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Mastering the Mental Game for Peak Performance

Dr. Kori Propst
in THE DIET DOC, Mental Edge, Performance, Inspiration
April 13, 2018
8 minutes read

Hi, guys! I’m Dr. Kori Propst from The Diet Doc, and I’m so happy to be here. I’m thankful we have so many of you here who are chomping at the bit to learn how you can implement the science of physiology, nutrition, and mindset to improve your lives and your goal pursuits. It’s a very exciting time in this industry as more and more research is coming out that we can apply to really amplify who we are not just as athletes but as human beings! I wish I could be there with all of you, Callan, and Dr. Joe and Dr. Helms, but honored nonetheless that I can contribute in this way! What an awesome event you’ve put together, Callan!

My intention today is to take you on a short foray into what it means to master the mental game. We will be targeting 4 A’s of peak performance, in fact, and with each concept I will offer you a practice that you can take into your daily lives to hone your mental mastery skills!

Remember this is about skills. Skills are not something you are born with; they are built. Hence the word “mastery!” To master something we engage in deliberate practice—not just practice (because we can practice the wrong things and not move any closer to mastery, right?), but deliberate practice.

This means we’re engaging in repeat practice, we’re being consistent in our efforts, we’re disciplined, and we’re receiving some type of regular feedback so we can gauge our performance and set up next-level challenges. This feedback can come from a coach and/or tracking and measuring, for example. By doing this, you can create mindset habits that shift how you move through the world and the manner in which you take the steps toward your most important outcomes! Exciting!

So let’s dig in!

The 1st A of Mental Mastery is Attitude.

Attitude is the way you dedicate yourself to the way you think

We all have tendencies and patterns in terms of the way we think, but I want you to remember something. Tendencies need not become actualities. We are our energy governors. What we focus on grows, right? Where our focus goes, energy flows! So you tell me, if you think in a negative way, what are the consequences?

What happens when you adopt a curious mindset versus a catastrophic mindset?

A black and white attitude versus a neutral attitude?

When you say “I can” versus “I can’t,” and even better ask, “how can I?” what happens to the energy within you? Curiosity opens you up, right? We expand into the possibilities versus close down and contract.

Your task for the rest of this camp, and as you move into the situations of your lives is to practice asking, “What altitude am I choosing?” Notice right now what attitude you are choosing as you listen to me. What attitude will you choose as you engage in conversations this evening with your peers? What attitude will you choose when your head hits the pillow tonight, and when your feet hit the floor in the morning? You can choose an attitude of determination, an attitude of zest, an attitude of compassion, at attitude of assertiveness, an attitude of wonder, an attitude of gratitude, an attitude of patience, an attitude of enthusiasm, an attitude of love, an attitude of perspective. And remember, your attitude can change minute to minute if you want it to. That’s up to you!

The 2nd A of Mental Mastery is Attention.

Attention is a type of awareness. To understand attention, we can ask ourselves “What am I paying attention to?”

At any one time, our attention is on something. We may be in the middle of a conversation with someone and our attention is not at all on what the person is saying. Instead, our attention may be on what our next meal is going to be…or even what we want to say next to the person.

Another way to think about attention is “Where am I allowing my attention to land?”

We have a food diet, for example. This is what we consume in the form of macronutrients, right? But we also have a thought diet– what we consume that directly shapes the manner in which we think, feel, and behave. Where we let our attention land influences how we perceive the world. If I’m constantly looking at pictures of other physique athletes and comparing myself to them, I’m choosing where my attention is going. A reflection for you: is what you are paying attention to, in your service? Go back to the first A. What attitude does it prompt for you? Is what you are paying attention to energizing or mentally discouraging? Do you feel the energy in your body collapse or expand?

Finally, it’s important to recognize “How am I paying attention?”

Do I eat and just eat?

Do I listen and just listen in a conversation?

Do I write an email and just concentrate on the email?

Mental mastery means developing a high quality attention. I’ll repeat the 3 questions you can use to practice this and become more aware of your attention: 1. What am I paying attention to in the moment? 2. Where do I let my attention land (literally, what you do you spend your time attending to)? 3. How am I paying attention? (what is the quality of my attention? Is it diffuse or targeted on just one thing?

The 3rd A of Mental Mastery is Attribution:

Attribution is how we ascribe meaning to the circumstances, events, outcomes, and situations of our lives. Say I get done with this talk and as you’re engaged in the Q&A one of you asks Joe a question and he pauses a long time before answering. Do you attribute that pause as an indication that your questions was stupid and silly? Does the pause mean nothing to you at all? Do you attribute the pause to Joe’s thoughtfulness and care in wanting to craft the best reply? Do you attribute the pause to the possible waft of cold air he felt from the air conditioner? ;) You get my point.

Or let’s say that you miss your lift at your next meet…or you trip as you’re walking across the stage. Do you attribute the event to your worth as a human being? “I don’t know what I thought I could do that well anyway…” or do you attribute it to needing more practice, so you go home and watch the video and assess it both for what you did well and then what you could improve upon?

Attribution is related to our worldviews and whether we have an internal locus of control or an external locus of control.

Do we take compassionate responsibility or do we place blame on others or things? Because when we place blame, there’s nothing we can do about it, right? We are left stuck. The consensus is that we are who we are and we can’t grow. Does this sound familiar? Many of you are familiar with Dr. Carol Dweck, who researches intelligence. What she brilliantly articulates are the differences in individuals who operate with a fixed or growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset attribute difficulty, hardship, mistakes to a lack of intelligence. I am the way I am. On the other hand, those with a growth mindset understand that intelligence is built, incrementally, and attributed to effort and practice.

Your question for this A is this as follows:

What are all the contributing factors associated with this outcome? (This assumes you will be finding both internal and external influences).

The 4th A of Mental Mastery is Agility.

Perhaps you’ve heard the term “behavioral flexibility.” I know you’ve heard the term “structured flexibility” today. If you haven’t, I’d put on an attitude of curiosity, and focus all your attention on attributing the cause of your ignorance around this topic to Joe!

I like to use the term agility as it pertains to mental mastery because it conveys coordination- quickness, alertness, an ability to shift easily.

An agile mindset is one that views “hard” differently. Imagine having an attitude of enthusiasm for hard versus an attitude of discouragement because you didn’t get something “right” the first time. When I started road cycling I had to learn how to clip in and out of my pedals. I fell multiple times and I have the scars to prove it. Each time I fell I asked myself what I could learn and how I could it differently the next time. With each bruise and scrape I became more engaged! I could say, “this is hard!” with excitement and a little less frustration. Hard as I see it is having awareness, resilience, and determination. Do you have an agile mindset that views hard in that way? A mindset that can switch easily from assertive to vulnerable, to compassionate, to curious, to appreciative, to zestful?

The question that can open you up to develop your mental agility is this:

What is one action I might take to approach this situation as an opportunity?

An agile mind is set toward “leaning in” when discomfort arises; viewing the difficult as a challenge rather than a threat; doing a backbend over a barrier rather than avoiding it!

My friends, you have the capacity within you to achieve your most lofty goal pursuits. One thing I might add that can accelerate your process is to align with others, just like you are here. In doing so, you not only gather new ideas and perceptions and step out of your box, but you also have the opportunity to contribute. We know that contributing to the betterment of others creates more positive emotions and engagement!

It’s been a pleasure. Thank you again! Please reach out for questions or comments at and also via all the social media channels! You guys have fun and bring the energy to the rest of your time here!! and also via all the social media channels! You guys have fun and bring the energy to the rest of your time here!!

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