The Mindset of an Olympian with Iris Zimmerman, Performance Coach and Olympian

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Today on the podcast we have Iris Zimmerman, an American Olympic fencer turned Performance Coach. Iris is an Olympian, Mother, and Performance Coach. At 14 years old, she became the first Fencing World Champion from the United States. Over the next 21 years, she had a successful fencing career — becoming a NCAA Champion for Stanford University and making the 2000 Olympic team. Her accomplishments and career in fencing eventually earned her a place in the United States Fencing Hall of Fame. After she retired from fencing, she became the co-owner of the Rochester Fencing Club with her sister and fellow Olympian, Felicia Zimmermann. Iris is currently the Director of Client and Coach Experience and Performance Coach for Valor Performance. Through her work at Valor, she has coached leaders from Salesforce, Akamai, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She also owns her own consulting and coaching business that specializes in working with business owners and entrepreneurs.

In this episode, Iris and Cindra discuss:

  • Her lessons learned from her journey to the Olympics
  • The top traits of high performers in sport and business
  • The impact of negative self-talk and the Imposture Syndrome
  • Why you are your greatest enemy and what to do about it
  • Why it is important to “take a step back to thrive forward.”
  • How having joy in the process is essential
“You can take a step back to thrive forward”- @zorro_iris
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“I’m the only person in charge of my potential and finding it”- @zorro_iris
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“Lessons keep coming up until you learn them”- @zorro_iris
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Full Transcription:

Cindra Kamphoff: hi everybody on Facebook it’s great to see you I’m so excited to welcome iris to the podcast how are you doing iris.

Iris Zimmermann: I’m doing great I’m very excited. Right it’s amazing.

Cindra Kamphoff: We are live and we just got a little bit of feedback on my end. I had to close the Facebook group or at least what I could see but thank you so much Iris I’m really excited to have you here on the podcast and to just give a started tell us a little bit about what you’re passionate about.

Iris Zimmermann: And what a great question I’m passionate a lot of things, how about that um. But you know I was an Olympic fencer so for a lot of my life I was very passionate about the sport of fencing. And you know, in the last couple of years I’ve been a performance coach, so I’ve been very passionate about that I work for a valid performance, we are teammates on that dollar performance team and I’m also. The Director of client and coach experience at valor right now so I’m passionate about that, and I think because of who I am it would also say I’m really passionate about my own family, my kids I have two little kids to daughter, six and eight and I’m really into raising them and being a part of their lives, so I would be remiss of not mentioning them as well.

Cindra Kamphoff: That sounds wonderful I can’t wait to learn more about your experience as a performance coach but also as an Olympian and so maybe just start there tell us a bit about your background and fencing and what led you to trying to make the Olympic team and also making the Olympic team.

Iris Zimmermann: I love it because it’s like some up 15 or 20 years of your life.

Cindra Kamphoff: I was like that was a big question. Yes, can you sum it up for us um.

Iris Zimmermann: So you know my sister was my sister is not was but is so we’re always Olympians right so she’s a two time Olympian in fencing as well and 96 and 2000 and she my story intertwines with her so. She started fencing at about eight years old, I was about two or three, and so I would title, along with her to fencing club and even the my coach also made me a little oil so even at three or four when I was walking. I was just hitting a target on the wall and coming in and I finally you know, made the leap at six years old, and at that time, you know that was before Tiger Woods and that big deal of like Oh well, he started at six playing golf, and so it was kind of unusual to have a six year old starting a sport and taking it. Not that I took it that seriously let’s just let’s just be honest, I was having fun I had. We play games and then you know about eight 910 my sister was doing very well and traveling internationally and, and so we were there all the time for her, and I was just enjoying myself as well. And I think one of the things that I would also say, is my parents are immigrants to this country, so my father is German and my mother’s Chinese and my mother knew that in the United States if we’re going to be able to afford college, we are going to have to do a sport so she looked for hobbies as she called it sports to do and then she pushed us so. If anyone knows what a tiger mom is my mother is in the dictionary as a tiger mom I mean we did like sports school piano Chinese school, I mean we did it all, and we were definitely the definition of that but. So the journey of getting to Olympics, it was all part of that my sister was older kind of pulling the along she was in the 96 games, I was the youngest. The time the youngest cadet world champion, which is under 17 and each category I became the first American will champion so at a very young age, I was very good and so. I need the 2000 Olympic team and what was interesting is looking back on it, I actually missed the 2014 as an alternate and in 2008 and. So it’s been it’s been an interesting ride so when people talk about sustained performance I think about my performance and why it was that I couldn’t sustain that high level of high level of winning right so or success, so to speak, so. So I use a lot of that in my thought process thinking through, why is it that I didn’t meet those teams, or what happened and why was it such a like a quick burn and then a come down and there’s a lot to it very complex, but so that’s I’m setting up very quickly.

