Elite performers don’t rely on talent alone. Rather, they harness the power of shifting between complementary mindsets—one for preparing effectively and one for delivering when it counts. In Shift Your Mind, you’ll learn nine key mental shifts to elevate your preparation and your performance like an elite performer.
Shift 1: Humble and Arrogant
Most of us have been taught to avoid arrogance and to be humble always, but that message is half-baked, neglecting what is needed once we are onstage. If we carry our arrogance into our preparation, though, we won’t have what it takes to succeed when the time comes to execute. Remember, the great ones work as if they are not great, but they perform as if they are great—before they are labeled so. Master formulating your humility-arrogance cocktail and know where it will take you.
Shift 2: Work and Play
The average person spends approximately thirteen years and two months of his or her life at work. How we show up and what we do while we are there—that’s up to us. Put in the necessary hard work during preparation so you can tap into it and perform with play in mind. Rely on both—your work mind and your play mind—to bring out your best and to increase the fulfillment you experience.
And remember, when things don’t work out in performance, go back to your work so you can be better prepared for next time. Then, when you get that next opportunity, play your heart out.
Shift 3: Perfectionistic and Adaptable
When you train your mind to be adaptable, it learns how to deal with difficult environments. Your mind will become more agile, and your capacity in performance will grow. At the same time, it’s important to remember that striving for perfection is not a crime; in fact, it will help you get to exactly where you want to go. You just need to be intentional about when to use your perfectionistic drive and when to shift into the adaptable mind. And remember, the goal isn’t actually to become perfect—that is unattainable. The true goal is to leverage your perfectionistic mind in preparation so you can be adaptable in performance. And how perfect is that?
Shift 4: Analysis and Instinct
The deep-thinking, critical mind that we need for analysis allows us to reflect on how we can constantly improve and become elite performers. By spending time analyzing your inner game, you will be better prepared to let go of that analysis when it’s time for your instinct to take over. On the flip side, it’s just as important to train your instinctive mind so you can more easily tap into it when it’s time to perform. Cultivate your ability to shift from your analytical mind to your instinctive mind, and you will see your performance improve as your enjoyment of performance grows
Shift 5: Experimenting and Trusting Process
Want to be a great performer? The more you can appreciate the experimentation and iteration stage and how it frees you up to trust the process, the better off you’ll be. There are so many ways to experiment! Find what works for you, for your craft, and then experiment with experimenting.
We should never allow ourselves to become set in our ways when it comes to how we prepare. The more we invite new ideas and approaches, the greater our trust in our process will be. That trust fills the gap between potential and outcome. When it’s time to let go of new ideas and refocus away from results, find your inner faith that whatever will happen, will happen. That’s where clarity overwhelms clutter. It’s where successful performance lives.
Shift 6: Uncomfortable and Comfortable
After a performance, it’s essential to avoid becoming complacent with comfort. That often means walking a fine line. Do pre game rituals help you? Why or why not? What happens when you feel a bit uncomfortable while performing? What do you focus on?
Think about how you can create discomfort in preparation to ensure you will be comfortable the next time you are performing. Reflecting on these aspects of your performance mind will help you become more self-aware. This new perspective will have you doing an even better job of being uncomfortable when you need to be and yet comfortable when your performance requires it.
Shift 7: Future and Present
Focusing on the future can unlock your ability to be present in performance. Practice both minds. Train yourself to tap into the power of the future through visualization and vision, and to access the power of the present through focus. We live in a fast, ever-changing world that requires us to shift between the two. As our world continues to evolve, these two sides of the shift will become more and more mandatory for elite performance. It’s up to you to commit to both
Shift 8: Fear and Fearlessness
Preparation is the time to listen to your fears, pay attention to what you can learn from them, and let them motivate you to work harder. When it’s time to perform, though, you have to let go of the possibility of losing or your fear of the worst-case scenario. It’s all a matter of focus. What will you do to tap into fear of failure in preparation and fearlessness in performance? Commit today to preparing with fear in mind so you can let go of it in your next performance
Shift 9: Selfish and Selfless
When we focus on ourselves in preparation and on others in performance, we tug on both our physiological and our psychological nature, which allows us the opportunity to fulfill our potential. To be clear, it’s the focus on the self that unlocks the ability to focus on the other.
Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your health. Make time for your needs. Prioritize your personal goals. All of it will help you prepare yourself, and that self-work gives you the best opportunity to help others. Inner work on the self will prepare you for anything that may come your way. We work best from the inside out, with a focus on selfish preparation that allows us to perform selflessly for others
Time for Action
Now that you have learned the importance of the preparation mind and the performance mind, where do you go from here? As the great Maya Angelou said,
“Nothing will work unless you do.”
Here are eight ways to continue working on applying the shifts:
- Identify the performer in you. When and where are you performing? Drill down on where the line falls, in your life and work, between preparation and performance.
- When matters. Start looking for alignment with the two minds in your own life. When are you leveraging the right mind, and when are you not? Learn from yourself.
- Explore your own shifts. The world is not a one-size-fits-all program. It’s up to you to create the program that boosts your performance.
- Observe others. Take in your work environment, watch a sporting event, go to a play, read, or watch interviews with great performers.
- Practice, practice, practice. Continue to grow the preparation and performance minds in your life and work.
- Stay gritty. Embodying these shifts does not occur overnight. It will take time. Even when it seems like one of the shifts is unobtainable, continue to press on.
- Challenge and support. Seek out help in developing your mind. It may be a podcast, a therapist, a coach, a mentor, a manager, a TED Talk or a friend.
- Share this book. Communication is what breeds culture—the ecosystem we all live in at work and at home.