Care Less

Care Less

One of the approaches I use with many of my athletes in sports and life is to not care so much.  Care less.  Not to be “careless” but to “care less”.

Why?

Well, for most of the people who come to my work, they don’t have a problem of being lazy.

They are usually the people trying to really make it happen.  That’s why I call them “athletes”.  They want something bad and they are applying their physical, technical, and tactical know-how to make that thing happen.

But here’s the deal…if you are “efforting” you’re probably not in your sweet spot and things just don’t feel very good.

The Sweet Spot of Flow

To get your best performance you really want to hit that flow state.  It’s where your skills and the challenges you face are well suited for one another.

But…

If your skills are above the challenges you face…you feel a bit…bored.

If you feel your skills are under-suited for the challenges you face then…you feel…anxious.

So I think you’ll agree that bored and/or anxious are two mental places you really don’t want to be.

You know that song…”I’m bored in the house and I’m in the house bored…”

I could write another one that goes…”I’m anxious in the house and I’m in the house anxious…”

Not good feelings, either one of them.

So why then would I want to recommend for you to care less about what it is you are doing? 

Because feeling bored and feeling anxious is really under your control.  There is some…how should we say…room for interpretation.  And this is where many of my go-getter athletes in sports and life tend to be a bit hard on themselves.

When you feel underprepared you want to work extra hard to be prepared.

When you feel like “you’ve GOT THIS!” you want to really make an impression.

Both of those approaches can pull you out of your potential to get to Flow.

So what do you do?

Well, if you feel like you want to work extra hard you’re probably going into the situation thinking that you’re under prepared.  It’s rarely a positive feeling.  Instead of easing into a situation with a feeling of “I got this” it’s usually one of “I’ll show ‘em.”  

That’s not a good headspace to be in.

Your perception of the moment is that your skills are not enough.  You are underprepared.  The skills you have are not going to match up with the challenge you face.

You can actually disasterize the upcoming challenge and make it bigger than it actually is.

On the flip side of that, if you feel like you’re going to be so prepared that the upcoming challenge you face will be easy…well…you just might end up on the bored side of the equation and that’s not a great place to be either.

The Art of Caring Less

Caring less is actually an art.  As you get better at understanding what it is you need to do to help reach your peak state you’ll begin to realize when you are efforting too much and will be able to throttle things back.

I learned this after getting sick prior to a very important event in my life.  I woke up the morning of the even so sick that I felt that I had zero energy.  I was trying to muster up some energy but I had none.

Feverish.  Sick to my stomach.  And with a massive headache I got ready to compete but felt like I could pass out at any moment which was something I had never done in my life.

By the time it was my turn to compete I had to resign myself to having a bad performance.  I didn’t care.  I couldn’t care.

When I got to the finish I had set a personal best.

Later in life I was hired for a speaking engagement that I really wanted but the morning of the interview for the event I had one of the worst sleeps.  In my anticipation to “do a great job” I woke up so tired I felt hungover.

Resigned to not having a great interview and thus losing the speaking gig (which payed really well BTW) I gave up.  I didn’t care.  

And I ended up getting the job.

When I asked why I had been selected over other speakers the meeting planner said, “You were the most relaxed of any of the speakers so I just knew you could handle everything else I was going to throw at you!”

These examples can seem like I just…gave up.

Step 1: Don’t Care About the Result

Giving up and not caring about the result is actually the first step to a great performance. When you have expectations about the outcome you immediately take yourself out of yourself and into a future you really can’t control.

Step 2: Focus On Your Process

If you have time between now and your next event you may have some time to adjust your process…if it needs it. (Hint: It probably doesn’t need changing.)

If you are reading this I know you’re more committed then most, so your work ethic is probably better than most.

Put in YOUR work.  Focus on YOUR process. Let everything else fall where it may.

Step 3: ALLOW Yourself To Have a Great Result

This is probably the most important part of the process.

I have people reach out to me usually when something big is about to happen in their life.  Maybe it’s a big presentation or a talk.  It could be a tryout.  Or a championship. An Olympics.

Usually the athlete in question has some sort of anxiety about it.  They usually feel underprepared.  On the rare occasion they believe they should do well but are worried they won’t do as well as they know they are capable of.

No matter what it is my advice is the same, “In the short amount of time you have between now and what it is you are working for, I’m sure we can both agree that you aren’t going to change…physically…significantly before now and then.  Would you agree?”

Physical changes take a lot of time.  You’ve either done that work, or you haven’t.

“You aren’t going to learn any new whiz-bang, secret technique between now and then.  Would you agree?”

This MIGHT be possible, but it rarely is.

“Tactically, you’re not going to learn some secret play or presentation skill. Would you agree?:

Again, this MIGHT be possible, but it’s never the answer.

The answer that the athlete needs to get out of his or her own way mentally.  They must allow their body to do what it knows it can do…naturally.

By not caring at this point, the athlete in question can relax and the body will take over.

Step 4: Go Into Game Day Feeling Good

This step may seem a little counterintuitive.  I mean really, if you’re anxious about what is about to happen how can you possibly feel good?

