I’ll start this post with an apology to anyone who had been following me and then suddenly couldn’t when my blog had expired. I never intend for that to happen again.
In October I enrolled in Continue Reading…
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.
“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”
-George Washington Carver
This photo was on another blog by mpb.
The Art Of Adaptation: Make sure you balance skills and challenges regularly.
I just finished reading a book called Flow In Sports. Its authors are Susan A. Jackson and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Yes, this is spelled correctly). Mr. C’s theory about Flow or what some athletes/writers/business people/what ever you are, call being in the zone. It is that mind-set where optimal performance takes place. Flow can mean something different to everyone and has nine fundamental dimensions or components which best describe the mind-set in this state. They are:
For more detail on flow I suggest you read up on Mr. C’s theory.
They speak to a number of keys to optimal performance but to be honest unless you’re a sports fanatic I wouldn’t recommend it. Half way through it gets quite repetitive. So I’ll help you skip all that. The main two take aways from the book are goal setting (refer to my earlier post about goals titled Performance Plateau if you need help with that) and the Challenge/Skills (CS) Balance.
Now, to boil this down to what I’m sure Mr. C would consider an insultingly simple version of his theory. We can only achieve Flow or that mind set which allows for optimal performance (in any task) if we have the proper balance of challenges and skills.
As an example I will use my sport, Taekwon – Do. When I was a green belt obviously my skills were not as good as they are now that I am a fourth degree black belt. An appropriate challenge for me at that time would have been something as simple as a regular class. I probably would have experienced some level of anxiety at the thought of a provincial tournament and definitely if I had participated in one. In order for me to enter Flow I would have just needed something as simple as a hard class to get me there or if I had improved my skills a little I could deal with the anxiety of a provincial competition to get there.
Now that my skills are much higher I cannot enter flow with the same level of challenges. If I were to continue to develop my skills but never go above the provincial competition environment I would probably experience relaxation and eventually boredom. It did happen to me at one point. That is when you make a decision. You either decide to quit and look for some brand new challenge in places where you have few skills or you progress. In my case, the next level would be the National and World level competitions. I decided on the latter.
Once I began to compete nationally and in some international competitions that uncomfortable feeling came back. I stepped out of my comfort zone. The place where skills and challenges are equal and you are forced to improve. You must improve because although it is good to reach a place where you feel uncomfortable, this indicates you are where you need to be to learn, this isn’t natural for us. We as people want to ease that feeling of borderline anxiety.
This theory does not just apply to sport, it can be applied to any situation that presents a challenge and that also requires a skill to over come and achieve a goal.
Knowing this theory and applying this concept has been a huge factor in any progress I have made as a student, an athlete, a professional and a person.
Look at a particular situation in your life. Ask yourself how do I feel when I perform (Insert Task)? The answer to the problem is to always adjust the level of skills and challenges in that situation so that you are in a place which allows you to reach flow.
Recently back from the Eastern Canadian Championships for my sport has made me come to think about and analyze my performance. Not always do I end up with two gold medals but this time I did. Is there really anything to analyze from this performance. Absolutely.
Winning is a goal of mine but it isn’t the only goal. I think… what happens if I do win? What happens if I lose? If you are 100 per cent caught up on the outcome you may over analyze loses or miss the opportunity to learn how to improve upon a win thinking you did enough.
If you are breaking down your process and outcome after a win then you are on the right track. This post is for those people who did not compete as planned.
In the book Flow In Sports by Jackson & Csikszentmihalyi it says,
Some individuals learn to equate failure at a skill or activity with their own failure as a competent people. This is particularly evident in sport, where athletes are continually being evaluated on performance outcomes. When this becomes the main, or even only, source of feedback an athlete receives, he can come to view himself as “athlete” rather than as a person who take part in athletics. The consequences of failing in athletics then take on greater proportions, being intimately tied up with a sense of self-worth as a person.
This is exactly the case in my sport and indeed in many sports. It is one of the greatest challenges, overcoming a negative performance outcome. By overcome I don’t mean coming out unscathed because you shouldn’t. You should learn from each experience.
I know from experience though that it is hard to hold all of those thoughts inside. It is also very unproductive if you have no one to give you feedback on your performance and thoughts about it.
There is an answer and this is the Art Of Adaptation:
You must change your primary focus from achieving certain outcomes to creating opportunities for optimal performance. Basically, rather than focusing on the win you must be focused on doing your best. In short if you do your best that day that is all you can do.
Selecting goals and basing your performance against your earlier performance is one way to do this and it is much more realistic. This will also produce an improvement in your level of skill and have a better impact of your confidence.
To all those people coming back from the competition who understand. I feel yea!
Tell me about a recent performance in anything, your thought process before, during and after. What did you conclude? How do you focus on creating optimal performance and not focusing on outcomes? How do you stay in the moment?