Most people walk around with a constant conversation going on in their heads, literally thousands of thousands of thoughts a day. This inner conversation denotes the dominance of the cerebral cortex over the other areas of your brain. The neurological patterns are constantly used and reinforced, thus minimizing blood flow to the other parts of the brain, and therefore not using your brain at its full capacity.
We treat this voice as if it was a physical necessity of being human. We get so used to this inner blabber that we forget it's happening. This part of your brain is also called the super ego. It tells us to respect the law and the values of the community. The higher brain and value system are valuable things to have when you're strategizing important decisions and judgements that affect the lives of others. But when you're performing under pressure, the highest part of your brain is not your friend.
Can you imagine trying to do your job with the boss always looking over your shoulder or accompanying you on your sales calls, providing commentary as if he were a broadcast analyst breaking down your game at every moment. When you go to lunch the boss there, when you go home he's at your side. And at the end of the day as you climb into bed, he's the one tucking you in. An absolutely terrifying idea, to be sure. If you don't want your actual boss following you around, why do you let your internal boss do so?
Typically people allow events to control how they think. You make three sales calls and get three rejections, your car breaks down on your way home. How was your day? "Awful, miserable, a total bummer." What is your mental state it need not be "awful, miserable, a total bummer". To be sure you cannot control how your customers respond, or conditions of the roads, what is really up to you is your response to the day's setbacks. Once you go home after work, you can decide to work on the garden, head over to the golf course or fire up the grill and have a (well earned) drink. Why limit your pleasure in life to only the days when everything happens to go right? Everyone has to deal with the persnickety of colleagues or superiors. There's a lot going on in everyone's life. The difference between being a victim of all the thoughts that pop into your head and assessing whether you really want to think that way. Is the difference between accepting other people's perceptions of your own perception. It's the difference between letting your frustrations and depressing thoughts control you, and taking control of what you will think. Blessed with free will, we humans can choose how we think. Your future depends on the decisions you make today, tomorrow, and the day after that.
Dr. John Eliot compares this difference to a speedboat towing a water-skier. When the boat turns right or left, the skier inevitably follows. While the skier is the performer, it is the driver of the boat who is controlling the performance. When you let your bad day control your mindset, you've put your brain on water skis. Your thinking—happiness and enjoyment included— is at the whim of what's going on. Most performers in most fields allow their performance and the lens through which they see the world to be dictated by the circumstances unfolding around them: Are they winning? Are they closing deals? Are people viewing them favorably? Is everything going according to plan? When the circumstance is at the wheel and your brain is tagging behind like this, you're in for a yo-yo ride. You'll be up and. down and inconsistent.
The best and most steady performers make sure their heads are in the boat, not the skis; results are out in the wake. The best performers also know that such mental control does not always happen immediately, which is why the waterskiing analogy fits so nicely. When the boat turns, the skier does not follow immediately, there will be a moment's lag time before the skier is back in line with the boat. But when the boat goes straight long enough, the skier, too, will be straight behind it. Analogously, if you think consistently, performance will follow. Alternative is to leave your thinking up to chance, and merely hope business goes well so your feelings and emotions will, too.
In good health,
Efren Guerrero Rodriguez
High Performance Personal Training