A champion has a very specific mindset, one you can learn and replicate.
In her book Mindset, Carol Dweck explains the difference between a "fixed mindset" and a "growth mindset."
"In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They're wrong.
"In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—that brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have these qualities."
To become a champion, you need a growth mindset. This is similar to what Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code, called effort-based learning. It is the process of improving and recognizing that failure is merely a sign of progress. There is no fear of failure; the outcome of the effort is not an end in itself.
How can you achieve the mindset of a champion? To change from a fixed mindset to growth mindset, you need to change the way you approach training and competition.
1. Focus on the process
Don't think about what happens later. Think about what you are doing or going through now. Get in a zone which is entirely geared to how you perform, not what you achieve.
2. Create a protective frame
If you have had the same experience before, find the positives in it. Focus on the good memories.
3. Create a trigger
Nerves are debilitating; you need to overcome them. It may seem obvious, but you need to recognize the difference between nerves or anxiety and excitement. Shaky hands, cold sweats or shallow breathing indicate nervousness. Once you recognize the symptoms, use the feeling as a trigger to reassess your state of anxiety and to go to work on steps 1 and 2.
4. Modify your language
When you talk about the situation that makes you nervous, consciously speak about how you'll compete, not about how the event will end or what you will achieve. Focus on the process, not the outcome. Use humor. Being playful helps to keep you in the moment.
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