The idea here is that you can “bleed over” feeling good from one thing to another.   One situation to another.

Just this past weekend I asked one of my athletes, “Can you remember a time when you felt great?”

“Um, yeah.  Who couldn’t do that?” they asked.

“Exactly.” was my answer.

My recommendation to this athlete was to create their own personal “Hype” Reel.  A mental (or it can be an actual) series of performances where they just killed it.  Every athlete has an experience (or many)  like this where their body did something and they thought, “Wow, I can’t believe I just did that!”

Could be an epic verbal comeback.  Could be an epic save or a move. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just matters that it happened. Even if it was only once.

The idea is to string together as many of those images as possible.  They will serve as a reminder to what it is you’re capable of and THAT is what you want to tap into going into this next Game Day.

In addition to that Hype Reel you can also just tap into feeling good using something else.  Music is a good one.  Maybe watching funny movies or comedians.  It could be anything really.  We know that just feeling good, and even laughing, can make incredible things happen like changing your health.  To see proof of this check out the story of Dr. Patch Adams.

If feeling good can be so powerful that it can help people overcome things like cancer and other debilitating diseases what do you think it can do for you and your next Game Day?

Conclusion:

If you’re reading this, I know you care.  You’re a hard worker. And it doesn’t really matter what it is you are doing.  When your next Game Day comes around, care less.  Don’t be careless, just care…less.  Your best result will come when you allow your body to do what it already knows it can do. Reminding yourself is a great place to start.  Start accumulating a hype reel of your past successes.  Watch it repeatedly.  But if you don’t have something like that just focus on feeling good. Listen to music. Spend time with friends.  Watch a funny movie or a comedy.  Take that good feeling energy and go into your next Game Day focusing on that feeling and allow your best results to happen.

 

Olympian - Jonathan Edwards

Olympian - Jonathan Edwards

Challenge Master

Olympian Jonathan Edwards is the Chief Challenge Master and Performance Coach at OvercomeAnyChallenge.com.  An author, Olympic Speaker, blogger, podcaster and more he's been dedicating his life to helping people overcome any challenge using the power of games and sport.  He looks forward to hearing your story and the challenges you are planning to overcome.  

Get Our "Perfect Day Formula" PDF Here

Having a Perfect Day is very much about being ready for anything and expecting nothing.  But this can only happen if you are physically and mentally ready to do that. 

Giving your mind and body the best chance to succeed it critical.  McKinsey and Company completed research that proved that a person in flow is 500% more productive.  That means you could literally take the whole week off and show up on Friday and get as much work done as if you had shown up on Monday and slogged out the week. 

Follow The Perfect Day Formula and be 500% more productive. Grab your copy today and let me know how you've applied it to your life.  

 

How To Stay Focused When It Doesn’t Seem To Be Working

How To Stay Focused When It Doesn’t Seem To Be Working

Wouldn’t it be great if every minute of every day just felt so inspiring and uplifting that you just wanted to jump out of bed every day and get going!? You wouldn’t want to sleep!

Yeah…

Sure.

We’ve all had moments when things just…flow.  Time stands still.  Results are effortless and the thought of stopping or even reconsidering what you are doing seems so absurd it quickly leaves your mind.How To Stay Focused When It Doesn't Seem To Be Working

The act of flow is addictive.  No…really…it actually IS addictive.  When your body is in flow you’re actually becoming addicted to the neurochemicals your body is producing.  That’s why being in flow feels…so…good.

But when you’re out of flow…fuggedaboutit.

Part of what makes things flowy is that during the time you are working in flow you are getting little rewards that keep you interested.  You’re not even aware of them at times because things feel so great but what is happening is your brain is getting feedback to what it is you are doing in frequent enough intervals that you feel rewarded.

For my athletes most daily practices are rewarding. They are getting feedback at frequent  intervals sometimes multiple times per day.

But for my athletes in life…well…that feedback can feel few and far between.

“Why haven’t I lost six pounds since yesterday.”

“It’s been a week and I still have cancer.”

“It’s been a month and I still don’t have my book done.”

The truth is most “life” challenges take a lot longer to complete and the feedback along the way can be sporadic. Instead of frequent likes or hearts or thumbs up things feel like a grind and it’s hard to stay focused when things feel like a grind.

So with that in mind…here’s a gameplan to stay focused and keep it going.

Recommit To Your Goals:

If you are even aware that you are feeling like this, that’s a good sign.  You can’t make significant improvements if you’re not aware of how you are really feeling.  So you’ve got THAT going for you.  

Now, just the fact that you’re thinking about it makes me think that you still want that thing you said you wanted…it’s just taking a long time and you’re losing focus.  There’s no positive feedback…yet. 

The first thing you need to do in this situation is to recommit to the thing you want.  Hang in there.  Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.  While you may not be able to see the rewards of your progress…yet…doesn’t mean that forces aren’t working on your behalf in the background.

It’s like a seed growing a root in the dirt before it sprouts.  You can yell all you want at the seed and say, “Grow dammit!”  But what you don’t see is the root under the soil getting stronger and stronger.

