Confidence at Work Interview with Tami Matheny
Well, I did.
And Twitter is So. Much. Fun.
One of the reasons Twitter is so fun is the ability to find and match up with people with like interests. Have real conversations. Connection.
That’s how I met Tami. She reached out to me on Twitter and we’ve discovered quite a few commonalities. First, she’s the athlete-version of Confidence at Work. As a Mental Game Coach, Tami works with coaches, athletes, teams and teachers to improve the mental aspect of sports, especially around confidence.
Tami’s written a book called The Confident Athlete (check it out here), and it’s a quick read, full of actionable steps and supporting stories.
But most of all, Tami’s businesses exist to help others achieve their potential. She can do that in a myriad of ways, but finds that focusing to confidence with athletes helps all the other pieces fall into place.
Tami and I got together and discussed all things confidence…how she had to dig deep to strengthen her own confidence to write a book. She’s a great storyteller, and her story on visualization will blow you away.
You can listen and download here (please excuse the audio quality - that’s what I get for recording this while I’m in a big room).
Heidi: All right Tami, so what are you excited about working on these days?
Tami: I have a new venture coming off of my book, The Confident Athlete, and as part of the promotion for The Confident Athlete I had started making a monthly calendar, and every day there's a little piece of confidence for that day, and someone had suggested I make a year calendar. Well, that's turned into a journal, well, where it'll start with the top with the quote or the confident tip of the day taken from the calendar, and then have a journal to write your thoughts on it or to take notes or however you may use it. So I'm excited to get that off the ground.
Heidi: Yeah, that's great. So it's almost like this integrated system.
Tami: Yes. Yeah. It's kind of taken on a different ... It's gone in a different direction than I initially intended for it to, but it's ... I've enjoyed working on it.
Heidi: Are you looking to launch soon?
Tami: I had hoped before Christmas obviously to get in on the Christmas sales, but I think it's going to be more feasible to try to launch right at the new year and maybe tie it into starting the new year with confidence.
Heidi: I love it. I love it. So tell me what confidence means to you.
Tami: I think to me confidence is the belief in yourself, and that's a simple definition. You find so many definitions. But it's the belief in yourself as well as the ability to not worry about what others think.
Heidi: In your work, how did you decide to specialize in confidence with athletes?
Tami: Well, I started off as a tennis coach, and that was my biggest frustration or challenge to overcome with my athletes was their lack of confidence when things didn't go well. They'd have confidence as long as things were well, so I termed it roller coaster confidence. To help me be a better tennis coach, I started reading anything I could on confidence, listening to anybody that would talk about confidence, watching what the most confident athletes out there do, and seeing how I could use that. And I saw success the more confident they became.
Tami: I also think I probably had an inclination toward confidence because I dealt with it so much. I think if you would have known me in high school, you would have probably thought oh, she's the most confident person in the world. But on the inside it was worrying what people thought, and that's why I tie that definition in. My confidence was based on the last comment, our last result I had. So there's a-
Heidi: Hence the roller coaster.
Tami: Yes, exactly.
Heidi: Right. That's so interesting. So for you then as a coach, and you view either your clients or people that you're working with or not, how do you know somebody has confidence?
Tami: I think that's a good question. But I don't know if you can determine that automatically. Obviously body language I think is a strong indication. But we don't always know what the thoughts that people are having in their head. But I think observing people, you get a sense that they do have a stable ... Again, I think we all have confidence here and there, but to me it's that stable confidence that brings the success and happiness. But I think a combination of their body language and their self-talk gives you an idea of how confident someone is.
Heidi: What's a common theme you find in your work? I realize you specialize in confidence. Is there a specific issue you see more often with athletes, and how do you go about helping them solve it?
Tami: Oh, that's a good question. I would, again, lack of confidence, especially with females. I see the female struggle so much on that roller coaster more than the male athletes. We could probably spend all day talking on why do I think that. I think there's a lot of factors. But the high school female athlete really struggles with that social acceptance, and how confidence plays into that or doesn't play into that. I would say that's probably by far the biggest issue that I do see.
