The Big Four

I wrote this up for a shoot­ing forum, all of it applies beyond work on the range. These tech­niques are used by top tier per­form­ers around the world. In fact, every sin­gle pro­fes­sion­al per­former uses all of these. They may call them dif­fer­ent names but “the big 4” (Visu­al­iza­tion, Self Talk, Goal Set­ting, Arousal Con­trol) are unavoid­able if you want to become the best. For the rest of us mor­tals, they help us become a whole lot bet­ter and they’re free.

Visu­al­iza­tion: Lots of research has been done on this, basi­cal­ly your body does­n’t know the dif­fer­ence between what you visu­al­ize and what you do. Whether or not you have time for the range you almost always have time to visu­al­ize. The more aspects you can include the bet­ter. What it looks like, (your point of view, what you look like from anoth­er’s point of view), what it feels like from grip to stance, what it sounds like with ears on, what it smells like (smell is a direct con­nec­tion to your lizard brain) and even what it tastes like will all build your train­ing envi­ron­ment and allow you to prac­tice the per­fect shot or run.

Self Talk: Pros talk to them­selves, from Tiger Woods to elite mil­i­tary shoot­ers. What they say focus­es on the pos­i­tive (nice shot, keep going, hands steady, eyes clear) and NOT what they’re miss­ing (darn it, missed that one, oh well, need to speed up etc). The more “I can do this” and “I’ve got this” you use the more it’ll become true for you. It’s not mag­ic, it just makes the hard work you put in that much more effective.

Goal Set­ting: From very short term (hit this next shot) to very long term (Grand Mas­ter in 5 years) you MUST have goals if you’re going to make mea­sur­able pro­gres­sion. If you’re seri­ous you’ll write them out enough times that they become burned into your brain.

Arousal Con­trol: This is what takes a bi-ath­letes heart rate from rockin’ and rollin’ down to shoot­ing between heart­beats. Com­plete­ly in the head. You can improve this with aware­ness, which must be con­stant­ly prac­ticed. Read Enos. For wazoo out there tech­niques check out John Alexan­der and The War­rior’s Edge. No longer in print that I’m aware of, usu­al­ly you have to wait on Ama­zon for a used one to show up. One tech­nique that is super effec­tive is some­times called 4–4‑4: take 4 sec­onds to inhale, 4 sec­onds to exhale, and do that for 4 min­utes (or as short/long as you have.) It encour­ages the brain to calm down and sim­u­late relax­ation pat­terns. Good to do if you have a time where you know you usu­al­ly “freak out.” Like before you shoot a match.

These are the basics. Tons of books have been writ­ten about this, if any of you would like to work on your men­tal game post up what you’ve got and we’ll make it help­ful to the whole forum. Used to teach this stuff to fired up young dudes, am hap­py to use that expe­ri­ence to help you.

****, lots of folks start off super relaxed and then they fire that first shot and events spi­ral out of con­trol, or at least beyond your con­scious aware­ness, and that’s the issue. Aware­ness of your men­tal state is crit­i­cal to con­trol­ling what you’re doing, whether you’re shoot­ing or talk­ing to your spouse or run­ning a hard race. You’re head­ing in the right direc­tion with more prac­tice and expe­ri­ence. When you do prac­tice, prac­tice awareness.

One thing you can do is try using “dots”. You can buy a sheet of lit­tle dot stick­ers of what­ev­er col­or catch­es your atten­tion at Office­Max or OfficeDe­pot etc. Paste those around the house (above sink, in bath­room, by the bed, at the front door) and wher­ev­er else you spend lots of time (steer­ing wheel, desk at work etc.)

Every time you see that dot, just pay atten­tion to what you’re think­ing, to your aware­ness. This is prac­tice, and it’s not restrict­ed to the range. When you do this you’re build­ing a habit of aware­ness that will have impli­ca­tions well beyond your shoot­ing game.

Now, when you’re at the range you can run a few drills of aware­ness, shoot­ing as fast as you can for a mag to amp you up and then doing a SUPER SLOW mag change and bring­ing your aware­ness back. You can also col­or a dot onto your hands where you can see it when you bring your gun up to bear, just some­thing to remind you to stay aware.

I’d wish you good luck, but I tend to believe that folks who work hard get the luck­i­est, so good work!

****, these tech­niques are com­mon­ly used by top tier For­mu­la One rac­ers. It’s fun­ny, you’d be hard pressed to find top com­peti­tors or per­form­ers any­where in any dis­ci­pline who don’t use the big four or some vari­ant of them. They work so well and are so nat­ur­al in the evo­lu­tion of high lev­el activ­i­ty that once you know what they are and look for them you’ll find them *every­where.*

I used to race (run­ning) and would specif­i­cal­ly use goal set­ting to plan out how to run. I broke the race up into 4 quar­ters and called them horse, boat, heart, and home. The horse, or first quar­ter, I viewed as if I was a jock­ey and rid­ing a super pow­er­ful horse, one that I’d have to pull back on the reins a bit in the begin­ning so I did­n’t blow it out. It was a reminder to me to pull back on my pace a lit­tle, because almost every pace feels good in the first quar­ter, even the one that will mur­der you. The more expe­ri­enced you get as a run­ner the more you real­ize that no one wins a race in the first quar­ter, but lots of peo­ple will run that as if it’s the most impor­tant one.

