What is a mental coach?
For executives and athletes, mental coaching is critical to attain and sustain high performance.
The mental part of the “game” is crucial to decide outcomes such as victory or defeat.
Here are a few questions I am often asked:
- Why is my mind so difficult to manage?
- How can I prepare myself for key moments?
- How do I deal with my fears?
- Why do I feel I am not good enough?
- How can I stay focused under pressure?
- What makes a team super successful?
What do all these questions have in common?
Your relationship with the mind.
In addition to technical and physical abilities, we also need to learn how to tame and control the mind. How to convey inner calm, exude self-confidence, and pass on positive energy.
Think of a time when you were super stressed. Maybe you forgot something important and it was too late to go back, maybe you were running late for a key meeting, or even worse - you were late for your hairdressing appointment!
Your mind got agitated, your ability to focus was seriously reduced, your breathing was shallow, your eye movement was faster, and your attention was selective. In fact, your Autonomic Nervous System was in complete fight or flight mode: high heart rate and release of cortisol in your body (cortisol being the stress response from your body).
These external reactions are propelled by your mind. A default circuit projecting a risky future where you are not safe. Things are not under control and may have a negative consequence on your entire life, your family, your pets, and perhaps even the entire neighbourhood. Total panic! In short, the mental auto-pilot has detected a risk and is now taking control.
The good news is that the communication between the mind and the body works both ways. The mind can send a stress signal and the body would react as above; alternatively, the body can send messages to the mind to cool it down. The most powerful action to take is breathing – breathing allows your body to take in more oxygen and oxygen cools down the system, injecting the brain with more opportunities to relax.
Your mind is a powerful tool, and you want to learn how to manage it to reach your highest potential. The question you may ask is 'how do you reach high performance and sustain it?'. The answer is clear. Performance finds its power within a balanced life, where mind-body-heart and spirit have their own space.
That said, the very first spark that will create the fire within you comes from a decision. A simple decision to act differently. This decision is sourced from your mind!
If making the decision to start your new diet takes a few seconds, the time it took you to reach that decision may be years of unhealthy eating. The role of the mental coach here is to help you accelerate the decision-making process to create a new reality.
The ability to perform at the highest level is directly related to the stillness of your mind. When your mind is riddled with anxiety or distractions, it interferes negatively with your emotional and physical sides. For athletes, being in the flow – the ultimate state of high performance – requires the mind to not interfere at all with the body. The body knows what to do - it has been trained for this. The mind, if given too much space, can go on a wild ride: “I told you... you shouldn’t have done this”; “Here we go again, I knew this mistake was coming”.
As written above, a disturbed mind makes impulsive decisions, develops bias in analysing situations, and stresses the body – in short, it does not help you!
The role of the mental coach is to help you get the best from your mind, to make your mind work for you and not against you.
The mental coach will focus on understanding your belief system, helping you look at your options from a different perspective. The goal is to take you to your highest level of performance. Whether you are an elite athlete or a corporate athlete, getting your mind to support you is the first step.
Once you are there, you aim for a state of coherence. Coherence is the optimal state in which the mind, heart, and emotions are operating in-sync and in balance. High performance is then just around the corner!