Whether it’s running a certain finish time in your next race, weighing a specific amount by the first of next month, or completing 100% of the next fifty workouts your coach assigns you, congratulations. You’ve already succeeded where so many athletes and people looking to get fit fail. You've set up your Athletic Goal, you know your bullseye.
Over the years, I’ve developed a program for creating what I call the “elite athlete mindset” that I use with many of my clients to get them performing at their absolute peak. What I want to share with you today are my top three strategies from that program. These tips alone have helped people like you get lean, lift more, jump higher, run faster, run farther, run pain-free, and unleash their inner elite athlete.
Now, I need a simple commitment. Over the years, clients have paid me thousands of dollars to learn these tips. So, if I’m sharing them with you here for free, I want you to promise they’re not going to go to waste. That’s it. That’s the commitment. Read them and read them again closely. Implement all of them completely in your everyday life. Make them a part of who you are as you commit to your Athletic Goal.
Take these strategies seriously and you will see results. You ready?
- Live in Relentless Honesty
The first thing you need to do is be absolutely honest with yourself. Get 100% real with yourself. Right now and forever.
I find a lot of people have difficulty admitting their real goals.
Do you know how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I just do races to finish” but they check their workout and race results more religiously? Why not just be real: you do want to improve your race times. Maybe by a lot. So just admit it.
If you aim to qualify for the Boston Marathon because no one in your family ever has, just admit that to yourself. It doesn’t matter if it might take five years. Dream big, tap into your “why,” and inspire yourself. Or if you want to prove to everyone who said you don’t have the body to run a marathon, admit that. Why is this step so essential? Because once you are 100% honest about your goal, you tap into your source of commitment. That’s the fuel that keeps people going when adversity strikes. And adversity always strikes when we chase big dreams.
Next, get real about where you are now. It may not be PC, but if you’re fat, just admit you’re fat. No shame, no self-hate, but be real with yourself. At this point, six-pack abs might not be in the cards. But that doesn’t mean they never can be. I want you to dream big but remember where you’re starting from. Same with injuries. If you have an injury that’s preventing you from surging forward with progress, be 100% honest about that. Don’t pretend you can get out and run a full-court game of basketball with guys half your age if you suffer from intense lower back pain.
Admitting your current obstacles is the first step in overcoming them.
- Visualize Your Goal Constantly
Next, it’s important for you to visualize the successful journey and attainment of your Athletic Goal as much as humanly possible. It needs to become so vivid in your mind that it seems more real to you than this screen you’re reading, the cup of coffee in front of you, or the cell phone beside you. That real. Think about it more than once every day.
Elite athletes visualize their successes before they become reality. By visualizing a future aspiration, their minds prepare them to achieve it. Do you think that LeBron James imagines his shots clanking off the rim when he shoots? No. In fact, the very best athletes are able to create extremely vivid mental images, filling all five senses about the future they want: the sound of the swish, the roar of the crowd, the exact move to get around the defense, the puddles of sweat rapidly growing under them as they are bent over in exhaustion.
Sports psychology and interviews with peak performers prove it’s the same thing when it comes to long-term goals. A top track and field runner imagines the gunshot releasing a furious adrenaline rush, the explosiveness of each step, wind in the face, hands slicing through the air, head lunging over the finish line, and the glistening surface of the gold medal as they hold it above their heads and the national anthem plays. That’s how real your dream needs to be even if it’s three, five, or ten years away.
- Stay Even Keel
When I asked Kobe Bryant for his top tip to cultivate that “Mamba Mentality,” he said this: “Stay even keel. Never too high, never too low.”
This is exactly what I’ve been telling my clients over the years. The elite athlete stays even keel where others choose to exult or despair. Why? Because the marathon mindset is all about long-term, forward progress.
Elite athletes refuse to ride the roller coaster of emotion. Now, this isn’t to say they’re superhuman and never stray from being even keel. In fact, in rare circumstances, it’s ideal to do so. But it’s this general steadiness about elite performers that get's them to return to their best time and again. Elite performers know how to keep it all in perspective and lock in on the big goals down the road.
By staying even keel, you tap into your “why,” the reason behind your ultimate goal, constantly, even when intense moods overtake you. Therefore, why get too high or too low now? Strive to innovate and progress.
And while we’re at it, let me give you one extra tip: appreciate greatness and stay grateful. When you see someone doing things that are mind-blowing, don’t hate. I didn’t hate Michael Jordan even though I was a lifelong Knicks fan and he broke our heart year after year. I appreciated what he did. Analyzed him. Studied him. Tried to get into his mindset. I asked myself what he did that made him so dominant, clutch, and one-of-a-kind. And that’s what gratitude is: be grateful for the teachers, the motivators, and even the doubters. Be grateful because all of them have something to teach you about what you do and don’t want to be.