Once there lived a village of creatures

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“Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river.

The current of the river swept silently over them all – young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth.

But one creature said at last ‘I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.’

The other creatures laughed and said, ‘Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!’

But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath, did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried ‘See, a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!’

And the one carried in the current said, ‘I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.’

But they cried the more, ‘Saviour!’, all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a Saviour.”

— From Illusions, by Richard Bach

What are you clinging to?

What if you dared let go?

Take care,

 

 

 

What’s getting in the way is … THE WAY

Photo by Matt Duncan on Unsplash

Photo by Matt Duncan on Unsplash

“What’s getting in the way?” is a common question that can help identify what is preventing us to bridge the gap between where we are in our life, career or in our business and where we would like to be. While this question is very useful to identify roadblocks, internal limiting beliefs, and move more efficiently toward our goals, it shouldn’t hide the fact that, primarily, what’s in the way is … THE WAY.

To get where we want, we have to travel on the way. We might be able to run, find ideas and support to go even faster but we still have to travel on the way, we can’t just teleport directly there.

I am not so much pointing to the motivation part of this, like “creating something takes time” or “don’t give up, you just have to continue moving forward”.

I am pointing to the transformation part of it.  No one else can take us there. We need the internal process and sometime struggle that go along the way to create the internal transformation that will allow us to see what we couldn’t see, to do what we couldn’t’ do, and to become who we need to be to eventually move closer to our end game.

Receiving the information from someone who has already been there is not enough. We have to experience our own journey, go through the ups and downs, be scared and still move forward, enjoy the landscape, fall into holes, go sidetrack, get back on the way, and FEEL every part of it.

THE WAY can be frustrating (“If only I had understood this before…”). It’s just human.

As tempting as it can be to want to jump straight to the destination (“Just tell me how to do!”), there is a minimum distance to travel and a minimum transformation to happen to get there.

Because, intrinsically, what’ in the way IS THE WAY.

Take care,

You don’t need a lot of confidence, You need a little act of courage

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Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

In one of my recent coaching sessions with a client, the fact that he was lacking confidence showed up. My initial reflex was to think “how can we build up his confidence?”, but I knew this would not make a real difference, this was not impactful coaching.

And then I remembered a phrase I read last week. I had probably heard that quote or a similar one in the past, but either I had overlooked it (meaning I had understood it intellectually/conceptually but it hadn’t clicked deeply and I had moved on without doing anything about it), either I had had an insight but then it had gone back into my own blind spots again (the second tricky part of blind spots is that after they became visible, they can actually become invisible again…). Last week, for some reason, it clicked.

You don’t need a lot of confidence; you need a little act of courage.

In any situation where you feel you lack confidence, you can work on building your confidence, with some positive affirmations or by listing all your past successes and that might be helpful, but will probably be limited (by the way for this to be the most efficient, you need to really FEEL (not think) that confidence deep inside).

Or you can shift your entire perspective of the situation and realize that you actually don’t need more confidence to take action. Instead, you can just act, and this will require some courage. It will feel scary and uncomfortable in the moment, which is why aiming at a little act of courage can help. This will be way more effective than to try to convince yourself that you are ready and confident enough (because chances are that you will never be), and, as a result, guess what, this will build your confidence.

It’s usually quicker and more efficient to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting, but for overthinking/overpreparing people like me, it’s not natural and more challenging. That’s why I get some support from my own coach and why I’m also good at helping people like me do the same.

Now you might read this without deeply clicking and that’s OK. Maybe one day, you will, maybe not. The bigger picture here is that it is possible to shift how we see the world and this allows us to move more effectively toward our dreams, one small act of courage at a time. In a sense, that’s what coaching is about.

I’ll leave you with the following questions:

  • Where is a lack of confidence holding you back at the moment? What if you didn’t need more confidence but instead a little act of courage? What would that act of courage be?
  • And to open up to more possibilities, where else do you get stuck? How could you reframe the situation to move on?

