Last Word – Jackie Brown

WORDS: Jackie Brown PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied

“When one door closes, go searching for a window” — this is the mantra that Jackie Brown lives by.

These internal words of advice were forged from her years of absolute dedication to training to stay at the top of her game as a professional basketballer both on the national and international stage. After returning home to the Gold Coast, the opportunities and life lessons that she was so grateful for have seen her become a full-time firefighter while also giving back as a basketball coach. She is currently coaching Qld teams within the Australian junior programme and the Gold Coast Women’s National Basketball League team.

What keeps you so driven and provides you with the hunger to pursue new opportunities with such passion?

At a very young age, I learned to embrace failure and how it was perceived. I could have given up on my goals and what I was striving to achieve. Instead, I turned these setbacks into opportunities and let the failures be the fuel to my next success.  We cannot live our lives afraid of making mistakes because it’s from the same mistakes we grow and learn. It’s okay to be disappointed, however for me it’s about keeping a healthy sense of perspective. My advice is, take your time to process the fact that something hasn’t gone your way, extract from the experiences the positives and then move on to your next experience.

Why professional athlete to firefighter?

When returning to Australia I was a very different person, grateful to have been exposed to different cultural values, traditions and situations. I was invited into family homes where I often found myself in unfamiliar settings that at times forced me outside of my comfort zone. It is when we reach this uncomfortable state that we learn, develop and grow, and begin to see the world in a new light. So I had to find an environment in which I would be continually challenged and pushed outside my comfort zone.

As a firefighter, I found that same team environment where success depends on the ability of individuals to know their role and work cohesively together towards a shared outcome. Also, the satisfaction of giving back to our community is very gratifying.

What brought you from player to coach?

As a player, I had some amazing role models and mentors who helped me face many challenges and for whom I am so grateful. If I could provide similar guidance, and support, and impact the life of even one athlete during this time when growing up with life’s challenges isn’t an easy task, then I will be satisfied.

My challenge is to coach the person first then the athlete. I take to time to really listen and get to know my players as people. How do they learn? What are their triggers in stressful situations? And how do I help them become the best versions of themselves both on and off the court.  It’s my time to pay it forward.

What do you find to be your greatest challenge?

When coaching women, I see the struggles with inner confidence. We often let fear become a barrier to reaching our full potential. This holds us back from doing the things we want to participate in or become the people that we strive to be.  As a result, we miss out on valuable opportunities to learn new skills and social engagements.

I have learned through experience that it takes one individual success (success is defined in many ways) to realise what you can achieve. My mission through leadership is to help change a negative mindset, remove self-doubt, and instil an inner confidence that provides women with the self-belief that they need to achieve their goals and pathways. Leadership is about exacting a change.

If you could write a letter to your 16-year-old self, providing the secrets to help navigate your way through life’s journeys, what would you write?

I have learned that I am at my happiest when I have balance in my life.  Whilst recently representing Australia at a FIBA Instructor course, I sat with a very wise German coach. She explained to me the values of “The 4 P’s – Person, Place, Passion, and Purpose.” When life is unbalanced and we search for answers to make the situation better, look at each of the 4 Ps.

Person – Find that person who gives you unconditional support and grounds you. (Role model, mentor, partner, friend). Place —  Find the place where you can go, where you feel safe and secure and can switch off from the outside world. Passion —  Find a passion that you can pursue, one which brings you joy and allows you to fully engage your mind and spirit. Purpose —  Find your purpose which brings fulfilment and meaning to who you are and what you do.  When life gets tough, re-evaluate your four P’s and make the necessary changes.