Cindra Kamphoff: that’s what I’m saying and that’s what follow up questions are for right. So you know, when I was thinking about how you were raised in your the tiger mom idea and I can see so much of that in you now, you know you’re just such a incredible worker and so supportive other people and you’re so quick. To return emails and I’m like wow you know I can see that background, and so. So I’ll say thank you to your mom she’s listening.

Iris Zimmermann: yeah.

Cindra Kamphoff: But you know, I was also thinking about tell us a bit about what that was like to not make the Olympics twice right and what did you learn from that experience.

Iris Zimmermann: yeah well first we could definitely psychoanalyze the perfectionist tendencies that have now give me an outcome orientation. And then you know, for this to Olympic Games, so at the at the 2008 Olympic Games, I was 11th individually and we were my sister. Myself and another athlete doctor and Mars cynic she also is on the Olympic team, and we were favored to win a medal the first medal for women’s foil. In the United States, and we were two point shy of winning a bronze medal. And I think that was kind of the beginning of the end right so at the Olympics everyone else’s enjoying themselves really soaking it in we’ve made it it’s so great I’m flew all the way to Australia. And all I’m thinking is when can I get home and start training for the next Olympic Games when can I start training again and I need to prove it, I need to prove it, I need to prove it so. I don’t remember ever in like Of course I enjoyed myself, it was like I was like Madonna at the Olympics, with my credentials getting into all the parties, but you know I didn’t really soak it in I didn’t think I was at the Olympics, I thought I failed I’m a failure. I did not complete the mission I didn’t do what I was supposed to and I failed and at 19 years old that’s where my thought process was. And I was injured a lot, because I wasn’t over I would overtrained because of this mentality, so when we talk about that professional mentality it’s like overtraining Overdoing. Now that you know you do everything wrong and then you become a coach because you did. So you know we I overtrained and I got back, and I remember like getting back I didn’t really rest I just trained again, you know, and I went to college and I become an answer, they became an NCAA champion I trained at Stanford and I just kept training and training, and it was just never enough and I think part of it, too, I had a coach that was very old school, what have you done for me lately outcome oriented, not a lot of like safety there, it was a lot of pushing. So I didn’t really have anybody in my sphere of influence that really knew how to support an athlete an athlete’s mindset, I had a lot of sports psychologists, but I think. When you have so many voices kind of telling you you’re only as good as the last outcome, and then you have like one person that needs with you for half an hour every other week it’s not enough to undo the noise so. You know I became an alternate to 2004 I ended up like breaking up with my coach at that time, because just wasn’t working anymore his tactics of pushing hard were weren’t working anymore, he was very much like a dictatorship, I am the boss you’re the student and at some point, I was like you know. I go to Stanford and kind of smart and I kind of influencing for a long time I don’t really need to be talked down to like that, so I left. And I did work with another coach and fascinating enough she was the one coach a female doctor net good hearts, who started working with me and it was too it wasn’t enough time she and I started before the 2008 games like two years before, but she had to unravel 15 years of negative self-talk and negative push so it wasn’t enough time, but I do think that, and I have thanked her, for it is she’s had ever lasting effects on me, you know, one of the reasons I this because I can hear so much of her voice guiding me towards this this more positive place in a more healthy place to drive myself.

Cindra Kamphoff: that’s a beautiful story and I’m curious Iris you know, I have two boys myself, they are 14 and 12 and so last weekend I was at like seven of my son’s baseball games I’m like this is, this is a little much you know 12 years old, but it was a lot of fun. You know you just kind of watch the coaches and I’m curious you know what advice would you give that you had two very different coaches when that was maybe more supportive more that was you know more addictive than our dictator so what advice would you give for people who are listening, who are leaders or coaches.

