Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pressure, Part II

I've received such a huge response about the Pressure video I made for the 1% Academy, I thought I needed to revisit the topic. This subject has created a stir, in my opinion, because my take on Pressure is very much against the grain, causing people to question their rooted definition of the word. Since most are instinctively against major change, you can imagine the conversations I've had on the topic.

From the time my memory began, the definition of pressure has been hammered into my brain. Growing up as an athlete, learning how to "handle" or "deal" with pressure better than my opponents has been logged into my daily practice routines. I've been told by coaches, parents, and all the so-called experts that the only way to separate from the pack was to play better than them under this monster they named pressure.

As a tennis instructor, I naturally taught my students the same principles about pressure that everyone taught me, but as I began creating my mental performance base, something changed. Before I could teach anyone else how to develop their mental and emotional game, I first had to take a long, hard look at my own, both current and past. I quickly started seeing patterns in the way I approached pressure situations, and realized my body's physical reaction to those moments were dictated by my perception of the moments.

I remember the day as if it was yesterday, when I first asked myself the question: Could it be possible that pressure didn't really exist? Could it be that what I called pressure was actually just my thoughts creating specific emotional and physical reactions?

Unfortunately, I didn't have the courage at the time to "buck the system." Being the young kid on the block, I didn't posses the confidence or awareness that I controlled my confidence. So, rather than trying to change the way other coaches and players viewed pressure, I kept my new views on the inside, waiting until "tomorrow" to approach the topic.

Well, tomorrow has come ... and it's today! Since I couldn't find any "experts" who agreed with me, I had to dive deep within, draw from every past competitive situation, and analyze in detail my reaction to this pressure monster. (Andy Morrison @AMGolfMindCoach on Twitter) is literally the only coach I could find who agrees with my viewpoint. That's o.k., because I understand how unwilling most are about such a major change in their mindset.

After countless hours of self analyzation, my opinion on pressure has taken a 180 degree turn. Pressure moments do not exist! What we call pressure is simply our perception of the moment, creating an emotional and physical reaction. These reactions are definitely real, but they are created by our thoughts of the specific occasion. We have two ways of viewing these moments: With fear or excitement. When we understand that the physical reactions to these moments are all self-induced, rather than produced by some tangible creature named pressure, we'll immediately bust free from our mental handcuffs.

Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, maybe the two most mentally tough athletes of all-time, will say they love and thrive under pressure, primarily because they don't know any other term for this moment of consequence. What they're really saying is they love the opportunity to change fear of failure into excitement for the challenge. It's not pressure they love (because it doesn't exist), it's the 1% Mindset of choosing anticipation and fearlessness of the mental battle. They thrive on winning the fight that is process immersion vs. results thinking. Tiger and Michael learned at an early age that succumbing to the fear of "what if I fail" was death to their long term performance. They CHOSE to view each of these moments with enjoyment.

Change your mindset, change your life!

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