Can you think of any top athlete in any sport who is inconsistent in preparation, has little focus, has no defined game plan, and has low confidence and self-esteem? If you can, you’re not thinking of a top athlete, you’re thinking of a wanna-be poser. There are lots of gifted and talented people in sports, but the world doesn’t care as much about the talent unless it shows up, demonstrates focus, shows a dedicated plan of action and acts like success is the natural by product of all the previous preparation.
The same scenario is true about successful entrepreneurs. You’d be hard pressed to think of a winner who wasn’t prepared, focused, strategized and confident.
The stories about Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, Lionel Messi, Amanda Beard, and thousands of other sports greats share many basic success principles.
Think of the Captains of Commerce in your business and chances are the success principles are much the same.
I’ve been privileged to have worked with some of the very best in sport and business over many years and this is some of what I’ve learned from them. 5 ideas for stepping up your game.
1 Preparation is what creates confidence. Don’t work on confidence. Practice more. Whether it’s practicing getting out of the starting blocks quickly in the 100 meter dash, efficient flip turns in the pool, chipping onto the green from 30 yards away or rehearsing business presentation scripts, introducing yourself while knocking on doors, or closing assertively after a strong presentation…you can’t get around practice/preparation. Check out “the 10,000 Hour Rule,” in Gladwell’s, Outliers. Ya gotta do the work!
Mental practice in a relaxed state of mind (self-hypnosis) can speed up the success process from 2-5 times. Read almost any autobiography of a successful athlete or business personality and recognize this common trait; almost all successful people saw and savored the end result in their quiet, meditative states first.
2 The quality of Self-Talk is a big reason for the separation between superstars and the herd that follows. It’s easy to be positive and use positive words when things are going great and your attitude is up. One way of getting and keeping an “up” attitude is to silently tell yourself what the outcome of the next event will be…where the ball will land, your time for the 100 butterfly, the height of the high jump you’ll clear, the room you’ll mesmerize with your speech, the powerful listing presentation you’ll When you hear negative messages in your mind… take a deep breath and replace them with supportive words. give today, etc. The result of negative self-talk (self fulfilling prophesy) is obvious…poor posture, unfocused, procrastination, fear. Self sabotage! When you hear negative messages in your mind…take a deep breath and replace them with supportive words. This will get easier and more automatic with practice and so will your successes.
(If you don’t achieve what you set out for…it doesn’t matter…keep doing this.) The difference in how the ultimately successful get to where they are and where everyone one else gets, is how soon you pull the plug and quit. Raise your game by staying in it. As you shift your mind your game will improve/your business will improve.
3 Visualize the self-talk. Pictures make more and deeper neurological impressions. A picture IS worth a thousand words. The greats in every sport played the game, walked the course, saw the 100 mph fastball come in, saw the touch at the pool’s wall, broke the beam at the finish line well before their bodies were involved. Your actions are based on your thoughts. Don’t be random. Choose successful pictures that move you forward.3 Visualize the self-talk. Pictures make more and deeper neurological impressions. A picture IS worth a thousand words. The greats in every sport played the game, walked the course, saw the 100 mph fastball come in, saw the touch at the pool’s wall, broke the beam at the finish line well before their bodies were involved. Your actions are based on your thoughts. Don’t be random. Choose successful pictures that move you forward.
4 Feel the satisfaction of success for just a moment. How would it feel hitting that perfect dive, making the 20 foot putt, running your personal best in a 10k, nailing that listing presentation, passing that test?
Allowing the neurotransmitter dopamine to flash through the pleasure centers of your brain, reinforces the positive goal towhich you are moving. We do things to maximize pleasure or to minimize discomfort. As you associate the task or goal with a positive feeling, you’ll approach the task/ goal with a more open, “CAN DO,” attitude. It’s attitude not aptitude that usually matters more. Like a pep talk before a game, like a supportive hand on a child’s shoulder before a test in school, like a smile from a prospect that says, “I’m open to what you have to say,” feel good about what you’re here to do. You’ll make changes, not because you need to or want to, but because it feels good. Take the kicking and screaming out of your life to experience a more centered and focused energy.
5 Relax before you compete/take care of that piece of business. Some use music, some meditate, some create physical rituals (eat a certain food, do push ups, clap hands, stretch, a couple of breathes (and a whole lot of other crazy things you’ve seen. It ain’t crazy if it works.) Create a small ritual that focuses you in the last moment before the event/business presentation/prospecting/public speaking…
Some sport psychology is about emotional, social and or physical issues, more to be addressed by qualified coaches, counselors or therapists, trained to deal with psychological baggage and physical scars. Some business leaders sit in with therapists and coaches to sort out individual blocks.
But after all the analysis is said and done, the smart ones go back to the basics. See the ball, hit the ball.
By Barry Eisen