#537 Squirrels, Einstein and You

Two Mindsets: Training vs. Trusting

In our last +1, we had fun dominating our dishes with Byron Katie.

Get this: The same day I was thinking about that, I was driving to my sunrise trail on a rare, magically misty morning in Ojai. I’m at a stop sign a minute from our house. I glance at Byron Katie’s little chapel on my left then back ahead of me. Right then a little squirrel scurries across the telephone wire, stops in the middle, almost seems to look at me, then continues on his way.

I laughed out loud because I was actually just thinking about squirrels the day before when I was reading Bob Rotella’s How Champions Think.

Quick context then back to the squirrel’s wisdom: Bob Rotella is one of the world’s leading sports psychologists. He’s worked with the best of the best—from golfers who have won a combined 70 majors to musicians like Seal and basketball icon LeBron James.

One of the Big Ideas in his book is that champions get to a point where they’ve done the work rigorously training their skills and then they learn to let go and just let it rip when they’re performing. He tells us we MUST learn how to turn off our conscious minds and let our subconscious minds run the show when we’re trying to execute well-trained motor skills like golf or basketball. (I think the same rules apply for writing or anything really.)

We’re almost back to the squirrel. But first a little more context…

Jon Eliot says essentially the exact same thing in his classic book on peak performance called Overachievement. He tells us that we need to have two mindsets: a “training mindset” and a “trusting mindset.” When you’re training, your conscious mind helps out and you refine your technique. When you’re performing, on the other hand—whether that’s a golf swing or a business pitch—you need to turn your conscious brain off and TRUST that you’ve got what it takes to rock it.

So… Two mindsets: Training vs. Trusting.

And… Now we’re back to that squirrel on the telephone wire next to Byron Katie’s chapel on that magically misty morning in Ojai.

I think to myself, “Hah! That squirrel is awesome. Reminds me of Jon Eliot who asks, ‘You know what a squirrel is thinking when he’s cruising over a telephone wire 20 feet above the ground? Answer… He not. He’s a squirrel. Squirrels don’t think!’”

That’s why I laughed when I saw the squirrel.

If we want to (effortlessly) perform at our best, we need to train rigorously. THEN, Eliot says, we need to act more like a squirrel than Einstein.

So, that’s Today’s +1.

What skill is really important to you? Is it writing? Coaching? Teaching? Leading? Parenting?

Work hard to master your craft. Study. Train. Etc.


When it’s show time, trust yourself. Flip your thinking brain off. Let it rip. Let your best self flow through you.

And… Think of that the next time you see a squirrel.

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