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Radically trusting yourself



Whoa! What's that about? and How do I get me some? were a couple of my reactions when I first read about “radically trusting yourself.”


Then I started thinking of all the ways it can go bad, as news events regularly show. It seemed to me know-it-alls use it to do really stupid stuff. (Not mentioning any names, although surely you know some.)


But after reading the whole article in my college alumni magazine (nerdy, I know...) I learned Columbia University psychologists and biomedical engineers are studying the concept to investigate the secrets of athletic excellence, including the integration of mind and body.


I mention this because something like it recently happened to me. I always assumed I would never do a live TV interview (as recounted in my last blog, “Defying doubt”) or emcee an awards ceremony (see accompanying photo) because I stutter, often severely. But then I did... with a lot of preparation, focus, and terror control.


Turns out that's what Gene Larkin, a Minnesota Twins player (and 1984 Columbia College grad) put into play in the seventh game of the 1991 World Series against the Atlanta Braves. It was the tenth inning, the score was 0-0, bases loaded. The Twins just had to bring the man on third base home to win the series.


Larkin was called to pinch hit. And he was ready. He had been doing stretches and swinging the bat since the fifth inning, but in fact he had been preparing since he was a kid playing sandlot baseball. He hit Alejandro Pena's pitch way beyond the outfielders. The Twins won!


Julia Colangelo, founder of Hello Flow, a consulting company based in Maui, was interviewed for the article and has a name for what happened to Larkin: flow.


Flow is a state of consciousness in which someone is so completely immersed in a task that nothing else seems to exist. During the flow state, the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain associated with complex planning and decision-making – shuts down. By doing the prep work – the practice – required to do a certain task, they have made themselves “available for flow” if the opportunity presents itself.


“... when that happens you no longer have self-doubt, inhibition, or fear,” Colangelo explained. “You can perform at your highest level without being self-conscious or worried. You radically trust yourself.”


But how to get there?


“Confidence is built by being very selective in how you manage your memories (not dwelling on past failures), how you talk to yourself in the present, and how you think about your future,” Nate Zinsser, author of The Confident Mind, said in the same article.


Boy, for me that's the hardest thing of all. Even harder than all the practice required.


“In high-pressure situations you can't become preoccupied with the desired outcome, you have to be thinking about the process that will lead to that outcome. ...You have to practice your mindset as well as your movements.”


Being radicalized never sounded so good. Or so difficult.


Still, I'm in. You?


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8 Comments


Guest
Jul 20, 2022

This is very valuable thinking for all of us!

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Guest
Jul 20, 2022
Replying to

I thought so too! Especially the part about focusing on the right memories (not dwelling on the worst parts), which I mention in the book when it comes to surviving/thriving amid what happens to us.


Sharon

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Guest
Jul 20, 2022

Back in the day , when I was a young Ballet Dancer , I was told time and time again that I had a "body type" that wasn't sought after in the be prima Ballerina category. I felt that the prep time and practice was a must to prove these "overlords" wrong. Unwittingly using the Flow method, I blew past any and every hurdle . I never changed anything physically, just intensley knew the task / craft at hand. I passed exams with honors and became the youngest member of a touring ballet company. I would walk off the stage and need a minute or two to remember what just happened. In the end of that phase of my li…

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Guest
Jul 20, 2022
Replying to

I love your story! And your observation, "I would walk off the stage and need a minute or two to remember what just happened." That must have been thrilling. But I also know what you mean about the intensity required to accomplish that ending up not being worth it to you. But you quit on your terms, not theirs. Congratulations!


Sharon

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Danielle Abbott
Danielle Abbott
Jul 20, 2022

Self discipline and mental discipline are the most difficult virtues, yet also the most powerful.

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Guest
Jul 20, 2022
Replying to

That's probably true. Which one of those virtues do you think confidence comes from?


Sharon

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Guest
Jul 19, 2022

Today, I batted far below my ability in each game of a 90° doubleheader. It was (and is) frustrating to have been unable to drive the ball in a game situation like I could in pre-game batting practice. There. I got that off my chest. And it’s good to know, even at age 70, that when I underperform in next week’s game, (certainly I will) I will have a ready excuse for it: not enough “flow.” (Did I do “flow”right? 😉)

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Guest
Jul 20, 2022
Replying to

I don't think planning to underperform is the name of the game when it comes to "flow," 😏but I certainly know that feeling is real and that sometimes it's simply what we have to do. Let me know if you surprise yourself next week!


Sharon

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