How to Train Toughness, Develop Body Armor, and Reach Peak Performance
“What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”
“I’ve seen athletes slow down in a Game, but I’ve never seen one get smaller.”
Developing Body Armor is the art and science of increasing your ability to handle all kinds of stress—physical, mental, and emotional—so that you’ll be a more effective competitor.
It’s a simple and proven method of perfecting your sports skills while minimizing the risk of physical injuries and emotional setbacks that so come with overtraining.
What does Body Armor Toughness Training Toughen?
Your mind, body, and emotions will become more flexible, responsive, resilient, and stronger.
You are a FORCE.
When you have Body Armor when you become emotionally challenged, you become a Heatseeker rather than a heat deflector.
When adversity strikes it means no BMC’ing.
It means firing up, and forging ahead when almost everyone else is heading for the locker room.
Rather than fear and helplessness, what you get is distinct feelings of aggressiveness, spirit, and fight combined with a profound sense of calmness and confidence.
Competitive problems become stimulating rather than threatening and—since positive emotion fuels, the challenge-response—a sense of loving the battle gradually takes form.
To love winning is easy; to love the battle requires toughness, a skill that is honed only through dedicated emotional target practice.
When the pressure is on, our attitude determines whether we experience a (sub-optimal) fight-or-flight response or the much more empowering “challenge-response.
Kelly McGonigal talks about this in her great book The Upside of Stress.
Here’s how she puts it: “Like a fight-or-flight response, a challenge-response gives you energy and helps you perform under pressure.
Your heart rate still rises, your adrenaline spikes, your muscles, and brain get more fuel, and the feel-good chemicals surge. But it differs from a fight-or-flight response in a few important ways:
You feel focused but not fearful. You also release a different ratio of stress hormones, including higher levels of DHEA, which helps you recover and learn from stress.
This raises the growth index of your stress response, the beneficial ratio of stress hormones that can determine, in part, whether a stressful experience is strengthening or harmful…
People who report being in a flow state—a highly enjoyable state of being completely absorbed in what you are doing—display clear signs of a challenge-response. Artists, athletes, surgeons, video gamers, and musicians all show this kind of stress response when they’re engaged in their craft or skill. Contrary to what many people expect, top performers in these fields aren’t physiologically calm under pressure; rather, they have strong challenge responses. The stress response gives them access to their mental and physical resources, and the result is increased confidence, enhanced concentration, and peak performance.”
HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO STRESS
Feeling threatened is not the only way to respond to stress. It’s also possible to feel a sense of challenge, this sense of challenge is how you build your Body Armor.
People with a challenge-response may feel anxious and nervous during a lab stressor test, but they also feel excited and energized.
They have a ‘bring it on!’ mentality. …
Athletes who have a challenge-response win more often and a study of Olympic athletes has shown that these highly successful folks have a history of seeing their life problems as challenges to be conquered.
The challenge-response creates the psychological and physiological conditions for you to engage fully, perform at your best, and win.
The threat response is characterized by withdrawal and defeat, as you slump in your seat or freeze, your body preparing for wounding and shame as you anticipate a bad outcome.
ATTACK ALL CHALLENGES WITH FEROCITY
One of the 3 talent development principles in the Playmaker Project is Ferocity. Be Ferocious.
Attack everything you do with ferocity.
Water doesn’t boil at 211 degrees, it boils at 212 degrees.
When we develop Body Armor we attack challenges and problems the same way.
This Power has us stop hoping for easy lives and instead has us focusing on cultivating the inner and outer strength we need to enjoy the difficult lives we all have. Though our ability to control what happens to us in life may be limited, our ability to establish a life state strong enough to surmount the suffering life brings us is not.
Remember you are a Force.
DEVELOPING AN UNDEFEATED MIND
Alex Lickerman is a medical doctor, practicing Buddhist, and author of the book An Undefeated Mind, how to construct an indestructible self. I want to end this article with a quote from the book because it sums up what Building Body Armor is all about.
“This, then, is what it means to possess an undefeated mind: not just to rebound quickly from adversity or to face it calmly, without being pulled down by depression or anxiety, but also to get up day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade—even over the course of an entire lifetime—and attack the obstacles in front of us again and again until they fall, or we do.
An undefeated mind isn’t one that never feels discouraged or despairing; it’s one that continues on in spite of it. Even when we can’t find a smile to save us, even when we’re tired beyond all endurance, possessing an undefeated mind means never forgetting that defeat comes not from failing but from giving up. An undefeated mind doesn’t fill itself with false hope, but with hopes to find real solutions, even solutions it may not want or like.
An undefeated mind is itself what grants us access to the creativity, strength, and courage necessary to find those real solutions, viewing obstacles not as distractions or detours off the main path of our lives but as the very means by which we capture the lives we want.
Victory may not be promised to any of us, but possessing an undefeated mind means behaving as though it is, as though to win we only need to wage an all-out struggle and work harder than everyone else, trying everything we can, and when that fails trying everything we think we can’t, in full understanding that we have no one on whom we can rely for victory but ourselves.
Possessing an undefeated mind, we understand that there’s no obstacle from which we can’t create some kind of value. We view any such doubt as delusion.
Everyone—absolutely everyone—has the capacity to construct an undefeatable mind, not just to withstand personal traumas, economic crises, or armed conflicts, but to triumph over them.”
When you develop Body Armor instead of seeing problems as an expression of a “condition” whose cause was in the past, we need to see them as catalysts for developing forces that are already present, lying dormant inside us.
Remember you are a Force.
Do This Today
We all tend to avoid emotional pain. This is not good. It *dramatically* limits our potential. If we want to have a shot at actualizing our potential, we need to “reverse our desire” and, rather than crawl up in a little ball and try to avoid pain, we want to discipline ourselves to GET EXCITED about the challenges in our lives.
We need to know that our infinite potential exists on the other side of our comfort zones and that the only way to break through to that infinite potential is to BRING ON!! the pain, learn to love it and use it to catalyze our growth. The next time you face a challenge today, I want you to Scream Out “BRING IT ON, PAIN SETS ME FREE”
Let’s get Better Today,