Remember, human behavior is the result of the state we are in. If you have ever produced a successful result, you can reproduce it by taking the same mental and physical actions you did then. Before the 1984 Olympics, the expert Mr.X worked with Michael O’Brien, a swimmer who competed in the 1,500 freestyle. He had been practicing but felt as if he were not really putting his all into gearing up to succeed. He had developed a series of mental blocks that seemed to be limiting him. He had some fear about what success mean, and thus his goal was the bronze or maybe the silver medal. He was not the favored swimmer to win the gold. The favorite, George DiCarlo, had beaten Michael on several occasions.
Did you ever see the film The Killing Fields? There was an amazing scene in it involving a kid of perhaps twelve or thirteen living amid the awful chaos and destruction of war in Cambodia. At one point, in utter frustration, he picked up a machine gun and just blew someone away. It’s a shocking scene. How in the world, you wonder, does a twelve year old kid reach the point where he can do something like that? Well, two things happen. The first is that he’s so frustrated that he’s gone into a state where he’s tapped into terrible violent depths in his personality. The second is that he lives in a culture so permeated with war and destruction that picking up machine gun seems an appropriate response. He’s seen others do it, and he does it, too. It’s a terrible negative scene. Try to concentrate on more positive states. But it’s a dramatic summation of how we can do things in one state good or bad we’d never do in another. The kind of behavior people produce is the result of the state they are in. How they specifically respond out of that state is based on their models of the world – that is, their stored neurological strategies. Michael O’Brien could not win the Olympic gold medal. He had to work most of his life to store the strategies, the muscle responses, and so forth. But what our expert could do is find out how he could summon his most effective resources, his success strategies, on cue and in the key minutes he needed them.
Most people take very little conscious action to direct their states. They wake up depressed or they wake up energized. Good breaks lift them up, bad ones bring them down. One difference between people in any field is how effectively they marshal their resources. It’s most clear in athletics. No one succeeds all the time, but there are certain athletes who have the ability to put themselves in a resourceful state almost on cue, who almost always rise to the occasion. Why did Reggie Jackson hit all those October home runs? How did Larry Bird or Jerry West develop the uncanny ability to hit all those shots at the buzzer? They were able to summon up their best when they needed it, when the pressure was the greatest.
State change is what most people are after. They want to be happy, joyous, ecstatic, centered. They want peace of mind, or they’re trying to get away from states they do not like. They feel frustrated, angry, upset, bored. So what do most people do? Well, they turn on a TV set that gives them new representations they can internalize, so now they see something and laugh. They’re no longer in their frustrated state. They go out and eat, or they smoke a cigarette or take a drug. On a more positive note, they might exercise. The only problem with most of these approaches is that the results are not lasting. When the TV show is over, they still have the internal representations about their life. They remember them and feel bad again after the excess food or drug has been consumed. There’s now a price to pay for the temporary state change.
That didn’t mean he had to walk on fire regularly. He just had to regularly access this new state. By doing something he thought was impossible, he developed a new model of what he could do to make himself feel good.
People who have achieved excellence are masters of tapping into the most resourceful parts of their brain. That’s what separates them from the pack. They key thing to remember is that your state has awesome power, and you can control it. You don’t have to be at the mercy of whatever comes your way.
There is a factor that determines in advance how we will represent our experience of life – a factor that filters the way we represent the world to ourselves. A factor that determines the kinds of states we will consistently create in certain situations. It has been called the greatest power.