The latest podcast I listened to was the Finding Mastery with Forrest Griffin. It gives some inside into the thinking of a champ. One Champ ! All of them are different, however there are some mental cues that can be found in all of them. Listen:
There are 3 kind of winners. The lucky ones, who despite the loads of insecurities and negative thoughts are still winning. The ones who can handle fear and doubts very effectively and put them on the side or calm them down for the necessary time frame. The third group are the fearless and doubtless ones, who sometimes scratch the surface of unreal in their mind !
Non of these types are good, bad, perfect, superior or inferior to the other. However, any of these can learn and apply some treats from one another.
My experiences coming from the sports of running and ultra trail running. I participated and finished races where there were over 50% abandon rate. Like out of 1000 people, 650 dropped. Being a champion and being a winner can be a lot more in these cases, than standing on the number one spot of the podium. This is why ultra marathon running is so rewarding in case of mental toughness. It teaches you to effectively solve a problem in other parts of life non-related to sport. People have milliards of fears. Weather, upset stomach, turning a weak ankle, river crossing. These fears can be aggravated by life happenings like a divorce, financial issues or family problems.
I used to be fighting in the discipline of kick-box, judo, jeet-kune-do on a training level. Never had a real competition type combat, but sparred against boxers and other martial artists and got choked and knocked out by some much better fighters. On the other hand, yes I got into many street-fights where the injury stakes were way higher. To get and to cause too. I am not a natural. Every time I had a break of 1-2 months due to other interests and projects, I had to relearn not to blink into a punch. It wasn’t about being afraid, but a natural reaction against an object coming into your face. When sparred against the local gipsy boxers for 1 to 2 hours a day, 6 days in a row, yes I did not blink anymore. My senses got numbed and dumbed down.
Reinforcing mental stability
The goal is not to be fearless or doubtless. The objective is to understand where this insecurity is coming from and what to do about it. I am actually in the latest group, the third one. I don’t fear or doubt myself in any situation. I don’t fear failure or happenings I cannot control. I don’t necessarily want to control them either. How I entered this state ? I cannot give you a complete answer or guide. I just can share.
There are a 5 actions to take all the time, every moment of your life. This is what I do. Learning ! Discipline ! Responsibility ! Honesty ! Practice !
I must learn every day. Every single day ! I read and listen to books and podcasts, but I also write and try self presenting in videos. I think about what I read and what I wrote and said. I have my favourite subjects, books, authors, blogs, podcasts, but I often derail from these for the sake of change and experience. I like reading biographies and sports science books, but for instance recently I went through a 500 page business administration guide.
What this learning gives you, is confidence. Confidence in all sorts of situations and conversations, but confidence in learning too. I can learn, understand and practice anything if correct timeframe is given. I want to stay in sports as work goes, but I have no problems in derailing and going towards online marketing, bike repair, lifeguarding, forklift driving, event organisation and any. If I had to go to school, no problems. I can sit down, lay down, open the books, open the webpages and learn. Focus my nutrition, sleep, hydration and all lifestyle factors towards better, faster and more efficient learning.
Education will give you, what you need to tackle the world’s issues with ease. Education is what calms you. Knowledge is what brings you to the next level. Learn something every day.
When you accumulate bits and pieces about lifestyle factors that interest you, this will make you way more advanced ! You can include or delete actions of your days, what will make you more time efficient. As an athlete this is crucial.
Discipline is doing things you don’t like and doing things what you like, but are difficult. It is about unlearning the meaning of likes and dislikes. I hated washing the dishes. I put on an interesting podcast and guess what, dishwashing becomes fun-time early in the morning, when alone in the kitchen and my coffee is brewing. Folding and arranging your clothes, keeping your home tidy, is discipline. Consequently when your environment is clean and properly arranged, you can merit more discipline to go and do sports, and get shit done. A clustered table and kitchen, will result in brain chaos and demotivation.
We talked about sports. When you are disciplined, there is less chance to derail from plans. When you do so, improvising becomes also an art. There is good and there is bad improvising.
I use breathing techniques and cold showers, but also cold water swimming, to callus my mind. I include periods when I wake up extremely early for a week or more. I am an athlete I cannot thrive on 4hours of sleep. I however can wake up at 3am for a week to increase productivity in other parts of life and get back to more sleep later on, when the competition is approaching. We recently had guests. I am working slowly on my home. Painting, reparation, plumbing and so. I had a 1 week deadline. I was painting 4am, while my wife was sleeping. I was taking the old wallpaper down at 8:01 for 2hours. Then I went for a 12hour bike shift. At the evening I still did the laundry, cooked and washed the dishes.
Most people just get tired from these kind of experiences and they don’t even think about the benefits they could get out from callusing their minds. If you don’t take other parts of your life as training, you are wasting a lot of time.
Kenyan marathon runners have often one single meal a day, run twice a day for 2hours or more and work 8 to 10 hours of hard labor on the fields. No wonder why they are so successful. Also this is why most of them get very much burnt out well before their prime. The only motivation being money is also unfortunately a problem here.
