This is a guest post from Ed Tseng. In Forbes Magazine.
I have found that the principles for peak performance in sports are no different than the principles for peak performance in the business world.
1. They get stuck in feelings—When people are in a slump, they tend to feel things such as: lack of confidence, discouragement, negativity, anger, stress, and being overwhelmed. But where do these feelings come from? 99 percent of the world believes that it comes from something outside of them, like their workload, the economy, rejection, a rude comment, the weather, etc. The truth is nothing outside of you can affect how you feel. If it could, then everyone would react the same way in the same situation and we know that doesn’t happen. Feelings can only come from one place—thought. And thought is generated from inside us. We feel our thinking, not our circumstances.
When people understand where those feelings are coming from (thought), they are back in control, instead of being a prisoner of their circumstances. We cannot control what thoughts come into our heads, but we can always choose which ones we give attention to and make grow, and which ones we ignore or dismiss, thereby keeping them powerless over us.
2. They think too much—A friend of mine plays for the New York Yankees and one season, he was in a major hitting slump. He tried to analyze and figure out what was wrong. He changed his grip, his stance, his stride…nothing was working. Finally, one day, he said to himself, “You know what? Screw it!” He stopped thinking about it. He stopped fighting through it, and he stopped trying to change his game. He “just” played. And he broke out of his slump.
When people try to implement a strategy to change technique, thinking, re-frame, or analyze, it won’t work, because that makes them think more. The goal is less thinking. The fastest way to break out of a slump is to do absolutely nothing to try to break out of a slump. The philosopher, Yogi Berra once said, “You can’t think and hit at the same time. A full mind is an empty bat.”
3. They dwell on past failures—Athletes often dwell on a shot they missed in the past. Salespeople often dwell when they don’t close a deal. When they stay focused on it, they feel it, and their performance goes down. What we think, we feel. That is why smart people sometimes do stupid things. Oprah said, “Your focus is your future.” When you focus on the negative, it is impossible to get positive results. Living in the past is like driving while looking through the rear-view mirror.
4. They stress over winning—During a big game, athletes get anxious about winning and losing. So do people at work. The peak performers make every job important, but no job SPECIAL. When working with businesses, my main goal is to get them to understand that it’s great to have the desire to do well, but it’s important to realize that if you don’t do well, your life will be just fine. Most people don’t know where their anxiety is coming from so they attribute it to something out in the world, but it’s always coming from inside us. Realizing this helps us perform with freedom, clarity, energy, and enjoyment. It is completely normal to have stressful thoughts about a situation, but accept them for what they are…just thoughts. When we stop stressing over stressful thoughts, they don’t seem to come around as often or stay as long.
5. They think negative thoughts are bad—Have you ever had a negative thought? We all have, even the most successful people in the world, but most feel this is bad. I used to look for positive thoughts and avoid negative thoughts, but now I see them as neutral. When people believe positive thoughts are better than negative thoughts, they will search for them when they are not present, and that takes them out of the present moment. Thoughts are like dreams—random and powerless, unless we believe them. If we do, we feel it, and our performance goes downhill. It doesn’t make sense to believe your thinking if you know it’s just an illusion that was made up. If you wrote a nasty letter to yourself, would you read it and get upset? Absolutely not. People say, “Don’t believe everything you hear.” I say, “Don’t believe everything you THINK.”
Ed Tseng is a peak performance consultant, best-selling author, keynote speaker and former USTA Pro of the Year. He works with elite athletes, business leaders, students, organizations, and individuals.
We all can relate sometimes! Get out of your head!