There's a great docu-series on Netflix that I've watched recently: Break Point. It follows top tennis players, the best of the best, as they’re moving through the biggest championships in tennis with one goal in mind: to win the tournament and become number one.
If you're not a tennis fan, don't let that stop you: it was never my favorite sport to watch or play, but it doesn't even matter because this show is about so much more than just tennis: you get to see how some of the top players navigate the high pressure, big expectations, comparisons, go beyond their limits... and as a life coach, the most interesting part to observe is how they handle self-doubt and what their mindset needs to be in order to get to and stay at the top.
They have so much on the line (or so the mind tries to tell them), there's tension, there's passion (I had no idea tennis players love to destroy their rackets when they're upset 😂 ) + absolute obsession with what they do.
These are people who live and breathe tennis, who've dreamed of winning a Grand Slam* since they were 5 years old, often spending every single day of their childhood practicing tennis for 8 and more hours a day... Their stories are unbelievable and their dreams are even bigger. And they all really, really, really want it!
*The Grand Slams are the biggest championships in tennis. There are 4 that happen each year: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open.
When it comes to success, mindset is the name of the game
It's fascinating to watch how different players progress through the competition and how each of them navigates self-doubt & fears in their own way.
Often the deciding factor in whether they win or lose isn't their physical strength (they all play at the highest physical level, sometimes playing a match for 3 or 4 hours!!!), but their mindset (Novak Djokovic, one of the 3 best male players in tennis has shared in his book that his mindfulness practice & mental training are what helps him win championships and beat his two biggest rivals: Rafael Nadal & Roger Federer).
The mindset & how the players deal with self-doubt in crucial moments is what separates the good from the best.
How can this information serve you?
Whenever we have a vision for our life or the world, or whenever we want to achieve a goal, like starting a business, finding a fulfilling job, creating a fulfilling relationship, starting a passion project like a podcast, blog .., that invitation, that call is going to call us forward and take us out of our comfort zone.
But the moment we start to contemplate taking that step, we hear a little voice in our head that keeps saying "don't go there" / "don't do that" / "it's not going to work" / "others are better anyway"...
The mind (the negative thoughts & limiting beliefs) is the number one thing that can stand in the way of us achieving that goal and creating that change.
It's designed to keep us safe, in our comfort zone. I love how Alyssa Nobriga, Professional Life Coach and founder of the Institute for Coaching Mastery says that it's actually not that comfortable in the comfort zone, it's more like a familiar zone.
If we listen to that voice + believe it, we're most likely not going to take the next step. And inevitably nothing will change.
In order to move beyond where we are, in order to create a different result, we have to do something different than what we've been doing until now.
This is one of the most important learnings I can share with you: self-doubt (or fear or any other inner block) won't go away.
A lot of us are waiting for the moment when we won't doubt ourselves or won't be scared, but that's not possible.
Our system is designed to protect us at all costs and when we start to move into an unfamiliar situation, out of the familiar zone, it will send us those signals through any means possible (through fear, self-doubt etc.).
If we want to succeed we must move ahead despite self-doubt or fear.
The good news is that there are ways how to work with it in a graceful way, with compassion and understanding vs pushing through it. That's exactly what we do in transformational coaching: we work with self-doubt on a deeper level (emotional /somatic /unconscious) so we can clear it at the root and we also do mindset work to keep the mind in top shape.
When we see successful people, high performers, top tennis players, it's not that they've succeeded because they didn't doubt themselves or because they didn't have fears: they've just trained their minds and learned tools to work with the self-doubt and fear so that they don't stop them. This is also why all top performers have coaches: to help them maximize their potential, remove the obstacles to their success and help them achieve the best results possible.
The one who controls the mind controls the game
Here's an example of what happened in Break Point when one of the top tennis players let her mind take control & allowed self-doubt to get to her (this is in episode 2). 👇
At the Australian Open, Ajla Tomljanović, ranked nr. 40 on the Women's Tennis ATP, was playing Paula Badosa, a top-10 player on the ATP ranking & current title holder.
During the match we see Ajla and Badosa go back and forth, each of them winning a few games in the first set. 1-1 Badosa. 1-4 Badosa. 2-4 Badosa, 4-5 Badosa... and we hear them both describing the up and down of every small win (this is why I love the show, the creators allow us to get a peek into exactly what’s going through their minds as they’re navigating the most pressure-filled moments):
Paula B.: "In my head, I was like: "Oh my god Paula, you're going to lose."
Ajla T.: "I start thinking to myself 'Am I capable of doing this?' That's when everything started going downhill. My thoughts just kind of start spiraling. All the negativity coming at me all at once. That little voice in your head doesn't stop."
Badosa eventually won the first set and the match, and Ajla commented in her voice-over: "The mental side of this game is what really makes a difference at the top."
This is just one example, but the whole series is filled with moments, where we get to see firsthand how the mindset and overcoming self-doubt is what makes or breaks the game.
We see players navigate that voice in their minds after they’ve lost 2 sets and it’s almost over and observe what happens when they get their mind and the self-doubt under control (they are capable of turning the match around in their favor and winning) or when they let it take control and innerly give up (the moment they give up, they've lost).
There are so many gems and learnings in this show and I invite you to pay attention to what resonates with you, but here are a few powerful coaching tips around mindset and self-doubt so you can use this to apply to your life as you start to move ahead on your dreams / reaching your goals:
Self-doubt will always be here. It's not about waiting for it to go away but learning to work with it + taking action on your vision despite it being present.
The mindset is key when it comes to success. Question the MIND when it starts to doubt. Question every single limiting thought. Is this absolutely true? Can I know without a shadow of a doubt, that I'm not going to succeed?
Play with this: imagine you didn't have the thought or the ability to think. How would you act / what would you do without that thought?
Understand how self-doubt is trying to serve you so you don't lose your energy resisting it. What we resist, persists and we want to work with it vs against it, we have to bring understanding and compassion to it. Ask yourself, if self-doubt is here to serve me, what does it want for me?
Let me know in the comments if you watched Break Point & what your main takeaways were. I would love to hear your thoughts and your insights. 👇
With all my love & gratitude