Lessons from London and Windsor triathlon winner

Unchain Your Brain has worked with London and Windsor triathlon winner, ex-triathlete and Iron Man competitor Richard Allen to gain an insight into how sports psychology can be used with great effect in the workplace. Our courses use the same sports psychology techniques Richard talks about in this blog.

Richard’s race-preparation and post-race assessment

Mentally, Richard approaches each race in three stages: 

  1. Goal setting
  2. Mental conditioning
  3. Self-assessment

Stage One: Goal setting

“My ultimate goal is always to win the race,” says Richard. “Goals that are easy to achieve aren’t going to do a lot. They’re minimums that are ‘acceptable’, and this is negative thinking.”

In the workplace, people fail to complete tasks through lack of commitment and this often comes from not having clear goals or outcomes. Ask yourself, how many meetings do you come out of thinking ‘What was the point of that? So, you need to set clear success criteria because if you don’t know what you want then you’ll end up floating through life, lacking commitment. 

So in our time management course, for example, we help you set clear goals, and then to identify a compelling reason for completing them. We help you focus on the compelling reason ‘why’ rather than ‘how’.

Stage Two: Mental conditioning

During training, Richard looks at four areas:

1. Confidence:

“Iron Man takes eight and a half hours, so I need to know that I can do the distance and win,” says Richard. 

Building self-belief is at the core of successful sport and personal development, and at Unchain Your Brain we focus on helping you overcome your fears, limiting beliefs, negative self talk and inflexible attitudes. 

2. Visualisations & focus

“Before I race, I develop in my mind a picture of the race from start to finish in every fine detail. Then when I get to the race, I’ve seen myself winning and know it’s going to happen.” says Richard. 

In our online courses, we’ll show you how you can use these same visualisation and focus techniques to prepare for difficult situations such as difficult conversations, meetings or pitches, as well as longer term goals or visioning. 

3. Distraction control            

“When an athlete isn’t prepared,” says Richard “that’s when he goes to pieces.” 

Before each race, Richard makes a list of everything that could go wrong, like a puncture or goggles coming off on the swim. Then he writes down a solution to each problem.

You need to focus on solutions, not problems. To do this, take personal responsibility. Focus on the positives, and challenge yourself to stop blaming others or circumstances so you can stand in a position of possibility and power.

4. Enjoyment

Finally, Richard makes sure he’s enjoying racing. “Iron Man, for the most part, is serious and intense. I make sure I enjoy the crowd and the atmosphere, and take it all in.”    

At work, it’s too easy to get bothered by hardships and politics. Instead, you should try to accept the things you cannot control, to concentrate on the positive and to enjoy yourself. 

Stage Three: Self-assessment

“I congratulate myself, even when I don’t win. If I know I gave it everything I had, that’s good,” says Richard. “Then I ask myself two simple questions: What went well?; and What could I do next time to improve?” 

Unchain Your Brain’s online courses aren’t like TED talks – the presenter talking at you – because the chances of making any real lasting change is going to be minimal. You might walk about knowing some interests facts that might impress others, or an interesting tips, but it’s not going to really change anything.  Instead, we pose participants questions and we challenge you to really think differently to make lasting changes. And that’s why people buy our courses  – because they’re practical and they help people improve themselves and their lives. 

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