The United States of Being

Recently during leadership training, I was introduced to the fairly simple concept of State, or the state of your being. The training, led by Sarah Singer-Nourie, taught me that your State is made up of three parts: your mind, your heart and your body. Each one is intrinsically connected, and if one is off, they are ALL off.

My favorite example is the free throw in basketball. On paper, it’s the easiest shot in a game. Unguarded, you aren’t fighting for the shot; it’s just you and the basket. Proximity; you are well within easy-basket range, if you’ve practiced your form. And the crowd notwithstanding, the opposing team is forbidden to distract you. So then why is it so difficult? Because all three parts of your state must be balanced to pull it off — and you have to hold it there. Your body must be aligned and ready to shoot. Your mind must be settled, and your emotions must be in check.

Professional athletes, individually, and as entire teams, either win or lose based on their state. How many times have you seen a team winning for an entire game, only to throw it away in the end? Their state was off, maybe the half-time talk just didn’t work. Or have you watched the Tour de France, where the underdog comes out of nowhere and passes the peleton to win the stage? His state was in perfect balance. Watch swimmers like Michael Phelps before he gets in the pool. Headphones on, head down, focused and preparing to compete. You can even see it in the eyes of that player at the free-throw line. First she looks down, she dribbles, she closes her eyes, only to open them in a perfect zen state. Swoosh!

Your state is just as important in running. Think about it. A bad run isn’t bad for no reason, something was off. What was it? Were your muscles sore from lifting weights? Are you stressed about a deadline at work? Did you have a fight with your spouse?

What if we took 5-10 minutes before every run to do a head-to-toe-state-check? What if we put on our headphones, put our heads down, and focused before we ever took our first step? Or, if in the middle of a bad run, we did a state-check. What’s really going on here? Can I change it?

I wish I’d been armed with this information during my last race. I already know that I missed my music, but I bet if I had really thought about it, or took a few minutes to prepare, I would have felt better and performed better.

I look back to my really good races, and I have no doubt that my state was in balance. I probably gave props to the weather, or the crowds, but in reality, it was my mind, my heart and my body that pulled it off. Together, as one. — Amie



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