#009: Natalie Cook on the Search for Mental Toughness and Emotional Stability [Podcast]

Sparta Chicks Radio

Apr 23

Self-belief is such a murky, fluid concept.

Some days you feel on top of the world and unstoppable.

The next, it’s gone and you’re convinced you were fooling yourself and you aren’t (and will never be) ready / good / fast enough (hello, Imposter Complex) or able to achieve the goals you’ve set.

So how do you develop unwavering self-belief (and keep it)?

Many women I’ve spoken to over the years are trapped by the chicken-and-the-egg scenario: Ever said you need or want to do the distance or course in training before you’ll feel confident or ready? But how can you achieve your goal if you don’t believe you can?

Whether you are new to sport or have been involved for years, a back-of-the-pack athlete or world-class, self-belief is one of the most important, yet commonly overlooked, aspects of athletic performance (and everyday life).

We spend so much time thinking about, focused on and worrying about our training - whether we’re doing enough, the right type, how fast or slow we are etc etc.

But without mental toughness or emotional stability, you risk jeopardising all your hard work, long hours of training, time away from your family etc. Not to mention you can’t (and will never) perform to the best of your ability.

This topic is at the core of my conversation with Natalie Cook.

Natalie Cook on #SpartaChicksRadio

Today a 5 time Olympian and dual Olympic medalist, Nat will be the first to admit even after winning the Bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, she didn’t believe in her heart she was capable of Olympic success.

So she went on a 4-year journey of personal development to discover the mental toughness and emotional stability necessary to achieve her dream of winning the Gold medal at the Sydney Olympics - which she did with her teammate Kerry Pottharst.

My favourite insight from Nat in this episode is that self-belief is a choice; it’s a decision you make instantaneously which is then reinforced and implemented through your words, actions and decisions on a daily basis. It’s not, and will never be, a magical tide that washes in one day.

I love Nat’s description of it as a dual between two bold, strong Opera singers competing with each other to see who is stronger, higher or louder.

Which “voice” do you choose to listen to in each moment? The voice that says you can’t or the voice that says you can?

It’s a choice, repeated, that develops into self-belief down deep in your bones.

Natalie Cook on fire!

In this fun interview, we discuss:

* that what people think of us is none of our business,

* the importance of redefining what winning means to you (this is critical and something most of us don’t spend enough time thinking about),

* how she mentally imploded in the Olympic semi-final at the Atlanta Olympics,

* how to manage a fear of failure, and

* the power of giving your fear a name or adopting an alter ego. What will yours be?

And, much to my surprise, Nat turned the tables on me!

You’ll hear Nat call me out on why I wasn’t talking about, in public, a goal I have set for next year. And, of course, when you get called out by an Olympic Gold Medalist on your own podcast, there is nowhere to hide. So listen long enough and you’ll hear me ‘fess up about what’s ahead for me in 2018!

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Notes and resources:

Nat’s book is called Go Girl: An Inspiring Journey from Bronze to Gold and is available (along with other programs and meditations) at her website.

You can find Nat on Facebook and Twitter.