One of the greatest things about being involved with the Winning Scotland Foundation is that is gives myself and countless other athletes and former athletes the opportunity to use our experience in sport to encourage and advise kids across Scotland how to become the best version of themselves. As part of the Champions in Scotland programme, we go into schools around the country speaking to young people about how to get the most out of themselves and where the programme is so clever is that the lessons do not only apply to children who are keen on sport; rather, every kid can take the message on board regardless of whether they are interested in sport, music, drama, business or whatever.
Last week, a select group of athletes, including myself, took part in a Positive Coaching Scotland workshop which was designed to demonstrate to us how to create a positive learning environment for young people. The primary message that we were encouraged to push when speaking to kids and young people is that success almost never comes without effort. Often, it is all too easy for kids to look at Olympic athletes and believe that they are a different breed to ‘regular’ people. That Olympic athletes were born with an innate talent that separates them from the rest of the population and young people often feel that achieving similar levels of success is unrealistic because they just don’t possess such levels of talent. How wrong they are. Every single athlete who has made it to the top of their sport has done so through hard work and dedication much more so than through talent. A degree of talent is, of course, important but commitment to improve and being able to overcome obstacles is essential, with every single athlete having had to rebound from a severe setback at least once throughout their career.
Young people often fail to realise that at one point, every Olympic athlete was in exactly the same position they are; sitting in a classroom with an ambition to achieve something or other in their life. The Positive Coaching Scotland workshop demonstrated to us all how to convey the message to young people that whatever you want to achieve in life, it is unlikely to be plain sailing and you must be willing to put 100 percent in, even when you’ve had a knock or you just don’t feel like it. And the beauty of this message is that it can be applied to every single aspect of a young person’s life.
Click here for more information on the Champions in Scotland Programme.