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This one is slightly off-kilter. I wanted to find time to write something which affects every day of my life, every goal I have, every dream, every challenge, and the way I think, perceive and achieve. I'm talking about inspiration. For anyone that has an ambitious streak in their personality (which is pretty much everyone, in their own little ways), inspiration is something that has touched all of us.

Inspiration is everywhere, all around us, even when we don’t realise it. Things are absorbed into our consciousness without us even being aware of it, and our memory holds onto them like a little secret envelope to be opened later on when the time is right. These pockets of memory impact us in small but significant ways, shaping our personalities, our aspirations, our dreams, our goals. And a lot of that is credit to others who inspire you as a person. Your parents, your boss, your loved ones, public figures, sporting heroes, high achievers, famous faces. These are the people who help you realise who you are and what you want from life.

I couldn’t possibly count the number of people who have inspired me in my life. But, and I'm sure most people can relate to this, there are certain figures who I have come across in my life, either in person, or through a secondary medium such as a book, a magazine, a film; and these people have inspired me to dream, to believe, to achieve. To inspire others is something even more amazing, and I hope in some small way, that I do sometimes encourage others to believe in themselves and go for their dreams.

A few years ago, I was literally obsessed with climbing. I would eat, sleep, breathe, talk about, dream about, read about climbing. As you can see, this has been replaced by a spiralling obsession with triathlon! At the time I wanted to progress and climb harder routes for nothing other than a personal achievement. On the road to this achievement, I was reading books by every ground-breaking climber out there. Wow, some of these people are breath-takingly inspiring! (And stupid, maybe!? Such dangerous stuff but totally gripping).

One of the books I read referred to ANOTHER book which inspired him to become one of the greatest climbers in history. So what did I do, as an easily-influenced, doggedly enthusiastic climber!? I bought it. And I’m very glad I did. Climbing is such a mental game, and it proved instrumental in helping me understand a few things.
With Winning in Mind ’, Lanny Bassham.

Firstly, a little bit of background on Lanny Bassham from Wikipedia. ”In 1972, at the Munich Germany Olympic Games, Lanny Bassham failed in his attempt to win the gold medal in International Rifle Shooting. He had a mental failure resulting in his taking the silver instead. Frustrated, Lanny wanted to take a course in controlling the mind under pressure. After looking for such a seminar and not finding satisfaction, Bassham began to interview Olympic gold medallists to discover what they were doing differently to win.

Bassham created a system of mental control he called Mental Management. Within the next six years Lanny Bassham dominated his sport, winning 22 world individual and team titles, setting 4 world records and winning the coveted Olympic Gold Medal in Montreal in 1976.”

This book revolutionised the way I think. Not just for climbing, but for every part of my life. The basis of the book is Lanny Bassham’s journey from nowhere to being a gold medallist and a World Champion. All owing to the power of the mental game.

Before you switch off and think this is all a bit ‘out there’ – don’t. It outlines a mental management system for athletes and performers, but the strategy which success can be founded upon is truly transferrable to anything. Business, relationships, life itself – this book has the capacity to change you as a person. (Bold statement, road test maybe!?)

Every single one of us (even non-sporting types) has to cope with mental toughness at some time in their day, week, month, year and life. Having mental preparation can be key to how a situation is perceived, and this is very relevant to sporting performance.

The basis of Bassham's mental system is that if you have negative ideas about what you are about to do, be it a race, a business presentation, a relationship – whatever – then your body, which is intrinsically connected to the brain, actions out those negative thoughts. The vast majority of the body’s movements are subconscious. Therefore, if your conscious brain is telling you that you will fail, or not achieve, then your body will subconsciously act this out.

Developing a positive mental attitude (we all hear this a lot, but this book revolutionises this concept) is key to success, and can be the difference between being a failure and being a winner. Because winning isn’t about coming first – it’s about achieving your goals. And if you set your goals, and they are realistic, and you put everything into making them happen – they will.

I have a strong philosophy in life, which I try and adhere to (although it can be very tough at times). I try and remove all negativity from my life. If I find myself feeling negative, I do everything I can to feel positive again. If I find myself surrounded with negative people or who have a negative attitude, I try and remove myself from situations in which I am exposed to this. Sounds brutal maybe, but I'm not interested in negative people. They contribute absolutely nothing to life - to other people's lives, or to their own lives.

So my outlook is positive. For other people, for their dreams, goals, achievements, whatever. If I am positive perhaps it will inspire them to feel more positively about other people, and about themselves.

I wanted to share these thoughts because for me, it's so relevant to every aspect of your life. No, I’m not a world champion and I never will be – but I have set goals, achieved them, and I hope to carry on achieving them. I try to never, ever think negatively about what I want in life and what I can achieve, because anything is possible. Talent is not born, it is created; created by the power of will