By Guest Blogger: Todd Herman
“In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway american dream
At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin out over the line”
~ ‘Born To Run’ by Bruce Springsteen
Ahhh… every time I hear that ‘little diddy’ by Springsteen, it always takes me back to cruising down the highway with my high school buddies, Bill and Jeff. Windows down, music blasting and the feeling of freedom on our way to a Sunday baseball game.
No matter where I am or what I’m doing, when I hear that song, the feeling washes over me like I’m actually there… it never fails.
The mind is a marvelous storage house of these experiences. It’s amazing how one tiny little sensory input (ie good ol Springsteen) – links a truly vast array of emotions, sights, sounds, and smells together in a cataclysmic flash. Only to be triggered again and again, by the same sensory input years and years later.
I’m sure you’ve had the same experience. Whether it’s the smell of lemonade taking you back to some lazy day at the lake… Or, the tone in your Moms voice immediately creates a cascade of negative emotions because of some event in your past… Or, a specific way someone might touch your shoulder – instantly making you feel better, because it’s the same way your dad used to grab your shoulders when you were hurt or feeling down.
We all have these little triggers… You, Me, and Oprah.
Now, I’m going to tell you a little secret. You can INTENTIONALLY create positive triggers for yourself.
It’s the same thing I train professional and Olympic athletes to do, in order to trigger ‘The Zone or Flow State’. (You know… that place where we got completely lost in our activity and produce amazing results… yeah… that place.)
Instead of keeping the proverbial ‘cat – IN – the bag’ – I’ll let you in on the process.
Okay… so here we go, I’m going to run through an exact scenario I just used with a young up and coming golfer trying to break onto the PGA Tour.
Jeff, was struggling with his bunker play. Every time he stepped into a sand-trap he’d get a tense and anxious feeling in his stomach. His palms would sweat and he’d immediately start to think about what he DIDN’T want to happen (never a good strategy ).
Develop a new trigger for every time he feels the squishy sensation of sand under his shoes – so he feels calm and confident. (Why calm and confident? Because I asked him. How would you like to feel when you enter a bunker? Now, the same goes for you if you’re following along… if you’d like to create a new trigger for some activity you avoid or procrastinate on. Ask yourself, how would I like to feel when I’m faced with that activity?)
I asked Jeff (we were standing on the course by a sand-trap btw) – can you imagine a time or an activity that causes you to feel all warm inside, especially in your stomach, and you get the feeling of calm confidence?
It took him a while to recall an exact experience, but he finally said yeah… “Every time I think of going fishing.”
Now that I have him ‘thinking’ about it… I want him to go deeper, to the feeling part of that experience and really get emotionally engaged in that memory, because that’s where the sub-conscious will create deep, strong bonds and links to what you’re currently doing.
So, I simply ask him to describe that to me… what is he feeling, what’s that like to be out on the boat or the dock? etc.
With Jeff holding that strong positive emotion and feeling inside of him I asked him to step into the trap and set-up for the ball that’s sitting in the trap.
(What I’m trying to do is link that feeling to the sensation of sand beneath his feet.)
I told Jeff to step back out of the trap and tell me more about fishing. What his best day was on the water… What’s he thinking about when he’s heading out to fish (incidentally – nothing. He’s just lost in the process of it all and enjoying himself. Which is key to reaching the zone or flow state – no expectations of outcomes.).
We followed the same process of Step 3 and Step 4. Constantly anchoring this positive emotion to the feeling of sand under his feet. (In reality, we did this about 25 times – until he naturally felt calm and confident without any thoughts or feelings of failure.)
Jeff ended up practicing this drill for a week, 10 minutes a day on his own to ensure we were impressing a new cascade of natural emotions and feelings whenever he entered the bunker. VERY KEY!
The idea that you can invest a small amount of time one day to get everlasting change is naive and silly. You’re battling against months and sometimes years of conditioning. Repetition is key! But, the rewards are phenomenal.
Too many times people give far too much weight to their internal responses to thoughts about their capabilities. Remember, emotions are a biological response to some sort of idea you just thought of… and depending on whether that idea or thought was linked in your brain to a positive or negative emotion from your past – THAT’s the feeling you’re going to get.
IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHETHER YOU CAN OR CAN’T DO IT! It’s just how that idea was stored… unfortunately it was tossed in the ‘I’m sucky at that bin’. (Yes, that’s a technical term!)
So let’s remove it from the wrong storage bin and gently place it in the, ‘How freakin’ awesome am I bin’.
Oh, btw… Jeff has now turned into a bunker-lovin’ machine because his results have dramatically changed. Not because he spent hours working on his sand-trap skills… but because he went to work on the root of the problem.
Bonus Audio Tip!
Todd Herman is a Peak Performance Coach to Professional and Olympic athletes. He’s also worked with Hollywood actors and business professionals on the inner game of success. But more importantly he loves Root Beer and probably needs counseling! You can find out more at: http://thepeakathlete.com or http://thechampionchallenge.com