Elin Landström.
Professional football player at Linköpings FC and jurist at the Swedish Players Union.

What gives you the most satisfaction in life? 

Being present in the specific moment. It can be while spending time with family and friends but also walking up a hill and stopping at the top to enjoy the view. Nature is a true treasure which always gives me satisfaction and inner peace.

You have pushed yourself in a very intentional way during many years, both to be your absolute best in your soccer career, and at the same time you have also finished a really challenging education in law school – what is/was the motivation behind that exceptional accomplishment? 

To be honest I think it all started in fear. I was so scared of failing, and I thought that if I just worked really hard, I would be successful – and happy. On the way I realized this and started to question my motivation. Since then, I work hard – to be kind, to myself and others. I still push myself in a very intentional way, but the motivation has changed. My biggest motivation today is the will of becoming the very best version of myself, but also to help others do the same. I want the world to be a kinder place to live in, and I want to do what I can to contribute. 

photography by MIA ERIKSSON

In the best of worlds – what can sport give the next generation in order to be successful both in ones sport but also as a human being?

Sport has so much to give in that context. To work hard against a common goal. Working hard includes having the hard conversations but also to be kind and really see the person. Sports taught me to push myself beyond what I thought was my limit, but it also taught me the process of setting goals, reach them/not reach them, evaluate and start over again. Most of all it taught me to love that process. Everything is consistently changing and that is a challenge we need to accept. 

When and how did you learn to separate your accomplishments from what you do? 
What is a helpful way for younger boys and girls to start working to understand and manage a possible performance anxiety right now? 

That is something I am still struggling with sometimes and probably will keep doing from time to time. Being aware of the problem has been one key for me. Getting tools to work with it is another. The most important tool for me is to be mindful and present with my thoughts. Taking a step back and realize that thoughts may not always be true, but most important: they will pass! Accepting the feeling is much easier when knowing that it will be different, maybe even tomorrow. Writing, meditating and talking to my closest ones are ways that helps me to take that step back. And to everyone struggling with this, you are not alone and there is help, go get it. 

photography by MIA ERIKSSON

Where does performance anxiety come from? 

For me it comes from fear; of losing and failing. To not be good enough and not being worthy. But it also comes out of shame. For me, not being good enough is strongly connected to shame. All these things makes it hard to separate accomplishments from performances since it connects to me as a person.

How good are you at allowing yourself peace and happiness in your life? 

I am getting better! I used to be someone only looking forward, on to the next goal. Today I really try to stop and enjoy the moment and be grateful and at peace with where I am at right now. This is something that don’t come easy to me. Happiness is strongly connected to gratitude, which is an ability you can improve, which is why I have put time into it. Practicing gratitude through conversations, writing and meditation has helped me a lot allowing myself happiness.

In what way do you usually prevent yourself from peace and happiness? 

By comparing myself to others. We get an overload of information about other people every single day, but I constantly have to remind myself that it’s mostly the good parts that is being shared. And that I wouldn’t want to be anyone else or anywhere else than I am right now. I also tend to worry about the future and overanalyze the past. 

photography by MIA ERIKSSON

3 words that describe how you truly want to be in life?

Present, curious, kind.

In everyday life – what is the most profound source of suffering for you?

Stress, worry and the feeling of not being sufficient. 

Which is the most profound source of joy? 

I find joy in many situations in life but the most profound joy is the one shared with others.  

Have you ever done excessive things in order to feel that you are enough, to accept yourself? 
There have been times when I’ve been working a lot. I studied, worked and played soccer on a professional level at the same time and built my identity on being a person who was never really resting. Only a day of perfect performances in all different aspects would give me a feeling of satisfaction. A single day off made me feel not good enough, not worthy.

What was good with it? What was not good? 

I did perform well, but I was never really accepting myself and I was not truly happy. There was a constant strive for more, and not many moments of peace and harmony. It took some time to realize that doing less wasn’t the same as being less worthy as a person, and that I could perform even better with some extra space in my life.

Is there a phrase or perspective that helps you deal with the excessiveness in a more optimal way now? 

