What’s the one thing people fail at around mindset training? PRACTICE
A software engineer doesn’t take on an innovative challenge without having learned and practiced the coding techniques she will use. She studies and becomes so comfortable with her available skills that she can invent around them under pressure.
A presenter doesn’t walk onto stage without rehearsing his speech. He becomes so versed in the content that he can relax and weave a compelling tale.
An athlete doesn’t enter a competition without refining her skills and planning the way she’ll take on her opponent.
So why are we surprised when our unpracticed mindset breaks down at critical moments?
The Difference Between Attention and Mastery
Paying attention to mindset is an important step. It means you are moving beyond pure physical technique and upping your game.
To get to an elite level, however, it is critical to master mindset with as much rigor and intensity as you mastered all the other skills.
But how can I master mindset when it’s only needed at crunch time?
How did you master the idea of solving a seemingly unsolvable problem? How did you master the idea of summoning a commanding voice during a speech? How did you master scoring a goal?
It wasn’t minutes before your project needed to be delivered. It wasn’t live on TV in front of millions of people. It wasn’t in the finals of the world championships. You mastered the skills you needed in spite of it not being the critical moment.
You rehearsed, and sometimes you even created games to up the stakes. “If I make this catch, we win the world championships.”
Mindset training is the same. A winning mindset is not just going to appear at the perfect moment. It needs to be trained. It needs practice.
It needs learning about what works.
It needs failure, to understand how to recover quickly.
It needs variety, in order to know how to click into it wherever you are.
When I work with athletes and leaders on mindset training, practice is an integral component. Motivators and frameworks and visualization and even a robust support network have limited power unless we do the work.
Without practice, mindset is a just a nice idea, an untrained muscle.
It’s (Not) So Easy
What about those people for whom winning mindset is natural? They are far from their potential winning mindset. They are fortunate that it comes easy, and settling for easy is dangerous. They may continue to be fortunate, but just wait. Inevitably, any top performer hits a plateau or a dip. New competition emerges, performing at a higher level. Or their thoughts start getting in the way of their own performance. By settling, the natural gave up the opportunity to be nimble. They don’t know how to discover their next gear yet.
Don’t settle, however easy it comes to you. Do the work.