In the 2014 Winter Olympics, there was a lot of talk about the athletes and their performances. Some of the athletes who traveled to Russia to play had sterling reputations because of their past performances. In the world of sports, they have been considered exceptionally talented and have earned recognition for their talent. Yet once they performed on the Olympic stage, many of them couldn’t seem to get their minds in the game. They stumbled, fell, and TV viewers started hearing things like, “This performance was so unlike that athlete.” And, “That performance must be a major disappointment.”

What happened? Clearly these athletes have major talent and have proven it at other times. There could be a lot of personal reasons going on that we as viewers are not privy to, but mindset has to be one of the major contributors.

One of the attributes that I notice in many of the athletes that didn’t choke at the games was their ability to relax to a point that they could smile and enjoy their experience. I have also observed that singers who are able to be at ease in contests more often do the best.

Why? In the book, Talent is Overrated, the author describes this. When a person reaches true mastery in their field, they are able to see all the systems and structures that take place. Once they master a certain skill level, they develop the ability to look at the whole system. When they reach a level where doing that is easy for them, performing their craft or sport becomes play, while others still have to think about what is going on.

In order for you to prevent being taken out of your game and your performance, it is important to have a regular schedule and cultivate good habits that continually build your skills. These good practices make it easier for you to slip into the zone of your performance so you can smile more and transform your work to play.