Perform Like An Athlete At Work And In Life

The following are highlights from the conversation between Pete Carroll and Dr. Michael Gervais of Compete to Create and Lynne Zaledonis, Salesforce’s SVP Product Marketing on Salesforce’s Living Through change podcast on 7/21/2020. Watch now.

Back in 2012, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll invited high performance psychologist Dr. Michael Gervais to attend training camp to experience the culture he was working on building in Seattle with his team. “It was beautiful,’ remarked Gervais about what he witnessed. “One hundred alpha competitors, pointing their noses in the same direction toward the same shared vision.”

Could the coaching philosophies and mental disciplines developed for high performing athletes be just as effective in a business or personal setting?  That question inspired Carroll and Dr Gervais to co-found Compete to Create – a coaching and training platform built on their shared vision that living a life with meaning and purpose, while also striving to be your best, requires training not only around your personal craft, but increasingly around your mind.

During these uncertain times, we could all benefit from some “coaching up”, so we brought together Coach Carroll and Dr. Gervais in this week’s Leading Through Change episode to explore how we can apply the art and science of high performance psychology to define our authentic selves, and develop the strength and conviction to deal with the physical and mental challenges at work and in our daily lives.

Following are highlights from our conversation with Coach Carroll and Dr. Gervais, in their words. They have been lightly edited for clarity.

Having a Personal Philosophy in Challenging Times

“I needed to get clear on who I am and how I can best define myself so the people around me could act in accordance.” — Pete Carroll


“In football, we’re coaching individuals within a relationship-based organization. It’s no different when you step into the corporate world.  Being a great teammate comes down to being in service of others. It’s how you demonstrate how much you care about what’s at hand and the people around you. If you give your best to those around you, you’re going to receive so much in return.”

“I’ve spent my career helping people find their best and uncover their unique and extraordinary qualities, champion and celebrate them, and bring them to life. There’s nothing more important than knowing who you are, where your center is, and how you can handle all of the challenges that we’re all facing.  That’s your personal philosophy. You have to share your philosophy and be really succinct about it.”

A Unique Approach to Achieving a Personal Best

“You can only train three things:  your craft, your body, and your mind” – Michael Gervais, Ph.D.

Dr. Gervais:

“What is exciting and unique about Compete to Create is that we take the methodologies and practices that help people become the very best and move it out of the laboratory and into the amphitheater of high stakes, high-pressured performance.”

“Based on the idea that you can only train three things – your craft, your body, and your mind – we’re double clicking into how to actually train one’s mind.  Confidence, just like any skill, can be trained. When becoming your very best by training your mind works in tandem with a culture that supports people with a shared vision, that one plus one equals something very different than two. We’re also talking more about the science and art of recovery, so people can wake up with zest and zeal on a consistent basis to work towards the upper reaches of their potential. Finally, technology is right at the center of how we’re able to share those approaches and insights with individuals and enterprise organizations.”

The Truth About Winning and Losing

“Successes are just as difficult and challenging as the defeats” — Pete Carroll


“Whether it’s a Super Bowl victory or a Super Bowl loss – both extraordinarily impactful events – we have to discipline ourselves to come back to where we want to be so that we can be at our very best. It’s not all about the winning and the losing, it’s really about the performance.  It’s constantly being at your best so you can be available for the wins and for the successes, and not get distracted when you come up short.”

Responding to Challenging Times

“Come to peace with what you stand for.  Whatever the challenges are, whoever comes after you or whatever they want to question – know you have your way to feel centered and grounded.” – Pete Carroll


“A good optimistic outlook is hugely important. Operate as if something good is just about to happen. Our ability to support others and make them feel strong and feel good about where they are is crucial and gives us a chance to be successful.”


“Change begins with each individual, and ‘tier zero’ for that change is mindfulness — becoming more aware, being able to sustain that awareness, so we are more aware of our thoughts, our words and our actions, and how they align with helping others be their very best.”

Compete to Create, with the help of Salesforce, has been more connected with their customers, and freed to engage them in more immediate, creative, and purposeful ways.

Note: This article was created by Salesforce and originally appeared on

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Tags Business  Coaching  Confidence  Focus  High Performance  Mindfulness  Training

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