I've stumbled upon some great wisdom in a book called ‘Crazy Good' by Steve Chandler.
Steve, has a lot of practical wisdom that as an athlete, I found incredibly useful in improving my performance. Below, I outline some of the lessons that I took away from reading 'Crazy Good' and I hope that you will gain as much insight as I did.
Here is a video summary of what I learned & below is the written summary :
A bit about the author :
Steve Chandler had an challenging life but he was able to turn things around and create a 'Crazy Good' life where he authored 30 books and consulted more than 30 500-fortune companies.
Steve's mission with Crazy Good is to broaden the limit of what we think is possible for our lives. As athletes, we are constantly riding that line of what is possible, so it’s incredibly comforting to find Steve’s words resonate so deeply with what intuition has been telling me for so many years.
So what is 'Crazy Good'? Steve calls ‘Crazy Good’ when we witness a performance that over-delivers to the point of goosebumps.
So let's dive in!
1. Verb versus noun
Becoming crazy good requires a relentless dedication to growth. Growth requires a welcoming attitude toward challenges but many athletes shy away from challenges due to a error in their mindset and thinking. Steve calls this 'verb versus noun' mindset, and Carol Dweck in her book 'the Mindset', calls this 'growth versus fixed' mindsets. When we define ourselves as a noun - an entity – something solid with boundaries we enter a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset causes us to try to protect our "identity" and, as a result, we shy away from challenges that threaten our fixed definition of ourselves. Steve Chandler and Carol Dweck both recommend that in order welcome challenges and leverage them to grow, we should adapt a growth mindset by defining ourselves as a verb - something fluid and dependent on constant movement and actions. As a verb your actions and movement define who you are and as a result, you will welcome challenges. Furthermore, loses and wins will not derail you from your path because you will have to continuously put in action and work - those "actions" accumulate to who you are.
Couple of examples. When I tell myself, ‘I am strong’’, or ‘I am fast’ - this is a fixed mindset because I have defined myself with something static. If someone were to challenge my strength - it would bring anxiety because my entire identity relies on this. But with a growth mindset, I define myself with a verb such as 'I push myself in races." Therefore in a race I will simply have to push myself and in doing so I will be congruent with my self-definition - regardless of the result.
A cool example that Steve brings up is when people make a mistake they immediately call themselves stupid. Stupid is both a noun and it is also an excuse. Saying that you are stupid is blaming an external factor such as innate intelligence, which you have no control over. You are essentially making an excuse and "removing" yourself from any responsibility. If you catch yourself calling yourself stupid, try to instill more discipline and wisdom into that specific scenario and notice how you no longer have the excuse of being "stupid".
2. Creating versus reacting
This is something that I have installed into my day-to-day training to becoming a crazy good judo athlete. Creating versus reacting is a choice that we have in every day situation. The decision we make determines if we move towards our goal or if we move away from it. Let’s use an example to illustrate the difference between creating and reacting. A situation arises – you get injured, you get fouled, your coach yelled at you - your choice is to react or create. If you react – you will get angry, sad, afraid, or simply retract. Your reaction depends on instinct or what is culturally and socially expectable. However, before you react, you can create by stopping yourself and asking, “Given the circumstances presented, WHAT DO I WANT TO CREATE.” By doing this, you are connecting yourself to your purpose and goals and now, your response becomes productive towards reaching your goal rather than moving away from your goal. If you react based on your instinct you are “wasting energy” moving away from your goal, not only is it unproductive – it is counterproductive because it takes you more energy to get back to the right track.
Example, I injured my hip – my reaction was depressed because I couldn’t train… etc. However, instead of reacting I decided to create - I wanted to create new strengths that will aid me in my competition. I’ve decided to create new mental strength-skills and upper body strength. I’ve went out to execute a program to build up those strengths. When you are creating – a challenge becomes an opportunity, when you reacting a challenge becomes a problem.
