Tomorrow, I get the opportunity to talk about mental performance at the NCATA (National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association) Coaches Convention. I have fallen in love with the sport over the past few years through my work with many of the athletes and teams I have had the privilege of working with on their mental game…and this is a mental game if there ever was one!
Not familiar with Acro? It is an NCAA emerging sport, growing by leaps and bounds…and there are a ton of athletic leaps and bounds performed by the amazing athletes in this sport. Learn more about it HERE!
Each time I address a group of leaders, I find it hard to narrow the information I share. I could talk for hours about how our mindset is everything. It is our perspective…and it determines how we respond, relate and perform PERIOD!
To stay within my time constraints, I have decided to share three tips to help these amazing coaches focus on their mindset first…then they will be better equipped to pass it on to their teams!!
So I’ll begin…at the beginning! And as we know, it all begins with our THOUGHTS!
The first of the POWER TOOLS I will share is this: Your POWER begins with your ability to choose one thought over the other! (Stay tuned to tips 154 and 155 for tips 2 & 3).
We don’t control our thoughts. If we did, we would need to think about what we are about to think before we think about it. Who’s on first? Not possible, of course.
We have thoughts. Some help us. Some don’t. Thinking of ways to manage what is in front of us.
Helpful. Thinking of all the reasons we can’t do something. Not helpful.
Thinking about how fortunate we are to have the time and means to get a pedicure. Helpful.
Thinking about how you wish the guy would dig deeper into your feet and calves during the massage part of the deal and wondering how long it will last because it is the best part. Unhelpful. (Who would ruin the experience by thinking about this unhelpful stuff? 😊
This doesn’t mean we suppress our thoughts or pretend we never have thoughts we know are unhelpful or even ridiculous. It means we can CHOOSE the thoughts we give our time and attention.
We CHOOSE ONE THOUGHT OVER ANOTHER. It is our choice. It is our power!
Suppressing or pretending is like trying to hold a beachball under water. What happens when we let go? It thrusts itself into the air just like our suppressed thoughts gain pressure as we hold them down and explode up with more power than they had at the start!
Thoughts come. Thoughts go.
It’s the thoughts that stay that we need to assess! How are we talking to ourselves? What words are we using? Are we thinking about how we feel or what is fact?
And most importantly, “Is this thought helping me?”
If you need to ask this question, you probably already know the answer!
Therefore, it’s not about suppressing, it’s about introducing a new thought, one that is productive.
Even so, the question can shift us from negative thinking…or even what author Trevor Moawad calls “toxic positivity” (holding that beachball underwater, denying real emotion and minimizing reality) to NEUTRAL THINKING.
Moawad, in his book Getting to Neutral, says that when we SHIFT to neutral, we can move to drive or reverse and focus on the next step…not the long-term goal…or even how long the massage portion of the pedicure is going to last.
Think about the act of shifting your car into neutral. You take your foot off the pedal and are just there…not going too fast, not going too slow, not going forward or backward. You are, as Webster defines it, “not helping or supporting either side in a conflict”…that conflict being in your mind!
We spend so much time thinking ahead that we lose the moment and the joy, information and experience the current one could be providing us.
I do this at my favorite concerts, not just during a pedicure. “I hope she plays (fill in the blank)”. In the meantime, I am looking at my watch, wondering how long she will play and not enjoying the song that is being played now.
As Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote that “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
Being neutral doesn’t mean we don’t experience emotion. It means we take a step back from a thought or feeling and look at the facts. We SHIFT.
It isn’t even a downshift. It is just a shift.
If we are pretending all is well when it’s not or just plain out stinking thinking, we don’t ignore what has happened in the past, good or bad or our “what if” scenarios. It simply means we are well aware that what happens next is not predicated on what has happened in the past, nor is it determined by our worry if we can pause and ask, “WHAT’S IMPORTANT NOW” and use what we have learned to choose the next helpful thought and action.
Shifting into neutral thinking allows us to get clarity and slow things down and when we can see solutions instead of unhelpful chatter, we tend to choose behaviors that enhance our performance!
In It Takes What It Takes, Moawad says, Negative, cynical thinking doesn’t make you more realistic. It just makes you negative and cynical. Biased thinking doesn’t help you either. You need to steer clear of your feelings and make an honest assessment of each situation you face. Don’t worry about what you feel. Rely on what you know.”
Thoughts aren’t facts. Feelings aren’t facts. Facts are facts.
So whether you are thrown off your game by comparison, worry, anxiety, frustration, excitement, wishing something was different or wondering about what is coming next, asking yourself the simple questions of “Is this thought helping me,” or “What’s important now” can help us CHOOSE the thoughts that keep us present, grateful, productive, learning, enjoying and controlling what we can control!
All these states are where we want to be if we want to be our best!
Manage the moments by shifting to neutral!
P.S. Get on my 2023-24 schedule now! Contact me today to find the best program for your team at email@example.com or call/text 234-206-0946.
Mental Performance Coach
firstname.lastname@example.org • 234-206-0946