GT: How to Build Mental Resilience

…when you, your body, the competition, nature, or the environment has the best of you so that you’re physically tapped out and need to figure out how to pull something out of yourself… not in a robotic way—in a way that’s mentally aware and engaged. It’s not just the ability to keep moving but to keep doing it in a way that’s engaged and competitive in the environment you’re in, whether that’s competing against the clock or other human beings. It’s easy when you feel good physically. It’s when that physicality leaves you.

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E kore e ngaro, he takere waka nui - Like the hull of a great canoe, treasure of tribal identity, a great person is never lost neither to waves of seas past nor waves of time future: Why you're stronger than you think you are - What you’re physically capable of in an endurance environment is more determined by your mental strength than your physical capabilities… your body can go beyond what your physical perceptions of tiredness or fatigue are. Your brain will be telling you “You’re tired. Stop.” It’s trying to stop you from killing yourself. The mental limitations kick in before the physical limitations.

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Timatanga, Ka oho tewairua, Ka mataratetinana, He aroha kitearoha, Ka kaa te rama - When your spirits awakened, when your body’s alive, when love is unconditional, enlightenment flows. Improve Self-Awareness: Be aware of your weaknesses so you can work on them. Know your strengths so you can use them. It is important to identify situations that you find difficult to deal with when competing. For example it could be certain mistakes or multiple mistakes, a frustrating opponent, bad calls or trying to close out a match. Once you have done this the next step is to make plans to commit to when these happen in the future. These should include thoughts, strategies for body reactions, behaviors, and a game plan for your play. The last step is to practice your new plan, first in training and then in competition. At first it may be a challenge to change your natural way of thinking and behaving for situations but like any new skill with practice it will become automatic.

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He toa taumata rau — Bravery has many resting places Increase Confidence: To be able to keep believing that you can perform well you need your mind full of past successes and reasons why you can play your best in any situation. This can come from remembering past performances where you dealt with tough situations and were able to perform at your best. To start with try this exercise: Write down 3 past performances where you overcame a difficult situation and were still able to perform to your best. Include how you were able to do this. It is also helpful to have images in your head of what you achieved. It is great to have a list of these situations that you can focus on when you begin to doubt yourself. You can use this list to need to increase your confidence when performing, particularly if you are not playing well or when you need to show your best under pressure.

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Iti rearea teitei kahikatea, ka taea - Even the rear bird can ascend the lofty heights of the Kahikatea tree. Tough Thinking: To be mentally tough you need to have a strong mind. Having a strong mind means mastering your self-talk and choosing what thoughts you use. If you can control your mind you will stay in the zone and keep your winning mindset. You need to be able to recognize when you are using negative or unhelpful thinking and usetechniques to stop or change your thoughts. You also need to be able to replace thoughts with positive or helpful thinking. It is important to understand the types of thoughts that can hurt and help you to manage your emotions and your performance. Once you understand this you can develop a list of positive and helpful thoughts you can use in tough situations to improve your mental toughness. One exercise to get you started is: Thought Stopping. First you need to recognize when you have a negative or unhelpful thought. For the next step there are 3 options:

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Whāia te iti kahurangi, ki te tuohu koe me maunga teitei - Pursue that which is precious and don’t be deterred by anything less than a lofty mountain. On training for mental toughness - Visualization is a piece of the training that is incredibly important. You don’t have to do anything physically—you can be meditating or walking, anything where you’re in your mind, playing it out in advance. You’re imagining the start, the route, the competition, those points that your body is saying, ”stop,” or that you’re suffering. You’re mentally training yourself to push through those barriers.

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He manga wai koia kia kore e whikitia - Is a river never to be crossed? Become Resilient: Develop a refocusing routine that you can use to bounce back quickly from mistakes and focus on the present. The goal is to achieve the same winning mindset before every point, play or skill. You will perform consistently in competition like you do in practice. If you use your routine successfully you will become resilient and be more likely to perform your best in any situation. A refocusing routine includes both physical and mental stepsthat you follow each time you need to refocus. To develop your own follow the steps below:

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Ka ngaro, ka ngaro, ka ea, ka ea, Te Toka a Tirikawa - I am lost, I am lost, I am found, I am found, the rock of Tirikawa is my guide. Perform Under Pressure: To be mentally tough athletes you need to be able to perform under pressure and show your best when you really need it. To stay composed and produce in the big moments develop focus points on how to play well. Think about when you are playing your best, what specific skills do you do well? These can be technical, physical or mental and will probably be part of your game plan. They need to be specific and in your control. For example “calm and composed,” “move your feet,” “good form” or “watch the ball”. Use these when you recognize that you are distracted by the pressure to get you refocused on how to play well. You do not need to do something extra special in pressure situations, just play well.

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Kaua e mate wheke mate ururoa - Don't die like a octopus, die like a hammerhead shark. Believe your success will be measured on your ability to get up when knocked down. There are five core things to live by that will provide you the foundation:

  1. Accept the truth. Realize and identify the person you are. What is truth of your situation? You have to be honest with yourself.

  2. Speak the truth. Putting it out there. Often, that means working with a coach or a mentor that will push you to peak performance. I’ve had business coaches for more than decade to help me get to next level. To this day I use my coaches to help me reframe when times are tough.

  3. Breathe through the truth. Being calm in the face of pressure or stress in not just mind over matter. I’ve learned a breathing technique called 6, 2, 7: Inhale for six seconds, hold for two, and exhale for seven. It is an amazing technique for athletes, but it works in any situation of high stress.

  4. Process the truth. You have to process truth where you currently are. Don’t expect to be perfect. Take your time. Old behaviors will often come into your realm as you attempt to make this change. To get mentally tough, you must silence the voice on your shoulder telling you to stray from where you are. You have power to silence that voice.

  5. Create a plan based up truth. Take look at past successes, whether in the boardroom or on stage. What were your behaviors like? What made you successful? Think big. Think of mental strength training as something you have to work on every day. Create your plan based on where you currently are.