Michael Phelps has made history by becoming the most decorated Olympian ever as only a matter of days ago they put his 19th medal on him. No one can doubt that performing on the Olympic stadium can bring immense pressure with millions around the world watching you, and the weight of expectation and standards to live up to. So how does an Olympic champion develop their mindset so that they know how to have a positive mind and keep it even in the most pressurised circumstances?
At the last Olympics Phelps shared some of the mental preparation and mindset training that he works with. All say success first of all starts in the mind and starts with your thoughts (and the lack of self-defeating thoughts). Your thoughts get you to do or not do things. Here are a few of his insights shard by the Huffington Post:
“I think that everything is possible as long as you put your mind to it and you put the work and time into it. I think your mind really controls everything.”
How you think and feel about your results and the work you have to put in determines who you are becoming and you what are achieving.
There are many maxim’s that can help keep the mind and emotions on track, such as
“I intend to find a positive in every negative, perception is reality.”
“I won’t predict anything historic. But nothing is impossible.”
Your thoughts quite naturally trigger certain feelings. These feelings and emotions are felt in the body, affecting how your system performs and works.
Having a few presets such as the maxims above – they can and will create a more open and less closed off feeling and emotional vibration throughout the system if referred to enough – so that they become your reality.
”If I want to be as successful as I want to be, I have to be thinking about it all the time.”
How to have a positive mind under Olympic pressure
So is focus an important factor?
Where your attention goes grows. So if you regularly put time aside to sit or stand imagining and thinking of your success as though it has already happened, you performing at your best in the event – winning and achieving whatever it is you want, whatever it is you are aiming for – a mental, emotional and a physiological change occurs in your system.
And is this physiological change tuned into the succeeding or in the failing? By practicing this every day for a minimum of a concentrated and relaxed 5 minutes or more does and will have an impact. Many scientific studies have been done to report this single practice works for people of all walks of life including top athletes.
The Huffington Post also reported:
The U.S. women’s gymnastics team also won the gold medal for the team competition in artistic gymnastics. When team captain Aly Raisman was on the balance beam, the commentator said … that Raisman stays calm under all the pressure by adjusting her perspective to the competition.
Hard work and dedication is essential to success, but not everybody is able to withstand the pressure in the end. No matter how much you prepare, sometimes your nerves get the best of you.
Is it interesting to note that this preparation of positive and success mindset training does have an impact and yet at the same time the trixter of the mind can introduce a few thoughts of doubt. We call these thoughts of doubt ‘having nerves’, we also call the anticipation just before performing ‘having nerves’. And at the same time who is in control of these thoughts of doubt, who is in control of the feelings of anticipation?
There really is only one person who has control, and only one person who has access to the workings of their own mind. It’s true you can practice all the physical strokes you want, all the balancing and flips that you want but if your mind has not been trained to at least the same degree or even better this little trixter can knock you off balance at the most crucial of times.
Aly Raisman and Michael Phelps: They succeed because instead of focusing on all the negatives they focus on the positive. They do not think of tumbling off or falling back, they think of winning, glory and happiness, and that is what gets them on to the medal podium.
And this medal podium is available to each and everyone one of us day-in and day-out. Each one of us have our own pictures of what looks like success to us and in what we would want to be the medal winner – whether that’s the medal of getting a loved one to smile and say ‘hi’… whether that’s the medal of landing the next promotion or the next big contract… whether that’s the medal of your kids looking at you with great respect and you leading by example… whether that’s a romantic dinner that ends up in a marriage proposal – your picture of success is personal to you and can only ever be measured by you.
Take public speaking for example: You can have the world’s most eloquent speech prepared but unless you deliver it with confidence, it won’t have the same effect. A common piece of advice given to people who are afraid of public speaking is to imagine the audience in their underwear. This works because you are changing your perspective. Instead of being intimidated by the audience, you build your own confidence by imagining them in their most vulnerable form.
You can apply this trick in many other ways in your life. If you are taking an exam, instead of hating the material and running away from it, embrace it, love it and remember that you will succeed. If you are trying to lose weight, stop thinking of working out and eating healthy as difficult and unpleasant and change your perspective to it. You have to learn how to train your mind, because it is the most powerful tool that you have to accomplish your goals.
Get yourself a journal. Teach yourself daily how to have a positive mind, how to have a powerfully trained mind that is not incessantly focusing on failing. Record the words that inspire you, the pictures that lift you. Describe each success you are aiming for, focus just on one at a time and imagine it and rehearse it in your mind. Rehearse the winning of it and feel it, imagine it in every aspect being the success you want, and feel it deeply that you have already achieved it. Now don’t just do this for a few seconds, or a couple of minutes – do it religiously everyday in 5 minute slots for each success without distraction.
This is your time. This is your Olympic training. Each and everyone of us deserve our own gold medals in the things we choose. Life is a choice. The power of your mind unveiled is a choice, and having fun along the way is a choice too.
I know you’ll look amazing on that podium.
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