He wasn’t thinking about the course, or how badly he wanted to win. Instead, he trained himself to think of something else.

This is a story about competing at the highest levelstraining your brain to succeed, and achieving peak performance under intense pressure.

It comes to us courtesy of Bode Miller, the most successful American male alpine ski racer in history. I interviewed him recently, and he explained the surprising mental trick he used in order to harness intensity, and win an Olympic gold medal.

Let’s set the stage. Miller had been in three previous Olympics Games when he competed in Vancouver nearly 11 years ago, but he’d never won gold. In the Super Combined, which included two races in a single day, he fell to seventh place during the initial leg.

Then, he got to the starting gate for the second race.

Before talking with Miller, if you’d asked me what I thought was going through his mind at that moment, I might have guessed it was a last-minute mental walkthrough of the course.

Or maybe he focused on how long a road he’d traveled to get there, and how much he wanted to win.