Gold Medal Mindset
The year was 1983. I left the boys locker room and walked cautiously toward the small gym at Memorial Middle School, my mind flooded with thoughts of doubt and uncertainty. My worst nightmare was about to become a reality. Mrs. Fallis’ sixth grade gymnastics unit would culminate in a series of ability tests on various apparatus. Staring me in the face as I entered the gym was the dreaded vault. Equipped with a heavy dose of pessimism, I tried to collect my breath. What followed were four words that had recently become a fixture in my internal dialogue – “I can’t do it.” Not surprisingly, I failed miserably and my downward spiral of self-confidence quickly gained momentum.
Fast forward thirty two years and I find myself standing in front of a room full of gymnastics coaches, speaking to them about the importance of mental toughness in athletics. The sixth grade boy who had cringed at the very thought of failure was now empowering coaches to be strong in the face of adversity. To call it a full circle moment would be an understatement.
Just prior to my presentation, I listened to the owner of the gym, Olympic Gold Medalist Amanda Borden-Cochran, speak passionately about the importance of teaching life through gymnastics. It was crystal clear that she was aware of the stark reality that only a small fraction of gymnasts would ever achieve gold medal status in the Olympics. With this notion in mind, she articulated her mission to prepare her gymnasts for life beyond gymnastics. A life that will drastically improve with the possession of a much different kind of gold medal; a Gold Medal Mindset.
Below are five Gold Medal Mindset skills you can begin practicing today.
Don’t wait for your mood to change, create it.
It’s easy to blame our mood on various circumstances (e.g. I’m upset because of him/her). The fact is that our mood is influenced more by the quality of our thinking than it is our circumstances. Think of each of your moods as energy. Anger, jealousy, and disappointment are all forms of mental energy. You have the power to change the energy by simply changing your thinking. If you find yourself in a bad mood, try replacing your disempowering thoughts with thoughts of gratitude. You can’t be angry and grateful at the same time.
Always be better than you were the day before.
Let’s face it. The social mirror would have us believe that in order to be successful we must climb to a certain status on the proverbial totem pole. We must have better scores, better looks, or better possessions in order to achieve success. This is what we’re conditioned to believe. It’s all a big lie. The only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday. You see, God gave each of us a unique obstacle course, designed to prepare us for our own journey. What good does it do to look at someone else’s obstacle course?
Practice relentless optimism.
Contrary to what some may say, optimism is not simply adopting a Pollyanna approach to life. Rather, it’s a relentless pursuit to find the most empowering thought in any given situation, all the while accepting what is. We can’t just look at the weed in the yard and imagine it’s not there. We must own the fact that the weed exists and work at removing the root of the problem, which in most cases is our ineffective thinking.
Expect to win, but embrace your losses.
Believe it or not, there is a tremendous source of power in failure. A Gold Medal Mindset expects success, but is also equipped to be strong in the face of adversity. Failure is not final, it’s simply a result. Look at the failure head on and seek to find the hidden lessons that are present in every failure. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Every road to success is paved with failure.
Always maintain a growth mindset.
I mentioned before that the words “I can’t do it,” became a fixture in my internal dialogue. What I failed to realize is that my fixed mindset was essentially stopping me dead in my tracks with regard to taking any future risks. A growth mindset simply means that your success is not predicated on ingrained intellectual or academic abilities, but rather your ability to practice life skills such as resilience and grit. When you catch yourself saying the words “I can’t,” I invite you to add one word to this statement – the word yet. “I can’t” is permanent and implies finality. “Yet” is temporary and implies possibility.
A Gold Medal Mindset is within your reach. I look forward to seeing you stand on the podium of success. By the way, don’t worry about having to perform on the vault. It’s not a prerequisite for a Gold Medal Mindset. Thank goodness!