If, maybe counter-intuitively, you think that now is the time to invest in yourself to get unstuck or move more efficiently toward creating the life, business or career you really want, reach out. I have a couple of 1 on 1 spots available. Maybe that’s the little act of courage that would make a difference for you.

Take care,

Covid-19 : How to mentally deal with the situation as an athlete

Photo by Joshua Jordan on Unsplash

Photo by Joshua Jordan on Unsplash

The current situation is unprecedented in modern history. If the global situation and the health crisis are of course the priority, the impacts in the sport arena are immense and of a level never seen before: suspension of most of all leagues and championships in most of sports, some of them completely cancelled, the soccer European championship and the Olympic Games postponed to next year, cancellation of certain major tournaments like Wimbledon and so on…And in addition, the lock down or shelter in place in many countries prevent the athletes to practice and breaks their routine. All this tends to create a significant anxiety and uncertainty. The goal of this article is to offer a few tips in order to move forward in a constructive way during this troubled period.

 

Recognize your emotions

It is important to recognize and hold space for your emotions, including the emotions often presented as negative like sadness, frustration, anger, anxiety, fear, boredom, etc.

We usually tend to react in one of the following two ways:

  • We let these “negative” emotions overwhelm us and take control and we become their victim. For instance, we see everything in dark, we feel powerless and find all the reasons why we can’t reach our objectives.
  • Or we pretend they are not here, avoid them thinking that they are “bad” and we jump into excessive positivism right away. In this case, the unaddressed emotions stay in the back of our mind, in the background, and prevent us from moving forward in a liberated, constructive and healthy way. A saying resumes it brilliantly, which says that “we can’t leave a place we haven’t been to”.

The goal is therefore first to recognize your emotions, to name them in order to better understand them and accept them, not as a fatality, but just as an observation, without judgment. Hold space to feel them, of course ensuring that you don’t harm anyone (oneself or others). This doesn’t mean you are passively accepting a situation that you don’t like or agree with, just that you accept your humanity and how you feel in the moment in a compassionate way. Only then is it possible to move forward in a positive and constructive way.

Breath slower and deeper to better release stress

In a future article, I’ll share more details about some stress management techniques. For now, I am inviting you to use a very simple way to reduce the anxiety generated by the situation: focus your attention on your breath, breathing a little slower and deeper than usual (without exaggerating or hyperventilating), imagining the air coming in and out of your chest area. You can repeat internally: “I inhale calm (or serenity, or any word that feels good to you), I exhale tensions (or stress, anxiety, or any word that represent the negative impact you are undergoing)” and feel more and more relaxed after each breath. After a little while, your thoughts will go somewhere else, whether on what you did previously in the day, or what you have to do after, or on a physical sensation or some sounds. That’s OK. When you catch yourself, don’t judge yourself, just bring your attention back on your breathing and start again, breathing slower and deeper than usual. Do this for 1, 5, 10, 15min depending on your needs and your constraints in the moment, when you feel stressed out, but also when you don’t, in order to build your resilience capacity in the face of stress.

Focus on what you CAN control

In this crisis, the most difficult to manage may be, in addition to the fear that the virus harms us or our closed ones, the associated uncertainty of the period:

  • How long will the lock down last?
  • When will the competition start again?
  • What will be the impact on the physical fitness?
  • What will be the mental or psychological impacts?
  • How to adapt one’s objectives accordingly?

An efficient way to deal with this uncertainty and anxiety it generates is to constantly ask yourself the question of what you can or can not control. If something is in our control, then you can focus on it, if you can not control something, then it is useless to spend mental and physical energy on it. Constantly asking oneself this question enables to simplify and choose more easily how to respond to our thoughts and emotions and where to focus our attention and energy.

We can’t control all that is happening to us, but we can control the way we respond to it.

For instance, the lock-down is not in your control. It is therefore useless to ruminate about it (even if we can certainly feel frustrated about it at times). Keeping in physical and mental shape is on the other hand in your control (see next paragraph).

Keep in physical and mental shape in order to be in a better place when all will start again

For those who might get back to competition, it is important to maintain as much as possible a physical, mental and technical fitness. Everyone will have been impacted and those who will be able to regain their best level the fastest will have an advantage.

