Sport is an excellent lens through which to view the practices necessary to create a champion mindset. How to become better, wiser and mentally stronger in life and business. With the reality that just a few people achieve their goals and reach their full potential, I believe most people desire to uncover the keys to greatness, success, and achievement. Only by doing so can we discover how to become the best version of ourselves possible and simultaneously create a champion mindset.
While I was enjoying watching the tennis at the Australian Open, I saw perfect examples of a champion mindset play out, and the opposite. I will share my insights and what I believe are eight key ingredients for a champion mindset.
Psychology of Performance
It’s in competitions where the psychology of performance comes into play. Athletes require mental and emotional approaches to their game as well as fitness and strategy. Roger Federer is a prime example of having a champion mindset, and Rafael Nadal says that a key component to his success over the years, has been working on his Mindset. The obvious traits of peak performers are desire, discipline, focus, commitment, persistence and a drive to be even better.
Getting uncomfortable is the only way to grow and improve. On the court, the ultimate success comes from embracing a Champion Mindset. This mindset consists of what athletes are thinking, saying to themselves and feeling. Furthermore, what strategies and contingency plans they have.
Here are a few areas common to elite athletes. Why not do a self-assessment and give yourself a score out of ten for how well you embrace these in your life? Ten is the equivalent of embracing the attributes of an elite athlete thoroughly, and 0 is the equivalent of someone who hasn’t gotten off the couch yet! Let’s see how well you score on the level of peak performance in your business and life and what lessons you can take from elite sports players.
The Ingredients of a Champion Mindset
1. Desire is the first key to creating a champion mindset
Elite athletes have a burning passion and desire to succeed in their chosen sport. They love what they do. Serena Williams is a classic example. She still has a burning desire to continue playing tennis and achieve more in the game. Even though she is now a mother, she kept her match fitness high during her pregnancy. Now, she has returned with her prior commitment and drive. Roger Federer is one of the oldest players, yet his passion and love for the game have kept him willing to do what is necessary to be at the peak of his game and remain at the pinnacle of the sport.
- What about you? Do you love what you do every day? If you do, congratulations, you are one of the lucky ones. I love my work, yet many people don’t like theirs. Athletes know they can’t perform at their best if they don’t have passion. The question therefore is: “How can you identify your true passion or find the spark to ignite your inner drive?:”
2. Determination to rise above self-doubt is the next ingredient of a champion mindset
Athletes work on stepping through their fears and doubts. In sports, one of the most common roadblocks is performance anxiety. I believe a classic example of this is the amazing athlete, Sam Stosur. She puts an incredible amount of pressure on herself when she performs in Australia and has the expectations of every Australian on her back. Her past failures seem to haunt her and tend to come into play. The result, frequently losing in early on in the tournament. While she is an awesome player and often plays with a champion mindset, overcoming this inner battle is, I believe the last ingredient that will truly give her the edge. And, a true champion mindset. Champions who come back from the brink of a loss learn to master their emotions and find a way to rise above their doubts and inner demons.
- Where or what do you fear or feel anxious about in your business? Is it a big sales target you have? Is it anxiety about going for a promotion, a new job or fear of stepping up and establishing a business?
- Do you push through your fears and go for it or do you let fear stop you from stepping up in your life?
- Are you sitting in your comfort zone or do you continually push yourself to move out of it?
Specific techniques from the sciences of success and performance psychology I share with my clients help with this critical area.
3. Playing in the Zone is where masterful performances happen
Playing in the zone, or getting into flow is a key to sports success. It’s then when everything comes together, time stands still, and the critical point won. This is the ultimate focus and part of the proof of a champion mindset.
- How often are you in flow in your business?
- Does time stop as you are fully focused on a task or project or do you fall victim to the distractions all around you?
- How would your results change if you were more focused, more in the zone and immune to distractions?
I teach key strategies from the world of sports and performance psychology to increase focus and productivity.
