Paul Ashbrook, PsyD, Elite Performance Coach
JB: Talk to me about your journey and what got you here?
Always wanted to be a professional athlete, went for college golf. Had some injuries and wasn’t playing well enough. Friend at UC Riverside (undergrad), coached him to pursue Grad school even though it wasn’t on his radar. Had a background in psychology...what pairs sports and Psych?
Went to SDSU - nice enough to let him in even though maybe wasn’t deserved. He worked and has made them proud! Thought he would be an applied practitioner to work with olympians and pro athletes….building private practice was challenging...found some opportunities to TEACH...a way to help others….the main reason he got into in the first place.
Back to school got a Doctorate in Sports & performance Psych - Balance of Research, evidence based practitioner, based in Science & Research. Which then allows him to work with elite athletes, military, business leaders.
Got lucky a few times and capitalized on it every time
JB: How is this field evolving? What are you most excited about?
Has been in the industry for 10+ years, still feels like a nobody but has knowledge and experience.
You hear the same thing all the time, bickering about title usage, constructs, etc.
The exciting part is that Performance Psychology is far more normalized.
Psychology had so much Stigma and people viewed that as a weakness, still undertones there, military/athletics/medicine.
It’s not about fixing something that’s broken but unleash something that’s already inherent in you.
People may reach out when things are off, but that doesn't preclude them from doing this work when things are going well. Which is becoming more normalized and accepted.
People are becoming more accepting and realize that they are part of a team and aren’t afraid to talk about it.
JB: We see coaching starting to become more popular, widely recognized. Clients will share praise with me when really it’s just helping them unlock the best in themselves. What makes a really good coaching client? Or someone who is coachable?
The biggest thing I look for is engagement. You show up prepared, you’re actively participating, you’re open minded and willing to take that feedback.
If you show up and do the work. Professional side- a few clients that weren’t there. Academic - People who slack, don’t pay attention, make excuses, get called on it and they are confused why they are held to a high standard.
I expect you to be as invested in this as I am. This is a collaborative effort.
I’m a Doctor and some people will call me doctor. Most people I’ll say just call me, Paul. No hierarchy. We are collaborating, working together with a similar goal in mind. I don’t expect that DR title or need that to be above you and we are working together.
JB: Sales manager is one of the least prepared roles and coaching is an area that many managers struggle with. How do you avoid ego in coaching and what advice would you give to new managers?
John Wooden is one of my coaching idols and has a lot of great philosophies - It’s not about being better than someone else or comparing yourself to someone else. Focus more on you and what you have to do. Be as good as yourself.
Not about being better than someone else, focus on what you have to do vs. someone else. If you do your best you can be the most valuable asset to the team
You can be the best and still focus on your own growth and improvement every single day. Not about what everyone else is doing, it’s about doing your best.
JB: How do you win every day?
I’m a big fan of Self-confidence and it’s one of the core skills I teach my clients.
Self-efficacy = situation specific self confidence.
Past Performance Success (PPS) = Strongest impact on confidence but most folks don’t focus here
Vicarious Experience- modeling
PPS= looked at from very binary experience. I don’t have the results, sales, the experience, etc.
If this is the way you look at it, you will lose more than you win.
The more confident you are, the better you perform. There is this upward mobility. If you are less confident you are the less successful.
FOCUS ON DAILY WINS. WIN THE DAY
The 3 things I push everyday are:
- Optimal attitude (what do you need to have to perform at your best everyday?)
- Maximum Effort- when things aren’t going well, people phone it in...we’ve all done it. No matter the situation, give Maximum Effort.
- Daily Improvement- Performance compounds even if you aren’t there today, you can get there. Then you’ll be there a day week, month from now.
If you win every single day, how confident will you be after that?
JB: It’s so easy to get lost on the things outside of our control. Stoicism talks a lot about focusing on what is within your control so you don’t get stuck in a downward spiral. I love the question; What type of attitude do I need to show up with today? Leveraging a growth mindset, this type of attitude can be built and developed
Do you see any difference between successful performers and un-successful performers?
I wouldn’t say it’s different across athletics, business, etc. The similarities are the same between high-performers wherever you go.
Lower performers have an ideal of Perfectionism. An idea that everything is different or unique and requires a ton of attention.
NO I’m going to dedicate maximum time, effort, everyday.
Self-belief is critical.
I had no business getting into grad school, GPA was well below what was required, the admissions team told him he had some issues.
I believe in myself, believe I can be successful, give me a shot.
Sometimes you’re going to be the only person that believes in yourself and need to push yourself. You need to be your best friend
JB: You have to be your own advocate because nobody will stand up for you if you can’t stand up for yourself.
What do you think about fake it until you make it?
Self-fulfilling prophecy- the things we say or believe, invariably come true.
“I’m going to bomb this meeting” the likelihood is I’m going to fail with that thought.
Humans would rather be right, then do something that is beneficial to them.
I’m going to go in and believe in myself until i get there.
Just believing it doesn’t manifest it. Once you have it in your mind, THEN you lay out the plan of attack.