  • The first thing is to analyze your motivation and to commit to do all that you can to keep in shape. This might be obvious for professional athletes but it is not for others who don’t have any obligation and have to find a personal strong motivation. Find a purpose, and commit in order to overcome the down times. It’s also OK to decide to let go and not push through this season. It’s a personal decision.
  • Set up a routine. Athletes usually have structured days with specific habits. If these have been broken down with the situation, it is possible to set up new routines and to hold on to them during the crisis, in order to take back control and not be a victim.
  • Keep in Physical Shape (important: the intensity should be seen with the coach and doctor as it is apparently possible to have one’s respiratory capacity impacted if being infected by the Covid-19, even without clear symptoms), with some fitness or core strength exercises (many available online), going for a run when possible, going up and down the stair multiple times, etc… When motivated, we can accomplish incredible things, like a guy who ran a marathon and then a 50K on his 7m balcony. Without going to extremes like this, you can get creative to find fun ways to keep in shape.
  • Practice your technique when you can (technical gesture, drills, precision, reaction time, etc.)
  • Do some Mental Training. For instance, you can practice visualization (of work-outs or competition) to strengthen your neural pathways and keep a competitive mindset.
  • Review some strategic or tactical aspects of your sport by watching some videos, games, races, etc.
  • Make the most of it to do what you usually don’t have time to do.

 

See the bigger picture and adapt your goals

Just like in a race, an objective of victory or Personal Best can transform into limiting the setback and doing one’s best when the body doesn’t respond as expected, the objectives of this season will have to be reviewed and adapted. There is nothing dramatic about adapting one’s goals although it can feel like it. And the situation is the same for everyone.

Projecting yourself in the future (at least next season) and building new objectives and plans will help to not stay imprisoned in the gloominess of the present. By doing so, you will build a bridge from an uncertain frustrating and stressing present to an exciting and motivating future.

 

Look for the opportunities

It may sound like a cliché and if we haven’t acknowledged how we feel and allowed ourselves to feel frustrated, angry, sad, or whatever, we may resist this idea, but in any crisis, difficult period, failure, some opportunities are hiding. Looking for them helps to switch from being a victim of the circumstances to being the creator of one’s future. For instance, the current situation may be an opportunity to:

  • Develop your resilience. In general, it is healthier to not compete against others but to use adversity as a way to surpass yourself and become better. This period is definitely an example of adversity and can be used to develop your resilience, your ability to adapt, bounce back and find energy in encountering obstacles rather than being demoralized. This resilience, when developed, enables to stay mentally focused and competitive even when being down in a game, to believe in one’s chance even with a disturbed preparation, to fight and move on no matter what. This is a crucial skill for any athlete who wants to go far and high.
  • Develop your self-awareness. Many champions share that what has been most important in their career is not their medals but their journey of self-discovery, the fact that they grew through their sport and became a better version of themselves. What does the current situation teach you about yourself? How can it help you improve?
  • Realize that what you may usually take for granted is not, realize that sport is eventually only one piece of your life, be grateful to be able to practice a sport you love. And, when everything starts again, when the new normal is there, keep this in mind as a way to put things in perspective, to lower the absolute stakes of a competition, to reduce the pressure and the stress and increase the fun of it.

All the best in this difficult period, stay safe and healthy, take great care of yourself, and prepare for the recovery that will be even more appreciable.

Take care,

«Forget about me!» the leader said

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

I love sport and part of my activity is to coach athletes to overcome their mental roadblocks to perform to their full potential. I recently wrote a post to my “sport mental training” community and I thought I would extend this post to leadership in general.

I came across a video (sorry for a lot of you, it is in French) of the speech former San Antonio Spurs basketball player Toni Parker gave to his teammates during the half-time of the semi-final of the Euro in 2005 when France managed to beat Spain for the 1st time. At half-time, France was down by 14 points. In the locker rooms, Toni Parker, captain and leader of the team, had to find the words to motivate his teammates. “We are playing like if we were afraid, we are not physical enough …I don’t care what happens in the second half and if we lose, but we are going to fight”.

