How many times have you heard or used the phrase “get into the right frame of mind” or statements about “mind over matter”. What we want to explore is how we master and make the most of this in our day to day.
What we are aware of is that our mentality is a huge factor and in some cases a deciding one. It can determine someone’s success in sport or life. In many cases our mindset is something we consciously and subconsciously develop with the adversity we face throughout life.
Wouldn’t it be great to master our mindsets, much like David Goggins?!
If you aren’t so familiar with David, he is known as one of the toughest or hardest men alive. With an unbelievable list of achievements, he pushed through a life of hardship.
Having prevailed in the face of racism, abuse, poverty and physical constraints, he became one of the world’s top endurance runners and the only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller.
David shares incredible insight into how he got to where he is in his memoir Can’t Hurt Me.
Inspired by David’s story, we wanted to delve into the topic of mindset further ourselves.
We had a conversation with a Royal Air Force Regiment Officer. A specialist in all facets of Force Protection, which range from combat tactics and fieldcraft to security to protect air and space assets in war. Can you imagine this responsibility?!
What top tips does an Officer have? How can we apply this to our day to day lives?
A Regiment Officer conducts up to 2 years of leadership and specialist training. Learning things such as warfare planning, leading people through stressful situations and thinking on your feet. We couldn’t possibly expect ourselves to be able to adopt a similar mindset from just an interview.
For the purpose of keeping him anonymous, we will call him “Officer Mill.”
Something that Officer Mill said and resonated with us when discussing mindset is, “It’s definitely the hardest thing I have done”
“One of the biggest things I learnt was discipline. Managing my own thoughts, separating personal/professional, almost like a “gamezone” so whenever I am at work or in the zone, I am there.”
What we took away from this conversation (other than inspiration), were three key ways that we can manage our minds.
Three ways in which we can manage our mindsets:
If you are someone who performs better when you are at the gym or finds it easier to be productive when working at the office rather than home- here are some tips that may help you.
As described above by Officer Mill, we need to enter the “gamezone” and carry out similar actions in some individual cases. Officer Mill explained that our brains learn in a “ritualistic transition”. For example, the process of going to the gym allows your mindset to transition to be in the “gamezone” and it can be easier to be more engaged in your workout because of this new environment.
During this COVID pandemic, it can be difficult to enter the “gamezone” as there are not too many environmental changes available. People have to have a “transitional mindset” at home. Which in some unlucky cases may not be more than one or two rooms. Officer Mill suggested some small things that might help:
Tip 1: Create a specific space for specific activities at home (a separate room if possible).
Naturally, our thought process changes when we enter a room, which can help aid this transitional mindset. Whether it is for work or your physical training, by having a new space or area of the room to go to for that set activity, it will help you get into the “gamezone”.
Tip 2: Create a ritual
For example, wake up and have a cup of tea or breakfast and then change into your clothes for work.
Officer Mill explained that ”Your body makes you think when you do X, you are preparing for X. This is what the military is very good at. When you put your armour on you are preparing for combat.”
In our case, even if the gear we are putting on are some sustainable leggings, we could be preparing ourselves better for our Les Mills Body Combat class, all the more for the ritual we have created within our minds.
Simple but effective.
“Sometimes you can’t get rid of thoughts but it is about having a conversation with yourself…it’s almost a bit of prioritisation” – Officer Mill
Officer Mill shared a scenario with us: “If I am dealing with something at work, but there is additional gloom such as child care or financial stress and I am not focused on what I am doing, I can put others at risk.”
The risk level may not be as high for our own scenarios. To be able to perform better or focus our minds on one thing, we need to prioritise our thoughts.
Tip 1: Create a timeline
Focus on the things that need to be completed immediately. Put the things that you can’t fix or that may rely on external factors onto the timeline for a later date.
Tip 2: Break down an immediate focus to smaller chunks
Put the others on a back seat until you come to them.
Tip 3: Gradual progression
As you progress along your timeline, follow the same process of breaking down each thing into smaller and more manageable chunks.
What Officer Mill is offering is a simple option: try to prioritise one thought at a time. Slow your mind down and focus on what you need to do there and then.
Challenging your own mindset
At times, we need to look inward and examine our thoughts and emotions. On some occasions a more constructive and structured approach can be beneficial.
Officer Mill describes a scenario: “You have had a lot of problems happening in your life at one time. You wake up in the morning and your fridge is broken.”
What usually happens is that as people, we begin to catastrophize things in our head as our immediate thoughts spiral. “How much is this going to cost? How will I fix this?” and we can end up intensifying the situation based on the surrounding stress of life.
Tip 1: Cool Down
Let yourself cool down as what this is called is a “hot thought” and it is difficult to challenge thoughts at this time.
Tip 2: Reflection
Come back to that problem later and challenge the thought as though you are talking to someone else.
This enables you to think about alternative ways around the problem or understand if you have blown it out of proportion. In this mind frame, you’re able to break the situation down into more manageable thoughts. For example, “Can I speak to someone who can help me and I’ll pay the money back?” or “Maybe I can ask around and see if I know someone who can fix this for free or had a similar problem.”
Our conversation with Officer Mill provided us with some easy takeaways. As a final note, we have a bonus tip if you reach a point where you can’t prioritise or challenge your thoughts.
Tip: Speak to people around you
As Officer Mill explained, “I don’t really have a recipe on how to fix a mental state” which is why as an individual you need to manage expectations around you. You need to tell people what you can and can’t do because if they are expecting things from you, and you don’t have the capacity to deliver, it can add more stress. Plus, in most cases, you are likely to get support from others by opening up.
If you find yourself wanting and needing to talk to someone, there are great initiatives such as the Samaritans who are aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress. Available 24 hours a day, everyday of the year.
It has been insightful to explore the different ways in which we can manage our own minds. As individuals we will all have ways that work better for us than they do for others. Keep exploring and unlocking what works for you.
Leave a comment with any additional top tips that you have found that work for you.