In both sport and business, our minds are full of amazing and emotional memories where we’ve delivered against our game plans: products are launched, projects completed, trophies won, and medals received.
Our attention is drawn to the action and applause. It’s compelling to experience the height of competition and the performances that represent the ‘thick of the action’.
But if we only look at the medals and results, we could be forgiven for believing that competitive instinct is only applied to these key moments. The reality is that it’s something that is present throughout every step of training – from conception to final performance.
Given the challenges we’ve faced in 2020, many of us will have thought about giving up. If your goals have vanished or your motivation is waning, it’s never been more important to hone your competitive instincts. By doing so, it will help you to start winning the competitions that really matter; health, happiness and sustainability.
Focus, preparation and dealing with the unknown
Making sure your competitive instincts are focused on all the right areas is an important step to take right now.
More than ever, winning the competition of preparing better than anyone you know, or better than you’ve ever prepared before, is key. The increased uncertainty in the world around us means it’s critically important to prepare our minds and bodies to be fully ‘fit for purpose’, one day at a time, so that we step into our everyday performance with a composure and focus that allows us to feel as in control and confident as possible.
You’ll need to have the right building blocks in place, with deep self-confidence derived from everything you’ve learned about yourself throughout your career and an increased self-acceptance of your personality. With these two things you can start to build a solid foundation for the relationship you have with yourself.
Add to this a new approach to setting both targets that account for desired successes and defining the failures you want to avoid. You’ll soon find your mind uncluttered and that you’re ready to focus on your daily efforts, making the most of your talents with greater efficiency and self-care in mind.
This much more self-compassionate preparation leads to an enhanced sense of control and confidence, which is essential in a world where the rule book has been ripped up and what was familiar to us has been replaced with uncertainty.
Recovering for competitive advantage
Competition is more than superb preparation and amazing execution. There is also a competition that most forget: the competition to rest, replenish and be fully confident to go again.
At my first two Olympic Games, one of my jobs as part of the support team was to get ice jackets to our athletes as quickly as possible after they’d crossed the finish line. Who could recover quickest and most effectively before the next race that would follow?
Along with the ice jackets, athletes were delivered their post-race drinks and snacks to begin the refueling and rehydration alongside the rapid cooling of their bodies. Where competitive advantage could be gained for the next performance, it was sought.
In addition to the routine of post-race recovery tactics were well rehearsed debriefs and action planning meetings. This phase of competition is all about supporting the mind and body to be as recovered as possible so that when it’s time to go again, there’s very little sense of aggregated fatigue or unhelpful thinking.
Right now, it seems that withdrawing from the race to burnout and entering into a competition of the world’s best ‘recoverers’, is the right move to make.
Even though we don’t need quite the range of recovery tactics employed by elite athletes, we can all certainly benefit from developing our own rest and recovery routines and committing to working as hard (or harder) at recovery as we do at getting things off our to-do list.
Tuning into what matters most
For most people, when the rules change, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters from a personal pride and satisfaction perspective. If we’re all going to become excellent at competing on preparation, performance AND recovery, then it really helps to tune into what really matters to you in terms of your health, happiness and reputation (with yourself, your family and your work colleagues).
While the world is changing around us, it’s a great time to get back to making sure we’re giving ourselves the best game plan we can that’s going to deliver great performance, whilst keeping us healthy, happy and ready for the long game.
If that feels like something you want to work on, then please take a look at our ‘Playing from the Heart’ program, where we’re helping people go about achieving just that.