A Champion Mentality

Most of us, will never be Olympic champions or break a Guinness World Record but, we can learn a lot from a champion mentality or mental strength from those who do.

The Netflix movie starring Jodie Foster and Annette Benning tells the story of Diana Nyad completing the 110 mile/180km swim from Cuba to Florida at age 64. A goal that had eluded her over 30 years earlier. What struck me when watching this, were 4 areas of mental toughness: confidence, control, commitment and challenge.

At no point in the movie does Diana waver in her confidence of herself and her abilities to complete the swim. At times demonstrating an overconfidence as she minimised some of the dangerous challenges she would face. Although I remember reading a fact which said confidence is 90% delusion. Her lack of sensitivity in her interpersonal communication however, becomes problematic and she often comes across as aggressive or intolerant. A tendency that can be seen in people who are high in mental toughness with a lack of empathy for others.

Nyad was determined to remain in control both of her life and the swim. Turning 60 seemed to be the catalyst for her refocus to achieving the goal. Emotionally she never waivers and her commitment to the challenge remains steadfast. With each jelly fish sting or shark approach she takes a learning mindset and finds the most qualified experts in the world to design for her a suit that would protect her. Mentally tough individuals do not shy away from risk but it would take the realistic approach of her team to ensure that the risk is balanced with safety precautions.

With each failed attempt armed with new learning she remains even more committed to achieving the goal breaking each task down to make it achievable and it would take 5 attempts over a number of years to do so.

We all lie somewhere on the sensitivity to toughness spectrum and it is a personality trait that determines our ability to respond to stress or challenges in our lives. I lean towards the sensitive side and some positive traits of high sensitivity are empathy, self-awareness, humility, strong intuition, but some challenges associated with this trait are feeling overwhelmed, people pleasing, lower tolerance, self-criticism, conflict avoidance. Part of my personal development over the past few years has been identifying which of these areas have been impacting me negatively and which serve me well.

When Nyad reaches Florida, she has three messages for us; never give up, you are never too old to chase your dreams, and it takes a team. If you have a goal for you or your team and feel development in the area of mental toughness would be of benefit, I would be happy to have a complimentary and confidential discussion.

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