The Olympics are in full swing and I've heard more references - by commentators, former champion panelists and athletes themselves - on mental discipline, preparation of the mind, getting into focus, mind games and so on in the past week than I have in the past 4 years.
My friend and fellow coach John Falchetto (www.johnfalchetto.com) recently posted a study made by Harvard Business Review (Jones, 2008) on mental toughness in elite athletes, which concluded that the said athletes:
- have the ability to psychologically manage pressure
- pay meticulous attention to goals
- have a strong inner drive to stay ahead of the competition
- are internally rather than externally focused
- are self-directed
- are not distracted by others
- are masters of compartmentalization in their lives
- are very confident of their abilities
Nothing too surprising there, but interesting to see them listed. And I can relate to all of them when I've been preparing for or have been on a major expedition. Plus, I should add, a few more not listed.
What can this teach everyday people who aren't training for an Olympic Gold Medal? Who aren;t preparing for a summit of K2? Or in the midst of walking to the North Pole? Well, as has often been quoted, we all have our own "Everests", be it business, personal or life, many of which it could be argued are nearly as hard as training for the Olympics. And can thus all learn from the magnificent sportsmen and woman displaying these qualities this week and next.