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.

Jan 19, 2022 Eventing News

Dates and Location Announced for 2022 USEF Young Rider Eventing Championship

US Equestrian is pleased to announce the dates and location for the 2022 USEF Young Rider Eventing Championship. This championship will take place at the Tryon International Three-Day Event November 10-13 in Mill Spring, N.C.

Jan 19, 2022 Leaderboard

My Valentine Steals Hearts as the 2021 Pony of the Year

Sidnee Milner and My Valentine did not become partners out of sheer coincidence. The pony and rider combination that took home the 2021 SmartPak USEA Pony of the Year award were a product of the thoughtfulness and generosity of family friend and trainer Tawn Edwards. Milner was, at the time, a young and inexperienced child rider looking for a partner to teach her the ropes of eventing; My Valentine was a well-seasoned eventing pony who knew the job of advancing young riders well and was looking for her next partner. Over their three-year relationship, the duo have accumulated various ribbons and accolades together with 2021 being the most impressive of their seasons thus far.

Jan 18, 2022 Education

Postponed: Join the USEF Eventing 2023 Calendar Webinar

Updated January 18, 2022: The 2023 Eventing Calendar webinar, originally scheduled to be held on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 at 4:00 p.m. EST, has been postponed and will be rescheduled with an additional commmunication in the coming weeks.

Jan 18, 2022 Education

Pressure Proof with Daniel Stewart: Growth Goals

If you’re like most people there’s a good chance you made a New Year's resolution this month, and if you’re like most there’s a really good chance you’re going to have a hard time hanging onto it past the beginning of February!

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