The Performance Mindset

Life has been busy as can be.  I promised more on the performance mindset.  I will have ongoing posts related to this topic, but I wanted to make sure that I get a post out specifically about it now.

The last two weeks I went from busy in Australia to a thirty-six hour turn around in LA to come to the Bahamas to work nonstop.  I know, rough life.  But, it reminded me of all the things that diving helps us do and actually not do.  When we are underwater, diving allows us to escape mobile phones, commutes, daily grinds, E-mails, and so much more.  It is part of why I do it and likely all of us.  It is also why how we think when we go diving can be as important as how we dive.  In fact, it may be how we think that is how we dive.  At least to some extent.  Or perhaps mostly.

Diving has changed my life for the better and forever.  The best friends I have met relate to and are around diving.  It has changed me as a human being and how I see and interact with the world.  It is part of what makes diving so beautiful, that immersion in water brings us places that almost nothing else can.  Even if we dive the same location again and again, it is never the same dive twice even if we were to staple the fish to the reef, because we are never the same person as the dive before changes us forever.  So, we cannot have the same dive twice, no matter what.  We are never the same person the next time through.

Diving is so special because it touches us so deeply.  All of us who dive understand this to our core whether we “get it” consciously or at a subconscious level.  For those who are contemplating beginning to dive, I would just say enjoy every moment as diving brings many of them.  Big transformations are part of it, but often it is the littlest of ones that ripple through our lives too.

This is why what and how we think about diving while we are diving is powerful and needs to be considered.  More than being considered, we owe it to ourselves to make sure we do the best we can with our thoughts because diving is so powerful.  We have a duty to make sure that something so important and powerful is respected.

More importantly, it is just more fun to be good.

So, how do we begin our work?

The performance mindset begins with us.  One of the things I love about diving is that we cannot hide from ourselves in the water.  We all find our moments of truth in the water.  Great circumstances bring big pleasures and change us, challenges and difficult situations tells us volumes about ourselves and further bring to our immediate awareness areas that we may have tried to hide from in ourselves.  These can also change us for the better expanding our awareness and allowing us to be more adaptable after.

If we do not train how we think about diving, the effort to learn more about diving and being better is hampered.  What I am suggesting is that our mental training is as important if not more important than skill mastery or taking another course.  How we do these things matters as much as actually doing them.  Execution is as important as accomplishment.

As I presented in my first post, we need to make sure we have a picture in our mind of what it means to be a great diver, an elite diver.  We have not been presented with a simple well thought out snapshot of what this means.

This elite diver concept is so important because we will rise to the level of the vision we have for ourselves.  If we do not have a clear picture of what is means to be good at diving, how can we have a hope to arrive at a point of something we do not understand or can easily picture?  We can put 100 of the best instructors in the world in a room and we would likely have some common threads presented as to what it means to be good at diving, but it is unlikely we even share a common language about it.  The diving industry does not paint a clear picture either.  It is not about blaming anyone.  It is about providing something that almost all other activities can easily provide.  A clear, easy, simple sound bite style quick answer or someone to point to for a clear visual.

RJ Barbaro at Bondi Beach Skate Park.

So, lacking any clear, simple, or easy answer, let’s take a look at what might be this undefined mystery diver, the elite diver.  I think we can all agree that an elite diver should be in control of their diving at all times.  This would include all that their actions impact or do not impact with all that is around them.  So, it is not just performance, but how that performance creates or does not create issues or impacts on all other factors around them.  For the most part, this level of control is automated or unconscious.  Or you might call it intuitive.

This means that the diver is able to adjust for wave action, or current, or motion acting on them and yet still appear there is no impact on their diving.  It might feel very different internally, but the outside shows no changes.  An elite diver only deviates from ideal performance because they choose to.  Rather that be because there is a need to affect control for other purposes, or to have impact on the diving environment, or to compensate for actions in the environment that will take the diver out of ideal performance.

The diver is in control as much as is possible while diving and nothing happens without a decision by the diver to do so.  So, unideal performances are a choice on the divers behalf or a mistake.  The mistake is immediately and naturally registered in the mind as out of ideal.  This is looked at and address that dive or the very next one.

If we can build a simple picture of what we would look like as an elite diver and be very candid and honest with ourselves as to where we are or how far away we are from that picture, it is the base that will help us improve rapidly.

If we can see it, we will rise to our vision of what it is we are shooting for.  That “end goal” becomes the guide and foundational image we carry forward to build our skill mastery upon.  Rather than work on skill mastery and just hope we have a “happy accident” that helps us find our way to how to make it all work together.

It is a cart before the horse problem.

So, we need to work on how we think and the vision we carry forward with our diving.  If we can internalize and clearly see what it means to be an elite diver, it will provide a road map of where we need to go next.

Joi Ito on Bahamian wall dive. Photo by Cathy Ridsdale courtesy Stuart Cove's

This can be easier to see than do, but that is the beauty of diving, you must do the milage to master the craft.  You have to dive your way into the thinking and out of bad habits.  It is the rituals and way we view where we are supposed to end up that create our diving habits.  These need to be guided with this clear vision of how it all fits together.

So, how we think matters when we dive.  We need to make sure that we establish that piece of video or vision in our head about where it is we are headed with our diving.  Once we establish that, we need to make sure we stay aware when we dive to this vision we have established.  The feedback loop continues forever, but becomes more automated with each moment of application.

More soon.

Advertisements

2 Comments on “The Performance Mindset”

  1. My favorite aspect of diving. Long after the clarity of the water, or the pretty fishies start to fade, and it’s my 500th time at the same spot, or even in the pool, it’s the projection of self-ideal, and the constant adjustment toward that goal which keeps me enthralled with diving.
    Thanks for posting, Grant.

  2. […] is part of our approach to accept that we are not as good as we think we are. This is the foundation of our thinking as Precision Divers. We are always trying to be better this dive than the last and better next dive […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s