Yes, YOU Can Get to Level 6 Performance
In May of 2008, Triathlete magazine featured an excellent article discussing the mental approach to exercise and takes a look at the different approaches people have towards training. The research that forms the basis of the article categorizes athletes by level in an effort to identify their current state and help them move forward. This article spoke to both Monica and I, so we’re summarizing it here in the hopes that it inspires and informs you as well. In short, it’s good news…anyone can get to Level 6 Performance.
People at Levels 1 and 2 have a mindset that limits their success. That mindset could be a fear of failure, a fear of success, or a simple lack of discipline. People at Levels 3 and 4 have attitudes that limit their performance. They may succeed for short periods of time, but have trouble remaining committed. Level 5 athletes have largely eliminated the psychological barrier to physical performance. Unlike lower level athletes, emotions do not dictate their decisions. When lower level athletes make emotional decisions, they are often poor ones that are destructive to performance. In contrast to all the other levels, Level 6 athletes have learned to use their mind and emotions to enhance their performance. Essentially, they have mastered their emotions and use them as tools to push them forward.
According to Dr. Stephen Long, a sports psychologist in Colorado Springs and author of Level Six Performance, there are 11 principles that Level 6 athletes have mastered. Dr. Long believes that anyone can become a Level 5 or 6 performer and that anyone can change their mental approach to diet, exercise and ultimately performance. If you strive to master your emotions, or at least limit or remove their interference with your exercise program, you can reach Level 5 or 6 athlete and greatly increase your chances of success.
How to Reach Level 6 Performance
1. Learning over Ignorance
Athletes who continue to learn will continue to move forward and progress. It is particularly important to understand the role that proper nutrition plays in physical achievements.
Beachbody is constantly researching cutting edge ways to improve our health and wellness. Monica and I are constantly learning new things about fitness and nutrition. There are tips everywhere around you if you take advantage of them…especially here on the Fit Club Network website.
2. Simplicity over Complexity
Level 6 performers are not easily distracted. They are able to keep focused because their minds are not cluttered with distracting minutia. Lower level athletes tend to have so many thoughts and goals that they become overwhelmed. The article suggests that one way to gain focus is by limiting your goals. Trying to manage more than 4 or 5 goals becomes almost impossible.
One of the greatest things about Beachbody programs is that they provide you with a plan. Commit to the plan and follow it and when it’s time to work out, clear your mind and focus on what you are doing. If you can turn off your phone, do it. If you can sequester your children, do it. If have the ability to isolate yourself from the world entirely during your exercise, you must. Aside from setting reasonable and achievable goals, a regular yoga practice can really help to build mental strength and additional focus during stressful times, including exercise.
3. Proficiency over Incompetence
This may seem obvious. Who actually chooses incompetence? Choosing proficiency is really about not being satisfied and continuing to move forward. Those who choose proficiency will have better results because they will continue to push themselves. Many people achieve a result [e.g. Day 90 of P90] and feel satisfied, but don’t continue to strive for more. In triathlon, it is the difference between just finishing the race and kicking yourself for not beating the person in front of you.
Choosing proficiency is to choose excellence. Finishing P90X — or any of the other Beachbody workouts — is a great accomplishment, but it is not the end. Choosing proficiency means you want [or perhaps need] to do another 90 days, a more difficult program, or something crazy like a marathon [see Monica about this one]. Choose proficiency. Choose excellence. Choose to succeed.
4. Excellence over Mediocrity
Again, a simple principle with a deep meaning. What’s the difference between choosing proficiency and choosing to be excellent? According to the article, those people who choose excellence are not afraid to be individuals. They allow their personal style to dictate their training without regard for the opinions of others, because they know they are doing what is best for them.
Beachbody is founded on this principle. Common wisdom says you do not, under any circumstances, put a “bad” photo of yourself on the Internet for all to see. Beachbody defies that mindset by encouraging people to put their Day 1 photos up and allow other people to share in their journey and enjoy their results. Can you imagine Carl Daikeler and John Congdon coming up with this concept? People must have thought they were crazy to propose such a community. They chose excellence.
