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I was emailing a friend of mine who is a very successful international sportsman the other day. In the email we were discussing a Formula One race we had both just seen. He asked me this question:-

“You must’ve absolutely loved the race last night. Button was immense, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a comeback of that nature and he even rattled Vettel.

It seemed from the outside that after everything that had happened to him in that race the ‘gloves came off’ and he just went for it as if he had nothing to lose.

While playing I found this a very liberating state to play under and would constantly have to try and coax myself into that state to get myself to play my best *******. I found this quite hard. I wonder if you know why?”

I answered with:-“Button started to play to win, Vettel started to play not to lose.

Button saw winning happening in his mind, Vettel saw losing happening in his.

That is usually Button’s problem.

Getting to this state of play though should be easy as it is our natural state of play. When you used to be in the zone, you were just playing and quite naturally you wanted to win. However, when you weren’t in the ‘zone’ you were trying to cultivate it. This is because you let external bullsh*t in and your ego got involved. Button’s ego was not involved, he was just playing and he was playing to win.

… He was having fun and that’s why we are supposed to play the games – F1, Rugby, Football, Business success – they are all the same. The way to cultivate it is to silence the bullsh*t and just go and play.

This is just creating a state of mind where only playing exists, winning happens if you play well enough… The clue really is in the answer, trouble is people get all confused by themselves and lose track of the simplicity required.”

His response:-

“I don’t want to blow smoke up your arse here but the way you have just explained that is genius!!

I have heard it explained in many different ways, but never in such a simple and straightforward way to understand that actually makes perfect sense, and had I still been playing I could see myself implementing this on the pitch.”

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