The best tools for overcoming adversity

High Performance Psychologist Michael Gervais, PhD discusses what we can learn from high performance athletes and how they think in order to overcome adversity
The Best Tools for Overcoming Adversity
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The best tools for overcoming adversity

There’s so much we can learn from elite athletes. There’s so much that we can learn from the way that they approach life, the way that they deal with challenges and it really begins with this appetite for wanting to excel and that’s actually really healthy for all of us. And some of the skills that we can pay attention to is how do they deal with adversity? How do they deal with things that don’t go the way that they don’t want them to go because at the center of athletics and the center of pursuing potential; it doesn’t go smoothly all the time. And in the real world we bump up against obstacles and challenges. So what happens? The athletes that we can learn from they have ability, they have this rich ability to be able to be aware of their own mind and keep moving forward. So if we’re downsized from a job for example, and an athlete is cut from a team, they’re really simple, is that regroup, reconnect to what it is that you’re working towards. And what these have taught us is the ability to keep going forward , to be resilient, to be resourceful , to adjust , to be able to figure out ways to continue to move forward towards the dream is what they call it. And if we can learn from that what we’re working to understand is how can we keep going, how can we keep moving forward when the world is telling us that maybe we’re not going to make it, maybe it’s not going to work out for us, can we have the resolve that we can learn from athletes to keep pushing forward and the answer is yes. And it becomes easier when we’ve been able to ground ourselves in really clear mental skills and this is what athletes teach us all the time; how to be calm, that’s really simple, know how to breathe, know how to breathe in moments that are really intense and really have the potential for risk. And what’s the risk for most people is looking back. And there’s ways we can train this, there’s ways that we can cultivate the ability to be okay in risky situations. For instance, an athlete comes in to me and he’s talking about, he’s one of us in the world and he’s talking about how he’s bumping up against this barrier that he has. And this barrier is really from being over coached and being exposed from not being good enough and he’s on a public stage. And so one of the concrete ways that we can explore this is that I asked him to do something that’s not public on the world stage but simply to go be with himself in a crowded restaurant and sit and eat a meal by himself. And it sounds simple but it’s actually really challenging to do; because that’s an awkward situation for many people, to eat by themselves. And so there he is sitting in a restaurant there’s all types of people, there’s chatter around him. He noticing how many other people have social validation and engagement and all he wants to do is pick up his phone and pretend like he’s got something important to do. And he wishes he had somebody to talk to but all he has is himself in that moment. And there’s really important to pay attention to because when it comes down to it, what we have within ourselves is the ability to be ourselves wherever we are. And if we can’t manage our own minds, we can’t manage our own thoughts; it gets difficult. It gets really challenging to be able to pursue potential because we retract from tense moments. So great example, a great opportunity is to challenge yourself to be uncomfortable in situations that you might avoid and thereby when this is taking place, people expand their capacity, expand their ability to be here now.

High Performance Psychologist Michael Gervais, PhD discusses what we can learn from high performance athletes and how they think in order to overcome adversity


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Michael Gervais, PhD

High Performance Psychologist

Dr. Michael Gervais, a licensed psychologist and industry visionary, is a founding partner of Pinnacle Performance Center. He focuses most of his time on people at the "top of their game," from NBA players, to Olympians, to military personnel. Dr. Gervais has a clear understanding of how performers become and consistently excel at a world-class level. Spending years in the trenches of high-stakes circumstances, Dr. Gervais has developed clarity for the tools that allow people to "thrive under pressure."

Dr. Gervais is a published, peer-reviewed author and a nationally recognized speaker on issues related to high performance for those who excel on the largest stages in the world.

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