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How to get better and better

Elite performers, in any field, are not born but made. Running faster and thinking faster can certainly help but the real key to excellence, in sports and business, is mental toughness.

Graham Jones is a former professor of elite performance psychology at the University of Wales and has consulted to top performers in business, athletics, and the military for more than 20 years. He’s the author of “Thrive On Pressure: Lead and Succeed When Times Get Tough.”

According to Jones, elite performers are able to reach higher and higher levels because of these personal traits – some innate, others learned:

Love the pressure – You can’t get to the top and stay there if you aren’t comfortable in high-stress situations. Star players focus on what they can control and forget the rest. They’re masters of compartmentalization. And they don’t beat themselves up but instead put the day’s results behind them – quickly.

Focus on the long term – Stars are able to rebound from defeat because of an intense focus on long-term goals and aspirations. The road to long-term success is paved with small achievements, and some defeats. They know it and accept it.

Use the competition – Top performers work with, and train with, other high performers that push them. The only way to get better is to be pushed beyond your current skill level.

Celebrate wins – Elite performers put almost as much effort into their celebrations as they do into their accomplishments. But celebration is more than an emotional release, it involves a deep level of analysis and enhanced awareness.

Elite performers excel when the heat is turned up. They focus on achieving small goals that lead to bigger ones. They practice and prepare.

Finally, they think about winning, a lot. They imagine it, they talk about it, they train for it, and then they do it.

Have a great week.

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