Frank Chen

Frank Chen

map of content (mindset)

the workings of performance

The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey was one of the first sport psychology books that I read. He lays out what an athlete should do in order to stop over-analyzing and perform to their fullest ability. The TLDR is that hard work and smart training imprints performance to the subconscious, and the way to activate it is for us to shut our conscious brain up and step out of the way.

  1. non judgmental observation shuts down emotions
  2. visualized feel imagery is the subconscious language
  3. experience in the present opens you to the language of opportunity
  4. assess the outcome by repeating non judgmental observation

the subconscious

Many authors talk about the differentiation between the conscious and the subconscious mind. Our conscious mind is the one that we mostly experience on a day to day basis, but the subconscious is where true performance lies.

In order to activate our subconscious, we need to understand how to communicate with it. Because the underlying processes are so automatic and subtle, we have to understand that the mind responds better to positive commands rather than negative ones and that visualization and feel imagery is the language of the subconscious. When we understand that this is how we talk to our subconscious, we can begin to affect the deeper parts of our psyche.

There are mental exercises you can immediately partake in. The first is to accept that you are what you want to be already. This involves a level of self-identifying with some future self. Instead of seeing it as getting there, you imagine that you're already there, which consequently pulls your behavior in line.

If you're like me and have trouble truly believing in yourself, then act your way into beliefs which reinforce your actions. Alternatively, you can also choose courage over confidence, which in the same stroke, allows you to positively build evidence towards confidence.

self image & perception

A vital part of performing is an athlete's self image. They say you don't "rise to the occasion", but "fall to the level of your training". While true, if an athlete has a negative self image, has a strategic game plan, and has worked hard, they can still stumble.

It all begins with understanding that nothing has meaning except for the meaning you assign it. This sense of presence gives folks permission to see that our futures are not set and our past doesn't lock us in amber.

For those still working towards a better self image, it's going to be a conscious process. You must constantly decide to be, not try. When you're "being", and you won't be perfect the first, fifth, or 500th try, you will inch closer and closer to the embodiments and characteristics of that positive image. This is because the self image regulates like a thermostat. Your acts reinforce beliefs and this cycles into a more positive or more negative self image.

Self-talk is powerful because the subconscious has no body so imagination is reality, which means you can essentially play and replay any scenario in your conscious mind. Your subconscious won't be able to tell the difference because vivid imagery produces a real stimulus. This allows for repetitions that you can't achieve with high frequency in reality.

To better enact change, you want to iteratively challenge your beliefs and outline the 7 steps of winning beliefs.

When we talk a little bit longer term, those who eventually do great things have reasonably high expectations of themselves. In order to survive the ups and downs, they have to match commitment with expectancy, which gives them staying power.

In the short-term, actively practice:

  1. make goals a reality and understand the process
  2. practice in a way that strengthens your self image
  3. close the gap between training and performance
  4. know your optimal emotion functioning zone
  5. create a pre performance ritual
  6. create a pressure log helps identify how to tune inward
  7. create daily intention by staying present and aware

staying in the present

One could say all this shit is super complicated, and the best course of action is to just stay in the present.

The first step is to grasp that observing that your attention is elsewhere is coming back to the present. It's like catching yourself falling asleep as your head is about to hit the seat - "ah! I'm awake! I'm here." If you're thinking about what might happen or what has happened, your'e really not paying attention to what's going on in front of you.

For me, focusing on breathing brings me back to the present. Other jiujitsu athletes focus on execution, not the outcome, to bring them back to the present.

the process & the zone

You should care about the essence and the process, not just the end. How you get there is important, especially for long term commitments.

Along the way, you'll want to learn how to get into the zone. There are universal feelings when one gets into the zone. Learn to identify them.

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