Today, I’m going to give you the truth. Honestly, this isn’t the sexy stuff. I anticipate this blog will get way fewer views than most of my stuff, but it’s the truth behind strong mindset foundations.
If you’re going to push yourself, your mindset better be built on strong foundations.
Without strong mindset foundations, you’ll find yourself going round and round in circles; perpetually falling into the same old trap and wondering why you can’t change your mindset.
When I start working with athletes, they want to jump into the shiny stuff straight away: pre-lift routines and the like.
I’ll be honest with you for a moment - if you haven’t got a decent foundation of mindset, most of that will fall flat on its face.
Here are the foundational mindset requirements.
Get these right and you’ll close the gap between you and your potential.
Get them wrong and you’ll always be stagnated.
Stop pushing your negative emotions down. Stop it.
Your emotions are vital parts of your experience. They tell you what you’re doing well and what you’re failing at. They tell you what to pay attention to.
It’s trendy now to try to be all Stoic and ignore what you’re feeling.
But the truth is, true Stoics gave themselves permission to feel emotions. What’s more, you need to feel your emotions to do two things:
Learn how to improve, and
Let the pressure off
I’m working with an athlete at the top of her game right now. She’s not only dealing with all the normal pressure of being an elite athlete, but with the cultural pressure of suppressing her emotions so she’s acceptable to her family.
What we’ve discovered in the last few weeks is that she needs to give herself permission to feel her emotions. Otherwise it all becomes too much and affects her performance negatively.
Great performances come from a place of freedom, and if you’re not expressing your emotions, you’re not going to have that freedom because your mindset foundation will be undermined.
You live out the story you believe. You’re like an actor in your own movie. Following the script, saying your lines, playing your role.
If you believe you aren’t a good enough athlete, that will become the story you act out.
If you believe you aren’t worthy of success; that’s your reality.
To build a strong mindset foundation, you have to eliminate the stories which hold you back.
When you have quietened the narrative which holds you back (you never completely get rid of it), your baseline changes.
You begin acting out a different story. A story which helps you rather than hinders you.
If you’ve ever thought “my mindset is the biggest thing holding me back,” this is your next level.
Regulate Your Nervous System
First thing I do with athletes is get their nervous system working for them, not against them.
Most athletes are highly stressed and have very little intentional time for recuperation.
They’re constantly on the go - busy life, heavy training load, few hours. Not only that, the story they believe (see above) has affected their physiology.
They’re running around in fight/flight and highly strung.
This stuff isn't glamorous work. It’s difficult to see the direct results in your lifting, but it compounds over time to produce huge results.
An extra 30 minutes of sleep per night becomes more than 20 lots of 8 hours’ sleep over the year.
Improving your Heart Rate Variability by a couple of percentage points allows you to train better and shows in your mood.
Once I’ve regulated the nervous system of an athlete, I get to work identifying their direction.
Most athletes don’t take the time to sit down and identify precisely what they want from their training, and in wider life.
Because of this, their mindset is messy. It’s full of conflicting thoughts. It’s like having one arrow and trying to hit 8 different targets at once.
Only by getting precise can you hit the target you seek.
Identify exactly what you want to achieve in your fitness, your career, your family life, and your personal happiness.
Doing this will give you clear parameters of who you need to become. It will show you the direction.
It will also - painfully - show you what you’re doing wrong. This is essential information.