You Can’t Always Be Your Best

 

Well that’s an inspiring title from a performance coach, huh? I stand by it though – you can’t always be at your best. 

That doesn’t mean you should not aspire to be at your best, and it doesn’t mean you can’t reach that level a high percentage of the time.  

A primary reason you can’t always be your best is because as long as you are motivated and focused on improving, your “best” is a moving target. Plus, making progress has ups and downs that can’t be avoided. This can be a tough fact for some people, especially the (ahem) more competitive among us, to accept.  

A sign to watch for is extreme reactions to good or bad circumstances or results. Do you find it really easy to get ahead of yourself or really down about future prospects? Then this might be a problem for you. Even those who intellectually understand the impossibility deep down may harbor a wish that they can and should be at their best all the time. You can’t, and that’s OK. 

There’s one caveat to this rule – if you have reached a level of performance that works well and you have no aspirations to improve, you can be your best every day. Your task at that point is pretty clear: figure out how to make your day-to-day execution so automated that you can practically do it in your sleep. 

I’d be surprised, however, if the audience spending their free time reading blogs from a performance coach was comfortable with the status quo. You, my friend, want your best to get better and you want to hit your best as often as possible. So what do you do?

 

Reaching Your Peak More Often

First, you can understand the factors that produce peak performance and construct routines that will help you get there.

Next, take a more detailed look at your B-game and map your pattern so you can catch a drop in performance from A-game to B-game as quickly as possible. The sooner you spot it, the sooner you can recover. It doesn’t really matter why you fell into B-game – it could be too much emotion, too little emotion, fatigue, anger, etc.

What matters is that if you catch it and recover, you keep closer to performing at your best more of the time. It requires a real commitment to understanding the factors that pull your mental game down. It’s also critical to better understand your C-game and what’s holding you back from making your current best even better. When C-game is more likely, you need to find ways to suck less. 

For some of you, this desire to be at your best all the time can be particularly hard to crack.  That’s when it’s time to turn to a Mental Hand History. Here’s an example from a trader I worked with several years ago:

 

  1. What’s the problem: I want to have superhuman power that will allow me to maximize profit and eliminate loss from every trade. 
  2. Why does the problem exist: I have had this illusion for a long time that it was possible to have superhuman abilities, and deep down I must think it’s possible. 
  1. What is flawed: I have 25 years of life experience to prove that it’s not possible to have such power, and if I continue to think this way, I’m basically a seven-year-old. Look at the chaos this one belief is causing in my life – I’m essentially thinking that I can win the lottery. What if I win it? Will I have anything left, other than money? If I don’t win, then I’ll have neither. 
  1. What’s the correction: Since I don’t have superhuman power, the only thing I can do is to do the work necessary to become a skilled trader, and accept that no matter how good I become, I can’t always be at my best and that not all trades will be profitable. 
  1. What logic confirms that correction: This is the only way to achieve financial freedom through trading. Unless I want to be a lucky fish who wins the lottery, I need to correct this illusion or risk ruining my life.

 

This particular Mental Hand History came on the heels of a good amount of work to help the trader understand that he had this desire to have superhuman powers and that it was the reason he kept having such extreme reactions to losses and was prone to bouts of overconfidence when winning large sums of money.

It may be hard for you to connect to the idea that you are expecting or wishing to have superhuman powers, but when you consider the idea that you can’t always be at your best, what comes to mind? What part of you rejects that idea and what does it believe or wish were true? 

These questions will help you do some digging to uncover what’s at the heart of this problem. Is there a part of you that is denying that reality, wishes it wasn’t true, or believes that it doesn’t actually apply to you? If so, try to explain more about what you are thinking and that will help you get more specific. Then go through the remaining steps to uncover and correct why you’re so attached to the idea of always being at your best. 

 

Send Your Mental Hand History

If this blog hits home and you need some help with your Mental Hand History, take a screenshot and tag me on X (twitter) @jaredtendler. I’ll review a handful in the next Office Hours.

And for the traders out there, check out The Mental Game of Trading LIVE, a coaching and accountability program specifically designed to help you correct flaws and be at your best more often, all at a fraction of the cost of private coaching. 

Even though you can’t always be at your best, you sure as sh*t can be at your worst a lot less.

 

Written by Jared Tendler

October 9, 2023

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