Ultimately, control is down to you

The best performers focus a lot of time, energy and effort getting and staying in control of all they can. For them controlling the controllable is a way of life.

Whether it’s their diet, attitude, support team or equipment, they spare no effort here. Of course there are always choices, and making the right ones will help performance and motivation…

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High performance headlines

If you want to get and stay in control, here’s what you’ll be doing:

  • Developing a strong sense of what you can control – and influence – in your world and what you can’t
  • Be demanding of yourself and others to control the things you can and bother a lot less about the rest. You’ll be developing a healthy paranoia here
  • Where there’s lots of talk about results – which typically tend to be at least a bit out of your control – you’ll obsess just as much if not more on preparation and performance

The full viewpoint

Ian Thorpe, Australia’s “Thorpedo” swimmer, was asked before his home Olympics in Sydney in 2000 if he would win 7 gold medals. He replied that he knew the training he had done and he knew the times he had been swimming in training. He also said he knew the performance he was capable of in those 7 events. He went on to say that he had no idea if he would win 7 gold medals because he couldn’t control what everyone else did.

Being the best you can be

Those preparing for an Olympic games, or anyone interested in being the best they can be, focus their time, energy and effort on things that matter that they can control. There’s bravery here. It means that there’s no one else to blame if things go wrong!

Of course, what you choose to focus on is a choice. Many Olympic athletes are working to very prescribed training programmes where they’ve very little input to the day to day routine. Yet they retain a strong personal sense of control by focusing on the things that they bring that will make a difference. They focus on their attitude that they bring to their training. They focus on their effort that they bring. And they focus on the discipline that they bring.

Practice makes perfect

By adopting this “control the controllables” mindset they’re practicing getting better at it as a skill. Controlling where you’re directing your attention and your focus becomes a skill that you can improve and seek to master. The best performers practise this skill every single day.

Whether the Olympics are in Rio, Tokyo or Timbuktu the climate will be what it will be. You just have to get on with it and prepare to perform as well as you can in the conditions you face. Otherwise you’ll just become an expert in describing why the conditions are tough and that’s not a good look.

Behaviour follows attitude

Training your mind to think in this way will lead to behaviour that will help you to perform better. Attitude first and the rest will follow. While much of life remains unpredictable you can’t always choose what happens but you can always choose your response . These are the moments where top performers are tested and they choose their responses, in the moment and afterwards, very, very effectively.