We’re all going to strive to achieve something. We’re all going to fail in doing so at some point. They say it’s not how many time you fall but how many time you get back up which is what determines if you will be successful. Without a doubt perseverance is key to many success stories. The real question is… Continue Reading…
Archives For mentality
I’ve competed in Taekwon-Do for years now. I have been to three international events:
- World Cup in Italy (2008)
- World Championships in Argentina (2009)
- World Championships in New Zealand (2011)
Now I’m heading to Brighton, England tomorrow for the World Cup again. It is probably the largest tournament when it comes to number of competitors.
It is always surprising to me the amount of anxiety that comes with competing at this level. I always get nervous. I figure that it’s a good thing. I feel like being nervous means I have set proper expectations and that I care about reaching my goals.
When it comes time to taper off training and prepare mentally not being able to distract the sub-conscious with physical training unshackles the beast.
Three days out comes the time when I need to really focus mentally and deal with these issues. I find that this is one approach that helps:
- Identify your thoughts and feelings.
- Accept that these thoughts and feelings are natural.
- Mold these thoughts and feelings into motivation.
Here is how it works:
- I feel anxious, nervous and self-doubt creeps up.
- I have trained hard and set ambitious goals, I have many people who support me emotionally and financially, I am exposing my self to judgement and criticism in an environment that is potentially dangerous. Stepping out of my comfort-zone and not wanting to let people down are very good reasons to feel that way.
- I use these feelings to stay sharp. I know that every second leading up to competing can be used to relax, prepare and supports others. I feel this way because there is a real threat of me being eliminated on my first match or being seriously injured. It is a mechanism that signals to me mental and physically to prepare and perform.
Finally, it really helps to accept that anything can happen to anyone. Anyone can win, anyone can lose. Real champions and winners never allow themselves to feel safe and thus never fully suppress the anxiety that comes with competing.
Can this approach be used in different aspects of life? I think so. Anywhere I feel anxiety I feel like this technique really helps.
The Art Of Adaptation: Acceptance allows anxiety to be a useful motivator.
I hate running.
This is one statement I never understood. I have always instinctively loved running. I was never really sure why until tonight while on a run.
I was jogging down Montreal Rd. in Ottawa when I realized what I was thinking,
I can’t wait to stop. How long have I been running? How much further? I can’t wait to stop.
At this moment I had a realization. In order to enjoy this activity I had to focus on changing limiting beliefs, focus on being in the moment and not the result or the physical discomfort I feel during a run. This was half the realization.
The other half of the realization was understanding the real benefit of running. I compete in Taekwon-Do. I compete on a high level, which causes a lot of mental stress. I actually have a lot of anxiety about even training. I get nervous about how I will look, if I am performing at the level I should be. If I am putting in enough effort and more.
These thoughts happen minute by minute, second to second often continuously repeating… just like when I was running. The problem with having them about and during Taekwon-Do training is that most activities within a class or training session happen is bursts of time and short intervals. This allows for a mental check. On the break I can take a breath, relieved that I completed one exercise before becoming anxious once more about the next.
There is no real opportunity during a Taekwon-Do training to isolate my limiting thoughts and focus on turning them off, around or down. I need to put 100 per cent of my focus into the exercise.
I suppose I could but it would take many, many classes to do the same amount of mental reworking I could complete in one run. Running long distance is the perfect opportunity to push my body to that point where those limiting thoughts emerge and then maintain that pace while I (this may sound strange) separate from my physical body and completely exist inside my mind or conscious.
If you don’t like running I think it’s a perfect opportunity to give it a try. Everybody has the potential to run and enjoy it from a physical perspective, it’s the mind that gets in the way.
The Art Of Adaptation: Every limiting thought is also an opportunity.
I use to be an avid runner. I had to stop because the amount of time I was putting into it was affecting how much time I spent on the mats in Taekwon – Do. I loved to run for a number of reasons. Besides the obvious physical benefits, running teaches you things. Continue Reading…
The most simple view of results in competition is that there are winners and there are losers. If you are a competitive person you want to be a winner but not everyone can be a winner. There are actually very few people who win consistently. That is the nature of competition.
The question every competitive person asks themselves is, what is the difference between most people who don’t win and the few who do? I’ve asked myself this question often and the more I want to win the harder I search for the answer.
I believe there are a number of factors which contribute to this but if you don’t have the slightest idea where to begin I would suggest looking at your approach to learning.
In the book the Art Of Learning by Josh Waitzkin, he presents evidence from a leading researcher in the field of developmental psychology, Dr. Carol Dweck. She talks about the difference between entity and incremental theories of intelligence.
Basically, people who see their intelligence or skill level at a certain discipline as a fixed set of gifts and abilities are in the entity classification. They think that they are meant for a specific task and that they cannot evolve or change. They feel they are naturally better at certain things than other people and that they have weaknesses in other areas that they cannot change.
Incremental or learning theorists are people who say they got it because they worked hard at it. These people have a sense that no matter what it is, if they work hard at it, it can be mastered.
There are a number of studies that suggest that, despite level of intelligence, the entity theorists tend to have a much more difficult time stacking up against the incremental theorists when it comes to challenging problems. The entity people crack and give up, thinking it just isn’t their thing and never develop the skills to solve that problem or situation, where as the incremental people push on until they find a solution.
As a Taekwon – Do practitioner I can definitely vouch for this point. Some of the most gifted athletes are terrible under pressure and have a very hard time facing a loss.
As long as you are persevering in something that actually does have a solution then being an incremental theorist means you will eventually rise to the occasion.
These ways of learning are programmed into us at a young age. I can remember my parents saying to me that if I keep trying I’ll get it. My father would take me golfing at a young age. I remember being so frustrated with my bad shots but that one good one would keep me coming back. He would see that shot and in the moment say, “See! You can hit that shot. You just have to keep practicing.” That language created my incremental attitude.
I see parents in Taekwon – Do tell their children things like, sparring is their thing, you were made to do patterns, or criticize and ask them, “Why can’t you do that kick?”
These statements are very subtle but make the difference in learning styles especially during the developmental phase. As young adults we may do the same thing to ourselves through positive or negative self talk. Maybe even be lucky or unlucky enough to have a coach to comment in one of those ways.
How does this affect our lives as athletes or as people in general. Simply put, people who relate to the entity theory will have a much more difficult time stepping out of their comfort zone. When asked to do a task within their range of capabilities they will show confidence and calmness. When asked to do something beyond their natural talents it is hard for them to comprehend a process of problem solving and more importantly, to demonstrate that confidence in a time of adaptation.
On the other hand, people who relate to incremental learning will not only be at ease with the difficult task or failing the first time, they will find a way to solve the problem, learn, adapt and develop new confidence.
In time incremental theorists are almost always the winners.
Art Of Adaptation: Try to identify your style of intelligence and what language was used by your parents and instructors. Do they still talk to you that way? Do you still talk to yourself that way? Ask them to be conscious of speaking to you with that language and teach others so that they develop into people who learn incrementally.