AN OLYMPIC MINDSET: the 7 Brighter Thinking tips to help you win in the sport of life
So the gold-medal euphoria maybe starting to diminish, however hopefully the inspiration from the London 2012 Olympic athletes will live on and serve as a powerful influence, not just as a legacy to the next generation but also to the rest of us, as there is much we can learn and apply in our daily lives. Here are my seven top tips for success:
MAXIMISE YOUR SELF-BELIEF
This is your most important asset and the area that I focus on enhancing in my coaching clients. It is the difference between success and failure. For example, commentators speculated on GB’s Holly Bleasdale’s over reliance on her pole-vault coach in the stands to notify her of the wind direction, rather trusting her own instincts cost her a podium finish.
For me, in addition to Usain Bolt, David Fishwick’s self-belief is truly inspiring. Watch how he took on the UK banks and defied all those who said he couldn’t achieve his dream in the recent CH4 television documentary series Bank on Dave. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/bank-of-dave
VISUALISE & EMOTIONALISE YOUR SUCCESS
Visualisation (or mental rehearsal) is used widely in sports. Apparently, the most-decorated Olympian, Michael Phelps even relied on its winning capabilities during an actual race when his swimming goggles had steamed up and he literally could not see! Perhaps, he may also be an adaptive perfectionist, having skilfully planned a solution for the unexpected distraction.
Plus, I find that adding in the emotional part of how you are going to feel i.e. emotionalising the success, helps to engage both mind and body and give a goal more meaning. It makes more connections in your brain too, making it more sticky (yes, this really is a term used by neuroscientists!)
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH A POSITIVE SUPPORT TEAM
For independent types and Type A personalities, remember that Olympians do not work alone. They have a large team of support from their coaches, trainers, physio’s, fellow athletes etc. It is okay to ask for help and natural to have an ‘off’ day.
Do what athletes do and sack anyone from your support team who doesn’t believe in you and your abilities. Life is too short to stick around those that want to simply take your energy rather than contribute anything positive. If it is a family member putting you down, keep asking them to stop and limit your time around them.
HAVE 1 GOLD PRIORITY
Olympians work towards one big goal at a time. Be clear on the measure of your goal so that there will be no doubt as to whether it has been accomplished. As Bradley Wiggins CBE said after his cycling win: “It was gold or nothing”. I find with my clients that working towards a maximum of three goals concurrently for a set time frame particularly beneficial as achieving one of the seemingly less important goals is often the final hurdle which leads to being able to reach the main target.
HABITUALLY PERFORM DAILY ACTION
Whilst you might not be including hours of physical training in your day, it is important to ensure that every day you are DOING something tangible to progress your journey towards your goal. If taking action keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the pile, then you have not made it your number one gold priority.
Our brain and body likes a routine and surprising to many this fosters creativity as all the basics are taken care of to enable your brain to be in a relaxed place and think and connect – what it loves to do! Sticking to your usual routine (including the fun stuff!) in times of stress will help you cope and build resilience. Also, the detailed ‘routines’ executed by athletes in the changing room just before an event are not simply the actions of the superstitious: I had an insight watching a sports psychology film in the BBC1 Olympic coverage that these routines support the brain’s propensity to predict subsequent behaviour. Therefore, having performed the routine many times before, the brain can simply automate what happens next i.e. the winning performance.
FEEL THE FLUTTER!
When I do something new or make a decision that creates a physical flutter in my stomach, I know that I have committed to a winning and exhilarating motivation. Consequently, I also stretch my clients to experience this in their goals and subsequent actions. Challenging yourself and feeling the fear and doing it anyway increases confidence. This serves to reinforce self-belief and self-esteem in a tidy feedback loop. This is where you grow as a person as you expand what you previously thought you were capable of.
“When you commit your mind and talent, you get the best out of yourself.”
Denise Lewis OBE, gold medallist, BBC1 London 2012 television coverage, 08/08/12