Monday, September 10, 2012

Mental toughness: You are infinitely powerful!!!

View this original post by me in its entirety HERE.

I have learned to believe that many amazing feats of physical endurance/accomplishment are 80% mental.  True you must physical do certain things to train your body to be prepared for certain conditions and to do certain tasks for an extended length of time.  You also must properly fuel it and hydrate it to keep the machine functioning at a basic metabolic level.

What I have learned through my own personal experiences running ultramarathons is that our minds are infinitely powerful at controlling, directing, and influencing our bodies into dong things beyond what most people consider to be humanely possible.  The body does send certain signals to the brain as a defense mechanism to make the case to our command center that it has had quite enough and that continuing will result in permanent harm or even potentially death.  The key as an ultramathoner or other endurance athlete is to know what signal you MUST listen to and which ones are merely your body suggesting that this is very uncomfortable and outside of a long-term sustainable range of action.
This gets me to the main point I making here.  The human body is capable of doing some things that are well beyond anything that we think is humanly possible and that the key to breaking through these barriers and going beyond is to tap into an unlock the unlimited power and potential our mind has to see one through a lofty endeavor both mentally and physically.
Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad is an excellent example.  She has made numerous attempts to cross the 103 miles from Cuba to Florida.  This feat has captured her imagination as an eight year old little girl.  Just this morning her latest attempt ended in failure.  Failure only in the sense that she did not accomplish YET what she set out to do.  I think it is fair to say this will not be the last we hear of Diana and lofty goal.
An article by Steve Siebold published in HuffPost today made some great points about Diana’s mental toughness and tenacity to tap into the mental strength it takes to stay the course in this very daunting and difficult pursuit.  Here are 10 great points the author makes about mental toughness:
1. Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. Nyad has a “Whatever it takes” attitude. She’s made the decision to pay any price and bear any burden in the name of victory. She’s tried over and over again and she’ll probably be back to give it another try in the near future.
2. Nyad embraces obstacles to growth. When most people run into an obstacle, they seek escape. Nyad has a plan to push forward when this happens because she knows facing adversity is part of being successful. Her obstacles included jellyfish, rough seas and thunderstorms, but she kept pushing for as long as she could.
3. Nyad looks to others to support her on so many levels. One of the biggest problems is that most people have no means of accountability or a support system in place when it comes to what they’re trying to accomplish. She has a team helping her every step of the way, and if you get with people who support and encourage you to accomplish your goals, you’re more likely to be successful.
4. Nyad is a learning machine. She spend hours practicing, studying the conditions, looking back on past performances and works closely with her coaches and mentors. If the average person adopted just a fraction of her work ethic, the results they could achieve would be endless.
5. Nyad knows ‘very good’ isn’t ‘best.’ For the average person, to be classified as very good is something to be proud of. For the great ones like Nyad, it’s an insult.
6. Nyad makes “Do or die” commitments. When most people are burned out from the battle, the world-class are just getting warmed up. It’s not that she doesn’t fatigue; but her commitment to her dream keeps her going.
7. Nyad is consistently great. The reason they she is so consistent is because her actions are congruent with her thought processes. She has a very clear mental picture of what she wants, why she wants it and how to move closer to her target objective. Nyad has been thinking of swimming across the Straits of Florida since she was 8 years old.
8. Nyad is coachable. Most people will only accept the amount of coaching their egos will allow. Champions like Nyad are well known for being the most open to world-class coaching. The bigger the champion, the more open-minded they are. You can bet she’s going to have some long coaching sessions when she recovers from this latest attempt.
9. Nyad compartmentalizes her emotions. In other words, she has the ability to put aside anything else going on at that very moment and focus only on the task in front of her. Sure she has things going on in her personal life, but despite that she manages to stay focused on her goal.
10. Nyad is a big thinker. Ask most people what they’re thinking at any given time, and you might be surprised to learn how many think about just getting by. That’s called selling yourself short. Nyad is fearless and focused on manifesting her ultimate dream of accomplishing that swim.
This type of mental toughness can be applied to any lofty goal or pursuit.  This does not only apply to physical challenges.  When I reflect back on some of my greatest moments of triumph there were many of these aspects of mental toughness that I had to deploy to be successful.  Perseverance.  Determination.  Diana Nyad personifies this and more.  So the next time the going gets tough dig deep within yourself.  Think about how you can find additional mental strength to carry on.  You are not a failure just because you fell short this time.  You just have not gotten there YET.  You only lose or fail if you quit.  Never, EVER give up on your dream.

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