At SMARTfoundations we help our clients develop mental toughness born from resilience and strong self-esteem. No matter which area of your life you are looking for high performance in, it is not our physical or technical expertise which enables us to stand out from the crowd but our mental toughness. Resilience is really a high level of positive self-esteem, the ability to hold our nerve and deliver under intense pressure, and consistently turn it on even when you don't feel at your best.
You can bet actors on the West End shows have their bad days, but they are, day in day out, called upon to step up to the mark and deliver a great performance i.e. ACT with resilience. We are all like Actors in the play of LIFE and the real challenge is not so much on the STAGE, but inside OUR heads. What we tell ourselves about events determines how we feel about them, which in turns informs how we act. The recipe is simple:
TELL – FEEL – DO or put another way THINK – FEEL – ACT
For great health and well-being we must manage our THOUGHTS if we want to be calm, happy, relaxed and at peace in life. Likewise if we are seeking the high performance mental toughness of being the best it’s the same whether you are in the boardroom or on the Tennis court. It’s does not take profound insight to determine Alan Sugar or Pete Sampras have developed strong resilience, because to be at the top we need Mental toughness.
Learn to let things go
Often we are either ruminating over the past events or fretting about future events. Learning to let things go is all about being present it’s about letting the little relationship difficulties or the less than perfect pitch go. Letting go is also about pressing the pause button on problems or concerns in our personal life, which can affect our current performance. Listen you can hardly demonstrate resilience if your internal chatter is full of self criticism! It is simple really, how can you honestly be your best – when we are telling yourself you are not good enough!
Stay Present – The true mystery of the Power of Now
By staying present, we explore the mind body connection and get to check in on how we perceive the world. We are all mini marketers branding everything, we take a view of our self we think ‘I am attractive’ or ‘I am ugly’; ‘I am intelligent’ or ‘I’ll never amount to much’’; ‘I am a wonderful singer’ or ‘I am an awful dancer’ and so on. We believe what we tell ourselves and then proceed to think these ‘thoughts’ (not facts) are permanent and unchanging.
When we are present we can observe our role in the drama we call life. Staying present enables us to end the projections and labels and just accept what ‘is’ without judgement. This level of awareness leads to a gentle tenderness with ourselves, which helps us relax and stay focused. The lovely thing is then those thoughts filter through to feelings into the body almost like giving yourself a mental hug, which is without doubt a perfect antidote to stress, anxiety and depression.
A QUICK FIX – 3 minutes to calm: try this 'breathing space' technique over the next few days, it really helps you get back in the here and now.
Become aware of your body. Adopt an erect posture and become aware of 'what's on your mind', 'how you are feeling' and what sensations are you experiencing in your physical body. Simply accept yourself in this moment.
Now bring your attention to your breath - the gently in and the out breath, simply watch the flow of your breath.
Now bring your attentions to any sensations in your body and to the space around your body.
Let your breath act as an anchor into 'Now' the present moment and in doing so, you 'switch off' the automatic pilot mode. This really is the 'mystery' of the power of now!
I believe that we humans have two basic choices in every situation: we can focus on that which is good about the situation or that which is bad. If you want to feel bad about yourself, start focusing on everything that's not going your way: you last performance, the weather, your standings, your aches and pains. However, if you want to feel good, all you have to do is to focus on the excitement of bullriding, the amount of people that support you and want you to succeed, or the opportunities that failing presents you to learn something about yourself. You don't need a reason to feel good about yourself. You don't have to earn it like you do money. You can simply choose to fill your mind with energizing, optimistic thoughts. The alternative (negative thinking and pessimism) stinks!
Develop success triggers
As human beings we are creatures of habit. That is why it’s so easy to be on auto-pilot (see mindfulness auto-pilot) The better the habits, the better the results. The more we do anything the more comfortable we feel abut it and the more we win. Our win may be a huge sporting event or a sense of calm in a presentation. So develop some success triggers that both energise and relax you. It’s what you do those few minutes before an event listening to music, or sitting silently alone visualising a positive outcome to the event. What success triggers could you develop prior to an event that would allow you to be ready?
Love the journey not just the finish line…
Whatever it is that juices us it’s vital we love journey and not just put all of our focus on the end result. Success is only truly successful if we enjoy the journey! Stay focussed, go for your personal best enjoy the opportunity to train, to be challenge to see how resilient you truly are. People who are happy care more about doing their best and fighting the good fight than winning. Even without the best resilience training, if we give of our best in any situation we can't go wrong, because that's all we can really control anyway. And guess what usually the integrity and passion that lies behind doing our best contributes to our success.