Archive for January, 2010

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The Psychology of Success

January 8, 2010

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by Benjamin D. Summers

As most people know, it is important to define success and set specific, measurable goals to get there. A less commonly known component of goal setting is that of visualization. Visualize in vivid detail what it looks, sounds, feels and smells like to be where it is you aspire to be, doing what it is you aspire to do. Show yourself often, in as realistic detail as you can imagine, what it will be like when you achieve what you are striving to achieve. This goes a long way in convincing the belief system that the goal is attainable, and it’s the first step in creating the road map to get there.

A person’s belief in what they are capable of achieving has great influence in determining the outcome. Not only do our beliefs affect what we choose to do, they also affect all the many unconscious decisions that govern our daily lives… demeanor, idiosyncrasies, instinctive actions, etc. The effect that the sum of these unconscious behaviors has on the outcome of our lives is great. Contrary to what most might think, belief is not determined by reason but by the subconscious, and it is molded through repetition. What this means is that you can positively mold your belief system over time by repeatedly exposing yourself to that which you want to believe. This is where self-affirmation comes into play. Expose yourself to repeated positive input related to what you want to achieve (people who want you to succeed and self-affirmations) and avoid those (people and thoughts) who negatively counter this influence. Over time, a reluctant hope for success will have evolved into a genuinely confident belief that you will find the way to make it occur.

Confidence and self-esteem are critical to performance under pressure and eliminating self-sabotaging behavior. Confidence comes from knowing you have done what is needed to meet the challenges at hand. Self-esteem comes from understanding your values, then making the best effort of which you are capable to possess those values. Values are the traits you respect or believe to be important or valuable in a person. Different people value different things: athleticism, artistic ability, business savvy, etc. But whether we admit it to ourselves or not, some values are common amongst all people such as honesty and integrity. You respect people who possess your values, and tend not to respect those who don’t; this rule also applies inwardly to yourself. When you do things that fall short of, or are inconsistent with your values, your self-image is adversely affected. Never cease striving to be the best you can be at what you want to be; that is under your control. If you become focused on things over which you have no control, it will adversely affect the things over which you can. Do what’s right… others may not see it, but you will.

The number one reason why people do not pursue becoming the person they would like to be is fear of failure. When faced with this fear, remember the words of Paul J. Meyer, “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass.”

From Mechanics to Muscle Memory

Mechanics as applied to sports are generally thought of as a series of snap shot positions of an athletic movement. Teaching mechanics as a means to develop athleticism is similar to drawing a picture by connect the dots. For a movement to be performed explosively and athletically, it must be done unconsciously… the focus being on the feel of the movement as opposed to the series of snap shot mechanical positions that make it up. The ability to perform a movement by feel is called muscle memory.

But how does an athlete go from being “mechanical” to utilizing muscle memory? Like connect the dots, teaching a series of snap shot positions gives the brain a pathway to perform the proper movement. Depending upon the ability of the athlete, the number dots or mechanical positions required to effectively communicate the movement will vary. One athlete may only require only a couple points along the pathway of movement to develop a particular skill; another athlete may require many. Either way, the mind’s slow step-by-step micromanagement of a learned movement will evolve into feel over time. After anywhere from hundreds to thousands of repetitions of an athletic movement are performed (depending upon the level of focus on performing the repetitions well), muscle memory will be developed. Regardless of the stage of development, during competitive performance, focus should be on visualizing the desired outcome, not mechanics.

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