Mindfulness, Anchors & Peak Performance on demand

I’m at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend.  I’ve been here for the last few weeks working with some awesome people and getting their game just right for the incredible sport of Motor Racing.

Teams at this level invest significantly in every 100th of a second.  It’s apparent from the sheer obsessive attention to detail of the people involved that they leave no stone unturned and no technique is omitted in their goal of the perfect race.

Clearly the car has a large amount to do with this, as do the teams with their carefully honed skills in pit discipline for tyre changes and telemetry analysis, but it’s the driver that I’ve been focusing on.

There are many lessons to be derived from elite athletes and one of the areas I’d like to discuss is Mindfulness and Anchoring.

Mindfulness is defined as the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something, or a mental state achieved by focusing ones attention on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting ones feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.

Focusing on achieving mindfulness can also produce a state where we feel what’s commonly described as “flow.”  Flow is the state where your senses are heightened and you are able to focus on the task at hand with what feels like 110% of your brain.  It’s this state of “flow” that we look for when coaching our clients, and we are careful to build anchors for them to allow a rapid return to that state when it’s needed most.

So anchors are a fascinating thing.  Let’s just take a quick look at them before we go into a technique for getting into your flow at will.  Have you ever heard a song on the radio from years ago that immediately teleported you back to that place where you experienced feelings of that time in your life?  Sometimes the sensations are so acute that they can come as a bit of a surprise as memories come flooding back to the present.  Other people mention a smell that they experience like candy floss (cotton candy for our US brothers and sisters) that takes them back to a fairground experience as a child.  These types of sensations and emotions can be positive or negative.  What you’re experiencing is an anchor.

The interesting thing is that we can create anchors on purpose that can act as empowering levers delivering top performance in a desired situation.  These anchors can take various forms from rituals to a physical act or a set of words and the key to their success in their consistent use at the right time.

Our Pillar on Mindfulness takes you through a full process for developing anchors, but for the sake of this article try this.

Find a routine that’s easy to do when you feel you are in a peak state of “flow."  Something like pinching your ear lobe.  Make sure it’s something unusual that you must mindfully do.  Something you wouldn’t do by accident.  Each time you feel in that state of flow in your life be sure to be mindful of this moment and activate your chosen anchor (e.g. pinch your ear lobe.)  You must constantly do this so it becomes a habit.  If you do this consistently, in time simply pinching your ear lobe will evoke the same  feelings and with practice it can be of the same magnitude.

Some of the people I’ve been training with in the last few weeks have anchors.  They may or may not be aware of them.  Sometimes what we might call “natural” athletes and high performance individuals have just stumbled on the technique by accident if it’s not directly taught.  I love it when I see it happening as they enter that state of flow.  It's a wonderful thing.

I’d like to encourage you to research the topic more.  It’s fascinating and can give you that extra edge required when the race starts or the business meeting kicks off.  Let us know how you get on - we love hearing from people on how they apply our techniques.
So until next time have an awesome and mindful day and don’t forget to.......