Why do talented people tank?

I love watching TV and Netflix has definitely been one of my guilty pleasures during Covid. Recently I have been watching a series called The Playbook. This docuseries interviews 5 of the greatest sporting coaches across different sports – Doc Rivers – Basketball, Jill Ellis – Soccer, Jose Mourinho – Soccer, Patrick Mouratoglou – Tennis and Dawn Staley – Basketball

Although there are some differences between a sporting coach and an executive coach there are many similarities.

In the most recent episode, Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams tennis coach, discussed the concept of tanking and I saw many similarities between the examples he shared and the examples that I see, and hear about, every day.

In the Webster dictionary tanking is defined as:

  • to make no effort to win: lose intentionally tanked the match.
  • to lose intentionally: give up in competition.
  • to suffer rapid decline, failure, or collapse

In sport Mouratoglou described tanking when a player freezes or deliberately gives up trying because they are scared of losing. Tanking is not a result of lack of talent, skill, or experience. In fact, many of the best and most talented professional tank including Serena Williams. Tanking is the result of mindset, confidence and, dare I say it, imposter syndrome.

And you don’t have to be an elite sports person or executive on a six or seven figure remuneration package to tank. We are all capable of tanking, of giving up and of making excuses and I see this every day.

Whilst improving your skills and abilities is always important this alone will not help you achieve your potential. How many incredibly skilled and credentialed colleagues or team members do you work with who have not where they should be or could be. Or do you see this in yourself? Do you look around at your colleagues and KNOW that you could do that job, maybe even better, but for some reason you aren’t there?

This is called tanking, and it generally is not deliberate. In fact, most of tank unconsciously. We tank and self-sabotage ourselves because we are scared of being caught out or proving that we are incompetent or a failure. Because if we fail without really trying, we can always use the excuse “I could if I wanted to, but I just don’t want to”. It is easier accept failure when you believe you ‘haven’t tried” rather than trying and then failing.

As a coach Paul’s role is not to teach Serena Williams how to be a better technical or more powerful tennis player but rather to get her mindset right, to believe in her ability when she scared of failure.

As we move into 2021 take some time to reflect and understand:

  • When is imposter syndrome leading to tanking?
  • What are you really scared of?
  • Where could you be in your life and career if you actually made the effort rather than giving up or giving in?

If you can, find 35 minutes and watch the Episode 4, The Playbook – Paul Mouratoglou.

And if you think you might be tanking and need a coach to help you achieve your best in 2021 check out our Peeplcoach FREE Program here.