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Performance Mindset - The Most Important Thing I Can Tell You

Joe here - the term mindset refers to a set of beliefs and thoughts that influence how we approach situations. It's a mind-filter that we see and experience the world through and it profoundly influences the way we behave and perform.

We often describe people as being more 'negative' or 'positive ' but what we're really describing is their default mindset. It stands to reason that a more negative person approaches a situation very differently from a more positive one. As a result each person will behave and perform differently under identical circumstances.

One thing to know, mindset is not fixed. It's a habit. It's a self-reinforcing loop of beliefs and thoughts that's easy to get caught in. You start to believe your beliefs!

A simple example from my early endurance years.

Racing through the night is a significant shock to the mainstream cyclist's system. I was strong up to 1AM and then as regular as the milkman I would be forced off my bike for a significant sleep stop. Sleep deprivation was winning every time.

As a consequence, I developed a set of beliefs and thoughts that meant that every time I approached 1AM I would tell myself to 'get ready, here it comes'. I would tense up, in preparation to try to muscle through, because how does a typical mainstream cyclist deal with an obstacle? We muscle through.

My mindset back then was born from the mano-a-mano experience of me versus 'whatever', in this case sleep deprivation. I learned to tense to overcome.

It was seriously affecting my endurance performance.

So here's the punchline - the most important characteristic to have within a performance mindset is flexibility.

A flexible mind is a curious mind.

If I can't overcome sleep deprivation, how can I work with it?

The first thing that happens when you cultivate a more flexible mindset is that multiple options appear - things that you couldn't see before because you were tense and rigid.

The way forward lies in exploring these multiple options.

I don't try to overcome sleep deprivation any more. The old muscle through mindset is long gone. Each night I explore my options in how best to manage it and no night is ever the same.

So if you're struggling with an obstacle, try softening the way you're thinking about it.

How can you work with it differently? If you stand back a bit or blur the edges, what else might you see?

After all, when you change the way you think about something, the thing you're thinking about changes.


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