The Case of Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter was on his way to work. He was driving to Yankee Stadium where he would play in the last home game of his 20-year career. Suddenly the emotions hit and the tears followed. His heart was filled with the love for the game, the fans, the team and the organization that meant so much to him. He had set the standard for hard work and for playing with fire and passion. He was adored by the fans and loved by his teammates. And now it was about to end.
During the pregame and the early innings, Jeter struggled with the emotion around the importance of this game. At the height of the emotion, he was quoted as saying, “All I could do was say please don’t hit it to me.” He was simply beyond distraction. The game appeared to be in hand with the Yankees in line to win. And then, as fate would have it, the opposing team tied the score in the top of the 9th inning. With Jeter scheduled to hit 3rd in the bottom of the 9th the drama was set.
Jeter recalls saying to himself, “Now we have a game and I have to get back into it.” Known for his ability to be calm and deliberate under pressure, Jeter settled down and adjusted his thoughts and feelings to fit the situation. He stepped into the batter’s box with the confidence and focus for what he needed to do. He got the pitch he wanted and with the “inside-out swing” he was famous for, he lined the ball to right field for a single that brought the runner home for the win.
Once again Jeter was the hero. As New York Times reporter David Waldstein put it, “He did exactly the kind of thing that had made him so adored by his fans. In Jeter’s words, "It was sort of an out of body experience. It was a weird range of emotions. I was just trying not to cry.''
For sure Jeter was affected by the emotions of the situation. What’s also true is that he had the tools he needed to perform in that moment. The habits he had developed over the years took over. He was able to bring himself present and be calm, confident and focused ... and stroke the game-winning hit and make it look so easy and smooth!
HiLevel Habit Number 3
Master The HiLevel Tools
We've previously discussed Habit Number 1 Mindset (Gratitude, Excitement, Devotion) and Habit Number 2 The Rules (Show Up Rested, Trust the Process, Find the Beauty). Mindset provides the direction and The Rules provide the freedom of expression. In this article we will discuss Habit Number 3 Master The Tools (Intentional Breathing, Mindfulness, Focus) that help to create the ease of movement.
Intentional breathing, mindfulness and focus. The breathing provides the energy, the mindfulness allows you choose the proper thoughts and emotions and the focus establishes the direction and the sensations that signal proper form, tempo and intensity.
Intentional Breathing occurs when you have complete conscious awareness of the meaning of your breath. To include the effect you want it to have on your preparation, execution and completion. In the GED Model there are three styles of breathing: Essential which nurtures the parasympathetic nervous system, Performance which makes everything you do better and Power which makes your breathing stronger, more efficient and better able to contribute to your over–all performance and health.
Essential Breathing brings the calm so crucial to your performance and life.
Performance Breathing enhances your ability to Settle Down, Be Aware, Prepare and Execute with Poise, Power and Accuracy.
Power Breathing with the Pump, Clearing and the Chill increases endurance, energy levels and mood. It also helps you to relax before, during and after competition and enhances healing, overall better fitness and health.
Feeling tight, nervous and anxious before, during and after your performance.
Use essential breathing before, performance breathing during and power breathing after your performance to create the proper response for releasing the tension.
Feeling calm and relaxed, settled and feeling good about the ability to perform.
Mindfulness occurs when you are able to choose the right thoughts and feelings and stay open to the need to:
- Work harder.
- Accept corrective feedback.
- Push away from any and all resistance.
- Accept and embrace change and experience growth in the process.
- Adjust or change your course or strategy.
- Reframe negative thoughts into practical thoughts that help you make informed choices.
- Feel good, complete and satisfied with giving your best effort.
Recognizing the need to change your attitude, intensity and/or focus.
Stay open and make the right adjustment to your thoughts, feelings and actions.
Feeling satisfied and successful that you made the right decision.
Focus happens when you are able to generate the proper emotions, intensity, attitude, and pace. To concentrate on the sensations that signal proper form, technique and execution. To have your actions be consistent with the desired outcome/action plan.
You recognizing the need to increase your concentration on a narrow focus or a broad focus.
Select the proper émotions and control your concentration on the proper sensations and follow through.
You hit the target, make the play and/or pull off the move or action.
When you are able to combine Intentional Breathing with Mindfulness and the proper Focus you are on your way to:
- Being present in a new or difficult situation and experience the resulting growth.
- Embracing a serious challenge and learning how to develop and stay in process.
- Being Grateful for the opportunity to battle with the competition and operate at acceptance for the results.
- Experiencing the Power of Flow where the work and massive effort comes back to you as a series of feel good movements.
Derek Jeter had the tools, the intentional breathing to manage his emotions, the mindfulness to follow his plan and rituals at that plate under incredible pressure and focus on allowing his feet, hands and core to do exactly what he had trained them do. In that moment a lifetime of deliberate practice and experience paid off and produced the perfect action and results. The process that he had mastered is a tribute to the magical combination of power and grace, flow and serenity that allowed Jeter to embrace the moment and all of the blessings it had to offer.