Nov 06, 2018

Daniel Stewart's Tip of the Month: Finished Product Bias

For the past six months we’ve been talking about how to recognize and overcome unintentional negative thoughts called limiting beliefs - the unfortunate habit of putting limits on our ability to succeed, not because were incapable of it, but because we tell ourselves we are! The good news is that limiting beliefs can be overcome, but only if we recognize them first. After all, if it doesn’t feel broken, why would we bother trying to fix it?

So, it goes without saying that the key to overcoming limiting beliefs is becoming aware (mindful) of them and the unwanted, unintentional, and unhelpful thoughts that accompany them. Together these thoughts are called blindspot biases; the negative thoughts that we think, even though we don’t think we’re thinking them (kind of like a car hiding in your vehicle’s blindspot . . . it’s there even when you’re not aware of it, and it can get you into a lot of trouble!)

If you’ve been following my mental coaching tips for the past six month you know there’s no shortage of different blindspot biases that can hinder your performance. We’ve spoken about the bandwagon bias (adopting the beliefs of others even though they might not be true); the telescoping bias (seeing your mistakes and failures as if looking through a telescope so they seem bigger than they actually are); the bad guy bias (believing that everyone watching is saying something bad about you); the confirmation bias (unintentionally trying to prove you’re right, even if it comes at the cost of getting better); and the self-serving bias (taking credit for your successes but blaming your failures on others). Combined together, you can see how these unintended thoughts can have a crippling affect on your ability to grow as a rider.

This month we’re going to talk about one last blindspot bias - the finished product bias - which occurs, for example, when a developing rider compares herself to a high performance rider, often thinking things like, “I wish everything came as easily to me as it does to him,” or, “He’s so lucky being able to ride so well without even having to try.” In addition to the obvious problem of comparing herself to another rider (a really bad idea, by the way), these self-defeating thoughts can diminish her self-belief because she’s unfairly comparing a “work in progress” (her) to a “finished product” (him), and in doing so completely forgetting that he used to be a “work in progress” too! Yes, there was once a time when he couldn’t sit the trot without stirrups or canter without ending up on the neck too!

So, as you’ve probably already guessed, the first step in overcoming the finished-product bias is to simply avoid comparing yourself to others; the second step is to always remind yourself that making things look easy is really hard! Learn to base your self-value on the efforts you put in rather than on the results others receive. But most importantly, remember to take pride in being a work in progress . . . it’s what’s going to help you become your very own finished product one day!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on limiting beliefs and blindspot biases. If you have, I invite you to consider joining me at one of my upcoming Equestrian Athlete Training Camp at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs or Lake Placid, or at the IMG Elite Athlete Institute in Sarasota, Florida, where we’ll spend four days discussing these kinds of mental coaching topics in addition to rider fitness, athlete nutrition, team-building, yoga, injury prevention/recovery, and much more. Riders of all levels and disciplines are welcome and members of the USEA receive a $255 scholarship. For more information, click here.

Oct 16, 2019 Eventing News

Waredaca Celebrates 40 Years of Eventing

Over the past 40 years, Waredaca has expanded its USEA events from one a year with two levels to three events annually offering Beginner Novice through Intermediate levels as well as a Classic Three-day Event at the Novice through Preliminary levels.

Oct 16, 2019 Competitions

Fast Facts: 2019 Fair Hill International

The last ever CCI4*-L at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International Three-Day Event is set to begin this afternoon in Elkton, Md. with the first horse inspection. After 31 years of hosting a CCI4*-L (previously CCI3*), Fair Hill says farewell to the level and hello to the CCI5*. In 2020 Fair Hill will host the Maryland Five-Star and will also run the CCI3*-L. So who will be the final CCI4*-L winner?

Oct 15, 2019 Eventing News

Carolina Horse Park to Host Anniversary Challenge

The Carolina Horse Park Foundation is pleased to announce the 2019 Anniversary Challenge, an online fundraising challenge. The Challenge focuses on the wonderful community who support the Park and make it what it is. CHP is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of open space for equestrian and recreational purposes.

Oct 15, 2019 Research Studies

Equine Medical Research Funding Receives USEA Board of Governors Approval

At the USEA Board of Governors meeting in August, the Equine Medical Research Committee recommended the funding of four studies using the $39,581 collected in 2018 and the Board approved their recommendation.

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