Tami: Attached to that I would say are focus. I read something the other day that the trait that successful people do better than others, is to control their thoughts. I'm guessing discipline, I'm guessing having goals, all this stuff, but it's that they control their thoughts. I see the high school athletes, they really struggle with where their thoughts are, and they're focused and worried about the wrong things, which ties in and it takes a toll on their confidence.
Heidi: That makes so much sense. It's like they're getting ... They haven't developed that personal ability to get past some of those outside influences at that age.
Tami: Right. Right. Everything's based on what someone thinks of them are what someone has said to them. So yeah. And not just in athletes. I think that's a problem in general with our youth and a lot of adults as well.
Heidi: So you wrote a book, The Confident Athlete. Tell me what your hope was in writing this one.
Tami: I'm going to have to go in a long story here, because it's kind of funny and it's kind of my journey here. But when I was in, again, going back to when I was in high school with that roller coaster confidence, I was considered a poor writer, and in my head I could not write. And my teachers reaffirmed that. I would get back reports and it would be A on material, D, F on grammar and writing. So I was like, okay, I can't write. I had an English professor that sent me a paper back, a term paper I'd put a lot of time into, and gave me an F. And again, I was a straight a student so I'm a F, I mean I'm in tears. And she said, "It was too good to be yours." Again, that just reaffirmed. I can't write, I can't write, I can't write.
Tami: Then I get into the mental coaching, and really started to enjoy standing up in front of people and talking to them, which also had been a fear of mine in high school. But enjoyed that piece. But then when I would sit down to try to do a blog, then the words just wouldn't come. And people would say, "You need to do a blog, you need to do a blog." No. And then working with teams they're like, "You have to give us something written that we can use to follow up when you're not here. You need to write a book, need to write a book."
Tami: I heard it enough to where I thought, okay, I'm going to try this, and started off with a partner, and he was going to do the writing. You noticed how I got out of that part. And I was going to give him the material. And we worked on it for a little bit. But then he took a full time job that took him away from it. So I probably was like oh crap for about two, three months thinking well, there goes that.
Tami: And then someone challenged me. I had a good friend that challenged me and said, "You work every single day of trying to get people outside their comfort zone. You have to do this if for no other reason than yourself." So it started off with a supplement to help the teams and groups that I work with, and then it became my latest challenge or goal that I needed to overcome and get rid of that self fulfilling prophecy, I guess you could say. So it came something bigger than it was, and now it's become my big old business card, giant business card. So again, it evolved as I went through the process of writing the book.
Heidi: And it's a great book too.
Tami: Well, thank you.
Heidi: You kind of had to do the doctor heal thyself to push yourself out of the comfort zone. How did you do it?
Tami: A lot of self talk. Obviously I talk about self talk in the book, and it's a strong part of confidence. But there were days when I didn't want to. It's interesting though. I changed the topic. I was gonna .. With the man I was writing the book with, we were going to write on momentum. And I would sit down and think, and words just wouldn't come. I just struggled and I thought, well, I'm going to write what I'm most confident on, confidence.
Tami: Then it became easier, and I had my notes from sessions I do, and if I need to pull a session out of my back pocket, it's always on confidence. So that helped a lot because I had a lot of material, and all the research I've done on confidence through the years. So that made it easier. I think it's easy to write on what you like. And I struggled at first trying to make it this wonderful masterpiece instead of just writing in my own words, and it doesn't have to be an eloquent written piece of literature. So that helped a lot.
Tami: The book, if you've read it, which you have, I just tell my stories of athletes or clients I've worked with, or my own experiences. A little bit of information about confidence, how it attaches, and then give exercises. So I wouldn't say it's the best work of literature there is, but I hope it's an effective piece of literature.
Heidi: And you kind of answered my next question, about how do you get yourself out of self doubt or anxiety, and you mentioned it was self talk. So why ... Go ahead.
Tami: It is self talk. And the I am statements that I referred to in the book, nothing more than affirmations, but I found out when I use the word affirmations, people lose interest. So I just started saying I am statements. And I am statements have been big for me. I used to, again, hate to stand up in front of people and talk. And I had to get over it by saying, "I am good at this. I am good at standing up in front of people and talking." I've even used it in my running. When I first started running I would hate to run up hills. And I started thinking, well I've got to use what I give people. And I started saying, "I am a hill runner, I am a hill runner." And then before I know it I'm at the top of the hill. So that by far is probably my go to.
