Thoughts on Mind Training, Peak Performance and Greatness

Since 1990 I have had the privilege of being the personal Mind Trainer to many of the world’s elite achievers. My consultation practice involves mind training using Neurofeedback (brain feedback) and Bioeedback (body feedback) computer analysis. I train brains. I fine tune minds to enhance performance of every kind.

Most of the people I work with are not high achievers when they first come to me, rather they are bright, motivated, educated individuals basically free from psychological problems. Their goal in seeking mind training is to bring their performance in their chosen field to a higher level. They intuitively know that if they are going to excel in their field, they need to be firing on all neurons. Mind Training is essentially the same process for Gold Medalists, Top Traders, Nobel Prize Winners, or anyone else who is engaged in peak-performance-oriented endeavor, and it always begins at the same point of self-awareness — with the realization that if they spend a lot of time honing their talents and a lot of money practicing their skills they cannot afford to have their state of mind interfere with their best performance.

Over the decades I’ve seen what is now called the “Performance Enhancement” industry grow from the first enthusiastic mental grasp of Olympians like Benji Durden, Olympic Marathon Team who in 1980 said, “If you train your mind to expect the unexpected, you can emotionally lick anyone”, to today’s superstar performers in every field imaginable, including Corporate America where Lauren Holmes, Author of Peak Evolution, asserts, “We can harness powerful evolutionary forces to function and achieve goals beyond our current potential”.

Today we know, from such excellent research as Florida State University Psychology Professor, K. Anders Ericsson’s Expertise and Expert Performance”, that the trait we commonly call talent is highly overrated. Or, put another way, expert performers – whether in chess or surgery, ballet or computer programming, golf or financial market trading – are nearly always made, not born.

If we look at recent Behavioral Science research regarding Human Potential Development we’ll find that there is a core set of dynamics that distinguish the high achievers in any field of endeavor – including day to day life. The main recurring theme is that achieving high levels of success is as much a function of the self development of the person as the system being used to accomplish the goal.

But how to proceed with our own self development with such an ocean of “how to” material now available that when we search on Amazon under the words “self development”, we get over 47,000 results and even a search on “peak performance” generates over 10,000 results?

The dilemma is not just how do we navigate this sea of information, but how do we even find our way to the dock so we can embark on this voyage in the right self development ship? Let’s ask some of today’s leading peak performance researchers for some simple directions.

Professor Dean Keith Simonton of UCLA has spent his career teaching dynamics and determinants of high achievement through examinations of high levels of success in such things as: award winning science, presidential leadership, military genius, music and literature masterwork and more.

In his treatise entitled Greatness, Professor Dean Keith Simonton points out that mastery of any domain requires approximately 50,000 “chunks” of information. This applies across all domains, from chess to sports to scientific research and beyond. In order to develop their talent and acquire the experience, the great individual needs to be able to sustain focused attention on work for considerable amounts of time.

Here then is our first direction — self development depends on acquiring a vast cache of information and acquiring it requires time and attention.

Several of the world’s foremost “experts on expertise” (one of whom was K. Anders Ericsson), in their seminal book, The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, showed that future expert performers engage in intensive training activities over a period of ten or more years in the cultivation of superior performance. Success, they find, rather than being a result of talent, is instead a function of intensive, deliberative practice conducted while in a state of heightened attention and concentration.

Our second direction then is that Self development depends on being able to achieve and maintain heightened states of attention for lengthy periods of time.

From his research on heightened states of attention, University of Chicago Psychology Professor, Mihalyi Czikszentmihalyi (pronounced ‘Me-hi Chicksent-me- hieé) author of Flow – the Psychology of the Optimal Experience has found that this kind of sustained attention is only possible when a person enters a pleasurable mental/emotional state while immersed in effortful activity. He has dubbed this state The Flow, since one of its main characteristics is a perceived mental state where things just seems to flow naturally. The Flow state is what allows achievers to be both productive for sustained periods and able to overcome periods of doubt and discouragement on the way to success.

Our third direction is that, since we already know that talent can be developed by time and attention, we must learn how to achieve the pleasurable optimal mind state for immersing ourselves in effortful activity.

Simonton further examined the specific works of some of the most eminent creative individuals in different fields and came to a startling conclusion. The odds of generating an achievement of lasting merit did not increase over the creator’s lifetime! To put it another way, the greatest writers, artists, and thinkers produced as many or more clunkers to works of genius throughout their careers. They were successful, Simonton notes, because they simply produced more.

Our fourth direction is that if we are to be productive in terms of acquiring information, spending time, developing our attention and achieving high performance mind states, we must also be prodigious in our productivity.

As I follow these directions and travel the leading edge paths of peak performance research it becomes self evident that each path leads us directly to the benefits of training our minds. Most books in the information sea of self development psychology emphasize such techniques as positive thinking and visualizations. These can be helpful to some degree, certainly. However to transform ourselves into a peak performer, by following these four directions, we clearly begin to see that it is necessary to transform our mental state – our state of consciousness.

Structured Mind Training, using various brain training modalities such as Biofeedback, Neurofeedback, Brainwave Entrainment etc., gives performers the skills to transform consciousness as we change our mind states at will to create optimal peak performance mind states such as The Flow. Further, Mind Training also gives the performer specific practical mind management skills throughout the self development process. Ericsson describes many of these necessary skills in his many books on expert performance, such as: general and practical intelligence, affecting differences in brain activity, self-regulated learning, deliberate practice, knowledge management, creativity and mitigating aging. Each mind management skill mastered fosters transformation of consciousness in the greatest sense.

Our fifth direction then is that self development requires those who aspire to greatness in any endeavor must become skilled at transforming consciousness through mental training.

In the book Peak Performance: Business Lessons from the World’s Top Sports authored by several performance experts we learn that the Greats are great because they have potency, performance skills, and they practice powerfully. Their potency comes from their sense of purpose, performance comes from skill in achieving peak performance states, and powerful practice comes from transforming consciousness at will. These attributes enable the world’s Greats, in any area, to perform beyond their current level, continually creating new peak performances for themselves and even for the developmental evolution of our species.

Developing our minds using various structured mind training tools available today enables us to develop our potency, performance and practice – in other words Mind Training develops our Greatness. In fact, its development right from the very first stages of our self development journey, from mind training for skills to more easily acquire information, to achieving peak performance mind states, to mastering mind management skills, through to transforming consciousness at will, and through it all we are directly engaged in the process of developing our measure of greatness within.

No wonder Mind Training is the self development ship where people are flocking to navigate the vast sea of their Human Potential. Mind Training’s voyage is one of ongoing peak performances, and its route is Greatness.

Patricia Chamberlin’s track record as a Professional Mind Trainer to elite achievers in every field, including Top Financial Market Traders, Gold Medal Athletes, Award Winning Celebrities and countless others, confirms her ability to enable ordinary people to excel in extraordinary ways.

Patricia has had a wide range of mind training experience during her 25- year career, including Human Potential Author, Keynote Speaker, TV and Radio Host, and Internationally Syndicated Columnist. Public Broadcasting System made a film featuring Patricia and her widely acclaimed brainwave training work. In 1990, she founded MindPower Mind Training for Peak Performance.

Patricia has over 20 years experience training the minds of financial professionals, world-class athletes, educators, corporate leaders and elite achievers in all fields of endeavor. After becoming an accomplished Trader herself six years ago, her private mind training practice has specialized in mind training for Financial Market Traders.

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