Five Skills That Will Change Your Life: Be Fully Present (Skill #3)
- Believe in your dreams.
- Compete (and live!) with freedom.
- Be fully present.
- Relax under pressure (control your physiology).
- Be adaptable (have behavioral flexibility).
How to Be Fully Present (Inner Excellence (IX) Skill #3)
“As soon as we are alone…inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distraction, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Making All Things New and Other Classics
Since Inner Excellence® began over 15 years ago, athletes and teams have had extraordinary success (in their first year of learning Inner Excellence, the majority have their best year ever, or best in past five years). At the heart of their success, I believe, is one thing: they’ve studied and practiced and learned how to be fully present.
When I look at my life as a professional athlete, professional and Olympic coach, and now as a Performance Coach, I see the greatest challenges in my life (and those I’ve coached) have generally had one thing in common: a lack of presence. A mind with too many concerns and therefore too many thoughts. A heart with too many fears and too many (distracting) desires. A body not trained or prepared to be fully engaged.
So what can we do?
There’s two qualities apparent when you’re fully present at the highest level:
- Connection to beauty.
- A sense that anything is possible.
To be fully present at the highest level is to be immersed in the flow of resonance. It’s to be fully engaged, heart, mind and body, unattached to your results and circumstances. This level of presence has a mind that’s free to imagine great possibilities, has a vision of true greatness, and a heart that sees so much beauty that the only possible response is gratitude.
Let’s look at the 3 great obstacles to peak performance:
- Over-analysis (too many thoughts, mostly non-present)
- Judgmental thinking (negative mindset)
- Self-consciousness (concern for self)
If you’re like most performers (or humans), when you’ve not performed well, you used too much conscious mind (which is 1,000’s of times less powerful than your subconscious), you’ve judged the situation and reacted emotionally, and you’ve been concerned with how you’ll be impacted if you don’t perform well (What will happen to me? What will others think? How will I compare?).
All three obstacles vanish when you’re fully present or as I like to say, fully engaged (heart, mind and body). The pursuit of full engagement involves your entire life, not just performance. That’s because it means training the control center of your life: your heart (spirit). To connect to beauty more often, and to have the freedom and joy that anything is possible, we need a clear mind and unburdened heart.
An unburdened heart is not a one and done thing, pop a pill or toss it into the microwave type of experience. It requires a deep dive into discovering the deepest parts of you, so you can authentically connect with your true self, and truly be great.
On this incredible journey, you’ll discover your greatest need, your greatest desire, and your greatest power: unconditional love. You’ll learn how everything you truly want is wrapped up in it (including how to be fully present). Joy, the greatest of all feelings, comes from love. Fear, the worst feeling, evaporates in love. Fear is self-focused and future-oriented — what WILL happen, to ME? Love is others-focused and fully present.
Since unconditional love is our greatest need, most people (including the most “successful” in the world) spend most of their lives trying to be good enough, to be accepted enough, because the deepest need of the human heart is to be fully known and fully loved. So we try to be more successful, or gain more accomplishments, or at the very least, stay busy enough so we don’t have to face those deep needs and fears.
When we don’t address that deepest of all need, it becomes very, very difficult to have a clear mind and unburdened heart (because so much is out of your control). But when you’ve clarified your life purpose (as we do on IX retreats), then you can simplify your life, you can slow it down, and you can walk in love, not fear. Then the present moment will be enough, whatever it contains. Then you can fully experience the moment without needing it to do something for you or gain something from it. This is the freedom that awaits when you’re fully engaged, heart, mind and body.
The link between confidence and presence
Being fully present and fully confident are very similar. Both have many key components in common:
- the quality and depth of your sleep
- the qualify of your nutrition
- your hydration levels
- your memories of this task
- your beliefs about who you are and what’s possible
- the freedom to accept the moment (and result) without judging it
- your mindset (what you’re pursuing)
- your greatest loves and greatest fears (what you love most directs your life and determines who you become — it also directs and controls what you fear).
So how do we get a clear mind and unburdened heart?
3 actions to take:
- Pursue heart transformation as your greatest goal: to love what is most empowering, lasting, and life-changing. Look back on your life and see how unconditional love (to walk in love not fear) is what you’ve always wanted, your family needs most, and the thing that will allow you to be fully engaged, heart, mind and body.
- Simplify your life and slow it down. Ruthlessly eliminate hurry. This will force you to prioritize and eliminate the shiny, fun and tempting distractions so you can focus on training your heart and mind for joy, peace and clarity.
- In every performance, focus on the 4 daily goals:
- Give the best of what you’ve got that day.
- Be present.
- Be grateful.
- Focus on your routines and only what you can control.
I’d love to hear where you’re at with your level of presence at work and at rest and what stood out to you to work on going forward.
I’m flying to Cancun Dec. 10, then getting a rental car and driving south (past Playa Del Carmen) to Tulum. I’ll be staying in Tulum Country Club to decide if their golf course (and my condo) will become a future base for Inner Excellence training. I will also be praying and journaling on what to share on Dec. 18 for Naomi’s memorial. Please pray that God will remind me and give me wisdom to share what he’s taught me through her over the years.