If you haven’t been able to pick up on the theme of these articles, they all tie in an element of the mind. Whether it’s making it a point to go to the gym, choosing a salad over a sandwich or doing one thing you fear a day, all of these endeavors involve the psyche. One man who has mastered his own mind, and now is consistently helping others master their own is Shawn Myszka. Former bodybuilder and now known as Dr. Jump, Shawn is a strength and conditioning expert working with NFL players in Minnesota.
Now you might be saying what does an NFL coach have in common with me? The truth is a lot. Not only are we interested in our health, but if we can take something away from Shawn about the power of the mind, we are closer to becoming our best. I am constantly motivated and inspired when speaking with Shawn and I hope after reading this article you are as well! Let’s talk to Shawn!
KV: Being an elite athlete takes a lot of work. Reflecting on your training and eating now vs when you were competing, how do they differ?
SM: My life and the day-to-day of it is drastically different these days. During my bodybuilding days, everything was laid-out. I ate the same things at the same times each day (no matter what day it was…Christmas, Thanksgiving, my b-day, etc). I napped from 1:30-2:30pm each day. I did cardio to start the day at 7am. I trained at night from 7-9pm. I meditated from 5:30-6:30pm. It’s just the way it all was. I was a machine. Now, there is not very much structure nor could there be. Depending on the time of the year (like during NFL training camp/season preparation), I may be working 14-16 hours days.
Because of this, even though I try to take care of myself and my body as much as possible, I only get to train 1-3 times a week. I honestly don’t do any resistance training anymore on a frequent basis. Instead, I perform movement-based training so I am fully and physically prepared to be able to sufficiently demonstrate exercises/drills to my NFL players. That said, I could still get under a squat bar loaded with 4 plates on each side and rep it out…the function of my training (movement-based) has allowed me to keep a great deal of my former structure (muscle and strength qualities). My nutrition has changed significantly as well. There are days where I am busy training athletes from very early in the morning till very late at night with little to no break all day long. So, on those days I may get to consume nothing but meal replacement shakes and energy drinks (sorry I am not sorry!). Then there are other days, like right now when I am traveling to go from training camp to training camp, where I have to eat a lot while on the road. None of that would’ve led to as successful of results when I was competing but it’s the nature of the beast now and it still allows me to achieve the goals for my lifestyle because those are much different now as well.
KV: How would you say your mindset has changed from your days of bodybuilding to where you are today?
SM: You know, most people find it odd when they hear that my mindset really hasn’t changed all that much from my bodybuilding days till now. There is good reason for this. Any success that I ever achieved in any aspect of my life can be traced back to the way that my mind ticks. When people find out that I used to be a pretty big dude (5’6” and 275lb in the offseason constitutes as big right?), they automatically think that I must really like the way that muscle looks, etc. That’s not what bodybuilding ever was for me.
Instead, I just always wanted to be the best at whatever I could. I just happened to have a high aptitude for the sport of bodybuilding from a very early age because of what it required from participants. But my mentality is what made me. It’s the reason I was able to go a handful of years without a single cheat meal and the reason I was able to gut-check through injuries that would’ve sidelined most human beings. Thus, it (i.e. the activity) could’ve been chess or knitting or whatever…I was just always committed to going all-in with it if I was going to do it. Thus, when I retired from the sport I just devoted the same type of passion and energy into different avenues. This is the reason why I now apply myself with deliberate effort and intention on a daily basis to my current craft of producing the most masterful athletes in the National Football League.
KV: Now having the opportunity to work with professional athletes, what is a fundamental mental training component you instill in them in terms of a successful mindset? Are there any similarities between the average person and the professional athlete in terms of the mind?
SM: I have found that among the 1,696 athletes playing professional football (53 on each team among 32 teams), there really is very little difference in their physical characteristics compared to one another. Instead, the thing that often allows the best to be better than the rest is the substance that lies between the ears and inside the chest.
Unfortunately, pro athletes are as susceptible as the rest of us to the negative self-talk that can ensue if we choose to listen to the outside world or just look for short-term gratification from any initial achievement steps being taken. They (the pro athletes) just happen to be able hide it a little better than others through their supreme confidence (otherwise known as swag).
That all said there are definitely similarities between the average person and the pro athlete when it comes to mindset. At least there needs to be if we are all going to be able to fully realize our goals and aspirations. On the surface, the average pro athlete may appear to be wired completely different mentally. Though it is true that they hit the sperm lottery when it comes to their physical capabilities, they often have the same mental barriers that they must overcome (as I alluded to above). Fortunately, we can all do something about developing a champion mental set. I work to instill this in them from the start. Our very first training session isn’t typically physical at all. Instead, he and I sit down and talk through who it is that he wants to be…without limitation. We are trying to remove every SINGLE limit off of him and out of his mind. Being realistic is the fastest way to mediocrity. Thus, I want to know everything he wants to achieve in his life in the sport (and sometimes outside of the sport as well). This is where one’s passion and energy is going to come from…his (or her) purpose. People with that level of passion have the opportunity to change their world. So I encourage them to verbalize these sometimes outlandish goals for their lives. They are only outlandish for those that don’t have any business achieving greatness in the world.
KV: Can you tell us a little bit about your morning, when you wake up, what is the first thing you think and do?
SM: This is a great question because I firmly believe as though people can significantly impact the outcome of their entire day based on the outlook that they start their day with. I also believe that an attitude of gratitude is the only one to have if we want to appreciate our current life situation as well as attract more great things into our lives. Thus, it may sound odd, but I start each day by first being grateful for me waking for that day, everything that I am on this given day, and everything that the new day will bring. I notice that if I go without doing this, I won’t have the mindset required to keep things in perspective as the day unfolds in front of me. I then go to reminding myself who it is that I am and what it is that I want to achieve (not for that day but for my greater overall vision). I will go as far as telling myself, for example, “today I will make the best players in the NFL even better. I have a unique opportunity in front of me to impact the world.” This all happens before breakfast so by the time I hit the road I am ready to conquer the day.
KV: If you were to give us one piece of advice regarding the power of the mind, what would that be?
SM: No matter how I answer this question it is going to seem like it is filled with nothing but clichés of sunshine and rainbows. But I have found (not only in my own personal life but also with my athletes) that there really is no way to overestimate the power of our minds and what we are truly capable of if we tap into it by possessing the optimal mental attitude. Thus, my own piece of advice is to never underestimate what you are truly capable of! You will need to truly see with your unique vision what it is that you want and you can have anything that you foresee in this life. You will need extreme, unwavering faith and belief that this can come true no matter what the outside world is showing you or what others are telling you. You will need to continue following the path of your vision and belief with total commitment even if you may fail temporarily at times. And when you reach and achieve what it is that you set out for, you can and should be proud but never ungrateful as well as never content for you should realize that it is part of something bigger for not only your life but for others as well.
On that note, never underestimate yourself! Get out there an take a step toward your dream today!
Have an amazing day! See you tomorrow,