The Holistic Psychologist describes the ego as ‘the “I.” It is how you see yourself. It is the part of your mind that identifies with traits, beliefs, and habits. Your ego is an unconscious part of your mind.’
We all have one, we all need it, but not all of us have been successful in leveraging it to maximise training and racing performance. Sadly, a large number of us allow our ego’s to destroy all their hard work - in training, racing, and in life…
Covered in this blog
- How our ego negatively affects us
- The science behind why we perform better when someone's watching
- How to leverage this as 'The Egotistical Athlete'
How our ego negatively affects us
Our ego can be held responsible for many negative traits including: criticising and judging others, acting manipulative, being inflexible and rigid, mood swings, possessing a constant need for praise and approval, need to feel superior to everyone around, feeling fearful, anxious, being uncooperative, taking things too seriously, taking offense easily, constantly worrying over little things, feeling resentful towards others, inability to live in the present moments, feelings of hopelessness and despair and the need for power and control over others.
From the above list, you’d be forgiven for believing that our ego is something we want to rid ourselves of. While I could point out the traits that have a negative effect on athletic performance, I’d rather take a more positive approach and give you why you should leverage your ego for huge performance gains.
One of the strongest egocentric traits is how we look in the eyes of others. Whether you are someone who admits to it or not, we do tend to care what other people think of us. Some of us are more obvious than others; perfectly groomed, clean and crisp kit, immaculate bike, and some care less. However, I’m willing to bet that, if you are training for performance and not simply exercising, you do care a little what others think of you.
The science behind why we perform better when others watch us
A study conducted using video “gamers” at Johns Hopkins University found that ‘Participants were on average 5 per cent better at the video game, and sometimes as much as 20 per cent better, when they were performing in front of others.’
From personal experience, I was always strongest on the bike when there were others around, be that on the club rides, chain gangs, or in races. The numbers I could produce (& hold) were always better there than at home in testing, unless I was being watched...
The egotistical athlete
While we value our privacy and don’t want to bore all our friends with asking them to watch us training, there are some simple ways to leverage this science.
Live streaming your testing and hard indoor sessions is a great place to start and the technology is readily available and affordable. If this seems a bit too technical, or a little too grandiose, you could join spin classes or setup group trainer sessions with your club. Training in front of others might get you that extra 20% performance indoors.
Swapping some of your solo hard rides for group versions, is a great way to push yourself out of your comfort zone. No one wants to be the person who slows the group, that egotistical worry is perfect motivation to keep you going.
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