The first thing I do when I take the stage, whether at one of my events or someone else’s, is get my audience’s mindset focused. I want them to be ultra present throughout the next 60 minutes or 24 hours or 3 days; however long they’re with me for. But no matter what we’re doing, our minds can’t help but wander, right? It’s what we tell ourselves to do next that matters most.
My trainer Tim Adams and I wrap up our conversation on the field talking about how mental toughness is created.
Tim: I had a player for the Raiders who would always repeat, “You’ve got to get your mind right.” And he’s right because when your mind wanders, it’s at that exact point in time that you have a choice to get it back, to take back control. Are you going to let your mind and body go on autopilot and just go through the motions? Or are you going to get back in the driver’s seat and control what’s going on?
That lesson, that moment in time when you begin to wander, is a critical step for performance. The guys that repeatedly collect themselves and get back in the driver’s seat, those are the guys that are the MVP Super Bowl or gold medal winning champions. What that’s doing is expanding your capacity to mentally control, to have discipline, to have focus, to be in your situation now. To me, there’s nothing better to test that than what we do out here.
Bo: I never thought of it that way. That’s really good.
Tim: It’s a test. It’s a battle. Your brain is not your friend and you have to get back in that driver’s seat and tell it what you need done. If you don’t tell and direct your brain, it will fall back into laziness or the path of least resistance. And we have to push through it, push through the monotony of doing hundreds of lunges or some of the other exercises we’ve done out here.
To me, that’s the lesson that nobody understands. It’s probably one of the more powerful components to developing mental toughness—the choice that you have to make at that very moment to stay in and stay with that rep.
Bo: I always talk to my kids about how we’re going to be undefeated from the neck up regardless of what we’re doing, whether it’s schoolwork or training or a game, I want them undefeated from the neck up. I want them to be able to hang in there just longer than anyone else.
Tim: And it doesn’t mean you’re not going to fail. That’s the great thing about it. Our kids are at this age where they’re struggling with failure. My kids hate to lose. They don’t like to be second. My kid will cut in line and every day I have to remind him that’s not socially acceptable.
But it’s this kind of training that teaches us we have to get back up and have to try it again … and again … and again. You don’t get good, you don’t become great and you don’t become the best in the world by not failing and getting back up over and over again. And getting the feedback you need along the way to improve. In that moment or rep when my mind is wandering, I start to dip, but when I get back in the driver’s seat I’m re-correcting. It’s this auto-correction I’m creating. It happens out on the field. The mind wanders and then ‘boom’, I’m back. You’re teaching yourself to flip the switch every time you auto-correct yourself.
Everybody can do so much more than they think possible, and it isn’t until we butt up against that edge that we realize we can actually go beyond it. Once we do that, we can do it again and again and the next thing you know, we’re reaching heights and doing things we never thought we’d be able to do. One hundred percent of every athlete I’ve ever worked with thinks his or her potential is at one level when really it’s so much higher than that. This work helps break through those barriers and gives you the energy, the capacity, to take that next step.