The boat quar­ter I thought about the way you dri­ve a boat, espe­cial­ly one with a slip­ping throt­tle; you know, you can put it at full speed but espe­cial­ly in any­thing oth­er than glassy con­di­tions it’ll slip back down a few notch­es if you’re not con­stant­ly and firm­ly tap­ping that throt­tle for­ward. That idea remind­ed me to keep check­ing my speed as I ran, to main­tain the sol­id pace I’d set in the first quarter.

The heart, or third, quar­ter was always my favorite. I saw a mil­i­tary recruit­ing video once where they showed a bunch of guys run­ning on a beach, obvi­ous­ly a hot day and a hell of a run. As they went along you could see the pain and sweat and strug­gle in each of them, and the nar­ra­tor read out a line I’ll nev­er for­get: “There’s noth­ing quite like run­ning to make a man reach deep down inside him­self and see what he’s made of.” That’s what the heart quar­ter was for me, the time to reach down deep and hold the pace I’d already set. For me, the third quar­ter is where a race is won. It’s where every­body wants to give up, it’s usu­al­ly in a place where the fans don’t go so nobody’s watch­ing you, and rac­ers are far enough away from the fin­ish line that they fig­ure “a lit­tle rest from the pace” is OK. It’s not, not if you want to win, and if you want to win you’ve got to set goals.

The fourth quar­ter is where they make movies, it’s the one where you’re run­ning home. While phys­i­cal­ly it’s the hard­est quar­ter because you’ve already expend­ed so much effort, men­tal­ly it can be the eas­i­est; you’re close to the fin­ish, you usu­al­ly start to hear the roar of the crowd, and you know that even if you charge and blow your­self out you’ll be done soon.

Those four quar­ters are super help­ful in phys­i­cal­ly demand­ing races, and it’s a good con­cept to think about and use when you’re shoot­ing your var­i­ous stages. Is there any­thing like it that you use?

The Why Talk

the why talk

Pur­pose: to ignite in the learn­er a deep and burn­ing desire to become a bet­ter man

What do I need to know to give this?
‑the Greeks
‑per­son­al accom­plish­ments, physical
‑speak anoth­er language

-why do we do what we do?
spec ops, cops, bor­der patrol, any phys­i­cal­ly dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing job

-what is great about Amer­i­ca, or, why are we here?

The goal?  To per­fect the self.  This is the way & the end.  Live for the experience.

‑flow state
‑ethics and morals
‑feast­ing togeth­er (feast­ing over 15,000 years old, pre-dates agriculture)
‑clas­si­cal education
‑prob­lem solving
Rec­om­mend­ed Read­ing and source list:
‑car­nage & cul­ture, who killed homer, blood merid­i­an, seneca, dev­il’s high­way, epicte­tus, the odyssey, the war­rior’s edge, trout bum, per­for­mance rock climb­ing, the right stuff, thoughts of a philo­soph­i­cal fight­er pilot, endurance, sol­dier’s load, self reliance, the four agreements

For the sol­dier’s trade, ver­i­ly and essen­tial­ly, is not slay­ing, but being slain.  This with­out well know­ing its own mean­ing, the world hon­ours it for.  A bravo’s trade is slay­ing; but the world has nev­er respect­ed bravos more than mer­chants: the rea­son it hon­ours the sol­dier is, because he holds his life at the ser­vice of the State.  Reck­less he may be–fond of plea­sure or of adventure–all kinds of bye-motives and mean impuls­es may have deter­mined the choice of his pro­fes­sion, and may affect (to all appear­ance exclu­sive­ly) his dai­ly con­duct in it; but our esti­mate of him is based on this ulti­mate fact–of which we are well assured–that put him in a fortress breach, with all the plea­sures of the world behind him, and only death and his duty in front of him, he will keep his face to the front; and he knows that his choice may be put to him at any moment–and has before­hand tak­en his part–virtually takes such part continually–does, in real­i­ty, die daily.”
‑John Ruskin, The Roots of Hon­or, Unto This Last

Five great intel­lec­tu­al pro­fes­sions, relat­ing to dai­ly neces­si­ties of life, have hith­er­to existed–three exist nec­es­sar­i­ly, in every civ­i­lized nation:
The Sol­dier’s pro­fes­sion is to defend it.
The Pas­tor’s to teach it.
The Physi­cian’s to keep it in health.
The Lawyer’s to enforce jus­tice in it.
The Mer­chan­t’s to pro­vide  for it.
‑John Ruskin, The Roots of Hon­or, Unto This Last

The Greek idea of virtue starts with the indi­vid­ual; we are to be stronger, tougher, more out­spo­ken than it is in our nature to be.  We must look to our­selves, not oth­ers, for suc­cor in star­ing down what is fated.”

