Tuesday, June 23, 2020

State Management & Managing Your States

No, this is not an essay on how to run a country.

By ‘states’, I am referring to ‘bodily states’. How your body feels and senses at any one time, can be described as your ‘state’. You may be familiar with the song ‘New York State of Mind’, and the term ‘mind over matter’. In cases of legality, one may have to prove ‘the state of mind’.

I learnt about ‘managing my states’ in 1995. I attended a workshop on ‘An Introduction to NLP’, and my mind became aware of what my five senses afforded me at that time. I learnt to play with the voices in my head, feelings, memories, imagination, and other sensations. Certainly, these were all private, internal, processes that I had no working manual to refer to. So, I wrote an operating-manual for it, which has since undergone multiple revisions and versions.

Two-and-half decades later, I am still raising my bar in my sporting aspirations. I began with competitive bodybuilding, and then shifted to racing in marathons and triathlons. Every year, I attempt to complete successfully at least one marathon (42.2km) and Ironman triathlon (3.8km swim, 180km cycling, 42.2km run). For each event, I have to be as well-prepared and mentally-conditioned to face the race-day, whatever the weather and terrain conditions would be.

For each of my fellow participant, their goals can be vary from completion to competition. My hopeful results are based on living and demonstrating the credo of the Olympic Games, namely, ‘Faster, Stronger and Higher’.

My 18-years of tacit experience and wisdom in racing in endurance, multi-sports, events has taught me to manage my physiological (bodily) states on several levels. These include:

1)   Manage my level and tolerance of pain (braving extreme cold and heat, cramps, injuries, painful stings, gut disorders)
2)   Manage my sensory level of discomfort (conditions of water, waves, currents, taste of the water I swim in, sweatiness, dirt, windiness, heat, cold, flies, and much more)
3)   Doing ‘damage control’, especially when my results start to slip away, as my fatigue level increases (deciding to stop and rest, feeding my body, and walking when I have to)
4)   Dealing with disappointments, especially when the results were expected/unexpected
5)   Dealing with distractions, confusion, uncertainty and changes to my plan (consider this: The race distance was modified for safety reasons; or cancelled due to extreme weather)

Managing my states is one of my motivations to racing. Sometimes, it hurts even more when you want something badly enough. In competitive racing, we call this ‘digging deep’. That is, we harness on our resources (limited) and our RESOURCELFULNESS (a useful value to tap on in times of crises). I am sue many entrepreneurs can relate strongly to the string of challenges that may be laid out in their quest for their business dreams. The successful ones keep rising incessantly when they fall. Even skillful cyclists still fall off their bicycles.

When I earned my qualification spots in the Boston Marathon, or the Ironman world championships, they were ‘painful joyfulness’. In managing my states to get there, I had to learn to stay focused, patient and calm (on the inside).

With the current global pandemic, millions of people are affected physically and psychologically by the stress(ors) of a personal viral threat: its impending infection, spread, fear, concern, anxiety, and other equally virulent impact from it (economic, financial, self-esteem, well-being). How can we strengthen our mental and physiological resolve (physical and emotional) to deal with it? How do we manage our responses and reactions to these stressors? What can we do to alter our attitude and behaviors, in managing ourselves and those we are entrusted with?

Only when we actively manage how we think and feel (internal factors) in the face of external factors, can we then sensibly and sensitively manage our people. We won’t be effective in leading others if we are ‘headless chickens’. Meanwhile, stay focused while re-building our teams, and encourage and embolden them for future discomforts and distractions.