As I write this edition of the e-zine, we're in the final hours of that remarkable event called the Winter Olympics that have taken place here in Vancouver and Whistler. It's been an inspiring experience, with Canada actually owning the heart of the podium that supports gold medalists - more gold medals than any other country at any Winter Olympics. Canada also had 72 top-8 finishes, more than any other country. It was a remarkable performance by our athletes.
In our local newspaper, there was an article about Wayne Halliwell, a McGill University professor and sports psychologist who works with Alexandre Bilodeau (Canada's first gold medalist), Jennifer Heil (Canada's first medalist), and Joannie Rochette (Canada's most resilient figure skater who won bronze just days after her mother died unexpectedly).
Halliwell focuses on self-talk as a means of preparing athletes to perform. He works with them to choose key words to say to themselves moments before they perform. These trigger words and phrases are designed to replace doubts and fears with calm and confidence, creating what Halliwell calls "a clean mind with a clear path."
Halliwell wants his clients to become thermostats rather than thermometers, regulating the temperature in the situation rather than being regulated by it. He wants them to control the situations through the words that fill their breathing and thoughts. Clearly, the Canadian Olympians with whom he worked listened and learned.
Managers and leaders in our organizations are the 'corporate athletes' of this generation. As Jim Loehr
has been saying for over 15 years, the pressure to perform is more persistent and constant in the workplace than in any athletic endeavour. But the same principles apply in training and aligning a person's energy in both fields.
Three key words that my coaching clients have found particularly powerful and inspiring have been calm, curious, and appreciative. Many have chosen, when achieving their highest aspirations, to be calm within, curious about what's really going on around them, and appreciative of the opportunities and resources they discover.
Key words that put you in touch with the best you can be are powerful performance aids. What are the words and phrases that inspire you most? How can you breathe and think these words in your most pressured situations? To begin or ramp up your training, just choose the words and practice using them. You'll be amazed at the results.
May this aspect of the Olympic spirit infect us all,