It was 97 degrees on the Astroturf at the Olympic Stadium in Seoul, South Korea, the score tied 2-2, a penalty corner shot opportunity with 23 seconds left on the game clock. The winner would advance to the next round of the 1988 Olympics in Women’s Field Hockey – the loser’s Olympics would be over.
Winter Olympics kick off
As the 2022 Winter Olympics kick off this week, I think back on this memory as a member of the USA Field Hockey Team in 1988 – albeit an alternate sitting on the sideline with sweaty palms and a racing heart. For the players on the field, it was a moment that required not only the elite, physical ability to withstand 90 minutes of action in sweltering heat, but the mental focus to perform at peak level when pressure is at its highest, and the game – as well as an Olympic dream — is on the line.
Our USA team scored on that penalty corner to advance over Canada to the next round of the Olympics. And the play went exactly the way we had practiced it hundreds of times on the field, and hundreds of times in our heads. They say, “practice makes perfect.” Elite athletes don’t follow that advice – they subscribe to the idea that “perfect practice makes perfect.” By visualizing that exact moment – the heat, the stands full of fans, the color of the opposing teams’ uniform – elite athletes gain the “Faster, Higher, Stronger” advantage over other equally talented athletes. That traditional Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger” can transcend the sports world when we think about how emotional intelligence strategies can help us in our daily lives. During this time of Olympic celebration, here are some ways that we can all use EQ for Peak Performance to channel our inner Olympian!
Managing uncertainty and ambiguity in your daily life can make you feel fearful, worried, anxious, and stressed. It can manifest in physical ways such as sweating, trembling, and an increased heart rate. Whether you are a stepping up to kick the winning field goal in the Super Bowl, preparing for a challenging presentation, meeting a new boss, preparing to give hard feedback, or studying for a final exam, stress can keep us from performing at our best. But it’s not just the NFL Placekicker that will benefit from visualizing the perfect kick.
Try this: Visualize Yourself Succeeding! By positively imagining an outcome – in detail – you are building the pathway in your brain to move forward, toward success, instead of being held back by your emotions.
- For example, if you are interviewing for a job you’d really like in a new organization, visualize yourself succeeding in the interview – smiling, positive body language, see the room or the zoom link – and when you get to the actual interview, your mind will have “seen this before” and be more easily calmed. Even go so far as to visualize yourself drinking out of the custom Yeti with the company’s logo on it that they’ll be giving you when you’re hired!
- If you’re a sales person feeling anxious about your quota, see yourself in the location of the sales incentive trip – visualize that beach, the sunset catamaran outing, the frozen drink in your hand with the tiny umbrella. Keep that image in your mind to drive you positively through your daily work of proposals, cold calls, and presentations.
- If you’re a college student with anxiety about the workload of exams and attaining good grades, you may want to create an image board and hang it above your desk. Fill it with pictures of what makes you happy when thinking about your future – pictures of wonderful places you’d like to travel someday, perhaps photos of someone you deem successful in the career you’re pursuing, the type of car you’d like to buy – images that get you excited to see your “future self” in a way that helps remind you of why you’re putting in those late nights studying. Visualizing your “future self” in a way that pulls you to the positive and excites you for what’s ahead.
- And finally, if you’re writing your first Blog post for your company, and are anxious about providing value to the people that read it, you can visualize all of the nice responses and stories of impact that you’ll receive after it is published. I’m personally hoping this one works for me right now.
From Insights to Action
Think about how many times you have been nervous for a meeting, an event, or the future. Visualizing success can help us to perform better in difficult or stressful situations. It can also help us work towards out future goals. Start to visualize yourself succeeding in the ways above, and your future goals will seem easier and more feasible than they ever have.
For more easy-to-implement strategies to improve your EQ, check out our book Emotional Intelligence 2.0.
To learn more about emotional intelligence training and TalentSmartEQ’s programs and solutions, please visit: https://www.talentsmarteq.com/contact/ or contact TalentSmartEQ at 888-818-SMART.
By: Lori Johnston, VP of Client Solutions at TalentSmartEQ