What to know how Olympians think and feel? I’ve worked closely with many of them. I can tell you their stories and how you can use this same type of thinking in everything you do.
Have you ever been totally in sync with the activity you were performing?
Have you ever had the sense that, for a single moment, you were in complete control of your destiny?
You can Think Like an OLYMPIAN?
Have you ever felt such an intense pleasure in an action that you could continue doing it all day just for the experience, regardless of the outcome? The activity could involve completing a personal goal in a workout, or doing a brilliant presentation at work, or spending quality time with someone you care about.
These types of occurrences make up the essence of Your Performing Edge – those extraordinary moments when the mind and body are working together effortlessly leaving you feeling that something special has just taken place.
This state of consciousness has a multitude of well-known labels: peak performance, optimal experience, flow, and being in the zone. However you wish to portray this frame of mind, these experiences are certain to be connected to the most treasured moments in your lifetime.
I consulted with a runner on the U.S. track and field team who was training for the Olympics. He described his peak experience in the Olympic
Trials: “I felt strong and in control the whole time. Although the race was long, it seemed like I was in a time tunnel, with an endless source of energy. I was running faster than I ever had before, and yet it felt so easy.. with no pain or fear, just a sense of pure joy and excitement.”
I interviewed Stacy Dragila, former world record holder, and Olympic Gold Medalist in the pole vault. Just before the U.S. Olympic Trials in Sacramento, she related that: “Even when I enter a competitive event with an initial sense of nervousness, I turn that feeling into an expectation of success. I get this feeling of awesome power, an acute awareness, like there’s nothing I can’t do if I put my mind to it. It’s a kind of knowing that comes from inside, that I can always jump higher.”
Sports provide a variety of ways for athletes to experience optimal performance. People can feel this sense of control and power when they are winning a race, or setting a personal record, or just out on a morning run.
Yet this special state escapes many athletes; it appears mystifying and unattainable to most people. Many individuals encounter this state by chance and find it difficult to replicate. Indeed athletes work very hard for many years just to re-visit that ultimate feeling.
In contrast to the rest of life, athletics can offer a state of being that is so fulfilling one does it for no other reason than to be a part of it.
These feelings are among the most intense, most remarkable ones we can obtain in this life. Once achieved, these optimal experiences remain engraved in the mind and supply the means to return to this state.
My studies and interviews with a wide variety of athletes over several years have established the framework for a better understanding of the performing edge state. Through this research, I have found several behavior patterns and attitudes that are clearly linked to the creation of this state.
While achieving an optimal state of mind is not easy, this article describes how this ideal state can be achieved more often and identifies the conditions that allow it to occur.
What is OLYMPIC THINKING?
What do athletes report during an optimal experience? This is a state of consciousness where a person becomes completely absorbed in the task at hand, to the exclusion of all other outside influences. You are totally focused on the present moment – the everyday world seems to recede into the background.
During the peak experience you feel more self-assured, and more fully integrated. Your mind, body, and spirit are tuned in to the moment. These are the times when you feel most energetic and fully alive.