Taking control of what's holding us back


It stands to reason that someone with a Ph.D. in counselling psychology, and the first female performance consultant for several professional sports teams, may have some ideas for personal growth on leadership, stress, and attitude.

“I was really fortunate that I started with the New York Rangers, and my actual first day on the job in pro sport was during 9-11,” says Kimberley Amirault-Ryan. “I say I was fortunate because the things I learned about leadership, and handling stress in adversity from the New York Rangers organization was incredible.”

Amirault-Ryan believes there are three major areas we hold ourselves back.

  1. Goal completion;
  2. Dealing with stress; and
  3. Attitude.

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According to Amirault-Ryan, less than eight per cent of us achieve our New Years resolution’s and goals, often citing a “lack of time.”

“Instead, what you want to be doing is focusing on your ‘why’, of ‘why you want to achieve your goal’ — like that dream, that connection,” says Amirault-Ryan.


Our feelings are guided by our thoughts, and for many of us, these thought processes were developed in our adolescence. Amirault-Ryan recommends taking control of those thoughts.

“So instead, what you want to do is become aware of the situation that’s upsetting you — what are your thoughts around it? And that’s the beauty of being human, we can change our thought pattern. So what you want to do…is switch your thinking…”

First, she says, take a breath and calm down. If necessary, use a thought-stopping technique such as snapping an elastic band on your wrist. Then re-set, almost as though you watched the mistake on a video. Re-play the video with how you wish you would have responded. Then, put your shoulders back, head up, and re-focus on the now.

For people who struggle with perfectionism, Amirault-Ryan suggests thinking about the instance as though you’re talking to someone else you really care about.


Amirault-Ryan says she divides the whole world into energy-takers and energy-givers.

“Every company, every sports team I’ve worked with, spends a lot of time selecting people that are energy-givers, solution-focused.”

She says this creates a high performance environment by design — something we can utilize in both our professional and personal lives.

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