With the world’s focus being largely on the London Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, we have all been given the opportunity to witness some acts of raw talent from the driven and ambitious athletes who have given their all to win a place at the most sought after accolade in the sporting world. The emotion and pride that has been clear in the outstanding performances come as a result of the mental preparation that sportsmen and women across the globe have been carrying out for years and years; preparation that takes them right up to the moment the whistle blows, or the gun fires, and they start the race. So the question is, if sportsmen and women can use mental preparation to achieve their goals, could all working executives be able to put this in to practice?
A recent article written by Simon Reynolds for Forbes, a top media outlet and American Business magazine, focused on just that and said of these sports superstars that “only when their mind is in great shape can they ever expect to achieve the highest level of performance”. This does not need to be limited to the sporting world. To be good at your job, to be successful in your working environment, it is of paramount importance to recognise the direct correlation between the workings of your mind and your overall performance levels. So where does one find this extra ingredient needed for a super prepared mind, how does one begin to train the mind into thinking successfully?
“If we accept that our mind rules our actions, then it’s imperative that we spend at least some time every day tuning our mind for optimum performance,” states Simon Reynolds. We live very busy lives, too busy for the most part. Therefore it would be unimaginable that every executive find the time in their day to sit down and focus on training the mind. But that is what the subconscious is for; to allow your mind to train itself with the help of a few little tips. ‘The Rules of Sports Psychology’ found at www.sportsmindskills.com has a number of theories linked exclusively to the world of sport. I believe that within these theories there are at least three that can be of direct use to professional executives. The first is “process over outcome”. If you train your mind to focus solely on the ‘how’s’ of the task you are going to perform, rather than pouring all your efforts into the end result, you will find that by engaging in a comprehensive plan/process with your mind, the final outcome will be more likely to be that which you desire. This cannot be an exclusive statement as there are always factors that present themselves, which are out of our control; however, stumbling blocks aside, process driven strategies are set to put you on the right course. For example, you are pitching your business to a new client who you are exceptionally motivated to work with. Instead of spending all your time thinking about how much you want the client to agree to working with you, think about the process in which you can seduce your client: what key aspects will you include in your presentations, what values are important to your client and how can your company directly mirror those, etc.
The next stage in the training of your mind is “Imagery to pre-think skills, tactics and strategy”. Can you picture yourself presenting an idea to a room full of board members, can you hear yourself telling the joke that you know will break the tension in the room, can you see the captivated looks on their faces as you go through the full-proof facts and figures? If you can’t, then dig a little deeper in to your mind, the images are already there and if you can see them in advance it will make the big event a lot less intimidating.
Finally is the notion of “self-belief”, something that is so simple yet so crucial in every aspect of your life. Self-belief equals confidence and confidence equals success. There is no simple recipe that suddenly installs self-belief in you; it is something that has to come purely from within. Try looking at your previous achievements, read your performance review from last year, talk to your colleagues, and realise that you have got to where you are because you are confident in your ability.
I am certainly not proposing that by adhering to the above ‘rules’, things will always go your way. I do not suppose that every athlete who has trained their mind will end up on the Olympic podium with a medal. But I am sure that by training the mind, we are giving ourselves a better shot at success and an increased chance of being influential to those around us. In the current economic market, business is hard and competition is rife. So why not give your company and yourself the tools and the opportunity to not just be the best but be better than the best. You may or may not win gold but I am confident you will be one step closer to your podium moment.