There’s a really funny thing about winning! It is a bit of a zen paradox. That is, the more you focus on winning, the more emphasis you place on needing to win, the more you think about “IT,” the less chance you’ll ever have of actually winning. On the other hand, the farther winning is from your consciousness when you go into a competition, the less you think about it, then the greater the chance that you will actually win!
In today’s highly competitive sports world we are all a bit obsessed with winning. As athletes we dream about it. We set our goals high to achieve it. We work our butts off in an attempt to create this reality. We do everything in our power to try to avoid its’ painful opposite, losing. Even our coaches try to motivate us to successfully achieve it. Unfortunately with all of this focus on winning, we are inadvertently blinding ourselves from finding the true path to winning.
What is this “true path?” The path is the actual, moment by moment process of the game, match or race. You will always perform your best when you keep your focus on what you are doing in the NOW, totally oblivious to the outcome or consequences of your actions. By totally and completely letting go of the outcome while you are performing, you increase the chances that you’ll get the kind of outcome that you’d be proud of! Paying attention to the performance, one point or play at a time, keeps you loose, relaxed and responding quickly and accurately to the important performance cues as they arise, moment by moment in the game. When your mind is uncluttered by outcome thoughts, you are able to react quickly and perform to your potential. However, when your mind is weighed down by hopes of winning or fears of losing, then your reactions, timing and skill execution will all be seriously off.
It’s fine for you to want to win. It’s OK to work hard in practice to prepare to win. However, when you step onto the field, court, track or pool deck for the start of that big performance, you need to do so without having your goals and the outcome of winning with you. Those goals need to be left at home! Your concentration instead needs to be totally absorbed with your job in the NOW. Remember, if you have one eye on the goal (winning), you’ll only have one eye on the path. It’s the path that will lead you to winning, NOT thinking or obsessing about the goal!