contenderbookHow do the world’s best athletes and performers make it to the top and stay there. Talent and skill are not enough in themselves. Emotions run the show in elite performance,
to produce outstanding achievements in any sport, talent and skill are essential elements that get you in teh game. But, once you’re in the game, recent research in sports psychology has identified another set of factors that control the outcome. Athletes who have lerned a particular set of skills to manage their emotions intelligently produce consistently superior performance.
John Haime has been a college athlete, and he has played a professional sport at a world-class level. He has worked with leaders in organizations worldwide for over 15 years, and it is very clear to him that the skills that separate average performers from star performers are grounded in the ability to be self aware.
With John’s great ability to simplify and communicate concepts, all players at all elite levels could benefit from his assistance.
Below is an excerpt from his book, “You Are A Contender
David MacDonald, Hockey Family Advisor

“Build Emotional Muscle To Perform Better and Achieve More….. In Business, Sports and Life”
By John Haime
The present is the place for performance
Thinking manCan you imagine how great it would be always to keep yourself in the present moment? How much stress could you avoid if you did that? No worries about what happened yesterday and no worries about new demands put on you at work, at home or wherever? Contenders like Jordan Speith know the importance of staying in the present moment. While Jordan shows emotion after a poor shot in golf, it is very rare that you will see him let those negative emotions affect the next shot. With Jordan, the only important shot is the one he is hitting, not the one he has just hit or the next one he will hit. He expressed the importance of staying in the moment after leading The Masters
tournament after 36 holes:
“I’m going to try and stay in the moment and be very patient these last two days and understand it’s going to feel like a whole different tournament.”
The present is a much calmer place than the future or past. Our past stirs our emotional memory—good and bad—and our own perception of the future stirs our emotions, positive and negative. While the future is where our goals and future achievements live, we achieve them through executing our process in the present.
Do you take time for self reflection, even a few minutes every day, to slow things down and gain an appreciation for the present moment?
Contenders set their own standards
The great Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov said it best:
“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.”
Contenders set their own bar and are always trying to surpass it. The bar is not set by someone else. This is another difference between contenders and pretenders; contenders set their own standard of excellence, while pretenders often get caught up in living up to others’ expectations. World-class golfer and major championship winner Rory McIlroy has set his own standard:
Red_image_for_Athletemind“I never looked at records. It was just about what I wanted to do myself. There is an interview now around with me when I was seven or eight, saying I wanted to win all the majors and be the best golfer in the world. It is what I have always wanted to do but just as me. I never wanted to break records, I never looked at someone and said ‘I want to do that’. This was just what I wanted to do; win the biggest tournaments in the world and be the best golfer in the world.”
And, McIlroy also explains a commitment to his own standard:
“I just want to be the best player I can be because I know if I do that, it is hopefully going to be better than everyone else. It is all about self-motivation. I am not looking at other guys on the range. It is all about making myself as good as I want to be and I know if I can do that, there is a good chance I will win golf tournaments and give myself a chance to win majors.”
McIlroy has won major championships by wide margins including the US Open and PGA Championships by significant margins – highlighting that he is playing to his own standard and focusing on his own constant improvement.
Image_for_siteContenders are primarily motivated by intrinsic rewards like playing to their potential, a burning desire to achieve their goals, and the joy of a great performance. They have a passion for the work or activity or whatever they are doing. For contenders, the external rewards are always secondary. As tennis legend and humanitarian Arthur Ashe stated:
“You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is pure joy.”
Think about your own personal excellence. Do you set your own bar, set your goals accordingly, and always try and reach them with passion? Or, are you wrapped up in others’ expectations and chasing superficial, external rewards?