How definitions effect your performance

 In Coaches, Confidence, Professional & Olympic Athletes

In my work with Elite Performers I have them clarify and define phrases, terms, situations and conditions. I can certainly make assumptions about what a client needs and wants but they know much better than I do. I also find it gives them an opportunity to think more broadly about the phrases, terms, situations and conditions they use around their performance and this awareness can lead to increased self esteem, enhanced confidence and feelings of control.

How we see ourselves

How do you see yourself? Sometimes we say things out of habit or because that is what we’ve been told by others and we don’t think very much about what it really means. We let it be what it is but it defines us and many times does not allow us to move forward. For example, if you are a scratch golfer how difficult is it for you to get better than that? If you are an artist who does art in several modalities but you see yourself as a painter and people call you a painter is it challenging to try and get really good at drawing or sculpture?

How others see us

This is really about perspective. We all have a different perspective and that doesn’t make them right or wrong, it just is. If you ask for several perspectives you are asking for several different opinions. Some may be helpful and some may not. How do you know which is which? How do you not attach yourself to the negative perspectives? What do you do with those different perspectives? Why is it that some perspectives effect you more than others? Bottom line is that not all perspectives are right for you and you have to be able to figure out which ones fit, which ones don’t and let go of the rest.

Extrinsic motivation

If you are an extrinsically motivated performer sorting through other people’s perspective will be a bit more challenging because who you are as a performer is defined by what people think about you. In my work with performers I help them define who they want to be as a performer (versus who they think they should be or who they think people want them to be). I help them get in touch with their intrinsic motivation to perform. I help them to figure out who they want to be as a performer.

For example, my professional tennis player was struggling to figure out who she wanted to be. She couldn’t ‘see’ herself. If you can’t see yourself then you are missing direction and without direction any number of things may or may not happen. This is similar to using imagery. Seeing (touching, smelling, tasting and hearing) it, makes it so!

If your direction is tied to other people’s perspective you are using a lot of energy to figure out how to perform for them and their expectations (which are out of your control and sometimes change frequently) versus using that energy to find your own direction that you are in control of and that will help keep you motivated.

The definition locks you in

What does it mean to be a scratch golfer or a painter? Are there limitations in these definitions? Does it mean that you can’t be anything else? If you were to become something else how would that effect you and others around you?

There are other phrases, terms, situations and conditions that you probably just live with whether it’s a habitual pattern or whether this is coming from an extrinsic source. Explore what they mean and understand how they effect your performance in a limiting way; because they probably do.

Happy Wednesday!

Dr. Michelle

Photo credit:



Recommended Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search