March Madness is upon us! The excitement of postseason tournaments invigorates a nation emerging from yet another winter season. Elite teams put their final touches on an envious regular season, while others scrap for a postseason opportunity. The nation eagerly awaits for Cinderellas to dance as giants fall. The purpose of a regular season is unclear, if not fully forgotten. National rankings become irrelevant, and tournament seeds are no guarantee to success. So why did we have to wait for all this excitement? The truth is, March itself didn’t create the madness. It’s a result of a process.
As you are probably well aware, there is only so much information that our brains can process before mental fatigue inevitably sets in. This often happens when we try to do or think about too many things over a prolonged period of time. Mental fatigue occurs when we exceed our limited stores of mental capacity, or what I like to call “mental energy.” We spend mental energy every time we use our brains to process information, an example being when we are deep in thought or completing complex tasks.
The ability to manage thoughts, process information and think critically is an important predictor of success in most performance domains. Unfortunately, when our mental energy is drained, cognitive performance suffers, as does our ability to complete tasks effectively and efficiently.
Often, during athletic competition and other performance scenarios, we do not spend enough of our limited mental energy on things that actually benefit our performance. Take a moment now to think about what you spend mental energy on before an important competitive event (examples being an athletic competition, job interview, or business proposal)…
Oftentimes, in a competition between equally talented opponents, the competitor with the greatest confidence and self-belief comes away on top. One simple way to enhance confidence is to surround our self with messages that communicate confidence. We are constantly sending messages, both to ourselves and to those around us, and we do so in a number of ways. The obvious way we send messages is through verbal communication, meaning through the use of language. This occurs both at an audible level, where we are communicating to others, and an inaudible level, where we communicate to our self through inner thought. Less obvious is the messages that are being sent through nonverbal communication, such as the messages being communicated by our body. If we coordinate the messages that we are sending to communicate confidence – both verbally and non-verbally – we can fully expect to see a boost in our self-belief, allowing us to improve performance and achieve more.