Manifesting a Champion Mind

By Danielle Gruen

To stay motivated and be a "champion" in the field of Career Counseling requires much more than taking a day off or attending a training, especially in today's economy. An Employment Specialist of a local non-profit agency recently told me, "How am I supposed to inspire hope in my clients when I am questioning my own financial future, and the stability of my own career?" The paradox hit a cord within me, and I sat in a moment of silence with her. Then I replied, "Well, if you don't . . . if we don't, who will?" It was in that moment that we both realized the depth of this experience, remembering the value of the work we do. The power attached to making a difference in the life of one person, one family, and our communities is what we hold onto. Nevertheless, there are times the monotony of a day or the given aspect of our work supersedes, and it can take a crisis or a shining star to remind us of what drew us into this line of work in the first place, and more importantly what has kept us here all of these months and even years later.

According to Dr. Lin Morel, it is in the mind and behaviors of athletic champions, such as gold medal Olympians, where we learn what it takes to be a champion. As Career Counselors it is essential we develop the "champion" mind in ourselves and foster this in our clients. The athlete determined to surpass a world record, overcome a challenge, and achieve a goal greater than the previous year teaches us valuable lessons about drive and mental strength. Through studying the champion, we learn what makes up the "champion" mind and how our thoughts and beliefs affect our actions and future. Fostering this in our clients requires a self-disciplined practice of this in our own lives, personally and professionally. It is a mindset achievable and accessible to anyone when we believe we are worthy of achievement, and when we create direction, foster clarity, and gain drive. The details may vary, the way in which goals are accomplished may shift, but the state of mind is consistent and authentic. Characteristically the "champion" mind tells us:

  1. We can get through anything when we gain focus

  2. We are worthy of achieving our goals and making them reality

  3. We possess all we need to reach our dreams

  4. Our dreams are important and worthy of our time and attention

  5. We have the ability to be focused and clear

  6. Intention and attitude are key

  7. One person does foster change and facilitate impact

  8. Our future starts with today.

I'll tell you a story about a client of mine I will refer to as Courtney. Courtney came to me at a time in her life when she was in her 40's, unemployed, single, suffering from severe chronic depression, and her terminally ill sister (suffering from cancer) was moving to California for hospice care in Courtney's home. The "champion" mindset existed within Courtney, and I knew this because she was a recovering addict and had been sober for over one year by the time she came to me. To become sober and then maintain sobriety required the characteristics of a "champion" mind such as focus and perseverance. Question was, did Courtney know? From the start of our work together, I acknowledged Courtney for her strength and dedication which led her to sobriety and brought her into my office.

Tip #1: Acknowledge clients strengths and build from their resilience

Tip #2: Remind client of a time in her/his life when a similar goal was achieved and discuss "How" this occurred.

Courtney and I drew diagrams and mind-maps in brainstorming sessions outlining her goals, dreams, and steps needed to reach her career and life aspirations. We color-coded the behaviors and action steps she would take and had already. This demonstrated for her that she could succeed and that reaching her goals was a possibility she deserved. It also showed her where she had already done this in the past.

Tip #3: Instill hope in your clients while reminding them that attitude is everything. Choosing a positive attitude tells our inner mind that we are worthy and capable.

After many sessions, Courtney landed a volunteer job and enrolled in school for a short-term vocational program in property management. This took time, patience and dedication including repeating a class she did not pass the first time. She is now managing a property where she lives rent-free, and takes classes on the side towards her Associates degree.

Tip #4: Give permission to fail; however, instead refer to these set-backs as minor bumps in the road, a reason to get up and try again. It is important for clients to hear that perfection is not the goal, but rather learning from mistakes and growing as a result.

Developing a "champion" mindset will take practice, focus and guidance. As Career Counselors it is critical to nurture our own "champion" mind, believing in the importance of our goals. What goals do you currently have for yourself? Encourage your "champion" mind to shine; how can you bring it to life?

On a piece of paper, complete the following sentences for yourself, and encourage your clients to do this as homework.

  1. I feel particularly at peace with my life and fulfilled when I engage in my project of...
  2. My "on the back burner" project will get started or be finished when...
  3. The most important task on my plate right now has value because...


Champions dream BIG; there really is no reason not to. Counselors and clients can dream big too!



Morel, L. (2009). Get Clear. Get Connected. Get a Job.  How to Make Your Job Search Easy.  U.S.A.: The Art of Living Brilliantly Series.

 Danielle Gruen

Danielle Gruen is the Founder and primary Career Counselor of Living Careers, a Los Angeles based career counseling firm.  She provides career development workshops and disability awareness training ongoing through speaking engagements across the greater L.A. area. Over the last year, she founded the Healers Connect Network, co-founded CareerCamp LA, and was recently appointed Chair of the Los Angeles chapter of CCDA.  Danielle is also a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in the Division of Department of Vocational Rehabilitation in Los Angeles county where she currently serves as disability awareness consultant for multiple LAUSD high schools, the HIV/AIDS community, and U.S. Veterans. She earned her Masters degree from San Francisco State and is both a Nationally Certified Counselor, and a Distance Credentialed Counselor.   She can be reached at daniellegruen@yahoo.com


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1 Comment

Robin Wendell on Sunday 05/02/2010 at 06:35PM wrote:

Such an inspiring article.

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