In my experience, goals, the mind, and emotions are like a three legged stool. If one leg is removed, the stool would inevitably fall. Without goals, we experience emotions of confusion, anxiety, and frustration. Without the right mindset, we see people without enough belief in themselves to even start or get close to accomplishing their goals. And last, without mastery over emotions, each obstacle, setback, and dip in the journey presents itself as an impossible challenge. Alas, it’s only through the presence of all three, their intimate and interdependent relationship, that allow the champion to live a life of achievement and fulfillment.
None more important than the others, when you see all three aligned with intention, the cumulative effects are powerful. It presents itself clearly in the way the champion shows up for life. It’s so obvious, that I had heard stories of this specific champion before I had even met her. I’d heard stories about her confidence, enthusiasm, and influence during Venture for Canada selection day. I was told that she dominated the challenges and unlike me, was unfazed by the tough questions and competition. Finally, in May of 2017, we met and I understood why.
Do you remember the last time you saw someone that walked with purpose? Who’s presence and energy was magnetic? Who, when you met them for the first time, your immediate impression was that they were different? I do. And when I met Sharita I knew I wanted to show up for life how she showed up. I knew I wanted to deconstruct what made her such a high performer so that you and I could do the same.
Raised as a first generation Canadian, her parents, a Micro Biologist and a Chemist, helped Sharita cultivate a love for athletics and knowledge. Much the same as many of the champions I’ve come to know and admire, she is highly motivated and extremely competitive in all of her pursuits. A recent graduate from the Honours Environment and Business co-op program at the University of Waterloo, Sharita is a fellow with Venture for Canada, a dedicated pole dancer, has Shakespeare tattoos, and is crushing Sales at Georgette Packaging. Her unique philosophy on goal setting, and the mindset required to accomplish those goals, will prove incredibly useful on our continuous journey to embody the profile of a champion.
Personally, I’ve never liked goals. In fact, I really resisted them up until the last 4 years. Even when I did try to write them down, it proved extremely challenging. Do you notice how heavy a pen feels when you try to write down your goals? Do you notice when we start writing how limited they get? I know I’m not alone. I never wrote down my goals for same reason most people don’t, because we know we aren’t going to keep our word.
The champion on the other hand, holds goals contextually in a completely different way! Sharita for one, has a personal philosophy on goal setting that I found inspiring. She believes,
“It’s okay to set impossible goals. But, every step to that goal has to be meticulously calculated and very real.”
All you need to do to know why it’s important to set goals is to observe someone who is up to something. Those like Sharita, who are out to achieve, have a different spark. They show up in life with a different demeanor about them. There’s something attractive about people who are intending to do something. Why? Because what you’re seeing is a human beings true self expression.
In one of my favourite posts ever, Dr Maxwell Maltz demonstrated human beings are obviously like bicycles. If a bicycle isn’t headed towards something it loses it’s equilibrium and falls over. You and I are designed exactly like that emotionally! If we aren’t going towards something, if we have no goal, our life forces and energies are splintered and splattered. And it’s clear from the first eighteen years of my life, we cannot produce results like that.
When I met Sharita I could tell she was a goal setter. She sets goals because like me, and perhaps like you right now, she knows how it feels to be without a goal. In 2011, Sharita broke her shoulder playing soccer. Highly competitive and aggressive on the field, she fell battling for the ball with another player. With her arm stretched out, the other player landed on her shoulder shattering multiple bones. Ready to play varsity soccer in University, it was one of the first times Sharita was without a direction.
Can she be an athlete anymore? Should she continue to pursue science? Would she even go to University? Like many high school students today, she didn’t know what she wanted to do. Worse, she had no goal or direction motivating her to make a decision and move forward. It was one of the darkest and most mentally challenging times of her life.
I wish we could get all the high school students that are confused about their future to read this… There are consequences to having no direction! Remember, if we’re not moving towards something it’s easy for us to just fall right over. What shows up for those who have no goals is uncertainty, anxiety, confusion, and often times even depression. All these emotions are is a warning sign that we’re out of sync!
Why set goals like the champion? Because it is consistent with our nature. It’s consistent with the machinery of how we’re made as human beings. Not only does it garner your focus and energies to get things done, it compels us to reach out and achieve.
On a biological level, the mind is extremely complex. On the other hand, on a practical level the mind is extremely simple. Further, the worlds most profound philosophical literature has preached the importance of positive thinking and the protection of our minds for thousands of years.
“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” – Marcus Aurelis
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale
“The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.” – Confucius
To break it down, on a practical level, there are only two parts to the mind. The thinker and the prover.
The thinker thinks.
The prover proves.
What does the prover prove? Simple, whatever the thinker thinks. Let’s explore two examples:
A) I can’t do it. That was my thought pattern for the first eighteen years of my life. With plenty of talent, work ethic, and ability, I lacked the belief in myself to think that I could win. Now, the proving part of my mind had to bring into my experience the actual events and criteria that say’s I’m right! You can’t do it… I manifested I can’t do it over and over and over again for eighteen years. I talked myself out of opportunities, I failed when I should have succeeded, and I gave up far too quickly on challenges where I should have persevered.
The thinker thinks and the prover proves.
B) I can do it. That was Sharita’s thought pattern her whole life. The thinker thinks, what must her prover prove? The prover must bring into her experience all of the events and criteria that say’s you’re right! You can do it… Sharita told me about a business pitch contest at Waterloo’s Social Incubator last year. Students had been working on business plans, financial projections, and scripts for months. With less than six hours before the start of the event she was asked to participate!
