For many years I have trained myself to be aware of things. As a result, just about every day of the week, I am struck by instances where I notice that many, many people display a mind-set, demeanor and self talk that can negatively influence and in some cases unknowing sabotage their ability to achieve the very things they desire. Let me tell about one occurrence that I was involved in directly last week.
As I have mentioned in past articles I help coach the sport of cross country at a small school for students in middle and high school. One of the things that I do is chaperon the student athletes on bus trips to away cross country meets. Last week, one runner was dealing with the discomfort of a slight, but nagging ankle pain. This runner came to me anxiously a number of times before and after the bus trip to discuss the injury and possibly sitting out the meet.
I am a runner myself and I have had my share of twisted ankles, muscle pulls and assorted other physically painful situations associated with daily running. And I have always known when an injury was more than just a temporary painful situation that I had to nurse. One way I shared to know if an injury is serious is when the pain does not go away as you run, but instead increases. I assured the runner if they decide to run they will quickly realize the seriousness of their injury and they can always stop.
More importantly I spent some time asking this runner to take a minute and think about the thoughts they were repeating to themselves and what they were focusing on. I suggested to this person that your thoughts are the source of your worry and your fears. And I pointed out that for all of us (in every situation) the conversations we have with ourselves can be detrimental or beneficial to how we perform, it is up to us. It took a bit of convincing, but minutes before the race was to start I got a look that told me this person got it. And the race went well.
The following practice I asked how the ankle was doing. I was told that for some unknown reason the pain went away during the race and has not returned. I can’t say that from this subsequent conversation that this individual fully understood and adopted my point that banishing your inner critic and learning how to have productive, positive inner conversations with ourselves has no downside. But at least one race was a worthwhile step in that direction.
The moral is this, in everything we do it is much to our advantage to think and tell ourselves we can. As the famous Dutch Painter Vincent van Gogh put it, “If you hear a voice within you saying, ”You are not a painter,” then by all means paint… and that voice will be silenced.”
William “Bud” Hart is a certified “Mindset” Coach, Accountability Partner and Business Consultant. Visit Hart Group, www.hartgroupma.com for more on coaching.