Focus is everything
Let me start with a simple question. What does a monk, a ballerina, a special forces soldier and an elite athlete have in common?
The answer is equally simple. All of them, the monk, the ballerina, the soldier and the athlete have mastered something psychologists call flow. Remember that saying “go with the flow”? Remember that time when everything fell into place and you seemed to be almost on autopilot? That’s what I am talking about.
The really nifty thing about flow is that you don’t have to be a monk or elite athlete to reach a state of flow, far from it. Anyone, that’s right anyone, can master and benefit from being able to sustain flow, especially when tackling physical and mental challenges. I suspect that you will have mental and physical challenges ahead of you, so this flow thing might come in handy.
Why are you here?
If you have found your way to this community of warrior mentors, it is likely that you have a career in the Defence Force in mind. If this is correct, I encourage you to keep going, it’s a great career and one that you will be proud of. I also encourage you to have a think about how you can use flow to help you prepare for the physical and mental challenges that you will face, before during and after your time in the Defence Force.
What is this thing called flow?
The concept of flow has been around in various forms for thousands of years and is a fundamental part of many eastern religions and philosophies. In more recent times, a psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, described flow as being a state of being totally immersed in an activity and completely focused on what you are doing. You might have also heard this described by athletes as “being in the zone”. When you are in the flow, your level of immersion in the task will make you lose sense of time and space. You could start an activity and look up when you are finished and see that hours have flown by.
What will cause flow to happen?
As I said earlier, anyonecan experience flow if the following conditions are met:
- You are doing something that has clear goals, is structured and can provide immediate feedback.Think of a physical challenge like a beep test, you know exactly what your goal is, and successful completion of that goal will give you accurate and immediate feedback.
- You need to be challenged, stretched, but not defeated.The activity that you are attempting must be something that you can tackle, but onlyif you put in a complete and total effort.
- You need to be completely focused on the task and not distracted.Ditch anything that will distract you.
- You must have faith in yourself and genuinely back yourself to complete the task.
- You must enjoy what you are doing.If something is a chore, or boring or totally intimidating you will not experience flow. You will probably experience boredom or terror – neither of which will generate flow.
Putting flow into practice as a member of the Warrior U community
Practicing flow and using it to focus your training will help you to keep on track and step up when you need to. Believe me, there will be times in the future when you need to step up, mentally and physically.
The good news is that you have access to a very clear and structured program in the Warrior U community which if followed, will improve your chances of success when it counts. The program sets goals that increase in intensity as you increase your fitness. You also have access to mentors who will provide perspective about your progress. But don’t forget, you will also get immediate feedback at every stage of the programme from the flow of your own performance.
From the perspective of someone wanting to join the Defence Force, a key to success is to tune into whatever programme you are following and make it work for you. But be honest and ask yourself a few questions. Do you really want to do this? Are you up to it? Are you challenged? Are you focused? Will this be tough and (just) doable if you give it everything you have got? If you answer yes to this, you may find yourself in the flow and that will definitely make a difference.