It took me 49 years to really understand myself as a competitive athlete.
My hope and goal for my life now is that it takes YOU far less than 49 years to know YOURself.
Back in my competitive days, I knew I was an intense athlete. During matches, I knew I focused with an intensity like I was solving world hunger. I thought that was a good thing.
I knew that I was super critical of myself, and, frankly, I may not have been too nice to others around me either. I thought my sport was so important and such hard work that it just required such intensity and focus and selfishness.
I knew that I protected myself from failure in sports by sometimes avoiding tournaments which put my reputation on the line. I didn’t see the full pattern of my behavior until I was older, though.
Even as a past-my-prime adult player, I knew that I played with drive and intensity that put me at unease with my core values, but I was far past my prime and, therefore, far past my need to figure it out – I thought.
I was wrong. ALL WRONG.
Since learning the basics of the Human Performance Institute’s Mental Toughness Specialist program and diving in again through Peak Performance Sports Mental Game Coach Certification, I have been liberated in such a way that I want to rejoice and………. also, kick myself a bit for not focusing better on my copy of The Inner Game of Tennis, way back when. I guess my ears weren’t yet ready to hear back in 1979.
But I missed out.
I missed out of years of enjoyment and probably took years off my sports life due to my lack of proper perspective and the stress I put on myself.
I missed out on joy in the moment and instead played with an array of self-esteem issues, constant overanalysis, fear of failure, self-doubt and perfectionism.
My realization today: I never TRUSTED my training.
I was constantly analyzing and trying to get better. CONSTANTLY. Even to the age of 49. Constantly finding the error, never being satisfied, trying to live up to a zillion self-made expectations and feeling constant desire for social approval.
But when you analyze and criticize your performance, you stand between yourself and your best. You put in 10,000 (or more) hours, but you never sit back and see how well you can do. You prepare for the match that’s today, only to criticize your play today. And criticizing today is looking to make yourself better tomorrow.
BUT WHAT ABOUT TODAY?
THE MATCH IS TODAY??
It’s now amazingly simple: At match time, and about half the time in practice, use a “trusting mindset” vs. your “training mindset.” Taper down the training and begin to simplify the keys you need to think about to execute. Essentially: STOP THINKING and START DOING. Use your automatic pilot setting….yea, the one you have practiced so long and hard to create and then never set to “ON”.
I think I, rarely, if ever, TRUSTED my training.
I get this concept now. The need for THE NOW. The need for trust and the need to stop analyzing and just see “what you got in the tank.”
And one purpose of Vital Leadership’s mental toughness and leadership coaching, is to hope you get this concept NOW, too.