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Charlie Unwin - Episode 2 - The Performance Inside

This week Charlie explains to us what is Performance Psychology and how it can help us all, in all areas of our lives. Watch episode 2 and discover how our internal performance can improve our external performance.

 


If you would prefer to read Charlie's latest vlog - check out the video transcript below

Amy Williams:

Hello everyone. It's Amy Williams here with the U Perform channel. I've got Charlie Unwin here again. Now last week you told us all about you. What is it that you want our viewers and our subscribers to understand and learn today.

Charlie Unwin:

Yeah, I'm really excited about being able to share so much over the upcoming weeks months, as long as we can really. There's this kind of exercises in there. There's techniques, but I suppose fundamentally what I want people to get from this is that everyone' has goals and everyone's got things that they want to achieve. Those goals will change in our lifetime and our goals will change from one thing to another. The thing that will stay constant for all of us is our minds - what goes on in there.

So I suppose I really want people to know and understand their minds because it stays with us forever. And so the mission really for me, is to help people make their minds the greatest tool that they have.

Amy Williams:

I guess that's the thing, we're so used to thinking about performance and it just be in your body. It's a physical thing rather than a mental thing that's going on in your head.

Charlie Unwin:

How often did you sprint as fast as you can and jump onto a...I'm not allowed to call it a tea tray. But the things you learned from that, that exist in there will stay with you forever and how you present yourself and manage your own emotions, thoughts, focus, and all of that; you'll have that for sure.

Amy Williams:

Yeah. That's very true. I mean, even now I go about daily life. I'm still using the lessons I learned as an athlete, performing as an athlete, just going into daily life: preparing the kids bags and if it doesn't work at plan a, I've got plan B, plan C, I've learned this from being an athlete

Charlie Unwin:

And we're going to find out more about that as well.

Amy Williams:

So Charlie, tell us what you're referring to as the performance inside.

Charlie Unwin:

The Performance Inside is my central philosophy and approach. It comes from an inside performance. That's what goes on inside us. So predominantly what's going on in our head or thoughts or feelings and what we're focusing on, physiologically in our body as well.

And then there's the outside performance, which is the thing we're trying to do. The thing we're trying to get better at or get or compete at. And I think it's easy for people to define success by what they do on the outside, by what other people see of them. So we're always aware of what other people are seeing and what the outside world, the world is defining as successful. So it could be, you know, making a putts as a golfer. It could be your first serve as a tennis player. The thing is if we want to be good at what we do in the outside world, we need consistency, right?

So it's all very well being able to do a first serve, being able to do it every time is really the measure of success, but we cannot build consistency in the outside if we don't build consistency in the inside. If we're having different thoughts, every time we take that serve or take that putt, if we're feeling differently because we can't manage, or we're not even aware of what's going on inside us, then we're going to generate inconsistency on the outside. So for me, the really key message here is if we want to be consistent on the outside, we have to be highly consistent on the inside.

Amy Williams:

I guess that comes down to thinking of that athlete again. Although obviously all these techniques are for people in everyday life in situations and jobs and work, but the athlete, you always say - 'Oh, I've got major competition coming up, or I've got world championships, Olympic games, I better use a sports psychologist'. And I think people only really use someone when they suddenly think, Oh, there's a big competition, or they're under pressure. Quickly, let's get someone in to help rather than doing it every single day as part of their training or routine.

Charlie Unwin:

It's so true, isn't it? It's so true. I think that's the beauty of probably the system you found yourself in, because it was kind of given to you a lot more. So you didn't have to do it off your own back thinking right now there's a problem. So I need to address it. Rather we were able to be much more proactive in our style and you're absolutely right. I mean, for me, training our internal performance is what it's all about. Because we don't want to arrive at an Olympic games and be doing things for the first time or using coping mechanisms for the first time.

Out of interest, how does that sort of concept sound to you? How do you relate to this idea of there being the sort of outside performance and then this inside performance?

Amy Williams:

As an athlete, I never sort of thought about it in those two different sort of ways. But for me, consistency was key in our sport. You have to put down consistent, runs down that skeleton sled. You weren't going to win a race if you did one amazing, fast run and one not so good. You had to be the one that was every day, always the same.

So I would always prepare my training, my, my sled, the way I thought about going down the ice track; training to competition, I didn't think about it any differently. I would warm up the same way just about, I would do some special, extra things on competition day, but everything I would do in preparation to how I packed my bag, what breakfast I ate, what I did when I arrived at the top of the ice track would be the same, whether that was a training day or a race day, because I knew that consistency was the most important thing.

Charlie Unwin:

Which is great because in the next week we're going to be talking more about creating predictability and certainty. There's a lot of uncertainty in sport and not least your competitors. So it'd be great to have that chat about how we create more predictability and therefore confidence.

Amy Williams:

And I guess all of this can help everyone in their daily life and jobs, whether you've got a high stress situation in work or whether you're a busy working mum or dad, and you're trying to juggle everything, just having that peace and calm that you can cope in a situation or scenario because you've practiced it, you've rehearsed it, nothing will then come as a surprise.

Charlie Unwin:

Absolutely. I've seen that awareness is key actually, knowing that we are under stress, knowing that I'm not breathing properly, I'm breathing shallow. A lot of people don't even realize they're doing it. You open an email. What do we do? We hold our breath. We go to open our emails and of course we're anticipating. So we hold our breath.

