“Motivation”. I always hated that word. It always seemed to be used in an accusatory way: “You need to be more motivated!” or ”look at Johnny, he’s so motivated”. Even when people used it positively to assess my mindset, I felt uncomfortable. A fraud, even. In truth, my motivation ebbed and flowed as much as the next man.

Motivation is never static. Some days training is easy, others you’d rather stick pins in your eyes. Motivation for many runs on emotion, “I’m doing this for my Mum and Dad” or “for the haters”. That can work as a top-up, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a game plan. Emotions fluctuate and you can’t have consistent output, relying on a variable. Unlike in other sports, where a large amount of natural talent may get you ahead, to be a successful international rower your ability to train hard over many years is the baseline requirement. When I was younger, I used to thank God that I could train hard- I thought it was some divine gift. But when I look back on it, I was simply using strategies that helped me carve out a path that there was no blueprint for at the time. We’ll look at some of those strategies during this mindset series- when we touch on goal setting, planning, rhythm and routines, training mindset, competition mindset and how to manage setbacks.

Born Bulletproof ?
Some people can find it hard to pursue their goals because they mistakenly believe that those who achieve success are born bulletproof, highly motivated and with cast-iron belief in their abilities. Athletes interviewed after big competitions often talk that way too – “I believed I had a big performance in me”- etc- but no one starts out like that. Belief is built slowly and patiently over time and you don’t need to have masses of belief at the get go. The way I used to think about it was; “I’ve two arms and two legs and one head, same as the next man. If I apply myself consistently over time and if I deal with challenges that come my way as well as I possibly can, then I MAY have a chance”. Your belief will of course grow as you go, reinforced by feedback loops and data when you’ve been deploying. But you don’t need to set the bar at bulletproof when you’re starting out. That you MAY have a chance is really good enough.

In this mindset series, I hope to debunk some more of these myths around motivation, belief and what it takes to have a “bulletproof mindset” by sharing some of the strategies and thoughts that I think served me well during my rowing career. My hope is that they might encourage you to deploy and stay deploying consistently in pursuit of your goals too.

So join us for the next blog where we’ll be kicking off with the importance of Goal Setting.