Heidi: Tell me then maybe one of your favorite client moments. You mentioned taking that, if you've gotta think of something quick, you take the confidence tool out of your back pocket for a client. Tell me a little bit about how you use it in your work.
Tami: Well, the best one I have of my work, and it attaches visualization as well to this. But I was working with a high school softball team. And they had always been very successful, but they were missing that elusive state championship. And they had hired me, and that pretty much without telling me, that was the goal. I needed to be the extra piece. Because they had the talent. They had all of that. So I started challenging them with their self talk, and I started asking them every night to go to bed and visualize three things. And this was at the beginning of the season. Visualize having the game winning hit, visualize having the game winning defensive play, visualize winning and celebrating and how it's going to feel. And of course there was a lot of self talk and all of that.
Tami: Comes down to the last game. They had split games, so they were playing a game three to decide in the state championship. One of the girls got a hit in the first inning. It turned out to be the only hit they had in the entire game, but it did drive in a run. And she told me when she came in the dugout, "I imagined that I saw that exact hit."
Tami: Now at that time we didn't know it was gonna be the game winning hit, but she had seen it. She's like, "I saw it. I've been doing what you ask." Which, I always enjoy that moment. But then we get into the seventh inning, the last inning, and they had runners on first and second. A base hit's going to drive in at least one if not two. And the girl launches a long fly ball out to right field. Our right fielder actually trips a little bit, has her hand on the ground to keep from falling all the way, and reaches up and snags the ball.
Tami: Of course we celebrate, and we're all in joyous moments. Tears, everything, all emotions possible that you can think of are happening. And I get a text from her later. "I caught that ball because of what you asked us to do and visualizing every night, and I kept my confidence because I knew I'd put myself in that situation in my mind every night." And I still get chills in sharing that story. And when I read that, that was probably one of my biggest wins ever. Yes. Winning the state championship was nice, but knowing that someone took and applied what I had given them and they saw success from it, it's one of my greatest wins, I would say.
Heidi: Absolutely. That is such a good story. I love it. Who's your leadership hero?
Tami: My leadership hero, for all North Carolina fans up there that, well I should say all UNC haters, they're not gonna like this, but I would say Dean Smith. I grew up, didn't have much a choice in North Carolina fan, but I loved how he led his team, how he spoke to the media. I got ahold of every book that he had written. I had a great book on leadership, and just applying leadership ideas into practice. And I quoted him, talked about him so much, some of my teams would say, "Dean Smith must be your daddy," give me a hard time about that. But a lot of my philosophy as a coach and then as a mental coach was based on a lot of things I read about him.
Tami: I would also have to say my father. He was a football coach when I was growing up. And we didn't have psychologists or mental game coaches or anything when he was a football coach, but he had so many pieces that you see in the best leaders and coaches today.
Heidi: I'm curious then how you transfer all this knowledge that you have into your work with teams and individuals. What's that look like?
Tami: It looks different every day. It looks different every second. What I have found works best for me, and it takes some confidence and belief in myself, but I used to spend so much time in trying to plan the perfect session. But what I realized, obviously, confidence comes from preparing as well. If you haven't put in the work, it's hard to be successful or confident. But what I've realized, if the more I get to know an individual client or a team, then the more I trust, if I keep learning and growing, then when I'm on my feet I can give them what they need in that moment. I've found that it's more effective for me to make sure I keep learning, keep growing, so when I'm called on to give someone something, I feel secure about it instead of having to, oh, let me get back to you, let me go research and plan.
Tami: I feel like I'm better able to give people the information if I keep, again, keep growing and learning myself. And then just hopefully trusting that I'm going to have the answer when someone asks.
Heidi: What advice would you give to someone who's just starting out in their athletic career?
