One the many upsides of participating in sport is that sport provides a great training ground for life. Sport involves fun and hard work, success and disappointment, as well as joy and sadness.
Understanding how to be successful in sport sets anyone up to be more successful in life. Whilst being successful in sport requires a lot of physical hard work, the recipe is simple and can be applied to any area of life.
The pathway to success is attitude. Whether we are talking about sport, school, work, relationships, holidays or social life, our attitude dictates our success.
If we work hard to make sure that we live our lives in line with the attitudes we want then we will be more successful, more content, and manage the rough times much more effectively.
Our attitude in sport and life comprises of our perception of and response to situations. If we perceive a big race or event as a chance to show off what we can do and improve ourselves, then we are on the path to success. If we perceive a big race or event as stressful, scary, or worrying then it is likely that we are on the path to failure.
Our actions play a huge role in our attitude and as a result, our success. How we act in a situation will have a big impact on the outcome of that situation. If we train hard, track our progress, and prepare well, success is ours for the taking. If we skip sessions, don’t look after our bodies, and are disorganised and unprepared, failure is a likely outcome.
Attitude is often talked about in rigid and fixed terms – “she has a great attitude” or “he has a terrible attitude”. Realistically, we are in control of our attitude and can change it if we really want to. Our attitude is flexible.
Let’s get back to success and the themes of a successful attitude. Here are a few questions to consider.. What does a successful person have that an unsuccessful person doesn’t? Whether it’s competing, running a business, or raising a family, what do the very best have that the rest don’t?
Some basic aspects of the attitude that successful people have include:
A person’s attitude is not set in stone. If we want to have the ‘right’ attitude, we can have it. We can develop a successful attitude if we think and act in ways that match the attributes we are trying to attain.
In order to be hard-working we must think of all the effort required and the reasons why we do what we do, and use those to motivate ourselves to get the work done. At the same time we must actually make sure that we get in and get the work done. Without actually doing the work we can not achieve anything.
If we are going to be focused then we need to put training and competing first in our list of priorities. We sometimes need to say “no” to some activities (e.g., parties, holidays) despite wanting to do them.
If we are going to have self-belief then we need to think about all of our strengths, remember our good performances and recall all the hard training we have put in to preparing ourselves. At the same time we need to actually do the hard training, prepare well, and carry ourselves in a confident manner.
These are only a few examples but the idea is simple. If you want to be successful then you need to think and act in ways that will make you a success. It’s not always easy to do, but if your actions and thoughts are in line with the type of attitude you need for your chosen pursuit then you will be happier and more successful.
In summary, success is about choices. If we choose to think in optimal ways and do the required actions, then we can expect some success. If you choose not to do these things then you can’t be surprised when your success is limited.
Matt Ahlberg | Sport & Exercise Psychologist MAPS