But most importantly, after other words, he eventually said: “Nothing to lose, let’s play. Antoine, if you have a shot, take it, Alexis, if you have a shot, take it”. And you know what?” he ended saying to the playmaker of the team, “announce plays for Nico, for Bobo … just 1 out of 5 for me … forget about me!”.

France made an amazing come back in the second half and managed to beat Spain.

Not only did Toni Parker motivate his teammates, but he also didn’t let his frustration and ego take the wheel and want to save the whole team on his own.

Instead he trusted his teammates and asked them to forget about him, not because he was afraid and wanted to run away from his responsibility, but because he felt everyone needed to step up. So, by stepping down in a way, he created the space for them to step up, for them to take their responsibility. This is great leadership.

This applies to leadership at work. Great leaders create more leaders, not more followers.

Now this requires Vulnerability and Courage, because it is taking the risk to be seen as weak or escaping one’s responsibility, it is facing the fear of losing one’s leadership role.

It requires Trust. Trust that you are doing the right thing, trust your teammates and that they can step up and save the game.

And it requires to let go of the need to control everything, which is very counter intuitive for most leaders.

In his book Leading with Emotional courage, Peter Bregman says something similar and goes even a step further, by inviting leaders to do something most them fight so hard to avoid: being overwhelm, the ingredient to draw out leadership in others. Here is what Peter Bregman says:

Leaders like to be in control. They want things to turn out right and feel, often mistakenly, that if they have control over them, they will…. The more control you have over something, the less room there is for others to step into their own leadership.

Designing chaos into a process is the antithesis of what most leaders do. We try to focus on 1 thing, 1 concept, 1 conversation, 1 task. But in real life, in real organizations, nothing happens one thing at a time. And no one can be on top of it all (Evan speaking here: Yes, I know, that sucks to admit that. It is both very obvious and intellectually understandable, and yet, for people like me, the internal pattern is to act as if we could be on top of it all. Take the time to check in how that lands in you).

 If everyone followed their own impulse, stepped into their own leadership, wouldn’t that lead to anarchy? Maybe. It depends on the strength of their organization’s container. How clear is the big arrow, the vision, the values, the culture? If we know what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, what’s important to us, and how to operate then there will be trust, focused energy, and abundant, unified leadership. If not, there will be anarchy.

 No matter how much leaders would like to, they just can’t control everything. Trying to control the uncontrollable just makes things worse. People check out. They feel no ownership. They work minimum. And things fall through the cracks.

 Here’s the hard part: leading without controlling. Stepping into your own leadership while leaving space for others to step into their own leadership as well.

So, if you are a leader, what would Toni Parker’s request “Forget about me” look like for you? How can you step into your own leadership while leaving space for others to step into their own leadership as well? By doing so you’ll become a greater leader and your whole team will become better.

I wish all the athletes an amazing year … and some challenges and setbacks

Image by Fathromi Ramdlon from Pixabay

A brief post for any athlete today.

I want to wish you an amazing year, full of great PERFORMANCE AND FUN in your sport…

AND, even if that may feel counter intuitive, I also wish you to have some challenges and setbacks. Yes. Because that’s where you will learn the most, where you will build your resilience and your determination to continue, to be willing to fall, get back up and move on in your journey as an athlete.

Most of the champions say that what they are most proud of is the journey they have been on to achieve their success, their surpassing themselves and their interior adventure, not the medals in themselves.

If you are hoping to have only wins, only Personal Best, always do well in practice, you will be very frustrated, discouraged, maybe resigned as soon as it gets harder, when the setbacks and challenges start to show-up. And they will arrive at one point.

Instead, you can expect them, which is a first step but may be still acting from a place of fear. You know it will happen but you don’t want it.

What I am actually inviting you to do is to shift your perspective entirely, and wish some challenges and setbacks to happen. In this case, you won’t be afraid of them anymore. Paradoxically, because you will be more “free to fail”, you will perform better. And when the setbacks happen, your experience will be totally different. You will welcome them as a gift. You will learn more from them, and bounce back faster. Remember that overcoming them will be a significant if not the most rewarding part of your journey as an athlete.

