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Prophecies, Proof and Performance!


Mindset Made Simple Tip #178 – Watch or listen HERE.


It’s Christmastime. Although this Tip pulls from a Christmas theme, the overall message is for people who perform of all religions, races and creeds.  


Hundreds of years before the first Christmas, stories were told about a King who would come to change the world. Biblical scholars don’t agree on the exact number, but most will say this story was hinted at more than 300 times. These stories, also known as prophecies, predicted this King’s lineage, His power and how He would enter the world.  


Many of you have heard these stories a million times. But tie them to performance? Really?


Yes!


How? A prophecy is nothing more than a prediction. And our brain is a prediction machine.  


This is a good thing (most of the time!).  


Baseball and softball players spend a lot of time predicting. At times, their brain is so good at predicting where the ball will go, that they can hit or catch it without it being in their direct line of sight. 


Crazy if you think about it! And even when they can see it, they are using the information they have from past experiences to predict which way the ball will move as it approaches.  


Our brain is amazing!


But as we often discuss, this amazing brain can also throw us off our game. And one way it does that is by prophesizing!


Back to the Christmas story. People were told what to look for in this coming King for hundreds of years. Some of the predictions were a bit convoluted (like Isaiah 11:1) and some were spot on (like Isaiah 7:14). No matter the clarity of the prophecy, they served as information to direct attention to anyone who may fit these descriptions.


They got people looking.  


Because of the predictions over hundreds of years, people were looking for this King all over the place. I bet people found him before and after Christmas. There are prophecies about that, too!


The point is not whether Christmas fulfills the prophecies (I believe it does, but that doesn’t mean you do!). The point is that when we are looking for something, we often find it!


We have talked before about our RAS (Reticular Activating System), that network of neurons in your brain stem that serves as your executive assistant, ensuring your brain doesn’t go into system overload. Your RAS is beneficial. It directs your attention to what you think is important. It, in effect, puts you on high alert for things that fit your conscious thought.


For instance, think about the last time you bought a new car. I bet you had no idea that every other car on the road is the same color as yours…or how many black Lamborghini’s were on the road. And you thought you were special. Actually, in this case, you are 😊! I have never had this exact experience, but I have lived next to two different guys who have. First-world issues!


I bring up the RAS as we think about prophecies because as soon as you decide to believe something, you will be more sensitive to any clue that fits your belief!


Think about the last time you predicted how an event would unfold. For instance, you dread something and predict it is going to be a bore. As you walk into the experience, you are immediately looking for all the ways it could even be remotely boring.  


Why? Because our predictions say to do so, and we like to be right! It lessens dissonance and makes us feel better…even if it makes us feel worse in the long run!


Let’s look at this tendency in another situation. In my recent sessions with groups of all ages on feedback, one point I tried to hammer home was how, when we work with people a lot, whether they be our teammates, coaches, teachers or even our own kids, we often predict how they will react or approach a conversation or event. We tend to narrow the window of what we see or what their responses may be and in doing so, we make what we think is reality and, in many cases, miss important cues that would tell a different story had we not been looking to fill our predictions.


The point?


The way we think about things matters. The stories we tell ourselves matter. The predictions we make matter – and we are thinking, storytelling and prediction machines!


The good thing is, that machines are often helpful! If our predictions get us looking for things, let’s use the machine, our built-in mental performance system to our advantage.


Before we get too excited, we know we don’t control outcomes, so predicting outcomes is not where we want to go. I bet you’re saying, “The Christmas story predicted an outcome!” Very true! But when it comes to our performance, we are much better off predicting things that are in our control.   


We can predict that we will win, but another team and other people have a lot of influence over that!   


To remind my athletes about predicting outcomes, I often go back to the most recent summer Olympics where more than one track athlete from the US broke the previous world record but did not win the race. Both athletes may have predicted that they would break the record based on their previous races and training thinking that would surely win the race, but they did not control the runners in the lanes next to them.  


But we can predict our approach. We can decide how we will compete. We can set goals related to the things we control. When we do this, we will automatically look for ways to make these things happen.


We can predict, with relative certainty, that the pitcher will make at least one mistake while we are at the plate. In doing this, we are keeping our eyes open to unload on it.  


We can predict, with relative certainty, that if we are in the correct position on the court or field, we will have more opportunities to impact the play. In doing this, we look for ways to get to THAT SPOT and positively impact the play for our team.


We can predict, with relative certainty, that if we retain a productive mindset for most of our performance, we will be more successful. In doing this, we look for ways to use the information we have to manage what is in front of us, doing what we can, with what we have, where we are!


These predictions sound a lot like mini-goals. They help us focus our attention on what we want. They are blueprints that, if followed, will help us build a stronger performance.  


Because our prediction machine works 24/7, it takes intention to make our predictions work for us and we must train our brain to look at things differently than it wants to!  


Our predictions are powerful. They direct our attention to what we expect to happen! Expect it to be horrible? You’ll find evidence to back that up! Expect it to be exciting. You’ll find evidence and opportunities for that as well!


Whether you call them prophecies, predictions or goals, their benefit to our performance cannot be understated.  


Prophecies have been used for hundreds of years. If we are smart, we will use them, too, to be intentional about our attention.  


I hope your prophecies lead to the goodness of those 300+ told so long ago that brought joy and so much more to the world!  


And whether you believe those prophecies, you will believe your own. So, use them to your advantage!  


Merry Christmas!


Julie


P.S. I still have a few spots open to add in a few sessions for the New Year. Shoot me a text at 234-206-0946 or an email at juliej@ssbperformance.com while you have some time to think and let’s get your team on track for 2024!


Julie Jones

Mental Performance Coach

SSB Performance

juliej@ssbperformance.com • 234-206-0946 

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