Mental Fitness for Peak Performance

May 5, 2011

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In my Fast Co article, 10 Patterns in Our Continuously Disruptive World, I lay out some of the trends business leaders are dealing with and learning to leverage. Here I want to draw your attention to pattern #2: Game changing is a way of life, not a once-in-a-lifetime event. When paradigms are constantly shifting, it is time to become an expert in the art of shifting. This means changing from a sprint mentality (going all out and then taking a rest) to a marathon attitude (refueling while in motion).  Here are two things you can do to get this right:

1. Train your mind to be your ally. Every endurance athlete knows the power of the mind to help or hinder. Mental rehearsal and visualization are powerful tools. Positive self-talk, especially when things are challenging can make all the difference – it literally provides the guiderails required to keep energy up and discipline strong when doubt is tempting or distracting. In the most difficult situations attitude is often the differentiator between those who finish and those who do not. Build the stamina to keep your mind on the prize and your brain can become your buddy in the whitewater of continuous change.

2. Keep your eyes on the next curve in the road. Last year I took a racing lesson from BMW and had the chance to drive with a professional driver sitting in the seat next to me, guiding me as I applied both gas and brake. With his expert support I drove much more aggressively than I would have on my own. He taught me to always focus on the next major curve. Hands and feet go where the eyes are trained. Yet, it feels counter-intuitive. I wanted instead to lift my gaze and watch for hazards. However, that led me to losing control. When my eyes stayed glued to the target, my speed and control exceeded my expectations.

Interesting that some of the big secrets to change are in the mental game, eh? But, when it comes to excellence why should high business performers be any different than professional athletes? Do what Olympians do: train your brain, too!

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