Copyright 2006 Jeff Griswold, Effective Learning Systems, Inc.
In case you dont remember what happened in the 2006 Olympic womens figure skating competition, Sasha Cohen of the U.S. had the lead going into the final performance. But when she fell twice within the first minute of the 4-minute performance, she lost any chance at winning the gold medal.
First of all, I have to say that I dont know Sasha Cohen. I know her only about as well as any of the millions who have seen her compete on television. So theres no way I can know for sure what happened to her that day. Sasha is the only one who can know that for sure. However, I can offer an educated guess as to what may have contributed to her falls. And while I may be wrong in this particular instance, I think a little speculation can reveal a great deal about how all of us handle the challenges each and every one of us face every day.
Why did she fall?
So, why did Sasha fall? If you saw the performance and/or read the media coverage, the answer is pretty clear: she knew she was going to fall before she even started the program. She expected to fall and, as hard as she may have tried, she was unable to overcome these expectations. Heres what drives my suspicion:
· In the past, Sasha has had difficulty putting together two clean programs. She has a history of making errors when it looked like she had everything going the right way.
· Pretty much every media interview she had before the competition reminded her of the fact that shes never won the big one or that shes never been able to put together two clean programs.
· She had fallen several times during practice before the event. In fact, after the performance Sasha said that the falls during warm-ups made her apprehensive going into the event.
· The most telling thing, though, was the body language she displayed when coming out on the ice. Two days earlier when she took the stage before the short program (which she performed to perfection) she beamed with confidence. She came out smiling and clearly full of energy. But on this fateful night, the apprehension was apparent. Her concerned look and slow slide out onto the ice showed that she had doubts about how she would perform.
Unfortunately, all of this indicates that because of her past experience and the constant reminders and reinforcement, Sashas mind was programmed to fail. Her mind expected failure and her body delivered on those expectations.
What does this mean for you?
So, what does this mean for you and your life? Youre never going to skate in the Olympics, right? Thats probably true, but every day you face your own personal challenges. And to achieve the things you want in life, you have to deliver your own gold medal performance every day. Your Olympic challenges may include:
· Earning a good living so you can feed your children and send them to college
· Being a good parent so you can bring up smart, happy, and responsible children
· Being a good spouse so you and your partner can enjoy a healthy, fulfilling relationship and make the most of the life you share
· Staying healthy and fit by eating right and exercising regularly
Or, perhaps you face even more serious challenges such as:
· Recovering from a serious illness
· Conquering addictions
· Overcoming depression
Each of these challenges can weigh heavily on you. You need to perform and you must succeed. If you fall, you lose the opportunity to achieve what you want and to be the person you want to be. So, what you face is the same as what Sasha Cohen faced on Feb 23rd. Its the exact same challenge but in a different context and on a different stage.
So think again about why Sasha fell. Think about your own life and your own personal challenges and ask yourself these questions:
· In your own personal challenges, where do you tend to fall?
· Why do you fall? Is it because, like Sasha, your thoughts sabotage your efforts and betray your desires?
· Do you face each challenge with confidence and a determined smile? Or do you shrink and cower when faced with uncertainty?
· Do you expect to succeed or do you expect to fail?
· Do you allow your past experience to dictate your future?
Think about these things for a while and reflect on your own life and the goals you have for yourself. Its particularly helpful to write down your thoughts. The simple act of writing your thoughts can offer great insight and perspective on your life.
When you contemplate these questions, its likely that youll discover that your thoughts may, in fact, be keeping you from winning your gold medal. The good news is that your fate is not pre-determined. You can change your thoughts even the deep-seated subconscious thoughts and re-write the script for your future. So, even if youve fallen many times in the past, you can re-program your mind to expect and achieve success in the future.
How can you change your future?
So how do you re-program your mind? Actually, with the right techniques its not all that hard to do. It does take a little time and commitment, though. After all, were talking about replacing programming that has been created from the experiences of an entire lifetime. But once you understand what you want in your life, the key is identifying the negative programming, eliminating it and replacing it with new, positive, productive programming.
Among the most effective techniques are:
· Positive Affirmations
· Guided Visualization
· Mental Imagery
· Goal-Oriented Meditation
· Breathing Techniques
· Subliminal Programming
Employing the right combination of these techniques can make a huge difference in your life. The most important thing to remember is that repetition is critical to changing the way you think. While its possible to do this on your own, most people need a defined program for the direction and support they need to commit to a change. One approach which incorporates these techniques is the use of audio programs (such as those available at http://www.efflearn.com) that are carefully designed to guide you and help you harness the power of your mind to change your life.
So, I encourage you to take a moment to examine your own life in this context. Its a great way to re-center yourself and get you focused on the important things in life.