Sport is an excellent lens through which to view the practices necessary 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 create a champion mindset.
While I was enjoying watching the tennis at the recent Australian Open, I saw perfect examples of a champion mindset play out, and examples of a less than champion mindset play out!
The obvious traits of peak performers are desire, discipline, focus, commitment, persistence and a drive to move out of their comfort zone. Getting uncomfortable is the only way to grow. On the court, the ultimate success comes down to having a Champion Mindset. This consists of what the athletes are thinking, saying to themselves and feeling. What strategies and contingency plans they have. It’s in competitions where the psychology of performance comes into play, as athletes require mental and emotional approaches to their game as well as fitness and strategy. Roger Federer is a prime example of having a mindset of a champion, and Rafael Nadal says that he has worked on his Mindset over the years, a key component to his success.
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 the mindset of champions.
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 has recently become a new mum, she kept her match fitness high during her pregnancy. Expect to see her back very soon. 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.
- But 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 be their best if they don’t have passion. So, how can you identify your true passion or find the spark to ignite your inner drive?
Ability to rise above Self-Doubt
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 with 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 this year once again lost early on in the tournament. She has yet to find the keys to overcoming her inner demons and perform at the level she is capable of playing. Champions who come back from the brink of a loss have mastered their emotions and found 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 have 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.
In the Zone
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 ultimate point gained. This is ultimate focus
- 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 usual distractions all around us?
- 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 in my coaching and at my workshops.
Perfectionism vs Compassion
High achievers often strive for perfectionism, yet this is not a natural or very achievable state. The irony is when you are negative towards yourself because you didn’t get everything perfectly right, it only creates frustration, more stress and 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, fail to complete tasks or get distracted and waste time?
- What action steps (if any) do you take to remedy this inner critic?
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?
Athletes have passion 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. Sam Groth 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 time to make it varied and fun?
- Or are you driven to work long hours, achieve and keep everything turning and moving towards success?
- How do you keep yourself motivated, and what about your staff?
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, and feedback from an expert coach. Having clear, precise goals, intense focus and a willingness to a personal challenge to keep out of the comfort zone are also crucial.
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. 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?
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 including a spiritual coach, and Andre Agassi recently said he believes Nick Kyrgios may never fulfill his potential without a coach. I guess time will tell!
- Do you have a coach or a mentor in your life?
- Look at what athletes achieve in their sporting career with a coach.
- What do you think you could achieve if you had a coach?
- Considering this all, what traits are you now committed to embracing or sharpening?
- 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.
Book yourself a FREE Peak Performance Strategy Session, and I will personally create a plan that covers the exact path to help you do this in your chosen arena!