When you're performing at your peak level, you're totally fulfilled. Your mind and body are connected effortlessly to carry out the pursuit of your passion. A writer types quickly as she works away on her first novel. Hours go by and she realizes that she's been sitting at her desk for most of the day. The time has gone by like 15 minutes. A professional golfer is completely focused on his next shot. He sees the exact angle of the golf ball in the air. He can visualize the ball going into the hole and the crowd cheering. The visualization is so real that when the event happens half an hour later he's thrilled but not really surprised.
An ice skater performs at the Winter Olympics. There's a lot at stake for his performance since if he succeeds in receiving the highest score it may mean that his country will win a medal for the first time in this event. He has prepared for four years to make this happen. Before he begins, he talks to his coach and she reminds him of the fact that all he has done to train his body and his mind has led up to success at this moment. As soon as the music starts, he relaxes and forgets everything. A part of him connects with the audience and is mindful of what he's doing but another part of him moves his body smoothly on the ice as if he were in a trance. His subconscious mind takes over as he moves his arms and legs gracefully and automatically through his much-studied choreography. He doesn't pause to think with his conscious brain at that point. He is in the zone as his muscles perform at the optimal level.
Here are some of the feelings and emotions that are characteristic of peak performance. You feel:
- Sparkling joy and positive energy
- That your life has meaning and purpose
- An intuitive sense that you're connected to a source much larger than yourself
- You're in the zone--you could do this for hours
- That your values, principles, strengths, abilities, and passions have all combined to yield wonderful experiences
- You're at the right place, at the right time
- You've reached a place where anything is possible
- You've lost track of time and you've just completed some of your best work
- You've gained a sense of wisdom and knowledge at a different level than you had before
- That you've touched a source of universal inspiration
What's Holding You Back from Peak Performance?
There may be many things holding you back from peak performance. If your self-confidence is weak, it could be a factor in your ability to succeed in your chosen field. If you play a sport competitively, your ability to focus and to not lose concentration when you misstep will mean the difference between whether you'll fail or emerge victorious. If you make an error early in the game, you'll need to have the mental fortitude to put it aside and continue to visualize the rest of the event in a positive light. Otherwise, you'll continue to make small errors and sabotage your own performance. Consider the famous 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Jack Nicklaus was on the verge of a record-setting fifth win with Tom Watson at his heels. On the 17th green, Watson hit his ball in the deep rough. If Watson had concentrated on this mistake he would have never won the Open, but instead he focused intently, chipped the ball directly into the hole, played out the 18th hole, and grabbed the win out of Nicklaus' hands.
Curing Negative Thought Patterns that Impede Peak Performance
Do you give yourself permission to win? Even though you may have trained to win and are ready to compete, your subconscious mind may be fighting your desire to win. Secretly, you may feel that you're not good enough to win or that someone else deserves to win more than you do. The fear of success can be a real threat that you need to work on and resolve. Perhaps deep down you feel that if you're too successful you'll lose the family and friends you hold dear. Maybe your spouse is experiencing a slump in his or her career and you fear deep down that this will be a cause of friction if you perform at your best.
Here are some examples of negative thought patterns that can hamper peak performance:
- "I don't think I'm talented enough to win this game. My competitor has more talent than I do."
- "I want to win, but I'm afraid to win against my friend and colleague."
- "I don't feel well today. I don't think I can perform at my best."
- "My dad wanted me to become a doctor not an athlete. He's never supported my career choice."
- "People who succeed at a high level are frequently ostracized by others."
- "I messed up my first triple Axel, now I'll never win the competition."
Using Positive Affirmations
Once you've recognized your negative self-talk, the best way to change it is to offer new positive affirmations to your subconscious mind. Create some new affirmations and customize them for your life's passion. You can also use more general affirmations to improve your self-confidence and will to succeed.
- "I'm in the flow with my work on a daily basis."
- "Time stands still when I work on tasks I love."
- "I love training and competing in my sport. I feel great mentally and physically."
- "I find it easy to concentrate. I focus with intensity."
- "My body moves with grace and ease through my routine."
- "I feel filled with positive energy that will flow to my audience during my performance."
- "I am unstoppable. I love winning."
Place these affirmations on cards where you'll see them every day. Write one or two of them on a card that will fit in your wallet or purse and carry them with you wherever you go.
Using Hypnosis or Self-Hypnosis
If you want to improve and experience peak performance on a more regular basis do what famous world-class athletes do, use hypnosis or self-hypnosis. Working with a hypnotherapist, you can ensure that the new positive messages reach your subconscious mind. You can also hypnotize yourself. Find a quiet place where you won't be bothered for at least 1/2 hour. Relax every muscle in your body as you gradually move your thoughts from your head to your toes. Breath slowly in and out and bring in positive energy with each breath. Once you feel deeply relaxed repeat your chosen affirmations out loud or mentally. At this point, your conscious mind won't reject these messages since you are focused but on the edge of sleep.
Using Subliminal Audio
Using headphones and subliminal audio is a great way to train your subconscious mind for the success you will have in your sport. Your mind can prepare for winning just as your body does. Subliminal audio offers positive messages at a range where the subconscious mind accepts these messages and the conscious mind doesn't throw them out. By using subliminal audio and guided messages you can retrain your subconscious mind to achieve peak performance on a more consistent basis.
Using Visualization Techniques
Roger Bannister, the first man to run a 4-minute mile said of his peak experience: "No longer conscious of my movement, I discovered a new unity with nature. I had found a new source of power and beauty, a source I never dreamt existed." Use visualization techniques to imagine yourself in that exquisite moment where you've reached the pinnacle of success. Play the successful event over and over again in your mind. Experience the thoughts and feelings you'll have when you're in the zone and you'll be there before you know it.