The power of the mind is undoubtedly something “we” are still learning about, so much of it is still unknown. Through the ages great thinkers, philosophers and sportsmen and women who’ve achieved great things have always placed a huge emphasis on the ‘mind’ powered by your belief. One of my favourite sportsmen of all time, Micheal Jordan puts it better than anyone else,
You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.
I love the fact that Micheal Jordan we must expect, that’s a belief combined with anticipation that it will happen. That can be easier or more difficult depending on your personality and environmental situation. In a team sport if others around you don’t believe in either you, the team or both then it certainly impacts the team and very easily impacts you personally in a negative way too.
However, your personal training journey is unique to you, know one else’s belief in you should really matter. But we know that for some of us our own beliefs can be swayed by what others say to us, or what we think they think of us. This can be potentially destructive or positive depending on what the people around us say or maybe just the way we interpret it. It is important that we take charge of our own self belief and not rely on others to build our confidence, Serena Williams famously said,
You have to believe in yourself when no one else does.
Now that can be tough when you’re redefining your impossible, especially if you’re training on your own without any encouragement from a supportive community around you. We often have to ‘feel’ something to actually believe it can happen, but seeing can also be believing.
This week we got a message on instagram when someone went straight to the gym and ‘boshed’ out their first ever muscle up after watching Tim’s demonstration we shared as a video that morning, amazing right! Almost unbelievable… but it can happen. Obviously it depends on your background and previous training experience. But when you’re close to redefining your impossible, sometimes you just need the belief and seeing someone else do it can positively tip your belief scales in the right direction.
In sport a great example of this was Roger Bannister. A distance runner, he was the first man to break the 4 minute mile barrier. It was something that he and many runners before and around him we’re trying to break. Some people thought it was impossible. The best in the world tried but kept falling just short. It was like there was a mental block of going just those few seconds faster.
But on 6th May 1954 Roger Bannister redefined his impossible and went sub 4 minutes for the mile. The first person ever to achieve the feat. No one else had done or was able to do it before that point. But what happened after Roger Bannister had showed it was in fact possible? 46 days later the record was broken. Someone went faster. And in the coming weeks, months and years the record would get beat again and again with many athletes going under the previously impossible 4 minute barrier.
What did Roger Bannister do differently? What did he do to help all these other athletes achieve greater things than even he did?
He gave them belief. Once someone else had actually beaten the 4 minute barrier the floor gates opened because everyone actually believed it was possible.
So my question to you is; are you going to be the Roger Bannister? Are you going to create the belief to redefine your impossible. Whether it’s your first pull up or muscle up, first push up or handstand the start of that process is you believing you can.
But how do you generate that belief? I can’t just lie to myself can I?
Well, there are a few tips and tricks we’ve learned through working with professional athletes and something I used throughout my professional rugby career, to improve my own self belief…. visualisation.
Visualisation (also referred to as mental imagery) was something I learned about whilst I studied a diploma in Sports Psychology (one of many rugby injuries gave me enough spare time to get some extra study in whilst I couldn’t train). It really was a break through mentally for me. I always struggled with self belief and felt like something was always holding me back.
Visualisation is a mindset ‘tool’ we can use to develop confidence and self belief as well as actually refining skills and techniques. One the fascinating things about our brain is that, it finds it difficult to distinguish between a vivid picture in our ‘minds eye’ and reality. Just think about when you wake up from a vivid dream and it takes you a while to realise it was just a dream, it felt so real.
We can use this to our advantage when trying to learn new skills or improve one’s self belief. It’s a bit like being the ‘Roger Bannister’ for yourself. You create a picture and see yourself doing the pull up, handstand or whatever your goal. But it’s not just about the mental image, it’s not just visual. You need to create a image that feels real.
What you can see is just once sense, you need to use all your senses; taste, touch, smell and sound to create a real living image for your brain to make the assumption that its actually happening. That it’s actually you and you can actually do it!
So create a mental picture of the thing you working on. Imagine you’re doing it. See it, feel it, make it come alive in your minds eye. And regularly practise your visualisation like it’s part of your training. Your mind is far more powerful than you give it credit. Use it for your benefit to achieve things you currently think are impossible.
It takes a bit of time and practise, just like any skill but using visualisation is another really helpful ‘tool’ in the locker you should be using when redefining your impossible.