Iris Zimmermann: Right um I think it’s the first words that come to mind and maybe this isn’t totally resident but it’s about the long game right so we’ve coached somebody and actually I glossed over this, but my sister and I owned a fencing club for nine years. And we could incentivize our coaches to say make every single person that comes in here the best they can be while they’re here like meaning like let’s burn them to the ground until they get results like we could be at that extreme. Or we could say Okay, we are one part of the kids journey they have to love them sing right, and then they have to continue developing even when they’re not here right, so it was less about us than it was about the students, so when you focus in on the person in the student and their needs, rather than what do I need to do for my ego as a coach and what is better for the long term development of the student then you’ve got a good equation there right what’s more important. Is the short period of time, where I can burn them out, or is it better, that I make good human beings through fencing or through a support, and I think the best coaches like John Wooden I really like him too he cared about people right, so I think the coaches that have really lasting effects really care about people, however. I do understand the nature of like Oh well, it’s so touchy feely and like you know you know it’s too soft right because in square we got to be hard and we to drive we’re going to grind. With the athletes themselves if they’re really good and high performers are already grinding, they’re already pushing themselves you don’t have to force it war right. They are there, as I love this thought about kids to are you a gardener carpenter.

Cindra Kamphoff: As a coach you’re a gardener.

Iris Zimmermann: You are a gardener you’re providing the environment for them to thrive, because they have the ingredients to thread, you have to care that they have potential same thing when we coach sailing when people leave you have to look at some of those potential sometimes you have to push hard because they’re not they’re afraid to push themselves. But you’re there again as a gardener, so I think the mentality is very different when it’s not a lot, not about you. And their coaches, with great intentions, but it really is a skill, you have to develop the skill leaders have to develop the skill coaches have to develop the skill, the problem is, is that there’s not enough focus on helping coaches and leaders develop those skill sets it’s not like you’re born one day and you’re like Oh, I can be a really good coach now you know it’s you’re not a Phil Jackson overnight, I mean Phil Jackson. Phil Jackson overnight, you have you’ve got to learn you’ve got to grow and you’ve got to get to a place where you learn those skills so that was the difference because the coach I had the second one, she was a teacher, she was a professor, for years, so you know she had to learn the skill.

Cindra Kamphoff: Law I love the message iris of like person centered coaching person think considering the person and I’m also thinking about my kids as I’m listening and. Even the way they learn they always learn, you know more, when the teacher really cares about them, you know so person centered when I think about you’ve worked with a lot of different sports psychologists over the years right, you said that you worked a lot of them just leading up to the Olympics what’s one thing that you took away from your work there.

Iris Zimmermann: And it wasn’t anything that they taught me it was when you’re not ready to learn the lesson you won’t learn the lessons. I was not ready to learn anything from anyone I was ready to say fix me I gotta get the hell back on the strip.

Cindra Kamphoff: and make it happen.

Iris Zimmermann: If you’re not going to help me get back on the strip I’m not going to talk to you and you’re not going to help me it’s not helpful. Help me get on right so and I was injured so much and I didn’t want to talk about being injured, I just wanted to get you know get me on the strip again make it better, make it better fix me fix the fix me, you know. So I think I think I just wasn’t in a mindset, I did absorb a lot of their information I wrote a lot of it down, I still have my notebooks but whether or not I could actually apply it or use it or build into my habits, I wasn’t ready for that I wanted to wait and if you weren’t going to help me to win I don’t want to have anything to do with you.

Cindra Kamphoff: And you know I think of this quote by Byron Katie and it says, you know everything happens for us not to us and I’m curious now that you look back at your journey as an Olympian and you know this kind of results orientation, how do you think this happened for you.

Iris Zimmermann: um it’s a mix of everything it’s not I love that quote I like Byron Katie and I do think that we are a combination of lessons that we’ve learned right so and I do think lessons continue to come up until you’ve learned them, I think for me it’s more that. I’ve learned the lessons and I’ve actually taken the time to learn them right like I’ve taken the time to really think about it, this is the right way to go about it I’m not sure Let me read about it, I mean I’m a voracious like learner of what it means to be human and success and performance, and so I needed another game, but I made it something that I want to learn about because I wanted to learn the lesson I didn’t want to ignore the lesson. I think it’s less of like it’s happening to me for me it’s more like, are you willing to stop for a second and learn the lesson and at what point because you’re going to have to.

Cindra Kamphoff: yeah and what are some lessons you’ve learned, you know as you think back to your athletic career and how they may be, inform your work now as a performance coach.

