A curly question that I get asked a lot is what do successful riders have that others don’t? What is it about them that allows them to change their thinking on a less than average day and come out on top?
First up, we need to get our head around what the notion of success actually is. Success itself is a very subjective term and can only be defined on an individual basis; as a consequence, lets move forward on the understanding that success is the ability to move towards or create a desired result, regardless of what that result may actually be.
To me, successful riders are not those who have a special gift, or a secret skill that separates them from others. Instead, they have mastered a very specific but most excellent skill to have and that is the ability to control their emotional state.
State is a combination of your psychological and physiological condition and something that we manifest as an outward representation of our internal world. For example, if you are currently feeling nervous, then you are in a nervous state. The same can be said for confidence; when you are feeling supremely confident, you are in a confident state.
How we respond or behave at any moment in time in based on the state of our mind and body. So with this knowledge, how do we then go about managing our state so that we can consistently move towards our desired outcome? It boils down to two things; the ability to consciously direct our focus, and to use our body in such a way that supports a positive psychology.
Focus is the pivot point on which you formulate your idea of the world and of events that are happening to you. It is your focus that determines your outcomes, and as a result your ability to direct your focus consistently towards positive and empowering meanings means that it is the ultimate determinant of your success and happiness.
Essentially whatever you choose to focus on you give meaning too, and as soon as you assign meaning you assign power. Experience only becomes positive or negative once you assign meaning, and the meaning that you assign is a direct result of your focus. Meaning either lifts you up and drives you forward, or brings you down. The real skill then lies in your ability to continually control and direct your focus and to put every situation and event into an empowering context.
The more that you can direct your focus in a way that continually concentrates on the solution as opposed to the problem, the more that you continue to search for empowering meanings, the more successful you will be. The reality is, what you focus on becomes what you feel, whether it’s true or not.
The second sphere of influence is your body. Every emotional state that you move through is mirrored in your body, most obviously in your posture and your breath. Whilst your state of mind has a direct impact on your body, you can also use your body to influence your state of mind; it’s a two way street! Altering the way that you move, hold yourself and breathe automatically affects your mood and your biochemistry.
Every emotion has a physiology attached. If I ask you to adopt the posture of confidence, you would most likely stand tall, shoulders back and head held high. How do I know this? Because this stance is recognized as the physiology of that particular emotion.
In the moment where things are going pear shaped, these are the two main areas to pay attention to. Where is my focus? Am I directing my focus in a direction that is allowing me to remain resourceful? Am I asking myself the kinds of questions that direct me to seek out the answers that I need?
Then check in with your body. What do I need to adjust? How is my posture? How is the quality of my breath?
Paying attention to these two key areas will allow you to automatically shift direction towards the outcomes you desire.