After a close university friend helped put together a promotional video for me, I was shocked at the outpouring of support once I published the video. Another friend from university reached out to congratulate me for taking the plunge with Dreamcatchers Performance and urging me to get in touch with his friend Dan. He said Dan and I have a shared passion. I remember my friend talking so much about Dan while we were at university, both of them had played rugby to a high level. I couldn’t quite remember whether I had met Dan. I had a vague memory of Dan coming down for one of our legendary university ball parties, however the memory is hazy to say the least due to the amount of alcohol consumption during these events. I made a mental note at the time to reach out to Dan and after arriving in the US and settling down, I did just that. It turned out that Dan was now based in Australia and the time zone difference worked well for both of us. The start of his day was evening time for me, which is when I have free time, so we were able to set up a Skype chat.
During my chat with Dan, we started off trying to figure out whether we had ever met in person. Neither of us were sure, but it felt as if we had met because we had both heard so much about each other from our mutual friend. The conversation flowed nicely. We discovered that we share a common passion for mindset training and performance. Dan shared a lot of tips on how he got started and built out his practice. I was surprised by how similar our views are despite our different backgrounds: Dan came through the education sector and I came through the corporate sector in investment banking. Strangely enough, our paths seem to be heading in a similar direction of working with both sport and executive performers. We moved on to discussing about mindfulness and flowzone. Dan mentioned a book he was reading called 'Performance Under Pressure' written by a member of the All Blacks coaching team, which intrigued me, and we started discussing the book among other things. Before we knew it, an hour had flown by. The conversation was very stimulating and inspiring for me and infused me with a lot of practical ideas to take into my work. At the end of the conversation, Dan asked if I would be interested in speaking on his podcast. I jumped at the opportunity thinking to myself that it would be a great learning experience and, based on our conversation, could lead to more inspiration and insights. Also, it would be a great way of promoting my brand and reaching a wider audience. A key part of my vision is to push the dialogue around mental performance, including how to best develop mental skills and use mindfulness to improve performance.
The date arrived for the podcast and I was a little nervous but mostly excited, as I was still on a high after taking part in my first live webinar at the Virtual Applied Sport Psychology Summit (VASPS), where I presented insights from my practice. Unlike the webinar, my talk on Dan's podcast would be more informal. Dan wanted the conversation to flow as if we were just having a chat. He shared broad talking points beforehand but emphasized that we would just let things flow and see where the conversation takes us. For my part, I felt that having an open dialogue would create energy that could uncover insights neither of us expected. I like to call this crystallising and bringing clarity to your thoughts and practice.
Prior to starting, we joked around as we tested out Dan’s new equipment for sound quality. This helped relax us and ease us into the conversation. We kicked off the conversation by talking about how to unlock your superhero powers and deal with stress, pressure, performance anxiety, as well as how to deliver when it counts. We moved on to my favourite topic of mindfulness and discussed how it can make you walk on water. Dan asked me for my view on why mindfulness is so prevalent at the moment. We then touched on flowzone training and discussed practical examples of how to enter your flowzone to unlock your superhero powers. By practicing mindfulness, you learn not to get in your own way when it’s time to perform.
Dan asked what I thought was the best way to adopt mindfulness and my response to this was to take advantage of online tools, including mobile applications, and practice informal mindfulness. Any activity you enjoy doing in the day, when done mindfully, is a form of mindfulness: going for a walk or taking the dog for a walk, having a cup of coffee. When you take the time out to power down and bring your full attention to the experience at hand, you are practicing a form of mindfulness. I also shared my personal tips on how I practice informal mindfulness on a day-to-day basis.
A few of the questions that Dan raised during the podcast did make me stop and think. The first question focused on how I apply mindfulness and flowzone training to improve performance, for which I decided to use examples from my personal life. I surprised myself, though, by taking the conversation down the personal route. The other question required me to share something that I have learned, or realised I was wrong about, through the work I have been doing in my practice. My response to both questions were a revelation, even for me. My responses uncovered insights that I wasn’t even fully aware of myself.
The whole experience has left a positive mark on me and I will definitely try to seek out more opportunities to dialogue with others from different backgrounds on mental performance, mindfulness and flowzone and how these apply to work, sports and life in general.
I really enjoyed the discussion with Dan and I hope you enjoy listening to the Habits for Leadership podcast (see link below), please please share with others in your network.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions from the podcast:
How do you unlock your superhero powers when it comes to performance?
How do you use mindfulness to prepare for performance?
Leave a comment below.