Before you know it that seed will sprout through the surface and then you see the growth happening.

Forget About Your Goals: Focus On Process

After you recommit to that thing you want…forget about it.

Yes…forget about.

The thing you want isn’t the thing to be focusing on.  Why?  Because that “thing” is really the byproduct of some other action(s).

So focus on those.

For me…when I feel the ‘chubs’ coming on and I want to lose a few pounds it usually means I’ve been having an enjoyable Pepsi a little too frequently.

Focusing on the scale and the weight I’d like to be just gets me frustrated and I then beat myself up a bit.

But if I just focus on spreading out the Pepsi’s a little more infrequently I know the result will take care of itself.

My friend has gone through four bouts of chemotherapy to beat cancer.  Each time, instead of focusing on if the cancer was gone or going away, he just focused on the chemo treatments.

Five left.  Four left.  Three left. Etc.

By doing that he focused on the benefits the chemo was giving him and how nice his bald head looked.

When he finally went for the checkup he was cancer-free, every time.  His focus was on the process and not the end result.

So focus on your process and not the end result.  

When I think about my next book once I decide on the book title and topic I then turn my focus on being the writer I need to be to get it done.  It’s nice to have written a book but only people who write actually end up with a book.

I’m not a ‘booker’, I’m a ‘writer’.

If I don’t focus on being a writer then I’m really frustrated when I keep noticing I don’t have a book.  Make sense?

Be Willing to Be Bored

It’s exciting to lose weight.  It’s exciting to beat cancer.  It’s exciting to be looking at your finished book.

But the acts along the way that make those things happen tend to be pretty boring.

Putting in the hard miles is boring. Laborious.  Mind-numbingly…well…numbing.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s
inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” 

– Blaise Pascal

We are in a world where we have unlimited entertainment in our pockets.  A lifetime of distractions available to us.  It has made our attention spans quite short. 

We have become uncomfortable with the silence between the notes and we have the inability to sit quietly…in a room…alone.  So-to-speak.

When you recommit to your goals and then focus on the process you are immediately faced with the realization that the work can be…boring.

You need to fall in love with that feeling.

Fall in love with the grind.  The work.  The drudgery.

Fall in love with the process.  For when you do, the result has to happen.  It’s as good as guaranteed.

Olympian - Jonathan Edwards

Olympian - Jonathan Edwards

Challenge Master

Olympian Jonathan Edwards is the Chief Challenge Master and Performance Coach at OvercomeAnyChallenge.com.  An author, Olympic Speaker, blogger, podcaster and more he's been dedicating his life to helping people overcome any challenge using the power of games and sport.  He looks forward to hearing your story and the challenges you are planning to overcome.  

Why You Procrastinate: And What To Do About It

Why You Procrastinate: And What To Do About It

Why You Procrastinate

If there is one thing we can beat ourselves up about over and over and over again it’s not doing the things we know we need to be doing.

Take this article for example…

I’ve been meaning to write it for a few weeks but opted to write other articles that grabbed my attention first.

Why is that?  Why do we procrastinate?

Well…it turns out that there is a lot of great research on this topic that people just don’t know about.  You are going to be relieved as you read this because you’ll finally know why you’re putting things off.

So it turns out that there are seven main “triggers” for procrastination.  

Yep.  That thing or things you’ve been putting off?  It falls into one of these categories so don’t beat yourself up about it.  Figure out which trigger is pushing you off the rails and make a plan.

Ready?  Here we go.  You procrastinate because:

  1. You’re bored.  (e.g. it’s something you’re not really interested in)
  2. You’re frustrated. (You don’t have a clear path to learn something that is new or complicated.
  3. It’s too difficult.  (When something is above our skill-grade we naturally resist doing it.)
  4. It’s foggy.  (When things are unclear or not really exact we hesitate. This is where the saying, “a confused mind says no” is appropriate.)
  5. It’s big to get your head around. (Like, where do you start!?)
  6. No built in reward. (If you’re not getting positive feedback along the way you’ll bail on it)
  7. No meaning. (Like…just, why?)

So what do you do in these situations?  Let’s figure it out.

In David Allen’s fantastic book Getting Things Done he talks about what to do when you come across an action item on your list.  You can either: do it, delegate it, or delete it.

So before you actually DO that thing you’ve been avoiding ask yourself if you could delegate it to someone else to do.  Or maybe you don’t have to do it at all?

But if you are in fact stuck doing that thing you are dreading, here’s how to get it done:

Tasks that are Boring

When you’ve got a boring task that you absolutely need to do, the best way to get it done is to entertain/distract yourself while doing it. Maybe it’s listening to an audiobook while you’re mowing the lawn or vacuuming.  Just be sure that whatever it is you are using to make the task more fun doesn’t drag out the task all together.  My kids like to watch cartoons while they empty the dishwasher which makes a three minute task take about…thirty minutes!

Tasks that are Frustrating

One of the best ways to tackle frustrating tasks is to make a game of it.  For example, I just moved and all the files from my filing cabinet are in two big boxes.  Hundreds of files.  I’ve been putting this off for weeks.

