The Art of Strengths Coaching

T is for Top Performers Sometimes Needing To Trust Their Talent And Technique


Top performers follow their chosen their tactics and are tenacious. At certain times, however, they choose to trust their talent and technique. They are then more able to flow, focus and finish.

They spend years building on their strengths and developing skills for managing their weaknesses. Preparing thoroughly, they clarify their strategies for dealing with many different situations.

Such performers like to feel in control. So they take these steps whether they are playing a sport, acting on stage, climbing a mountain or doing some other activity.

They find that this approach frequently works. Being fully prepared, they are able to apply their skills and achieve success.

On some occasions, however, they may hit a block. They over-think things, try too hard or tighten up in stressful situations. They may then become over-critical and get into a downwards spiral.

Different people have different approaches to dealing with the situation. Some go back to basics, get a few successes and regain their confidence. Some relax, rehearse the next move and refocus on doing it properly.

Some individuals follow these steps but then add another dimension. Building on the preparation work they have done, they choose to be fully present in the moment. They focus on the process, rather than worry about the end prize.

They have a relaxed awareness. They pay full attention to what is happening, but also loosen their muscles. Moving forwards, they then use their talent and technique to deliver the goods.

Looking back on your own life, can you think of a time when you followed some of these steps successfully? This could have been in your personal or professional life.

You may have been playing a sport, climbing a mountain or giving a presentation. You may have been singing in a choir, having a difficult conversation, tackling a challenge or doing some other activity.

Let’s assume that you had done your preparation and were following your chosen strategy. What did you do maintain your relaxed awareness and then trust your talent and technique? What happened as a result of taking these steps?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you were following your chosen tactics and then trusted your talent and technique.

Describe the specific things you did to maintain your relaxed awareness and also trust your talent and technique.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of taking these steps.


Top performers often have a personal mantra they use to click into this mode. They may say things like:

Take a deep breath and count to ten … Relax and follow your rhythm … Flow, focus and finish.

It can be useful if they choose a positive phrase rather than a negative one. For example: “Do be calm,” rather than, “Don’t panic.”

This helps to channel their energy in a positive way. It can also be useful if they choose one that is personal, practical and profitable.


It must be in the person’s own words. It must come from within and feel right for them. It must one they can recall easily and that can act as a centering mechanism.


It must be based on their own successful experiences and act as a trigger for moving into action. For example: “Do what you know works.”


It must be one that, providing they do things properly, produces success. These can be small wins. The person is then more likely to feel good and continue to use the mantra.

Top performers may also do something physical to re-centre themselves. They may take a deep breath, clasp their hands together or do some other action. This then becomes a ritual they use to regain calm in challenging situations.

Matt Lloyd, the climber and writer, explores some of these themes in an article he wrote for Climbing called The Mind Game: How to overcome fear. He begins the article by referring to a near-death experience he had when climbing.

Matt recalls how dealing with it called for staying calm, doing the basics and then trusting his technique. He then describes some of the tools he learned for managing fear.

Below are excerpts from the article. You can discover more via the following link. 

Be prepared 

When you’re prepared and well-practiced, you have no reason to doubt yourself. It’s not about closing your eyes and jumping into the unknown.  

It’s about having eyes wide open to the dangers around you but knowing that you’re as ready as you can be. Trust in your training and preparedness will give you the required confidence to apply your skills to the task at hand.  

While performing, the pros work consciously and in the current moment. They focus on the task at hand rather than the outcome, staying present rather than thinking too far into the event or about the finish.  

Matt then builds on some of the ideas he learned from Dr. Lisa Lollar, a sports psychologist. 


Use this as much as you can before you even get off the ground, while lying in bed at night or driving to the crag.  

The basic idea is to imagine and clearly see yourself completing each move with ease. Go through each move step by step from bottom to top. 


Best done right after coming out of the initial fear flood, it involves paying conscious attention to breathing and bodily sensations.  

Centering helps the athlete stay in the moment and release past and future thoughts, worries, and plans.


Use this at any time to quiet the amygdala, awaken the prefrontal cortex, and regain your calm. Either out loud or in your head, talk to yourself. Make it simple: “I’m fine” or “I can do this” or “I got it.” 

On a recent 5.11 free solo in Golden, Colorado, I sat at the bottom of the climb thinking about how quickly panic sets in.

I then imagined myself handling that experience calmly, breathing deeply, and saying to myself, Relax, you can do this.  

I still get scared – hell, what climber doesn’t? – but now I’m better equipped to keep my cool, and that’s made all the difference.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation when you want to follow some of these steps?

You will have prepared properly and be following your chosen strategy. But then you begin to feel worried as you tackle the various challenges.

One option is to become become tighter. This approach could work. But it could also mean that your mind and body seize up when they should be supple.

Another option is to be fully in the moment. You can be calm, controlled and have a relaxed awareness. You can then move forward by trusting your talent and technique

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to trust your talent and technique. 

Describe the specific things you can do then to maintain your relaxed awareness and also trust your talent and technique. 

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of taking these steps.

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