In his book, The Light in the Heart, author Roy T. Bennett said, “When things do not go your way, remember that every challenge, every adversity contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth.”
This quote resonates best with our current reality — a global pandemic. We’ve been through a lot of challenges over the last year — from losing lives to losing jobs. Behind these challenges, though, are huge chances for growth.
On The School of Greatness, we invite exceptional individuals with inspiring stories to lead us on the path to greatness. Many of these individuals have gone through immense challenges — challenges which would cripple a lot of people from success. However, the key to success lies within their winning mindsets.
Is it possible to have a consistent mindset of winning even during life’s difficulties? The answer is a resounding, but not an easy, yes. It takes time, determination, and effort to get to that point. You cannot think like a champion if you cannot act like one. It is impossible to have that confidence, that intention, without actions to back it up.
If you think about it, though, having winning habits and a winning mindset is all worth it when you keep your eyes on the prize. This goes beyond the shiny trophies and medals. It promises purpose, courage, and abundance. When you feel like giving up, think of following your dreams, passions and eventually achieving your greatest goals in life.
Today, I am honored to have a truly inspirational guest who is in touch with the importance of creating winning habits and mentality. This mindset transformed her to become one of the best female athletes America has ever seen. If you’re ready to be moved by someone’s dedication and commitment to excellence and greatness, keep reading about the incredible Candace Parker.
Candace Parker is a two time Olympic gold medalist and a decorated WNBA superstar. She has won a WNBA championship, two WNBA “Most Valuable Player” awards, a WNBA “Finals MVP” award, a WNBA “All Star Game” award, and the WNBA “Rookie of the Year” award. Candace Parker is truly one of a kind, and her skill is undeniable.
She also has a podcast called Ledlow & Parker, where she and popular sports anchor Kristine Ledlow use their respected voices and in-the-know perspectives to discuss the sport of basketball. They also like to mix it up, inviting famous personalities, such as Kobe Bryant, Jimmy Butler, and Snoop Dog, onto their show.
Candace also takes pride in being a mother to her 11-year-old daughter, Lailaa. Her daughter is her biggest source of inspiration — every time she thinks of her, she’s inspired to become the best person that she could be to herself and to others.
Today, Candace serves as a role model for athletes in more than just sports. She stands up for human rights and what people believe in. She uses sports’ fame as her platform to have a voice in politics and other relevant social issues. Candace is the true definition of a winner as a mother and black woman, and it is with great pride that I introduce her as a guest in today’s show. Now, without further ado, let’s get into it!
As a decorated athlete, Candace Parker is extremely familiar with the power of winning habits and positive mindsets. However, reaching her level of success today wasn’t an easy feat. Using her personal experience, Candace shared how she was able to have a winning mentality despite all the difficulties she shared
“I was lucky to grow up in a very loving family where there was hardly any adversity, but I think that made me lack tenacity. After tearing my ACL and hearing that I [wouldn’t] be able to play the sports I loved in my life the most, I had to decide and make a promise to myself to overcome adversity and obstacles in my life. I think that’s when I developed tenacity, and it’s what keeps my winner mentality” – Candace Parker
Tenacity stands hand-in-hand with one’s dream and passion. Even though Candace tore her ACL and was told she would probably never play basketball again, she pushed through the pain and achieved the impossible.
Passion is what drives great athletes, such as Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, and Dominique Dawes, to always choose to get up instead of quit when things are tough. It is the primary reason why they are equipped to face greater challenges. But how can someone stay motivated, disciplined, or excited when they keep on losing? For Candace, the answer was focus.
“There was a moment in my life when I [hadn’t] won any recognition for eight straight years. And you might ask, ‘How does she keep herself motivated? How does she keep her eyes on the prize?’ It’s all about focus. I focus on the joy that I feel after every win. That feeling is addicting; it’s enough to make me wake up with so much motivation every single day. ” – Candace Parker
We need tenacity and focus to achieve a winning mindset; however, we’re often met with self-doubt, insecurity, and criticism when we attempt to reach our goals. The same thing happened to Candace, and she shared valuable wisdom about how we can handle these negative emotions.
“Everybody has doubts. Everybody has a fear of their what-ifs, but when you are truly in the moment, your fears don’t matter. I learned that I play better when I am just in the moment and [when] I prepare, do the best I can, and then I live with it. I had a conversation with my brother where he told me that I should never hesitate. I should just take shots, regardless of what the previous play is. It might be possible that you’re gonna make more mistakes than the other people on the team, but you just have to be confident in your decisions.” – Candace Parker
As Candace said, you can’t escape criticism. You can escape the pressure of other people. However, you can choose to not let it affect you. Instead of hesitating before making a decision, make that decision with confidence and pride. People might criticize you, but as long as you are confident of your decision and are sure of its success, you don’t have to worry about what they have to say.
Something that also helps Candace in moments of stress or self-doubt is the ability to remain calm:
“Also, calm[ness] … [is] a superpower. I always struggled because I feel as though in women’s sports and women in general [with] business [or] politics, if you lose your composure, you’re considered crazy, irrational, [or] out of control. But it [doesn’t]. [The important thing is] trying to get under control — having composure.” – Candace Parker
The journey to having a winning mentality and winning habits is never an easy road. It takes strength and a thirst for success to keep one’s self mentally strong. For Candace, it is about enjoying the moment, the process, and living with the results. It is about being calm in moments of stress and not letting the opinions of others affect her.
One last tip that Candace shared to achieve this winning mindset was to surround yourself with mindset coaches who can give their insights and encourage you in the midst of hardship.