Most people including me would have backed off and said there wasn’t enough time to prepare. Sharita on the other hand didn’t question herself, the time, or if she had enough information. She read the description and immediately knew she could do it. In less than six hours, with one piece of paper and three powerpoint slides, Sharita pitched her idea with full confidence knowing that she had what it took to win. What do you think her prover did in those moments? Surprise, surprise, she showed up with conviction winning the entire competition and a fellowship with the Incubator.
The thinker thinks and the prover proves.
When you set a goal, and lay it on top of a foundation full of negative thoughts and self doubt, it’s a recipe for disaster. But, when you tackle your goals head on with the belief that you can do this. You deserve to be a winner. You were born to be a winner. And that you have all the confidence, all the skills, and all of the resources needed to accomplish your goals, your prover will bring into your life all of the experiences that are in exact agreement with the thinker.
Do not discount the simplicity of this process. The champion forces themselves to develop an empowering self-image. They force themselves to think positive thoughts. They understand what Marcus Aurelius said when he wrote that our life is what our thoughts make it. Think, and prove your way to embodying the champion.
Mastery of Emotions
From the moment we’re born, we’re fashioning our character out of our emotional responses to the world around us. I believe that emotions exist so that we can manipulate, dominate, and control everything in our experience. Think about this… When you were a baby, you’d cry and you’d get your mother or father’s response. You had a behaviour that elicited the response you wanted, so you continued that behaviour.
This is true for both the negative emotions we experienced in life as well as the positives. If we had a behaviour (public speaking, asking someone out, trying to make a joke, etc) that elicited an emotion or response we didn’t like, we cut off that behaviour all together. For the most part, this is done completely unconsciously. Therefore, for most people, they’ve unknowingly designed their life around the avoidance of the uncomfortable emotions they’ve decided are most uncomfortable for them. Sit with that for a second.
We have emotions that we’ve voted on to be so severe for us to experience that we have shaped our entire lives out of the avoidance of those emotions. Emotions like failure, undeserving, unlovable, not good enough. But the champion doesn’t do that. The champion understands that nobody attached meaning to those emotions except them. They’ve discovered that if you are unwilling to include those emotions and master their own response, they’re going to lose! There is no other reason on this planet that will make the average person lose other than their emotions.
I love Sharita’s story because she proved mastery over emotions at a very young age. When she was a teenager she played for the best soccer team in the Province. Her coach was well known for being disciplined and blunt. In fact, he was so harsh that many girls on their team would cry and quit after being given feedback on poor performance. Sharita recalls one terrible game specifically where her coach brought her aside after the game. He said that she could leave the team if she wanted to. That if she was going to stay she would need to step up and make a real contribution. He went on to say that her mediocre performance wasn’t going to cut it on that team.
This is where most people are slapped in the face with feelings of anger, disappointment, embarrassment and resentment. This is where most people quit. Sharita, however, displayed true mastery of her emotions. She immediately started practicing an extra three-five hours a day. She started going to camps where they taught high performance soccer skills. Unlike the runners up in life, when faced with difficult emotions instead of getting bitter, the champion decides to get better.
As you think about handling your emotions in your own life, remember that, just like you, Sharita had a choice. In those moments of adversity, challenge, and even disappointment, we get to decide the theme, or meaning that we attribute to the events in our lives. Nobody else get’s to decide the way you feel about what happens to you in life except for you. Don’t make yourself the victim of your own thinking. Rise up like the champion and attach new meaning to the emotions in life that make you feel uncomfortable.
- Write Down Your Goals– Ask yourself whether or not you have written down clearly defined goals for the second half of this year. If not, why not? Do you think you won’t keep your word? Are you afraid of success? Afraid of failure? Do you need an accountability partner to hold your ass to the fire? Whatever the reason, know that the excuses are only lies, do not rationalize. Take the evening to map out what you want and how you’re going to get there.
- Be honest about your thoughts- Because our thoughts are unconscious it’s challenging to pick up whether or not our thinker is helping to empower us. The easiest way to know is to check the fruit. If your thoughts are the seeds you’ve planted in your life, how are the results? Are you accomplishing the goals you set out to achieve? Did you lose that weight you wanted to? Did you hit that quota you set your sights on? Did you start that blog/business/video you wanted? Or have you procrastinated and made excuses as to why it’s a bad time to start. If the fruit is bad, there’s a good chance the seeds are bad too.
- Seek out discomfort- One of the quickest and most effective ways I’ve found to build mastery over emotions is to expose yourself to discomfort. My personal favourite are waking up early, taking ice cold showers every morning, and public speaking. Choose something small to start and slowly make your way to mastery over the emotions that make you feel uncomfortable.
- Re-read this post- Fundamentally, all of the other attributes of the champion, lay on top of your goals, the mind, and the mastery of your emotions. These three pillars are the foundation for your character and future success. Invest the time in yourself to understand where you have a weakness in one of these three areas and bring it up to par!
Leave a comment and let me know which of the three you’re going to start working on! I’m working with my accountability partner Ryan to have a clearer view of my goals and the steps and behaviours required to get them completed.
Till next time, stay on the offensive. Aggressively pursue a better version of yourself. And remember what Jim Rohn said, “You cannot change the destination of your life overnight, but you can change the direction.”