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Mental Toughness with Shawnee Harle

Mental Toughness with Shawnee Harle - Episode 108

When life get’s tough what do you do? Do you just buckle down and get going, do you give up, or do you take a moment to create a strategy for success and then take action on that plan? In this episode of the Jonesin’ for Show I chat with Olympic Coach, Athlete, and Mental Coach Shawnee Harle about Mental Toughness and how doing Heart work can help.


Shawnee Harle was an athlete. She participated in sports from a young age until her third year of college. She got cut because she wasn’t good enough. While that would get many people down, not her! It pushed her to where she really needed to go. She became a full-time college coach for twenty years, and now she does mental coaching. At the 2016 Olympics she was an assistant coach with the Canadian women’s basketball team. They had the most unbelievable run up until the Olympics, they had won more than the national team had ever won before.

She learned many important things at the Olympics, sometimes you get the thrill of victory, but often you get the agony of defeat. They had gotten all the way to the quarter finals, but they did not win. On the biggest day of her life, Shawnee choked, the whole team underperformed. It was one of her darkest days, but once she got out of the darkness, she realized what she had to do next. What she had to do was help others build a toolkit so that on the biggest day of their lives their best selves would show up.


Shawnee remembers writing in her high school yearbook that she wanted to go to the Olympics, at the time she was thinking as an athlete. In her own words she says that being at the Olympics was like being at the most amazing buffet with all of her favorite foods. Watching other sports and hearing other people’s stories was fascinating to experience. Even though the disappointment was very real, she knew that the experience was about more than just that loss. She knew that she would probably never get to go there again so she wanted to see as much as she could and leave no stone unturned.


Every day Shawnee learns more from each of her clients. She knows that in the past she wasn’t a very good self-reflector. Sports taught her to fake it until she makes it, then when she got into her dark hole, she realized she needed to think differently. Once she got out, she started asking herself what she didn’t see. And that helped but not as much as the next question. That was “what did she see but refused to look at. “ That smacked her right in the head and helped her realize what she needed to do to move on from the darkness. What she teaches her clients is what’s in the way is the way. You must go through it, not around it, or over it, through it. That’s where the learning is. Have a growth mindset and the courage to take a good hard look in the mirror. Shawnee does what she calls “heart work.” To get through the dark days you need to look inside your heart and speak the truth. The truth will set you free. Freedom comes from solving the right problem. We work really hard a lot of times with great intentions, but often times we’re not looking deep enough to solve the right problem of what is causing our behaviors. Ask yourself, what are you afraid of? What are you avoiding? What are you protecting? What are you protecting against? These will help you narrow it down to the problem you really need to face, it doesn’t leave any wiggle room. You can’t avoid it; you need to work through it.


Once you figure out what the real problem is, you’ll likely realize why you have this problem. Shawnee believes that you need to know why you have this problem in order to fix it. Look at your feelings and try to figure out where they’re coming from. When Shawnee works with her clients she tries to figure out where their fears are coming from. There is a finite set of problems, the number one feeling that comes up from the problems is embarrassment. Then she digs down further to try to figure out where the embarrassment is coming from, most of the time it’s from the fear of disapproval. When we’re afraid of making mistakes, we play it safe to protect ourselves from looking bad and feeling embarrassment. This hinders our growth because we aren’t allowing ourselves to reach our full potential. It’s ok to look at your feelings and go through them to see what we need to do to be ourselves. You need to accept that you can fail, and not be ashamed of what happens if you do. Shawnee tries to help her clients normalize all of their feelings, it doesn’t matter whether the feelings are positive or negative, you need to accept both kinds. Accepting your feelings doesn’t mean that you need to like the negative feelings, you just need to tolerate them and not avoid them.

It is possible to be both brave and afraid. It is when you are nervous and afraid that you need to find your courage and act bravely. If you wait until you feel confident before you do something, you’re going to wait for a long time. If you let your fears control your behaviors, you won’t move forward. Feel those emotions and choose courage. If you want to connect with Shawnee you can find her website at shawneeharle.com.

I would love to hear what you think about Mental Toughness! Send me a message on social media @Jonesinfor or email me at [email protected]