Overcoming Temporary Obstacles with Self-Awareness | #AskASoccerPro Show Ep. 055

What a week! I’m so excited about where the #AskASoccerPro Show is heading and that we are now starting to have members of our community join us live! This week I had the opportunity to speak to an absolutely amazing coach and a young player who just happen to also be a father and daughter.

Mark and Brooklynn Sieverkropp joined us for episode 55 to discuss a challenge they recently faced, and they really made me think about similar experiences I’ve had myself, especially recently. If you missed the live over on Instagram, here’s what we covered:

  • Overcoming Temporary Obstacles
  • Why I’m in Free Agency
  • Take Ownership of What’s in Your Control
  • Going Over, Above, and Beyond
  • When You Hear, “No”
  • Brooklynn and Mark Join the Live!
If you'd like to listen to the show (podcast) or watch the show (video) the full replay is at the bottom of today's article.

Free Agency

As I spoke with Brooklynn and Mark (on The #AskASoccerPro Show Ep. 055) about her recent trial and how she didn’t make the team, I thought a lot about my own current situation. I’m in free agency right now, as I haven’t been asked back for the 2020 season with D.C. United.
Not making the team and not being asked back are two situations that players encounter at every level of play, from the youth level to the professional level. 
If you expect it to change as you progress through your career, you’re not ever going to be able to develop the mindset to move forward because you are going to be continually disappointed throughout your journey.
Now, you can take situations like not making the team and not being asked back and view them for what they are: normal in the life of a player.
I’ve always been viewed as an athletic player, but not one who is particularly intelligent or skillful. Many people put me in the only ‘athletic’ box and category. 
Frequently, I’m only put out on the field to do whatever the team needs in that moment; there’s a problem, an issue, a fire, so they throw me in to fix things and then bring me right back off/out once the problem is adverted. 
If you really think about it, it's a smart short term tactic. If I fail, you now have your excuse for why you don't use me, or can't rely on me. 
And if I succeed, you get the credit for being a genius and you aren't forced to give me any credit beyond it being "lucky." 
Since I’m not perceived as being methodical on the field or thoughtful, thinking several steps ahead while playing the beautiful game, I get pigeonholed based on how people perceive my ‘game.’ 
Whether their perceptions are rooted in how I’ve played in the past, or how they believe I look in this current moment, or just their overall lack of higher level understanding of the game.
It can be very difficult when you are viewed differently than you perceive and know yourself to be.
What I want you to know, is that no matter what level of the game you play, this is something you will be facing. You can’t change what others think of you, only they can do that, it’s just not something in your control.

Taking Ownership of What’s in Your Control

Okay, so you can’t change someone’s mind. So, what do you have control over? 

Personally, I understand very clearly what is within my control. 

I can help my teammates both on and off the field. 
I can do all of the things I know how to do well to the best of my capability.

What I’ve come to realize is that even though you do all of these things and do them to the best of your ability and skill, you may still not be rewarded, compensated, or kept around, despite your best efforts. 
While that might be unfair, that’s the nature of the business most times.

I’ve been thinking about the past year, and how much effort and energy I put in over the 2019 season, how much I feel I gave to the club, the organization, and my teammates.

No matter what, I show up every day with the belief that if I work hard, do the right things and perform well, the efforts will be rewarded. 
Now, after eleven years of professional play, I know this isn’t always true, but I will continue to act in this manner because I believe it’s the right thing to do.

Part of the reason I feel I continue to get opportunities is because the individuals who are with me in the trenches every day, the ones who train with me and see what I do on the field and off, they see and know my character on a day to day basis.

When you’re not making the team or getting traded, what happens to you is contingent on what a select few people decide for you and on your behalf. 
While their decision is out of your control, displaying consistently good character and work ethic is always within your control.

When You Hear ‘No’

At the end of this year, after how I performed and what I know I’ve provided in terms of value, the final response was, ‘hey, you know we’re not bought in on you and we’re not bringing you back.’ 
That’s never news you want to hear, you don’t want to feel as though all your effort was for nothing.

But what I want you to understand is that your effort wasn’t for nothing.
You did everything because you make decisions on principles, you have values, you did it because it’s what you believe in. 
You stand on.
Nothing is going to change the fact that you are feeling hurt, disappointed, and maybe betrayed. 
Most importantly is the fact that you now know the truth and can use that truth to self-reflect and break down what you could have done differently and how you can better approach a similar situation in the future.
Sometimes it's because those who make decisions are insecure and can hide.
Sometimes you did better than anyone expected, but brining you back means they would have to admit to mistakes they've made. And in the world of professional sports most people aren't strong enough to admit to their mistakes.
But really, the same goes for the real world.
We use this experience to learn and to grow, knowing that in the long run the truth is true whether you believe it or not.
It can just take some time for karma to catch up. Be patient. MSL.

Final Thoughts

Hearing ‘no,’ not making the team, and getting turned away after putting in genuine effort is a disappointing thing.  I’m here to tell you that as a player, rejection is a normal part of your career progression. You can do everything correctly and still not have things work out in your favor.

Players who succeed in the long-term are the ones who fall back on being self-aware and take the time to really self-reflect and understand the ways in which they can improve. Those with that long-term winner’s mindset use their experience to their advantage in the future.