7/8/21: The Benefits of an Explorative Mindset
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This week's Think Better Newsletter is about adopting an explorative mindset for racing.
In our latest episode of Fueling the Pursuit, I interviewed Katie Zaferes, 2-time Olympian and 2019 ITU World Champion in Triathlon. She'll be representing the US in Tokyo this year after a particularly difficult qualification period which saw her overcome a terrible crash, covid restrictions on her training, and her father's sudden passing.
In our talk she highlighted an insight about racing that I wanted to share with you. She said:
"You can see all races as tests. And when you look at it that way it limits what you can do in a race, because you're saying, 'This is where I need to do everything I practiced.' Whereas the race is really another opportunity to try something...not all the time, like, going crazy, but to race in the way that you want to do. And I feel like it gives you a little bit of freedom and I think also it makes it more fun."
This idea of treating races as opportunities to try something new is what Katie calls having an explorative mindset for racing. She adopted this mindset after a disappointing 18th place finish at the Rio Olympics, where she felt she was so focused on process that she not only underperformed but missed out on some of the Olympic experience in order to ensure she was perfectly prepared.
The final result wasn't fun, wasn't successful, and wasn't her best representation of herself.
Katie's previous approach to racing could be summed up by the phrase, "This is what I need to do." It was 100% plan and process driven, and it was about executing the predetermined strategy. I would call this having an execution mindset for racing.
Katie's new explorative mindset can be summed up in a simple phrase she says to herself before every race: "Let's see what I can do."
She still prepares, makes a plan, and aims to execute on it. But she now toes the line feeling free to enjoy the experience and push herself to the limit. She credits this approach with getting her over the hump and securing her the world championship in 2019, and its the mindset she's taking into Tokyo.
Next time you toe the line, remind yourself that your plan is there to get you to the point where you can "see what you can do."
Are you prioritizing executing your plan, or are you prioritizing achieving your best results?
Go Be More,
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast
Co-host of the Fueling the Pursuit Podcast
"Life isn't about luck, but being ready to receive opportunities."
— Francis Shenstone, The Explorer's Mindset
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