What Mr. Ford was saying with that quote is, the way we think about ourselves will ultimately impact our results in our lives, especially in the realm of swimming competitively.
The mind is a fascinating aspect of the human body. For centuries, philosophers and psychologist have been debating about the mind, thoughts, and emotions. Though they have not figured it out, there seems to be rules that hold to be self-evident such as, what we think affects our actions.
There are two major ways our thoughts come to impact our actions: through our self-esteem and through our self-actualization.
Self-esteem is how we currently value ourselves in relation to the rest of the world. It impacts the type of value that we believe we are creating on a swim team or in the water.
If we believe ourselves to be less valuable, then we are likely to become less valuable because we will swim to fit our beliefs. This is an informal definition of what psychologist call self-fulfilling prophecy.
The self-fulfilling prophecy is a belief that at first is false, but we act in a way that eventually make the once false belief become true.
An example is, if you think you are going to break a record this year in swimming, then your mind will act and perform in a way that is consistent with your belief of breaking a record. It means you will practice your best, workout your best, and swim the best races you could.
Though we have spoken mostly about low self-esteem, too high of self-esteem can affect your swimming too. It will cause you to overestimate your abilities and take risks that you are going to lose. It is important to find a proper balance of self-esteem.
So what if your self-esteem is balanced and is aligned with the truth? Does that mean you cannot become a better swimmer with your thoughts?
According to psychologist, self-actualization is the desire to become more and fulfill what we believe to be our potential. If self-esteem is the way we currently value ourselves, then self-actualization is the value we think we can become.
If we believe we do not have any more potential to become a better swimmer, then we will never become a better swimmer. Though low self-actualization is bad, you can never have enough of it. If you believe you can do anything and have a huge potential, then you will work hard to achieve that potential.
Swimmers with high self-actualization tend to be problem oriented, meaning they search for problems and then search for answers. They tend to do things in unconventional ways. This means they will look for new swimming techniques, methods, workouts, or more.
Once a swimmer begins to develop this mindset, there is almost no stopping them. They will often do what it takes to fulfill their potential.
It is very simple. Believe.
I did not say it was easy, but it is very simple.
Here is one of history’s greatest examples of how self-esteem, self-actualization and belief play out.
In 1954, a gentleman by the name of Roger Bannister did the unthinkable. He ran one mile in under four minutes, three minutes and fifty-nine seconds to be exact.
For years, the world’s best athletes tried to break the four minute mile, but none were ever able to do it. In fact, most believed it to be impossible, until Roger Bannister came along and believed it to be possible.
He began training, studying, and developing new running techniques to try to break the four minute mile. On a rainy spring day, he hit the track and broke the record.
Today, over 60 years later, his record continues to be shattered. His record has been lowered 17 seconds and most international male athletes break his record every time they run.
Nobody could break it before because nobody thought it was possible. It is for that reason they all could not achieve the four-minute mile. All it took was simple belief that it could be done. This belief inspired action that made it possible to break four minutes.
The easiest way to begin believing something is to hold it true, and you can do that by using your visualization powers. Routinely take the time to visualize yourself achieving your goals or accomplishing the very thing that is said to be impossible.
Though we still do not understand the complexity of the human brain, we do know that our thoughts have an impact on our actions. When we believe we cannot do something we will never achieve it simply because of our beliefs. When we do believe we can achieve something, the sky is the limit, so believe.
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