As a former strength and conditioning coach for numerous Olympic and professional athletes and teams, I know that when athletes pessimistically think about their weaknesses, failures, fears, or injuries; are intimidated by their competitors; or have the slightest doubt in their performance abilities, chances are that those athletes will validate what they're thinking about … and fail. These failures – which I've seen more than I care to admit – prevail even when the athletes have a superior win-loss record and physical attributes when compared with their opponents.
All champion athletes will tell you that when it gets down to the wire, when they're consumed in the heat of fierce competition and everything's on the line, their chances for success rely on a very predictable performance ratio between physical ability and mental fortitude. In fact, after many months, even years of training, on the day of competition, when it's all on the line and nothing else counts but winning, the ratio requirements for the mental aspect of performance is claimed to be as high as 90%.
Just because an athlete has inferior physical abilities in comparison with his or her competitors doesn't always mean that athlete is sure to lose. We see it all the time, especially now in the fastest-growing sport in the world, Mixed Martial Arts. A champion fighter gets into the cage, surging with adrenaline and testosterone, sporting a win-loss record that's splattered with a string of KOs; or as a champion, he's fiercely determined to defend his title and win the prize money that will allow him to continue to support his loved ones. But minutes, sometimes even seconds, after the 1st round's bell rings to begin, the fighter gets clobbered by his underrated (underdog) opponent and is knocked out cold.
One of the greatest sporting examples of the underdog prevailing over a superior opponent was the Ali vs. Foreman Rumble in the Jungle. The majority believed – including the Ali camp – that Foreman was the stronger, tougher, superior opponent. Ali, however, had his own opinion, believing he was the more talented athlete, and he maintained that mindset until the referee counted Foreman out. Ali had an enormous amount of determination. His will to win at all costs, coupled with the pride not to lose –both mental attributes – allowed Ali to prevail when he wasn't supposed to. Ali was physically victorious because he was mentally superior.
Strong belief in oneself enables a person to superior-ize himself or herself into acquiring a necessary psychological characteristic for success; i.e., Confidence, or that for sure attitude. Confidence is a basic trait needed for success and achievement, and it's also an essential attitude that must be maintained during times of challenge, struggle, and failure – tough times don't last, but tough people do! Mix in a person who's fueled with confidence during times of fear and struggle, and we discover the equation for courageousness, bravery, and heroism.
Flexing Your Mental Muscles
The brain is composed of living tissue, just like our biceps. And if our muscles don't receive proper nourishment, they become instable and weak. Lack of focus, doubt, confusion, frustration, thoughts of fear and failure, and all negativity, can be considered mental junk food that destroys the integrity of the brain and its thinking mind. However, when the brain is given adequate nourishment, it does strengthen. Thoughts being intangible elements of energy facilitate potent influences on brain chemistry in extraordinarily profound ways, and that chemistry travels to and greatly controls every cell and organ in the body. What and how we think determines the health of the chemistry inside our brains, and bodies, the tools we need to construct positive and successful consequences for ourselves.
The Technique of Exchanging
For those of you who have a copy of Vital Living from the Inside-Out™, you are well aware of the psychological technique I refer to as exchanging. This remarkable Brain-Training™ method can be implemented immediately to help anybody turn negative into positive. It's simple, but like other self-improvement techniques, it requires discipline … Here's what you do:
When a negative word, thought, belief, or memory enters your mind, it's your chance to play the exchange game and think of something positive. Just perform the switcheroo to nullify the negative energy and influence that the thought has over you. To arm yourself with an arsenal of power weapons in your attack against negativity, write out on paper a list of words and phrases that contain positive energy. This directory of self-professed words and phrases will give your subconscious mind quick and convenient accessibility to positive options it can exchange to. Include words like strong, courage, happy, money, dynamic, attractive, charismatic, patient, confident, sensational, competitive, healthy, loving, happy, rich, tolerant, successful, peaceful, and zillions of others that will serve as your updated (personalized) vocabulary.
You can also rely on modern technology for assistance in your brain-training process with another simple technique. All you need is an inexpensive audio recording device to record your own personalized motivational audiotape (PMA), just like the ones you've purchased right here at Nightingale-Conant featuring a high-powered motivational speaker – instead, this time, you're the motivational speaker!
Simply press the record button on your recorder and start talking to yourself. Use the words from your list, or just recite scenarios that you desire to actualize. Assume the roles of your own coach, motivator, disciplinarian, and, above all, best friend. Encourage yourself. Defend yourself. Support yourself. Challenge yourself. Correctly critique yourself. Push yourself to strive more ambitiously toward all your goals and to accept struggle as a conditioning tool the Universe throws at you to become a stronger person. Persuade yourself that you can handle, and defeat, any challenge, and that you are always strengthening all of your (emotional, physical, and academic) characteristics. It's your job to convince yourself that you're a success that's consistently, and steadfastly, always in process.
Above all, respect and love yourself. If a friend or loved one ever came to you in need of support for an extreme challenge, I'll put money on it that you'd respond by acting like a motivational powerhouse. You'd share your best passionately charged advice and strive diligently to see the person relieved of his or her trepidations. So why not use this same technique on yourself?
After you record your own PMA, it's time to rewind and listen. You can listen attentively, focusing on every word and statement that you recorded; or you can attend to other tasks, not really paying (conscious or focused) attention but, nonetheless, allowing your (self-recorded) words to subliminally influence your subconscious mind. Either way, a constant influx of these words, and the energy they provide, will reprogram and condition your brain, and you will begin to realize a positive shift in all directions in your life.
The trick to continuously improving with PMAs is to always speak to yourself from a first-person perspective; you are talking to you with an I have or I am meaning, not an I want one. For instance, don't say "I want to be rich," instead say, "I am rich." Speak only in the present tense, as the subconscious believes everything it's told, down to the minuteness of details. And make sure you verbalize these words and phrases with passionately charged feelings, as the tonality in your voice delivers a very special meaning as well.
And since change does happen, you MUST periodically erase and rerecord new PMAs when you reach higher levels of accomplishment. Older recordings will become outdated and can hold you back from further progress because they're littered with passionately charged advice that was intended for a less mature version of yourself.
I've successfully used PMAs as an extension for my one-on-one motivational work with athletes, businesspeople, and everyday folks who need a constant influx of motivation. This technique is useful for improving all aspects of our lives because the consequences we experience are often the direct cause of our choices and decisions of the past. Change the thought; change the thing!
As I always say, your results are not only possible, your results are inevitable™. Stay consistent to your own self-betterment. Become your own "head coach/" Expect that you will continue to improve. You are terrific!