• 4. Taking Control

    Mastering others is strength;

    Mastering yourself is true power.

    Tao Te Ching

    For the past twenty years, I've had the opportunity to explore performance-related issues on a journey that has taken me from sports arenas to genetic research labs, from corporate boardrooms to the world of music, from court rooms to medical clinics, from professional poker to martial arts to the theatre stage.

    This knowledge, and the people I met along the way, I now share with you.

    Divided into eight parts, each designed to fit into your busy daily schedule and requiring only a few minutes each day, this book reviews a variety of targeted techniques, enabling you to tailor this program to your particular requirements. Try out each technique- what it is like, what it can accomplish, and whether it is appropriate for you.

    Occasionally, you may have trouble finding time to practice. This typically happens during the initial two-three weeks. Schedules, responsibilities and the unexpected can bombard you with reasons to put off practice to another day. Worry and frustration may be chewing at the edge of your good intentions.  Acknowledging how these distractions can affect you is an important step in learning how to maintain your focus and to push through emotional and mental distractions.

    For the techniques in this book:

    1. If possible, select a practice area that is free of distractions and minimizes the possibility of interruption.

    2. Choose a practice time that fits into your existing schedule.

    3. Whenever possible, always practice in the same place at the same time.

    4. Always observe how your mind responds to a new technique in order to identify distracting thoughts and emotions, such as impatience, self-doubt, and frustration.

    5. Write down any difficulties (including thoughts and emotional responses) that occur during practice as a reminder to work on these areas. If you like, record the results for the various techniques at the end of each practice session. Keeping a record helps to reinforce positive habits and behaviors.

    NOTE: Throughout these pages, you will find examples taken from a wide variety of interests and occupations, including athletics. Why should the experiences of a golf, tennis, basketball, football, rugby, or hockey player be of interest to you? Athletics -especially in Olympic training programs- provides regular, if not daily, quantifiable assessments of performance under pressure, especially with regard to the emotional and psychological factors, enabling researchers to identify those techniques that are most likely to produce optimal, consistent performance under pressure and change.

    Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz wrote in the Harvard Business Review "If there is one quality that executives seek for themselves and their employees, it is sustained high performance in the face of ever-increasing pressure and rapid change…. performance management addresses the body, the emotions, the mind, and the spirit… If they were to perform at high levels over the long haul… they would have to train in the same systematic, multilevel way that world-class athletes do.”