In this episode we go deep into the high performance habits of the worlds top performers, look at the only place confidence truly comes from, dig into why we struggle to perform when the pressure is on, examine the habits, routines, and strategies the world’s absolute best use to perform at their peak, and much more with our guest Dr. Michael Gervais.
Dr. Michael Gervais is a high performance psychologist who has worked with some of the world’s top performers including the Seattle Seahawks, Felix Baumgartner (The Red Bull Athlete Who Completed the Stratosphere Jump) Olympians, musicians, and champions! His work has been featured on ESPN, CNN, The New York Times, and much more!
We love to put some of the world’s top performers on a pedestal - but there are extraordinary things that take place every day that aren’t capture on the cameras
Are extraordinary performers born that way? No.
Why do we struggle to perform “when the lights are on”/ “when there is pressure”
Top performers have fundamentally organized their lives around growth and improvement
What does it mean to have your life organized around performance and growth?
There are only 3 things we can train
We can train our body
We can train our craft
We can train our minds
The origins of sport are built on the ancient traditions of war
When we look at the best in the world across domains - they are more similar to each other than dissimilar
Relentless dedication to building and refining their craft
Relentless dedication to building the right body / carriage
Ability to adapt and be strong from a mental perspective
Provide opportunities to stress the system (mind & body) and to recover the system
Feedback loops are both internal and external
The importance of having consequences - both natural/physical consequences and man made consequences
Lessons from working with coach Pete Carroll from the Seattle Seahawks
Ask yourself: Who in your life helps you be better and what are the characteristics of those people?
The most significant accelerant to someone’s success is knowing that you have their back
Internal feedback loops
How am I doing? How does it feel? Am I executing at the right level?
What is going on in my body?
Being aware of the energy, tension in your body, your thoughts, etc
Once you become aware of maladaptive mental strategies - then you develop the tools to adjust
External feedback loops - having people in your life who can help you get better
At any given time we can have our attention focused internally or externally - but we can’t spend too much time focused on the internal
In training - the external feedback loops and human feedback becomes tricky - and that’s why Dr. Gervais has a deep commitment to maintaining and building healthy relationships
To do extraordinary things in life - NOBODY does it alone. We need other people. You have to invest in the true connection with other people.
The greatest wayfinders, when they set sail, they don’t pray for calm waters, they pray for rugged seas, moving through the rugged seas is what forges strength - that is where you get made, that is where you find your true nature
The brain’s job is to scan the world and see what’s dangerous - but you can’t let the brain have too much control
Your brain is underserved, underutilized, under-programmed
If you don’t train the software of your brain - the brain’s natural reaction will win.
You have to condition your mind so that your brain doesn’t win. So that your natural fight or flight reaction doesn’t take over.
YOLO.. FOMO… now FOPO - Fear of Other People’s Opinion - one of the most silent traps that robs us and keeps us stuck
What should we do if we get caught up in the internal dialogue too often? What should we do if we get stuck in our head too often?
Start training your mind, just like you would train your body. Start training in simple, calm environments, and then push yourself into more and more stressful environments
Optimism is at the core of mental toughness. Optimism is a skill, you’re not born with it, you have to TRAIN it.
Just like everything - genetics are involved, environment is involved, training is involved.
This is about conditioning your mind to be extraordinary on the razors edge
5 Functions Under Stress
In western culture, our self worth is tied to our achievements and results. The idea that we need to do more to be more is broken. It’s wrong.
The notion that you need to do more to be more is exhausting - it’s time to flip the model.
We need to BE MORE to DO MORE, let our DOING flow form our BEING
Our value in inherent and not contingent on what we do. The intellectual idea is not enough, we have to ACT ON IT.
The acquisition of knowledge is not enough, you have to APPLY to knowledge.
When you have a deep trust that you can do difficult things, and you don’t need the doing to define you, you have incredible freedom.
The most powerful people in the world are those that have nothing to lose.
Those that have NOTHING TO PROVE are incredibly powerful.
I know how to be me, express me in any environment, and I'm not intimidated by what you think.
Love deeply and know yourself and love others.
When you don’t need to defend and protect yourself, when you can BE yourself, there is an incredible freedom in that.
There are no tricks, there no tips - just the hard work.
Can you be yourself in highly stressful, rugged, hostile, razor’s edge environments.
When you get exposed for what you’re not good at, that’s when the GOOD FEEDBACK LOOPS OPEN UP - and you need to get into those environments more often.
What are the environments and conditions where you struggle?
Training confidence is extremely mechanical. Confidence only comes from one place - it’s not past success, its not preparation - confidence ONLY COMES FROM what you SAY TO YOURSELF.
Write down what your internal dialogue sounds like - write those thoughts down, self doubt, self criticism, excessive worry - those thoughts don’t open up space, they constrict you.
Write down what it sounds like to be in your head when you’re on point - when it’s good to be you, what do you say to yourself?
Externalizing your thoughts is a key step in building confidence.
Practice good thoughts, and put yourself in environments to test them.
“If you’re gonna throw darts, know where the bullseye is” - the bullseye in this case is what thoughts work for you
Thoughts lead to thought patterns, thought patterns lead to habits of mind. We want to build positive habits of mind.
Feelings only happen if you reverse engineering them through thinking and thinking patterns.
Insights from Felix Baumgartern’s Stratosphere Jump
Thoughts lead to emotions, and emotions + thoughts impact performance
It’s sloppy to show up and just think you will be OK, show up in presence
Training the mind is not EXTRA - it’s something we need to invest in on a regular basis. If you train your craft to a ridiculous level, but you don’t train your mind, as soon as pressure enters the environment, you will will be exposed
To have a strong mind, you have to TRAIN YOUR MIND FOR STRENGTH
Mindfulness is intimately linked to confidence
Mindfulness is a focus training to focus on the awareness - that awareness training is the beginning step of being aware of our thoughts and thought patterns. If we can become aware and more sensitive to our thoughts and thought patterns, we can course correct and built a more optimal internal state.
“Choking” - where does that term come form? What does it mean to choke?
Performing under pressure is good, but it’s not dissolving pressure - that’s a different thing.
If you think there’s pressure you’re right.
Is it possible to change your relationship with yourself and your environment in such a way that pressure is dissolved. You have to do the hard work to figure out your unique psychological framework from your parents, peers, pop culture, and more.
Do you think buddha had pressure? No he dissolved it. What about Jesus? The purpose was so much larger, and their internal framework was so sturdy that they dissolved pressure. Flow state / the zone is essentially the dissolving of pressure. Using the challenge of the environment to create a deep focus.
Focus on the task at hand, not focus on the clunkiness
We dig into the daily architecture of a world class performer and what that looks like
“You would be surprised by how much we focus on recovery” within the framework of a world class performer’s daily architecture
Day in and day out is an internal competition with yourself
Mindfulness/meditation is a “massive accelerate” to mastering your internal domain
Homework - take a good hard look at your sleep patterns