It’s You vs. You
In any walk of life, whether in sport and business it is played against competitors, so how we perform is ultimately a measure of how we compete with ourselves. Focusing on others creates uncertainty. But competing against yourself, you can always control that.
“The only competition that matters is the one that takes place within yourself. It isn’t about external factors.”
“Physically, when we doubt our ability, we will tend to overtighten our muscles. Mentally, we fear failure and can become emotional and distracted.”
“The best performers, whether athletes, entertainers, or anybody else trying to do anything well, are the ones who aren’t trying to win by playing someone else’s game.”
Pete Carroll, the head coach of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks says, “Working to build confidence, you have to convince your players that not only do they have the power to control their performance, but they’re the only ones who do.”
Clear your mind, open your potential.
Athletes perform at their best when they are clear of mind. A clear or quiet mind is optimal because you stay loose and are more likely to find yourself in “the zone,” that mysterious, momentary frame of mind where mastery and epic performances happen.
“This attentiveness, also known as a quieted mind, clears the way for athletes to perform to their highest potential.”
Plan for contingencies.
One of Carroll’s mentors was the late Bill Walsh, the man who took over the floundering 49ers in 1979 and turned them into Super Bowl champions within three years. (The 49ers would collect four more Super Bowls over the next dozen years.)
Walsh’s philosophy, distilled in his excellent leadership book, The Score Takes Care of Itself, discusses the critical nature of planning as thoroughly as possible. This was something Walsh imparted on Carroll.
“His approach was that preparation and practice sessions should be designed so that the performer is trained for all potential outcomes and events.”
“When you plan and train for all possible contingencies, you eliminate surprises and, in turn, eliminate a huge source of doubt that so often makes us tighten up.”
You can only be you.
All too often we get lost in what others are doing. We try to imitate the plans and results of others but end up performing at a mediocre level while performing inauthentically.
Embrace who you are, what your strengths are, your interests, and maximize the things you know and do well. You can only be yourself. Leaders are authentic to themselves in everything they do.
“If I began to try to please others by changing, I would be miserable.”
Leaders create opportunities for success.
One of the roles of a good coach or leader is to design opportunities for team members and athletes to be successful. Success breeds confidence and a deeper belief in one’s self, creating a positive upward cycle of change and improvement.
Carroll worked diligently with one of his quarterbacks when he was coaching in New England to bolster what remaining confidence the player had.
“We worked hard with Jimmy, and as part of our process we made sure we engineered opportunities that helped him succeed.”
“Practice is everything”
Although competing like a champion is Carroll’s central theme, “competition” applies equally to training and practice. After all, no matter how great a competitor you are on game day, the ceiling of your ability is determined by what you are doing in practice.
“How we practice defines who we are.”
“It is not only something we have to do in order to compete, but our practice is a competitive activity in and of itself.”
“A player who is fully prepared on the practice field will feel ready to meet whatever comes his way on game day and thus, feel more confident and able to minimize distractions of fear or doubt.”
Have a winning day!
Prof. Carl Boniface