It’s all too easy to be stuck in a routine when it comes to training for golf or trying to improve a business, but those who break through and push themselves will experience real benefits, writes Karl Morris.
What does going to the gym or running regularly have to with you and your golfing business? Well maybe more than you think. How fit are you? Do you keep yourself in good shape? Maybe you work out at the gym on a regular basis and if you do my guess would be that at some point in your fitness regime you will aim to do a certain number of press ups.
How many press ups can you do consecutively? If you are reasonably fit you will probably get past the twenty barrier, if you are super fit you may get to 50 plus and I would say that any more than that and you would be in a small minority of people who can push out more that fifty consecutive press ups.
With that in mind, what would you guess is the world record for consecutive non-stop press ups? Two hundred and fifty? Three hundred at a stretch? Think again and then some because in 1980 Minoru Yoshida of Japan managed to do an incredible 10,507 press ups non-stop! A staggering number that, as a regular gym goer myself, I find it very difficult to comprehend.
The human body is incredibly adaptive to both physical and mental challenges IF we keep pushing it. Not pushing it in a ridiculous way to cause injury, but to keep pushing back the boundaries of our own comfort zones. To keep working slightly above the level of what we can currently do. The problem is we are all battling what is known as homeostasis – the tendency towards a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.
In a fascinating book called Peak by legendary skill acquisition researcher Anders Ericsson the author talks about how we as humans have an inbuilt mechanism to seek stability. Subconsciously the brain/body system aims to maintain a constant temperature, a constant blood pressure, constant PH and so on. These things, of course, can and do fluctuate but the system aims to bring it back to that state of homeostasis, a kind of functioning comfort zone. And so it is with our lives in general: we tend to stay in these zones of comfort.
We kid ourselves that we are working hard and pushing ourselves at our practice when in reality we are just going through pretty much the same motions as we did before. We follow the same patterns hoping the time we put in will magically transform our game. We follow patterns of familiarity in business, doing more of what we know. The same kind of plans to market our business that didn’t work well last time will surely work better this time? We kid ourselves with the comfort of familiarity. Think what has to happen to get a fitter and stronger body, to make muscle grow.
If we train in a nice gentle fashion we may maintain our current fitness and body shape but we don’t stimulate new growth. To make real progress and gain more definition the muscle has to be stressed to the point of failure so that in effect it breaks down and then has to repair itself. As it breaks down and repairs it then grows stronger connections ready for the next tough test it is given.
As Anders Ericsson details in the book this happens at a mental level as well as a physical one. One of the toughest mental tests anyone can take is called ‘the knowledge’. To become a fully licensed London cab driver you have to undertake a test to show you have a working knowledge of how to navigate yourself and your passenger around a six mile radius of Charing Cross. This radius contains approximately 25,000 streets and you have to know them all. The fall out rate from taxi drivers attempting the ‘knowledge’ is very high. Not many make it through to the final tests and gain full accreditation.
It has been proven by researchers studying these London cabbies that all of this training literally changes the shape of their brain. The hippocampus, the part of our brain involved in spatial navigation and remembering the location of things is significantly larger with the cabbies that have done the knowledge than the average population. The work, the training, the study actually causes their brain to change shape. The struggle, the effort, the dedication and frustration challenges the brain but the brain then adapts to the challenge and grows many new connections to respond to the task. The very opposite of being stuck in a comfort zone.
We all need to consider areas of opportunity in our business, golf game or our life in general to break free of familiarity and create new connections in our brain. Initially to do any of this will seem like very hard work and that pull of familiarity will be strong. Push through those feelings of resistance and the potential for new discoveries of what we can really achieve wait for us on the other side.
Why not host at YOUR club ‘The best is YET to come’ a workshop with Karl Morris designed specifically for senior golfers. To find out more ring 01925 764053 or go to www.themindfactor.com for details.