“My coaches before taught me how to have discipline. And I think that many of us can benefit from having them. Sometimes, people don’t do what they need to do. They need other people to tell them. I also developed my own mantra from listening to inspiring people, like the great Pat Summit, who was successful in leaving a legacy of her own.” – Candace Parker
I couldn’t agree more on the importance of having a coach. I’m a big believer in coaches — for sports, for business, and for relationships. Coaches have always been able to push me a little harder than I could push myself.
If you find yourself in a position where you are struggling with self-doubts, insecurities, and you’re questioning your ability to succeed, I encourage you to take a deep breath and have confidence that there is a reason for you being here. You are your biggest competition, but with the right training, you too can have the mental strength and winning habits that will give you success.
For those who do not know, Candace got pregnant with her daughter, Lailaa, in her first year of playing in the WNBA. This was not a highly favorable situation — since she had to stop playing at the height of her athletic career. However, Candace was able to develop her story with a wonderful twist.
“We both take Kobe Bryant as an inspiration, right? If there’s one thing that I used to admire about him, it was him being one of the best dads I’ve ever known. I truly believe in the love that he [had] for his family. The biggest memory he left on me was even when [he was] in the gym and even [when he was] working on something, he took the time and energy to be a dad to his kids. He was always on time and was usually one of the first people to be there when it [was] time to pick up his wife and kids. He never failed to spend his time and energy with his daughters. He spoke of them with genuine pride and joy.” – Candace Parker
Inspired by Kobe Bryant’s example, Candace was committed to be the best mother she could be for her daughter. Lailaa is Candace’s entire inspiration and motivation for her work as a professional athlete.
Kobe Bryant left another piece of wisdom to Candace:
“I think that the biggest impact that Kobe left on me was confidence. There was a time that I was having doubts about whether I should take a shot or not. I remember asking Kobe how he can have the courage to take those shots. He answered that it is because he already put in too much time in effort and repetition that the next shot has to go in.” – Candace Parker
One of the biggest obstacles to developing a winning habit and mentality are doubts — and the biggest doubts often come from yourself. The good news, though, is that everyone has them! The bad news is that only some know how to deal with them. By letting these doubts take control of your mind, you put yourself in a place where fears conquer your potential, and it’s you who ultimately becomes the reason for your own setbacks.
Friends, don’t let this happen to you. You are talented. You are gifted. Put the time and efforts needed to succeed. What others say about you is none of your business. When you realize this, you build mental strength. You attain a winning mindset, and with a winning mindset, there is always an abundance of success. There are no losses. There’s only a life overflowing with courage, purpose, and passion.
Candace has always wanted to be a mother, but becoming one as an athlete was frowned upon by many in the basketball world. However, Candace was able to reframe the situation entirely by having Lailaa as her primary source of inspiration.
“When I heard that some critics would say that my career was washed up, or I was not gonna be able to come back after my pregnancy, I got more determined to prove them wrong. Two months after my pregnancy with Lailaa, I was back on the court.” – Candace Parker
Still, there were many bumps along the journey of Candace’s success as a mother and pro athlete. At first, it was difficult to balance her two roles, since she was trying to give each one the attention it deserved.
“I was lucky to belong to an organization where they would allow me to nurse my daughter during halftime in the locker room. I was just so stubborn in that I never wanted to sacrifice my career for my family, and I didn’t want to sacrifice my family for my career. So the best thing [was] just to do both. I was nursing her for 13 months as we’re traveling in a crazy amount of countries all the time.” – Candace Parker
In addition to nursing Laliaa in the locker room, Candace also had to bring her daughter with her overseas and enroll her in international schools. However, while some may view these decisions as irresponsible, Candace said that they have had a positive impact on Laliaa as a result.
“Those [were] hard decisions that I had to make, but I think they served her well. It made her resilient and adaptable. Like you can put her in whatever room, and she’s just going to shine.” – Candace Parker
The more adversity you experience at a young age, the stronger you become. Laliaa is developing the same winning habits and winning mindset as her amazing mother, and I know that she’s going to accomplish great things in her future.
Are you experiencing a similar situation as Candace? Maybe you’re not a pro athlete, but you’re struggling balancing your family life with your work life. Perhaps you’re in a less than ideal situation, and you’re struggling to see positive opportunities. If that’s the case, follow Candace’s example:
“I’m trying to get better every single day. I look myself in the mirror, acknowledge my faults, and see where I need to improve and get better. And a lot of that is because of Lailaa. I want to be somebody that she is proud of when she is older. I want her to always look forward to coming home and be proud of who her mom is and not of what I have.” – Candace Parker
Everyone has the potential to become better. Find your inspiration in life, whether it’s your child, your job, or your passion, and let it fuel you toward greatness.
Candace Parker is an inspiring role model for so many, and it was such a treat to have her on this show. Remember that you can listen to the full episode for more. Also, don’t forget to share the episode with someone who needs to hear it — you could change someone’s life.
You should also follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and who knows — you might catch her and Lailaa doing some amazing TikToks together. You can also check out her podcast during the WNBA season.
Recently, Candace also recently teamed up with Carmela Anthony to be a part of the Social Change Fund, which aims to level the playing field and to reach equality in social justice, voting, and other social issues. Donate and make an impact by visiting the Social Change Fund today!
Once again, I want to acknowledge Candace for being an inspiration and spreading positive energy. You are your biggest competition, but you are also the only person who can change your mentality. Her definition of greatness will help you get there:
“Greatness is repeatedly getting up and doing something because you know that’s going to get you where you want to go. It’s a commitment that you have to, whether you like it or not. Lastly, greatness is continuing. Whether it’s when the lights are on, when the lights are off, [or] when the gym is empty or full, it is about doing what you know, what you’ve prepared [to do], and what you should do.” – Candace Parker
If someone hasn’t told you this lately, know that I believe in you and that you are loved. You have the potential to develop winning habits and a winning mindset just like Candace Parker. Go make it happen today!
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