4. Compassion not perfectionism
High achievers often strive for perfection, yet this is not a natural or very achievable state. While excellence and continual improvement are critical, constantly berating yourself is not a good habit. The irony is, when you are negative towards yourself because you didn’t get everything perfectly right, you create more frustration and stress. This tends to snowball and ultimately, diminishes performance. Athletes have to learn to be compassionate to themselves and switch off that negative inner critic.
- What about you? Do you show compassion to yourself?
- Are you kind to yourself or are you negative towards yourself when you make a mistake?
- What action steps (if any) do you take to remedy this inner critic?
5. Managing burnout
Burnout in athletes is a problem. Hours of dedication and practice are vital to being a top athlete. Somewhere there must be a balance between what is necessary, taking time out and having another interest. This is often a key role for the coach, and a mark of a true professional – creating balance now burnout.
- What do you do to take time out and avoid burnout in your business or life?
- Do you have non-negotiable time with friends or family? Do you have time out for self-care or a regular massage?
6. Passion for what you do is essential in a Champion Mindset
Athletes have a passion for what they do and maintaining this passion is a factor for longevity. When the passion or drive is gone, a key ingredient of a champion mindset is lost. Moreover, Sam Groth, a tennis player, says one of the reasons he is stepping off the tennis court is because he has lost his passion. Without drive and desire, he cannot be the best, and high achievers don’t want to settle for second best, do they?
- Do you get stale in your job?
- Do you take the time to make it varied and fun?
- Are you driven to work long hours in your quest to achieve the success you crave?
- How do you keep yourself motivated, and what about your staff?
7. Purposeful Deliberate Practice
When I first stepped onto the path of personal development I read that it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert. However, today, research has shown that this isn’t always the case. Five hours of the wrong practice can lock in poor habits. What is vital to achieving peak performance is the amount of time spent in deliberate, purposeful, goal-orientated practice. This type of practice ensures you lock it in to your subconscious mind. Embracing feedback from an expert coach is essential. Moreover, having clear, precise goals, intense focus and a willingness to a personal challenge to keep out of the comfort zone are required. Also key ingredients of a mindset for success and growth mindset.
After playing poorly in one of her matches in Rome, Serena Williams, feeling she had lost too many backhands went to the practice court and hit 2,500 backhands. Furthermore, when she missed one, she started over. She did roughly the same the next practice day!
- Imagine redoing what didn’t go well in your day! Could you even conceive what positive wins might open for you?
8. Hire a Great Coach
The second part of purposeful practice is feedback from a coach. Embracing feedback in a positive manner is a critical ingredient of a champion mindset. And this is where a great coach scores. They help them see things differently and it is only by doing things slightly different that we can improve and reach our peak. Novak Djokovic has a team of nine coaches and at one stage included a spiritual coach. Andre Agassi famously said he believes Nick Kyrgios may never fulfil his potential without a coach. I guess time will tell and the proof will be evidenced on the court. A coach can be instrumental in helping you create and stick with your newly acquired winning habits.
- Do you have a coach or a mentor in your life?
- What do you think you could achieve if you had a coach?
- Imagine what athletes achieve with a coach. If them, why not you?
What actions will you now take to create your own Champion Mindset?
Considering this all, it’s time to decide what traits you wish to embrace or sharpen. And if you already have a champion mindset, congratulations. Your key is to keep yourself playing at the top of your game and ensure your mindset remains firmly fixed towards success. Maintaining what you have and constantly sharpening your end.
- What small daily challenges will you commit to doing consistently?
- How can you improve your mindset and step into the shoes of a peak performer?
- Ultimately, what sort of person would you be in six months time if you did?
If you are ready to step into the realms of peak performance, become the best version of yourself possible, and step up into the next level in your business or life, I invite you to contact me.
About the Author
Mandy Napier is a Global High Performance Mindset Coach who is dedicated to supporting high achievers fulfil their potential and achieve extraordinary results professionally and personally. Transformations are the norm, and results guaranteed.
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