Iris Zimmermann: I think it’s I know it sounds trite because people are like well when I’m in it and I’m going after the Olympics it’s really tough and it’s you better focus, but there are a couple things one is it’s a long game. Right like who you are today is going to be different it’s a long game you’re playing the long game, not the short and that that means like that that drives a lot of behavior and decisions. And the second one, and the thing that comes up for me is joy I didn’t really take pleasure from it, for me it was like I have to do this and I’m defined by this and I got it. Like Brian and portion of like, but there are some joy in that right like there is some joy like knowing what your body can do, and like pushing it to its extremes and then. What can I do there’s it’s a different mindset right so. Can you have a more open learning, not even growth mindset, but can you be joyful in the process, even if it’s not like immediately like this is the most fun thing but it’s like I enjoy it and I’ll say one more thing else and I’ll let you chime in I know I’m talking a lot but. I had a conversation yesterday with one of our coaches Inga and she’s a Lithuanian javelin thrower Olympian and she said, you know, being an Olympics is like is like is like poker right, so you put a lot on the table and you don’t know if you’re going to win. Yeah and you don’t know how big you’re going to win so it’s a risk, but you know what could you what could you take away from that right so she said, you know you could either be in the thrill of it or you could be focused on like. I’ve got to make this happen I’m so afraid it’s not going to happen and so afraid, so you can choose how you want to approach the poker game, you can be like totally enthralled and thrilled mm hmm or you can just be like oh shit. So you can you can do either, and I think I was always the ladder like oh my God oh my God oh my God oh my God, and I think. Yeah I think about that, even today, like can I approach my work can I approach things with more levity lightness joy openness.

Cindra Kamphoff: yeah instead of fear anxiety kind of this fear of failure, what if what if it doesn’t work out right a lot of future based. Thinking instead of like being really in the present and enjoying the moment and with the Olympics coming up. You know, in a month or so I think it’s so your message is so important, and we can apply it in so many different areas, because so many times, we can be really results oriented and kind of fear based fear of failure, instead of really like joy and lightness and that’s you know there’s a lot of cool research on self compassion and how self compassion does lead to sustainable performance.

Iris Zimmermann: It takes work, I mean honestly I’m going to call myself out at 40 years old, I have a lot of what people call success it takes work, I have to, I have to choose every day to either go through anxiety. You choose things based on anxiety or choose things based on this openness this joy this levity this other place right, I have to choose it every day it’s not like it’s on autopilot. So I just want to make that clear to.

Cindra Kamphoff: I have to choose it every day as well you know I didn’t make it to the Olympics, I had some dreams of getting there, and my mind kept on getting in my own way, to be honest that’s what led me to this work, but I have to choose it every day as well and that you know I know we’re going to continue to talk about this idea of. You know, why is it that we were continuously doubting ourselves and what is it about human nature I’m curious kind of before we go down that road, you know our podcast is called the high performance mindset and what does that mean to you.

Iris Zimmermann: um that’s a really interesting question because we’ve talked about we’ve talked about that at valor to what’s a high performance mindset. Um I think about goal orientation I think about people striving and thriving in their lives, and how do I become the best of myself in this moment and how do I reach my goals. And it’s really I don’t want to say outcomes basically we just talked about outcomes, but high performance mindset is just how can you get into a mind states, every day, so that you can live to your fullest right that’s how I think about like you have a full potential.

Cindra Kamphoff: mm hmm.

Iris Zimmermann: You can choose to live every day to your full potential, even if the full potentials I’m tired I’m going to take a nap right but it’s intentionality around performance mindset and living that performance mindset is being intentional with your life, knowing, this is what you have and taking it for what it’s worth every single moment and doing it in the way you want to for me that’s freedom that’s power.

Cindra Kamphoff: yeah and it’s beautiful iris I am also thinking about how like potential is really unlimited and it’s endless and. You know, when I say that out loud, I think you know that I’m really the only person that’s in charge of my potential and finding it right and that can feel a little anxiety provoking wow I really the only I get to choose what my potential is right. But it also can be really exciting and inspiring that really it’s up to me, and it is a daily choice.

