We’ve talked a lot about the physical preparation required to emulate an Olympian, but what about the inner side of things? How much do you believe in yourself? Are you committed to pushing till you crack? Do you have that fire in your belly we discussed earlier?
In Psycho Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz indicates that “Both behavior and feeling spring from belief.” Often, you might think you can’t do something just because it’s never been done. You might think you lack the capability, the intelligence, or the ability to do something. You quickly rationalize it, often to a point where the task or goal looks impossible. Something is holding you back.
In these times of hesitation, you should stop and take some time to reflect. Why? Maltz asks: “Is this belief based on an actual fact or an assumption – or a false conclusion?” He suggests asking yourself the following questions:
1. Is there a rational reason for such a belief?
2. Could it be that I am mistaken in this belief?
3. Would I come to the same conclusion about some other person in a similar situation?
4. Why should I continue to act and feel as if this were true if there is no good reason to believe it?
As we’ve seen in Chris’s case, the power of goal setting is demonstrable. The moment you set a goal for yourself, you’re half-way to meeting it. Why? The very act of thinking about the problem/issue or goal, directing focused attention towards it, sets your subconscious mind in action to find ways to make it attainable. Your thinking about the goal may provide the environment to proactively discuss your idea with friends, family, and stakeholders.
You may get a set of different views – both good and bad – on how to tackle your goal. And if you remember to ask yourself how to reach your goal just before going to bed and ask your subconscious mind to come up with ideas, you may find that, while you sleep, your subconscious will go to work and give you some pretty staggering insights by the time you wake up.
We’ve settled the belief side of things by acknowledging that you need to change your behavior. That should be simple to accomplish because you’ve become super-aware, correct? In theory, yes, but you need to be committed to changing a long-standing behavior. So, we’re back to why you feel you can’t reach your goal. In addition to Maltz’s four questions, perhaps the reason you think you can’t reach your goal is because you’re simply not committed. You’re stuck and you’re not progressing. But why?
There may be a variety of reasons. But one of the most important elements relates to commitment and how you perceive commitment. You may think and feel that you are committed to change, yet you are not getting to that first base of progress.
You may think that you must develop commitment to a choice before you make a decision, but research shows that we develop increased commitment to our choices after we make a decision.
I call these small decisions, “baby steps’ as a metaphor to show that taking even small steps, similar to a baby learning how to walk is the best way to enable progress.
Chris displayed commitment, in numerous ways, too. At the age of 11, he dived too deep into the pool and ruptured both ear drums. He loved swimming but to continue to do so, implied that he would need professional earplugs. Despite the earplugs helping Chris in the water, he was prone to painful ear infections. Pain and discomfort didn’t deter him; he kept competing.
At the age of 14 while having fun at Lake Midnapore, Alberta, Chris was playing on a swing. It broke. He fell. Trying to break his fall he broke his wrist in the process. He tells me his wrist did not set properly; it’s still not symmetrical with his other wrist. In swimming, wrists are pretty important. Outside the pool to build and strengthen his muscles, Chris needed weight training and these kinds of exercises were difficult and painful for him. Pain and discomfort didn’t deter him; he kept competing.
On another occasion, Chris had good intentions of running up and down the pool side bleachers (or benches for spectators) to get warmed up for a competition that evening. Rather than helping him, he broke one of his toes. Yet, giving up on an important swim meet was not an option. Luck was on his side since Chuck Dixon, the family doctor, was nearby. He taped Chris’s toe. Pain and discomfort didn’t deter him; he kept competing.
Chris got beyond the pain by remembering what an assistant coach had once told him: You have to “train with pain” because if an even more important event comes up, such as the Olympics, you’ll need the confidence and resistance to train with pain and still commit to the race. Clearly, these setbacks did not stop Chris. Most of us take a break when we get a mild headache. Competing while in pain is what commitment is all about. How would you deal with an ear infection while swimming? Would a broken wrist have stopped you training? Would a broken toe be enough for you to give up altogether? Commitment at this level is the sign of a great athlete, the sign of demigods.