The Amateurs can beat the Pros with this one key tool…

Keep calm and steady under pressure or when a sh!t storm is brewing.

This photo was taken by a dear friend, both of us with minimal experience and a basic understanding of the fundamentals in keeping safe on the open sea. 

This moment of calm – watching a distant weather system brew up, keeping an eye on the nearby break in the currents – was one of many moments that day I felt my mind balancing the tipping point between utter trust in myself, and fear of being caught in a bad spot. 

This is when the though occurred to me that,

“Mindset can make all the difference between an amateur trained in the fundamentals and a pro who has lost the confidence to make a move.”

Thankfully, the only storm we had to face on the water that day was in our minds; a great reminder that our perception of stress can make it useful or detrimental…. it all depends on if we resist it or embrace it.


Ever been through an experience that shakes your belief in yourself? (For better or worse?)

Ever been a total newb and surprised yourself with how much you can do with a little bit of the basics and a lot of eagerness?

Maybe you’ve seen it happen to your favorite athlete or sports team. Where you’ve seen rookies shock the world or old pro’s get the yips. 

Or maybe a child in your life has taken on something new for the first time and just went for it despite fear of the unknown. 

I’ve been in both places no doubt.

I’ve been a ‘white belt’ in a handful of martial arts since 6yrs old; and I’ve I gone on to spend 8+ years as a martial arts teacher and fitness ‘pro’ to hundreds, up until 2016. 

I’ve also been inactive, injured, and shrouded in doubt about my ability to get past injury, let alone to even fit in regular exercise while treading the waters of building a business, tiny house, and a life for my partner an I at the same time. 

Safe to say I’ve come to find that chapters in life are always beginning and ending. Often the lessons that come with them are determined by our mindset and the story that we are writing or re-retelling. 


This photo reminds me that much of life is like this. 

Whether you are confidently ‘on top of things’, dealing with an unexpected event, or going through a major setback, mindset can play the ultimate role in keeping you confident, focused and in trust with yourself… 

Or it can trap you in fear, overwhelm, and distrust that anything will go your way. 


Recent research shows us that this is the case: 

“…a stress-is- enhancing mindset produced sharper increases in positive affect, heightened attentional bias towards positive stimuli, and greater cognitive flexibility, whereas a stress-is-debilitating mindset produced worse cognitive and affective outcomes.” – Alia Crum, et al.


So whether you are peacefully at ease today or on the precipice of being taken by that next ‘wave’, may I suggest that today be a day where you do what any white belt or supposed ‘pro’ both can grow from:

  1. Take time to explore both the best and worst case scenarios 
  2. Adopt a ‘stress-is-enhancing’ mindset.
  3. Trust in yourself that when the time is right, you will be ready to make the right move. 

Safe (and confident) paddling out there! 

Tim Kessler
Workday Performance Coach, CEO  |

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