01/11/2017 13:56 EST | Updated 01/12/2018 00:12 EST

Chantal Vallée: Lessons from the lobster

Chantal Vallée is a five-time national champion head coach of the University of Windsor Lancers women's basketball team, leading her teams through good times — and bad.

With pressures on the court and on campus, Vallée has spent a lot of time acting as a coach and a counsellor to her student athletes.

Vallée is using that experience to offer advice and insight with CBC's Windsor Morning.

  • Chantal Vallée: Sharing the key to self confidence
  • Chantal Vallée: Don't be afraid to make a decision

Growing out of your shell

Lobsters are fascinating creatures because, in order to grow, they have to shed their shells. There's an unlikely motivation that tells the lobster when it's time to let go of its shell — pain.

A lobster's shell is hard and inelastic. As the crustacean's body grows, the lobster becomes uncomfortable, feels tight and finds itself in a state of pain. There is no solution other than to get out of its shell.

If a lobster refused to let go of its shell, where it is safe and protecting him, it would die. The lesson here is: Without pain, and without feeling uncomfortable, it is impossible to grow.

Pain pushes growth

For our team, pain is a very important indicator of where growth is needed.

We have a saying: "The struggle is real," and we learned to welcome the struggle in our training. For example, when we are unsuccessful, instead of putting ourselves down, we thank our training partner for showing us the area where we need to to improve.

This lesson also applies to areas of our lives where sometimes the pain can be emotional.

As humans we have the tendency to want to either hide the pain, or disregard it. We often feel the pain, or discomfort, is something negative happening to us. That pain, though, is our body, our soul, our mind talking to us. It indicates we need growth in this particular area.

Take the lobster approach

One area of pain for me was my communication. The struggle was real.

Communicating in a second language: speaking clearly, not coming across as abrasive or demanding, was very difficult.

But instead of quitting or getting down on myself, I took the "lobster approach" and decided to get help in order to learn and grow.

The only way to grow and transform oneself is through being uncomfortable. Look at where it hurts and instead of trying to hide it. Welcome it. Use it as a sign and a source of motivation — grow.

Vallée appears every other Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. on Radio-Canada's Matins sans frontieres 105.5 FM and 1550 AM and at 8:10 a.m. on CBC's Windsor Morning, 97.5 FM.