Whether you played sport at school, college or perhaps professionally you understand only too well how your mental approach often dictated success. I ran competitively from 16 to 27. An athlete with a little talent I achieved modest success at 800m being ranked in the top 4 in Scotland over the latter part of my career by consistently running 1 min 50/51 secs. I won many races not by leading from the front but by delivering a “kick” finish. The ability to deliver that kick was totally related to my mental state and my confidence level. Of course mentally it was tough holding down a full time job in Thomson, the publishing giant and training 10 times per week. You often wondered as you competed against the pros, how much better could you become if you focused on sport? It is strange but having returned to track and field (7 yeas ago at 47) as a master athlete I find relative success has come easier partly due to the fact that I’m totally relaxed about how I compete. Nerves are always there before a big competition but of course it’s hardly life or death whether I win or not. But it felt that way when I was younger! The difference for me this time round is my mental approach. I’m more certain of my preparation, my ability to compete and what it takes to win and of course I enjoy it! Who would’t enjoy running your age over 400m.

Mentally to be ready for competition requires exceptional preparation. Major competitions in July are won in the cold, dark nights in January running in the snow or after 8pm at night on the indoor track. And so to business. Are there parallels in the business world? The impact of the right mental approach to business is huge. Here are a few examples to test your mental approach to business success. Because you can go through the motions, do the right things but if your mental approach is weak you will fail.

  1. CEOs and strategy – Have you the energy levels to scale your business to the next level? Are you thinking big enough? Are you thinking remarkable thoughts or invisible ones? Are you creating leading edge products that attract attention or are you just getting by? Are you seeking the best possible talent for your team or are you compromising for the wrong reasons?
  2. Sales professionals – Is living in a sea of rejection killing your motivation? Have you let it become personal? Do you have the mindset of improving your prospect’s world clear in your head? Are you finding the right problems to solve? Are you really bringing insight to your customer base by asking the smart questions?
  3. Marketing professionals – Do you believe in what you’re writing? Do you write with your customer perspective in mind? Do you articulate the outcomes that your product generates? Are you really seen to be authentic in the marketplace or do you sound like everyone else? In an ocean of communication, today more than ever, you need to be passionate and curious about what your business does. You need to believe. That is almost 99% mental.
  4. Production/Development – Innovators aren’t exceptional as much as they are confident (David Kelley, founder of design firm IDEO). Confidence is a state of mind. Winning becomes habit forming.
  5. Finance professionals – Do you have what it takes to really support the business? Are you looking for ways to improve your business? Are you explaining the real stories behind the financials or merely reporting the numbers?
We can all just get by but we it’s just as easy to think the right way. To elevate your ambition and motivate those around you. But it will require your best mental game.