How do you motivate yourself? How do you keep yourself going when you are tired, fatigued, falling behind? How do you tap into your best self when it is nowhere to be found?
I play racquetball 3, 4, or 5 times a week and I’ve done so for probably well over 40 years. I used to play 5 games a time; now it is 3 at most, sometimes only 2. These days I’m content to clock in 30 to 40 minutes of intense exercise at a time, just enough to keep the heart ticking over good.
I’m a good player, with shot selection and a good forehand as my strengths as well as court coverage and hustle: in my youth, playing on outdoor courts, I was infamous for my willingness to dive onto concrete to make a shot. I win a lot but I also lose a fair amount. Sometimes I get so far behind that winning seems like an unrealistic goal and defeatism, negativity, and even stress begin to dance around the edges of my mind, knocking hard, wanting in to wreak their havoc.
Fear is the mind killer (Dune/Frank Herbert). I take control of my thoughts and through them, my emotions. I have my mantra and affirmations to coach and calm myself. My favorite in this instance is a simple one: “This is What I Do. I’ve played this game for decades. I’m good at it. I know what to do. I know how to stay calm and play my game. My body knows what to do; relax. This is what you do, you are good at it. This is what you do, do it.”
I release any focus on winning the game per se and simply set the goal of winning the next point, or even the next stroke. Win all those and I win the game! At yet another level, I simply set the goal of hitting ball HARD. That becomes my new definition of winning: to have hit EVERY remaining shot in the game as HARD as I possibly can, even harder. It is amazing how often I am able to pull off a win where logic says nay.
“This is what I do” applies in other areas. I’ve studied leadership and the art of business and commerce all my life. It is my craft. Inevitably there are challenges, crises, and stress. When they arise, I repeat to myself: “This is what I do. I’ve trained for this all my life. I am good at it. All will be well.”
“If fear alters behavior, you’re already defeated.” – Brenda Hammond
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
“That which we repeatedly do becomes easier. Not that the nature of the thing has changed but that we have grown more skilled.” – Proverb
As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier