The myth of mindset and peak performance

Nicky Davies
For a long time now I’ve been really curious about the whole thing around mindset and peak performance and I’ll tell you why. I noticed that when I perform at my best, whether delivering a presentation, training session, or coaching someone, it’s from a place of flow. Of effortlessness, if there is such a word! Of peace and calm.

There was no big rah-rah self-talk hyping me up to deliver the most awesome presentation ever given. No clenching of the fist and a ‘yes! You’ve got this’. None of those. My performing at my best was simply much quieter than this. Silent in fact.

And yet I’d see Tony Robbins or someone else getting super hyped before an event they were delivering and yes, they nailed it, but did they really need to hype themselves up before delivering at their peak performance? I don’t think so.

You see mindset isn’t the way our minds work. At least not in a sustainable way because nobody’s mind is ever really set. 
Trying to lock into a particular thought pattern or mindset doesn’t make sense

We have about 50,000 / 60,000 thoughts every day. Thoughts are fleeting and designed to be that way. Think about how many different things you have thought about while listening to the last couple of minutes of this podcast. You might have had a thought of ‘that’s curious’ quickly followed by ‘I wonder what I’ll have to eat later’, ‘oh I must remember to call so and so’, ‘hmm look at that over there’, and so it goes on.

Trying to lock into a particular thought pattern or mindset doesn’t make sense and isn’t sustainable for long periods of time. In fact, it might even cause stress and anxiety.

Peak performance occurs when you actually get out of your head and become fully present in the moment.

Tim Grover writes about this in his book Relentless; from good to great to unstoppable. He writes about his training elite athletes like Michael Jordan. And his advice? “Don’t think.” It’s not about being hyped-up. It’s about being who you are – relaxed with no emotion.

He writes about how you make a commitment to excellence and train and practice repeatedly. “Do your thinking and planning in advance, so that when your back is against the wall, you’ve got the right move.” It comes instinctively. Sweat the detail in your training, then go into the game relaxed, not hyped up.
No mindset required

Timothy Gallwey, another performance coach wrote a whole series of books about the Inner Game, and came up with a formula to summarise the inner game, which is basically performance = potential – interference.

Interference is thinking! It may be you’re thinking at the time ‘what if I screw this up…’, ‘what if I fail’ but its not limited to just so-called negative thoughts. The whole mindset idea of pumping yourself up with so-called ‘good’ thoughts is also interference.

We all have so much potential that we usually only scratch the surface of this. But imagine if you had no interference. No thought while performing, doing whatever task it may be. What if you were in that meeting and were really present, not thinking about or wondering what you should say, or do next, worried about what others’ may be thinking about you, the list goes on. What if you were to relax, let go of the interference and just be. How much would that improve your performance?

No mindset required.
author bio

Nicky Davies

Trusted Business Mentor & Executive Coach Nicky is CEO of WAVA Global, developing inspired leaders in organisations around the world. Her love of sailing means that she spends 6 months of the year with her family on their sailboat in the Mediterranean.

Nicky also has a podcast, Developing Inspired Leaders, and can be contacted via LinkedIn or her website:
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