Diana has experienced ups and downs in her racing career. Six months ago she set a personal best time in a highly competitive meet. She was on a high as she battled back from injury that she thought could have forced her retirement. Now back in full swing, she has been doubling down on her training and recovery efforts. Diana has shared with her coach and teammates her desire to set the world record and make the American team. Yet, the past six months have been frustrating. She knows she is maximizing her training. She is on top of her nutrition and recovery. Yet, the last three competitions have been disappointing to her. Her coach even shared with her, “Diana, it’s all there. You can crush this time.” But, then, she turns to the next meet, and finds her time to be one of the slowest of the season. She’s heartbroken knowing all that she has put into her training and preparation. Entering in the last race that will impact her place on the American team, Diana is past frustration. “Eff it,” she thinks. “Just eff it; I don’t care,” she repeats as she heads to warm up. And, then it happens. After her race she is brought to tears as she sees the time on the board. She not only captured her place on the American team, she broke the world record.
So, did Diana stop caring about competing? Or, did something else happen?
Often times competitors are highly focused on the results. The win, the knock-out performance, the bottom line. And yet, this outcome based focus ultimately slows down and negatively impacts our ability to optimize our performance. Remember, the Launch Mindset is a free and clear mindset, letting go of conscious control over our performance. When we focus on the outcomes, this opens the mind up to analyzing behaviors and away from the present moment of performance.
Diana didn’t stop caring about her race. Her “eff it! I don’t care” response is characteristic of many performers who have battled a challenging path in their pursuit of mastery and have reached the heights of frustration. Her truncated sentence is more “I don’t care about the outcome.” She let go of her outcome based thinking and just went out to race. Indeed, it was coming back to her race process that freed her to optimally perform, not focusing on her outcomes.
Hitting your Optimized Zone
Some will ask, “yes, but times do matter!” Or, yes, but ultimately I am judged based on whether our company’s value increases. Of course, outcomes matter. Competitors want to win and that’s o.k. It adds passion and motivation to push through the challenges of being elite. Yet, if that is the performer’s focus when going to execute, it will ultimately derail the performance. Consider dialing it back and reframing it. Diana wanted to win. She wanted to PR. She wanted to be the best. In order to do so, she narrowed her focus to a few cues that allowed herself to let go and perform. In letting go of the tight grip over her time, she freed herself to execute the skills that she knew would bring that time. So, consider what focus do you need when? When pushing through a tough weight set, maybe it is reminding yourself of your desire to be the best, to set that time? But, when you get into the starting blocks, “Eff it” and go get it!
- Reflect on the background of “Eff It” above.
- Describe 1-2 situations where you can relate to feeling held back by your expectations of reaching a specific outcome. Any times you found success with “Eff it?”
- When is it easier to let go of outcome based thinking? When is it more challenging?
Performance Focal Refocusing
- Consider a past optimal performance. What are 1-2 things that you could describe yourself doing that contributed to the successful outcome? Was it your body language? A specific technical skill? Or something about your tactical decision making? Take a moment and imagine those moments of skill execution.
- Now consider an upcoming performance. It could be in training or an upcoming critical moment or competition. Will the same 1-2 aspects of your performance apply in order for the performance to be deemed successful? If it will require alternative key behaviors, consider them and imagine engaging in them.
- Leading up to your next performance, whether in training or on the stage, you have now identified 1-3 things that you can refocus on instead of the outcome. Of course your mind may remind you of the need for that best time or outcome. When that occurs, initially try reminding yourself, “Yes, I’ve got” and refocus on your 1-3 elements of the performance process. And, of course, you can use “Eff It!” (fill in the outcome) and recenter on your performance process cues.
Choose a teammate or coach that you often are performing with or nearby. Share with your accountability partner your performance process cues. Consider asking your partner for help in refocusing. If she/he hears you getting caught up in the score, time, any outcome, ask for a gentle reminder to refocus back on your process. Or, just a gentle reminder to “Eff It!”