#1309 Raise the Basement

You Don’t Rise to the Occasion, You Sink to…

Continuing our tour through Brian Cain’s mental toughness fables, let’s talk about another Big Idea from The 10 Pillars of Mental Performance Mastery.

Remember: Brian has coached an INCREDIBLE number of SUPER-ELITE athletes and coaches. Eight UFC Champions. Four Cy Young Winners. MVPs. Olympians, etc., etc., etc.

One of the things he teaches them?

The fact that, as he puts it: “You don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to your levels of training and habits.”

Here’s how his guide Coach Kenny puts it in the fable.

He tells us: “The key is to make your habits so strong and your training so good that when you sink to your worst day, you sink to a level higher than anyone else on their best day,’ Coach Kenny said. ‘It’s easy to say, hard to do, and only possible if you follow the 10 pillars of mental performance mastery.”

Then he says: “Everyone talks about raising the roof. In reality, it’s about raising your basement so that you have good bad days and are better on your bad days than most people are on their good days—because you can focus better and have better habits and a more elite mindset. It’s really about being the best version of you that you have ever been. It’s also about not comparing yourself to anyone else but to where you were yesterday. If you can see progress—be better today than you were yesterday and better tomorrow than you are today—and just keep going baby step by baby step, you will get where you want to be.”

That’s from a great chapter called “You Don’t Rise to the Occasion; You Sink to Your Training and Habits.” There’s a LOT of wisdom in there that we could talk about for an entire weekend workshop.

For now, let’s focus on a few highlights and some parallel wisdom from other brilliant teachers.

First, I think of this +1 on Good Bad Days in which we talk about some wisdom from Jim Afremow’s The Champion’s Mind. Big Idea? Golfers like Jack Nicklaus and Rory McIlroy know it’s all about “playing poorly well.” You can only do that when you have an elite mind.

Then I think of Lanny Bassham and his son Troy who wrote With Winning in Mind and Attainment. In this +1 on Average vs. Elite, we talk about the fact that AVERAGE performers practice something until they can get it right. ELITE performers, on the other hand, practice until they CAN’T GET IT WRONG.

Then there’s Josh Waitzkin, the chess prodigy turned martial artist champion. In The Art of Learning, he tells us that we need to make our prior best our new baseline.

What happens when we do all that? We raise the basement.

Our highs are higher AND (!) our LOWS are HIGHER. On our worst days, we’re often better than we used to be on our best days.

And that’s an incredibly powerful thing.

Here’s to raising our basement as we DOMINATE THE DAY and give the world all we’ve got, Hero.

Day 1. All in. Let’s go!

P.S. Lest you think this is just a bunch of peak performance mumbo jumbo, let’s remind ourselves of the ancient wisdom from one of the wisest of them all as we make sure we are building our lives on a solid foundation.

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