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Hi Tom, thanks for speaking with us about positive mindset!

You’re a fantastic coach and educator, and we’ve been doing some thinking around positive mindset inspired by your page. We’d love to know: why is mindset so important?

“Your positive (or negative) mindset can shape your life - it's the way that you look at the world. If you put on sunglasses when it's dark outside, then you're not going to be able to see that well!

You're not going to be able to respond to your environment or be able to make the best decisions about where you're going.  We need to try and set ourselves up to be in a position where we can succeed and thrive, so we can marry that into our own fitness or health ideals.”

Absolutely. So are there any downsides to people thinking about positive mindset?

“Saying someone's just ‘got a positive mindset’ is very reductionist. It whittles down something that's inherently complicated and personal - that can be quite unhelpful.

People won't just take you up on "Ah yeah, let's just be positive" because we need to be blending an optimistic world view with positive intentions, for success.

Some of the key values in having a positive mindset is first appreciating that it needs to come from within. You need to be confident and happy in yourself!

If you feel strong and resilient and confident, that can be expressed in your interactions. You can then physically or verbally express your mindset in a way that you want to, for example.”

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That makes sense. But what if we have negative feelings, for example?

“You also need to not write off your feelings, because it's about sitting with your emotional responses to things – they are completely valid.

But it's like, okay, I feel this way, but can my rational brain now step in? And how am I going to take steps forward?  Will I sit with these and be comfortable with where I am, or am I going to choose to try and make the best of a situation?

Could I look for that silver lining? Am I going to look for that lesson learnt? Can I now avoid or navigate these same scenarios better, more efficiently, more effectively, while still being true to myself, for instance?”

We’re sold. How do we get started?

“I would start talking up on yourself, be positive about yourself first. This is key to being successful and being positive in your outlook.

Self-talk is the way to start. It’s about being your biggest fan, backing yourself and being comfortable who you are.

Listen to your true, authentic voice and go with it. Trust it. You can then start to try and manifest things outwardly and outside through your physical or verbal interactions.”

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And what about positive mindset for coaches, for their clients?

As a coach, sometimes you have to be your clients’ inner voice. Sometimes you have to be their biggest fan. First of all - you've got to pick them up and give them a nudge, because we all need a social support network. Secondly, as a coach, you have the privilege of being that direct support.

Supporting someone and talking them up is only the beginning. If you don't try and educate someone, challenge their perspective, maybe ask them to think about things differently, you're probably missing a point.

You have to exemplify everything that you believe, and conduct yourself in the way that you encourage other people to do.

Tom Joseph-Sparks (MOst. ND. FAFS. CAFS, MSc Intake 2020) has worked as an elite strength and conditioning coach and osteopath for over ten years and has a wealth of experience in private - sport and musculoskeletal medicine clinics, and the commercial health and fitness industry.

He’s worked with specific named sport and orthopaedic conditions, and individuals with persistent, non-specific aches and pains, using a blend of hand on and exercise-based approaches. 

Tom provides his patients with a more person-centered, lifestyle approach that considers the interplay of an individual’s biology within a unique environmental context. He’s excited by how nutritional medicine, can help grow, expand, and even redefine traditional models of disease prevention, health promotion, rehabilitation, pain management and more.

You can get in touch with Tom via Instagram.

Interested in more interviews with awesome coaches? Check out our chat with Blair Sangster on at-home workouts, motiviation, and the power of your minimum effective dose.