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The mindsets of high performing artists and athletes are not that different

"Even in London, I didn’t 100 per cent deal with that pressure. If I had been in the same position at her age, I probably would have buckled.” Greg Rutherford

I am watching the World Championships at the moment and just came across Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s three heart breaking fouls at the long jump a few days ago. (watch it here)

The mindset in high performing artists and athletes is really not that different. Of course they all need to have the physical talent and have the right attitude and training to perform on that level, that is a given.

But what separates the true high achievers from the ‘just good’ is the ‘personal management’, their mental management or as I like to call it their inner game.

The ability to not let a mishap, a set back, or stress influence your immediate next steps is vital to your performance. The speed at which these athletes have to act and react indicates that most decisions have to be made in split seconds, which means this has to happen on an instinctual level. Depending on what happened let it be overstepping the mark one too many times or missing a chance to hit the goal – the ability to let go and separate each second from the next is what ensures your next success.

Of course this is extra hard these days where we know the whole world is watching and will most likely tweet their opinion about our performance while we are probably still running. Watching Katarina Johnson-Thompson get so upset was heart breaking for me on so many levels. Of course I feel for her not being able to take the medal home she probably deserved. Where I always feel the pain most though is watching an athlete or artist needing to perform on the highest level, when you can sense that they have already dropped the belief in themselves.

I have watched this happening in one of our greatest entertainers while he was clearly rocking a crowd of 70,000 people and yet couldn’t enjoy it because one review called him a ‘has-been’ and over the hill a few days before. I have seen this in a football team that after the opponent scored 3:0 dropped the ball mentality and their whole approach changed. The inner game was gone and they could have stopped right there. And I have seen this yet again in KJT this week when “what happened” might have disenabled her of what still could happen.

We know from kinesiology (a technique that uses muscle-testing to find and correct spiritual, emotional and physical imbalances) that our system is weaker when we are not fully aligned with what we set out to do. If you have an underlying negative association with what you’re doing your muscles weaken, you have stress on the system. Not great in sports or on stage.

I remember working with a client of mine who was at the top of her game and was aiming for the next level of success. Something that should have been easily achieved by her, yet her body caved under the pressure. During the course of our work we found that although she was going for more success, the system held a belief that success in her profession would ultimately mean disappointment in her family. Therefore a glass ceiling was always hit at a certain level, as her subconscious mind read success as potential loss of approval in her family. Now this is very important: This was only a belief. Consciously this did not make sense, as she knew her family wanted her to do well and already supported her choices, yet underlying was running a different programme from many years ago.

The brain is very creative in creating those links over the years. No matter how successful you might be already - to grow past your perceived limitations you need to make sure that there is no glass ceiling build in that appears in the face of pressure and stress.

Everyday I am stunned by the links we discover and one of the sentences I hear the most when my high achievers unearth their deepest beliefs is:

But this doesn’t make sense!!! Yet there it is.

Luckily once we have the insight the biggest shift is often already made and the glass dome has opened…

It is all about the inner game. And of course that is not a decision you make. It has to be carefully reconditioned while we release the triggers that could potentially fire off. As said before once we know the physical aspect is aligned (you’ve got the right body, right muscle structure or the right voice) work ethic and attitude is next. This means how you train your assets and how you take care of your instrument. But then it is vital to look at the emotional triggers that lay dormant and only arise under certain kinds of pressure. Once these are released a new way of feeling and thinking is installed and the instinctual reactions that happen subconsciously will now fire off more aligned with your goals, rather than your deepest uncovered beliefs.

This is a constant process of growth of course and that is why I belief high performance coaching is so powerful: because it will allow you to be subconsciously competent for what you consciously set out to do. So you won’t buckle as Greg Rutherford says, even when the unexpected happens.

GIDO SCHIMANSKI an international teacher and coach best known for his transformational programmes with artists, creatives and the high achievers in the entertainment industry. Following a fortunate career on stage he now works with private clients in the UK, US, Singapore and throughout Europe, helping them break through their self-sabotage mechanisms and limiting paradigms. Gido recently published his first online course called Successful Auditions Programme for Creative High Achievers after he successfully released his CD Angels of Forgiveness – The little journey of letting go.

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