Reading about Gabby Douglas’ gold medal performance in the UT San Diego paper, I was struck by the Olympic team coach’s comment that she was originally seen as a “good average gymnast” and not an obvious pick for being the gold medalist.

And that what they didn’t know was how well she would “handle nerves” and perform under the highest pressure.  It was here that she surprised and inspired.

So much of what it takes at the top levels is mental and in this department, we can take a page from the approach adopted by the US Women’s Gymnastic team:  “Normal”.  This was the mantra that I watched them say to each other and to themselves to keep the situation within human bounds.  Just do what you normally do – what you have done a thousand times in practice and elsewhere.  Topped off by telling each other, “you can do it!”

“Normal” seems to have worked well.  I wonder what the US men’s team, which did not fulfill their potential, had as their watchword?  It seemed that they put so much pressure on themselves that they could not get in their zone and do what they were capable of doing in each routine.

In business as well as sports, we each have the ability to perform at our best when it counts.  After putting in the effort, training and practice, it is all about mastering the mental game if we are to shine at key moments.  Of bypassing what Tim Gallwey (in The Inner Game of Tennis) terms our judgmental, conscious “Self 1” mind and allowing our natural abilities “Self 2” mind do what it does best.

Whether in the big meetings or key competitions, trust your self and make it normal.


Photo credit: © Gregory Bull/Associated Press