Keeping Your Head & Heart in the Game: 4 Ways to Find Focus

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A woman in boxing gloves leaning over the ropes of a ring with her head down as if recovering from a tough workout

After spending 20 years in the diversity and inclusion divisions of higher education and public health, and now entering into the coaching and transformation sector, I’ve discovered there are key tenets of personal development and collective transformation that Indigenous people in the U.S. and internationally have followed over hundreds of years. As an Indigenous Hawaiian, Haida (Eagle), and Tsimsian Filipina I’d like to share what I have come to learn to be the core facets of our diverse Native cultures and ways of life that act as timeless features of resilience, power, and the ability to show up authentically in everything that we do. As athletes and as leaders, these make us who we are and release our power within. 

Intention, Ritual & Daily Habits. Do you have rituals and ceremonies that provide the cadence of remembering and recalling? Do you have a routine that helps to center and focus before a big game, class presentation, or performance?  

Recalling & Remembering Our Connection to Others. We must have a community of trusted individuals who inspire us and who we serve. Who inspires you? Who do you lean on for support? Who leverages your gifts? Who challenges you to push yourself to become better?  

Listening & Observing the Environment Around Us. It is important to take in the elements around us to make big decisions about what to plant, where to plant and the right time. Ideas and thoughts are the seeds and each of us can decide between planting and cultivating those ideas into actions or leaving them hidden away in our pockets. Listening and observing the people, places, and things around you that feel familiar, somewhat like home, means that we can discern what is good for us or not good for us. We all have a homeland, a home. What is in the environment around you that will support your growth? And what can you do to support the growth and sustainability of the elements and people around you? Do you have a place that you can go back to that will remind you of who you are, where you come from, and why you are here? Does this place bring balance, peace, and clarity? Is it free of “toxic” things and people? Do we care for it the same way that we care for our bodies? 

Authentic Expression. Being able to live in the modern world and still being able to practice our traditions, culture and community are essential to bringing us into balance with ourselves and the outside world. Where do you find your greatest sense of belonging? How do you express who you really are? What core values, beliefs, and ideas do you carry with you every day and how is that reflected in your school, work, and time in the gym or out on the field? 

As the modern world reboots itself post-Covid as newly emerged and enlightened and re-establishes itself as a diverse nation, Indigenous people are observing and listening to the changes. These not-so-new “secrets” of authentic transformation have always been here. All of us have people in our lives that inspire us. They are our own life coaches and advisors. For Indigenous people, we often looked to our elders who encouraged us to find the right connections between our people and land and what we felt a calling for in our heart, body, and mind. So, as the world faces “The Great Reset” and deeper collective consciousness, Native folks have incredibly significant tools for understanding the depth of connection and belonging. Each of them has a role to play in connection to body, mind, and spirit. These are the keys to finding clarity, direction, and purpose in all that we do and all that we want to become. 

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