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Thinking to Succeed
By: Kevin Clancy
Our mind is probably the most powerful tool we will ever own. It controls our world and dictates everything we do. It’s in charge of our body. As Terry Orlick, a renowned Sport Psychologist who has worked with numerous Olympic and World Champions, says “ the body is dumb…it will follow your focus…you can convince it of anything”. Everyone is aware of this power that we all possess inside ourselves but how many people utilize it? How many people consistently tap into the mind’s limitless capability? How many people in sport spend time every day working on their thinking in the same way that they spend time working on developing their core muscles in the gym or their technical skills on the pitch? In my experience of working with countless athletes, at all levels, over a number of years the answer is very few. Those who do generally tend to stand out from the rest, people like Padraig Harrington in golf, Brian O Driscoll in rugby and Bernard Dunne in boxing.
How do these athletes do this? By consistently working at making their thinking more positive on a daily basis. Imagine this – I have a magical device that is able to read a person’s thoughts. It can tell me all of the thoughts that are going through someone’s head. I give you this device and you take it away for a week. We set it so that it is reading all of the thoughts you have about the sport you play. At the end of the week it provides me with a print out of all your thoughts, with the positive ones written in green and the negative ones written in red. What would your print out look like?
Now imagine I give the same device to Padraig Harrington or Brian O Driscoll or Lionel Messi or any other world class performer. What does their print out look like? I guarantee you it will contain more greens (positives) than reds (negatives). There is no reason why anyone cannot think in the same way as these great competitors do. How? By remembering that you control your thinking. You are in charge. A nice way to look at this is that your mind is a little bit like a radio. When a channel comes on to the radio that is negative, you have the power to change it to a more positive station. What can be helpful in this regard is having some “go-to” positive thoughts ready for use when you need them. One of the greatest examples of a “go-to” positive thought was Muhammad Ali constantly reminding himself that “I am the greatest”. Develop a list of these positive statements. They may be some of the best compliments you have ever received about your sport or beliefs you have about how good you are. The more you have the better. Learning to think in a more positive fashion will help you to get the most out of your mental game.
He has consulted with some of Ireland’s top performers in sports like GAA, tennis, rugby, swimming, pole vaulting, athletics and soccer. Kevin has also delivered numerous workshops on areas like motivation, confidence, concentration and engagement, goal setting and developing a winning mindset in education and business settings.