The US National Skydiving Championships are next week. This will be my 29th Nationals and I’m looking forward to seeing so many old and new friends and enjoying that special bond that exists amongst skydiving competitors of all levels. I’ve even had the privilege of being invited to join a few high ranking teams and can’t wait for the chance to fly at that level (even though I’ll probably be slowing them down).
For many years the most important thing in the world, my primary goal in life, was to win the US Nationals. My teammates and I committed and sacrificed so much and truly put a 110% into our effort. We wanted to win so badly.
But caring so much about the outcome also had a negative effect on my performance. I sometimes allowed myself to think more about not losing than about doing my best. I’d worry about making mistakes and letting down my teammates more than focusing on having a great time and doing what we had practiced. I was scared I’d screw up and embarrass myself in front of my peers. All of these feelings were completely fear based and had no legitimacy at all.
We trained hard, trained smart and showed up ready to deliver. We were confident in our best performance and knew what we had to do to make it happen. But the fear I was feeling would get in the way of allowing my best performance to come out.
I remember one year completely blowing a jump and in one round going from 1st to 3rd place. We thought the meet was lost, we had failed. And since it was lost we no longer cared about winning. The next round an amazing thing happened.
Not caring about winning anymore totally freed us of all anxiety, negative thought and fear.
We just wanted to show everyone what we were capable of doing and didn’t care where we finished. For the rest of the meet we flew better and faster than we ever had. When the meet was over I had won my first gold medal in 4-way.
It was a great lesson in learning to care by not caring, to try without trying.
I never completely stopped being nervous, but I stopped being scared of being nervous.
When entering into your “meet”, whatever it is, I suggest you take your mind off the outcome. Trust your training, focus in the moment, and allow yourself to have a good time doing what you have practiced. Don’t allow negative thoughts to get in your way. It’s okay to be nervous, don’t fear it. If you can do this the outcome will work out as it should.
Tags: peak performance