And if you are a coach, wish your athletes some challenges and setbacks. And observe their reaction. For some of them, knowing that their coach is not only expecting but even wishing them to encounter some setbacks can have a huge impact on their ability to race/play more relaxed, to trust their skills and their practice more and in the end to perform better.

Take care,

What Skydiving taught me

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It’s been a busy last month, full of traveling (to Washington DC) to provide some coaching/training to a client company in partnership with other coaches and with also new local adventures, and this took me away from writing. It’s time to get back to it, and today I want to take you up in the air.

At the end of the summer/beginning of the fall, I decided to skydive again after a 14 years break. I had done more than 50 jumps when I was between 21 and 28 years old. I had always been attracted to this, to the sensation of flying and had followed through with this dream in my young adult life. Then I stopped and had not really considered jumping again. Until last year. I started to feel a strong desire to go back up there, and to experience these sensations again. It started without really being too serious about it, but then the idea made its way and I got more and more determined to go for it, despite the fear. Because indeed, after 14 years, I had a lot of fear.

The way we show up somewhere in life is usually representative of the way we show up everywhere, and due to the intensity of the moment, which amplified everything, it got me present to some very insightful things that I want to share with you. And if you just want to enjoy the jumps without the insights That’s Here (these were the 3rd and 4th recovery jumps, from a bigger plane than the 1st and 2nd jumps which I mention here below).

  • The more you do something scary, the less scary it becomes.

    And the less you do it, the scarier it becomes again. This is obvious, but worth remembering though. My first 2 jumps after 14 years, I was super nervous and scared. And progressively, I got more confidence, my skills came back pretty quickly, my awareness during the fall increased (I could even see my neighborhood in the distance 😊) and I could really enjoy the last 2 jumps in October. Whatever it is that you want to do but are scared of doing, do it, again, and again, and again and the fear will fade away (although it won’t completely disappear and it’ OK).

  • Trust and Commitment:

    As I often tell the athletes I coach, once you have prepared and have done all you need, you have to trust and commit (and go have fun).

  • Trust others: I had to trust the person who had packed my parachute, I had to trust my instructor, I had to trust the pilot of the plane. It’s the same for you: in any adventure, project or work, at some point you have to trust your colleagues, your partners, your friends, etc…And it’s not easy specially when you like to be in control. Trusting others is a practice.
  • Trust ourselves: I had to trust that I knew what to do and how to do it despite the stress, trust that I had listened carefully, trust that in case of malfunctions, I would know how to react, etc…  And it’s not the easiest thing to do either.
  • Commit: commitment is the fuel that helps move forward through the fear and challenges. How much are you committed to whatever you are moving toward?

     In skydiving, all this comes to one singular instant, when you lose contact with the plane. This is the point of No Return, which can be the worst or the best moment depending on your perspective. In that particular moment (which is such an intense feeling), Trust and Commitment are at their peak. I like to think it’s the same in life: the moment you click to send an important email, the moment you start a difficult conversation (before that you still have a way out but once you have said the first words, you’re all in), the moment you go on stage to speak, the moment the gun goes off in a race. I invite you to bring trust and commitment to those key moments and see how that changes your experience.

  • The importance to have someone by your side

     When jumping from a small plane, the worst part (or best part once you are used to it) is when you make your way onto the footboard of the small plane, holding to the wing, 12000 feet (4000m) above the ground, with the wind pressing on your whole body…When I was on that footboard, ready to go for my first recovery jump, I gave a look at my instructor. I can still remember the eye contact, and seeing his reassuring face, smiling and confident. In that particular instant, I measured the importance of having the support of someone in the face of fear, adversity, challenge. My “Hercules” syndrome which I talked about in a previous post usually tends to take over and make me think that I don’t need support, but in this moment, I was able to see that I actually needed him to be here for me. And in some way, that’s what a coach does with his clients: be there for them, with an unconditional support, in the face of fear, adversity and challenge.

