Elite Performance and How to Maintain It

 How_do_I_pay_the_least_tax_as_a_doctor-_(8).png

With the Rio Olympics still fresh on our minds, it’s topical to talk about elite performance and how to maintain it. There is a body of evidence to show that doctors’ decision-making ability can be impaired at the end of long shifts.

Is this unavoidable, or can this be addressed?

At the macro level better rostering and staffing can prevent doctors from working so much that they become a danger to their patients, but in the absence of this is there anything individual doctors can do to help themselves?

I think the answer lies not in working harder, because we can’t fit more in, but in developing our own ability to rapidly transition between different situations and environments to show up at our best.

In sports, elite performers have to be able to put a poor performance behind them and show up at their best; this is what separates the best.

When I was skiing professionally in 2003, everything was leading up to the national champs because a win in that would qualify me for the World Tour. I had one shot at it. The competition consisted of four runs over two days, with the best three runs of any athlete counting. I placed so much pressure on myself that I bombed my first run; it wasn’t fluid, I missed my line, and I got to the bottom knowing it wasn’t enough for a win. So when I got back up to the top I removed myself from the other competitors and reflected on the run and what I could learn, I then took a moment to breathe and centre myself, and I put myself in a powerful state for my upcoming run. I nailed my next run that day, and the two runs the following day, and became the national champ.

Doctors are like elite sports people, with one key difference; elite sports people have to act like it’s life or death to be the best, for doctors it really is life or death.

So can doctors use this to show up at their best throughout the day? I think so.

I call the method ‘The Shift’ because it allows a person to shift between situations without stacking stress on stress on stress, it allows them to recharge through the day and be just as good at the end as at the start. There are three steps.

STEP ONE: Ponder

Pondering is taking the lessons from a situation. I believe that if we don’t take the lessons then things stick with us, so this can be as simple as asking ‘what have I learnt?’ or ‘what would I do different next time?’ When we have the lesson we are free to leave the situation in our past, not to continue to relive it.

STEP TWO: Pause

If we just rush from situation to situation we stack the stress, so it’s important to take a moment and centre ourselves in that moment. If you have time you could take a short walk, or if there’s very little time you could simply take some deep mindful breaths.

STEP THREE: Prepare

This is when you consciously choose how you need to show up to be at your best in the next situation. Like me when I was skiing, if I’d taken my second run in an fearful state because so much was riding on it then I’d likely have made mistakes. I had to put myself in a powerful state to ski at my best.

I believe any doctor can use this process to serve the patients they see at the end of the day just as well as those who they see at the start. Give it a go.

 How_do_I_pay_the_least_tax_as_a_doctor-_(8).png

With the Rio Olympics still fresh on our minds, it’s topical to talk about elite performance and how to maintain it. There is a body of evidence to show that doctors’ decision-making ability can be impaired at the end of long shifts.

Is this unavoidable, or can this be addressed?

At the macro level better rostering and staffing can prevent doctors from working so much that they become a danger to their patients, but in the absence of this is there anything individual doctors can do to help themselves?

I think the answer lies not in working harder, because we can’t fit more in, but in developing our own ability to rapidly transition between different situations and environments to show up at our best.

In sports, elite performers have to be able to put a poor performance behind them and show up at their best; this is what separates the best.

When I was skiing professionally in 2003, everything was leading up to the national champs because a win in that would qualify me for the World Tour. I had one shot at it. The competition consisted of four runs over two days, with the best three runs of any athlete counting. I placed so much pressure on myself that I bombed my first run; it wasn’t fluid, I missed my line, and I got to the bottom knowing it wasn’t enough for a win. So when I got back up to the top I removed myself from the other competitors and reflected on the run and what I could learn, I then took a moment to breathe and centre myself, and I put myself in a powerful state for my upcoming run. I nailed my next run that day, and the two runs the following day, and became the national champ.

Doctors are like elite sports people, with one key difference; elite sports people have to act like it’s life or death to be the best, for doctors it really is life or death.

So can doctors use this to show up at their best throughout the day? I think so.

I call the method ‘The Shift’ because it allows a person to shift between situations without stacking stress on stress on stress, it allows them to recharge through the day and be just as good at the end as at the start. There are three steps.

STEP ONE: Ponder

Pondering is taking the lessons from a situation. I believe that if we don’t take the lessons then things stick with us, so this can be as simple as asking ‘what have I learnt?’ or ‘what would I do different next time?’ When we have the lesson we are free to leave the situation in our past, not to continue to relive it.

STEP TWO: Pause

If we just rush from situation to situation we stack the stress, so it’s important to take a moment and centre ourselves in that moment. If you have time you could take a short walk, or if there’s very little time you could simply take some deep mindful breaths.

STEP THREE: Prepare

This is when you consciously choose how you need to show up to be at your best in the next situation. Like me when I was skiing, if I’d taken my second run in an fearful state because so much was riding on it then I’d likely have made mistakes. I had to put myself in a powerful state to ski at my best.

I believe any doctor can use this process to serve the patients they see at the end of the day just as well as those who they see at the start. Give it a go.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.