In an open gym I stand for a moment in between sets, watching and observing people train can be quite interesting, especially for myself.
I watch what they are doing, how they are lifting, what they are lifting and their intensity. Above all, I look at the exercise been undertaken and their form. This is an automatic thought process that happens with myself coming from years of learning lifts and been involved with various athletes and sports as a strength and conditioner.
I then automatically put all these observations together and I ask myself, “what is it they are trying to achieve and more importantly, what is their mindset?”
The word mindset can be interpreted in various ways. And different people will give it a different meaning. My interpretation or the meaning I give this word in this scenario is, what their ultimate goal is and what their mental focus is to achieve this goal is. Whether the person is an average gym goer or the elite athlete, they both would or should, have an ultimate goal. This grail that they seek has a mental vision or focus attached to their goal, which generally at times people will use to draw feelings and emotions from, in exchange for motivation.
Mindset in all that we do, is one of the driving forces in success and goal achievement. How we see something, how we go about things and in the manner in which we behave toward the sole purpose of the attainment of this goal is derived from our mindset.
When I am engaged by a coach, athlete or team for the purpose of mentoring, leading or helping in their journey to achieve success, one of the first exercises that I ask an individual to do is a very simple exercise which helps me and themselves understand a few things about themselves.
I will ask them to write about 2 different observations and place each observation in lists, the first list is of all the traits and characteristics that they believe contributes to making them a good person as such, still on the same subject, a list of personality traits and characteristic’s in which they can improve on. The second list is about their sporting attributes, the first list is a list of all the traits, characteristics and talents that they believe they have which will lead and help them in their success. And keeping in the same subject, all the things that they believe they can improve on.
An important note here is when you are talking and asking the individual about writing up their list, never use the word BAD AT or BAD PERSON. Firstly, I do not believe that people are bad at things, I believe that they just need to get better at things. This type of language use is most important, as it is the type of language we use about ourselves or a situation which will also help set up success. I cannot stress enough how important the proper use of language is when describing yourself or a given situation. It will change the meaning of the event and condition your mind to look at situations in a much better focused manner. This is why I ask them this question in the following language for both scenario’s, “what is it good about you and what is it that can improve or needs to improve?” This language will encourage a better mindset and a much better result. I will go further into language use and given scenario’s in future articles.
So we finally end up with two observations, each observation having 2 lists, the good and the needs improving list. I do ask the individual that when the list is done, and still if we have not met yet, to contact me and let me know that it’s done.
If they contact me within 4 hours then I advise them to tear up the list and have a proper think. Generally, the exercise should be done in a quiet time of the day, with no interruptions. So once contacted or we meet, I am told of or presented with a list. To their shock, I tell them that I do not want to see the list, but now, I need them to do the list again, AS A THIRD PERSON.
Yes, I ask them to step out of themselves for that moment and see themselves from the outside and re do both observations, with each observation having the same 2 lists.
I never ever get tired of seeing their facial reaction and how red they turn and that look of fright and been uncomfortable.
That look and feel of been uncomfortable – THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF THEIR NEW JOURNEY.
I have had individual’s stare at me for long long moment’s and then when able to talk again, try to explain to me that they cannot do that. That they just do not think that they are capable of doing such a thing.
Why? Is it because you feel that you may praise yourself more? Not be so dam harsh on yourself? Maybe find that you have better quality traits and characteristics than first written? That you are a better person than you first thought of?
This is a daunting task, but so can sport and success be at times.
Once the initial fright has passed and the courage arises to do these lists from a third person aspect, again, I ask to be contacted.
The list is ready to be read and looked at, dissected and analysed as far as the individual is concern and there is some very nervous energy around.
As they attempt to hand me the list, I simply stop them and ask them to do the following, I ask them to look at the first obserservation which they made through their own eyes or own thoughts and compare them to the observations that they made through a third persons eyes.
What you will mostly find is that the second list in which they looked at themselves through a third persons eyes is a much more empathetic, realistic and truer observation about themselves. There is more positives and less so called NEED TO IMPROVE items. Through the third person, they give themselves permission to be honest and truthful toward themselves and when doing so, they are not of guilt by thinking that they are been egotistic.
The purpose of this exercise is that by seeing themselves through the third person eyes, it helps give the person a better understanding of who and what they are. As open and honest one tries to be when doing the list through their own thoughts and eyes, in a lot of cases I have found that there is this built in thought process and conditioning of the mind where we are not allowed to compliment ourselves. We are not allowed to tell ourselves that we are good at something or we are a nice person. This stems from the thought that by doing so is overly egotistic and we are full of ourselves. It’s not what been humble is, this is what we are taught. But you can be a humble person and still think good things of yourself. We are conditioned in most cases to be very quiet about ourselves and our traits, but we are taught or conditioned that it’s ok to be hard on ourselves and must be hard on ourselves if something isn’t quite 100%, it could be a strength of ours, a strong trait, but because of our perception that it’s not 100%, then it’s not good enough and we will throw it in the NEEDS TO IMPROVE LIST.
BY NO MEANS AM I SAYING THAT YOU SHOULD GO OUT AND BE IMMODEST AND LOUD AND PROCLAIM THAT YOU ARE KING.
What I am saying is that within you, deep within you, to be able to recognise what and who you are, where your strengths truly lay, and area’s which need improving, is the first start of a successful career.
I will repeat the following a few times in articles to come, but I find it to be a most important point. Most athletes, coaches or team members are at an elite level due to a certain amount of skill base. In some cases, a lot of skill base. So the ability to play the sport is there. My job, is to look after the person and help the person grow. Grow within themselves, understand themselves and see the good in who they are and what they can produce. I look after the person, the person comes first, after that, and the person will continually grow and evolve in their sport or role.
I’ve been blessed to have some great strength and conditioners help and guide me throughout my life. The biggest influence and mentor in my life has been Ashley Jones. And with each person in which I engage with for the purpose of mental growth I ask myself the same question, if I sat down with Ashley and devised an individual strength and conditioning program to ensure optimal physical performance. Would that itself be enough?
This is one of the first steps that I take with any individual that I engage with. It’s a growth process and as all growth processes, there’s always is a start.
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