  • Take a deep breath, Relax, Smile and have fun!

     That’s what my instructor told me to do right before my first jump, and as I was on the small footboard, ready to let go of holding the wing, that really helped me go and enjoy (plus if you want to be stable in the air, you have to be relaxed). And I highly invite you to do the same whenever you do anything scary or stressful: a competition in sport, a presentation at work, any new thing that scares you. Seriously, do this: Take a deep breath, Relax, Smile and have fun!

  • “If you are willing to feel everything, you can do anything” (Peter Bregman in Leading with Emotional Courage)

     Part of my coaching journey has been to develop my ability to feel (and invite my clients to feel too) because what often gets in our way is our avoiding some feelings. And I must admit that skydiving is a great way to feel: the fear of course, the excitement, the shame/guilt of doing something dangerous, the joy when the parachutes opens properly, the feeling of being intensely alive…. And beyond the Fear, the feeling of Bliss and Freedom of flying.

  • Take responsibility, YOU are in charge

     The instructor made it clear when going through the course. He could teach, recommend, be close at the beginning of the fall, but in the end, it’s the skydiver’s responsibility to pull the handle and then fly the canopy. Once you leave the plane, you are by yourself. You are the only one in charge. And some decisions were not obvious to make, like if the canopy opens and have a small hole but you can fly and control the canopy. You might want to leave it this way because it’s flying, or you might want to cut away and open the reserve parachute because you are not sure how the hole is going to evolve. The instructor shared what he would do, but that it was our decision in the end. And I don’t like that… I prefer to be told that “this is the way you have to do”. During this process, I got really present to my usual tendency to try and find a way out of taking responsibility, maybe someone or something to blame if things don’t work out the way I planned, find excuses and reasons why it didn’t work, etc… I think it is related to not willing/accepting to fail. But in this case, it was clear that there was no way out. I had to take full responsibility; I was in charge of pulling the handle, I was in charge of flying the canopy and I was in charge of making the decisions in case of malfunctions. Period. That’s probably my biggest take away. It was both challenging/scary AND very empowering. I believe if we are willing to take the risk and feel the fear of owning who we are as a whole and take full responsibility for our actions and decisions, that will not only improve our experience but also improve our leadership.

  • A world of possibility

    Eventually, a big part of the coaching process is inviting us to live in a world of possibility. Instead of letting our usual thinking and rational analyzing kill any possibility as soon as we don’t see the exact path to our dream/most important objectives, we learn to leave that possibility open and take tiny steps toward it. A part of my brain still doesn’t believe we can jump out of an airplane and fall with only a small backpack with a piece of fabric that will almost magically unfold and hold you in the air. So skydiving, in a way, illustrates perfectly what a world of possibility is. If I can jump out of an airplane with only a backpack, what could get in the way of my achieving my dreams if I am really committed to them.

And you, what possibilities should you keep alive?

Take care,

Questions to ask yourself to achieve your greatest potential

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Note: this post is focused on sport/athletes but also applies to any business person or anyone with ambitious and challenging projects.

Becoming a top athlete, achieving great performance, playing/racing to one’s full potential requires a lot. And it starts with readiness and commitment. Readiness to do what it takes, and commitment to follow through no matter what happens, no matter the obstacles. Here are a few questions to help you gage your level of readiness and commitment to your sport. Note that there is no right or wrong answer here. Just be honest and see what new awareness comes out of it. Then make a choice to adjust things according to your goals.

  1. Your VISION: What Vision do you have for yourself as an athlete? What is the strength of this vision? How much do you want this? How badly do you want it? How much desire do you have to be good or great?

  1. Your WHY: Why do you want to do your sport? List your internal and external reasons. Do you want this to outdo yourself and push your limits, do you want this to have a strong experience of friendships and adventure, do you want this to be well-known, or to get some recognition and be respected, maybe so you can help others, or to get a scholarship, or to make money, or maybe to travel, or to make a career of it? Whatever it is, you need to know, WHY you do what you do on a daily basis? This will get clearer non your goals and fuel your motivation.

