Starting next week, the eyes of the world will be on Sochi, a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, as the world’s top athletes convene for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Popular sports like figure skating, downhill skiing, the ski jump, hockey, bobsledding and many more will attract spectators in person as well as millions of viewers around the world.
Olympic athletes are physical specimen like nothing else. They’re extremely fit and muscular, and that is the result of a physical regimen that includes countless hours of working out, practice and an extremely strict diet. Olympic athletes eat, breath and sleep their sport all the time. In fact, most athletes leave home at an early age to dedicate their life to training.
Most people are aware that Olympic athletes must be in impeccable physical condition, but what about the mental component of competing in the Olympics? We hear very little about this aspect of preparation, when in fact there’s a huge focus put on mental toughness training. In fact, being mentally prepared is just as important as being physically prepared.
Here are some ways that Olympic athletes use mental toughness training — and these same techniques can be implemented in your professional and personal life.
Olympic athletes see mistakes as intellectual capital
As Phil Knight, co-founder and chairman of Nike, Inc. said, “The trouble in America is not that we are making too many mistakes, but that we are making too few.” Mistakes are viewed as failures by most people. The aggregate cost of workers hiding their mistakes out of fear of reprisal runs well into the billions of dollars each year. Olympians see mistakes as assets, to be recorded and duly avoided in the future. The pros embrace mistakes; they are a sign of forward progress.
Olympic athletes are coachable
Every Olympic athlete has a coach. Why? If you want to maximize your potential at anything, hire a coach. Since human beings are emotional creatures, competent coaches are experts at stoking the fires that burn within. A great coach can turn a small flame into a blow torch. Most people will only accept the amount of coaching their egos will allow. Olympic athletes are well known for being the most open to world-class coaching. The bigger the champion, the more open-minded they usually are.
Olympic athletes never say die
Most people will persist at something until it becomes uncomfortable or painful. Olympic athletes and other world class performers never say die. Champions are comfortable being uncomfortable, because they have grown so accustomed to risk that feelings of vulnerability almost seem natural. Champions like Olympic athletes don’t even begin to pay attention until they feel pain, which they expect to feel on a regular basis. Olympic athletes usually have the mindset of doing it or die trying. The mantra they love to espouse is, “Whatever it takes.” They are masters of self-denial, suffering and sacrifice.
Olympic athletes build cocoons
One of the reasons young athletes leave home to train for the Olympics is to get around other world-class athletes. They’re isolating themselves from the masses, not out of pretension, but out of practicality. They know consciousness is contagious, and the people around them can help expand their level of thinking and performance. Olympic athletes rely on emotional support teams to help them sustain focus through the peaks and valleys of performance. These support teams help the performer recover when the going gets tough and they become emotionally drained.
Olympians have a world-class work ethic
Many people work just hard enough to escape being fired. Their belief system demands they be compensated for every action they take on the job. If they can be over-compensated that’s even better. The pros have the exact opposite belief. The only way you’ll ever out-work one of the great ones is to become one. On a scale of one to seven, seven being highest, rate your work ethic. If you scores less than a five, upgrade your commitment to work.
No matter what you want to accomplish, start today playing to win the great game of your life. There’s an Olympian inside you just waiting to get in the game and lead a life really worthy of living. Mental toughness is the ticket to becoming one of the great ones.