Mental Profile of A Successful Athlete

If you do a quick search of what makes a successful athlete, you will find something that lists a whole bunch of personality traits, some of which you will able to list quite easily.

This lecture has much to take away and learn from. My take on this is much simpler. I take my inspiration from one my favourite books, ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k” by Blogger Mark Manson. The book title is designed to shock and attract readers. However, indulge me, as this book says three really important things about successful people. These attributes can be translated to successful athletes:

  • You have to enjoy suffering.
  • You have take to accountability for everything that happens to you.
  • You have to take something out of failure.

You have to enjoy suffering. There is has to be some pleasure in pushing your physical and mental state to limits of endurance. Improvement through training, and in particular high intensity training, requires some kind of suffering. Successful athletes enjoy suffering, they do not avoid it, they seek it out. The whole point to training is to suffer.

Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle.

Mark Manson

Take accountability for everything that happens to you, regardless of whether it is your fault or not. This is how successful people deal with failure, they take it upon themselves to take action about the thing that is happening to them. If you get injured during a training ride caused by another rider, deal with it. You do not have time to dwell on the causes of the accident, who’s fault was it, what would have been if things has been different. You have a new problem to solve ‘How do I get fit again?’ ‘How do I deal with my injury?’ Own what happens to you.

The more we choose to accept responsibility for in our lives, the more power we will exercise over our lives. Accepting responsibility for our problems is the first step to solving them.

Mark Manson

Learn from failure. You have to see failure as an opportunity to improve. A common attribute of great athletes is that have a history of failure. Failure is does an opportunity to work on a new problem. In reality what really drives successful people in an insatiable appetite for working on problems. If you are racing, a race is nothing more than solving a series of problems. Solving the problems in sequence is the only route to finishing the race in the best possible position. During a race you will experience multiple failures: missing a break; a puncture; losing your lead out man in sprint. These are simply problems to be solved using the skills you have developed in training.

Improvement at anything is based on thousands of tiny failures, and the magnitude of your success is based on how many times you’ve failed at something. If someone is better than you at something, then it’s likely because she has failed at it more than you have. If someone is worse than you, it’s likely because he hasn’t been through all of the painful learning experiences you have

Mark Manson

If we go back to the video at the top of this blog remember the three Ps. Positive, Present and Process. I always advise my atheletes that thinking about the future is a waste on metal energy.

  • Be positive that you can solve the current problem.
  • What can you do today to solve that problem.
  • Focus on the process.

For me personally it is the process and suffering of training that motivates me, my ability to endure is driven by an innate need to continually solve problems. The result of an event or race is just an outcome of the process.


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