That I am worthy of love, no matter my performance. That this is the life I’ve got, and I need to decide how I want to live it. I have decided to choose courage over comfort, and for me that means giving myself space to find out who I am, what I want and then go do it. 

Is there a phrase or perspective that helps you deal with the excessiveness in a more optimal way now? 

That I am worthy of love, no matter my performance. That this is the life I’ve got, and I need to decide how I want to live it. I have decided to choose courage over comfort, and for me that means giving myself space to find out who I am, what I want and then go do it. 

Another phrase that really comforts me is that everything is always changing. No matter what feeling I have right now, it will pass. This allows me to feel but not necessarily act on that feeling. It may even help me do the opposite of how I feel like doing, like take a nap instead of work an extra hour.

Clothes: Roberta jacket & Alba tights

As a soccer player – what is the most valuable thing you have learned, that you wish that you knew 10 years ago?

You will never play that perfect game. You do your best, and there will still be mistakes. And that’s perfectly fine. Make sure to learn by your mistakes, but don’t let the performance affect your value as a human being.

To get really good in any domain – as an athlete, a coach, creator or something else – what are some important aspects, wisdom and frameworks? 

Discipline and hard work. A decent plan, but more than that a flexibility around that plan. Another aspect of importance is self-distance, to keep asking yourself if you’re doing your very best and what you need to improve. It is also important to be open-minded and get inspiration and perspectives from other people.

What do you think, in general, prevent people from being their best?

Fear, shame and being too self-focused, it makes you lose perspective. It is also a matter of knowledge, the will to do something extra and not just do what is expected from you.

How do you mentally approach the most challenging training sessions? How do you talk to yourself to be able to use them instead of holding yourself back from 100% effort, which is an unbelievable challenging thing and approach…? 

I really do like to challenge myself. To know that I have a very challenging session ahead of me makes me thrilled, but also scared. I see every session as a way to prepare for the games ahead, and a challenging one makes me think of that last minutes of the game, when a win depends on me taking that extra sprint into the box. There are days when it is hard to give that 100 % effort but from experience, I know that the moment when the session is over will be so much more enjoyable if I know that I have done just that. 

Clothes: Francesca top & Francesca shorts

What motivates you the most?

To become the absolute best version of myself. As a player and as a human being. To contribute to a better world. A world which is kinder but also more sustainable. 

Is there a contradiction between going for your best performance and a successful career and being a kind, empathetic and phenomenal human being?
Can you do both? 
To do both – what is required? 

No, I do not think it has to be any contradiction between these two, but you can’t take it for granted. As a good performer you will be a role model which makes it even more important to do both. 

To do both, I believe it is required to be both present and reflecting. Present in the moment with other people but also reflecting on your own behavior.

Clothes: Roberta jacket & Alba tights

What are 3 characteristics of a bad leader that you have experienced, in sports or in life…?

Self-centered, lazy and lack of ability to create relationships.

What do you think are the characteristics of a world class leader? 

A world class leader is curious and always willing to learn more. He or she is able to see the person beyond the performance and brave enough to take responsibility in hard times. A world class leader has world class knowledge but is also aware of their shortcomings and has the ability to delegate.

What inspires you? 

People who make change and really make an effort to make this world more sustainable and kinder to live in.  

Clothes: Roberta jacket & Luna tights

What are truly important to you in this lifetime? 

To love, myself and others. Prioritize the relationships I value by giving these persons time and space in my life. To practice gratitude and choose joy whenever possible. I have set high standards for myself and it is truly important for me to live those standards. By doing so I believe that I have the opportunity to inspire and push others to do their own conscious choices.

What are you afraid of?

I still do worry a lot. But there is only one thing I am truly afraid of: losing the people I love. 

When you are about to enter the last hour of your time on earth – what do you think have made this life worth it? What do you think is required to feel peace when that moment comes? 

To know that I did everything I could to make a change. That I chose happiness whenever I had the chance. That I prioritized my relationships and myself by giving it time and space. Most important I think will be knowing that I have been kind, to myself, to the people I’ve met and to our planet.



Photography by
Marcus Falk Olander

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