When I tackle this file folder mess I’m going to time myself for two minutes and see how many files I get done.  Then I’m going to try and get the rest of them in an overall time faster than that two-minute average.

Turning anything into a competition makes it fun and a bit more intriguing.

Tasks that are Difficult

If you’ve got a difficult task, see if you can bring a teammate in on it.  Or maybe a coach.  Having that extra set of eyes will help to break it down and keep you positive, OR if they are actually helping it will halve the time it takes to get it done.

Tasks that are Foggy

When tasks just seem really hard to grasp and a little overwhelming (like you’re trying to grab jello) take fifteen minutes to map it out.

Set the timer on your phone for fifteen minutes and just gameplan. What is the next action on it?  Can you break it down into like chunks?  Will something you decide to do create a domino effect and make other tasks easier?

If you jump into a task that’s really foggy you’ll work but not very effectively.  You’ll be “busy” but not getting much done or at least not feeling like you’re getting anything done.

Map out a plan in fifteen minutes and then set your timer for 45 minutes and get after it. At the end of that 45 minutes take a few minutes to reassess and see what you’ve gotten done.  You’ll be surprised that the foggy task now seems pretty doable.

Tasks that are Not Rewarding

Some things we do just need to be done.  There’s no reward as part of it.  No satisfaction.

If the task is unrewarding build in your own reward.

Maybe you’re going to read fifty pages of that new diet book and treat yourself with a chocolate chip cookie. (Kidding!) Or after you do the taxes you’re going to go to the movies or treat yourself to a massage.

Tasks that Have No Meaning

Here’s where you have to get creative.

If you’re doing something that has no meaning you have to create some.  Have some fun with it.  

Say you’re going to purge your closet of old clothes…take some time to think of the increase in energy you will feel when it’s finally done AND WHAT THAT INCREASE IN ENERGY WILL DO FOR YOU.

When you procrastinate you need to know that the world is full of procrastinators. (Remember I procrastinated writing this article on procrastination.)  It’s just part of the human experience.

Whatever happens, when you are aware that you are procrastinating take a moment and see which one of these categories your task falls in. It may even fall into more than one, that’s ok.

Just apply some of the techniques to bring some clarity to the moment and I guarantee you you’ll tackle the task and get it done.

And let me leave you with this…often we don’t take on a task because we just don’t know how long something is going to take.  We tend to overestimate how long something will take and replace it with something that takes less time but also feels better.

The truth is we tend not to pay attention just how long things actually take. Don’t let that deter you from tackling something.  And this time, make a note just how long it took so that if you have to do it again you know exactly how long that it will take. 🙂

 

Olympian - Jonathan Edwards

Olympian - Jonathan Edwards

Challenge Master

Olympian Jonathan Edwards is the Chief Challenge Master and Performance Coach at OvercomeAnyChallenge.com.  An author, Olympic Speaker, blogger, podcaster and more he's been dedicating his life to helping people overcome any challenge using the power of games and sport.  He looks forward to hearing your story and the challenges you are planning to overcome.  

How To Become The Best At The World At What You Do

How To Become The Best At The World At What You Do

The road to your dreams can look long and hard and twisty and difficult. But in your heart you know exactly what you want and what it would look like once you achieved it.

That same road also looks filled with traffic filled with competitors all looking to achieve the same destination.

There seems to be so many people. Thousands of them. Who want the same thing you do.

But how do you set yourself apart and get yourself in that top 1% who actually go on and make it happen? And do it fast enough so that you are rewarded with your progress and avoid getting frustrated by the lack of progress and quit?

How do you go from where you are and leapfrog over all of those similar wannabee’s who seem to be cluttering your path to success?

Don’t Give So Much Respect To Your Competitors

We tend to give more credit to our competitors where none needs to be given.

The bottom line is that we tend to compare our inside fears to their outside performance.

We wonder, “How on earth did they do that?!”

As we marinate in our own doubts and fears and wonder why our last performance wasn’t as good as theirs we forget that they are dealing with the same challenges…they are just different ones.

Most of your competitors will not be hard to pass. They are their biggest competitor. Their mind will quickly fall prey to their own doubts and fears and limiting beliefs.

It is not their competitors who will hold them back…it is themselves.

Most people quit well before they really get into anything. They may look like they are doing the same things as you but on the inside their mind is elsewhere. Distracted. Their lack of intention while doing a similar drill or task is what matters long term.

For many they are are just going through the motions on a path to being mediocre. They may be better than you, now, but you will catch up and then pass them.

They lack a strategic plan to reach that 1%. Their results are like a bottle of alcohol that soothes their ego but muddies their thinking.

There is a saying that goes, “he who holds his breath the longest, wins”. Be patient. Play the long game. Hold your breath.

I am about to give you the three stage framework to go from the mediocre middle to the top 10%. Whether you are an athlete in sports or in life this framework will first take you to the top 5% and beyond.

But first…

Listen To Your Gut

Everyone who has made it to the top 1% in ANYTHING will admit that, along the way, there was a voice or a vision or a feeling that guided them along the way.