  1. Your WHAT: What do you need to do on an annual/monthly/weekly/daily basis that will move you toward your ultimate goal? And, even more difficult, what are you willing to sacrifice? Saying YES to high level training and competing means saying NO to other things like going out to parties, watching a movie, staying up late at night, etc… Many athletes or high achievers say they want to play professionally or get a college scholarship. However, do you know what it takes now for you to get there? To be a great at anything takes a lot of dedication. \Which areas of your life are you willing to focus on, or cut back on? How much time do you put into practicing? How much time do you put into refining your technique and mental training so that you can master your sport? Be honest with yourself. Are you ready to invest the effort and time necessary to be the best at what you do? There is no substitute for hard work and smart work.

  1. Your COMMITMENT: How committed are you to make it happen? How committed are you to continue to practice, to give your best, even when the results won’t be there, even when you might be on the bench, when the doubts and negative self-talks will try to convince you that you are not god enough? It takes time to be great at anything and it requires to be able to “survive” negative periods. It’s easy to be motivated when things go well, much harder when things are not going as expected. Commitment is what will keep you going when times get tough.

  1. Your CARE: Do you truly love what you do? Is this your deepest desire? Your passion is what is going to drive you. Caring will help you keep your commitment. Things will not always be easy. There will be many obstacles, and if you do not love what you are doing, it will be hard to overcome them. It’s important to love what you to do to pursue it with excellence. And when you really care for your sport, how can you bring more of fun and passion to it?

 

Commitment vs Attachment / Resignation

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Photo by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 ImageCreator

Attachment

Often when we set a goal for ourselves (get a certain number of clients or a certain income, achieve a certain performance, take a project to completion on time and on budget), we become very attached to achieving it. Some people don’t even set goals out of fear of not achieving them which is an extreme version of attachment (you are so attached that you don’t even want to take the risk to not achieve it). We then start to take action toward achieving this goal, we are excited, motivated, inspired. Then, at some point, we start to doubt that we will achieve it. Progress is not as good as we had expected, obstacles show up on our way, we start to run out of time, etc…

Resignation

That’s when we start to fall onto the other extreme, Resignation. We start to be resigned to not achieving our goal, which translates into less energy, less motivation, feeling bad, feeling like a looser and we give up.

Then we will set a new goal, with some doubts about our ability to achieve it already from the start, we will get inspired, motivated again to take action, and then fall back into resignation as soon as we will see signs that our goal might be out of reach in the timeframe we set. And we’ll start again, with a new goal and even less confidence in our ability to achieve it.

Globally, most of us oscillate on this Attachment / Resignation line and that is, at least for me, not very pleasant nor empowering.

Commitment

Rather than oscillate on the Attachment/Resignation line, I would like to invite you to come from a different place. It might be tempting to aim at the middle of the line, not too attached, not completely resigned. But what I am talking about is not even on that line, but rather outside of this line: Commitment.

What are you committed to in life?  The thing is, most of the time, our goals, at least our outcome goals, depend on external circumstances and although we would like to control everything, we can’t. Your commitment depends on you and only you.

I see commitment as threefold:

Commitment to your bigger goal/vision/purpose: a six figures business, going to the Olympics, creating/growing a nonprofit, making the organization you run the best place to work, creating an extraordinary life whatever that means to you, etc…

Commitment to your daily “blue collar” work: do the things you have to do on daily basis, even the unpleasant ones, no matter how you feel: give X number of calls, write, do your personal routine, train hard, serve people, etc…. Setting up a routine might be hard at first, just like when you start to pedal on a bike and start moving, the resistance is high. But then, as you keep going, you gain speed and momentum, and it becomes easier and easier. It is during that first part of setting a routine, when it is hard, that commitment can really help. Commit and don’t let any other option open. That’s how I started to meditate 4.5 years ago now and never stopped since.

