The Business News (a Wisconsin newspaper) last year asked me how I would define a champion.
I thought about it for a few seconds and then gave them this response:
“A champion is one who is significantly challenged in some way and yet demonstrates an ability to excel above and beyond what others are not capable of or willing to do.”
It CAN Be Done
Since then, I’ve tried to look at what behaviors and habits go along with a champion’s mentality.
One defining comparison is the affirming language. For example, President Ronald Reagan had a desk sign which read, “It CAN be done.”
Another positive language example can be seen in a friend of mine who’s an outstanding gymnastics coach. She leads her athletes by not allowing them to use the word “can’t”.
An alternate acceptable response might be, “I’m not able to achieve this maneuver today, but I will consistently work towards making it happen & will strive to achieve it within one month.”
In other words she is teaching them to argue for their potential. This habit is creating positive adaptive brain electrochemical consequences which will also serve the athletes well with future problem solving & challenges in life.
Empower Strength, Not Weakness
In my journey, I’m amazed how many I encounter who argue for their weaknesses, as well as to empower the weaknesses of others.
To elaborate, the words we choose to use often either affirm our strengths, hope & capabilities, or our weaknesses, self defeating lack of hope & despair.
Which do you argue for? What kind of language do you choose to use? How’s it working for you?
Many don’t understand that our mind and nervous system can be scripted both positively and negatively by what we feed it & expose it to, including language.
Consider these common reactive responses:
1) “I know I should take better care of myself, but I don’t have the time.”
2) “If only I could ____ (fill in the blank), then I could exercise and be more active.”
3) “I just can’t.”
Dr. Stephen Covey (author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”) has written extensively about how many people habitually use reactive language to absolve them of responsibility.
This leads to an ongoing progressive victimization mentality. Almost reflexively, it can reduce human potential & can become a mental prison of choice.
In contrast, consider the words of Eleanor Roosevelt (This is My Story), “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Ultimately it’s a choice! Our greatest freedom in life is our ability to choose; at any time we can choose our response to a given set of circumstances.
Pain & Mobility Programming
For many with chronic pain, a doctor of physical therapy often works with coaches & counselors to help patients address mental health issues which influence pain behaviors; by doing so they can remove significant barriers to functional mobility gains.
Positive change often starts with affirming words. Consider using the following:
1) “I choose to make health and wellness a daily priority and schedule time for it.”
2) “I choose to set achievable short-term and long-term goals with a physical therapist so I can improve my function and walk without pain or instability.”
3) “I may not be able to achieve the change I desire today, but will strive to reach my goals within the next six weeks.”
To summarize, how we think influences how we function & how we function influences how we think …. think about it!
Argue For The Right Things
An important part of physical therapy care is to encourage individuals to argue for the right things.
In doing so, patients help unleash strength, hope and wellness potential in the process. They learn they can think, react, and achieve like a champion!