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March 01, 2019 4 min read

I had a random epiphany that jolted me into awareness yesterday. 

And it made me realize what I had really been training for as a professional athlete back in the day.

Turns out it wasn't for medals or a cool image.

Sure, getting to stand on the podium and being well known in the industry was, of course, awesome, but I now understand that that was just a byproduct of the real lessons.

I was actually training for success in something much grander and far more rewarding than what winning competitions could have ever given me:

healthy & loving relationships.

Sound odd? What about Steph? Read on…

My 10-year career as a professional freestyle kayaker was full of epic adventures and copious amounts of risk. 

Even when there were no competitions on the schedule I was always traveling with my kayak - to explore different cultures and make new friends by running rivers in remote places of the world.

I dropped off of 30+ foot waterfalls in Costa Rica and flew into rivers via helicopter (a.k.a. heli-boating) in New Zealand.

The experiences were breathtaking and sometimes even death defying, because where there were no roads > there were no easy evacuation routes...and that meant little to no room for error.

In Ecuador I was caught in a flash flood while on an overnight trip.

I flipped upside down mid-rapid (trying to avoid a huge log) and couldn't roll back up. Eventually I had to bail out of my boat and swim to shore with the help of my boyfriend at the time, losing my kayak never to be found again. I ended up stranded in the jungle for three days with only two mangoes and a bottle of rum, but that's another story.

In Uganda I successfully ran the biggest Class V rapid of my life, only to learn that the friend who guided me down it was eaten by a Crocodile on an exploratory river trip a few years later. And my Italian lover whom I met on that trip and who witnessed my epic win that day? He drowned a few years later while raft guiding in Chile.

It was a tumultuous and emotional (albeit thrilling) chapter of my life. And while I was wildly successful in my career and stoked to be an athlete, I was also scared shitless and uncertain about my choices on many an occasion. 

And yet, isn't that what we experience in our relationships too? 

While we may not be scared of death in the literal sense, we do succumb to the same ups and downs and wins and losses on a regular basis in our plight to find true love.

The good news is, as I gained confidence in my abilities that roller coaster of emotions eventually calmed, and the same can be true for our relationships. It's just a matter of putting in the practice.

So embrace these tips and learn what it really means to be a winner - in surfing AND in your relationships.


4 Mind Training Tips Of A Successful Athlete 

1. REVEAL yourself rather than DEFEND yourself.

Successful athletes can quickly and effortlessly develop their skills because they accept where they're at in the moment.

They're not afraid to look at themselves and they don't deny what needs work. Instead, they review their performance from training and competition to pinpoint their weaknesses as well as their strengths. 

What areas of your relationship do you need to work on? How would you like to be a better partner?


2. ALWAYS Let Go But NEVER Give Up.

A great competitor is incessantly focused and committed to the goal she sets out for herself. She does the work because she loves the process and knows better than to be attached to the outcome.

We can't predict the future - we can only embrace the moment. 

How can you use the moment to be a better partner? What is your goal in the relationship and how do you stay committed to that goal even if things don't seem to be working out the way you want?


3. FACE your fears - DON'T avoid them.

A skilled athlete knows when it's time to push her boundaries. She feels the fear but knows she's ready to expand, to be better and to do better. She takes the plunge knowing she'll likely flail at first!

When you wipe out (in anything you do), it makes you stop and think. It knocks some sense into you and has you refine your approach, develop your skill, understand where you're at and where you want to be.

Where are you ready to flail miserably in your relationship? How can you put yourself out there in a way you've been afraid to before?


4. Communication is KEY.

An athlete who understands her relationship with her sport always finishes at the top, and Steph Gilmore's skills in this area are unparalleled.

She takes the time to understand what she's working with at any given moment and then adjusts her style accordingly, like how she can adapt to the conditions of the wave between heats. 



What is the tide doing? What is the best board for that particular feature? What does she need to know about her opponents?

We see more success when we take our environment into consideration and plan accordingly. 

How can you communicate better with your partner? How can you refine your approach based on his response? 

Remember: The person with a winning mindset embraces the mental, spiritual, and physical gain she gets from training smart. It's what propels her forward each day despite any setback. 

So if you want to become the girlfriend of his dreams, adapt Gilmore's method of continually re-committing to the task at hand and refining your approach from moment to moment.

Yes, she may be one of the most talented athletes in the world, but she's still human - and if she can do it, so can you. You just have to decide.

xo Tiff

Do you have an unwavering commitment to your partner the same way you do to your sport or hobby? Please share with me in the comments below!

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