Después de 11 años, Bode Miller acaba de explicar el truco mental creativo que le valió el oro olímpico

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Nos llega por cortesía de Bode Miller, el corredor de esquí alpino masculino estadounidense más exitoso de la historia. Lo entrevisté recientemente en una llamada de Zoom junto con unos 30 suscriptores a mi boletín diario por correo electrónico y me explicó el sorprendente truco mental que usó para usar la intensidad y ganar una medalla de oro olímpica.

Preparemos el escenario. Miller ya había competido en tres Juegos Olímpicos hace casi once años cuando compitió en Vancouver, pero nunca había ganado el oro. En el Super Combinado, que incluyó dos carreras en un día, cayó al séptimo lugar en la ida.

Luego llegó a la puerta de salida de la segunda carrera.

Si me hubieras preguntado antes de hablar con Miller qué estaba pasando por su cabeza en ese momento, podría haber adivinado que era un repaso mental de último minuto del curso.

O tal vez se estaba enfocando en cuánto tiempo había recorrido un camino para llegar allí y cuánto deseaba ganar.

No, me dijo. No pensó en eso.

El truco menal inusual

En cambio, utilizó un truco mental creativo. Dejó ir sus pensamientos y se concentró intensa y conscientemente en una historia imaginaria que se había inventado para ese momento: un escenario inventado sobre salvar a su hermana del peligro cuando era niño.

Este es exactamente el tipo de ejercicio que ha utilizado en cientos y cientos de carreras de esquí, explicó: se centra en historias vivientes y emocionales, excluyendo la tarea técnica.

La idea era confiar en las horas de práctica y la memoria muscular que había desarrollado mientras también entrenaba una parte muy diferente de su cerebro para crear intensidad para que pudiera ejecutar.

En los Juegos Olímpicos de 2010, Miller me dijo:

«No había hecho nada bien en el eslalon y no tenía nada que ver con competir con estos chicos de élite … Sabía que mi mejor oportunidad era llevar mi cerebro a este punto, con una intensidad muy alta, una especie de Salva a mi hermana de … un escenario de incendio. Y luego detente y ríndete a la voluntad de los aproximadamente mil millones de personas que ven los Juegos Olímpicos «.

Como saben, funcionó. (Puede ver el video de la victoria de Miller en un video incrustado al final de esta columna). De hecho, Miller dijo que nunca hubiera ganado sin él.

Dijo que desarrolló la técnica a una edad muy temprana, creciendo en una casa extremadamente rural de New Hampshire en una casa tan remota que requirió una caminata de una milla por el bosque.

Esquiaba todo el día y tomaba la mayor parte del camino a casa, pero aún tenía que cubrir el tramo final en la oscuridad.

«Iba a casa sola por el bosque cuando tenía 5 o 6 años, y había mucho miedo, ¿verdad?» él dijo. «No hay farolas … el 90 por ciento del tiempo, ni linterna ni nada. Para superar ese miedo, me contaba estas historias».

Tan pronto como entrara por la puerta, dijo, saldría de su trance e incluso temblaría de miedo. Pero le enseñó a usar la memoria o los pensamientos de una experiencia emocional inconexa para lograr una tarea abrumadora.

Espera, ¿están corriendo a un niño de 5 años por el bosque?

En caso de que se esté preguntando cómo diablos un niño que, como Miller, creció sin dinero, pudo pagar el equipo de esquí y los boletos para el telesilla, sin mencionar la posibilidad de correr una milla o más hasta una montaña de esquí por su cuenta. Cubrimos eso por separado.

Pero para nuestros propósitos, centrémonos en cómo Miller dijo que utilizó un truco muy similar en su carrera más joven en los negocios y por qué cree que otros también pueden hacerlo.

Por ejemplo, hablamos esta semana cuando era copropietario e inversor en una plataforma y aplicación de esquí digital llamada SKEO.

En resumen, el truco consiste en dominar las técnicas y las cosas objetivas basadas en datos que debe hacer para tener éxito, pero también en utilizar el poder de esas historias creativas e inventadas para aumentar la intensidad.

