Being a sportsperson is more than just physical flexibility. Among the things we can learn from athletes, the most important is how to train our minds like them. Imagine the number of things an athlete has to go through — a crushing defeat on a global stage, getting injured, and calling off their names from a tournament. Their journey is filled with these challenges and so much more. They would not have been able to overcome any of these if they had not built a strong mind.
I was recently chatting with cricketer Venkatesh Iyer on my podcast, Figuring Out. As an athlete himself, he enlightened these points for me. So, we may not be physically blessed like him, Rafael Nadal, or P.V Sindhu. But here are a few things about being mentally strong.
1. Believing in yourself
Be it sports, sitting for an exam, or setting up your own business, losing confidence in oneself is half the battle lost. When athletes face an opponent or you enter an investor meeting, it is natural to feel a bit intimidated. However, it is essential not to let it show on your face. You have to be calm and focus on the task at hand. You have practiced and worked hard, which is why you are here. You don’t know how it’s going to end. But that shouldn’t stop you from giving your 100%.
Anxiety is a natural part of being human. But you shouldn’t let it bother you. Prepare yourself so thoroughly that there is no room for anxiety; You walk onto the field or into a room with confidence, head held high. With this state of mind, you are more likely to come out on top. If you believe you are not confident in your pitch, don’t go meet the investors or sit for the exam. Rather start preparing from scratch and do it again but better.
2. Stay in the moment
This is so important. Have you ever noticed how a sportsperson shakes hands with the opponent after losing a match and leaves the field quietly? They don’t make a scene. Why? Because they are living in the moment and not in the past. The match is over; they lost. It’s time to analyze the mistakes and focus on the next tournament. Every minute spent on a task that cannot be undone is a minute subtracted from prepping for your next.
Let go immediately. A bad day, a bad exam, bad numbers at the end of the quarter — don’ let it get to you. Don’t cry over spilled milk. Reassess yourself. Find out what went wrong, but do not fixate too much on the outcome. Use it to stay motivated and recharge yourself. Concentrate on the process because the journey is equally important. The pressure shouldn’t control you; you should be able to control the pressure.
3. Visualizing and manifesting
Manifesting is something we talk of, and the scientific term for it is visualization. Players do that as well. They visualize themselves in action throughout the entire set. And the brain helps by responding to it. So, when you are out there performing, your brain and muscles are familiarized with the process. It will help to reaffirm your abilities. You will know what you are doing.
You should also visualize things not going as planned and prepare yourself accordingly. This may not seem like much, but it is. As mentioned earlier, during any high-pressure moments in life that trigger anxiety, your mental resilience will set you apart from the crowd.
Keeping your shoulders straight when an entire country is watching you is difficult. And even the best players miss their chance in the face of utmost pressure. It’s also not easy to be trolled viciously when you cannot perform as expected. But you can deal with it and endure it when you have a tough mind. Even if you are not an athlete, you should be mindful of these factors to help you gain success.
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