I could get into fasting, eating and training, but discipline what is starting and finishing the tasks that are ahead you is important. Not letting the amount of them overwhelm you. Start, take the first step and keep going till it is over. Don’t worry about not finishing or not reaching the deadline. If something is impossible, you don’t care. Take the first step and keep on going. You cannot control, what you cannot control !
I long time ago accepted, that if I do my best and my max, there will be no problems ever. When a boss asked me what I did, instead of looking for excuses to explain the parts of the job not done, I explained what is behind already and what is to come and has to be done. If they did not understand, I just invited them to pass an hour with me on the job post. Never happened ! All superiors just try to squeeze you till you are dry. You take your time, pace your self and get it done.
It all translates to competition readiness. You just care about about the distance ahead, the form, posture, breathing and stride you’ll practice and getting it done.
It is very close to discipline actually. Responsibility means standing up for your actions. It means that if you engaged to have a kid, you are responsible for his/her development. It means that if you did something good or bad, you stand up and own it ! You made the company grow by a million or you caused a car accident ? No issues, just stand up and follow the procedures ! Don’t look for excuses and solutions to lighten judgement or rewards ! You who did it, you who gets the result !
Also, you are responsible for yourself. This is discipline too. You must take care of your body, mind and spirit. This is responsibility and discipline. You take actions to get your health back on track, so you will have fresher senses, you will be more productive in less time and your feelings and emotions will be more controlled.
When leaders bring the home to work or the work to home, it is the utmost lack of all self-control in a human. They are not disciplined to draw a line between shouting at kids and work issues. They are not educated to practice professionalism where it has to be practiced and to be a family (wo)man when time comes. Their responsibilities carry over to one another part. Being over disciplined towards work means being under responsible to your family. If you were a sportsman, you can actually replace any of these with training. You want to finish a task at your desk, stay 30minutes longer, so you’ll be late from your evening track session. Is it the fault of the boss/work or the result of your lack of force, the lack of decisions and improper actions ?
Stand up for all your actions !
Honesty is being totally open. It is not just NOT the opposite, like not lying or not being enclosed. In the mean time it is controlled and overlap with responsibility and discipline.
You have to know, what to say to who, when, in what depth and you must understand all the possible consequences.
So being extremely honest with your family is the most important. Being open about your feelings and emotions and having the inner willpower, the inner openness and the inner curiosity to ask about the same factors from your family.
When your child did something, ask what happened ? Why he did it ? When and with who ? Was he influenced or just got carried over by chain of actions ?
Honesty can get carried over to gratitude. Saying to your kid, I am so happy to see you. I am glad to walk out with you. I like to bring you to school. I love you my wife…
When somebody hates you at work for absolutely no reason, just confront him ! I tell colleagues truths, all the time about everything. It can hurt or enlighten sometimes, but it is the truth ! For instance: I can’t stay close to you, because your constant cigarette smell makes me want to vomit ! I confronted my boss, all alone, but in the presence of others too: you are a director, you cannot talk to staff this way or behave that way ! Control yourself please ! We need a leader here !
Practicing honesty and not hiding, but saying out loud feelings and truths is a great way to create enemies, who are most likely insecure people. The thing is that if you kept on behaving like this, they will turn into friends. Truth is important !
As all the others, honesty carries over to sports too. Being honest with yourself is also a crucial factor. I am fat, I am sick, I am too tall, I am too thin, I eat too much of that, I wake up too late, I sleep not enough…
Understanding current abilities and working towards a higher goal. Absorbing criticism can be hard for some. However it is self-developing.
I might want to perform to a level, what is not yet ready. It will be, just later. Magic can happen though. It is rare. It is something we should not rely on. Like breaking a 10K PR by 2minutes. Cannot explain and it is possible that you would still need 2 years of training to repeat the experience. You must be understanding, looking at factors and results of training and make decisions from those.
Practicing the 4 principles. Practicing aspects of life. Practicing aspects of sports. You don’t just live, but practicing living. You don’t just do jiu-jitsu or go for a run. You practice those. You apply education, discipline, honesty and responsibility.
Practice is being disconnected and connected. It is being present. Don’t look for flow state. It will come, when time is right. Focus on what you are doing right now and give it all ! Pace yourself though !
Practice makes perfect. It depends however on the focus and on the specificity of that practice ! This is why the 10000h rule is so true ! Exceptions make this even truer. Some practitioner’s 3000 hour practice worth more than other’s 30000 ! In running it is so correct. There are too many plodders, smacking their heels to the ground for decades, achieving nothing, but injuries and pain. In the meantime, others go for a rebuild. An imprinting and strengthening their body and the type of approach ! They go with a bigger goal in their mind. I have a colleague going from 40minutes to 31:30 on the 10km and from 3:15 to 2:28 on the marathon. It is 5 years of not necessarily hard but mindful practice. It is not a speed to be going to the olympics, but transferring this very smoking pace to to trail running, urban trail races, obstacle course running, ultra running and so, you can find even a sponsor and be a full time runner. So investing 5 years of your life, to something you absolutely rate as the highest and happiest activity in your being, is nothing and worth the pursuit!
Five vectors and five factors ! I am a practitioner and I recommend to anybody to be one too !