How emotional intelligence is helping athletes get gold (and how it can help you too!)

I’m sure that like me you enjoyed watching the recent Olympics and Paralympics on the TV.

Wasn’t it great to see Team GB do so well and come away with so many medals?

Telling words

Whilst watching I became very interested in some of the comments that the athletes made when they were interviewed.

Following their event, quite a few of them began to talk about how they were feeling. However, more than once, the TV presenter interviewing them instead moved the conversation on to ask them about their mindset.

One particular question was, “How did you cope with the pressure?”

And the athlete replied, “Well, I didn’t put any pressure on me. It was other people that wanted to put the pressure on me. I choose instead to focus on the event.”

Another athlete spoke about ‘being present in the moment’ and having the ability to not be distracted by other people.

The language they used was interesting and I believe that now, in addition to physio and coaching support, senior athletes are receiving emotional intelligence training.

So, what’s it all about?

Emotional intelligence for sport

Emotional intelligence is simply being aware that you are here, right now, in the present time.

Have you ever tried to go back in time or jump forward into the future? Of course you haven’t and that’s because time travel is simply not possible.

The past has happened and it cannot be changed. The future is something that may or may not happen – you simply can’t guarantee it.

So, whilst we can’t jump through time, one thing we can do is to get better at living right here, right now.

With me so far? Great.

The Olympic mindset

Let’s go back to our Olympians.

Quite a number of coaches work with their team members before the event and take them through a visualisation exercise.

Of course, the thing they’re envisaging and visualising is them achieving their time, beating their opponent or winning that gold medal.

This obviously helps them focus on achieving the thing they want.

Personally, I’d call this ‘building belief through visualisation’.

Choose to believe

We all have a choice between feeling good and feeling bad and, if we are able to make this choice, we will always choose the good over the bad. I know you may find it hard to believe we have a choice, especially when feeling particularly bad (I call this ‘feeling CRAP’!). I can, and often do, prove this when working with people on my events, that they have a choice in how to feel about a particular person or event.

It is therefore much better for an athlete to choose to feel good and to believe in winning – even if they don’t win.

Visualisation is just a tool an individual is using to get their mindset to a place where they can also feel good. Why is feeling good so important? Imagine the times you last felt CRAP. Did you do your best? Enough said…

Inspiration from others

Belief also relates to the process where one person’s success drives the successes of others.

If a sportsperson sees a fellow team member win a gold and then perhaps, a second team member wins a gold, they will then believe that they have so much more of a chance of doing this themselves.

Be here now

So it’s all part of the same thing. We have to be present in the here and now because the here and now is the only place we can actually do anything.

Focused thinking

Emotional and mental intelligence are therefore both important when it comes to achieving an Olympic win.

Being in the moment is central to this because if an athlete focuses on anything other than being in the moment, as soon as they do this, they will have dropped back into thinking about either what happened in the past (that time they had to pullout or failed to complete) or what may happen in the future (will I get a medal, will it be gold or silver, will my main competitor be faster than me at the end?).

In addition, if an athlete runs a race and all they think about is crossing the finish line first, their mind will only be on that one thing. Therefore they will not be focusing on each moment in the race, on how they are running at that time, where their fellow team members are, how many laps are left, when to make their move, where their main opponents are.

Each moment requires a different focus.

Rather than focusing just on that finish line, they must therefore focus 100% on each moment and respond accordingly.

So the visualisation thing is good, but being in the moment is the most important thing.

Amazing achievements

Our amazing Olympians are therefore wonderful examples of people who are able to focus on the moment and use emotional intelligence.

And when the difference between winning and losing may be a millisecond, they must do this to win.

It could help you too

Would you like to know how emotional intelligence can help you? I have a track record of helping professional business people do just this. Can you do with more success? Or maybe you are already successful and are working even harder to maintain your success than you did to achieve it?

If you would like be more of the person you want to be, do less to achieve your goals and achieve them even faster, then please give me a call and we can have a chat about how EQ may be relevant to your circumstances..

You don’t by the way, have to be an Olympian to benefit. You do need to have big dreams! Here’s my version of Faster, Higher, Stronger:

Be More, Do Less, Achieve More
Go on then…….