What makes you great?

This is one of my favourite questions to ask athletes and teams because it directs their focus.  It shifts their focus from fixating on a problem to creating a solution, leading to reduced negativity and increased confidence.

The Negativity Trap
Often the first response I get when I ask this question is discomfort and awkwardness.  Few are willing to identify their strengths, with some watering down the question to what makes them “okay”.

As humans, we have a negative bias to help us to identify danger, which means that we pay attention to negative information so that we can adjust our response to protect us from new threats.

This response is really helpful if we have a problem to fix, but it means that we can often miss positive and meaningful data.  A lot of athletes can give me a detailed description of what went wrong during a poor performance but cannot give details of a positive performance.  It takes practice to train your brain to recognise what makes your great.

Focus on the Target
In target sports such as archery and golf, you need to have a narrow target to reduce your margin of error.  As soon as you start focusing on where you don’t want to aim, your mind becomes distracted and you are more likely to miss your target.  Your body follows your mind, therefore if you focus on the area away from the target, that’s where your ball or arrow will go.

In the same way, the best way to overcome weaknesses is to maximise your strengths and maximise your focus on what you do well and what you are going to do, rather than what you’re not going to continue doing.  In other words, allow yourself to focus on what you do well and continue to refine, rather than continuing to find fault with yourself.

What Makes You Great?
So, what makes you great at what you do?

Make a list, write it down and set goals to continue building on your strengths.

When you find yourself in pressure situations remind yourself of what makes you great and go back to those goals and actions.

Being aware of what makes you great does not deny your weaknesses but gives you a more balanced focus.  Enjoy being great and celebrating who you are!