How do you Turn on the Switch?
After a training session with one of my clients, his mother approached me and asked, "You seem like a really nice guy. How do you all of a sudden turn on the aggression? How do you turn on the light switch to perform?" She then went on to talk about her son and the challenges he faces when competing. "It seems he needs to be physically pushed to get that way. He is such a nice kid that it takes a while for him to perform."
The question threw me for a loop because I have never been asked that before. I found myself thinking about all of the influential coaches I had in my life. I thought about the emotional triggers that pushed me to the edge. I thought about several quotes that have moved me throughout the years. I told her it was a combination of many things that "turn on the switch." Good coaching, emotional maturity, and triggers.
A great coach is someone who makes you do things you did not think you could do. Someone who pushes you to be your best. Sometimes if it was not for your coach, you would simply give up. Instead, you grind it out with all your might in order to show you gave it your absolute best. All because your coach believed in you. But it is a fine line. The coach cannot continuously harp on his athlete, pushing him until he does not want to perform. Once it stops being fun, then what's the point? A good coach is someone who inspires, not discourages.
Emotional maturity is another important aspect in performing. The passion, excitement, and aggression must be present. But all those emotions have to be under control. I have known so many athletes (myself included) who have been so invested emotionally, that the aggression took over. They were unable to think clearly and made several mistakes. The aggression even turned to anger. Displaying such high emotions is not a good thing for the coaches or spectators to see. Negative opinions are formed which could result in a bad reputation, less participation, getting benched, or even getting tossed off of the team.
Using emotional triggers may be one of the most effective things I use in stepping up performance. I think about life experiences, the hard things I have gone through, the hard work I put in, the time I put in, and the feeling of losing. I even go overboard and think to myself, "If you don't get through this. If you give up, YOU'RE GOING TO DIE." Sure, it is a little excessive, but it helps me give it my best.
The emotional triggers brought me back to what Rocky Balboa said to his son in Rocky 4 right before he got on a plane to Russia. Rocky said, "Going in one more round when you don't think you can-that's what makes all the difference in your life." Those words could not be any truer for not only stepping up performance in sports. But stepping up the performance in life itself.