The Thai word bpàt-jù-ban means ‘Present’ or ‘Now’. I learnt this from the participants during the recent ‘IPC Intro to Para Coaching Course’ in Korat, Thailand.
While I was sharing with the Thai coaches why it was important for an athlete to refocus on the process goals whenever she “time traveled” to outcome goals or past mistakes. One of the coaches shared (through a translator) that this was similar to bpàt-jù-ban – a Buddhist notion familiar to the Thais about not dwelling on the past nor dream of the future, but to be in the present/ bpàt-jù-ban.
I got excited when I learnt of this as my main purpose for coaching mental skills has always been to help athletes see the relevance of these skills not only in sport, but in life.
So What Does it mean to be Present or Process Focused?
I would explain it as simply keeping things simple, and the best way to keep things simple is to be in the present – to be in the here and now by focusing on the process instead of the outcome. Sounds simple? Well, it’s simple but definitely not easy. In fact, it is even counter-intuitive!
When you relate this to training and goals…It simply means to shift away from your outcome goal (e.g., to move and react faster during games) to focusing on the training process (e.g., adding 10 minutes of quick feet and reaction drills before every practice session). Athletes who have the ability to let go of their “time” or outcome goals are usually the ones who achieve them.
If you think about it, success really depends on how effective we are in accomplishing a series of practice goals isn’t it? This requires consistent energy and focus and being constantly distracted by worries about not being able to achieve your end goal isn’t going to help.
What it means for skill development and competition…is to focus on the performance and mental cues (e.g., driving your legs, eyes on the ball, running into passing lanes) instead of the outcome (e.g., completing the practice session or winning the game).
You have probably experienced similar thoughts during competition – “I have to score in this game!” or “I’m two strokes down, this drive needs to be perfect.” Such thoughts often make you feel tensed or anxious. If you are a striker, you would probably be more hesitant to shoot, and if you are the golfer, you’d probably “over muscle” your swing.
This isn’t Just About Sport, its Life…
Observe these two former para-athletes who attended the IPC Intro to Para-Coaching Course below.
Would they be able to roll the ball if they focused on what they did NOT have?
When we learn how to focus on the process instead of the outcome, we are also learning one of the most common thinking routine associated with Resilience (i.e., the capacity to overcome challenges) – “Focus on what you CAN control instead of what you CAN’T…” What that means is that you can’t directly control the outcome, but you can give yourself the highest probability of success by focusing on the 50% that you can control, and use a 100% of this 50%!
So how can this approach or mindset help us to overcome challenges in our careers, relationships or any pursuits? As always, I would be delighted to hear from you!