What have we been told about peak performance?
It’s something we must train & practice & work for, for years on end.
It’s something we’re competing with everyone else for.
It’s something we must force with will & resilience & grit.
It’s achieved by preparing perfectly.
It’s achieved by working as hard as you can.
It’s achieved by battling with, and overcoming, the mind.
It’s about ‘getting into the zone’.
But does that work?
Even after all the techniques, tips & strategies,
Elite athletes still only get into the zone less than 1% of the time.
LESS THAN 1%!
I’m not interested in the scientific studies,
or what the sport psychology experts say,
or what has been written in books.
Does. It. Work?
How often does one actually get into the zone?
The best of the best, at the peak of their powers,
and even they can only get into the zone 1% of the time.
‘Because it’s hard, it takes work, it takes years of practice, it takes overcoming the mind’.
The main symptom of the zone, known as the key to Peak Performance,
is losing our ‘sense of self’.
So what do we do?
We fight the mind,
we learn techniques, and tricks, and tactics, and strategies,
to overcome the mind,
to force ourselves to focus our awareness on the present moment in order to fool ourselves into thinking that we are in the zone.
But that doesn’t work. Clearly.
If what is preventing us from getting into the zone is our sense of self,
why do we not explore the source of it?
Instead of covering it up, and quieting it down, and trying to ignore it,
why do we not seek to understand it?
What if, instead of fighting fire with fire, or mind with mind,
we just let it burn out?
The truth comes in understanding where our sense of self comes from:
It comes from the mind.
Specifically, it comes from the prefrontal cortex, known as the conscious mind.
Where all thoughts, opinions, and beliefs occur.
This is where our sense of self is developed and maintained,
where the ‘I’ & ‘me’ you know as yourself come from.
We know by now that not everything we do on a sporting field is conscious.
By a certain stage in our skill level, it becomes unconscious, similar to brushing our teeth.
Yet, we still think about our skills and our execution, even when we know already how to do them.
And we do it ALL the time.
Constantly analysing, thinking, preparing, focusing, ‘fine-tuning’.
When was the last time you consciously thought about brushing your teeth?
You probably haven’t for a long time, because you KNOW how to brush your teeth, right?
You don’t think about doing it wrong, or think about your technique, or think about missing a spot.
Try think about your brushing technique next time you do it, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
You will get in your own way, just like you do in your sport.
Because any time we think, and analyse, and believe,
we are using our prefontal cortex.
Our conscious mind.
And any time we are using our conscious mind,
our sense of self is right there with us.
Now, what does every tactic, tool, technique, method, and sport psychology trick for overcoming the mind have in common?
You have to think about the thing you need to do in order to stop thinking!
You have to think about believing in yourself,
you have to think about quieting the mind,
you have to think about whether you’re doing it right,
you have to think about your technique,
you have to think about being resilient,
you have to think about whatever tactic your sport psychologist told you to remember whilst you’re playing.
Now do you see why it doesn’t work?
Okay, back to ‘the zone’.
We’ve firmly established why the popular techniques for getting into the zone do not work.
So how about what actually works?
If the main symptom of the zone is losing our sense of self,
and our conscious mind is the thing that creates that sense of self,
and trying to use the mind to overcome the mind doesn’t work,
then what we are left with is this:
The flow state does not occur when the conscious mind is trying to focus on the moment,
The flow state occurs when the conscious mind disappears altogether.
This is the state of ‘No-Mind’.
This is the state of Flow.
Peak Performance has nothing to do with skill acquisition, or discipline, or resilience, or focus, or effort.
Peak Performance is about skill ACCESS.
Getting out of your own way so you can use the full capacity of the skill that you have already acquired.
Peak Performance is achieved through understanding.
Understanding that the sense of self is us getting in our own way.
Understanding that the sense of self comes from the conscious mind.
Understanding that we cannot overcome the mind, with the mind.
Understanding that flow occurs when the mind disappears altogether.
It’s not about ‘doing’ anything.
You achieve a state of no-mind when brushing your teeth because you KNOW what you’re doing.
There is no need for thought, or analysing, or ‘fine-tuning’.
Yet if you’re at the level that you’re reading this, you have practiced your sport FAR MORE than you have practiced brushing your teeth.
But do you believe you can execute your skills, or do you KNOW you can?
Remember, belief is conscious. It’s a thought.
But knowing is unconscious. It’s a feeling.
Do you practice to perfect your technique?
Or do you practice to Master your craft?
Do you practice to improve?
Or do you practice to Understand everything there is to know about the skill?
Do you practice to believe you can execute a skill?
Or do you practice to remind yourself that you KNOW how to do it?
You can access the flow state any time, for as long as you want.
But are you prepared to let go of the conditioning that has forever told you otherwise?
Are you prepared to let go of your self?
To fully devote yourself to whatever it is you are doing, to such a degree that your sense of self melts away, and all that you are left with are your senses.
To the point where there is no longer a separate ‘you’ who is doing the craft.
There is just the craft.
You have been conditioned your entire life to believe that it takes effort, and hard work.
But transcending the mind takes no effort at all.
The Truth of Peak Performance,
is that it’s a byproduct.
You cannot force it.
You cannot make yourself perform.
You cannot chase it.
It’s a byproduct of preparation.
It’s a byproduct of KNOWING.
It’s a byproduct of getting out of your own way, transcending the mind, and accessing your FULL capabilities.
It’s a byproduct of the state of no-mind.