It’s a State of Mind.
Two Soldiers stand with heavy backpacks looking up at a hill in Southern Afghanistan. A heavily armed enemy pursues them. The hill is precisely 400 metres tall. But after the mental and physical fatigue of fierce combat, the first soldier’s brain judges the hill to be around 900 metres.
And the soldier does more than misjudging the hill: he sees a 900-metre mountain, not a 400-metre hill. What he perceives becomes his reality. The steeper his brain perceives the hill to be, the more tired his body becomes.
He collapses on one knee, ready to make a final stand and go down fighting despite being heavily outnumbered. Why soldier on when his brain tells him success is impossible?
Yet all is not lost. The Team Leader is a Royal Marine Commando. A leader in the Royal Marines is well trained and is well equipped to lead in the most challenging of situations.
When his team leader looks at the hill, despite his injuries and fatigue, his well-trained brain perceives the hill as 400 metres and thus surmountable in time. Which, gives him the energy and motivation to quickly climb another 50 metres, upon which he notices a less steep and more rubble free path up the hillside leading to a helicopter extraction point.
His brain becomes, convinced that a successful outcome is possible, allowing him to summon his cognitive resources to map the best path up the hill. They are now feeling optimistic and convinced that he will get himself and his teammate up to the top of the hill, where they will board a rescue helicopter.
His brain releases extra energy reserves, called success accelerants, allowing him to rally his physical and emotional resources to help his teammate to climb. Eliminating all distracting noises, both internal and external (doubts and gunfire), he drags his partner toward the extraction point. As they climb, he tells him repeatedly that they will make it until he too finds the energy and drive to keep climbing. It’s not long before they reach the top, where they get extracted.
Success became their reality – “Its a state of mind”.
Trevor Parker is a Strategic Executive Coach and Mentor to private clients trying to excel in a world of increasing competition, pressure, negativity and stress. Positioned as one of Yorkshire Business Insider’s power 100 and a fellow of the Institute of the motor industry, Trevor is a uniquely qualified and experienced Strategic Executive Coach. Learn more about Trevor here.