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is there a tiger in your
mental jungle?
by Jim Will, Ph.D.

Pro golfer Ernie Els was playing in a tournament earlier this summer when a reporter asked him how he liked his chances. Els said he was worried about Tiger Woods. The reporter looked puzzled because Woods had dropped out of contention. Even so, as long as Els believed Woods was a threat, the effect was the same. Woods was still affecting his confidence and concentration.

Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame 2007 Induction Ceremony
No Tigers chase Renee Ryckebosch,
two-time consecutive Grand Champion
of the Camarillo Western Classic.

What about this jinx everyone is talking about in regards to being the No. 1 qualifier? Who is your Tiger in the arena? What jinx do you always seem to encounter?

Take time to examine what beliefs and attitudes might be inadvertently holding you down. I remember a number of years ago I saw a bumper sticker that said: "I Refuse to Take Part in the Recession." Some people, unbeknownst to them, participate in the recession/depression of life. We all know people living in a soap opera. Everything that could possibly go wrong seems to go wrong for them. At least that's how they portray themselves.

I like to ask people if, in regards to their particular situation, they would agree that no matter what their challenge, at least one person out of a million could figure out a way to overcome that particular obstacle. They always agree that surely at least one person out of a million could come out smelling like a rose. Well, then, why can't it be you? I don't care how many experts tell us how long our odds are – let's be the exception rather than the rule.

So who are the experts in the arena who are putting up mental obstacles for you? Well, somebody who's been in the sport longer than you. I had a professor in college tell me to always wear "skeptical spectacles" – in other words, question what the experts might be trying to have you buy into. I believe a lot of very good and well-intentioned people will sometimes supply us with misinformation – some Tigers and jinxes – that we really don't need to waste energy on at all.

Are you going to be a victim of these experts? I certainly hope not.

A young man I know mentioned to me that something was missing in his life. He said he felt empty and lost. At first glance, you would think he has it all together. After all, he's very successful in his career, and many people admire him. However, he confided in me that he was not happy with his life.

We talked for a while, and I promised him I would walk through each area of his life – spiritual, physical, financial, social, professional, relationships, mental, educational, recreational, etc. – so we could discover what he's missing. Then we'd figure out how to fix it so that he can start enjoying life to the fullest.

Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame 2007 Induction Ceremony
No Tigers chase Carina Morris,
third-time Grand Champion of the
Camarillo Eastern Classic.

You can do the same thing by eliminating the mental Tigers in your life. Don't wait for New Year's resolutions; high-performance individuals are setting new goals every day. They are consciously deciding what kind of moods, beliefs, and attitudes they want in the arena, homes, and offices.

It will truly enhance your performance and your life by letting out-of-date jinxes or untrue beliefs that a Tiger is always lurking leave your consciousness once and for all. Refuse to let them clutter up your mind and life. You know as well as I do that being the No. 1 qualifier isn't a jinx at all. Historically, it's the best starting place you can possibly be at the beginning of a race. It's mere coincidence that if you start on top historically, you won't win again this year, nothing else.

As for Tigers in the arena, well I can't imagine how anyone else in the world should be allowed to affect how you race. Focus on being the best you can be and let Tiger chase after you.

 

Photographs by ProSportsPix and GuaranteedGowgirl.