There are lots of things in life we can control, but many that we can’t. I’ve been learning to come to terms with this. When I was younger I thought I could control a whole lot more than I actually could. I thought I could control exactly what my future with Nike was going to look like– more what my future in agility would look like. When that started to wane, though, I didn’t respond in the way I wish I had. Because ultimately the only thing you can really control is your response—your attitude—your mental image. You can control the way you react to what’s happening around you– and within you. Maybe Nike deserved better from me at the time. I’ll blame youth to a point, inexperience a little more, and perhaps a lack of patience the most.
What I did learn from that time is that I had the ability to change. I could change my attitude about the sport, my goals with Nike, my goals for my future. I could make the choice to either dwell on the things that didn’t go well, or I could focus on what was right. I had the bad habit of re-watching mistakes, rather than good runs. Of talking negatively to friends ringside instead of focusing on what could go right. I’ve taken to re-reading Lanny Basham’s With Winning in Mind, and there is a great excerpt on not allowing yourself to fall into the trap of negative talking. Thinking and talking about what could go wrong increases the likelihood that it will go wrong. Much like listening to those talking about what could go wrong will increase the probability as well. As he succinctly writes, “Do not spend time listening to the problems of others, or you will soon inherit their problems.”
There is so much truth in this.
One thing I like to do with my students is to carry a nerf gun on hand. As soon as the words “I can’t—it won’t work— he/she isn’t good at – I’m not good at” (fill in any number of negative phrases in here) are uttered, they are hit with foam darts. I had to do it a lot more often in the beginning… less so now. Only we control what we say, and think. If you start out a training session or any run in the mindset “I can’t” then you won’t. It’s as simple as that. Fire a nerf gun at yourself when you find those thoughts creeping up. Mentality, like a muscle, is strengthened with constant use and exercise. It becomes easier the more you do it. Fake it if you must in the beginning. There were lots of training sessions and bad runs where I forced a smile, deleted the video from my phone, and said something like, “well, we had a great start line stay!” (now I really, really mean it when I find something good, promise).
So we may not be able to control the exact timeline of our goals, or what happens in every single run. We certainly can’t control what those around us do our say. We have no control over anyone other than ourselves. We are what we repeatedly think about. Our mental image of who we are and how we perform directly impacts what we actually do. Think of what you want– positively. Gain control of your thoughts and your reactions to what is around you. Flex that muscle repeatedly.
It will change everything.