It takes something special to be a national athlete representing one’s country in international games. Years of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears culminates often in just one shot at glory. While it’s true that champions are created long before the battle has begun, even the most prepared athlete can stumble at the last second.
A single lapse in concentration, a misplaced foot, or an unexpected occurrence at the wrong moment can mean the difference between being immortalised as a sports hero, or being banished instantly to the dustbin of history.
An athlete has to be physically at their peak, but they also have to be mentally fine-tuned and able to anticipate and deal with anything that might arise between the opening ceremony and the moment they cross the finish line. There is no room for error. What has to be done must be done. No one remembers second place.
Everything is at stake
In business, and in our personal lives, we can learn a lot from some of our national athletes and how they cultivate and maintain their winning mindset. Today, it’s said that being average in our lives is no longer an option if we want to be successful. This may be a harsh truth, but it’s the truth nonetheless. So how can we develop a real winning attitude and set a gold standard example?
Here are a few insights into how it can be done.
Ditch the ‘can-do’ attitude
We often talk about having a can-do attitude: when someone presents us with a task or challenge, we say, “Sure – can do!” Psychologically, there is tremendous power in even the simplest of words that can have an enormous effect on our perspective.
This might interest you: You Can Do It! Wait… Can You? Instead of having a ‘can-do’ attitude, adopt a ‘will-do’ attitude. It’s much more empowering – and convincing – to turn, “I can learn to speak Spanish” into “I will learn to speak Spanish.” Winners don’t think they can – they know they will.
Who is your biggest opponent? The athlete standing next to you in the blocks? The salesperson who is five places ahead of you on the company leaderboard? The folks in your field with more experience than you?
Forget them. They are not your competition – you are. Winners know they can’t control anyone’s performance but their own. They don’t seek to be the best; they push to always be their best. Winning is always about your capacity to win, never the other person’s capacity to lose. Always strive to be better today than you were yesterday.
Use every experience to build confidence
Have you ever been beaten? Have you ever aimed at a goal and failed? Every single experience we go through offers us a lesson, even if that lesson is simply to persevere and keep moving forward, however slowly. Every hardship you’ve ever encountered has made you stronger, wiser, and more resilient.
Those times you never thought you’d get through? You’re still here, going strong. Keep your focus on the positives – if you look hard enough, you’ll find there are always plenty of them, even during hard times. Winners make use of every situation they go through and nothing keeps them down.
Check out our past interview with Malaysian shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei on The Leaderonomics Show:
Pull the trigger
Inevitably, there will be moments when you feel jaded, unprepared, or you lose your nerve during a pitch or a sale or when delivering a seminar. It happens. In these moments, give yourself five seconds to pause, take a deep breath, and bring to mind a time when you smashed the pitch or landed the sale in record time.
Say to yourself, “I can do this”, not as an affirmation, but as a reminder that you’ve succeeded before – you will do this! Winners realise that not every performance will be a perfect one; but they can call on past triumphs to help them nail the performance this time around.
Check also our interview with Malaysian squash champion Datuk Nicol David on The Leaderonomics Show:
Enjoy the journey!
I hope the KL2017 29th SEA Games and 9th ASEAN Para Games in our homeground will help to inspire, encourage and motivate you to be even better tomorrow than you are today and, just as important, I hope you get to enjoy some fantastic sports events in the company of friends and family over the sporting days to come.
All the best!
Feel free to connect with Roshan on Twitter and on Facebook for more insights into business, personal development, and leadership.
Roshan is the Founder and “Kuli” of the Leaderonomics Group of companies. He believes that everyone can be a leader and "make a dent in the universe," in their own special ways. He is featured on TV, radio and numerous publications sharing the Science of Building Leaders and on leadership development. Follow him at www.roshanthiran.com