Resilient thinking

Watching slalom skiing over the holidays I was struck by two very different mindsets on display when athletes missed a gate. For most skiers, a missed gate meant the end of their chances in the race, and they stopped before slowly skiing down to the finish.

However, with Marcel Hirscher, something different took place. Highly placed after the first run (slalom skiers get two runs, the second being in reverse order and the combined time deciding the final positions), Hirscher missed a gate and ended his chances of a podium, a top 10 or even top 25 finish. However, undeterred by this setback he walked back up the steep slope to go around the gate correctly and continue on the course. Why?

By the next checkpoint he had lost lots of time but then it started to get interesting. At the next split he had lost no further time, he was going as fast as the leaders and then over the final part of the course he set the fastest split time of all. He was still last in the overall results but in his mind had ‘won’ the last section of the course which he could use as confidence for his next competition.

What was on display here is what I call a resilient mindset. Hirscher was realistic about his situation: ‘I’ve missed a gate and I can’t finish on the podium’ and he was also positive about what he could still achieve: ‘If I continue I can still ski the fastest final section’. So that is what he did.

There are many opportunities for us each day to demonstrate this element of a resilient mindset, we just have to commit to taking them.