"They are going to thrash us!" said one of the team as we walked towards the opposition football team. The opposition were unbeaten and top of the league. I was their coach and the group of 15 year olds to listen. "Lads, it is about the game in the mind today. If you believe you are going to be thrashed, then you will be. But, if you believe that if you work together and work hard you may, just may be able to get something out of this game." They looked at one another, nodded, and agreed to give it a go. We talked tactics. It was the thing of movies. By half time we were 2-0 up and the opposition coach was going loopy, throwing every trick he could muster. The half time talk was 'more of the same lads'. You are hooked now aren't you? What was the final score? Well as the whistle blew, the ref recorded the final score. 2-2. It was a major achievement. The lads had played beyond themselves. All because of the 'game in the mind'.
Every day we face challenges, and today in March 2020, the Coronavirus brings more than normal. What is crucial though, is our 'game in the mind'. Epictetus is perhaps not the most famous philosopher, but he spoke some wise words that help us create a more balanced 'game in the mind'. He said, "Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view they take of them." He is right. If we view something as unbeatable or awful then it is likely to take shape like that. If we can get better balance in our mind it allows us to put it in perspective.
He also said, "It's not what happens to you but how your react to it that matters."
So as you face your challenges today. There are ways that we can get a better game in the mind.
Practise appreciative thinking. Start with what is working well, then think about the things that need to improve.
Give your thinking to a range of things. Ration the time you think about the challenge you face. Think about friends, family, hobbies too.
Put the outcome in perspective. What in your life will still carry on if your challenge you face goes wrong?
Look at the opportunities that this situation allows you to take on.
Coach yourself through the problems. What is your goal? What is the reality, both good and bad? What are the options you could take? Which of these is the best way forward?
Reframe what success looks like in this situation.
Think about the different levels of success you can achieve. Set a low, medium and high target to achieve.
See the challenge you face as a learning experience. Whatever happens there are things that you can learn.
Now the challenge takes on a different perspective. It is a learning experience.
Enjoy your game in the mind.