November 14, 2012 Post Comment Uncategorised

was an amusing episode at the end of our rugby strength and conditioning
session this week, where – just for fun – the players were leapfrogging tackle
bags stood on end. It all went well until one of the guys decided he would leapfrog
from a standing start. He got up fine but had no forward momentum and landed on
the top of the bag. With his weight, the bag then collapsed and he went down
with it, landing horizontally on his back on top of the (now) flat bag.


Remember that TV activity game Wipeout? Well it was like
a scene in that!

This got me thinking about how things go much better for us
when we are grounded compared to when we’re stressed out and tense. In terms of
the player, all eyes were on him, he was trying extra hard to impress, plus his
body was tired after an hour-long session. In terms of grounded, he certainly
was afterwards – even if not before!


Thinking versus our Groundedness

It is all in the nature of life how we feel about things
ahead of time, how and if we attempt things, how well we do things, and how we
get to feel about ourselves afterwards.

Of course this colours how we might do these same things
next time, right down to whether or not we even attempt them.

I used to subscribe to the notion that the more thought I
put to doing something, the better I would be. “Get your mind around it!” I
would keep repeating to myself – “Focus!”
Does this sound familiar? Is this
you, or your team mates? Is this your manager, your boss, your teachers? This
idea of it being “best practice” is – to my mind – a total myth.

If it is “pay attention” that they want, then surely you
are already doing this. What you really need to do is to “Get your mind out of
it!” The only focus you need to do (if at all) is visual – and that is all part
of your necessary processes anyway.

You need to be grounded for optimal execution of the tasks in hand – and thinking
about anything, especially about anything personal, will degrade the optimal

or Wipeout

Executing closed skills, after the set up, requires total
lock-out of thought. There is a ratio of lock-out to wipeout – more of one leads
to less of the other.

So what about complex processes – where tasks are stepped
in a linear or sequential way or maybe in a concurrent way?
A good example is driving a vehicle where there are both types of complexity happening.
Now for the learner there is plenty of focus
AND attention going on, and part of
getting to grips with driving skills is to master the shifting nature of that attention.
In terms of Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic there is a huge amount of
incoming data – and when we are new to driving we are very ‘clunky’ when it
comes to dealing with things in the visual field. We LOOK in the mirror instead
of glancing, we LOOK to find the gear stick or pedals instead of feeling for them
with our hands and feet. We’re so busy paying attention to what is happening
outside and inside the vehicle that we don’t totally hear what is being said to
us by our instructor or passengers.

Eventually we trade in our white knuckles and L-plates and
cope admirably with the complex processes. That is, until circumstances are
tweaked and our abilities are tested. That is when we’ll try and think our way
out of the problem. And when we do, lock-out diminishes and wipeout becomes a
distinct probability. Whether it is icy roads, alcohol, fog, or anger – the
skills always degrade.

If we are grounded then there is a smoother linkage between
all our concurrent and sequential processes.

grounded in our lives

All of us are fairly capable of many things on a functional
level – we can all do plenty of stuff to a reasonable level of competency. If
we are GOOD at something then we become more competent and more functional. If
being EXCEPTIONAL at something is what we want, then the biggest hurdle we need
to be aware of is the level of groundedness required from us. We need to
develop an ability to locate that ground when necessary.
If there is something we are NOT GOOD at and would like to get on top of, or
get better at, then again groundedness is a huge factor in sustaining our
progress towards more competence.

It’s interesting to view the progress of celebrity competitors
every year in Strictly Come Dancing. These
are people who have excelled in some other part of their lives and are now taking
on a particularly complex set of skills and disciplines around expressive movement.
Listening to their language, witnessing occasional scenes from their practice
times and viewing their week-by-week execution of the dance, it is a showcase of both
their progressing skillsets AND their ability to draw upon levels of
groundedness within their psyche.


In essence being grounded is about having a good
relationship with ourselves. A relationship that supports us by knowing that
our feeling is down to our thinking – and that if we’re feeling down or low
then it is looped in to our thinking also being down or low. How we nurture and
foster that relationship is surely one of life’s most fundamental quests.