True high performers aren’t “always on”. Do you think Usain Bolt sprints to the letterbox to get the mail, or to the fridge to get the milk? High Intensive Interval Training (HIIT) has been proven to maximise fitness by doing shorter bursts. What if we did the same with our thinking and chose to do anxiety like we were on a freeway and accelerating and then decelerating and results orientation on key focus areas and not everything? We can choose to dial our radar upwards on the way into a meeting and dial it down when we walk out. Sprint through a project deadline and decelerate again as soon as it is complete
Athletes don’t care if someone notices they left a session early. If it is good for them they leave and if it is good to stay back, they stay back. If they need to see the team psychologist to reflect on their race plan or focus, they book it. There is no shame, fear or hesitation because it gets them to their goals faster. It is profoundly different from most of us who think getting support is weakness not strength; or workplaces where people work when they are tired – fearing they look uncommitted if they go home even if they are unproductive.
3. Know Yourself
Athletes don’t wait until they can’t move their shoulder before they go to the Physio. They go when they feel a slight weakness because there is a race 10 days away. They know when they put their shirt over their head that one joint seems slightly more restricted than another. What might it be like if we noticed the first sign of increased irritability; the smallest sign our resilience is down, or the defensive thoughts before they even turned to words
Ask an elite athlete about their sleep and you will find they literally sleep for Australia. If they want results, it is like any other part of their training and they plan everything else around it. They don’t sleep when they’ve finished everything else on their list. Athletes don’t tell people they’ve only had 5 hours sleep like it was a badge of honour. They know they need to not be half asleep at training and half awake at night. All that we know about psychology says the same is important for high performance for us too.
Wondering about why we don’t treat our minds like we treat our bodies – or why mental health is not treated with the same priority as physical health is not a new analogy. But as we can increasingly measure the brain the way we have measured our bodies in the past, it is worth a thought…