Think Like an Athlete: 5 Ways To Boost Your Self-Confidence at Work
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Think Like an Athlete: 5 Ways To Boost Your Self-Confidence at Work

Think Like an Athlete: 5 Ways To Boost Your Self-Confidence at Work

The workplace, like the playing field in sports, is packed with competition -- often against oneself. It demands being at your best, reaching and exceeding goals, working hard to master all aspects of a position, and proving you're capable of taking on more.

Someone might have all the requisite skills to succeed, but they also might become their own biggest obstacle when self-criticism gets in the way. Confidence becomes a problem when difficult experiences at work, such as making mistakes or being passed over for an opportunity, cause us to question ourselves and create negative thoughts.

To produce positive thoughts and smooth the path toward success, you must create a mindset based on processes that are purposeful. The mind can get lonely and focus on negative things, and we risk giving our attention to thoughts that can eat away at us, destroy our confidence, and take us out of our rhythm.

We begin to listen to a cartoon version of the devil who sits on one shoulder and whispers in our ear. So we need to develop ways to listen to that other voice within us, that angel on the opposite shoulder, to quiet the inner critic. I would like to suggest a five-step process to develop a more positive mindset and boost your confidence at work.

  • Focus on winning in the present. Dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about what comes next can create self-doubt. Staying present is key and requires resiliency, which leans on past training and the skills that led to achievements. I liken a resilient worker to an athlete like a placekicker, who shakes off a missed field goal and comes back to make the game-winner. The workplace setting doesn't wait for you to get over things. And rather than fearing making more mistakes, you must ask yourself, "What's important now?" To be the best you can be in the current moment, you must focus all of your energy on the present and embrace it.
  • Breathe to relax and refocus. Refocusing always starts with your breath. It casts out distractions and allows you to be yourself. Focusing on your breathing reminds you that this is something you can control and, in turn, you can control your thoughts. Ultimately, you're training your subconscious mind how to use the breath to settle you.
  • Meditate. Meditation builds off your controlled, sustained breathing and becomes a practice to develop clarity and create a calm space in the mind. Meditation brings control and harnesses much of the untapped power of the mind. It aligns your mind, body, and spirit.
  • Visualize. To reach peak performance you must be able to see yourself performing well. The more precisely you can see yourself in action, the more you are able to adjust and control that image, change its details, and guide its outcome. Visualization also entails tapping into an emotion, feeling the confidence of the moment that you see yourself making happen.
  • Engage in self-talk. Learn to become your own best motivator. You can do this through the power of positive language directed at yourself. You want to develop a language that creates purposeful optimism. Find specific language that can give voice to your feelings and enhance your internal drive.

Training the mind to generate confidence, quell fear, and spark joy empowers you to be better than your negative side thought you could be.

 Grant Parr is a mental sports performance coach and the author of The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare for the Unknown. He owns and runs Gameface Performance, a consulting firm that enhances mental skills for athletes and coaches. A recruiter and sales leader in the corporate world for 17 years, he works with a wide variety of athletes including Olympians, professionals, collegians, and high school athletes. His podcast, "90% Mental," provides a window into a broad range of athletes' and coaches' mental games and shares their insights around mental performance.

Published: September 1st, 2019

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