Before Shaun White, the best snowboarder of all time, completed his final run that would gain him his 3rd Olympic Gold medal he told himself, “It doesn’t matter.”
It doesn’t matter? What could be more important than winning an Olympic Gold, especially for someone who was born with a congenital heart defect, began snowboarding at age 6 and has spent thousands of hours working on his craft? He didn’t pump himself up or tell himself he could do it. Instead, he told himself something that would take the pressure off. And what would that be? Saying, “it doesn’t matter.”
Minimizing huge moments in life is a timeless strategy that takes anxiety out of intense situations. When you’ve been waiting for something your whole life and it’s right in front of you, you need something to diffuse the situation so you can perform or at least, handle the pressure of it.
A girl sat in my office last week waiting to hear if she’d been accepted to her dream college. She’d been working herself into the ground for the entirety of high school in hopes of receiving a letter that would determine the rest of her life. And, in that moment, in my office, an hour before the results came out she said, “It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get in.” I knew she didn’t mean it but I knew she was telling herself the only thing that would allow her to open the email that would determine her fate.
I used this same strategy in high school and college basketball games when I was under immense pressure. Right before last second shots, free throw attempts or season ending games, I would tell myself the very same thing Shaun White told himself before the Olympic run. “It doesn’t matter.”
It’s interesting what we can achieve if we give our brains a different message. The power of our thoughts gets us through the most intense moments in life and even if it isn’t entirely true, telling our brain something to take the pressure off can and will work for the most intense situations. Share this with your kids and even try it yourself. Tell your brain it doesn’t matter and see if you get some relief.
Have a great week everyone!