Gold Medal Mindset: How to Train Your Mind Like a World-Class Athlete
Greatness is a mindset. Here’s what we can learn from the pros.
The achievements of world-class athletes often seem distant and lofty to us. They dedicate most of their lives to achieving peak physical performance and technical prowess. Yet when we see sprinters dash past the finish line or witness gymnasts land that magnificent stunt, we forget how important their mindset is in achieving such feats.
Mental training is just as important as physical training for professional athletes. As Popular Science emphasizes, they must train to “master their minds, regulate their focus, manage their emotions, and reach a state of flow.” That medal-winning performance is more than the result of 10,000 hours on the field. It’s the result of their mindset. So, what qualities can you emulate to develop a mindset worthy of a top place on the podium?
Let’s take a look at 5 ways you can train your mind like a world-class athlete.
1. Keep Your Eye on the Prize 👀
Imagine being at the center of a roaring stadium crowd, or having a high-definition camera capture (and replay) your every move. Professional athletes have to overcome distraction and pressure to execute near-perfection. This requires an untold level of mental focus.
Where we place our intentional focus often defines who we are. It’s a practice that requires discipline, but it’s a skill you can develop. When exercising focus, the goal is not to eliminate all distractions, but to perform and think optimally *with* distractions. Train your mind to dial into what’s most important.
🧠 TRY THIS: the next time you’re outside or near a window, tune in to one specific sound (or sight) of nature. This is focus.
2. Maintain Marathon Persistence 🏁
Marathon runners are renowned for their ability to keep going against all odds. Fatigue, muscle strain, and heat are no match for their mental resilience. In a race, or in life, it’s impractical to not expect challenges. Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to keep going. But marathon persistence requires pacing—and patience. Forgive yourself for getting tired or sidetracked. Slow down if you need to. Maintain a relentless belief that you’ll make it to the finish line.
🧠 TRY THIS: when you get stuck or tired, rest and visualize yourself finishing the task. Let your mind pick up where your body left off.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice 🤸🏿♀️
No gymnast sticks the landing on their first attempt. It takes many attempts to get consistent success. Developing a gold medal mindset is the same. So, practice a daily routine of making time to create space and release mental clutter – even if just for five minutes. Block out time in your day that isn’t a moment of obligation, but a moment of inspiration. Eventually, you’ll stick the landing.
🧠 TRY THIS: take five minutes a day to do something that inspires you: read, draw, write, etc. The next day, take another 5 minutes. By the third day, take 6 minutes and keep increasing that time until you have a daily inspirational routine.
4. Stay in Sync 🏊🏼
Artistic swimmers spend hours perfecting their synchronicity. In fact, their success is entirely based on those around them. It’s easy to get caught up in the individualism that the terms ’mindset’ or ’self-care’ implies. Yes, your mindset starts with you, but it’s essential to maintain a support system that helps you grow, inspires you, and holds you accountable. Sync up with others – just a text is fine, no pool required – and collectively commit to a gold medal mindset. Life is a team sport.
5. Dive in 🌊
As professional divers approach the platform, they don’t let fear get in the way – even if diving 33 feet into the water may be terrifying. Embarking on a new journey or goal often feels the same. Release the fear of failure and be open to the unknown. Beautiful things can happen, but first you need to take the dive.
6. Candles can help increase focus in a work from home environment
The rise in WFH and remote work means our workspaces are full of comforts—and distractions. But why would anyone light a candle at their work desk? To keep those distractions at bay. From chatty co-workers (albeit via Slack) to social media, candles are a thoughtful corporate gift that can help us focus and create space for us to do our best work.
Consider it a productivity hack. 💡
The presence of a candle flame can set a calming mood. Wooden wick candles in particular have a unique soft-crackling sound, which can serve as natural and relaxing ambient sound in one’s space. Plus, select scent profiles, like citrus, woody or a floral scent of a scented candle can influence physiological responses that help keep the mind on track.
7. Candles can be an environmentally responsible gift choice
First, it‘s a candle, next it’s their favorite whiskey glass. 🥃
Depending on the candle’s vessel, most candle jars can be upcycled after the burn cycle of the candle. It can be used as storage, glassware and more, so you can feel good knowing that your gift will keep on giving! And your candle gift (once upcycled) can be a pleasant reminder, if not a conversation piece in their home, of your thoughtfulness.
A candle gift set solves my gifting needs—but wait! I don’t know what candle scent they may like 😟
We’re all capable of great things, but achieving greatness requires having the mindset to match. A gold medal mindset gives you the emotional intelligence that can influence your physical actions and can be applied to achievements in your personal and professional life. Don’t underestimate the muscle you have in your head. 🧠