Keep your cool, composure and focus 100%
In his book Inside Tiger’s Mind: The Keys to His Success, David Norman quotes:
“I had a sense of calm that I haven’t had in a while. It was reminiscent of Augusta in ’97. I felt very tranquil, very calm, even amongst the stormy conditions yesterday. I still felt very peaceful inside no matter what happened out there, I was able to keep my cool, composure and focus 100% on each shot”. — Tiger Woods
Norman suspects that Woods used not just physical skills to become a world-class player and stay there, but also subtle mental skills. The skill he is describing in the quote is called UPTIME in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
- Downtime — Uptime has an opposite state which all of us are familiar with: downtime. In this state you focus inwards and you are aware of your feelings, internal images and sounds. The state in which you daydream, plan, fantasize, create possibilities, play chess.
- Uptime — The state of mind you use to play tennis: eye on the ball, observing the opponent’s moves, judging the racquet angle, focused not on the interior but on the outside.
Both states are useful, of course, depending on your aims. The appropriate state for chess is downtime, but if you want to get safely to the other side of a busy street, it’s better to be in uptime.
Borrowed from computer language –The term ‘uptime’ is borrowed from computer language to describe the moment when the computer is inputting data; ‘downtime’ refers to the phase during which the computer processes the data. When we turn on the computer there is a downtime phase while the machine self-checks, calls up the operating system and presents programmes for use. Then it is at our disposal in the uptime phase when we can write mails, use the word processor or surf the Internet.
This computer metaphor, however, gives only a general picture of what is really happening while people are using uptime.
Kevin Ryan reminds skiers in The Illustrated Guide to Snowboarding to use their mind to anticipate their physical actions. When they anticipate their environment, their actions will be early. When they fail to anticipate, their actions will be late, and they will be forced to rely solely on reflexes. Ryan suggests that if you are having trouble with the task at hand, you should relax and commit.
First step in Learning Hakalau: Relax — Realize being tense and rigid will only make matters worse. It is tough to focus on what you are doing when you feel tense. Breathe. And constrain from focal vision, in other words use foveal/peripheral vision to see 180 degrees. With practize you will feel what is happening in 360 degrees. And that my friend is the real thing.
It is possible to achieve the uptime state easily whenever you feel it might be useful to you. You do this by creating an uptime anchor following these steps based on Dilts’ description in his NLP encyclopaedia (www.NLPuniversitypress.com). Read the steps and you will recognize these steps concur with the huna explanation of Hakalau – the Hawaiian way to be Uptime:
- Find a place in your life where you have particularly enjoyed an enhanced sensory experience.
- Start by seeing the forms, shapes, colours, brightness, and movement around you, using both panoramic and detailed viewing. Set a specific kinesthetic anchor (i.e., press your index finger and thumb together or make a fist or hold your wrist, etc…) and count five.
- Hearing it all: listen for the differences in sounds around you and notice where each of the sounds are located. Listen to intonation patterns and tempo of any voices near you and to the sounds around you. When your auditory channels are fully tuned to awareness. Set your anchor again.
- Engage all your feelings: feel the textures and shapes of objects around you. Also, notice any of your body sensations — pay attention to both internal and external sensations in yourself and your environment. Take careful note of the temperature, pressure and humidity of the air against your skin, and the feeling of the clothing touching you. Set your anchor.
- Smell: smells go straight to the brain without any filtering. Notice the smells in the air and environment. What smells are there? Which is strongest? Are there other, more subtle smells? Take note of tastes, also. When your smell awareness and tastes are most enhanced. Set your anchor.
- Now focus on each sense system and begin to tune into all your senses simultaneously so that your attention is completely engaged with your external environment.
- Set your anchor as you do this and continue to repeat this until you are completely satisfied. When you only need to fire the anchor and your attention automatically goes to your external experience you have a good “uptime anchor”.
- Test your anchor several times today.
Learn to go into uptime at will — This basic presentation and management skill for teachers helps you to differentiate your representations of reality from your observations.
- It provides the basis for a reality check;
- it enables you to communicate your experiences more effectively to your pupils and helps them replicate what you do.
Just as Tiger Woods and the like aim for the very best performances in sport, uptime will empower you to improve your professional performances in education. — Tom Maguire