I began team discussions to address the health and safety implications and initiated a partnership with sports medicine. The result was
a department-wide event dedicated to educating over 300 athletes.
knowledge is merely a first step toward breaking the tyranny of a collective mindset.
2. Change (demonstrate and reinforce practical methods of application)
The fundamental steps of,
1. Unfreeze (through reeducation)
3. Refreeze (establish accountability protocols with sports medicine, peers, and coaches)
1-2-3 appear simple
but, like most issues, a lack of knowledge is rarely the root of an issue.
1 in 4 student-athletes are psychologically hamstrung by sub-clinical disordered eating. And, because disordered eating is the conjoined twin of body dysmorphia, this introduced whole new set of issues that needed to be addressed.
1. Most student-athletes are unaware they are disordered eaters, but most admit to being unhappy with their body image.
2. This co-morbid sub-group is woven throughout the male and female student-athlete populations.
3. These athletes functioned in caloric deficits so low that the recurring sicknesses and nagging injuries could be traced back to diet.
1. To ensure candid discussion, male and female athletes were separated when addressing disordered eating and body dysmorphia and…
2. As a former disordered eater and dysmorphic bodybuilder in my youth, I shared relatable stories that served to diffuse the stigma associated with body image in both the male and female athletes. More importantly, when the storyteller displays candor it facilitates self-disclosure on the part of the listener. For many, these self-disclosures were the first step toward professional counseling.
Rethinking Leadership by...
Employing the Paradox
Self-disclosing unspoken struggles, that you know most of your audience shares, is a public demonstration of inverted strength. The power of humility is liberating for the listener. What was understood minutes prior to be stigmatizing is now outed as common. Scars are reframed as badges of honor that signify resilience as opposed to shame. This concept is much easier understood than it is executed. Over time, I realized this was my forte'.
I had the good fortune of partnering with a clinical psychologist and faculty member, who specialized in the assessment and treatment of eating, body image, and weight-related disorders. Subsequently, I produced and directed video modules featuring our resident specialist and included a former student-athlete who had suffered from, body dysmorphia, OCD, and ADHD. These modules were tools aid to facilitate candid discussions among the student-athlete and the general student populations. It was these discussions that ushered those who needed help to pursue it.
At face value, and while I am addressing ‘health and safety’, the seriousness of these issues must be reserved for mental health professionals. While that statement appears prudent, it is also wrong. The chasm between ‘addressing’ an issue and treating one is wide enough to birth a solution. Where healthy professional rapport exists, a level of trust does as well. And that rapport introduces self-disclosure which, in turn, liberates the listener to encourage the one extending the trust to seek professional assistance.