AT FIRST GLANCE, PHIL TAYLOR, or to give him his full title, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, would not strike you as being the most dominant British sporting star of the last 25 years. Comfortably middle aged, with a waist measurement that far exceeds his chest size,and heavily tattooed forearms, Phil has the appearance of a retired miner, pub landlord or plumber. However, in his chosen sport, he is revered by fans and feared by opponents. He has amassed 15 world titles in less than 20 years, and for many of those years Phil has become unbeatable.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”left”]Phil Taylor can do it under intense pressure and seems almost impervious to nerves[/quote] Phil Taylor is a legend in the world of professional darts. He has the ability to throw a small arrow over a distance of 93.25 inches (2.37 metres) into specific areas of a circular target often measuring less than 3 cm x 1 cm, again and again and again. Basically, had he been born 700 years earlier, his name would have been Robin Hood. He is not alone in this talent. Hundreds of professional darts players are capable of doing this. The difference between them and ‘The Power’ is that Phil Taylor can do it under intense pressure and seems almost impervious to nerves.
Darts is a sport in the same way that snooker, pool and ten pin bowling are. The speed of Usain Bolt, the stamina of Manny Pacqiaou, or the balance of Lionel Messi are not required. [quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Champions control their nerves, lesser players allow their nerves to control them.[/quote] If you want to find a serious darts player, you would be wasting your time if you looked for them in a gym. Darts does however require intense mental strength and it is this skill that Phil Taylor possesses in abundance. The difference between success and failure in darts is measured in millimetres. Whilst the basic action of throwing a dart is not complicated, any nervous twitch or shake is guaranteed to cause a miss. Champions control their nerves, lesser players allow their nerves to control them.
Phil Taylor could be the poster boy for Stephen Covey’s theory of ‘Circles of Influence’. Covey suggests that in order to manage stress we should focus all of our energy and attention on only the issues which we can directly influence. We should not become frustrated over things that we cannot control. Phil Taylor is a master at exactly that.
When Taylor plays darts, he totally blocks out his opponent. He has no interest on the quality or scores achieved by the person he is playing against. All of his focus is on what he is doing. As he hits his target time and time again, his opposition begins to become desperate. They will him to miss, and when he does not, they become increasingly frustrated. This frustration leads to mistakes and those mistakes lead to their downfall. ‘The Power’ cannot stop his opponent from scoring, so he does not think about it. All he can do is throw his own good scores. By remaining oblivious to his opponent, Taylor shuts out the number one cause of nerves. As often as not, his opponent does not have this mental strength and his focus is drawn to Taylor’s performance. From that moment on, the result is not in doubt, and that is why Phil Taylor has 15 world title trophies decorating his home.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”left”]Many day-to-day frustrations and annoyances are caused by the behaviour of others and by decisions made by senior managers, thousands of miles away.[/quote] We can learn a lot about stress management from Phil Taylor. Many day-to-day frustrations and annoyances are caused by the behaviour of others and by decisions made by senior managers, thousands of miles away. Our blood pressure rises when we see what we perceive to be laziness, ineptitude and unprofessionalism. There is no benefit at all in our becoming upset. It does not influence other people, but does have a negative impact on both our performance and our health. If we cannot directly influence these behaviours then we should not waste time and energy banging our heads against walls.
Become ‘The Power’! Focus your energy and passions on the areas in which you have direct control and influence. Do not lose sleep over things which you cannot change and ideally set such a high standard of performance that others are forced to notice you and may even be positively affected by your behaviour. In doing this you will hit your own bulls-eyes, again and again, and again.