When I do my two triathlons a year it’s not uncommon for me to hear, “On your left!” or even “Watch out!”
While I may be one of many people who clog up the street during your triathlon this article will help you identify the person hurting your performance the most: Yourself. Performance psychology consultants call it self-sabotage, or in other words killing your performance by what you think, what you say to yourself, and how you act.
How do I know if I’m suffering from self-sabotage?
Answer the following questions to yourself:
• Do you attribute your success to your competitors having a bad day?
• Does your self-confidence hang on how well you perform?
• Do you constantly complain about things?
• Do you hate hills, wind, open water swims, transitions, etc.?
• Do you use phrases like “I can’t…”, “I have to…”, “I must…”?
If the majority of your answers are “yes” then you are more susceptible to self-sabotage. That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you, you’d be surprised to know that many of the elite or professional athletes I work with are also hard on themselves, so you’re in good company. For those of you who answered “no” to most of those questions don’t finish reading the article! You might find something you’ll want to share with a friend.
Self-sabotage is a fancy way of saying that you are getting in the way of your own performance. Many of your worst performances were not only due to equipment malfunction but an untrained brain.
How do I get out of my own way? Studies show that elite athletes think differently than less successful athletes. I have addressed thousands of individuals during speaking engagements and have spent numerous hours one-on-one with athletes training them how to get out of the way and perform freely. Here are three strategies that can help:
The fact that you are reading this article will help you get out of your own way and minimize the adverse affects of self-sabotage. The reason people are getting in their own way is because they don’t realize it! They don’t realize that a simple negative thought, an innocent complaint about how they feel, or a seemingly meaningless comparison to another racer will hurt their performance. Beware and be aware.
#2- Focus on what you can control
I tell this to my athletes all the time: Refuse to allow tomorrow’s worries and yesterday’s failures hurt today’s performance. We get in our own way when we begin to give emotion to things that are outside of our control. Focusing on what you can control empowers you; it ignites confidence, and fuels motivation. Worrying about things outside your control is like increasing the weight of your shoes, it will bog you down.
#3-Have a plan for when you mess up!
You’re human so you’re going to have a bad thought once in a while. You’re going to complain occasionally. Chances are very likely that you will have moments where you will get in your own way despite reading this article. Now, what are you going to do about it? Chances are you have a back-up plan if your tire pops, you know what to do it you start cramping up. Why not have a plan for when you notice you are sabotaging yourself? I develop focus plans with all of my athletes. It’s simple; you decide right now what you want to think and how you want to act when adversity strikes. Be specific and consistent.
Elite athletes do things on purpose that mediocre athletes leave to chance.
There you have it, three tips on how to get out of your way. Best of luck on your next triathlon and remember, trust your preparation and let it happen don’t try to make it happen.
Justin Su’a is a performance consultant, key-note speaker, CEO of Su’a Sport Psychology, LLC and is a member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). Justin’s Masters Degree is from the University of Utah in the Psycho-Social Aspects of Sport with an interest in the nature of peak performance and confidence enhancement. He is a former Division I All-American pitcher from BYU, and currently teaches elite athletes, celebrity performers, university teams, and business professionals how to think and perform at a high level.
For daily tips and insight to enhance performance you can follow Justin on Twitter and Facebook