ed sheeran technique

Courtesy of Valleycrest Productions

The Ed Sheeran Technique of Building Mental Toughness

No, this isn’t Ed Sheeran, More on his technique for building mental toughness in a minute. 

This is Ogi Ogas , a genius who was on the show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He actually knew the answer to the Million Dollar question, but just couldn’t PULL the trigger.

Watch it unfold as his focus switched from knowing the answer to the wobbly chair, the audience, and the stakes…He became too focused on walking away with $500,000 instead of the answer. 

It’s why I’m not the biggest fan of Alex Trebek.

I’d look smart if I had all of the answers in front of me as well. I even forget my neighbor’s names sometimes.

Pressure can burst a pipe because there is no space for the water to go.

Our capacity for attention under pressure is similar. When we are in those “have-to” moments, and with time to think, the pressure can get to us, and we can only focus on one thing. 

Under pressure, since there is so much attention on the task at hand, very little mental energy can be consumed for anything else. It’s like if you are freezing, the body will conserve all warmth to the major organs first, and it means goodbye fingers. In building mental toughness, communication is the first limb to go.

Whenever I’m stressed, I stop communicating. When teams get tired, all communication stops. When we lose confidence, we isolate. Fatigue makes cowards of us all.

The Ed Sheeran Technique of Building Mental Toughness

Airlines and pilots discovered a better method for pilots and co-pilots to communicate. Some pilots were so head-strong that they operated under the guise of “When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.”  Not the best way to operate in a team setting.

Airlines changed their way of training, they introduced: 

Pilots were trained to Think Out Loud!

Get it? The song! Clever, I know, but it’s true.

Pilots had to verbalize all of their maneuvers before take-offs and landings.

Communicating by thinking out loud accomplishes two goals.

First, it makes pilots better by including the co-pilot into the actual thinking process and it eliminates the mind-reading. Second, co-pilots were trained on how to also think out-loud and address a pilots decision.

  1. State the facts- Co-pilots were instructed to merely state the facts. “Our angle is incorrect.”
  2. Challenge- They stated the pilot’s name and added a qualifier. “Mike, our angle is incorrect, Check the angle. “
  3. Assume control- If unsuccessful at the 1st two, The co-pilot stated, “ATC, we are coming around again.” Once the Air Traffic Control heard the message, they canceled the order and the pilot had to comply.

Rarely, did it make it to point #3.

The Ed Sheeran technique of building mental toughness forces us to be confident.  

When we verbalize our thoughts, it ignites the dominant force of commitment. Thinking out loud makes us commit to the process. Thinking out loud also opens us up to feedback and makes us think through any ideas or strategies. Thinking out loud is why people have accountability partners and why we share our goals. It forces us to execute.


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes. Some clients have included three different winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens.