Some of the best advice I’ve ever read was from a book by Sam Sheridan called The Fighters Mind. In it was an excerpt on Randy Couture and one of the quotes stuck with me and has had a huge influence on my ability to keep the stress low when I’m preparing for a competition.
Leading up to competitions is a very difficult time for me. I know in my heart I will do well and I am confident, but I tend to doubt myself quite a bit. I create scenarios that suggest failure will be the worst thing that could ever happen to me and these scenarios drive my anxiety upward.
I read this book about 3 years ago, after I had been training and competing for a year. Hither-to, I never really did well in tournaments. As a matter of fact, my first gold medal came a year into having my blue belt — after I had read this book, incidentally.
“If losing a fight is the worst thing that’s ever happened to you in your life, then you’re doing pretty good” –Randy Couture.
Perspective is a game changer. If you approach tasks as daunting as competition in terms of life and death, the psychological repercussions are immense and your stress leading up to the competition will be multiplied. The reality is competition is not a life and death situation. It is a competition. Winning or losing, for most of us, has no real bearing in the grand scheme of our lives.
I tell my self all the time, “if the worst thing that happens is losing this competition, then I’m alright.” I tell my students, “If the worst thing that happens is you lose, then you’re good!” The truth is, competitions are a forum for us to test our abilities and skills. Winning or losing is not indicative of being good or bad. It is indicative of the learning process. It is a method of showing us, real-time, where our areas of improvement are. You’ll often find, the biggest area we all can improve on is in our own heads and it starts with changing your perspective. You deserve it to yourself and your training to take some pressure off of you because again, if losing a competition is the worst thing in your life, then you’ve got a pretty good life. Furthermore, you might surprise yourself with what you learn from losing.