You have probably wondered - What separates elite athletes from the rest?
Some say talent! But you know that there are many talented athletes that have never lived up to their potential, for a lot of reasons.
Is it technical skills? You know that you can have the most perfect technical skills in the world but know that it will not help if you are unable to perform those skills in the heat of competition.
Is it natural athleticism? Sure, this goes a long wat but there are so many examples in a sport where fewer athletic athletes become elite, and physically gifted athletes failed to succeed.
So, what is the special ingredient that produces elite athletic performances?
Some say having a huge heart or having an unparalleled desire for your sport.
You don't need to be the most talented or the most athletic, but your mindset needs to be courageous and it needs to be in a growth mindset.
Most successful athletes will say Mindset! Take it from some recent champions:
'The thing that separates the best from the rest is mindset'…. Bianca Andreescu, 2019 US Open Champion.
Professor Dweck from Stanford University has examined mindset, and argues that there are two fundamental mindsets that people use: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.
Those with a fixed mindset believe they are born with a certain amount of intelligence or talent, and these abilities cannot be improved.
This creates a constant urge to try and look better than other people. Within this mindset you are not interested in learning or bettering yourself, the only thing that matters is looking better than others because; “If you are only born with a certain amount of talent, you have to try create the illusion that you were born with a lot.”
People that possess a growth mindset believe abilities such as athleticism and intelligence etc. can be improved through hard work and persistence.
People with a growth mindset generate a capacity for lifelong learning and constantly strive to improve.
When presented with an obstacle, those possessing a growth mindset tend to rise to the challenge.
People of the growth mindset do not fear failure; instead, they view it as a chance to improve themselves. They adopt the view that “it’s not always the people born smartest that end up the smartest”.
This shows the power of the words coaches can use to influence the players they work with. Research suggests that developing a growth mindset could be crucial for success in any walk of life. It appears to create a desire to constantly put in effort and improve, as well as helping people become more resilient when faced with failures.
It is clear that a fixed mindset can lead players to avoid challenges and be more likely to give up easily, which in the world of sport is the difference between success and failure.
I'm a firm believer that you need all the qualities that I listed above - but make no mistake, the biggest contributor to sustained elite performances is a growth mindset, after all the repetitious training and utilization of talent is baked in.
Having the right mindset is your foundation for all the other qualities I've listed above. Without a strong foundation for your mental outlook and knowing how it helps or hinders your performance in competition is of ultimate importance.
Without a strong foundation of desire and mindset – your chances of becoming the best you can drop significantly.
There are so many athletes who have bucketloads of natural talent. Sure, some gifted athletes rely on their natural abilities and achieve success, but these athletes also believe that they can simply flip a switch and magically perform at their best against tough competition.
It's very rare to do that over a long period of time.
The better athletes have a structure in place, not to rely on that magic performance.
So, we know that sometimes these gifted athletes can pull off a high-level performance against top competition, but as stated, these athletes rarely perform at a high level on a consistent basis. There is something else that's missing.
Additionally, athletes that merely rely on their natural ability or athleticism tend to underperform against lesser ranked opponents.
Simply put, athletes and coaches that think natural ability is good enough and will stand up in pressure situations will fall well short of their potential and will eventually breakdown. Your body over a long time – will break down.
On the contrary, an elite athlete and the very best of businesspeople have the 'next level' or 'growth' mindset.
Champions athletes constantly look to challenge themselves on a daily basis - they always look to get better - always looking for answers!
Naturally, elite athletes have talent but know this. These athletes go from good to elite through a shift in mindset and consistently work to improve their skills, technically, physically and mentally daily. I call it the stool affect.
If one leg of a stool is removed, the stool has no balance.
Elite athletes naturally become leaders. They lead themselves and others. They push themselves, push past their limits both physically and mentally during each practice and importantly they pay attention to the little things (the 1%'s) on a constant basis and repeatedly focus on positive and productive work habits. They are thorough with their preparation and know exactly what to do to get better.
Go look at any elite athlete train, it's very specific and simple. It's not overly complicated.
Understand that all these factors together help elite athletes consistently perform at a high level.
Having a growth mindset will also help you in other areas of your life. It will also give you longevity in the game you love as by having a 'next level' and or growth mindset, you will love the challenge of struggle, you will continually challenge yourself, hone your skills and improve your game… this is what makes being an athlete FUN and people love watching fun entertaining athletes.
Athlete IQ Tips: Developing a Growth Mindset takes, time, patience practice and intervention. I challenge you to improve your mental game, by firstly studying the habits of top performers of your sport, other sports, and businesspeople.
· Ask high-quality questions. How do they approach competition? How do they approach to struggle and pain? How do they warm up? How do they eat? What are their daily habits?
· How do those top athletes respond after a competition? Or setbacks?
· How do they deal with an injury or waning motivation levels?
· How do they deal with victory and defeat?
· Speak and listen to successful people in their field. Be a sponge and develop a thirst for knowledge.
· Try to apply it to your situation.
· Write down on a piece of paper or journal things you can do on how can you be a more consistent performer if you changed your mindset?
· Do you need to improve your preparation?
· Do you need to practice efficiency? Are you practicing intelligently with purpose and intent?
· Do you need to practice mental strengthening skills?
· How do you respond to mistakes, defeat, and victory?
· How do how you respond to expectations?
· How do you respond to failure?
Pick one aspect of your mental game and go to work on it. Do it bit by bit, and work constantly try to learn new things every day at every opportunity.