Strong Athletic Podcast, and we’re just going to continue on this journey together of becoming the best coaches, athletes, and teammates that we can in sports.
(Music by the Little Bicycles)