Choose your mindset

As the Olympic Games approaches, all athletes and coaches are faced with the choice of when to switch into their delivery mindset. The delivery mindset is all about being 100% focused on cashing in on what has been put in place and being passionately driven to find out how good the performance can be with the foundation of preparation that has been created.

The delivery mindset differs from the one that has underpinned the day-to-day work ethic through the preparation period. The predominant mindset for the coaches and athletes is one that is characterised by an obsession with improvement, a dissatisfaction with current standards and a forensic focus on removing errors whilst striving to maintain or improve existing strengths. Given that this dissatisfaction mindset is the one that provides the main focus of training throughout the majority of the Olympiad, it takes quite a commitment to shift into a different way of thinking at the point when you get to find out if all the hard work has paid off.

As the pressure piles on in the lead up to the Games then the typical mindset wants to have its way. After all, it’s used to being the focus of attention. If the dissatisfaction mindset remains in charge, then the coach and athlete can fall into the trap of still looking for more improvement and still searching out that final correction of errant technique that might just be the difference between gold and silver. Furthermore, if the dissatisfaction mindset is allowed to remain, then when the pressure is on there is a huge danger that the athlete is only 100% clear on the errors that need to be avoided and which weaknesses must not be exposed; “don’t hesitate… don’t be jerky… make sure the effort isn’t half-hearted… don’t leave your backhand exposed…”. Unlikely to be the self-talk of an Olympic Champion.

The potential cost of this error avoidance thinking is plain to see. First, being world class at knowing what not to do has seldom been the recipe of success. Sure, it stops a bad day happening, but the Olympics is not about stopping a bad day. Far from it. Second, the obsessive focus on stopping negatives occurring means that there isn’t a clear, compelling focus on the strengths that are present and the manner in which they will be exploited to deliver success. Third, the dissatisfaction mindset can constantly reinforce to the athlete that ‘I’m not ready yet, I need more time’. Finally, for most people, it’s just no fun thinking you’re being scrutinised to ensure errors don’t occur. It’s much more upliftingknowing that someone else is excitedly looking on with equal anticipation to see if you do all the things you do superbly at the time when it matters most.

Therefore, at a key time just prior to the Olympics beginning, coaches and athletes from all around the world will be making a deliberate shift of mindset to ensure they benefit from the delivery mindset. Those who do this well will create a clear set of references that will denote superb exploitation of all of the physical, technical, tactical and psychological resources available to the athlete. Final practices will take place that focus on staying 100% concentrated just on utilising every ounce of resource available and getting excited about the prospect of what can be delivered when every bit of talent is unconditionally poured into the execution of the game plan.

If the mindset switch isn’t made with sufficient commitment or given sufficient time to build a sense of control and confidence for the athlete, then some vital performance potential can be lost. Knowing when to make the switch and how to make the switch so it is believable and a totally united shift is a key ingredient of the art of coaching.

Given that the world of business faces many critical performance moments every week, it’s probably even more important that everyone in that world knows when and how to make the shift from the mindset of functional dissatisfaction to that of liberating delivery. So, how good are you at shifting from the quest for 100% excellence in every possible element of performance to that of exploiting 100% of what you have available to you? Striving to find out just what you’re capable of when using up 100% of what is there is always more likely to generate memorable performances that will create a foundation for sustainable, enjoyable success.

The choice is yours. Dissatisfaction or Delivery?