No matter how doubtful they may have felt there was always a glimmer of hope that reminded them of what it would feel like when they reached their goals.

You have that too.

Some days it’s strong. Other days it’s weak. But it’s there.

And not matter how badly you may be feeling, with some work, you can call up those feelings and get back to that headspace that inspires you.

Some people NEVER have this. They are so out of touch with who they are or what they really want to become they lack the energy boost that trusting your gut gives you.

In some spiritual practices people will reveal that this is God or Energy or Source guiding you. It could be your dead Uncle Jerry. I don’t really care and neither should you.

Just know that those feelings are not to be dismissed or discarded. They are your internal compass that drives you forward. Listen to it. Trust it.

And then…

Stage One: Be The Apprentice

In the old Industrial Age it was common practice for a man to take on the role of the apprentice. A seven year journey to become world class at whatever field they had chosen.

There was no other path really. You knew that to get…there…you were going to have to go through seven years of…suck.

In today’s world of social media and instant gratification this whole idea of “apprenticeship” has really been lost.

We can grab our phone right now and see athletes doing amazing feats. Entrepreneurs with billion dollar companies.

We rarely see their early struggles. Their first, failed companies. Their botched attempts.

Being The Apprentice gives you some of the best psychological “nutrients” that you can have. Just like nutrients from food, struggling through the apprenticeship phase teaches you:

Autonomy: Control over your own choices and learning from the results both good and bad.

Competence: Gaining joy from overcoming challenges and taking advantage of opportunities gives you feelings of growth and development. The entire video game industry is built on the human need to feel competence.

Relatedness: Dealing with teammates in sports and in life gives us the opportunity to play and interact with others.

1. Amateur Before Pro

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb

Look at any YouTube star today and you can go back and find their first video. Horrible as it may seem.

Each one of those stars of today will tell you about their first videos and how horrid they were. How the lighting was bad. The sound, not good. Their voice…terrible.

But they started.

The truth is every single one of them embraced the fact that if they just started…if they just put themselves out there…that one day, someday, they would have a breakthrough.

For some a single video went viral and then the trajectory of their life changed. But for others, it was a long, slow grind that led to a cumulative accumulation of work that led to more traffic.

You must be willing to put yourself out there and embrace the suck. Embrace the mistakes. And know, deep down, that most of your competitors won’t have that tolerance.

They will quit before they get started and before they see the fruits of their labour.

Across all school systems in North America administrators will tell you that there is an incredible drop in resiliency. An overall attitude in stick-to-it-tive-ness.

Most people lack the tolerance to be an amateur before they can become a pro. They want to be perfect…now, but lack the ability to put in the work to get to perfect. (Perfect never comes, however.)

For all of those YouTubers they believed that if they put in enough quantity that quality and videos would come.

2. Improve Your Inputs: Get Educated

When you listen to your gut and trust those feelings that lead you to your dreams you will start to take things seriously. Your brain will help you by noticing people/places/things that can help you reach your goal.

“When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” -Buddha

When you commit to your goals to be the best you can be at this thing that you love, people will come out of the woodwork to share with you bits of advice to move you forward.

Think of this, you are where you are right now because of the inputs in your life.

This can be people or music or books you’ve read. It can be internet articles like this or YouTube videos.

The bottom line is you must improve your inputs.

Get around better people. Get coached by people who can take you to the next level. Look for ways to improve all of your abilities and not get sucked into the one’s you like.

That’s where you begin to outpace your competitors who won’t 1) decide what they really want and therefore 2) won’t upgrade their inputs.

You will quickly pass these competitors liked parked cars on the highway.

3. Just Because Everyone Is Doing It Doesn’t Make It Right

“When you see everyone headed in one direction you’ll be better off heading in the opposite direction”

Most rules are designed, not for elite performance, but to keep people inside of a box. Or to keep the stragglers from slipping so far behind.

When I was on the Olympic team, each and every year we had physical testing standards.

These “standards” were typically tied to the funding we got. Score well on that push up test and you’re on the team. Fail the test and…well.

But within the team there were athletes who hated push ups. Weren’t very good at them. Didn’t like training for them.

And then there were those of us who would run in front of an oncoming truck to make our Olympic dreams come true. Training for push ups was actually a hindrance to our goals.

But it was part of “team policy” so we had to do them.

You have a limited amount of resources to compete for your dreams. Whether it’s a sport or a job promotion. Time, energy and money are limited and you must be strategic in how you spend those resources.

You know the things that you need to do to make this dream happen, and the odds are there are things you know you should be doing that everyone else isn’t doing.

That’s the direction you need to head in.

Remember, your competition is so focused on each other that they are stuck in a pool of mediocrity.

Instead of following the rules as everyone seems to see them, trust your gut and create your own rules. Remove the friction. Don’t worry what others think of you because what they say about you and what you do says more about them than it does about you.

4. Punch The Clock

There is a rather unfair observation of factory workers who get paid by the hour. They show up and punch their time card on a clock at the entrance and start to get paid. They are paid for the time they put in and not the outcomes they produce.