Iris Zimmermann: yeah I think also we talk about potential we’re also saying success. hmm right like I think part of it is it’s a lot around self validation internal validation is at some point, you have to choose what your success looks like. You know I because face because I’m like hey So what do you want to do, and some people look at me like What do you mean what do I want to do what should I do I like I don’t know what do you want to do it’s like it’s like who’s on first, what do you want to do what should I do, what do you want to do you know it’s like need to get some clarity around that right so it’s really important right in order for you to live potential or to live success to first start with what do you want. Yeah right, what does, what is your day to day look like if you’re living the life that you want. Right and you, you do have control over that and I think it’s hard for people to really understand that it takes a lot of work that takes work to sorry to say.

Cindra Kamphoff: yeah it all takes work it takes work to lose our potential those two questions are really powerful like what do you want and what does your ideal day to day look like what. What you know if you were intentional, what would you be doing I don’t think people in general, spend a lot of time thinking about that you know what is it that I really, really want we’re kind of just on autopilot. And Iris tell us a little bit about your work and valor and, just like the type of clients that you work with, because that will set us up, for you know what we’re going to talk about next.

Iris Zimmermann: yeah so we get a great variety of variety of people that we work with clients from sales high performing sales teams and sales leaders to healthcare, which is fascinating because we work with people who are very good at their craft in both places sales and in healthcare, so the valor that’s kind of what where we focus on, and where our clients come from, and I know you have a couple of health care clients who are at the top of their game and they’re pretty amazing.

Cindra Kamphoff: Definitely high performers.

Iris Zimmermann: yeah so they’re all high performers right, so they all kind of are doing what we’re talking about is they want to live at their full potential they’re trying and striving in their life they’re trying to trying to reach that they’re striving, is a great word for that they’re striving.

Cindra Kamphoff: And what do you see the barriers of reaching potential, you know what do you see that as you work with some of these people and even, as you, you know, think about your fencing career and Libyans that you’ve met. You think are the barriers are potential.

Iris Zimmermann: Oh, goodness we’ve got lots we can talk about, but you know the two that come to mind is, of course, like there’s a reason why we always say like you’re your own greatest enemy right and fencing We always say the greatest opponent is yourself right in martial arts it’s your greatest opponent is yourself. All those movies talk about that right, and so you, you can limit your own potential and we can talk about that because we want to be safe. We want to be safe, so you know, going from the next job speaking of all of that takes us out of a comfort safety place and I do say that high performers that become successful learn how to hack the system. We all come with it with a like it’s like out of the box at BestBuy and our system is to say, stay in the cave stay safe don’t do anything don’t move just do this right get in the box and standard loss and high performance go like what if I put my toe on the box. And then they figure out like oh it’s okay. You know, and then they start to step out of the cave right, so the more you kind of step away from that safety or learn ways to kind of come back to the safety we kind of taken a risk. Those are the high performance they learn how to hack the system to be less afraid or to actually raise the bar of what makes them afraid, but you know, there are barriers there like you will get to a point, and then there’s another box. And there’s another fear right, so we have walls, all of us have those I mean we’re humans, we always have those so The second thing then goes into the first is. We don’t have to do it alone. High performers feel like I got to do it all by myself yeah listen your podcast like it’s a completely. it’s farcical that like that you do nothing in this world by yourself really like, if you want to succeed at anything, there is nothing that you’re going to succeed in that you’re not going to have some help so to be that. Like to be in that place is not helpful so when you’re stepping out of the box, we are kind of reaching forward when you’re hacking, the system just remember, there are people around you that are supporting you and make sure to surround yourself. So those things are barriers one thinking you’re doing everything by yourself and then to you know we naturally just have barriers that’s what I’m saying it’s like we just we are there’s always something that will always want to push us back into the cave that will want to push us back into safety, and then we have to decide, we want to continue to push our threshold of fear, or do we want to kind of stay where we are and neither is bad or good it’s just what you want.

Cindra Kamphoff: What you want and being intentional with that yeah you know I iris I’m thinking about how we’re the only one really that limits our potential right you’re right there’s these barriers I love the idea of like these boxes and these fears. And the more you push yourself there they’re going to be another fear that’s going to be in the way that you’re going to have to overcome to reach your potential. We were talking at the beginning of the call before we hit record about imposter syndrome and kind of what we’re seeing in our clients. And I had Valerie young on the podcast a couple of months ago, who wrote a great book on imposter syndrome, which is this belief that you know people are going to find you out and that you know. You know just being less confident in yourself and your skills, how do you see that play out even with athletes, or you know you work a lot in healthcare and in sales in the business world, what are you seeing there.

