For me awareness is one of the essential ingredients of developing belief. Awareness has been highlighted by many as a key indicator of success in a range of performance environments. It is arguably the most important ingredient for belief as every other skill, quality and task you have and undertake can be traced back to awareness. Being aware will give you an insight into your beliefs and whether they are positive or holding you back. If you are aware then this will give you knowledge and if you have knowledge then you know what you need to do to and the direction you need to go to make changes to improve and be successful. It will make you seek out more information on the beliefs that are holding you back and how to change them. It will give you the information for next action thinking whereby you are aware of the very next thing you need to do to move forward. For example if you are aware that you struggle to get up early to go to the gym then this may point to having an inhibiting belief (there are lots of possibilities and this is just one example) that you think you may not be good enough to compete at the level you are playing at and so are shying away from going to the gym which will reinforce this belief. If you are aware then this can then be switched and used as a positive. As you are aware of this belief you could ask a team mate to partner up with you as a gym buddy because the team mate will push you to do the work and give you feedback and encouragement to start to give reference points (See previous articles I have written in the June and July issues).
Awareness allows you to become proactive rather than reactive but you need to be specific, very specific to really break down and peel away the layers to get the beliefs that are influencing the behaviours you are showing. This is hard work and you need to assign time to constantly look at what you do and break this down, but improved awareness have a dramatic and positive effect. Awareness is a really important part of planning and developing training programmes.
Elements of Awareness
There are just 3 elements you need to be aware of and understand and everything (I mean everything !) can be linked back to these 3 elements. If you are aware of just these 3 elements you will gain massive amount information that you can then use to improve by using next action thinking but you need to be specific and work to peel away the layers to really get to the belief.
This concept of awareness has been around for 1000’s of years and used and applied by hundreds of people in a range of performance environments. This idea was initially written about by Sun Tzi in the Art of War (around 500BC) and is still used extensively in business, sport and the military today.
These 3 elements are:
1. You. You need to be aware of you, your strengths and weaknesses, your personality, your motivation. Awareness develops knowledge of you; what your strengths and weaknesses are as a player, coach, as a person and what motivates and drives you. It will allow you to focus on your strengths and develop strategies to improve your weaknesses.
2. The Environment. Examples of things within the environment are team mates, coaches, the level you’re competing at and the actual sport. There will slight differences you need to be aware in different leagues, sports that will give you the knowledge to be successful. So ask yourself what are the important things to focus on? Are there any relationships that need to be developed? Removed? How do you fit into the ‘bigger picture?’ Are there any unique factors that knowing of will give you the best chance of success.
3. The Enemy. Not literally but you need to know the strengths and weaknesses of other players in your position, other teams in your league and your main competitors. How does your team compare to other teams? What makes you and your team unique that allows it to achieve and be successful?
Football managers like Jose Mourinho produce extensive dossiers on everything opponent so that they are aware on everything about their opponents so they can plan effectively. They are aware!
This awareness and knowledge will drive your planning and return maximise productivity (by employing next action thinking).
Strategies to Improve Awareness
Awareness is one of the most important qualities you can have. It’s very easy to improve and can be started immediately. Open up your senses and become a sponge, soaking up all the information you can. Become a student of the game! Speak to and more importantly listen to your team mates, coaches to get an understanding of who they are and what make them tick.
A great little task to complete is to produce a brainstorm and highlight everything you need to be aware of. Once you have done this look at it again and start to break what you have written down. Be more specific; training, for example, could be further broken down and probably could be further broken down until you have a full picture of things to be aware of. You can then give them an importance value and use next action thinking to implement strategies to improve these in order their importance.
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About David Harrison
Head of Psychology for Doncaster Rovers FC Academy | Author of the Journey (http://bit.ly/1PId32S) a self published book on success, winning and increased performance based on extensive experience of performance psychology in elite sport, business and education. HE sport lecturer.