I’m a NY Giants fan. In the run up to the NFC Championship game, I’ve been paying closer attention to what the players and coaches have been saying in the media. Gives me a chance to get a glimpse into how they’re doing mentally, and then connect my estimate to how I see them perform. It’s a great way for me to learn and continue to test my perception. (Plus, with the Giants doing so well, it makes paying close attention even more fun.)
I came across an article about Justin Tuck, the team’s defensive captain. He’s been battling injuries all season and made some interesting comments about how he’s been able to deal with them much better in the past several weeks.
While the injuries haven’t healed, he’s played significantly better because of his attitude towards them. That’s why I’m sharing this article, his situation is very different from what any of you will face, but there’s a lesson to learn.
This is the quote that I keyed in on from the article:
“It troubles you a lot, he said. You lose a lot of sleep thinking, especially when a lot of guys look at you as going out on the football field and giving your all, and when guys didn’t really know how banged up I was, guys were looking at me like, Justin, we need a play here. We need to do this. I’m accustomed to being banged up. But I’m also accustomed to healing and moving on. This year there wasn’t any moving on, it was kind of just stagnant. So you start thinking, Am I getting old? Am I losing this part of my game? Is this going to have to change, is that going to have to change? Things like that start creeping in your mind and before long you’ve talked yourself out of any plays you’re ever going to make.”
As I talk about in the chapter on fear in The Mental Game of Poker these lingering questions, undermine confidence and ultimately your ability to perform at the highest level. Plus, his questions can’t be answered definitively. I’s impossible for Tuck to answer them at this point, so the uncertainty can’t be turned into certainty, and that undermines confidence and performance.
Ever since he had a heart-to-heart with his coach, Tuck has been able to put these questions out of his mind. He’s decided to play his absolute best with whatever his body can give him and the results are visible when watching him play. Now, with these doubts no longer running through his mind, he’s getting more from the same body than he was before.
The take away: When you have doubt, seek answers to your questions. If your questions can’t be answered, take note, move on, and keep pushing as hard as you can towards your goal. Eventually, coming back to see if you can answer them when you have more information.
Eventually, you’ll need to step back and look closely at these questions. They’re legitimate questions and need to be answered at some point. Just not now.