Profile of Perseverance: Sharleen Hoar, PhD

I'm so delighted that a good friend of mine and mentor, Dr. Sharleen Hoar, is sharing her thoughts on perseverance with us.  I contacted her last summer when I was interested in a career in Sport Psychology as she is internationally respected in her field for innovations in emotional control. Sharleen is a human performance specialist who has an expertise in sport and exercise psychology. I thought we were living in different cities but it turned out we were able to meet up.  When we did for the first time, we connected really well and became friends.  I really respect her and value our friendship.  Sharleen is also a blogger and I recommend you check out her blog, Minding-What-Matters, after you finish reading.  She blogs about developing mental fitness for personal and performance excellence.  Thank you Sharleen for your encouragement and support!

Dr. Sharleen Hoar is dedicated to assisting elite and aspiring performers of all ages to achieve personal and performance excellence by providing mental performance consultation, workshops and course instruction, and keynotes and presentations. For the past 15 years, she has inspired Canadian Olympians, National team athletes, University athletes, youth athletes, and performing artists to maximize performance potentials through enhancing mental fitness, team functioning, leadership, and psychology well-being. She is a member of the Canadian Mental Training Registry and is sport psychology consultant with the Canadian Sport Centre (Calgary).

Dr. Hoar’s passion towards assisting others to obtain personal excellence was born from her youth experiences as a figure skater participating in the National program. Today, she is a triathlon competitor striving for peak performance within her age group. Dr. Hoar obtained her Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology from the University of British Columbia. She actively publishes her research on emotional control for sport performance and is an active member of the Science Committee within American Psychological Association Division 47 (Exercise and Sport Psychology). Dr. Hoar’s commitment to practical and scientific understanding of the psychological foundations of performance excellence affords a cutting edge approach towards training others to achieve personal and performance excellence. Read her interview below!

Image (c) Sharleen Hoar, PhD

Image (c) Sharleen Hoar, PhD

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Who did you receive it from?

A colleague advised me to "listen for the one thing that you can learn" from each person I come in contact from.  Each person we come into contact with can TEACH us something. I really appreciated this advice because it has helped me to CONNECT with others.

How important is mentorship in terms of your success?

Mentorship is extremely important for my success. The mentors that I have worked with have played the role of empathetic listener, idea challenger, educator, and friend. Because of our relationship, I gain confidence and an increased capacity to solve problems as I approach my work.

What has been the best moment in your life so far?

My wedding. I've been married for almost 10 years.

What tips would you have for living a healthy life?

MODERATION is the rule. Energy in = Energy out. This is a see-saw for me. I try very very hard not to let the "energy out" side to 'hit ground'. Some days/weeks are more successful than others.

How do you motivate yourself to persist despite setbacks?

It is my nature to achieve.  I don't think too much about it. Anything I do, I want to do it to the best of my ability. Unless I am really sleep deprived and the energy is depleted I know that what I give any project is my best for that day.  But, when I experience a set back, I usually have a good cry and vent to a close friend, and then pick myself up and try try again.  I know that my success at what I want to achieve will come - it is only a matter to time and effort.

What has been your biggest setback? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?

I had two significant setbacks while I was completing my education.  During my undergraduate degree I was diagnosed with 'Chronic Fatigue'.  It was in the early 90s and no-one had really heard of the disease.  The virus was active for about 6 years before it went dormant.  During this time I accepted that if I wanted to complete my courses and do well, that I would have to reduce the amount of energy out and focus on building the 'energy in'.  I prioritized my eating habits, exercise, sleep, the use of message and support groups as ways to 'energize' the body and mind during this time.  I stopped going out late at night and overloading my academic schedule. I paced myself and was able to 'get through' the challenge of the virus.

The second setback I experienced was an attitude of entitlement.  This attitude completely got in the way of completing my Ph.D. in a timely manner. I ended up spending 6 years to complete my degree. I think that I could have finished in the normal 4 years if I my attitude had been different.  I spent a great deal of energy on 'how I was wronged' by the system. My attitude got in the way of forming productive collegial relationships with my supervisory committee and some peers. By year four in the process, my attitude led me to professional isolation and I was extremely distressed. I considered taking a leave of absence to reconsider my options (at that point I had yet to propose my thesis). Overnight I realized that the problem was me.  I needed to be the one to complete this degree. I had to be the one that 'defended' the ideas to the committee. I needed to stop depending and asking people to 'help' me complete this degree. When I accepted that mind-set I was much more productive (and successful).

How do you deal with critics?

I wish I dealt better with critics.  I know that work is not 'personal' but because I give my everything to my work, when I my work is criticized, I am criticized.  It has taken me years (and a lot of counselling!) to not get defensive.  When it happens, I usually need to process the emotions and then critically reflect on the comments. Most of the time, I have the criticism coming.  It helps me to be a better at my work and be a better version of myself.

sharleen hoar

How important is social support in overcoming obstacles?

Very important. My social support network helps me to dissolve any negative emotions that result from being challenged by an 'obstacles' and then problem-solve or to 'think outside my box' to find workable solutions.  My social support network also makes me feel comfortable with the fact that some obstacles required TIME and sustained energy to be resolved.

What advice would you give others about goal setting?

Goal setting has tremendous potential to assist with achievement.  The data on that fact is overwhelming.  When goal setting does help one achieve it is usually because he or she isn't using the tool effectively. Goals need to be written down. The progress towards attaining a goal needs to be recorded and documented. Strategies for attaining the goal should be established.  Also, flexibility with time lines for goal attainment should be practiced.

What life lesson have you learned that you would like to pass along to others?

Be yourself.  Strive high, work hard, expect and accept nothing less then your best.  But in your attempts to do that, YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. Never try to be someone/something that you are not.

Thanks again Sharleen for sharing your wise words with us! Keep up the amazing work you are doing!

See you at the beach!