In every moment of our lives we stand at a metaphorical crossroads where we embark upon the choices and actions that can shape our lives.
These choices that we make are critical to the outcomes that we desire and the future that we want for ourselves and this applies in all areas of our life:
In your everyday lives and our interactions with others, friends and family
In your training
In your career
It’s an inescapable fact that in this modern world we are constantly bombarded with thoughts and these thoughts give us a multitude of choices that we can make. We don’t have a choice over the thoughts that come into our heads, but ... we most definitely do have the choice over how we react to those thoughts and this is where we meet the crossroads of choice.
The effect of our fight of flight instinct on our choices
When you are relaxed at home it is much easier to consciously make appropriate choices when confronted with a crossroads of choice, but.... under pressure it’s a very different situation - under pressure your flight or fight response can easily be triggered and you will end up making choices unconsciously (on autopilot) based on your past patterns of behaviour driven by your fears – this is not a choice!
What you need to do is cultivate the ‘gap’ between your thoughts and this is what you are practicing with your mindfulness training every day.
The crossroads of choice for racing drivers
From the point of view of a racing driver a crossroads that could present itself is a situation where you are driving well but can see that another car (your team mate) is catching you. So how does this unfold?
You immediately think that you are not quick enough / not good enough and this triggers fear (what are people going to think of me) and activates your fight or flight response.
At this point you MUST catch that thought (practical mindfulness) and pause for a moment.... before the emotion driven by your fear takes over. Remember emotion is ten times more powerful that logic.
During the pause you realise that you have two choices:
You can surrender to fear/insecurity and just try harder to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling as soon as possible – invariably this will lead to over-driving and a drop in your current performance. Or…
You can recognise that:
You are currently driving well and you need to stay Task Focused no matter what pressure you are under
You recognise that you are not always going to be fastest (and have no right to be)
The session will be over shortly and you will be going back into the pits and then you can:
- Learn what your team mate is doing better than you
- Work with your coach and engineer to find even more improvements
To achieve your goals you cannot afford to unconsciously let your fears and emotions make critical choices for you.