Self-Belief Delivers GOLD

by Jeff Spencer August 16, 2018 3 min read

Self-Belief Delivers GOLD

Life would be great if it were a straight line from start to great finish. As we all know it doesn’t exactly go like that. It’s usually a zig-zag between two steps forward and one step back even for the most profoundly prolific people.

 

Tiger Woods has lost more than he’s won. A baseball player is considered phenomenal if they get to first base every third time. We seldom see down periods in other’s lives and often only focus on our rough patches despite having mostly positive days.

 

There are periods in most people’s lives when a difficult stretch extends way beyond what could have been anticipated.

 

During such times minds can quickly turn from future to questioning if our best accomplishments are behind us. One might wonder if it’s even possible to get to back to peak performance, let alone get better.

 

I knew an athlete who had a significant injury and despite his best effort to return to competition it was arduously slow from his perspective. His mind went from vigilant compliance with his rehabilitation to massive frustration and fear that he would never get back to his pre-injury function. His perceived progress didn’t match his expectations and efforts, so he started looking for magic potions and sorcerers to short cut his return.  

 

As anticipated his recovery stalled as the push to return sooner strained the injury and blocked further progress. He started to panic further, fearing he wouldn’t get back to full performance and that only postponed his progress more.   

 

He sought my advice and I told him a couple of things. The first two items I list are obvious and included for completeness on his recovery. But, the third item is what I’d like you to continually remind yourself of: 

 

  1. Be compliant with your therapy and know that once the pain is gone it can still take several months for the injury to heal enough to tolerate maximum efforts.

 

  1. Take your time increasing training loads and don’t test limits too often just to gain some mental relief that you’re making progress.

 

  1. Confidence in our ability to perform at our best doesn’t really change much from day to day. But, and this is a huge, “BUT”, our perception of our ability to do so can change a lot sometimes with wild swings between supreme self-belief­—we can do anything—to feeling incapable of doing the simplest task. That rollercoaster is mentally difficult to ride.

 

When we’re in that illusionary state of being its critical to stick with the evidence of what we’ve done in the past as the indicator of what’s possible in the future. The only way we won’t get back to better is if we rush to get to where we want to go too quickly or start to act on the misassumption that our best work is behind us.

 

That’s what I told the athlete. In addition, I also told him that this was at the very least as much a part of his rehabilitation as the exercises he was doing.

 

When he went on to make the Olympic team he broke down in tears realizing that he was OK, both physically and mentally. He was capable, and his capability never left him. It was his perception of self that created his angst.

 

What did keep him in the game, during those times of self-doubt to have a full recovery and make the Olympic team, was his self-belief that came from being mindful of his past success showing his competency.  

 

I was overjoyed for him when he won an Olympic Gold Medal. 

 

Belief in self when the evidence is there is skill that works magic. To work its magic that skill must be practiced daily as it doesn’t self-perpetuate.  

 

Never leave home without it.

Jeff Spencer
Jeff Spencer

At just nine years old, I used to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to practice hitting a baseball up and down our street. That competitive spirit led to winning a national championship at just ten years old and then becoming an Olympian at twenty-one. For the past forty years, I’ve been a professional student of human achievement. I’ve been driven by this unshakable question: why do some people succeed and others fail? After retiring from professional competition, I went back to school to earned advanced degrees in health and wellness. In the decades since then, I’ve worked with athletes in nearly every professional sport, Olympic gold medalists, and millionaire entrepreneurs. I’ve had a front-row seat as I watched these world-class achievers do what they do. For more information: drjeffspencer.com


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