And you will have days where you don’t feel you are getting equal return for the efforts you are putting in. That’s when you have to show up and punch the clock. Put in the work. Be consistent.

It’s great to have a goal. You need to have a goal. When I decided to start Mental Performance School I had a big goal and a big vision. But I knew that to reach that goal I was going to have to put in consistent work day in and day out.

This is a marathon. Compound interest. You are the rocket that uses up most of its fuel to break through the atmosphere and then it…

soars.

Conclusion: Stage One

These first four steps will set you apart from your competition. These are not meant to make you feel superior…

just the opposite.

These first four stages are there to make you feel humble. To realize that you aren’t as smart as you think you are. To encourage you that your results may not come quickly and that they will take consistent effort until your breakthroughs come.

But that being said, these first four steps should but you on a trajectory to pass 90% of your competition.

Stage Two: Becoming One of the Best. The Top 10%

When you focus on your competition your are distracted by the mediocre middle. The key is to only seek advice from those who have made it to where you want to go and most of your competition isn’t there yet so why would you possibly be influenced by them?

It’s easy to get distracted and to have “fear of missing out” syndrome. You must stay true to your gut and to the inputs of those you respect and who can lead you to where you want to go.

You can get to the top 10% just by out-working those around you. But to get to the top 5% is when you need to innovate. A leader who innovates and who doesn’t follow. This is where you become an artist and not the factory worker.

It is at this stage where you are constantly pushing your own boundaries. You are on the leading edge of thought, which feels really weird. It’s hard and it’s lonely. This is where people look up to you further up the ladder and it’s easy to take shots at your rear end.

At this stage you will start to develop an intuition about what you have been taught up to this point. It’s where you will start to object to what you’ve been taught and the teachers who have taught you.

Now is not the time to be disrespectful of those who have gotten you this far. To the contrary, you should thank them. If they can help you innovate from here…that is fantastic. In fact many of your coaches up to this point may have been craving to work with an athlete like you and take you further. Respect that. They may have untapped coaching abilities not yet seen.

If your intuition is guiding you to a higher level, trust it and go.

5. Double Down On Your Goals: More Creation. Less Consumption

When you get to the top 5% success becomes less about hard work and perseverance (although they are still important).

It becomes more about a feeling.

Every aspect of your life will either help you towards that feeling or it will take you away. This is where you double down on what is working and cut everything else that doesn’t.

Friends. Family. Hobbies. Food. Education. Training.

Everything is under scrutiny.

This is where your true “art” comes out. Where you go from just “playing” to becoming elite. Where you start to tap into forces outside of you to help you reach the 1%.

Most athletes in sports and life are in a reactive mode. Like a goalie getting peppered with shots, they aren’t dictating the play they are reacting to the play.

They are stuck in a subconscious loop most of their day. They get up on the same side of the bed and take the same steps to the bathroom. They are so good at navigating their house they could do it with their eyes closed.

It’s time to become more of a creator and less of a consumer. To challenge yourself more instead of expecting to take it easy. Your competitors will be taking it easy only focusing on one aspect of their development. You will be designing your life so that every aspect of your day takes you closer to becoming that artist who reaches their goals.

True masters in anything realize that they are a whole. Not individual parts.

When I work with athletes they are shocked to realize I want to know about their sleep, their health, their relationships, their school, etc. Why? It ALL matters.

6. Train. Recover. Compete. Recover. Repeat.

Elite athletes in sports and life realize that there are times when they are on and times when they are off.

My Coach Charles Staley taught me that in order to have peaks you must have valleys.

When you are focusing on improving your results you are not focused on just being busy. An elite marathoner doesn’t run all day every day. No. They train strategically and then they rest. Then they run a race to see how their training is serving them.

Then they rest.

They say the silence between the notes is what makes the music.

We know from brain research that getting psychologically detached from your work is critical to being attached when you work. Just like an athlete is more apt to have a great result if they have taken time away to mentally and physically recharge.

If you are fatigued…your work suffers.

If you are so engrossed in your work…your relationships will suffer.

If you’re burnt out you’re less likely to put in your best effort and you might not get started at all as this study shows.

Giving yourself the right amount of time to recover mentally, emotionally and physically is critical to returning to a high level of practice and peak performance.

Stage Three: Getting To The Top 5%

Here is where you separate yourself even further from the mediocre middle. It is where you establish the mindset and the routines to predict your consistent performance and to push yourself past perceived barriers.

While others around you will randomly prepare for their Game Day performances you will know that the reward comes from the preparation and not the Game Day.

By continuing to “do the work”, you will have consistent performances that will reward you above and beyond what those around you will do.

This doesn’t mean you will be perfect day in and day out. But what it will give you is a consistent foundation to perform from. With that consistency you will have solid feedback that you can improve off of

7: Learn To How To Get To Your Peak State

You have an optimal zone of performance that is unique to you and we call that “Peak State.”

Your Game Day might be giving a presentation. Or taking an exam. Or running a race.

Game Day is that day where you need to be at your best mentally, emotionally and physically to perform at your best.

