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Darleen Santore, more commonly known as “Coach Dar” is a licensed and board-certified occupational therapist, motivational speaker, mental performance coach, CEO and founder of the coaching firm Performance Meets Purpose Consulting, and best-selling author of The Art of Bouncing Back. She is best known for her mental condition work with athletes in the NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, and NFL.
Her approach is to help clients build courage, confidence, belief, and clarity about where they want to go and who they want to become. Darlene’s mission is to wake up every day to inspire and awaken greatness in herself and others.
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How did you get to where you are today?
It truly has been a wonderfully interwoven, kismet story that has brought me to where I am today. I started my career as an occupational therapist, helping people overcome extreme odds. Situations such as traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. A few years later, I went back to school for a business degree and became President of a healthcare company at just 28 years old. In 2008 I was lucky (and naive) enough to marry my two passions and start my own consulting business – combining science, psychology, and leadership. This paved the way and was truly the start of what is known as Mental Conditioning work in occupational therapy.
Who has made an impact on you?
My mother for sure. She was not only the kindest most giving woman I knew but the most driven. She worked 3 jobs to make sure we had food on our table. I’m here today because of the sacrifices she and my dad made on a daily basis, and I’m forever grateful for them.
Also, my faith is like Red Bull, it gives me wings. Waking up every day to let God lead me on the mission of awakening greatness in myself and others – to touch and influence a billion lives for the better is our goal.
What do you think has helped you the most with your success?
One thing we all know for sure is that adversity and challenges are a part of our lives! But what I realized over the years is that so many people don’t have the tools or knowledge to handle adversity and bounce back from it So, I felt it was time to share the same principles I use with them with the world.
What has been the biggest challenge you have overcome in order to achieve your goals?
One of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is the balancing act of overseeing and physically running the business while being the person that is doing all of the advising. I have learned A LOT of the years. One thing especially though is understanding the importance of surrounding myself with the right people who can excel at managing the day-to-day details of running the business and address the things that are most challenging for me so that my focus can truly be on advising my clients.
The biggest challenge still stands is the overcoming of 3 strokes, yes 3. You can read more of that in my book.
What are you most proud of?
I have been blessed in my life to be able to serve so many individuals to win in their life and continue to grow everyday through my coaching. One of my greatest accomplishments was serving as the Phoenix Suns mental skills coach and since then, has been the first and only occupational therapist serving in this role in professional sports. I’m more grateful than proud that God allowed and allows me to pave the way in this space. It’s such an honor.
I was also very thankful to receive this year the Diamond Excellence Award in Coaching for Women in Professional Sports. As well as receive JP Morgan’s 100 Women to KNOW in America award. Alongside this honor, I recently released my first book called The Art of Bouncing Back.
What are three pieces of advice you could give to our readers?
When you want to start something, start with writing down and understanding the gifts you have, skill sets, and the things you are most passionate about. Take those skills and gifts and figure out where the need in the world is and apply them there. I like to use the phrase, “Go ugly early” when starting out as it will never be perfect. The first pass at anything will never be your best but be sure to position yourself to be as prepared as you can at the time to jump into the game and go. Circle yourself with the right people, seek mentorship, and never stop learning. It will get hard, that is how life works, but when you believe in the service you are giving, it makes the hard work worth it.
How do you try to make an impact?
By being intentional every day in how I show up. My mission is to wake up every day to inspire and awaken greatness. I feel that it is my calling and mission to serve others in my life. And this can be standing in line with someone and bringing them joy or on the court or on a stage speaking. The point being wherever I am I want to be intentional in how I show up.
I am driven by the enormous opportunity I get every day with whom I am blessed to come alongside as it allows me to help others optimize their lives.
And lastly, my first book titled The Art of Bouncing Back is making the greatest impact. In it, I share my proven strategies and techniques for the first time ever so you can ensure the obstacles and setbacks you face quickly morph into setups for your next success. I have been so inspired by the feedback that The Art of Bouncing Back has provided others from athletes who were in a slump finding their flow and breaking records, to a CEO who transitioned and felt like they didn’t matter to finding their way again, to couples on the brink of divorce finding a way back, to cancer patients finding the will to fight against it, to a man who was contemplating his life to finding hope again.
How do you reward yourself when you’ve reached a goal or after a hard day of work?
A reward for me is going to share a meal with friends, a trip somewhere, or even a day of recovery with something like a massage, sauna, cold plunge, or red light therapy.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Through my business, I am able to optimize and pour into my clients so they can in turn pour into others within their professional and personal lives. When you are able to learn how to invest in and optimize the people around you, your business will increase. Through the process of tapping into our mental edge, we tap into life’s edge that allows us to win not only in our work, but in life 24/7. That is what inspires me, being able to awaken greatness in others, no matter what phase of life they are in. I love to connect with and share motivation with the people around me.
You can connect with me on Instagram at @TheCoachDar or on LinkedIn. Also if you’d like to explore one on one coaching or have me as your keynote please go to coachdar.com to learn more. You can also sign up there for my weekly newsletter which provides weekly mental fuel and tips to maximize your mind and life!
Paige Trendell is a high school intern at Sass Magazine. You can find her appreciating nature, crocheting, or reading a book. She hopes to go to college, major in journalism, and maybe even make it to the Washington Post!