Imagine if Steph Curry had to consciously think about all the steps that go into a three shot before each attempt:
Okay, I gotta keep my feet shoulder-width apart, get my shooting foot toe-to-heel in front of the other one, bend my knees, square my hips, straighten my back, get the ball in front of my chest, my shooting elbow in, and my hand under the ball. Now, I need to extend my elbow fast, flick my wrist and fingers to create a back spin rotation on the ball, and keep my eyes on the target after release. Here we go. Eyes on the target!
I’m mentally fatigued just reading that. If we had to depend on our conscious mind every time we shot a basketball, none of us, including Steph Curry, would be worth watching. Yet, all day long we make hundreds of decisions from our conscious mind. And most of the time, these decisions are driven by fear, anxiety, peer pressure, conflicting biases, and unremitting directives. Are those the qualities you look for in a leader? Fear? Weak mindedness? Bias? Because, if you’re not training your mind, you’re being led through life by that guy.
Sports psychologists are now learning that only 10 percent of success in athletics is achieved in the conscious mind. This means 90 percent is being executed at the unconscious level. Of course, you don’t hear commentator Jason Benetti announce: “Curry’s unconscious mind just sunk another one!” He’d be out a job if he started talking like that. But make no mistake, at the elite level, that’s where most of the work is occurring.
No, I’m not suggesting you need start training for the NBA to begin your mental training. I harassed you about healthy living in the last section. Now, what I’m saying is to “sink threes in the game of life” with the same kind of ease as the pros, you need to train your mind. This is done primarily through a daily practice of skillful meditation. In that way we can achieve awareness of our thought patterns and begin to control them for positive impact. The more we meditate, the easier it becomes to stay focused, remain positive and free from fear and anxiety, and to make decisions that combine reason with the heart’s wisdom.1 And that’s the kind of leader you want in charge of your life, and that the world needs these days.