Recently back from the Eastern Canadian Championships for my sport has made me come to think about and analyze my performance. Not always do I end up with two gold medals but this time I did. Is there really anything to analyze from this performance. Absolutely.
Winning is a goal of mine but it isn’t the only goal. I think… what happens if I do win? What happens if I lose? If you are 100 per cent caught up on the outcome you may over analyze loses or miss the opportunity to learn how to improve upon a win thinking you did enough.
If you are breaking down your process and outcome after a win then you are on the right track. This post is for those people who did not compete as planned.
In the book Flow In Sports by Jackson & Csikszentmihalyi it says,
Some individuals learn to equate failure at a skill or activity with their own failure as a competent people. This is particularly evident in sport, where athletes are continually being evaluated on performance outcomes. When this becomes the main, or even only, source of feedback an athlete receives, he can come to view himself as “athlete” rather than as a person who take part in athletics. The consequences of failing in athletics then take on greater proportions, being intimately tied up with a sense of self-worth as a person.
This is exactly the case in my sport and indeed in many sports. It is one of the greatest challenges, overcoming a negative performance outcome. By overcome I don’t mean coming out unscathed because you shouldn’t. You should learn from each experience.
I know from experience though that it is hard to hold all of those thoughts inside. It is also very unproductive if you have no one to give you feedback on your performance and thoughts about it.
There is an answer and this is the Art Of Adaptation:
You must change your primary focus from achieving certain outcomes to creating opportunities for optimal performance. Basically, rather than focusing on the win you must be focused on doing your best. In short if you do your best that day that is all you can do.
Selecting goals and basing your performance against your earlier performance is one way to do this and it is much more realistic. This will also produce an improvement in your level of skill and have a better impact of your confidence.
To all those people coming back from the competition who understand. I feel yea!
Tell me about a recent performance in anything, your thought process before, during and after. What did you conclude? How do you focus on creating optimal performance and not focusing on outcomes? How do you stay in the moment?