Give yourself a B.R.E.A.K.!

I work with athletes and business leaders who are often ‘hungry’ for personal growth, yet some achieve the desired results and some don’t. What is the explanation for the difference? And how can you boost your own personal growth?  Here are some practical tips (See the 5 tips in the bottom)

Give yourself a B.R.E.A.K.!

My son (11), a very enthusiastic soccer player, asked me: “How is it possible that the Dutch national soccer team didn’t qualify for the European Championships, while they ended up third with almost the same players in the World Cup? Why were they not able to perform the same way?” I responded: “I don’t know”. His answer was honest and direct: “What sort of a crappy mental trainer are you? You SHOULD know. …”  “Give me a B.R.E.A.K., please” … (-:

Hungry?

What is needed to perform sustainably and joyfully is a question that intrigues me every single day. I haven’t found even the fewest answers yet, but I’m on my way to find out. I believe that one minimum criterion for performance is crucial, and that is “how badly do you want it?” How motivated are you to put in the effort to develop yourself into a ‘better’ version…in whatever area you choose and whatever ‘better’ means for you; healthier, happier, wealthier, kinder etc.

Some people are happy the way they are, do not have specific ideas for improvement or do not want to expend the effort to develop. Maybe they are smarter than those who do want ‘more’, because we do now know what it takes before you can reap the fruits of growth… It is hard work!

I work with a lot of people who are ‘hungry’ enough to put in the effort for growth, and yet this also seems not to be a sufficient factor for sustainable change. Some of those who are hungry enough achieve the desired results and some don’t. What is the explanation for the difference?

Fast-food..

It has to do with the way HOW people still their hunger for improvement. Assume you haven’t had breakfast and lunch today and you are starving. You can choose between two ways to alleviate it:

A: You can look for the nearest snack bar and alleviate your hunger quickly….”Fast food”. This often implies that you will supply your body with something that isn’t that nutritious.

Or “B”: You can search a little longer, think about where to go and what to eat and cope with your hunger for a while. You’ll feel a little discomfort, but most time you will find something that is more nutritious. If you choose to nourish your body this way consistently in the long run this will make a huge difference for you as regards your health, vitality, happiness and more.

Those who can tolerate the feeling of hunger a little longer and find the more nutritious ways of alleviating it, develop more sustainably. And the same counts for ‘fast information,’ if you cope with your hunger for growth a little longer and find quality ways of alleviating it, this will be of more benefit in the long run.

Marshmallow

There was a famous psychological experiment carried out in the US (Stanford University) with young children (7 to 9) that is called the ‘Marshmallow Test’. The children were offered a marshmallow, and if for a prescribed period of time they were able to resist the urge to eat it they later received a second one.

The course of the lives of those children was studied years later. Those children who had been able to resist the temptation to eat the marshmallow and received a second one later were far more successful during the course of the rest of their lives in terms of study results, health, non-criminality, and much more.

A very interesting finding of the experiment was that the children who had the willpower to resist the urge to eat the marshmallow found innovative ways to shift their awareness of it to something else. Some looked the other way instead of directly at the marshmallow, some started to talk, sing, played games or carried out little acrobatic manoeuvres on their chairs. So ‘success’ related not only to their resisting the urge to eat the marshmallow but also their creativity in finding innovative ways to shift their awareness.

And that is what I see with successful entrepreneurs, managers or athletes I work with as well. The ‘winners’ of these times are not only hungry for growth but are better able to deal with their hunger, are better at applying innovative ways to alleviate it before they come into action.

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And especially this skill of being able to find smart strategies and think clearly seems to be increasingly difficult with ’fast food‘ or ‘fast information‘ abundantly present at all times of the day. It is difficult to keep one’s focus on finding quality innovative solutions in the midst of all the information. The mental ability ’to keep your eye on the ball’ is increasingly relevant these days, and is at least one of the main distinguishing factors between the successful and the less successful, both in sports and in business.

5 tips to boost your personal growth

How can you develop the ability to find better quality solution for your personal growth?  Here are some practical tips. You can easily remember by use of the acronym B.R.E.A.K., which corresponds with the main theme of this BLOG, “give yourself a BREAK!”

B – Breathing exercises.

Do breathing exercises, preferably twice a day (mindfulness or other types of meditation are great, or if you like something even more practical read the book: The Oxygen Advantage).

R – Retreat.

Plan smaller retreats (breaks) in advance, daily and weekly. Most people work too much for too many hours and never allow themselves a break to recuperate and reflect. Make sure you do take breaks to relax and reflect on a frequent basis.

Another effective way to ‘retreat’ is to sign up for a larger silent retreat (some day) once or twice a year. Participating in a silent retreat is super-healthy for mind and body, a great way to let the mind come up with great personal insights.

E – Exercise

That exercise is good for the entire body has been proven, but that it is extremely healthy for the brain is a more recent finding. Exercise supplies the oxygen one needs and cleanses the brain.

A – A-sleep.

Make sure you have at least 7 hours of good, sound, quality sleep. Sleep deprivation is the number 1 productivity killer in western working life. In China and Japan people lay their heads on the desk after lunch to recharge the mental battery. If you are a bad sleeper make sure to find ways to improve it asap. Find out more about sleep and how to improve it, here.

K – Keep a journal.

Finding innovative ways to develop is a process of progressive insight. The most successful entrepreneurs, artists or athletes keep a personal journal and reflect on their days and actions in order to improve continuously.

Hope you will give yourself a B.R.E.A.K. too, and hope my children will do the same for me (-:

Keep your eye on the ball!

AJ


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