JB: What is the difference between Golfers getting to elite performance?
People tend to think, If I just set a goal it’ll all take care of itself. And that’s not how it works.
Put a conscious effort to understand where I am strong, how do I enhance those? What areas am I weak, and where can I clean it up?
Decisiveness & Commitment- many golfers know the shot that needs to be hit, but don’t have the confidence.
Test taking 70-80% likelihood of success in trusting your gut if you have done some prep work. Vs. going back and re-reading the question 5,6,7 times.
Trust your gut, be decisive and just own it.
I would rather you make the WRONG decision and be 100% confident in it.
The shot you are committed to will be better than the one you aren't
JB: How do you help folks bounce back?
Positive shot library - so you can pull it out at anytime
Have small wins. Client couldn’t hit a driver - don’t care if you’re uncomfortable, let's get the ball in play. Let’s get up and hit it solidly...then narrow the target.
Find the little wins to gain a little more confidence. Now eliminate the big misses. More and more success.
The human mind is naturally drawn to the failures and the things you do poorly.
JB: How does a gratitude practice serve us? Our brain has been programmed for many years to be negative.
This is pure evolution. No saber tooth tigers running around now.
Clients jot down a few things daily as to what happened to them, that went well. End of the week makes it easy to go back and remember what went well.
If I asked you to list 3 good things that happened to you today, how hard would that be?
Many people STRUGGLE and it shows how challenging that is.
If I wanted you to list 3 bad things, that would be SO EASY.
Emphasize the idea of WHAT WENT WELL TODAY?
Strengths based consulting - positive psychology
Not only does this help us track what’s going well, it gives us
JB: How do you tailor your approach to different people with different perspectives?
Observe them to get perspective. Ask people around them. Ask Them. Take all this information together, the more I have the better I can make those decisions.
Some people it takes time so we need to build rapport. Share some of my own challenges and struggles.
You’re a Human. I’m a human.
Lots of remote consulting, working with clients around the world. Some built-in travel sessions to re-establish the human connection.
I’m really good at what I do because I keep that human piece.
It feels like we are so far apart. Many years ago, on a cruise with his wife, stopped at a beach in Barbados. 4,000 miles from California, and realized they have a connection around Tupac, could build rapport easily. Just find one thing in common and it makes it so much easier.
Lots of differences are seen and we easily forget how closely related we are as humans. You get on a ski lift with someone and it makes rapport building so easy
6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, we are so closely connected and we forget that so easil
4 year old daughter try to instill a love of other cultures in her. She has has 4 passport stamps! Teaching her to speak basic Spanish. You see the happiness in the people’s eyes to show them you are valuable and a human.
Talk to me about effective mission statements
Mission statements are tricky. Typically stated from the top-level of an organization
As that mission statement gets distilled down, lower levels may be more disconnected, it feels very forced.
Similar in athletics and team settings.
Work to create personalized mission statements. End of day the team (business, military, athletic) you all have an idea of what you want from THAT experience.
What do you want from this experience?
What are the attitudes we can all buy into? The effort expectations that we have? The Social component? Recognition.
What is an attitude we expect of yourself, or our teammates that we can all support?
What’s the effort expectation and what does that actionable behavior look like?
Recognition; from yourself? Your peers? What do you want to be recognized for?
Now I’m more engaged and able to benefit everyone at a higher level.
Try to think mission personally, what do I/we want?
Done in a team- everyone has to agree to it. They can now hold each other accountable to the expectations!
Individual employees are going to think you’re trying to trick them. The person running it needs to be hands off and just let it go.
People look to the boss, the coach that creates confusion, let them create what they want
JB:What do most people get wrong about mental skills?
That people think they need to feel COMFORTABLE in order to perform at a high level
I bring a lot back to confidence as it’s a really important thing.
People want to feel calm, cool, collected. If you can have that feeling, GREAT. Challenge is naturally a high performance environment that creates challenge, stress, discomfort.
Trying to get comfortable will be tough because your environment is naturally creating discomfort.
While I want to be comfortable, I’m OK not being comfortable. How can I perform in this as much as I can?
THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS NOW!
MJ- Tee last Dance - Why would I be concerned about taking a shot I haven’t even taken yet?!
Wasting tons of energy focused on something that hasn’t even happened.
Good things & bad things will happen. It is what it is. For you it’s up to you as to HOW YOU RESPOND TO IT? How do you solve the new problem vs. I feel bad/sad/uncomfortable
JB: Love winning or hate losing?
PA: I hate to lose. Bothers me to my core. Very competitive person. I really like winning though. Not sure I can answer it.
I always try and find a win in something- more of the winning piece.
Men’s golf club- last week played terribly, and wasn't pleased with how I scored. Get to 18th Hole to birdie and shooto 79, but making birdie on 18 makes lunch taste better and the day feel better
JB: What does success mean to you?
About Jordan Benjamin
Jordan is the founder of My Core OS. After spending years in sales, working with sellers and studying peak performance he found an opportunity to help sellers level up to not only build peak performance at work, but to also create harmony between work and life so you can sustain performance over the long term.