This week the incomparable Ash Barty won the women’s tennis final at Wimbledon. She is a proud indigenous Australian, and the world #1 tennis player.
Barty, like many high performers, has a mindset coach on her team, and hers is a man called Ben Crowe. In a great podcast Crowe, or “Crowey’ shared his insights on the role mindset makes for elite performance.
His work with Barty and other athletes helps them to let go of the things they can’t control, and focus on that which they can. This is very hard for any of us committed and passionate about an outcome. Yet many outcomes can’t be controlled. In tennis, the winds change, the court is unfamiliar. In life, we have lockdowns, or the business landscape changes. Stuff happens.
The 2 things you can control according to Crowe are your intentions (in Barty’s case this includes her strategy and tactics), and your mindset.
My 2+ decades of working with mindsets affirms this.
Crowes mantra is “Do the conditions determine your mindset?” He believes that if you let the conditions of your environment, or the situation of your life determine your mindset, then those conditions will take you off course, and have you focus on the wrong things.
Barty’s rise to the world #1 nearly didn’t happen. Crowe shares the story of Barty at the French Open in 2019, where she had lost an un-losable set. Barty was then 3 Love down in the next set, and the tension was high. Barty sits down to regroup, and then starts laughing! Her mindset shift was visible to her coach who shares that Ash could see how ‘she was letting the conditions of her environment determine her mindset. ’Instead, she reframed it quickly: “Uh uh – I decide my mindset. I decide my attitude. I decide my self worth. I decide.”
Now let’s pause here for a moment.
The pressure is excruciating. The world is watching. The focus on winning must have been huge. Yet Barty’s focus shift was on her mindset. On the only thing she could control. And with this attitude change, Barty then wins the match and goes on to win the French Open. 2 weeks later she wins the Birmingham Classic in England, and becomes the World #1.
Most of us are not performing at anywhere near the elite level Barty is, yet we do face challenges and obstacles that threaten to overwhelm us. We get frustrated, and then try to impact the externals. In trying to fix or react to the environment, we overlook our mindset to our detriment.
We forget that even when things are difficult and tough – maybe you’re not meeting your goals at work, or a family member is ill, or you are worried about the uncertainty in the world – our conditions don’t determine our mindset.