Tennis great Novak Djokovic was tied at Wimbledon with Roger Federer, in the gentlemen’s championship match in2014. Federer had won the fourth set to even the match.
Djokovic had to win the last set to win the match. He took a bathroom break after the fourth set, but it was not just a physical moment. It was a mental moment as well.
He looked at himself in the mirror and began to fill himself with positive affirmations. He told himself how good he was, and that he could win the title. He did. That day, he was his own best friend.
Gregg Stienberg, professor of human performance at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee, discussed the Wimbledon story in a July 20, 2014, column in The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.
People make fun of folks who talk to themselves, but, as Steinberg says, self-talk is actually a type of self-hypnosis. Djokovic actually hypnotized himself into a pure level of confidence after that fourth set, Steinberg writes.
At this writing, both Federer and Djokovic are now competing for the men’s U.S. Open title.
Here are Steinberg’s suggestions of how you can create a positive mental tape that plays in all pressure-packed situations: create a best-friend journal of positive self-statements, or, snap out of negativity with a rubber band around your wrist.
Just as you can talk yourself into doing certain things, you can talk yourself out of doing certain things. The obvious rule here is to talk yourself into doing things that you know are going to create a positive outcome for you, and talk yourself out of doing things that will hurt you.
We don’t always know which is which. Djokovic obviously knew that winning Wimbledon would be a great thing for him, so he talked himself into it. He gave himself the motivation to overcome whatever Federer threw at him.
Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? You bet.
We often find ourselves taking the easiest way out of any circumstance. We find ourselves following the path of least resistance. Djokovic could have thought to himself, “I’ll do the best I can, but finishing second at Wimbledon is not too bad, right?”
Are you aiming for “not too bad?” Probably not. Are you aiming to be the best you can be? Sure. You have to believe you can be great, and you have to do what you need to do to be great.
You may not be great at tennis, or any other sport. But anyone can be great at something. As Darren Hardy, publisher of Success magazine, has said, a lot of great people are mediocre, or even terrible, at some things. That’s because they gave singular focus to the one or two things they are great at, and didn’t worry about being good at anything else.
So, what do you believe you are, or can be, great at? You may not be able to answer that question easily. If you want to be great at something, but are not sure what, there are many things out there that ANYONE can be great at. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You’ll learn how people became great at something that’s simple, but not necessarily easy, and were handsomely rewarded for their achievement.
For some people, talking positively about themselves to themselves may be a great motivator. For some, talking to themselves may not be their thing. For everyone, whether you are into talking to yourself or not, thinking positively about oneself is essential.
Focus on what you CAN do, not what you CAN’T do. Play tennis, or any other sport, for recreation and don’t worry about the score, or winning. You want to WIN at what you are good at.
Find what you are good at and stay with it. You’ll see setbacks and circumstances that may try to derail you. Remember, and believe, that the great ones ALWAYS rise above those things, and carry on. Don’t quit what you want to be great at.