A High Performance sports coach I was working with a few years back helped me understand the connection with resilience and rituals. At the time - he was a mindset coach for some elite tennis players on the pro circuit, plus some other players that had talent and high work ethic - but couldn’t seem to find another level when it came to dealing with mistakes and setbacks in order to be more consistently competitive.
What he decided to do was to research and examine what differentiated the elite - most competitively consistent players from other top 50 players on the planet. After filming and observing the top 50 players in the world - he couldn’t really find any significant physiological differences in stroke, movement; strength or conditioning that could explain the variation in performance. Quite by accident - he discovered just how little time there is in a match where the player is actually playing the point Vs not. In fact the numbers look like 35:65. That is - only 35% of the time are you actually playing the point. The rest of the time - 65% of it - [ what we would call Strategic Recovery ] - they were getting ready for the next point. So this is where he decided to look deeper - Was there something in the psychology of the elite players in the dead time - “between points” [ or another way to frame it - “Between mistakes”. ]
He discovered there was a pattern among the elite players. They were naturally following a similar process to each other to get ready for the next play. [ we call this Next Play Mindset ] Take a look at what they did - and try and imagine how long they took to complete the 5 part process below:
.01 Some of the elite might well get angry/frustrated/disappointed with themselves for the mistake. On average for less than 3 seconds
.02 Positive Mental replay. They would picture or replay the shot perfectly in their mind or play the better decision that they should have made.
.03 Relax: they would do deep breathing to calm emotions and relax their body.
.04 Mental Prep: they would use mentality imagery rehearse their next play - their next shot - in vivid detail- type of serve/play - sounds colours feelings position etc
.05 Rituals: Bouncing the ball in a very particular way is the cue to bring it all together - to acknowledge to the mind and body that they are ready for the next play to start.
This process took an average of 16 secs.
How Can This Apply Insight //
Resilience is about Strategic Recovery. That is - very short periods of time - used wisely in between the chaos of our life - meetings / work events / training sessions / projects / not meeting expectations / relationship break down / tragedy etc to enable us to bounce back. We often ask our corporate executive clients - how many one-two minute opportunities do have through out a day to complete a simple process like above - none - a few - or a lot? Without question - it is a lot!!! Most of us - are just NOT designing this kind of process into the way we work and live. Therefore - we aren’t effectively developing the Character Muscle we call resilience.
We all can - that is - if we 'choose to be uncommon' like our elite tennis friends.
Fast 15 Habit - How //
We are always wanting to be practical for our clients - so we have taken this useful insight above -and- adapted it a little to fit your world. You can complete the steps in 15 seconds in some situations for sure - in other situations it may need a more time. Adapt to suit.
Mid Meeting Setback Example:
Go ahead and master this process in a minute as per the tennis example. Managing your emotions very quickly - under 3 seconds - might matter in your ability to rescue the purpose of the meeting.
Meeting Over Setback Example: An important client meeting didn't quite go as planned - this will disrupt result achievement and break some expectations committed to.
'Fast 15': make the first step of experiencing 'unproductive emotion' be contained to only 15 secs - and then - allow another 45 secs to complete the rest of the steps in the process - 60 secs in total.
.01 Be ok with 15 seconds of unproductive emotion. It is ok to get angry/frustrated/disappointed with yourself after a mistake. Process Goal: If you can ‘ring fence’ that emotion for a maximum of 15 secs or less - all the better for developing the Resilience Character Muscle for even larger setbacks. Take a full 45sec now to compete the other steps in the process.
.02 Positive Mental Replay. Use your mental imagery skills to picture or replay the moment/event/pitch/performance conversation perfectly in your mind -or- imagine the better decision that you could have made.
.03 Relax: Use breathing exercises like 'ratio breathing' or 'box breathing' to develop the strength and calm to control emotions and relax your body in prep for the next play. [ If you don't’ practice - you will find it more difficult to actually play well/perform well under pressure. Train your autonomic nervous system to breathe effectively - well before you have to perform after a setback pressure.
.04 Mental Prep: Use mentality imagery again to rehearse your next play — ensure you have rich/ vivid detail in your mindset picture - add in sounds, colours, feelings, body position, textures, temperature, tone etc - whatever will make it even more real to your brain. Again - will the quality of this step improve if you have been practicing mental imagery - or - not. You know the best answer I think.
.05 Rituals: Establish a cue - a particular cue or trigger that lets you know that you have completed the Fast 15 process and you are completely ready to move forward and execute Next Play Mentality. I use a range of triggers/cues to help me go to “next play mindset” -Clients use images that remind them to do something specific next; Some tap two fingers together to gain control of emotions; I use a particular phrase: “ I’m ready to set and go…”. Some use a tennis ball to trigger them to slow down and build up the next play momentum. Whatever the Ritual/Cue or Trigger - own it. Make it yours.
As always - I’m keen to hear your views and ideas for building your Resilience Character Muscle.