«No es tan fácil», dijo, «aunque creo que probablemente cualquier persona puede hacerlo. Y realmente funciona. Funciona en los negocios. Funciona en las relaciones, en la crianza de sus hijos, todo el material. Pero requiere un poco de trabajo «.

Al principio me sentí un poco escéptico y me pregunté si Miller realmente recordaba exactamente los momentos de sus mayores triunfos en el esquí y, sobre todo, cómo esto se reflejaba en las actividades comerciales.

Pero Miller ofreció algunos ejemplos que tenían sentido: como presentarse a cientos de personas o dirigirse a los inversores, mientras se enfocaba al menos parcialmente en otras experiencias intensas y canalizaba esa intensidad para mejorar el desempeño.

3 elementos clave para el éxito

Cuando analizo todo, creo que hay tres elementos clave para hacer que esto funcione: Primero y más importante, primero debes tener las habilidades técnicas y objetivas adecuadas.

En otras palabras, si bien Miller se autocrusa por su talento y forma como esquiador, era de clase mundial. No es como si pudiera ganar una carrera de esquí olímpica con esta técnica, por ejemplo, o, francamente, Miller podría hacerlo ahora a la edad de 43 años.

Pero si tiene la capacidad técnica para hacer frente a ese nivel, si conoce su presentación con frialdad o tiene una comprensión profunda del argumento que está haciendo en una negociación, entonces todo este truco mental consiste en obtener ese 10 por ciento adicional. sume su rendimiento.

O tal vez incluso solo el 1 por ciento, lo que marca la diferencia y separa lo realmente bueno de lo realmente bueno.

En segundo lugar, tiene que ser el tipo correcto de emoción e intensidad.

Como ejemplo, Miller dijo que no habría funcionado si se hubiera concentrado en un recuerdo intenso pero enojado durante la carrera de 2010, por ejemplo, el recuerdo de no ganar Juegos Olímpicos anteriores.

Si piensas en las emociones asociadas con la historia de «Rescatando a su hermana» que usó (aventura, peligro, riesgo, heroísmo, amor), probablemente se acerque más a lo que necesitaba.

En otras carreras dijo que a veces le molestaba el recuerdo de un niño muy pequeño cuando su padre lo llevaba al mar.

«Me sostiene y se estrella contra las olas, y recuerdo que estaba muy emocionado, pero relajado y sintiéndome seguro, muy inspirado», explicó, «el amor por mi padre y esa sensación genial de ser joven, pero también el aspecto emocionante «.

Después de todo, el ejercicio mental tiene que ser auténtico.

No funcionará si realmente no puede imaginarse a sí mismo en el escenario en el que desea concentrarse, o si está tratando inarticuladamente de obtener una experiencia emocional de algo que realmente no encaja.

«Si no es realmente real, simplemente regrese a la realidad ahora mismo», dijo Miller.

En cambio, dijo, la historia o el recuerdo en el que te estás enfocando «tiene que ser lo suficientemente real como para que tu cerebro esté completamente inmerso en él y distraído para que puedas usar tu memoria muscular, usa lo que tienes sin obstáculos». de toda tu basura «.

Aquí está el video de la victoria de Miller en 2010:

Las opiniones expresadas por los columnistas de Inc.com aquí son las suyas, no las de Inc.com.

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Then, he got to the starting gate for the second race. 

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Before talking with Miller, if you'd asked me what was going through his mind at that moment, I might have guessed it was a last-minute mental walkthrough of the course. 

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Or maybe he focused on how long a road he'd traveled to get there, and how much he wanted to win.

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Nope, he told me. He wasn't thinking of any of that. 

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The unusual menal trick

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Instead, he used a creative mental trick. He let his mind drift away, and focused intensely and deliberately on an imaginary story that he'd crafted for that very moment: a made-up scenario about rescuing his sister from danger as a kid.

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This is exactly the kind of exercise he'd used in hundreds and hundreds of ski races, he explained: fixating on vivid, emotional stories, to the exclusion of the technical task at hand.

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The idea was to trust the hours of practice and the muscle memory he'd developed, while also training a completely different part of his brain to manufacture intensity, so he could execute.

