Olympic athletes have to be remarkably motivated in order to do what they do. Recently The Atlantic looked at some of the top-performing Olympians to see what motivates them. From the list:
1. Talk yourself through the stress. In 1993, researchers interviewed 17 national champion figure skaters and identified 158 unique coping strategies they used. The most common, used by 76 percent of the skaters, was “rational thinking and self-talk,” which the study authors describe as logically examining all of the potential stressors, determining what could be controlled, and talking oneself through the problem rationally.
5. Stick with a coach who’s more like South, not North, Korea. Unsurprisingly, the coach (or boss, or spouse, or parents, in real life) matters almost as much as the athlete. In a 2000 study, Division I athletes were shown to be more motivated when the coaches were neither too easygoing nor hard-charging—they reinforced consistently, but with a democratic style of instruction.
6. Try mindfulness. Mindfulness is loosely defined as the nonjudgmental focus of attention on an experience as it occurs. In a 2009 paper in the Journal of Clinical Sports Psychology, French swimmers at the national level told researchers that while competing, “I had the sensation of being in control of what I did, so everything seemed easier.”
To have the motivation abilities equivalent to an Olympic athlete takes work, but it’s certainly possible. Anticipating how a project will go, working with a mentor or manager reinforces with a democratic style, and practicing being mindful are just a few of the motivation lessons we can learn from Olympic-level athletes.
Get all of the motivation tips right here, then use your imagination on how to incorporate them into your own work.
*My thanks to Tanner Christensen who shared these key thoughts.