“The right attitude and one arm will beat the wrong attitude and two arms every time.”
Do you play any sports? If you do, you will realize that the mindset you go in to play with makes a huge difference on your performance, which is why sports is not just about skills but also about mental toughness. Can you consistently be above average every time you play? You might be the most talented player in the field but if your mind does not have the intent to showcase your talent every time then it does not really matter how good you are. It is funny how your body language, the way you carry yourself on the playing field, reflects the state of your mind you are in.
I play cricket on weekends. I have been doing so for the past 7 years now. Being a batsman, every time I go into bat I realize that my intentions shape the kind of cricket I play on the day. If I am being too cautious I play defensively. If I am backing my abilities I play aggressively. My best performances have come when I have been able to fight the fear of failure. Its usually a mental battle each and every time. On the one hand there is the anxiety of failure which is very real. Your heart is beating faster, endorphins are kicking in to make you feel on edge, sweat is dripping and there is no one who can help. I still can’t forget the feeling I had as a 15 year old when my coach told me to pad up and go in to bat in a seniors game. I was so nervous that my teeth were chattering. When my turn came, I went in and got out on the 1st ball I faced. My fear of not performing paralyzed me so much that I got the result that I feared – poor performance. These days I go in to bat as an opener at the beginning of the game because I want to be facing my fears, not imagining them. I got out on the first ball I faced in one of the games this weekend. I walked out smiling I do not beat myself up anymore when I am unable to perform. Instead I remind myself about the law of averages – if I succeed 7 out of 10 times I am doing well. This was just 1 of the 3 times that I failed. You can learnt to use your reasoning ability to convert your anxious nerves into fuel that heighten your alertness and perceptive ability for the better. Think of your anxiety and fear as the dragon and the power of your intent as the knight. If you can defeat the dragon once, your life will never be the same again because you now know that you can beat it again. The dragon is what Steven Pressfield calls “The Resistance”. It will always be there telling you how you are not good enough. It will always make you doubt, worry and question your abilities. To have power over your dragon you need to go in with the intent of giving it your all irrespective of the outcome. Continue reading →
Did you know that you actually need stress in your life? Yes you “need it”. Without stress you would become depressed and probably wouldn’t have a reason to live. The kind of stress I am talking about is called Eustress, which is good stress. It is the stress that challenges us to solve problems, learn new skills, be creative and go to the next level – it is what makes you tackle your inner fears to walk over fire to make it to the other side. If you did not have this kind of stress life would be boring. People who have no eustress are often resigned from life. Can you think of people in your life who lack eustress? You can often see this lack of eustress in people who retire from their jobs to go into “relaxation” mode.
The stress you relate with as do the majority is called Distress. Everytime you say “man, I am stressed out!” or “my girlfriend is driving me up the wall” or “my manager is piling on work that I cannot perform”… you are pointing to the psychological distress you feel. From a very early age this kind of stress has had a negative impact on you. When you feel distress your body releases cortisol a hormone that reduces your immunity, interferes with learning, is linked to heart disease, obesity and many other negative outcomes. All in all, you do not perform up to your potential. The feeling just eats you up. You cannot focus on your work, you don’t eat or eat the wrong things, you find everything around you a reason to be miserable. I know I know, I am stating the obvious. The question is what can you do about it? The answer lies in philosophy. It isn’t awfully important what kind of philosophy you follow, but it is important that you follow a philosophy to guide you. One of the philosophies you can pursue is called Stoicism. Continue reading →
When you think about motivating someone at work what is the first thing that comes to mind? I am sure pay would be right up there. Most of us tend to think that a higher pay would yield a higher output. The logic behind that thinking is that the monetary incentive would drive our motivation through the roof, making us perform at our best. Life would be great if it were so simple. Research has shown time and again that being paid more does not lead to you being happy at work. Infact in many cases a higher pay actually leads to a fall in productivity. Don’t get me wrong, pay is important. I am not suggesting that you abandon the desire to earn more money. On the contrary, the amount of money you make is the only neutral way of judging the value that you create. But there is more to happiness than getting paid a hefty amount. It is what scientists call “Self-Determination Theory”.
Self Determination Theory states that we can be internally motivated and self-driven instead of looking for external factors to determine our behavior. It makes a clear distinction between intrinsic motivation (personal values, interests, things you would do because you enjoy doing them) and extrinsic motivation (money, title, position, things you would do because others praise you for it). It narrows down three factors which are universal and innate for all individuals irrespective of their line of work. These factors include:
- Autonomy – the freedom to work with independence. The ability to create without having a boss always looking down your shoulder. The ability to use your creative insights to solve problems without the need to get permission to think and act every step of the way. We do have our ups and downs; having autonomy goes a long way in helping us manage those swings.
- Competence – knowing that you are good at what you do. The valuable skills that you have are valuable because you have developed them over the years. It takes time but it yields rewards.
- Psychological Relatedness – being able to get along with your colleagues because you share similar values and interests. Being able to share a common goal makes you feel more connected and driven. Work is just so much more fun when you are sharing the experience. Continue reading →