4 ways to Beat the Bouncer – Confidence can get you (almost) anywhere.

Posted by on June 23, 2010 in Blog | 0 comments

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Think back to when you were a party-mad teenager, or any of those occasions you wanted to get into an exclusive nightclub. Or that time you wanted to meet your idol when you were in the same room as they were? Did you find this easy or difficult? Did you get past security and in to the inner sanctum?

I was a spectator on the 1996 Tour de France while visiting some training buddies who were cycling semi-pro in Belgium. We met up for the Mountain time-trial to the ski station at Val d’Isere where we all clubbed in to share a ski-chalet with a Canadian guy, Larry, who we met on the train.

The morning following the time-trial – and a very late night at one of the “nightspots” (that we did manage to get into), Larry and I woke early and set out to the little grocer to buy some supplies for breakfast. It was overcast, cold and snowing which would eventually lead to the cancellation of the day’s stage. As we wondered past one of the hotels, Larry suggested we go inside – “Maybe we’ll see one of the teams”, he suggested.

As we walked into the lobby and over to the dining area, we found the entire Banesto team, lead by 5-time Tour winner Miguel Indurain, sitting down to breakfast. “Follow me.” said Larry as we marched into the dining room sat down at the adjoining table, ate breakfast and had a long chat with Big Mig. (OK, Larry had the chat since he could speak Spanish. I nodded and laughed on cue.)

For years I wondered how we did that. Then I discovered the answer. It all lies in a little thing called presence. You’ll recognize it certain sportspeople and in some of your competitors. The moment they walk into a room, everyone knows about it. When they arrive at the start line, everyone realizes it without depending on the PA system or the announcer. Presence is your “silver bullet” when it comes to having a significant effect on the psyche of your competitors and team members.

Presence can be developed by including the following four aspects in your sporting life.

1. Develop Confident Uncertainty. Accept the fact that there are some things that you don’t know. If we allow uncertainty to undermine our confidence, we cannot develop presence. Look at champion athletes at the start line. They are all equally in the dark about the outcome of the race, but most of them have developed firm confidence despite the uncertainty.

2. Find a purpose beyond pleasing. When our primary goal in lie is to be liked by others we aim to please them. For example when you have a coach you really admire. However, if you want presence, you need to do things with something more crucial on your mind – a purpose. Compete with a purpose other than to please your coach.

3. Equals. Treat everyone you come into contact with as equals. Meeting Big Mig, or whoever your idol is? Act normally. Make sure your behaviour doesn’t change, don’t allow yourself to become overawed. People with presence do not patronise or look down to whoever you deal with. As far as other people see us, we are all equals.

4. Positive Energy. Apathy and presence are like big hills and big gears – they don’t go together. People with presence have energy. When you’re with them you get the feeling that something is holding back, waiting to be unleashed. Make sure your energy is linked to a purpose.
When you lack presence, you tend to follow others, you tend to consent to dominance in your environment. It is then when you allow the course to dominate you. It is then that you submit to the route. It is then that you concede to be beaten and settle for less.

When you have developed presence, it allows you better understand your thinking processes, your psyche, and your levels of activation for a particular event or training session. Only athletes with presence are able to tap into the psyche of others, and only when you presence will you be able to use mental disruption techniques in order to further influence the performance of those around you.

About the author: For years Erik Vermeulen only got presents on birthdays and at Christmas. Today he is a multi-sport fanatic and International Speaker based in Johannesburg from where he dishes out presence to athletes and corporations. You can contact him at erik@erikvermeulen.com

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