Who’s your competition? What’s your biggest challenge? …Yourself!
Yes... you are.
Over 30 years ago, while a member of the Canadian national badminton team, I had my worst defeat ever. An early exit in a national ranking tournament that basically meant I was removed from the national team. Negative thoughts overwhelmed me. But that loss plus learning about my inner coach resulted in me overcoming the biggest challenge to any one and any athlete-- profound self doubt. I turned it around and I will tell you how just three weeks later I had the biggest international victory in my career, thanks to my inner coach. And you should know, you have your inner coach also waiting to be called on.
That “biggest challenge” for anyone is the questioning of self, facing that self-doubt . . . or even worse, carrying self-criticism. These all will quickly erode even the best of intentions to get better or move forward.
So what to do when you face that biggest challenge.
First and foremost, remember it starts small. Unrecognizable initially, but you must watch for it. And then one day you will catch yourself in the acting of “questioning oneself”. It is important to call yourself out on this. Address it immediately. Just as a garden weed, starts only as a small initially unrecognizable little seed, it still has the potential to germinate and eventually if left unabated, produce a large infestation in anyone’s garden. If that small self-criticism/doubt is left unaddressed when it is first recognized, it will infest the best of intentions and best laid plans. Like any weed when it first sprouts, for the successful gardener, looking for it with a watchful eye, or for the successful athlete training those long hours day-in day-out, self-doubt/self-criticism needs to be weeded out immediately upon recognizing them.
How to do this:
Fortunately there is this phenomena available to anyone, it is called your “inner coach.” It works like this. It is a voice in your head. It has had a phenomenal impact on my life. It replaces most of the self doubt when self-doubt shows up to spoil my party. Even sometimes I will yell in my head when I am struggling. “Go for it.” “Keep going.” Or, “Yes, I am tired today but just get started AND I will feel so much better when I DID IT!”
We all have an inner voice somewhere inside of us (the “inner coach” waiting). Open your mind to it initially by just saying those FIRST WORDS: “Go for it” or “Get started” And guess what? It will start to happen!
A little secret on how to do it-- next time you find yourself in front of the mirror- SMILE at yourself and say “I did it!” “I’m glad you’re taking care of me”. Self-competitors use this inner coach as their cornerstone of success.. They all know those external motivators can only carry them so far. External motivators have a short life as motivators. The most powerful force, the most enduring, the one that sustains comes from within, not externally.
If you’re reading this. Let’s activate your inner coach: Find a washroom. Close the door. Look in the mirror and say in a loud voice, “Let’s get started. Go for it.” What did you feel?? Do it again- look into the blacks of your eyes and repeat it. Well?
A personal story I have not shared often... So here is an exclusive for you.
When I was on the Canadian national team many decades ago I had a dismal result that was going to knock me off the European trip in the coming year. It was three weeks before the Canadian Open. I was demoralized from the early exit from a national ranking tournament. “How could this happen?” The team sport psychologist gave me a call and instructed me to activate my “inner coach”. Each morning I woke up, the first thing I had to do was walk to the washroom look in the mirror and watch myself repeating a phrase three times aloud to get my head in the right space. Seeing myself repeat that phrase while looking into my eyes. Hearing my voice repeat every morning about my potential every day-- Well that loss in that smaller national ranking tournament resulted in my biggest victory in my career at the Canadian Open three weeks later: I beat the number 7th ranked player in the world who had recently beat the number one ranked player in the world. Honestly, I played out of this world. The story here is that had I not accessed my inner coach that was impossible (and I would not have been on that team trip touring in Europe representing Canada).
Your inner voice. It is waiting to be called on to be your inner coach. Psst… just find a washroom, close the door… and you know what to do. It can even produce out of this world performances for you. Take it from me.
Dr. PJ Rawlek
Founder of GoGetFit