Performance Insight - TJ Guttormsen

Performance Insight

Your state of mind dictates your level of performance.

Before Usain Bolt, the fastest runner in the world, starts his race, he does something unusual. While his opponents are busy using visualization, meditation or other rituals to get themselves "in the zone", Bolt tends to joke around with the audience and race crew. Looking at it with an outsiders perspective, it can almost seem like he's not taking the race very seriously. Until he out-runs everyone else, that is.

When asked about this, Bolt has stated: "If you think too much about a race, you just make yourself more nervous. My mind automatically turns on to do what I have to do when I need it to. So, when I'm in the blocks, it switches on."

What Bolt points to here is the very foundation of the Insight Method for Performance. Let's explore why with the help of Mark and Nina.

Mark and Nina are both set to have an important conversation with an important client for their respective firms, and as the meeting approaches they both start feeling nervous.


Mark's traditional approach to performance.

Mark has been taught that nervousness is bad. It might show weakness, it might be distracting, it might make him lose his focus. He has also learned that there are many ways to combat nervousness. So he chooses a couple of them. Before walking in to the meeting he visualizes a successful conversation. As he walks in the door, he focuses on breathing calmly and deeply. On keeping his back straight and his eyes steady. On visualizing the audience for his presentation in their underwear. On ... you know the drill.

Now, let's say that Mark at any one time has 100 units of mental resources available to him. These units are to be divided up among things such as memory, creativity, adapting to the moment, negotiation techniques, etc. And let's say that Mark's nervousness claims as many as 30 units of resources, leaving Mark with 70. Then, as Mark starts using these mental resources on visualization, power poses, breathing exercises and so on - he taps in to more of them.

Trying to match the units used on nervousness, Mark might end up spending 30 more resources to combat nervousness. Leaving him with a mere 40 units of resources to use on achieving the goal of his meeting. The math looks like this:

100 units - 30 nervous units - 30 combative units = 40 units of resources to succeed.

As an added negative bonus: Don't think about a pink elephant.

Can't really do it, can you? Because in order not to think about a pink elephant, you first have to identify what a pink elephant is - and thus you're thinking about one.

When we use techniques to stop being nervous, our brain identifies the feeling of nervousness every time we use the technique. So the technique is, in many ways, reminding us to keep being nervous.


Nina's insight approach to performance.

Nina also has 100 units of resources available to her. And as the meeting approaches, she feels that pesky nervousness consume about 30 of them.

However, unlike Mark, Nina knows that we are born with a mental immune system. This system's job, is to keep our mind balanced and healthy, and as long as we leave it alone - it will do its job. But if we keep picking at it, it will have much the same effect as picking on a scab on your hand. It will take much longer for it to do it's job, and in a worse case scenario we make such a big deal out of the problem that it leaves a permanent scar.

So as Nina steps into the meeting, she does nothing to combat the 30 units of nervousness. In stead, thanks to her understanding of her own psychology, she uses all her remaining resources on getting the job done.

100 units - 30 nervous units = 70 units of resources to succeed.

And not only does Nina have 30% more mental resources available off the bat than Mark does, but since she's not using techniques to keep reminding her subconscious about her nervousness - odds are that it will dissipate much faster. Because once her brain starts using the majority of its resources on solving the task, it will often start pulling resources away from anything that's not helpful. This leaves Nina with nothing on her mind, except the task that is right in front of her.

This is often referred to as "the flow zone" by psychologists. It is something that top-performers in every field talk about, and when they achieve it, they seem to be unable to fail.  And the only way to achieve flow, is to not spend your mental resources in the wrong place.


Is that it?

Certainly not. There is more to it than simply not using unnecessary techniques. But this is one of many examples of how an insightful understanding of the way our mind works in relation to our performance, can help us boost our results while spending less resources on them.

High performance becomes easier and more reliable when we truly understand how our brains work. And when we realize that we can do less to perform better, it's hard not to start experiencing improved performance and flow as the norm, rather than the exception.

Are you curious about how this method will apply to your particular business, goals or tasks? Contact us via the form below, and let's have a talk about it!