Champion Mindset - What makes resilience and leadership in elite sport?

Personal insights, concrete tips, exciting discussions - on November 29, four top experts delved deep into the world of resilience and leadership in top-class sport at KLU. HSV President and national soccer player Marcel Janssen, Olympic field hockey champion Tobias Hauke, yachtswoman and olympic champion Susanne Beucke and psychologist Kirstin Wilhelm discussed together as part of the "Champion Mindset" event at Kühne Logistics University.

Resilience - a daily companion and great help in everyday life, not just for top athletes. Marcell Janssen, the current HSV president, recalled a specific situation at the 2008 European Football Championships, where he was the focus of media attention after a poor game. "As a young man, getting hit on the head by an entire country was intense," he says. What really helped him back then was a change of perspective - a classic tool of resilience training. "I realized that just because there are a lot of others doesn't automatically make them right - on the contrary." By mentally re-evaluating, he was able to gain confidence for the upcoming games and focus better.

Resilience for everyone

Personal insights like these shaped the panel discussion at KLU. Around 200 guests, many of them young athletes from Hamburg sports clubs, accepted the invitation from KLU Professor Björn Michaelis and KLU Sport Affairs Manager Johannes Dietz. The panel discussion, moderated by Timm Kruse, was not just about stories from the athletes' sewing boxes. On the contrary, the focus was on the importance of resilience for everyone - both privately and professionally. Resilience, i.e. the ability to get through difficult situations well, to hold one's ground and not get drowned in stress, has numerous positive effects.

Small steps to success

Kirsten Wilhelm, management and resilience trainer, explained that you can often strengthen your own resilience with small steps and exercises. "You don't have to meditate for an hour every day. Five minutes is often enough - even if it's just to breathe," she says. This helps to keep calm even in stressful situations. For Susann Beucke, a professional sailor, support from psychologists is a matter of course. As an offshore sailor, she is familiar with extreme situations, such as sailing alone on the ocean. "Through the training, I can recognize what triggers fear in me, for example, and how I can deal with it better."

Back to everyday life

But resilience doesn't just help in extreme situations like these. Tobias Hauke reports on how the skills he learned in sport are now helping him even after his career has ended. "Mental health is a social issue," he says. "It's important to talk about it, to take people with you and to be open about it. It's not a bad thing to fall into a hole, I've experienced that myself. The important thing is to talk about it openly." With regard to companies, he believes that managers have a duty. "This issue is driven from the top down and if managers are open to it, then it is easier for everyone else below them to deal with it."

The unanimous conclusion of the panel was that resilience is a multifaceted topic that also offers points of reference and valuable inspiration for everyday life outside of elite sport. Even small exercises and mental strategies can help people to cope better with everyday and extraordinary challenges. You can work on your own resilience and achieve positive effects at any age and in any situation.

Further information
KLU is an official "Partner University of Elite Sports" and a partner of the German University Sports Association (ADH) and the Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein Olympic Training Center. As part of this cooperation, KLU offers a targeted scholarship program for Bundesliga athletes as well as tuition fee reductions for these athletes. In addition to financial support, there are flexible and individual solutions for combining studies and competitive sport.

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