Thursday Tips from the Trainers
This week we catch up with Coach Sef has he shares his knowledge…
Get to the Balcony.
Meditation. A dirty word to some, often linked to some high level spiritual woo woo and for a long time I bought into the stigmas surrounding it. Popularised recently by a bunch of high level self improvement specialist asking people to go deep when they had no depth to them themselves was just a huge turn off.
My coach/mentor saw me battle with this story for a long time, until one day I caved. The crux of my caving, after a long discussion about spirituality and leadership, I was asked “Do I want to be a better leader?” Being young, I question his questioning. How does meditation, and how will meditation allow me to be a better leader?
As those words came out of my mouth, simultaneously something clicked. Leaders have a higher level of self awareness. They are able to see the game/ the business decision/ the conversation/ relationships, in slow motion and holding multiple perspective. Some call this being in the zone.
Im not here to be your spiritual guide, and help you into meditation. If you finish this read, and think maybe I will give it a go that is totally for you to act on. But here is the truth is whether you are an avid meditator or still coming to grips with its benefits you are in luck. There are elements of the meditation process that will have positive implication on your ability to show up and show out. On the gym floor, in the board room, at home. Processes that will have you stepping into being better leaders for yourself and for others.
If the above seems like some high level bullshit, excellent! Let me break it down a little further for you. Meditation does the exact thing that the worlds best leaders do. Meditation is the practice of observation. The reason this is some hard and at the same time of great value for us is that we speed our lives looking through our own eyes, immersed in our own experiences as if this is the sum of all reality. I hate to be the one who ruins christmas, but your experience is merely an interpretation. One that is artificially tainted by our brains inability to process the million bits of information flying at us per second. Sprinkle your emotions to this mix and…well..we have a misguided user experience. Meditation then is a practice of dissociation so that we the user can observe our
thoughts, and feelings as the come and go. Meditation is a simple tool to give you a better view from higher ground, free from your biases and comforts.
So why are we talking about this in a crossfit training blog…? Ever finished a test, workout, competition, and thought to yourself…”goddam I could have done better!” What if I told you that you were right. You were right, but in that moment you did have the capacity to see the whole picture, and as a result your mind had overridden your physical capabilities. Here you don’t need a spiritual guide to get you into a higher state of self awareness. But Rather just a point of access in order to lead yourself to better performance, better habits, and just being a better human.
Stay with me.
Effective Leadership has Two Sets of Eyes
What does all this hocus pocus have to do with leadership, you ask? Well, Harvard University’s Ron Heifetz, the man responsible for the framework of adaptive vs. technical leadership that is so critical to the personal development, says great leaders, like great athletes, must be able compete in the field of play and see the game as a whole simultaneously. Boom!!!!Mind BLOWN!
This supposes that there are two perspectives that great leaders toggle between to be effective. The first view is “in the fray” and is most common amongst leaders because it’s in this position that leaders have two feet on the ground, making moves. This is your training. Your hustle. Your general day to day grind.
For great athletes, leaders, and even meditators this view isn’t the end all be all, however.The other, more rare side of the leadership coin is what Heifetz calls the “balcony view”. It’s from this higher up, dissociated view that leaders can remove themselves from the fray and see with greater perspective the dynamics at play. This, like meditation, doesn’t just afford the space for clarity and
more accurate information, but it provides a separation from the emotions that tug at us down on the dance floor so to speak, amongst the action.
How to Guide: The Balcony View
Taking on the balcony view perspective, not unlike the observer role in meditation, would have the ability to distance one’s sense from our biases, emotions of the moment, and personal narrative to consider the entire field of play. If floating your consciousness out of your body to higher ground sounds like an act of witch craft to you, you can toggle through some helpful thought experiments with the following questions:
- How does this scenario look and feel from the other(s) experience?
- If I was the other players on the team, what would my needs be individually?
- If the group had its own mind, what would it be feeling?
- If the group’s highest purpose had a voice, what would it be saying right now?
- These questions remove you from your own, limited perspective. What is more is that the dissociative properties of both meditation and taking Heifetz’s “balcony view” have distinct training benefits. This move to get outside one’s self opens the observer up to blind spots unobservable from the workout floor. Think, what is the story I tell myself, every time I get uncomfortable in the a workout and hold back. The information we gain here allows us to make choices to push outside our comforts and choose to get comfortable getting uncomfortable.
For athletes and leaders that not only need the best information to make the best decisions but need to evolve themselves and their attitude to competition, this is invaluable. What does more evolution mean for a leader and his team? It means growing themselves into bigger boats to weather bigger storms and sail bigger seas. It means consciously choosing to fight for every rep. It means taking a deep breath and picking up the bar again.
Next time you are at the top of a rope climb, pause for a second. Take a look around. You are doing the thing, while taking in the whole picture of the work ahead and around you. If this meditation thing seems of some sort of benefit. And you are actively wanting to take your performance and leadership of self to the next level. Feel free to reach out. I have my own practice, which works for me, but do not claim to be a specialist nor an expert.
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