The New Performance Paradigm

Ok, let's level with each other for a moment.

Observable measurable statistics are absolutely essential. If a football athlete is aiming to join an NFL roster, his 40 yard dash time, vertical jump height and broad jump distance are essential metrics. If he cannot demonstrate an adequate physiological benchmark, he simply cannot play at the next level. It is as simple as that. Or, as we are about to see in the coming weeks with the NFL draft, shaving off or adding on 3 tenths of a second on a linebacker's 40 time can be the difference of gaining or losing tens of millions of dollars.

These measures are what I like to call the tangibles, because they are more easily measured, grasped and observed.


In strength training we can measure tangibles such as starting power, progressive acceleration and total power output. These all provide measures to performance metrics relevant for just about every sport on the planet. Our above NFL aspirant is wise to grow these metrics as efficiently as possible if he is serious about that contract and the opportunity to play at the highest levels.

But we cannot stop at the tangible metrics, there are also what I like to refer to as intangibles.

Intangibles are subjective and intersubjective capacities that are not separate from the tangible dimensions of performance. These subjective facets of training and performance are also measurable capacities that are just as essential to performance assessment.

What is the complexity the self-system is capable of managing? What is your mental fortitude for pain tolerance? What is our NFL hopeful's level of emotional resiliency under stress? How efficient can a person's conceptual framework integrate coaching cues? These all point to subjective, yet measurable, dimensions to performance. Just like starting power, these are essential measures of capacities required for high level performance.

Strength to Awaken integrates the split between tangible and intangible, between what is objectively measurable and what is subjectively measurable.

We need both because the highest levels of performance are integrative in nature. 


Myopically focus upon one, either one at the exclusion of the other, and you will never see your highest performance capacities, period.

While Strength to Awaken is high-grade rocket fuel for developing the all to commonly neglected intangibles, I want you to consider carefully who is training, developing and refining your intangibles? Who has the requisite experience and skill? Who demonstrates the "inner" mastery and who can guide you toward your "outer" mastery?

If you're interested in an example, see one of the top athletes on the planet rigorously working both the tangibles and intangibles: Trevor Tierney. Carefully study what he does and says.

These are essential questions if performance is something you really want to devote yourself to.

Become curious about how intangibles integrate into the full spectrum of tangible performance metrics. Be careful though, many people who love tangibles (at the exclusion of the many intangibles) are not even seeing the whole picture of the tangibles clearly and thus leaving out essential parts.

Whatever you leave out ultimately stunts performance, regardless of whether it is tangible or intangible. 


When considering growing aptitudes for performance the following manual guides you into how to consider the full territory of the human being and its capacities.

One of the ways I like to frame strength training as is it can become a training ground for this integrative approach to refining your tangible and intangible abilities to perform. Learn it in the gym and apply it in any area of your life.

Anything less than this integrative embrace of your full complexity is bound to conceptual limitations (itself an intangible that can be measured) that itself closes down your greater possibilities.

Get curious. Keep your mind nimble and open as you refine the tangible and intangible dimensions of yourself. And, get suspicious of yourself and how you are approaching performance and training. You are practicing something, rehearsing something whether you are aware of it or not. There are likely hidden limitations to your methodologies and approaches. Curiosity can lead you toward greater performance capacities.

Rob McNamara
Author
The Elegant Self & Strength To Awaken
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The Lie You Believe about Motivation


Most people struggle with motivation in one way or another and when it comes to embodiment, motivation is one of the perennial obstacles.

Most approaches to dealing with the obstacle of motivation, whether it's related to embodiment or something else, lack the architecture to take you from where you are to where you need and want to be. Most approaches are obligatory in nature, coercive by design and pretend that hype or excitement is sufficient. Take a look around and you will see "experts" rousing excitement and energy, manipulating people with the best of intentions (sometimes) and reinforcing obligations.

The problem is 99% of all of these fail and the reason why that 1% does work has little to do with the "expert's" conventions and everything to do with a simple yet profound shift in you.  You and I both know this.

What you might not be aware of is this:
Most people are colluding with the fantasy that you do not have enough motivation, and by getting more (somehow), you can actually get to where you want and need to be.

This is largely wrong.