Commitment to your thing in the moment: Set a strong intention to be 100% present to what you are doing and to give your best: with a potential client, instead of being attached to get that person as a client (or resigned when she doesn’t seem to want to become a client), stay committed to serving her the best you can. When you coach, lead or manage, rather than being attached to “perform” or have an answer for everything, be 100% present to what’s going on, connected to the other person. In a race, before the gun goes off, instead of being attached to winning/qualifying/doing a PR, simply commit to give it all, to push through when it is going to hurt, because if you are not clear on this, as soon as the pain will arrive or things don’t go as expected, you’ll be tempted to fall into resignation, which limits your ability to perform.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set goals and aim at them, just that you might get benefit from identifying what the bigger purpose behind this goal is, what the actions you want to take on a regular basis are and what it means to be 100% focused on your thing, and then committing to those and coming back to that commitment when you catch yourself falling into resignation. This will help you move forward and be in a much better place in the end than just being attached/resigned. This might also show you that those things are more important than your goal itself, that if you stick to your commitment, you will grow and become a different, better person no matter what happens. In the end, it might well improve you whole experience of goal setting and goal getting.

Take care,

Over Confidence vs Ultra Confidence

Thermometer - Confidence Level

Photo by VIC on Flickr

Do you have the right type of confidence? This applies to sport (primary focus of this post) but to any other area in life.

Confidence is a key factor in sport and when competing (and in life in general). One of the most common mental roadblocks I see in athletes (and in business) is a lack of confidence. I personally lacked confidence when I was a teenage swimmer. I was doubting that I belonged, I had negative thoughts about how I would swim poorly once again, and so on. And it really got in my way to perform at my full potential on a regular basis.

Developing a realistic healthy self-image is key in your ability to perform at your best. The good news is confidence is a learned skill that you can improve with regular work. Confidence and Self-esteem give you the ability to create and sustain an optimal performance regardless of the external conditions.
Some say that confidence comes first, other that confidence is a result. I believe it’s both.

  • You can build your confidence with some techniques I often speak about like positive affirmations or mental imagery (which send to your brain the message that you are confident and good no matter what happens or has happened), journaling your victories, remembering where you come from, etc… This builds a part of your confidence
  • Then, as soon as you achieve one important thing that you consider a success, your confidence skyrockets because that’s the proof your brain has been looking for.

Then you will forget about it, focused on the next goal, next obstacles. That’s when you want to bring back your past achievements as proof that you have been successful and that there is no reason why you couldn’t be successful again and use mental techniques again.

Now, there is a distinction I want to draw your attention on today, which is Over confidence vs Ultra confidence.

Over confidence is believing that you WILL succeed (win, score, etc…) NO MATTER WHAT you do and may be followed by disengagement and lack of focus. Over confidence looks like arrogance. Over confidence has you attached to a successful outcome and makes you forget about the important tasks. That happens a lot when you face a weaker opponent, whether in an individual sport or a team sport.

Ultra confidence on the other hand is a strong belief that you CAN succeed (even when it doesn’t look obvious) IF you give it all and perform to your full potential, and is followed by intention and strong focus. Ultra confidence is independent of external circumstances, even independent from the outcome (you are willing to accept to be defeated, or fail).

Tennis player Stan Wawrinka is a great example of Ultra confidence.  He is one of the rare players who tend to be better against the best players in the world during the most important matches (in grand Slam) than against weaker player in less important tournaments. And he defeated Djokovic in the last US Open. “In my generation, a lot of players, when they play Novak (Djokovic), Roger (Federer) or Rafa (Nadal), already have 10% less chances to win”, did he say. “I have seen a lot of matches like that. Mentally, I arrived to a point where, there are days I know that, when going onto the court, I won’t let the match go. I’m not saying that in an arrogant way, like “I’m going to win”, but mentally, I know I will be stable and that I will produce a very good tennis. Then, you may still lose, but because the other has been better.”
That’s exactly what I am talking about: knowing you can do it, based on YOUR ability, not in an arrogant way, just present to your full potential, and be OK with losing.

Develop your confidence, aim for an Ultra confidence that external circumstances won’t be able to shake, and pay attention to not fall into Over confidence.