Iris Zimmermann: Well it’s complex and I’m still a student of it I’m a student myself, I have my own imposter syndrome issues, the question and I even asked my husband, you know, and this was eye opening because I thought, all the imposter syndrome is just for women. And I, and I said to my husband he just became an executive Vice President, and I was like so do you feel like an imposter it’s like everyone feels like an imposter I was like oh men feel this way to like they don’t feel like they’re you know. So he’s like I’m just a goofball just trying to make it work, I was like well you’re kind of successful goofball so I don’t know. So it’s so funny how our self perception, we have to live with ourselves every day, so we know all our ins and outs, so we definitely pull ourselves out on it, my question to myself as I’m learning about it as I’m talking to people is why, like what is we are really amazing human beings are just amazing machines. Yeah and we have great mechanisms like great wonderful mechanisms to help us to thrive and to strive right like we just have crazy potential in this human system. Why is the human system built in a way that when we get to a point that we want to get to we suddenly tell ourselves we’re not good enough for it. Like it’s just wacky you and I work with physicians at Harvard and they are like literally the best like this one woman, I was talking to is like I am the only person in the world that does this surgery like this. Yes, and then we’re talking about like and pastor and confidence and I’m like this is the dad is like Where are you.

Cindra Kamphoff: yeah what is happening to us, you know. You know, I think that there’s multiple factors at play here, I think there is a biological like what you said is you know our brain is here to keep us safe, and you know so years and years of biology so there’s that but also there’s all these social pressures and I think about even my kids and. You know there’s some people that are building them up like their parents, but then some people that are tearing them down, and you know it’s like what do you listen to. And then there’s like the educational system that’s what I think about people who are really successful at Stanford or Harvard right we’re constantly compared. To each other within education Valerie young has seven perfectly good reasons why we experience an imposter or we experience the imposter syndrome, which is you know these are several of them. But it is really fascinating that you know when we get to these higher levels, however, we define that we can experience this imposter syndrome.

Iris Zimmermann: yeah a couple of things you said two things that were great where you know there’s this innate system that we have to kind of hack and then there’s these social things that I think you and I, as coaches start to work on is like who’s validating you. Right, why are their validation is important and Bernie browns work is really important around validation to so you know we work a lot along those lines you’re absolutely right to is like you know the way our construct of our systems and education are always like what have you done for me lately right so it’s like what is the outcome you’re being measured on these different outcomes, so I I get all that there’s another one to where I think is pretty prominent as well, I don’t know, maybe it resonates with other people is like you have this ideal in your mind like let’s say my husband, for example, of like executive Vice President construction he does. And you have this like ideal of what this person is going to be it’s like wizard of Oz right like wizard of Oz it’s going to be this person and like magical and floating and amazing and then you get there. And you realize it’s just a dude behind a curtain it’s the same thing for you it’s like I’m the CEO of whatever and it realized it’s just me like me who like. You know gets acne me who like you know you know trips and falls on things like me who doesn’t always get it right, like me, who does all these things like you have this thought that this person on high like knows all their stuff we’re all just the same human being, I think we forget. And so that, for me, is a huge piece of that too is how we exalt the others, and then, once we get there were like oh shoot like I’m supposed to be the wizard of Oz but really I’m the man behind the curtain.

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh, I love that idea. wow that’s so powerful, thank you for saying that isn’t that so true so far we’ve talked a lot about you know this mindset of athletes and Olympians and then business Brian we’ve been talking about healthcare and sales. What do you see you know iris those top athletes or business people do differently related to the high performance or just related to mindset.

