This spring we had a panel of successful athletes share how to develop a winning attitude. Much of their conversation focused on our inner talk, and how when we focus, visualize ourselves winning, it can happen.
So I was interested to read the latest research in a recent issue of Psychologies about whether women really have the winning instinct. Traditionally we assume that women are less competitive than men, and lack the killer instinct that will enable them to win at all costs. However, the latest research shows that women can and do compete, they just experience the stress of competing differently to men.
“We found that men and women were just as good as each other at coping with stress, but worry about different things.” Observes sports psychologist .Dr. Mariana Kaiseler. “Men are more stressed by outcomes and whether they will win or lose. Getting the reward is their main motivation.” Women on the other hand are more concerned about performance. Men rely on planning prior to a game, while women prefer to talk about their anxieties.
Significantly researchers have found that while women admit to more anxiety, it doesn’t appear to make them less successful. If anything admitting to anxieties and fears can be positive. Women tend to be more co-operative and have greater levels of self-disclosure and as a result, they are more likely to get help for a problem. Whereas men are more closed and don’t like to admit to weaknesses.
Another female trait is that women tend to downplay their abilities on and off the sports pitch, but men come across as more confident and tend to rate themselves higher, whether worthy of that rating or not.
Sports psychologists describe mental toughness as key to success and there are the four C’s – commitment to winning, confidence, ability to control your emotions and view a stressful situation as a challenge. Certainly as entrepreneurs we often see challenges as opportunities.
Here are four tips that the sports psychologists provide on cultivating a winning instinct:
1. Overcome negative thoughts – Walk away or distract yourself if you fall into negative predictions of what could happen.
2. Don’t let one mistake colour the rest of your performance. See it as a one-off and look at ways to learn from that situation.
3. Reflect on why really want to win and do well. Is it to please other people or does the desire come from within you to prove yourself?
4. Accept that you are not perfect. After making an error, the best players refocus very quickly on what’s in front of them. Learn to deal with setbacks and move on.