Part of performing and succeeding like an Olympian is learning how to unplug from stress: how to create rituals and responses to stress that will help and not hinder you. Athletes like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan have all spoke of their step by step rituals for dealing with pre-game stress. It often will include naps, listening to music, tying their shoes a certain way, joking with other teammates.
You and I go through performance rituals in our personal and professional lives. Would you like to learn how to unplug like a champion? I had the fortune of coming across a very enlightening article at the Huffington Post, and I’d like to share with you what I learned, so that you can continue to take your ‘game’, personal and professional, to the next level this week.
Personal Leadership Success Factor #1: Do The Opposite
The idea here is that champions don’t get distracted and caught up in knee-jerk negative responses to adversity and problems. In order to perform, they need to execute efficiently and quickly. So to prepare for this effort, they create positive habits that serve as buffers to distress.
I’d like to introduce a way of thinking that can help you handle distress a bit better.
When a tough situation arises, I’d like you to first name your emotional state.
Is it anger or fear? Are you overwhelmed? If so, acknowledge that emotion, observe it passively, and then let it go. Don’t judge yourself for having the emotion. Be mindful of the emotion, but let it go, so that it does not paralyze you.
Next, re-label how you are thinking about the ‘problem.’
Think about the problem as an opportunity in disguise. Remind yourself that the most successful people are those who have learned to solve or accept the problems of living. Repeat these self-help motivation sayings to yourself about adversity:
One resource that I use regularly for mental toughness and resilience, both for myself, and for my counseling clients, is Thoughts & Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods and Your Life Workbook, McKay, Davis, and Fanning. This workbook is invaluable for identifying how you communicate to yourself, for turning frustrations into solutions, and for forming a healthy and functional belief system.
Personal Leadership Success Factor #2: Get Plenty of Sleep
Never underestimate the benefits of sleep to restore your mind and body for optimal performance. Paradoxically, you must get plenty of rest to do more.
If you would like more tips on how to improve your sleep, I have written a post about how to get a good night’s sleep.
In addition, Deep Sleep With Medical Hypnosis, by Steven Gurgevich, is a helpful audio program to help you in this regard.
Personal Leadership Success Factor #3: Take Power Naps
Rather than fighting the urge to nap, make it a regular part of your schedule. According to recent research from Mathew Walker from UC Berkeley, napping correlates positive brain power.
Another helpful resource in learning how to make naps work for you is Powrnaps Sleep System Combo Pack 26-minute Nap Audio System & Easy2sleep Audio System, 5.0 ounces Digipack .
Personal Leadership Success Factor #4: Get Clear!
Having clear goals and purposes in life, getting clear on your personal mission statement is one of the most important and beneficial things you can do.Have you taken time to find your purpose in life? If not, I am going to direct you to Celestine Chua’s article, How To Know What You Want To Do In Life.
Having perspective on who you are, what life is about, and where you want to go will help you navigate the waters of adversity when they arrive.
Personal Leadership Success Factor #5: Food and Water
NOT: sugar, salt, junk food, and not enough water!
You need eat a balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, vegetables, and fruit. And you need drink plenty of water.
I’m not so great at practicing what I preach in this area, but it makes sense that what you put into your priceless human body will strongly contribute to your success, or lack of it.
In addition to avoiding putting poisons (white sugar, white flour) into your system, taking supplements such as healthy amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids will help balance your mood and protect your heart.
Personal Leadership Success Factor #6: Pay Attention
Top athletes are very mindful and conscious of how they are performing, of their strengths and weaknesses, and areas of threats and opportunities. They are very careful to discover the best way to talk to themselves, and they always search for more efficient and powerful ways to communicate with themselves.
I recommend, again, that you buy and work through the Thoughts & Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods and Your Life Workbook so that you can make powerful self communication a habit.
In addition, one of the best ways to generate helpful mindfulness is regular exercise, meditation, and longhand journaling on a weekly, if not daily, basis. I recommend The Artist’s Way Workbook by Julia Cameron as a resource that I regularly
Personal Leadership Success Factor 7: Less Is More
Many top Olympians, according to Dr. Michael Gervais, are often without cell phones, computers, TV’s, or other type of techonological chatter during the day.
I’m not saying that you should ditch all these, but it’s easy to clutter up our internal resources with too much input.
In order to get a handle on the concept that less is more, consider reading the Minimalist Blog, by Leo Babuta, author of Zen To Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System, The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life, and Zen Habits: Handbook For Life.
Photo Credit: The US Army on Flickr