Daily Rituals That Lead to High Performance in Business and Life
Michael Gervais discusses mental and physical tactics for becoming the best possible version of yourself.
“Every day is an opportunity to create a living masterpiece.”
That’s the personal philosophy of Michael Gervais, a high-performance psychologist working in the trenches of the high-stakes worlds of sports and business.
A personal philosophy is a word or phrase that consists of the principles that influence your thoughts, words and actions. If you don’t have one, you should probably add that to your to-do list. Fortunately, Gervais will guide you through the process in his online course Finding Your Best, which I have taken and loved. My personal philosophy is “Effortlessly compassionate, relentless and productive.” The process to come up with that phrase was anything but effortless, but fortunately, the results have been amazing.
Along with Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Gervais is the founder of Compete to Create an online and live educational platform that gives people the tools needed to reveal and engineer themselves to be their very best every day -- at work, at home, with colleagues, with family and friends and in society.
Gervais has a style of communication that can best be described as frictionless, impactful and empowering. You can experience it for yourself by listening to his podcast, Finding Mastery. I spoke with Gervais and he shared the benefits of mindfulness, getting in "the zone" and many other useful mental techniques that can help us feel energized and ready to take on the next big challenge.
Early beginnings as a sports psychologist
"Late Night Sports was a program in Los Angeles that ran every Saturday night from 7:30 till past midnight. This was a highly competitive sports environment centered around three basketball courts and it was funded by the government for drug and delinquency prevention. The price of admission was watching a presentation on a particular sports performance psychology skill. And then we would hold participants accountable to practice that skill during the competitive basketball games. We had about 120 guys per night and it ran for 18 years. The bet was that if we could create an environment where people knew that they matter, and it was safe, and we're helping them develop the inner skills to be able to thrive under pressure, we could really make a difference. We helped provide a safe place for seven high school and college-age kids that eventually went into the NBA which is a pretty cool thing. It was an incredibly successful program and incredibly meaningful to me. I learned more from them than I think they’ll ever appreciate."
Training your mind as well as your craft
"Working with elite athletes in high-stakes, high-pressure sports environments, it is apparent that there are only three things that you can train. You can train your craft, your body and your mind. While that is apparent in sports, what has been surprising is that when we work with world-class business organizations, we find that they are training their craft with a disproportionate amount of time relative to the other two. To not spend an ample amount of time formally training the mind feels like this incredible opportunity, especially given the big mission that many of these companies and individuals have."
The formation of Compete to Create
"Coach Carroll and I were at the training center of the Seahawks and it was the year that we were heading into our first Super Bowl. The organization was just humming on all cylinders. One day in passing, we're in the hallway and he says, 'Mike, can you feel it?' I said. 'Yeah, it's amazing around here.' He says, 'Do you think anyone outside the sport would be interested in what we're doing?' Our culture and the methodologies we used to help the players and staff train their minds-- we just wrote it all down almost on the back of a napkin and we shared it with some folks at Microsoft. One of those people was the CEO Satya Nadella, who was about four weeks into his position. From there we developed a course for Microsoft employees, Compete to Create, and then expanded to other companies and individuals."
The importance of being present
"Finding Your Best's primary mission is to help people condition and train their minds so they can live in the present moment. That's because the present moment is where wisdom is revealed and high-performance is expressed. It's not just about just increasing output and performance achievement. It's much more about snapping into a sense of purpose and meaning and having a command of one's inner life."
Getting in the zone
"Flow state is the most optimal state a human can be in and it's also one of the most elusive. One of the triggers is to embrace risk, to love a challenge and to also believe that you have the skills to meet that challenge. That's where self-talk comes in. People who have an incredible awareness of their inner dialogue and how they are speaking to themselves about an upcoming challenge are better prepared to meet that challenge. If you can get that right you end up increasing the frequency of stepping into a flow state. Another trigger is deep focus. Multitasking pulls us away from deep focus -- that's one of the reasons that mindfulness is really great because it hits on both inner dialogue and focus training."
This post was written by Terry Rice, and originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.