When do you workout? In the morning, at lunch, at night? Personally, I like to mix and match my workouts. I usually do at least one morning workout, typically a bike ride. I love to watch the sun come up on my bike. A couple of days a week I swim during lunch. Other days I’ll do my workouts at night after work. Monica likes to work out at night. She was just telling me that when she started P90 people told her she had to workout in the morning to get the most out of the program. That just did not work for us. What worked was to put the kids to bed and then work out. You have to do what works for you. Individuality is the key to excellence.
5. Process over Results
This is probably my favorite principle. Level 6 performers focus on execution. They spend less time thinking about winning and more time focusing on what it takes to win. They are focused on the process, not the result. They understand that the process will lead to the desired result. By focusing on the process, they stay “in the moment” and are not distracted by their emotions. Lower level athletes tend to focus on a desired result, rather than focusing on the process that will lead them to a result. You simply cannot wish your way to a higher level of fitness. It takes work and it takes time.
This is not to say that you should not visualize. Personally, I’m a big believer in visualization, which I picked up from golf. What it means is that you need to focus on what you are doing when you are doing it. Focus on the process and the results will come. When you achieve your results that’s the time to enjoy them.
6. Progress over Deterioration
Progress is preparation. Level 6 performers are committed to preparation. Doing the necessary preparation for a workout or a race is of paramount performance regardless of what sport you are pursuing. For those of you who are not racers, progress may mean sticking to a program after Day 90. It may simply mean that you chose to continue to move forward.
7. Decisiveness over Vacillation
Level 6 performers make effective and productive decisions quickly and without a second thought. Their decisions are not clouded by emotions. This clarity of vision allows them to be more productive in their training and more effective during races. Dr. Long advises that this trait can be acquired by a commitment to the other principles. Again, a regular yoga practice can build the mental strength that is required to make good decisions when the body is under stress.
Beachbody’s motto is – “Decide. Commit. Succeed.” This three step process best summarizes this principle.
8. Balance over Extremism
Balancing your family life, financial life, social life, spiritual life, professional life and your health and wellness life, which includes exercise, is incredibly important. I know a number of people that have lost that balance on one way or another. Some stay out too late and drink too much. Others train to excess, sacrificing balance.
There are times when one of these aspects of life takes precedence. In November of 2007, I lost my father. It was a time of tremendous turmoil that would have put me into a tailspin of epic proportions at another time of my life. It took a while, but I was able to regain balance in my life. I was able to start exercising and enjoying my family and friends again. Being out of balance gives you a new appreciation of how important it is.
9. Efficiency over Wastefulness
Level 6 athletes are efficient. They don’t waste time when it comes to training. They are constantly learning what works and what doesn’t and only repeat what is effective. They understand that commitment to a decisive plan of action and a well thought out training program is the key to success.
10. Confidence over Self-Doubt
I’m a very competitive person and this one really rung a bell with me. Every athlete gains confidence from success. Level 6 performers are able to gain confidence from failure as well. They are able to take the positive away from every situation by reflecting not on the final result but by the individual aspects of their performance that were successful.
I really need to adopt this attitude. I tend to get discouraged when I have a poor training session. At the end I wonder if I’m completely wasting my time. Many times it is simply because I have not properly hydrated and prepared my body for the session. Sometimes I just don’t have the extra gear. Being able to take something positive away from those sessions will really help me remain confident and not doubt my own abilities.
11. Humility over Arrogance
When we read this principle, we knew that we had to post this information. Arrogance leads to complacency. Humility helps you keep your edge and your intensity. The article ends with the following passage:
“Never lose sight of the fact that there are other athletes out there who have a little more talent than you have, but whom you can defeat anyway with a Level 6 mindset.”
So remember the bottom line…anyone can get to Level 6 Performance. If you want guidance and an accountability partner, message us.