ARE YOU YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY?
Would you like to maximize your levels of performance and at the same time gain greater enjoyment from your hobbies, sports or job? You can! People usually create their own barriers to success, happiness and enjoyment. People are often unable to achieve desired levels of performance that accurately represent their true potential due to self imposed stumbling blocks. They rarely, however, see this as the reason. Instead focus is mistakenly placed on external reasons for the lack of success. People place the blame on poor equipment, bad coaches or trainers, the weather, their shoes, or the direction of the wind. The fact is that the main reason people do not perform up to peak ability comes from within. More importantly, this is why a person may fail to get the full enjoyment from an activity. Something that started out to be exciting and fun may ultimately become frustrating and annoying (e.g. a golfer wrapping his club around a tree.).
I find the single most powerful reason that people fall short of their goal(s) is “distraction”. In order to perform at maximum ability it is imperative that you be “In the Moment”. The most frequent cause of failure or unhappiness with one’s performance occurs when a person’s focus is fragmented. This usually happens when a person is dwelling in past or future events rather than being immersed in the moment at hand. (For our purposes, past events represent anything that happened even a microsecond before; future events are anything that has not yet happened).
The vast majority of people that I see at my office for performance enhancement have one thing in common… When they are involved in an activity, they are either dwelling on what just happened (e.g.: “I should have done that differently.” “Why did I do that?” “Boy was that stupid,” or maybe, “aren’t I great, etc.”), on the other hand they might be anticipating what could happen (e.g.: “I hope I can do this,” “what if this happens,” “Will this please my partner, coach, team, etc.”). Either of these two thought patterns will take the person away from the most important time… the here and now. Not only has that person lost focus; he or she has missed the beauty and the enjoyment of the moment. There is an old saying. “When you’re up to your butt in alligators it’s hard to remember that your prime objective was to drain the swamp.” Through my therapy practice I have seen firsthand that this is true in sports, business, love, art, music, and virtually everything that involves any type of performance. There is nothing more essential for top performance than “being in the moment”. Other distractions include, peer pressure, catering to a crowd of spectators (or worrying what they may think), comparing one’s self to others and probably the biggest distraction… worrying about winning or losing.
I believe it was Benjamin Franklin that said, “If you watch the pennies the dollars will take care of themselves”. The same principle holds true with being in the moment. If you are totally in the moment, making the best of each and every glorious moment, the minutes, hours, days and weeks, will take care of themselves. The most important ingredient to success is to make each moment count. With total focus and ability concentrated within each moment, free from distraction of past or future events, a person will maximize their performance.
LIFE IS SHORT SO ENJOY
For most people, the reason we get involved in an activity is because we like it… It’s Fun! Too often, once involved in an activity, people lose sight of that important ingredient. Winning, losing, or looking good to others can begin to take precedent over simply enjoying the activity.
The fact is that we usually function better when we enjoy what we are doing. After all, your heart will not be in something if it makes you angry and miserable. Performance is enhanced when a person is happy doing something. It is not only your performance that is enhanced through enjoyment, but your quality of life as well. If a person participates in an activity simply for the pleasure of doing so, he or she will gain greater overall benefit from that activity. It is not important what others think of your performance, who wins or who loses, or how you compare to others. Performance is maximized when a person simply takes pride in and enjoys the activity. My personal barometer of my performance has nothing to do with anyone else on the planet. I simply do my best for the sole purpose of meeting my full potential. Most importantly, I enjoy the things that I do.
FEAR OF SUCCESS / FEAR OF FAILURE
There are two fears that can impair performance. Most of us have experienced both at one time or another in our lives. They are the fear of failure and the fear of success. Either can be equally detrimental to performance. What the mind expects to happen usually does happen. Part of my job (when working with people for performance enhancement) is being a mental coach and inspirational guide that can help a person re-define his or her perception of an activity. I become a facilitator of positive thought and affirmation. This concept is why many professional and Olympic athletes work with hypnotherapists and/or sports psychologists. They understand that attitude and perception is just as important (if not more important) than physical attributes.
Fear or a preconceived notion of failure will often lead to failure. The mindset of, “I probably won’t succeed” allows the person to give up before starting. It gives the lazy part within us license to take the easy way out. If the person accepts that they will fail then it lets them off the hook for trying.
Positive thought, on the other hand, usually brings positive results. What you believe will happen is more likely to happen. When you visualize success you are more likely to achieve success.
Fear of success can also inhibit performance. This can be especially true in a team or league setting. The chances of this becoming a factor are increased if the person is uncomfortable in the public eye, or uncomfortable being the center of attention. The perceived responsibility of “living up to” a particular level of performance in the future may cause that person to unconsciously sabotage their own performance. Again, the most important thing is perception. It is necessary to reframe for success by reframing priorities and opening up to your full potential for achievement. By doing so you can experience a fresh sense of enjoyment in the activity.
HOW DO YOU SPEAK TO YOURSELF?
In the normal daily course of events we rarely think about the power of words. In actuality, words are the most powerful thing in the world. Our entire perception and understanding of our world has been presented in the context of either the written, spoken, or signed word. We know how powerful words are when an adult speaks to a child. We are the giants to a child. Our words have incredible impact with our children. That is why children who are raised with words of encouragement are more often successful than children who are belittled and criticized. We know the power of words when one adult speaks to another. When someone says something complementary to you, you may feel “tickled” right down to your bones. If someone insults or belittles you it can feel like a knot in your stomach. It can hurt emotionally and sometimes even manifest itself as physical discomfort. This being so, why then do we often not recognize the importance of self-talk? Phrases like, “I can’t”, or “I’ll never be as good as, (name) “ predispose a person to failure. Conversely, positive self-talk can reframe us to achieve! Your brain is like a computer. Whatever you program in, is what the output will be. Doesn’t it make more sense to program for success? You can do it! Whatever your previous programming, you have the complete ability to reprogram for success.
BE YOUR BEST
Anyone who desires to maximize his or her performance can do so. First, he or she must be willing to let go of the past (even that of a few seconds ago). There is nothing that anyone can do to change what has already occurred. Dwelling on past events accomplishes nothing. Next… never anticipate the future. The future is unborn. Anticipation only serves to draw you away from the moment at hand. Be “In The Moment”. Enjoy what you are doing. Life is too precious to waste time in negative thought or in doing things that promote frustration. Speak to yourself in positive terms. Anyone can maximize his or her performance with the power of his or her mind. You can be your best and get greater pleasure from life. You already have the tools.