An athlete will never achieve an Olympic gold medal without approaching the journey with the right mindset. In this episode of the Leadercast Podcast, we chat with Meghan Duggan, Olympic gold medalist for women’s ice hockey at the 2018 Winter Olympics. As captain of the U.S. team, Meghan has a valuable perspective on leadership and the joy of being a team member.
Read on for a look inside the episode, and listen to it in its entirety above or via the links at the bottom of this page.
The Struggle to Victory
The 2018 Winter Olympics wasn’t Meghan’s first rodeo; she competed a few years earlier at the 2014 Winter Olympics. The heartbreaking loss in Sochi was a defining moment for Meghan. “We needed to experience those things in order to have the success that we did in 2018,” she says.
After their 2014 loss, the team made changes to prepare mentally and physically to achieve a different result. “We had prepared to the nth degree,” she says. “There was a deep-rooted feeling in all of us that [this] was our time. We had done everything we could to prepare for that moment, and it was ours to go take.”
In addition to working with sports psychologist Dr. Colleen Hacker, Meghan says the team members challenged each other in visualization, mental toughness and hard work… but particularly visualization.
“You have to see and have a vision board of what you want to achieve in any industry… imagining that, putting yourself in that situation in your mind and visualizing what it feels like in that,” she explains.
Journaling for Success
Part of the way to aid that visualization is to keep a journal. Meghan uses hers for just about everything—writing, notes (including grocery lists), tracking workout data or other progress toward goals, creating a vision board and expressing gratitude.
“I am mentoring this young girl right now, and we had one of our first sessions the other night. I brought her her own journal to get started in,” says Meghan. “That journal or that notebook or those pieces of paper—that's for you to reflect on anything and everything in your life.”
Meghan has been a writer since college, where she started tracking her goals for hockey. Since then, coaches, managers and sports psychologists have encouraged her to “ink what you think.”
One thing that she’s begun in 2020 is writing down three to five things she’s grateful for each evening in order to remind herself about the blessings in her life. “At the end of the day, when I think about what I have in my life, I'm so lucky,” she says. “Reflecting on that is really important.”
Being a Team Member
Some of Meghan’s advice for younger athletes includes finding a mentor you respect. For her, it was Mark Johnson, who was a huge reason she went to school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “From a leadership and a mentorship perspective, the way that he led our team and carried himself showed his humility, integrity and honesty,” says Meghan.
She also stressed humility as a necessary part of being a team member and a leader. “There were countless times in my career when I had some of the worst days, worst performances, worst games or practices of my career,” she explains. “And the team still succeeds and still wins.”
Meghan has won world championships and awards, but not by herself. No hockey player in the world could be as great as they are without their teammates, coaches and everyone who supports them. “Everyone is a piece in that puzzle,” she says. “They make you a better athlete and help you score more goals because you appreciate and love who that teammate is.”
The greatest advice she ever received was that it was OK to dream as big as she wanted. “I was always encouraged to create the biggest dreams that I can and then dare to go after it,” she shares. Keeping that mentality throughout her career allowed her to achieve.
Meghan says a leader worth following is someone who carries themselves with humility and integrity. “Someone who builds up others around them,” she continues. “Someone who engages with all their teammates or co-workers they have the pleasure of leading. Someone who really sees everything as a team effort.”
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