But every day is different.

Depending on a number of factors, you’re going to feel differently each and every day.

And how you feel affects your performance.

You might have heard the term “getting in the zone”. Some call this “flow.” Whatever you call it, it is a window of mental, emotional and physical readiness that you are trying to get into BEFORE you perform.

To perform at your best on your Game Day it’s critical to have some sort of pre-performance checklist that you go through to trigger your brain and your body that Game Day is coming and it’s time to get ready.

The more elite you become the longer these routines may become. Your pre-performance routines serve two purposes: 1) to get your body ready to perform and 2) to get yourself mentally and emotionally ready to perform.

As you get better and better at knowing your body and what it takes to get it ready your pre-performance routine will vary and lengthen or shorten depending on how you feel.

The really interesting fact is that, as you mature, you will be able to get yourself mentally and emotionally ready in shorter and shorter amounts of time. You will literally be able to “snap yourself into it.”

Having a conscious routine triggers your brain and your body which in turn regulates your emotional state.

8. Learn To Suffer

Of all the athletes I work with, my endurance athletes are some of the best examples of humans who have learned to suffer.

These athletes will compete for hours and hours and in that time the pain they experience in their muscles would put other athletes to shame.

Sure, many athletes get sore AFTER a Game Day or a Practice Day but the suffering they have within a session is short. But for the endurance athletes they will experience pain for hours.

These athletes actually get to a point where they not only look forward to that pain, but they crave it.

And that’s a lesson for all of us. When things get difficult and we begin to feel like we are suffering that is usually the signal for us to persist.

These endurance athletes will describe this state of pain and suffering as “the Hurt Locker”. They even set up rooms in their house with their bikes on trainers and treadmills as “the Pain Cave.”

These athletes don’t fear these feelings, they learn to enjoy them. And they actually become their new state of “normal”.

This is one of my favourite quotes:

“Mental resilience is arguably the most critical trait of a world-class performer, and it should be nurtured continuously. Left to my own devices, I am always looking for ways to become more and more psychologically impregnable. When uncomfortable, my instinct is not to avoid the discomfort but to become at peace with it. My instinct is always to seek out challenges as opposed to avoiding them.”

— Josh Waitzkin — American Chess Player, martial arts competitor, author.

When you start to feel uncomfortable this is when the real work begins. The aim is to not feel good all the time but to push yourself so you can feel good where others feel uncomfortable. That is where your performance will begin to surpass theirs.

That’s when you start moving into the top 1%.

9. Shoot For a Feeling

The best performances are transcendent. They rise above what others have done before.

In sports, business, and life we see examples of people every…single…day who are pushing limits. Exceeding boundaries.

They are literally and figuratively at the leading edge of thought. (Stick with me.)

You may not be able to relate to a performance like that just yet.

And here’s why.

You are focusing on the work. On the effort. On the doing of the thing.

You are trying to out-effort your competition and that will only get you so far.

Truly great performances come from a feeling. Where the body is less particle and more wave. We start talking about energy and faith.

We describe these experiences as “out of body”, as if someone or something else has taken the reigns. We say things like, “ I just shut my brain off and my body took over.”

Conclusion

When your Game Day arrives it is time to stop the conscious thinking. Leave that for your preparation days. Now is not the time to figure it out or dwell on past failures. Now is the time to let your body do what you have trained it to do but to release it so that it can go beyond your mental handcuffs.

Game Day is the time to shoot for a feeling. To arrive happy and to compete because you just love what you are doing.

From there you will compete in the 1%. No work. No worry. No fear. Just…

being.

Olympian - Jonathan Edwards

Olympian - Jonathan Edwards

Challenge Master

Olympian Jonathan Edwards is the Chief Challenge Master and Performance Coach at OvercomeAnyChallenge.com.  An author, Olympic Speaker, blogger, podcaster and more he's been dedicating his life to helping people overcome any challenge using the power of games and sport.  He looks forward to hearing your story and the challenges you are planning to overcome.  

How To Set Goals For Your Best Year Ever

While you may have set some goals for 2018, you don’t think they’re really going to happen do you? I mean, really.  The one’s you set last year didn’t stick either…or did they.

When you set goals for this year it’s easy to get hung up on the one’s that didn’t come true from last year.  Dwelling on this fact for too long can even cause a fair bit of “beatyourselfupedness.”  But I can guarantee you that when you look back on last year you will see…something positive.  And probably a lot positive if you give yourself some time.

 

Rarely do people keep a really good accounting of all that went right in the last year.  Using an app like WinStreak can help you do that.  Or just writing little wins in your calendar can help.  But if you haven’t done that it may take you a bit to look back through the year and see all that went right, versus what you missed.

A goal I’ve had for a long time is to weigh 172 pounds which was what I weighed when I competed in the Olympics.  It’s a number that’s been in my head for a long time and yet I tend to sabotage myself when I reach 185 pounds.  The most I ever weighed was 208 when I was bobsledding!