Iris Zimmermann: Right, so I think. There are a couple of factors, so I think that there, as you said, to and we’ve kind of said and I’m naming it here is there’s a high level of support. Okay, so there’s you’re not doing it by yourself there people that you really care about they’re really validating you and. What else do they have well for athletes, a little bit of genetics too so it’s just. But so support systems are really important also and I know people who want to hear this luck, is part of it, too, is like for me. And I’m getting to some points of like things that you can actually control but, like, I want to get these other things out of the way too because. At the time I was coming up and becoming one of the best fencers the United States wasn’t that great so we. We had a coach that kind of thought differently, and he kind of pushed us differently and then all the kind of ingredients kind of came together to the opportunity, so I wanted to jump off from that point right so there’s a little bit of luck of opportunity. The difference at that top level for me is being prepared for those opportunities right so that’s why I kind of started here right So yes, there’s some luck right there’s some circumstance here there’s support right and then there’s. You know, being ready for those opportunities, people who are at the top, are disciplined I hate to say that right so like we don’t want to hear it, I was talking about it, the other day is like gets unsexy to like do the day to day right to. To Malcolm Gladwell and Adam grant we’re talking about this today, they were like typical performance versus like the ultimate performance right, so what we’re talking about is people are willing to grind day to day and just do yes, go up. My best athletes at the fencing club that started, they were kids that were not that great. They like really weren’t that great, but they just worked at it, they just came in and kept working and consistently working and getting themselves into the group of working so. You know there’s no difference my husband myself the same way, we just get up we get going, we eat well you know we take care of our bodies we take care of our minds, we do what we need to write to every day to get to that point, because we know every single day counts.

Cindra Kamphoff: yeah I think the same Iris I’m thinking about I do a lot of work with USA track and field and the trials are coming up this week and right there their day is not very glamorous. They get up they work out they take a shower they go workout they he is he sleeping it’s like repeat right and sometimes we right watch the Olympics and we see these. These performances that are amazing right, and then we don’t really think about what’s under the iceberg, and the sacrifices and the grit that it takes to like continue to move forward.

Iris Zimmermann: yeah and when we talk about grit and I know I haven’t read your book yet, and I see it behind there and it’s on my list for summer reading and I hope everyone else feels to say. I you know we talked about grit we’re not saying like. Oh, you got to like take the ankle when it’s broken and just keep on going, you know we’re not talking about that we’re talking about the literal discipline to do the same thing, every day, and do it well. Yes, and do it purposefully and do it intentionally and do it mindfully that’s literally what we’re saying. But it is one of the hardest things for people to do to stick to habits to stay. Calm my young my younger clients are like I’m so bored. I’m sorry, but this is it.

Cindra Kamphoff: yeah.

Iris Zimmermann: This is it, there is no like Mecca of this there isn’t like this optimal performance in Olympics, every day, it is literally showing up showing up for yourself showing up for others and doing the best you can every single day, it is not. Any more simple than that.

Cindra Kamphoff: yeah awesome when you teach about mindset when you hear yourself so you’re setting yourself say over and over again, is there any things that you notice.

Iris Zimmermann: yeah we talked about this a little bit, and I have so many that I like to grab from but I’m going to steal from my original mentor. That taught me how to coaches, Dr Adam Naylor and he said, you know you can take a step back to thrive forward. I was like oh when he first said I was like So what is that and it’s like I literally say it every day to my clients, because we talk about emotional reactions triggers to. The stress that we feel, and I was just talking to one client this morning, and we were feeling like you know she gets a text and then immediately, you know this emotion comes up like. My only think I’m not good enough or they think this or this is happening and oh my God I’m so annoyed or frustrated by that and so we kind of, and this is where we get. In front of ourselves, this is where we hold ourselves back is that we allow the Daniel Kahneman talks about this don’t trust them which. Is that we don’t we don’t take a second to think about and let our brains catch up to the emotional reaction just had and I’m definitely a person that’s like that too is like. We don’t have to respond to the emotion reaction Victor frankel talks about it too it’s like that cause between the emotional reaction, the action that you take is one of the most powerful places, you can be you don’t have to respond. You don’t have to respond.

Cindra Kamphoff: yeah absolutely I love that take a step back to thrive forward and then take a step back I’m hearing means like reflection, it means pausing taking a breath to ultimately help you reach your potential or move forward with what you want.

Iris Zimmermann: And the space, when you first start the spaces long because if you have in green narratives. And someone writes something and let’s say someone writes something and immediately I’m like Oh, they think I’m not doing my job well or my boss writes me and like oh she’s micromanaging and she doesn’t think I’m doing it well, and then I start to go in a spin. If I have never stepped back before. The step back is really long. You really need like real big space because you’ve never done it before. Then, as you work on it, the step back get smaller and smaller, so it is a skill that you have to have to do it and The thing is, you asked about what’s the bridge between and connection between sport and business or life it’s the same kind of thing is like in fencing if the ref makes a bad call right as a young athlete unlike. Right like I’m going I’m going Andre Agassi almost. Like I’m getting into it. And then you know as you get older as an athlete you realize like that’s not going to help me so I’m not focused on the right thing, because I gotta focus on hitting the target now. I can’t focus on changing this guy’s mine, I have to focus on the target at focus on what’s actually important and what I can control, so the same thing, taking a step to thrive forward is exactly that right ref makes it that call it’s not about you it’s just a bad call get back to the line. Think right what you can control.