Your motivation, right now, is sufficient to change the world. The power you possess is immense.  Quite honestly I don't think any of us truly understand, appreciate nor access the strength, elegance and capacity that resides within the human vehicle… right now.

You likely do not lack motivation. There is often something more complex and underlying at work in the human being, which is why so often mainstream approaches to 'change' fall short of being able to bring us to our larger potential as people. So if the amount of motivation is not the real problem, what is?

Meaning-making.


Meaning-making is the essential nutrient for the mind. It's like what oxygen is for the body. Furthermore, meaning-making manifests into each of your cells, the expression of your DNA and literally permeates every facet of your being.

You are doing meaning-making all the time and issues around so-called motivation are just about always rooted in the meaning-making system.

One of the fundamental patterns within human meaning-making is the movement toward significance. When I use this word, I am talking about what matters most, what captures your attention and engagement and what ultimately brings structure to how and what you perceive. Significance is ultimately what draws humanity towards greater and greater degrees of 'progress.' Whatever your meaning-making system holds as significant, take note, you will not have a problem with motivation. It's hardwired in you. You will methodically - sometimes obsessively - pursue that which is significant to you, whether conscious or unconscious.

To be clear I am not talking about what you "think" should be significant in your life. That's one step removed from what you at a fundamental level presume to be significant. Instead, I'm asking you to consider deeper levels of how you engage your world, your relationships, your inspirations and intentions.

Consider this: the vast majority of the elements we hold as significant at a fundamental level are not your's. They belong to the fabric of your culture(s) and have more or less chosen you. It's not the other way around.

For those of you who are more developmentally privileged you know that you can "out grow" your unconscious loyalties to your cultural presumptions as to what holds significance and what does not. By doing so, you can actually start to choose, author and create your central significances that will drive your motivation in life.

But this requires a series of major transformations in developmental complexity to get to this "self-authoring" stage. So when struggling with motivation, one of the short hand assumptions to explore that I use with my clients is that in this particular area of their life, they are perhaps functioning out of socially defined loyalties, or earlier more self-centered modes of complexity that are largely unconscious.

Motivation that is tied up in earlier stages of developmental complexity help fuel the feeling of not having enough motivation. You want to do this, but in a series of unconscious moves you are expending your resources towards maintaining habituations in many other areas of your life. How do we uncover whether this is true for us? We must begin to pay attention to our habits, our inner dialogue, our thoughts and particularly what drives 'motivation.'

Which leads me to embodiment and motivation. We in the West, as far as I can tell, are by and large developmentally stunted around embodiment. This is largely a cultural construct that most of us participate in. It isn't that we aren't capable of being more fully embodied human beings, it means we live within systems that fail to support our emergent embodiment as our larger potential. Embodiment is mis-perceived to mean the "body" as we tend to think about it in the Western medical model. The body is then presumed to be "fundamentally" important - not "significantly" important. When this perspective is inhabited, motivation naturally moves towards other objects, investments, and loyalties in your life and embodiment holds a less significant place.

It is here in the inner architecture of meaning-making that we find the root of "motivation" issues around embodiment. Even in the face of death, human beings all too often fail to un-couple their attention, energy and genuine commitment from their habituated ways of living. That's how strong meaning-making is, it can change the world and it can put you 6 feet under.

So what now?

1. Free your unconscious loyalties and habituations from your historical conditioning. This frees up your motivation to be conducted into your larger significance in life.

2. Closely inspect your meaning-making. This is hard to do on your own. Find someone with greater clarity, elegance, more experience and more flexibility than you possess. Get their help. This is very hard to do on your own because it is precisely your own meaning-making that is often holding you back.

3. Discover what has already chosen you, that is also liberated from cultural conventions, and participate with embodying this greatest significance… Right Now!

For those of you wanting an overhaul on your meaning-making system around embodiment, I want to recommend my book Strength to Awaken. It is "psycho-active" meaning that simply reading it rewires and evolves your own complexity around embodiment. Check it out, you are likely to find yourself inhabiting a different landscape when you think of strength training, embodiment and/or any other movement discipline.

Finally, help me kill the presumption that human beings are lacking motivation. Let's stop colluding with the premise that we lack motivation and start participating with the immense power that is the future of our co-creative evolution.

I'm co-evolving embodiment, right now.

What are you participating in that unfolds your greater elegance as a human being?

Enjoy,
~Rob

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