- Play to learn – even more than to win.
- Guard your heart.
- Visualize pressure-filled moments every day.
- Use your mind to observe your thoughts (rather than be attached to them).
NOTE: The first ever Inner Excellence YWAM Homes of Hope Retreat was amazing. Don’t miss the next one Spring 2024!
“I’m neither [love to win or hate to lose]. I play to figure things out. I play to learn something. If you play with the fear of failure, or you play with the will to win, or that supercedes the fear of failure… I think it’s a weakness either way.
If you play with the fear of failing, you’ll have the pressure on yourself to capitulate to that fear. If you play with the sense of I wanna win, I wanna win, then you have the fear of what happens if you don’t.
But if you find common ground in the middle, in the center, then it doesn’t matter. You’re unfazed by either. That enables you to really just stay in the moment, stay connected to it, and not feel anything other than what in front of you. I try to be just dead center.” – Kobe Bryant, 18x NBA All-Star (including 17 years in a row)
Play to learn – even more than win
At the Ryder Cup years ago, a young Hunter Mahan was playing for the first time. He was telling one of the veterans (Steve Stricker) how much he wanted to win. Steve cautioned Hunter, that while it’s great to care about winning, don’t care too much. Caring too much would bring with it the tension that comes from the fear of failure.
Fear of failure is so scary especially in today’s culture, because social media elevates the voice of the haters. The feeling becomes if I fail, then I’m a failure.
When you realize, however, that what you want more than a “W” is to live a meaningful, fulfilling life, to feel fully alive, with deep, enriching relationships… then you can use your sport or work –your daily challenges no matter what they are — to move you towards that life (and better performance).
One of the greatest challenges we all face is the voice that says “You’re not enough, but if you make more money, have more success, or lose that weight, then society will love you.” It’s a lot of pressure.
But when we perform or work or live to learn, pursuing mastery and development rather than trophies and social recognition, we can let go of that voice.
So what are we learning?
We want to learn self-awareness and self-discipline so we can develop self-mastery; we want to grow in love, wisdom, and courage. We want to master the five skills:
- Believe in your dreams.
- Compete with freedom and passion.
- Be fully present.
- Relax under pressure.
- Adapt to any situation.
Guard your heart
Your heart (spirit) is the control center of your life. Everything you say and do flows from it. Your performance comes from what’s in your heart. Thus, we want to continually train it and fuel it with beliefs in line with our dreams. We want to fill it with love that connects us to our greatest memories, so we can re-live the fearlessness, because there’s no fear in love.
We guard our hearts by having standards in line with excellence and boundaries that separate us from negativity. If it’s true that you’re either walking in love or fear (and I believe it is), then we need to spend more time in love in order to match the feelings necessary to believe in our dreams.
Life is filled with unexpected challenges–sometimes precisely what we least expect or want. So we must get good at dealing with adversity and the negative thoughts and limiting beliefs that we so often encounter.
Beliefs are feelings, and so we can’t afford to keep embracing negative thoughts that lead to negative feelings, because every time we do we move farther from our dreams.
Thus, we guard your hearts, which is to guard our mental, emotional and spiritual energy, fueling it with excellence.
Visualize pressure-filled moments every day
I saw Kaitlyn Jenner (the former Olympic Gold Medalist decathlete “World’s Greatest Athlete” Bruce Jenner) in player dining at the LIV Bedminster golf tournament a few weeks ago.
In the book Inner Excellence I shared a story about Jenner where he put a hurdle in his living room years before the Olympics, to help him visualize. Every time he went across the room, he would go over the hurdle and visualize the event in Montreal.
I asked Jenner if this was true and she said yes. What stuck with me is what she said next (after I asked about mental toughness): “Preparing for an event like the Olympics is 80% physical and 20% mental. Once you get there, it’s 80% mental and 20% physical.”
I think what Jenner meant was that prior to the Olympics, 20% of his focus was on mental training. At the Olympics, he knew he was physically prepared, now he just had to believe, and well, guard his heart.
Use your mind to observe your thoughts
You are not your mind. It is a part of you that needs to be trained. Most of us have been attached to our thoughts, and thus when negative thoughts (or horrible ones) come, it’s hard to let them go. We’ve merged with our thoughts.
Going forward, however, you’re like a surfer, choosing which waves (thoughts) to ride and letting the rest go.
Practice being in the moment but not judging the moment or becoming attached to it. It’s one of the greatest challenges and top skills you can have. Then you can be believe in your dreams, compete with freedom, be fully present, relax under pressure, and adapt to any situation.
Let me know how it’s going for you!
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