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At the 2010 Olympics, Miller told me:

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"I hadn't been skiing slalom well at all, and I had no business competing with those top guys ... I knew my best chance was to kind of put my brain in that spot, very high intensity, kind of a 'saving my sister from ... a fire' type of scenario. And then just set it, and kind of surrender to the will of the billion or so people watching the Olympics."

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It worked, famously. (You can watch the video of Miller's win in a video embedded at the end of this column.) In fact, Miller said that without doing it, he never would have won.

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He said he developed the technique at a very young age, growing up in extremely rural New Hampshire, in a house so remote that getting to it required a mile walk through the woods.

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He'd ski all day, and get a ride most of the way home, but still have to travel that last stretch in the dark.

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"I'd walk home through the woods by myself at 5 or 6 years old, and there was a huge fear aspect, right?" he said. "There's no streetlights ... 90 percent of the time, no flashlight or anything. So to overcome that fear, I would tell myself these stories."

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As soon as he got in the door, he said, he'd fall out of his trance, and even shake from trepidation. But it taught him how to use the memory or thought of an unconnected, emotional experience in order to achieve a daunting task.

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Wait, they let a 5-year-old walk through the woods?

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Now, in case you're wondering how on earth a young kid growing up without money as Miller did could afford ski equipment and lift tickets -- to say nothing of being allowed to walk a mile or more to a ski mountain by himself -- we covered that separately.

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But for our purposes, let's focus on how Miller said he's used a very similar trick in his more recent career in business, and why he thinks other people can adopt it, too. 

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We spoke this week, for example, as he's been involved as co-owner and investor in an digital ski platform and app called SKEO.

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In short, the trick is about mastering the techniques and objective, data-based things you need to do to succeed, but also harnessing the power of these creative, made-up stories to increase intensity.

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"It's not terribly easy," he said, "although I think it's it's probably doable for almost every person out there. And it really does work. It works in business. It works in relationships, raising your kids, all that stuff. But it does take a bit of work."

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I was a bit skeptical at first, wondering whether Miller was actually remembering the moments of his biggest ski triumphs accurately, and most of all how it translates into business-related activities.

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But Miller offered a few examples that made sense: for example, giving a presentation to hundreds of people, or pitching to investors -- while focusing at least partially on other intense experiences, and channeling that intensity to improve performance.

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3 key elements to succeed 

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Unpacking everything, I think there are three key elements to making this work: First and foremost, you have to have the right technical and objective skills to begin with. 

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In other words, while Miller talks self-deprecatingly about his talent and form as a skier, he was at a World Class level. It's not as if I, for example, could use this technique to win an Olympic ski race -- or even, frankly, that Miller could do it now, at age 43.

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But if you do have the technical ability to complete at that level -- if you know your presentation cold, or you understand thoroughly the argument you're making in a negotiation -- then this whole mental trick is about adding that extra 10 percent to your performance.

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Or maybe even just 1 percent that makes the difference--and separates really good from truly great.

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Second, it has to be the right kind of emotion and intensity.

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As an example, Miller said it wouldn't have worked for him to have focused on an intense but angry memory during that 2010 race -- for example the memory of not winning in previous Olympics. 

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If you think about the emotions involved in the "saving his sister" story that he used -- adventure, danger, risk, heroism, love -- that's probably closer to what he needed.

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In other races, he said he sometimes harnassed the memory of being a very little kid, when his father carried him into the ocean.

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"He's holding me, and he's crashing through the waves, and I just remember being really kind of thrilled but relaxed and felt safe, really kind of insipired," he explained, "the love for my dad and kind of that cool feeling of being young, but also the thrilling aspect."

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Finally, the mental exercise has to be authentic. 

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It won't work if you can't truly imagine yourself in the scenario you're trying to focus on, or if you're inartfully trying to squeeze an emotional experience out of something that doesn't really fit.

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"If it's not really real, you'll just jump right back into what reality is at that moment," Miller said.

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Instead, he said, the story or the memory you're focusing on has to be "real enough that your brain gets fully immersed in it and distracted, so that you can just use your muscle memory -- use what you've got, unhindered by all your junk."

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Here's the video of Miller's 2010 win:

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