[]Last­ing reform is found only through action.  Mean­ing can only be found in the effort to do what we should not be able to do, in sac­ri­fic­ing life and health in order to paw and scratch at big­ger things that do not fade.”

[] Men on foot with mus­cu­lar strength, not horse­men nor even mis­sile men, alone ulti­mate­ly win wars.”

[] Most alien to the Clas­si­cal spir­it is the sup­pres­sion of argu­ment, the refec­tion of self-crit­i­cism, or the idea that incor­po­rat­ing the ideas of oth­ers dimin­ish­es oneself.”

The Greeks have already mapped the paths to indi­vid­ual suc­cess and the cre­ation of a sta­ble soci­ety: joint deci­sion-mak­ing, no astro­nom­i­cal pay­offs for an unde­serv­ing elite, con­stant audit and account­abil­i­ty, duties to the com­mu­ni­ty, noblesse oblige towards the less fortunate–what the Greeks called charis”

Did not more than one Greek say, “Not fine­ly-roofed hous­es, nor the well-built walls, nor even canals or dock­yards make the polis, but rather men of the type able to meet the job at hand”?  Peo­ple, then, matter.

Learn­ing comes through pain, rea­son is checked by fate, men are social crea­tures, the truth only emerges through dis­sent and open crit­i­cism, human life is trag­i­cal­ly short and there­fore comes with oblig­a­tions, char­ac­ter is a mat­ter of match­ing words with deeds, the most dan­ger­ous ani­mal is the nat­ur­al beast with­in us, reli­gion is sep­a­rate from and sub­or­di­nate to polit­i­cal author­i­ty, pri­vate prop­er­ty should be immune from gov­ern­ment coer­cion, even aris­to­crat­ic lead­ers ignore the will of the assem­bly at their peril–start with Homer, espe­cial­ly his Illiad.

-Vic­tor Davis Han­son, Who Killed Homer?

When you get to the top of a wall, there’s noth­ing there.”  ‑Yvon Chouinard, on why he climbs, from the movie 180 South

proctor 282

Top­ics for dis­cus­sion dur­ing proctorship:

This is about me putting my val­ues & ideas out there (as mine, clear­ly stat­ed) in an attempt to mold stu­dents into some­one bet­ter (define that, bitch­es) than me by exam­ple of what has worked, i.e. I made it with these val­ues, you can make it with yours.

*What/who can be respect­ed?  Nazis?  Moth­er Tere­sa quote (in every man is good­ness if only you look hard enough–paraphrased)

*The Trades-met­al, wood, ener­gy (elec), water (plumb­ing), med­ical, what is nec­es­sary, learn one, why?  Self-reliance, con­tri­bu­tion, pass­ing on learn­ing, appren­tice­ship.  What is a lathe?  How does elec­tric­i­ty work?  What are the basics of plumb­ing?  Nails vs screws.  What it means (and indi­cates) to be a mas­ter.  Quit being so fuck­ing helpless!

*The envi­ron­ment & war (oil, water, resources, use of tac­ti­cal­ly), how are they linked?  What impact do your actions have?  Gas guz­zler, water waster, your sons plan­et, 7th generation

*Ani­mal care-feed­ing, care, treat­ment, behav­iour mods (pos­i­tive rein­force­ment, lim­it­ed pow­er of neg­a­tive & pun­ish­ment), appli­ca­tions to humans, pris­on­er han­dling, turn­ing sources, treat­ing family

*PLJ peaceLove­Joy-for what do we fight?  Solzen­hitzyen quote (line through every heart and through the human race denot­ing good and evil), bal­ance in emo­tions, clear goals, treat­ment of self, self dia­logue, trust and self reliance

*Thought clar­i­ty and speed, one sen­tence to turn in every day (show me clar­i­ty of thought and abil­i­ty to create/write)

*Trav­el and rein­ven­tion (every new place you go you can re-invent, what qual­i­ties will you focus on?)

*Cre­ation and art: vis­it a muse­um (Tara Dono­van, MOCA) open your fuck­ing mind beyond being a stone-cold warrior.

*No notes.  Write it lat­er, par­tic­i­pate NOW!

*Cool / Not Cool, (from the class, with dis­cus­sion.  Start top­ics exam­ples: sky­div­ing, killing, mon­ey, rape, dri­ving, friends, shar­ing, etc) derive val­ues from these, place some top­ics in “depends” or “nei­ther” or “neu­tral” cat­e­go­ry.  Build their ethos for them, in front of them, and hold them to it for the rest of phase.