I recently sat down with performance coach Jim Murphy to discuss how athletes use the mind to attain peak performance. Jim has a long and successful career (almost twenty years) training top professional and Olympian athletes to get the very best out of themselves. I respect Jim for his knowledge, his ‘track’ record, and his integrity as an individual. He is presently working on a book, which will be published in the fall, and he has agreed to do a monthly topic for us at that time to further elaborate on his techniques for maximum effectiveness. Some of them will surprise you.

32327674 - athlete man running in sweatshirt hoodie in autumn fall by the water. male runner training outdoors jogging in nature.We can learn valuable lessons from the world’s greatest athletes and apply these lessons in our own life with equal success. Become An Athlete of the Mind The physical practices will of course be different and sport appropriate, but the principles and practices of the mind are exactly the same for all top level achievers.

“Peak performance has a few common characteristics,” says Jim. “Passion. Enjoyment. Heightened awareness. Getting caught up in the moment-to-moment focus. Full engagement. All top athletes have commonalities when they perform at their best: a clear mind and unburdened heart, a positive focused energy, and powerful beliefs.”

“What you think is crucial. It is, in fact, the core of a champion—who they are, how they train and how they compete comes down to how they think. The thoughts you repeat over and over in your mind, whether these are positive or negative, will create your beliefs. So an athlete wanting to perform at his peak needs to develop powerful beliefs about himself. Every thought you have has energy, and, as an athlete, you know that focusing your energy is a top priority.”

I asked him to elaborate on what he meant by focusing energy, and his reply was fascinating: “The amateur athlete has three to four times the amount of thoughts as an elite athlete. The elite athlete works years to control his thoughts and feelings, developing a powerful focus—a presence. The amateur has his mind filled with thousands of random, useless, and worst of all negative thoughts. This cluttered mind I call ‘the monkey mind,’ and it is one of the biggest obstacles to peak performance.”

I couldn’t agree more. In my thirty years of teaching Mind Power there are common denominators that seem to distinguish those who are successful from those who fail. While the ways of using Mind Power are similar and available to all, the ability to implement them varies widely from person to person. Martial Arts Master George Leonard has a saying that summed this up perfectly: “The master of any activity is undoubtedly also a master of practice.” The master of practice! I love that phrase because it echoes what I teach my students over and over again. The power of daily practice.

I know well from teaching Mind Power for thirty years that most people work with Mind Power techniques for a few days or weeks and then fall into lazy habits. They dabble with it. Regular, consistent practice is the mark of a champion. You must first know what to do, but then equally important is that you must do it. Implement your knowledge with daily practice.

The power of practice is further summed up by Mark Spitz, winner of seven gold medals at the Munich Olympics. His quotation heads up the final chapter my book