Originally posted on Josh's LinkedIn. Connect with me!
Steve was teaching our goalies the impact of a present mindset during practices and games. About how focusing on mistakes or things in the past or those still to come is completely self defeating and brings you away from the current job: stopping the puck!
It's totally true. With situations like we face in the heat of battle as hockey goalies, it only makes things more difficult to NOT stay in the moment.
And I got thinking...it's clear that there's a benefit to being in the present moment when playing goalie. But are there times where it is actually good to look to the past or future?
Please study the flow chart below. It serves as the framework for my idea.
So I decided that yes, I believe there are times where it is beneficial and conducive to success to NOT be in present mind.
As you can see in the graphic above, playing sports, such as hockey falls under the "Quiet, Calm, Present Mind" category. Considering hockey goalies, one who is focused & confident in the present isn't dwelling on past mistakes, nor worried about the future. They are focusing on what they can control...the here and now. Their performance benefits from it!
The way I thought about it, when you are approaching a task or activity that is time bound, intense, and potential high pressure-situations, the better mind mode is being present. Just focus on now.
Being present removes the stories of the past and the thoughts of the future from your mind.
I likened this mindset to a surgeon. A doctor goes into surgery under intense pressure to perform at an elite level, a timetable for completion, and the responsibility of another human life at their fingertips.
You wouldn't want your doctor worrying about the fight they had at home with their spouse while they're doing surgery...right? You wouldn't want a distracted surgery because they have dinner plans they're excited for later. You want them present. Precise.
Goalies and athletes are in the same boat. Games and practices are limited in their time, and they are often expected to perform at an elite level while under intense pressure.
Be present in these situations to be your best.
Alternatively, in activities and tasks that may be slower to bear fruit, I think another mind-mode may be needed. When the incentive is distant, being in the present may not be enough to stay motivated and 'in the game' for the payoff.
To illustrate the right side of the flow chart, consider a runner. (I'm training for a marathon in June, and recognized this idea in my training over the last week.)
A marathon is 26.2 miles. I could be wholly in the present moment during that time, which means that I'd be focused solely on my task: running. I'd focus on how my legs are feeling, the burn in my lungs, my heart rate, etc. But I don't think that constant focus would translate into better results over several hours and 26.2 miles later.
Instead, when the payoff is distant, I think it can be important to dig from the past and strive for the future to stay in the game mentally.
David Goggins explains in his book (link here) a concept he calls the cookie jar. Goggins is a former Navy SEAL and ultra-endurance athlete.
The cookie jar to him is filled with all of his past accomplishments and defeats. He explains that when he is in a race, he sifts through the 'cookies' for nuggets of inspiration and a morale boost. He picks out bits of his story and fuels himself with their meaning.
I think this idea translates well to our Two-Minds model.
When the endgame is far off, we refuel ourselves with cookies, breaking away from the present moment and looking either forward or backward. We can think of our past, the hurdles we've overcome, the achievements along the way. We can think about our future success and visualize the eventual success of our task at hand.
Little morale boosts are necessary when considering long-term goals because the result of hard work is so far off.
Maybe apply it to your meeting at work. When setting goals as a team or organization, it's important to think freely and creatively, consider past precedent, yet also future ramifications of present action. There's no way you could be successful in attaining a long-term business goal if you only focused on today with no frame of reference or little 'cookies' to help you along the way.
Here's the flow chart again:
In conclusion, being in the present moment is crucial for tasks and activities that are time sensitive, highly intense or pressurized, and require elite performance...like playing games, or intense focus-filled tasks at work. A present mind here serves to balance the events of the past and the thoughts of the future.
Alternatively, when the endgoal is distant, consider all facets of time: past, present, and future, and use 'cookies' to stay motivated and on path toward the outcome.