Few things have been ingrained in our minds other than the notion that everything we do has consequences. For every performance there is a result that will either be a success or failure, a win or a loss. Thinking otherwise goes against all logic, and all common understanding of physics. High Performers are not interested in being logical; and while the principle that every cause has an effect may cure in the physical world, making it in the world of high level performance means not paying attention to the results of every move you make. Keeping each stage of a performance independent from the next is another definition of "being in the present.
Counterintuitive separation of the many discrete moments of a given performance is most easily understood, once again, by looking at sports, particularly those games in which there are distinct action moments over a time span, such as in golf or baseball. Coaches and sport psychologists tell pitchers to throw "one pitch at a time"; we instruct golfers to play "one shot at a time." But doesn't one pith or gold shot influence the next one? Surely, for example if you hit the ball in the woods instead of the middle of the fairway, that result will affect not only your next shot but also your score on that hole and thus your total for the round.
Well, yes and no. It is true that for most players, hitting one bad shot will affect the next one, physically. A player may have trouble hitting from the rough, or be forced to use a larger club. A bad shot likely to have psychological effects, too, lowering a player's confidence or undermining the pleasure of the game. Such errant shots can affect the overall score.
Although they don't have to. Anyone who has played or watched golf knows that it is possible to hook one from a perfect fairway lie into a pond or the sand traps garnishing the green—and it's possible to knock it stiff from the deep rough. A bad shot can just as easily lead to a great shot—if you are thinking in the present—as it can a second miscue. If you're not in the present, you may recall previous failures to get the ball in the hole, or fast forward in your mind to the low probability of getting up and down from a tough position or the increased likelihood of flying it over the green. As your cerebral cortex fires up, you'll cling to the notions such as "shots from the fairway have greater odds of hitting the green, the ball's spin is more easily controllable, there is a wider margin for error." And all the while, you'll be reducing your performance level.
It is necessary to reemphasize:
High Performers don't think in terms of probability, they think in terms of possibility.
They know they have a chance to put a good swing on the ball at their feet. They don't concern themselves with any other shot, past or future. They know it's possible to make a birdie from the rough so they don't spend time contemplating what devastating things might happen if they miss the target. They just focus on the shot in front of them and play it with abandon. They typically recover from a bad shot with a brilliant one. High performers manage to separate each stage of their game from the overall score. A player with the High Performance mindset can hit, as golfers say "one shot at a time"—as if that one shot were the only shot he would hit all week as if there were no fairway, no green, no cup. They separate each shot as a completely different game. That's the key to performing in the present: separating the results from the execution—the effect from the cause—and doing so independently with each element of your work.
In good health,
Efren Guerrero Rodriguez
High Performance Personal Training.