So I wrote it down again for this year.  “I am light and alive at 172!” says the goal.  And yet when I wrote it down AGAIN for 2017, it kind of bummed me out.  “Sure, yeah.  You’ll make THAT happen.”  But as I sat with that thought for a while I realized that what was getting me down was this thought, “Can I lose that much weight?”

By looking back on this past year I realized I CAN lose that weight.  By using the Withings App on my phone and a Smart Scale that I picked up in the Apple store, I could see that earlier this year my weight crept up to 202 lbs!  And today I weigh 187.  That’s fifteen pounds!

So I could look back and get bummed and beat myself up and think, “You missed your goal again you idiot.”  By looking back I could see that I am fully capable of losing 15 pounds.  I did it before and I can do it again.  And guess what losing fifteen pounds again means…I’d weigh 172!

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to have a look at all of the good things that happened last year BEFORE you set the goals for this year.  Doing an annual review of all the good things that happened to you last year is critical to help you create momentum for the year ahead. Some people will tell you that it’s not good to look at the past.  “The past is past!” they will say.  But I disagree. By doing a quick review you can make adjustments to move forward.  That’s what great athletes do and that’s what you can do too.

Create Your WinStreak List For Last Year

I teach my coaching clients to create a WinStreak list for the year.  Ideally, you’ve been adding wins to your calendar, but if not…here’s a list of Trigger Quesetions to help you remember the wins you had this year.

  • What projects did you finish this past year?
  • What new projects did you think about to finish this year?
  • What projects did you complete for others?
  • What fun events did you go to or create this past year?
  • What were some of the cool things you did with your family this year?
  • What were some improvements you made in your home?
  • What were some cool leisure activities you took part in this past year?
  • What were some improvements you made in your health?
  • What were some personal development achievements you made?
  • What are some new clothes you purchased?
  • If you have pets…what were some fun things you did with your pet(s) this year?
  • What were some new things you learned this past year?
  • What good things happened in any of the relationships you have? Family? Friends? Coworkers?
  • What else can you think of?

Reduce “Goal Getting Molasses”

When you have negative thoughts about your goals from the past, it creates a very sluggish feeling to creating new goals for this year.  By using this technique to pull all the good out of last year it will give you momentum heading into this year.  By being grateful and happy about what you have achieved your more likely to be positive looking forward to new goals this coming year.  Even the tough ones!

Set Goals In All Areas Of Your Life

Like a bicycle wheel your life needs to have some sort of balance.  It’s ok to spend time focusing on your big goals for a while but not at the expense of other areas of your life.  For example, it’s ok to start that new business but if you leave your relatiionships for too long they may fall apart.  Same holds true for your health.  So it’s important to set goals in all areas of your life and not neglect any one area for too long.

Here are 7 areas of your life that I want you to set goals in:

1. Set Goals For Your Health and Fitness

Your ability to reach all of your goals starts with a health and happy YOU!.  There is no shortage of information to help you set goals to improve your health and fitness in 2018.  As I mentioned above, my goal is to weigh 172 pounds by March 28.  What’s yours?

2. Set Goals For Recreation

It may seem odd to start your goal setting with how many days you’re going to take off, but as Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach tells us, you have to have free days.  How much time are you going to take off from your work and your career?  Where will you go?  What will you do?  And with who?

3. Set Goals For Your Relationships

A recent study revealed that being married was no longer a recipe to being healthier or happier than being single.  But we can all agree that having someone to hang out with and do fun things with helps make our work life that much more purposeful.  Think of the ways you can improve your relationships with your friends, family or significant others.

4. Set Goals For Your Work and Career

These goals will be tied to your financial goals, but possibly not.  What goals are you looking to achieve this year?  A promotion?  A raise?  Recognition?  What projects related to your work and your career are you looking to complete this year?

5. Set Goals For Your Financial Life

Many of my clients are looking to get their financial house in order.  How much do you want to make in 2018?  Do you need to create a side hustle to reach your goals?  Take some time to get a solid picture of your financial situation and set goals to improve it.

6. Set Personal Goals

While you’re looking to achieve all of these great things in your life, it’s easy to forget about…you!  What do you want to do this year just because you want to do it?  What do you want to learn about yourself?  Maybe you want to learn to play an instrument or a second language.  It’s easy with Smartphones in our pockets do learn something cool.  I’m looking to learn how to play the Ukulele. How about you?

Set One Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)

Once you’ve set goals in all areas of your life, there is usually one big goal that by achieving that one goal a bunch of other goals will fall into place behind it.  We call it the B-HAG.  It’s big.  It might even scare you.  But you know that once it’s done, then a lot of really great things will start to happen.

Tell me in the comments below, what is one big goal you’d like to achieve in 2018.  It doesn’t have to be your BHAG, but if you want to share it go right ahead.  Remember, all of your goals are possible.

To recap, take a look at everything you accomplished this past year.  Give yourself a pat on the back no matter how big or small they may seem to you.  Then go ahead and set goals for 2018 in all areas of your life.  And finally, what’s that Big Hairy Audacious Goal you’ve been sitting on.  The one you know if you made it come true would make things extraordinary.

 

 

 

 

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