It's easy to maintain control of the reigns when all is going well.
The captain happily steers his ship across clear blue water.
The boxer is confident in his shots and slips when's winning 9 rounds to 2.
The entrepreneur remains confident and relaxed while their newly built business continues to see month to month increases in revenue.
When things take a turn for the worse our approach changes...
We become tense.
We are as far from the flow state as can be.
When you're tense you'll find that you run out of energy very quickly.
You can have never ending cardiovascular endurance, but if you step in a boxing ring for the first time for some sparring you'll find yourself gasping for air within a matter of minutes. You panic, your body becomes tense.
This drains your energy.
You may have better cardio than your opponent, but you don't have the experience that allows you to enter the state of relaxed intensity.
When you're worrying you won't be able to focus, your mind is far too occupied.
In order to recall information, forge new ideas and plot ventures your mind must be free from any immense stress.
In an emergency most people can't remember their own phone number.
This is where relaxed intensity comes into play!
In order to enter and maintain a state of relaxed intensity you must subject yourself to uncomfortable situations.
You will never build an unbreakable mindset if you spend your days lounging around in-front of the TV with junk food.
That’s what Csikszentmihalyi describes in the book, Flow as being a pleasurable experience. If you want to become mentally tough and capable of dealing with testing situations you need to put yourself in situations that push you further than you’re currently capable of. You need to jump in the proverbial deep end instead of paddling around in the safe, shallow waters of your everyday life.
How do you do that? Below are 3 techniques I recommend using...
Take cold showers
Cold showers are the ultimate mental toughness building habit.
Spending 3 – 5 minutes in the shower with the facet tilted as far to the cold side as possible can literally change your life.
It’s mental conditioning, no one is making you stand under that freezing cold water except yourself – this builds mental toughness.
As you step under the freezing cold water your breathing becomes short and sharp, you jump and feel as if you can’t handle the temperature of the water… but it’s all in the mind.
Cold showers are fantastic for your health, from decreased symptoms of depression to boosting testosterone, improving the conditoning of your skin and hair as well as providing you with a surge of energy.
Start each day with a cold shower and any other task or event you encounter that day will be easy by comparison.
Do an OCR (Obstacle Course Race)
Regardless of whether you’re into cardio and endurance events, I feel as if everyone should put themselves through their paces in an obstacle run at least once.
Be it the Tough Mudder, True Grit or the Spartan Race – each of these events are built around a series of physical challenges that you would by no means ever encounter in your day-to-day life.
From high rope climbs, crawling under rows of barbed wire, diving through pits of mud and carrying boulders up and down a steep hill… by challenging ourselves and doing these things we’re unsure of, that we don’t know if we’ll be able to achieve… that’s what builds confidence and mental toughness.
Encountering a new experience and conquering it.
These courses may look like they were solely built for fitness, but they were actually constructed for developing that confidence and mental toughness.
The book, ‘Spartan Up!’, the biography of the creator of Spartan Race provides an amazing insight into the mental side of endurance and obstacle racing.
I can guarantee you you will not find an individual who’s completed one of these events that’s a mental wimp.
Act on fear!
Fear is like a disease, it must be acted upon immediately otherwise it can spread throughout your life, leaving you paralysed.
Each time you encounter fear, you must conquer it immediately. Don’t delay or falter as if you do that fear will haunt you.
When we back out of situations, when we make excuses or dismiss an opportunity, not because we don’t want to do it but because we’re fearful of the action or the outcome part of us is lost there. It’s gone.
The takeaway point? if an opportunity presents itself and you begin to experience fear, do it immediately. The longer you allow the fear to set in the harder the thing becomes.
Just like jumping out of a plane, it’s natural to be nervous as our body doesn’t want us to do it, it’s counter-intuitive….
BUT when you’re first up there, preparing to jump, that’s when skydiving is at it’s easiest point. People that spend too long debating, trying to amp themselves up to do it, they’re the ones that often end up coming back down to the ground in the plane, they allow the fear to set in, leaving them in what is essentially a state of paralysis.
What's your take on relaxed intensity? Let me know below.