Shirzad Chamine: Why mental fitness is the X-factor
It’s two seconds to the end of the championship game. The basketball is thrust into your hands. If you make the shot, you’ll be the hero of millions–if you don’t, the villain.
This is a shot that you could easily make during practice. But what about now, when so much is riding on it? Will you rise to the occasion, or will you choke?
The answer depends on a key quality that we’ve come to define as Mental Fitness.
What is Mental Fitness?
Our research defines Mental Fitness as the measure of how quickly you can shift from negative to positive responses to challenges.
For example, how quickly you recover from a stressed response to a calm, clear-headed response to an unexpected crisis.
So back to the game: when the ball is passed to you, there’s a split-second fear-based negative reaction.
Perhaps thoughts like “I’m going to screw up again like I did a minute ago.” “If I don’t make this, everyone’s going to hate me,” and so on.
If your Mental Fitness is high, you’ll be able to quickly shift your own brain activation, so you’d feel calm, clear-headed and laser-focused. You’d command your mind to silence the voices and just feel the ball in your hand and see the basket.
As a matter of fact, your focus might become so total that you’d experience the whole thing in slow-motion. Something athletes call being “in the zone.”
From negative to positive
In the case of an athlete, high Mental Fitness enables split-second recovery from negative to positive. In the case of the rest of us, it would take longer.
For example, say you’re in sales. At 10 a.m., you get rejected by a prospective client you’ve spent months cultivating.
Your first reaction, understandably, is negative. You feel disappointed, stressed and upset. Self-doubt begins to creep in: “maybe I’m not good at this…” Or desperation: “If I don’t make my quota, I’m screwed.”
Your Mental Fitness level determines who you’ll be at 10:30 on the call with your next important prospect.
If your Mental Fitness is low, your stress or desperation will infect your next meeting. It will increase the odds of another failure, which will then begin to snowball.
If your Mental Fitness is high, you might quickly ask yourself how you could convert your earlier failure into a gift and opportunity. Perhaps a gift of deeper understanding of what went wrong and how you could apply the lessons to do much better on a thousand other calls.
By the time the next call rolls in, you’re excited to try your new improved pitch to see how it works.
You’d have recovered to positive emotions like curiosity and true empathy for your client, self-confidence, and calm, clear-headed action.
You’d not only perform better but feel better and happier. Instead of snowballing the negative, you recover fast to start a positive snowballing.
Find your PQ score
Mental Fitness is the X-factor for both optimal performance and happiness.
Based on research with 500,000 participants, Mental Fitness can now be measured through a simple 2-minute assessment. We call this your PQ score (short for Positivity Quotient).
This research has revealed both good news and bad news about your PQ score.
The bad news is that there’s an 80% chance your PQ score is below the tipping point associated with peak performance and persistent happiness.
The good news is that within 6 weeks of exercising the 3 core Mental Fitness muscles, 15 minutes per day, you can boost your score significantly.
Indeed, similar to physical fitness, your Mental Fitness is entirely a matter of exercising some muscles (in the brain). These muscles respond powerfully to practice.
Let’s do a little self-examination now.
- In responding to challenges and setbacks, how quickly do you tend to shift from stress or upset to curiosity, calm, peace, or clear-headed action?
- Imagine how much happier and more effective you would be, if you could double that speed of recovery from negative to positive.
- How do you think you currently compare to the rest of the population?
You can find out your current Mental Fitness level and how you compare to the rest of the population through this free 2-minute PQ Score Assessment.
In other articles, I’ll detail the 3 core Mental Fitness muscles and research-based techniques to boost them. For now, if you found this article helpful, please pass on the gift and share it with others.
This article first appeared on the Positive Intelligence blog.