You have this choice every single day, and every single moment in the day. With every scenario that arises whether sports or non-sports related you have an option to react to it or create something new, humans are creative creatures we were meant to create and that includes every single moment, create a strength, create a relationship, a skill a story a piece of art, create happiness or create misery, its up to you. – Ask yourself, what do I want to create here and now?
3. Systems versus dreams
In this concept, the first thing that Steve says is that a lot of people have dreams - they have fantasies without any resolve to doing the work it takes to achieve those wishes. Many simply think that by "wishing", positive thinking or putting a picture on the wall that these dreams will come true. Instead, Steve explains that in order to achieve certain results we need to invest in an appropriate system. His following words are incredibly power, he says that “systems are perfect for the results that they deliver, if you want different results, change your system”. This statement has been incredibly empowering and led me to some serious advancement.
So what is a system? It is 'a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method'. However, when it comes to your athletic performance you have a variety of different systems. Everything that you do in preparation for a competition is a system and even everything you do at the tournament is another system. Your thinking and behaviour are parts of systems.
The magic happens when you look at your current system that you've unconsciously implemented and the results that it delivers. Then try to change that system and witness your results change. What is causing you your results? Is it your physical preparation? Is it your technique? Is it your mental strength? What can you change, add or improve in your system to create better results? You don’t need to take results so personally - they are only a by-product of your system of training, preparation, and competing. Systems are not single actions - they are habits that develop over time. In order to do that you need a sustain amount of motivation and the concept below (game versus shame) will help you create habits and your new winning systems.
4. Game versus Shame
Steve points to the fact that most people (including athletes) shame themselves into motivation. We do this by pointing to how “bad” or inadequate we are in comparison to others or what others will think if we don't accomplish what we set out to do. All that type of "self-talk" aims at motivating us - it works but its unproductive because it takes energy and it deflates you - leaving you feeling guilty and empty. Furthermore, you still have to work your way back up to get moving and you'll do it out of spite with anger and hatred. Some people rely on shame so frequently that it becomes part of their nature. We identify with the oppressing and self-criticizing language – the language we’ve borrowed from our families and society. This type of motivation is simply not sustainable if we want to build winning systems that help us become "Crazy Good".
Next time you try to motivate yourself into working out, listen to your self-talk and ask yourself if this is a way you’d motivate a young child. The answer will usually be no!
Instead, how would you motivate a young child? Using, positive encouragement and games. Encouragement and game-playing improve a player’s performance – we should turn to fun, find a way to make games out of problems. It is only this type type of motivation that will be sustainable long enough for habits to start forming and your new system to be in place.
5. Victim thinking
This realization had an incredible influence on my mindset in helping me move my judo forward. Steve points out that people's potential is cut off without even their awareness by their unconscious victim-thinking. When facing adversity, we fall to our default inclination of blaming external factors and circumstances for the current condition. This type of "victim thinking" is so ingrained into people's mental thinking that it has literally become society's default mindset. Individuals are so identified with their victim thinking that it has become part of their character - and we all know at least one person who is always a victim regardless of the situation.
The reason for this mental virus is that it is incredibly easy to simply be a victim rather than take responsibility which puts "power" over your situation back into your hands. It is very easy to be a leaf in the wind and let life bring us what it may. Once you learn to take responsibility over everything in your life: the good, the bad, the loses, the wins, your mental and physical strength or weakness - you have created everything and as a result it is you who can change it. Victim thinking gives away your power and renders you powerless over your future. If you seek to be a Crazy Good athlete, introspect deeply to find which aspects of your performance you are blaming external circumstance and then proceed to change them by taking responsibility.
Words can be nice. Concepts can be inspiring. But if you are not implementing them they won't get you anywhere. In fact, your results will remain the way they have always been unless you commit to making a change. I hope this helps you reach your potential in your sports. Let me know what concepts resonated with you and once again, make sure to check out the book 'Crazy Good' for the full story.