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Rewrite your script

Jaws is a film with a shark in it, but it isn’t about sharks. This blog has sport in it, but, guess what, it isn’t about sport...

When I was a lot younger I was chosen to play in a big rugby match. It was a trial game and the selectors were going to be picking the Western Province XV team for an important fixture against Northern Transvaal, two of the best sides in South Africa at the time.

The night before the game my team had a practice run. I was anxious and nervous about the forthcoming trial match and it showed. I dropped passes, missed tackles and generally looked off the pace.

My club coach approached me and said,"Is everything alright, Mark? What's going through your mind? What are you thinking?"

"Well, coach" I explained, "I've got this little voice inside of my head. And it's saying negative things like 'You're not good enough. You're poor at tackling. You cannot pass. You're not a great achiever...'"

"STOP! NOW!" my coach interrupted, shouting loudly at me. People turned and began to stare.

I was shocked and stopped in my tracks.

"You need to let go", he continued gently.

"Let go? Let go of what? What do you mean?" I responded.

"You need to let go of quite a few things that are holding you back. It's probably a lot to do with what you believe about yourself. Your story, those things you say to yourself that you've created and that plays over and over in your mind. They may be thoughts from your memories and experiences in your life - sometimes from when you were much younger. But remember, that's your past - it's not your future!" he said.

I nodded, slowly comprehending what he was saying.

"The danger" he continued, "is that you will start to believe this voice and if you do, it will always hold you back and slow you down from being your brilliant best."

"What can I do, coach?" I asked.

He broke out into a broad grin and said, "Well, I have some great news. All you have to do is write a new script. One that says the opposite of all of that negative stuff. So, Mark... what is your positive story? Identify that false voice that is so very wrong about you. And once that light bulb 'Ah-ha' moment happens, drown out the negativity with all of the things that you are capable of doing. It's a very powerful switch. And it will change your performance."

I still recollect his parting words, "It's about letting go of the past, and finding your superhighway to being all you really can be."

And that's what I did. It was easier than I thought, once I'd quietened the imposter voice in my mind with a story based on what I was capable of achieving.

The next day I played out of my skin in the trials and was selected to represent Western Province - a huge honour for me as very few Englishmen ever get to play in a side comprised mostly of Afrikaners!

It certainly was a light-bulb moment.

Of course, there are times when I still have moments of self-doubt and poor confidence. But using this approach has helped me bounce back every time and keep that light shining dazzlingly bright.

Remember, sports, business, life - it's a game played largely in the mind!


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Posted by: Mark