Tami: If we could get every athlete, every person, this is business too, to not be focused on the result. But our society, our media, our coaches, our business leaders, we're driven by results. But if we focus on all the tiny little things we need to do to get the result, we're going to be more successful. But I think our society is so attached to winning, and how many hits did you get, or how many sales did you get, and that's the first question we ask people. An athlete comes home from a game, mom or dad, "How did you do? How many shots did you make? Did your team win?" And I think that creates that ... It has to be about results instead of getting better, where results take care of themselves.
Heidi: I think I say something similar in Let Go of the Outcome.
Tami: Yes, yes, exactly.
Heidi: Right. Like a new manager who's trying to give feedback, and they're so worried about how the person's going to respond. You gotta take care of your own side, and to use your analogy, or your work, you've got to practice and practice and practice and build the right skill.
Tami: Yeah. We really are ... I mean, I know we need results, and that's why people do whatever they do. But the focus has to change in order to get the ... I call it inside out thinking. We have to change our focus to get the results.
Heidi: What's your favorite inspirational quote?
Tami: Do you want to be right or successful? I laugh at that, because it's something I struggled. I could argue with a wall about anything, and I realized that didn't always help me be successful, even if I thought it was right. So I challenge clients that I work with. There's a time and a to really fight for what you believe or think, or are you going to be more successful, is your team? And that goes for business as well. Is your team gonna be more successful if you focus on being successful instead of right. And I find athletes and probably employees do it as well. They get mad at a boss, a coach, because they know they're right and the boss or coach is wrong. But if you focus on what they're doing and asking you to do and do it to the best of your ability, you're gonna be more successful than if you fight for that you're right.
Tami: But again, I kind of have a personal preference to it, because it is something that I probably still struggle with today. So it's good for me to repeat that quote frequently.
Heidi: You've got a lot of great stuff going on, Tami. What's next?
Tami: Oh, ask me tomorrow. No. I have a running list of ideas. Some of them get scratched off the board. Some of them evolve into something different. What I want to make sure though, and I need to make sure that I am being true to myself, is that I take care of the teams I work with. That's why I started doing what I'm doing. Obviously now it's led into through the book, which with that's come book engagements and speaking engagements, and it's trickled into some corporate, I've gone to speak at some businesses as well. But I do want to make sure I check myself. And before I start another book, or before I really try to reach out outside of athletics, that I'm really staying true to why I first started this. I'm trying to put a check on myself.
Tami: But I do want to probably continue along the confident athlete lines. I did a couple of presentations yesterday at a high school in Greenville with teachers on how to help take my material and use it in the classroom. So the confident student. And then someone suggested it, I have some friends with young children, that it starts so young, why not the confident child? Those are just ideas I'm kicking around. But again, ultimately I want to be true to why I started this job in the first place.
Tami: Social media. I have two Twitter accounts, one of them just for The Confident Athlete. So pretty much 99% of the content, just retweeting your tweets since it's confidence based, as well as anything I can find on confidence. And that's @tamimatheny, T-A-M-I M-A-T-H-E-N-Y. And then the one I use for my business, Refuse to Lose Coaching, which has feel good, being positive, mentally tough, shout outs to my teams that is @r2lcoaching. And then on Instagram it's @refuse2losecoaching, two, the number two. So those are the social medias that I ... Oh, and then Linkedin, under Tami Matheny.
Heidi: And where could somebody get your monthly calendar?
Tami: Monthly calendar, they can go to my website, to www.r2lc.com. And at the bottom of that page is a button they can click on that will automatically put them on the monthly list. Book's on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, group discounts I sell for myself. I can supply those cheaper as well. So if anyone's interested that they would shoot me an email.
Heidi: And then for your annual calendar, or are you looking for that to be digital or [inaudible 00:21:28]
Tami: I was thinking print, but that's not a bad idea. The digital thought. You might have steered me in a different direction here. I'll have to think about that.
Heidi: Okay. Well, thank you so much for being here today, Tami. This was a great conversation. I appreciate you and having you as my business buddy and my confidence buddy, and learned some new stuff about you today too.
Tami: Well, thank you for having me, Heidi, and I love what you're doing, and every day I'm excited to see what you have up. You keep doing what you're doing.
Heidi: All right. Thanks so much.
Tami: Thank you.
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