So we're not even aware of the inner performance. We're not even aware of how what's going inside is then affecting the way we think, which then affects how we communicate, what we know, what we do, the precision of what we do. And of course, in sport, that could be the difference between hitting a putt long or getting it into the hole.

I think a lot of people, like you say, get into psychology when it comes to the big championships and because people feel that pressure, and there's a great analogy that I remember I was taught as an athlete, which is really dear to me now, and to the work that I do with other athletes and I call it 'walking the pavement'. So imagine that you're walking along the edge of a pavement and you're just putting one foot in front of the other, and you could do that all day. Cause it's not that difficult. Right? Now imagine that the edge of that pavement, it wasn't three inches. It was three miles. So you're kind of walking along a sheer cliff face, just think for a second, how that would change the way that you behave.

I don't know about you, but I would probably either be frozen to the spot. You're almost doubting yourself. So what's changed fundamentally. It's not your ability to walk. You've been walking all your life. Practicing walking is not going to get any better at being able to walk along that pavement.

Instead it's what's going on internally being able to recognize and manage that. Um, and I think taking that analogy into real life, what is that for most people? For most people it is fear of failure. Fear of looking stupid pressure that other people might put on you, pressure to keep your funding in professional sports. But it could also be because you've got millions of people watching you. It could be because if you're a special forces soldier, it's a life or death situation. So there are lots of reasons why that drop is expanding. The problem is we cannot take that away. We have to be comfortable with that. And in doing so, almost comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Amy Williams:

Yeah. I think you've kind of nailed it there. It's knowing before something happens before that job interview before a high pressure situation, it is going to feel uncomfortable. But you know, I'm prepared and I'm already anticipating that I might feel uncomfortable, but I have coping mechanisms to keep myself calm, the deep breathing or whatever it might be to keep that focus.

Charlie Unwin:

Yes, absolutely. And we will explore what, what they all are.

Amy Williams:

So if we know we're going to be in these high stress situations that come up in our daily lives, what is it then that you're saying that we can do every day to almost then train ourselves to become better?

Charlie Unwin:

Well, I think that's exactly the points. This is about how we train our mind, how we adapt our psychophysiology our response to those moments. And I guess the really key message is, everyone can get better at this.

I think a lot of athletes think that I when I come in I'm going to give them coping mechanisms. I'm either going to help take the pressure away from them, or I'm just going to give them stuff that allows them to cope in that moment. But the problem is no one's ever going to perform at their best when they're coping. In the same way that in business, no one's ever going to be creative when they're coping, when they're surviving.

So there are so many things we have to put in place on a day to day basis that allow us to train that to happen. And in a way, where athletes are training hard in order to physically adapt. We're putting our muscles under stress in order for those muscles to adapt and therefore become stronger. It's exactly the same with the mind. If we don't get used to inoculating ourselves with little bits of controlled stress and being able to make positive sense of it and get better at it, then we can't expect to be better at it when we need to.

Amy Williams:

So what other sort of aspects of daily performances are we talking about?

Charlie Unwin:

I've written a few things down. These are just things that I've done in the last few months with various athletes. So identity is a big thing and this is something we would work on continuously with someone e.g. being able to feel like you belong in that arena. And it's so easy. I think for people to get lost or feel like they don't belong there for whatever reason. And the higher up you go up the levels and I'm sure you must felt it at some point, but, when you get to the next level it becomes easy to question, do I belong here? Not only that, but do I believe that I am that person who can achieve that? So that's kind of identity stuff.

If we get into the deeper psychology but then there's other stuff. I mean, there's stuff like adherence to new behaviors. So nutritionists, I'm sure they were constantly trying to get you to adopt new behaviors. You know, you've got to eat this, you've got to do this, you've got to stretch, you've got to do that new technique. So we're having to break and create new habits all the time.

So often I'm working with other sports scientists to help create new habits; people that are going to accelerate them beyond their opposition. So that's accelerated learning and that's really important. We almost touched on it there, but our attitudes to learning, how clearly we set our goals up front that gives us that focus when we're actually trying to execute a task or skill.

Then also how we analyze our performance - our memory as well. We get to the bottom of the skeleton track, you've been going around corners at five G or whatever. And if you look up and think what just happened there, you've almost lost that ability to make sense of it. So we're trying to improve people's recall as well.

Moving into refocus training, flow states. To help you to be able to get into the right state of mind, to not think about it too much. Routines, self-belief and confidence overcoming injury. There are loads. You get the idea and these are all things that we can explore over time.

Amy Williams:

Fascinating stuff. Thank you so much for today.

Well, another fascinating insight into your kind of approach to everything. Charlie, what are we going to be talking about next week?

Charlie Unwin:

Next week we're going to look in even more detail at the performance inside. But we're going to make it a lot more practical. So we're going to look at some exercises and techniques that build your awareness of what's going on in your mind and to also start to get better at training that, and we're going to be using you as a bit of a guinea pig as well Amy.

Amy Williams:

Well, it's been Charlie Unwin and Amy Williams hear for the U Perform channel. Thanks for joining us again, please subscribe, click on the bell and we will see you next week!


Make sure to tune in next Thursday for Episode 3

See you there!

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