Cindra Kamphoff: yeah their triggers all day long that we could go into an emotional spend it related to you know so great idea and concept, take a step back to thrive forward. Can you share with us another way that you teach about mindset, maybe it’s an analogy or a concept.

Iris Zimmermann: yeah that’s a that’s a great question I’m trying to think of my list of things. And I think another piece that I’m finding as I’m working in the bridge again is. As business people, we often forget that the mind and body are in concert that we try to we try to use our conscious mind to get through things like emotional reactions or triggers at work. And so I think more and more of my thought process is how to continue to help with either breath or movement to help somebody because we can’t just reason through something right so like. A lot of times our emotional reactions are completely unreasonable. And yes, like we can sit down, make a list of why this is right or not, but we can also get up move walk yoga meditation whatever it is that you want to do punching bag fencing sword, whatever it is, is and realizing that. We need to integrate the mind and body together, and especially when you’re sick, you know I’ve sat more in my life now than I ever have in my whole life. So I’m realizing more and more of what my clients are experiencing right so they’re going in an emotional tailspin and then it’s sitting in in the body. And then imagine like it compounds on itself, and then we wonder why we’re like high rates of cancer right because the body has nowhere to put that emotion that feeling that physiological stress right that actually happens so you put it in your body and it and it gets released somewhere or somehow so you might as well control some of that so I’ll just say another one like. Work on unstressed cycles and completing the stress cycle has been something I’ve worked on a lot of like you’ve had a really stressful day, the last thing you do is come home and then jump into being a you know jumping being a mom and it’s all good like you need to relieve that stress and how do you relieve that stress and some people use. You know drinking or smoking going out whatever drugs or whatever to try to placate that stress or to calm the stress, but the body’s like look like we gotta get we gotta run it through the system we can’t just like think of it or drink it out, we had to like run. Through the system, so I love that work and I continue to be a student of how do I help my clients understand the infinite connection of mind and body.

Cindra Kamphoff: Iris I could talk to you all day. I know that we’re closing to the top of the hour and I’m like oh boy, how do I summarize. What we talked about today first I’m grateful that you just shared your journey about getting to the Olympics and these perfectionist tendencies and your coaching and. Just all the things that you learned in that journey, thank you for so much for sharing that with us, I know I was learning a lot, just as I was listening. And I loved you know the here’s a few points that I really took from today, we talked about kind of finding joy in the process so I’m going to encourage people to think about that, how are you finding joy in the process, we talked about the importance of like high level support. And being prepared and discipline so I’m going to encourage people to think of our they discipline today and what do you maybe need to double down on related to your discipline, we also talked about how our own greatest enemy and making sure every day we choose to. I’m thinking about decreasing the weeds in this garden that we have of our mind and love your analogy of like the wizard of Oz and they the person behind the curtain. And then, this last part about taking a step back to thrive forward iris How can people reach out to you, they want to connect with you or learn more about your work.

Iris Zimmermann: Thanks so much for asking that I’m a lot on LinkedIn so LinkedIn or Zimmerman with two n’s is a Nancy event, and you can reach me on LinkedIn I think that’s the best spot to do it. I’ve got Twitter, as well as URL underscore iris, but I think LinkedIn is the best place to do it, I have a website, but I can’t even remember coach iris.com so they like that. Know Google needs with two ends so otherwise with one and you find some other iris and I don’t know what she’s up to but.

Cindra Kamphoff: I’ll put it in the show notes, do you have any final thoughts or advice for people who are listening today.

Iris Zimmermann: You know I just would say you said something about self compassionate something I work on a lot, I think, high performers lack. Many high performers lack that so you know if you’re going to do anything once a week do something for yourself do something for yourself pat yourself on the back, do something nice for yourself and I’m saying that, as someone who never has done that, before it was working and practicing, and so do something for yourself once a week that’s for you and only you.

Cindra Kamphoff: love it Thank you so much higher.

Iris Zimmermann: yeah yeah.

 

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