Recently I had the pleasure of spending some time with Dotsie Bausch, Olympic silver medalist in the women’s cycling team pursuit. Some of you may recall that I assisted the 4 member team in leadership tactics during training for the 2012 Olympics. Dotsie is now heading off to the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, CO – to determine whether she is up for a run in the 2016 games. She will be augmenting her physical training with Unbeatable Mind while there.
Dotsie and I did a podcast together during Kokoro camp 32. One of the topics that came up was her observation that the closer she got to the Olympic date, the more she sought to stay very present at all times. Any focus on the future “what ifs” or past “could haves” led to obsessive mental loops that drained her energy and built anxiety…both deleterious to performance. The more she could keep her mind focused on what was important right here, right now, the more relaxed and powerful she felt. What a great validation of our message at SEALFIT…if it works for an Olympian, why not you?
About a week later, Dotsie sent me the following quote from well-known spiritual writer Eckhart Tolle (his book “The Power of Now” is on our reading list):
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.” – Eckhart Tolle
This quote is so insightful, especially when we relate it to performance. Tolle is stating that negativity destroys performance, a point I make in my book Unbeatable Mind. All negativity stems from an excessive (or obsessive) cognitive focus on the future or the past, rather than allowing the power of the present to fuel us. This is a great opportunity to ask how your own mind is oriented – future, past or both?
We all tend to favor either future thinking (wishing, dreaming, desiring, worrying) or past thinking (processing, dwelling, grieving or regretting). The point here is to observe where you allow your mind to dwell, then to begin to decrease the time you spend there. In addition, learn to use the time spent in future and past thinking states to be a powerful performance boost – rather than a drain.
To boost performance from past thinking it helps to use our Unbeatable Mind “evening ritual” called recapitulation. This process has us review our day event by event to find the silver lining, that bright lesson that exists within every mishap, screw-up or performance thud. Journal the insights and mentally let go of the baggage of regret or sorrow. Forgive yourself and others, then settle into a relaxing, rejuvenating sleep.
To boost performance from future thinking it helps to develop a front sight focus methodology and radar lock on your primary passion and purpose in life. Then zero in on the one main way these are to be actualized in the next 18 to 24 months. Finally, set SMART goals that fit these targets and execute in the present – with a “hair on fire” attitude!
When you have properly planned for the future with front sight focus…you can let it go. When you have recapitulated the past to process regret…you can let that go as well. As the future is planned and the past resolved, you can accelerate performance in the present.
Train hard, stay safe and be present…Hooyah!
PS: Good luck Dotsie!