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Harnessing Your Power to Improve Performance

Mindset Made Simple Tip #190

As the Red Hot Chili Peppers say, we “give it away, give it away, give it away now” much too easily and often!

What do we give away so readily you ask?


I’ve been all over the region over the past month talking with everyone from high school programs to dental groups and Ph. Ds about how POWER. These conversations start with the THREE POWER TOOLS that are cornerstones of a solid mental game. The reason I have these conversations with every group no matter who they are or what they do is because we all GIVE OUR POWER AWAY and we chalk it up to something less insidious.

How do you give your power away?

Do you ever give it away to your mood? Your emotion? A bad call? An injustice? A screaming parent? A missed opportunity?

I can answer “yes” to all these questions, and I bet you can, too!

What do we miss when we give our power away to external circumstances and things that haven’t even happened yet? And what does it take to get us back to full strength and focus afterward?

These are the questions I have been asking myself as I listen to my talks about keeping our power as fully charged and harnessed as possible as we perform.

After a recent presentation with a local government agency, a woman approached me and said, “I need you in my ear all day.” I told her “I need me in my ear all day, too.” Because what I say is all true and oh so simple. But keeping our hands on our power is easier said than done!

This seems to be the holy grail of peak performance.

How do we stop handing our power over to things, moods, people, distractions and situations, many of which do not deserve our attention?

We know our power starts with our mindset, what I call POWER TOOLS or POWER MOVES and we can all agree that these three moves (we’ll say they are move moves rather than tools) are where our power begins.

A reminder of our POWER MOVES: 1. Your ability to choose one thought over another.

2. Your response-ability. 3. Your ability to manage your state. The bottom line, you control yourself, no matter who or what you want to blame.

But why is it so darn hard to remember that we all possess these savvy moves AT ALL TIMES…IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES…NO MATTER WHERE WE ARE? Why do we do it? Why do we give in to what we know isn’t helping us? Why do we let it carry us for moments, days even seasons?

Trust me, I get it. I am as high-strung as the next guy and as guilty as anyone and I talk about this EVERY SINGLE DAY. That is why we are talking about it now.

How can normal performers like you and me (and every other human) keep our “elevated mindset” as one of my high school track athletes has dubbed it, large and in charge?

Our problems begin with our design (not that I am questioning our amazing design, but there are some occasionally frustrating features built-in). We don’t control our thoughts. If we did, we would need to think about what we are about to think and that doesn’t make any sense and seems a little like “who’s on first?”

But that doesn’t get us off the hook. It would be too easy to blame our nature.

Although we don’t control our thoughts, we do get to decide what we do with them. You’ve heard of “free will” I am sure!

I heard someone say on a podcast a while ago that it’s the 2nd chance that makes the difference. They were talking about responding to things, meaning, if we blow up, we get another chance to do the right thing and that can change the whole situation in our favor – like the example I often use of sprinting after the ball after an error. You messed up and now we are cheering for you because you hustled.

Pretty good deal.

I love the 2nd chance idea and it should go back one step to a 2nd chance with where it all begins….in our thoughts.

You think something. (Before we go any further, think for just a second about how many things you think that are B.S.….not true…not useful…not good…totally farfetched… flat-out ridiculous…how long is your list? 😊),

That is the 1st “chance” if you will. It’s really not a chance, it’s a thought, but go with me for a second.

You notice it. You acknowledge it. You analyze it. Then what?

Here is where the all-important 2nd chance comes in. What do you do next? Do you feed it or flip it?


Do you let the thought take you away from what you want, or do you notice that it is not moving you in the direction you want to go and dump it for something more useful?

Scientists say our brains are continually changing. When we learn something new and continue to practice it, pathways become more efficient.

Efficient pathways make our work easier and more precise. The better we become, the more our brains reward us with dopamine and other “feel good” chemicals which leads to more action, better habits and behaviors and the opportunity for more success.

How we choose thoughts follows the same pattern.

Unfortunately, the brain likes to learn…and tries to squeeze more and more lessons from negative experiences (to keep us safe and feed our negativity bias) and it isn’t as efficient or persistent at learning from positive experiences. But herein lies our ability to apply our power moves.

Rich Hanson, author of Happiness Hardwired, likens our brain to a garden. You can enjoy the garden, weeds, and all, which you won’t do because you will focus on the weeds and lessen your appreciation for the flowers…because the weeds are ruining their beauty.

Or you can tend to it by removing the weeds and by adding flowers in the places where the weeds could take hold. What he means is, we accept that there will be weeds, unless you use something that will kill everything in the garden. When the weeds come, we simply remove them, acknowledging that they are a part of owning a garden.

No need to get all bent out of shape when rain, which the garden needs to grow, proliferates the weeds (think of the rain as the pressure in performance?)

After we remove the unsightly weeds, we plant a flower in their place. This is changing the scope and shape of the garden, just like noticing an unhelpful thought and letting it float on by and choosing a flower...or a thought that helps does to our malleable and constantly changing mental landscape.

The more we do this. The better we get at it. Llike anything else we learn is a SKILL that can be improved. We can reshape our brains and the way it works. Dr. Hanson says that “whatever we repeatedly sense and feel and want and think is slowly but surely sculpting our neural structure.”

The mind takes its shape from what it rests upon.

Yikes. What gets stuck in your craw? That’s shaping your mind. That is connecting neurons that now expect more…and look for more…and when it gets more…it moves faster.

OR, we can feed other neurons and build more productive mental superhighways, ones that lead us to what we want instead of right off the cliff of what we are trying to avoid.

It’s a mindfulness game in the end. It’s a game of awareness. Can you feed what helps and flip what doesn’t…quickly enough to save the moment in front of you? Or are you willing to give up another opportunity for a mood, a feeling, an outside force that doesn’t even exist in the present?

That’s the question I ask myself too many times to count. How many times will I ask it? As many as it takes, I hope. In the meantime, I hope we can all find ways to use our power moves to reclaim our personal power over the present moment.

That is the only power we have...but the irony is that we have to be there to use it. Can we stay there…moment after moment to put together our best performance?

The more we choose one thought over another, the better chance we have!

Manage the moments!


P.S. Does your team need help with their power moves? Reach out today to schedule a session and give them new tools to manage their mindset and performance!  Shoot me a text at 234-206-0946 or an email at and get scheduled today!

Julie Jones

Mental Performance Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946 

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