Monday, August 17, 2009

How to think like a champion.

Here we go with post #305 on this blog. Time to think about championship thinking.

“Serena looks deep inside and is just determined not to lose,” said her mother and coach, Oracene Price. “She really hates to lose; it’s just in her, and I think she’s really taking advantage of the situation right now, because you just have so much time in a sports career, so you want to get the best out of it.” Adrift, injured and ranked in the 100s three seasons ago, Williams has regained her former place in the game, and has now won consecutive Grand Slam singles titles for the first time since she won the 2002 United States Open and 2003 Australian Open. “I don’t sense distractions,” Price said. “Not anymore.”

Champions like Serena Williams exhibit a number of impressive psychological characteristics that can assist all of us in improving what we do. Some of the more important ones are highlighted below:

High Motivation and Commitment.
As you might expect, champions are highly motivated, committed and determined. They want to reach their goals and aren’t going to let anything stand in their way. They’re always striving to be better. Champions not only set goals, but they’re good at finding pathways for achieving their goals as well.

Optimistic and Positive.
A striking characteristic of champions is their optimistic and positive nature. Their optimistic personalities cause them to look at the glass as "half-full versus half-empty." They stay positive when faced with difficulties and rebound more quickly when they fail.

Postive Perfectionists.
Psychologists distinguish between adaptive perfectionism and maladaptive perfectionism. Adaptive perfectionism is associated with achievement and success, while maladaptive perfectionism relates negatively to mental health. Adaptive perfectionists set high standards and like to be organized. They’re also not very concerned about mistakes and seldom have doubts about their abilities. Maladaptive perfectionists also hold high standards and like to be organized; however, they’re overly concerned with mistakes, have frequent doubts about their actions and are preoccupied with criticism.

Uncanny Ability to Focus.
The ability to focus and concentrate is one of the defining characteristics of champions. They’re good at concentrating on key performance-related factors while at the same time blocking out distractions. They have the ability to dial in and quiet the mind so that time appears to stand still. “Kobe Bryant is so good because his ability to remain relaxed and focused in the midst of chaos is unsurpassed,” according to the LA Laker's coach, Phil Jackson.

Able to Handle Stress and Cope With Adversity.
This ability to handle stress and cope with adversity gives champions the capacity to deal with the routine setbacks without anxiety. They’re not threatened by evaluations and competition with others and have a high level of emotional control. They’re also able to peak under pressure.

Mentally Tough.
Mental toughness is another important characteristic of outstanding performers. Some of its more common components are resilience and perseverance.

Confidence plays an important part in how champions succeed. If you’re not confident in your abilities or your preparation, you’re likely to have problems with your performance. To be the best at what you want to be, you must believe that you’re the best! To be a champion, you must train like a champion, work like a champion, act as a champion, and think like a champion. When you believe in your ability, you can use this belief to fuel your self-confidence.

Using Affirmations.
How do you develop and keep this best-in-the-world attitude? Many elite performers today use a program of “affirmations.” These are positive self-statements that combat the destructive self-beliefs and negative self-talk that they encounter in everyday life.

Affirmations are statements that build self-confidence and allow you to believe in yourself. Below is a list of general affirmation statements. Read them, select the ones you’d like to use, make up some of your own, then incorporated them into your everyday life. It may take some time to get used to saying the affirmations, but you can train yourself to believe by repeating the statements over and over again. These “I am” statements are nothing more than simply reminders of what you can do.

I am focused on the task at hand.

I work harder that anyone else.

I am ready.

I am in control.

I have a great strategy.

I am mentally tough.

I am prepared.

I am going to win.

I feel better than ever.

I am confident.

I am unbeatable.

I am determined.

I believe in myself.

I feel good.

No one can stop me.

I am totally ready.

My skills are sharp.

I know what to do.

I think clearly.

Write down some of these affirmations and others that specifically relate to you, your job and your life. Read them aloud each day! You can also use them to identify areas that you need to work on. As you read your affirmations to yourself, mark the ones you feel aren’t true. Decide if they need to be true for you to be successful. If they need to be true, then look for ways to improve in that area.

King Solomon writes: "For as a man thinks within himself, so he is." (Proverbs 23:7) This is why our affirmations are so important. What we say, what we think, has a direct bearing on who we are!

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