The total mind set or psyche of a person is in direct relation to your thoughts – if you think the right thoughts, you’ll have the right mind set; it’s as simple as that!
A persons mind set is the group of characteristics that an individual has acquired throughout their lives through both genetics and various life experiences, and it’s constantly changing as we go along in our lives. One of the ways of referring to this in high performance of sport is mental toughness, which is a set of positive and resilient attributes that help a person to cope with a difficult situation, and there are hundreds of characteristics associated with it from confidence, emotional intelligence, adaptability, fear of failure, etc.
Having this positive and rational thinking mind set associated with good levels of mental toughness allows you to change your perception and make the best of any situation. It can allow you to transcend your circumstances and achieve the goals you desire.
But what does this type of positive and rational thinking mean? Well simply it means thinking about the goal you have in a positive and confident way, and blocking out negative or hindering thoughts. Not overthinking and putting everything in context. If it’s not going to help you achieve your goal, don’t think it! Thinking the right way prepares us for every step along the journey, both up and down.
Now mental toughness can only be built in, yes you guessed it, tough times (I favour nurture)! You need to, and undoubtedly will, experience tough times, and this will build up your mental toughness characteristics. Hard times are a natural step along your journey and the fuel in the furnace of your growth. Suffering and pain is at the core of cycling, and what make it so damn great!
Questions like “why is this happening to me” is a common example of the wrong type of thoughts when in a tough situation. “Why should it not be happening to me?” is the question we should be asking! Is this hard time or challenge not a blessing? If you get through this, you will be more mentally strong and experienced than before, more equipped, and have more tools in your mental tool box (Jim Reeves). So embrace it and learn from it.
Do you see what difference a simple perception of a situation can make to your entire psyche? The world owes you nothing and success is the direct result of hard work. Sitting back and feeling sorry for yourself will get you nowhere. You need to be smart, pro-active, and you need a little bit of luck. But here’s the thing – with the right positive and confident thoughts, you’ll create your own luck!
Now success to you is not what it is to me, it’s a personal quest. For some it’s the lifestyle they want to live, for some it’s the achievement of goals in sport or business, for some it’s time, for some it’s solely the money they have in their bank account, and for some to have a family. I might want to win the tour, and you to finish the epic, and our other friend to have 6 figures in his bank account, while my sister a handful of kids. We are all individuals with different mind sets, and this needs to be understood.
So the bottom line, if you want to be successful, think the right thoughts, to create the right mind set, to achieve your own personal journey of goals and success. Embrace its every nook and cranny, like squeezing the last bit of gel out of a sachet, and learn as much as possible from it. You are not the result of your final goal, you are the person you become while pursuing that goal. Realize and recognize that it won’t be easy, and you’ll need to be tough and stand strong, you’ll need to get over a few obstacles, but it’ll all be worth it. Whether you get there or not doesn’t really matter; as long as you are happy with who you are as a person, not only as an athlete.
As the great Sir Edmund Hillary uttered: “it’s not the mountain that we conquer, but ourselves”.
Matthew de Freitas