21 Apr Stop Thinking. Start Winning.
Recently I achieved my green belt in Krav Maga. For those of you who don’t know what Krav Maga is, it’s the Israeli Military Defence System. In a nutshell, you learn how to fight against real world threats like, guns, knives, multiple attackers etc. It’s pretty crazy stuff.
At the school I attend in order to get promoted to the advanced belts you have to endure a very gruelling test; which is almost two and half hours long. The test concludes with a gauntlet round where you fight what seems like an endless stream of fully rested attackers without breaks. Plus, the only way to pass is to survive the entire test without stopping.
I consider myself a pretty fit guy. I’ve been playing sports since I was 8 years old and I’m a stone’s throw away from 40 now.
That said, I had this lingering thought that I had not trained as much as I would like because my wife had been away on business for the 4 weeks leading up to the test. However, I was confident going into my first advanced test and my instructor was confident too. Until my gas tank ran out. And there was still 10 minutes left in the test and whole line of fighters was just starting to come at me.
What do you do when you’ve got no more strength left, no more answers left and the assault is still coming in full force?
You freakin panic! That’s what you do! I choked.
Your mind is racing and it starts to play tricks on you, thoughts like: “oh shit I’m dead”; “I can’t do it”; “I can’t breathe”; “somebody stop this”, “why the f@#k did my wife have to go away!”
Which brings me to the topic of this blog…stop thinking and start winning!
Maybe you’re not facing a room full of Krav Maga fighters. Maybe for you it’s a presentation, or maybe it’s a cop pulling you over and you can’t find your papers, or maybe you’re overloaded at work and the demands keep piling up.
It’s high pressure performance. In other words you have to deliver even though the demands seem completely unrealistic.
So, how do you do it?
You have to learn to slow your brain down, stop thinking. James Loehr, author of The New Toughness Training for Sports writes; “most concentration problems stem from excessive neurological arousal (brain wave patterns are too fast).”
Basketball Hall of Famer, Michael Jordan says; “if you know you haven’t prepared correctly, or know you haven’t worked hard enough, that’s when other thoughts and emotions creep into your mind. That’s stress. That’s fear”
Jordan also, adds; “Whether’s its running a corporation, taking a test in second grade or taking a shot to win a game, at that moment you are the sum total of all the work you have put in…if you are confident you have done everything possible to prepare yourself, then there is nothing to fear.”
In other words, in order to slow your thinking down you must do a ton of preparation in advance. When you do that, magic is possible.
There’s a place of relaxed intensity that high pressure performers achieve. The stakes are high, the situation is moving a mile a minute and yet these individuals are able to react fast and stay calm.
You’ve got to practice, practice, practice the right mental habits to be strong enough to hold up under pressure. You have to practice how you want to perform because one of the keys to winning is your ability to be resourceful, maintain your composure and come up with a new solution.
You need to plan and practice to the point where it literally becomes boring. Performing so many repetitions that the task becomes automatic and you don’t have to think. This is the level you’re trying to reach. You’re striving for a place that most would call over preparation.
It’s the over preparation that allows you to erase the doubt, slow your brain down and give you the confidence to stay relaxed in the most intense situations.
So after panicking and being completely overwhelmed for my green belt test. I went for my brown belt; a more demanding and challenging test.
I did exactly what I’ve written here and I followed the advice of Loehr and Jordan.
I prepared my ass off and at the two hour mark with my muscles burning, my lungs gasping for air and some two hundred pound dude sitting on my chest trying to choke me out…this time there was no panicking. Instead a moment of relaxed intensity occurred.
Suddenly, a quiet voice from somewhere deep inside emerged and said; “its ok, I can do this”
Stop Thinking. Start Winning.