michael gervais

The Secrets of High-Performance | Michael Gervais on What Got You There with Sean DeLaney

Check out the What Got You There with Sean DeLaney Podcast Page

Key Takeaways

  • Whenever we’re in a moment that feels hostile, it is hostile; your mind will react the same way to a perceived threat as it will to an actual threat
  • “The same areas of our brain that are responsible for helping us run from a saber-toothed tiger are alive at cocktail parties when we’re supposed to be having fun, but we’re worried about what other people might think of us” – Michael Gervais
  • Greatness comes at a cost; sacrifices are a must—both personal and relationship-wise
  • “If purpose is bigger than pain, then purpose wins”Michael Gervais
  • “That present, deep focus on the task at hand is the place where wisdom is revealed, and in the performance world, it’s where high performance is expressed”Michael Gervais
  • Life coaches may provide words of wisdom, but the real “life coach” is going out there and living through experiences that allow you to test yourself

Intro

  • Michael Gervais (@michaelgervais) is a high-performance psychologist who trains the mindset skills of world record holders, Olympians, internationally acclaimed artists and musicians, MVPs from every major sport, and Fortune 100 CEOs
  • Host: Sean DeLaney (@SeanDeLaney23)

Before We Begin

  • Enter for a chance to win Dr. Gervais & Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll’s ‘Compete to Create’ course here (valued at $499!)

A Love of Surfing Spawned Michael’s Interest in Psychology

  • Michael was born on a farm in Virginia and grew up in Southern California where he fell in love with surfing
    • Michael realized that to surf better get better at surfing, he had to step out of his comfort zone and push himself, even though doing so caused fear—this paradox intrigued him:
      • “I was so curious about how the mind worked, especially under duress, and while in hostile or rugged environments” – Michael Gervais
  • Michael went on to study psychology, training for 14 years to become a high-performance psychologist
    • Michael developed a keen interest for individual sports, such as skiing and BMX, where, if someone played poorly, they only had themselves to blame

Fear is Fascinating

  • The underlying fear you experience in various contexts is similar : “The same areas of our brain that are responsible for helping us run from a saber-toothed tiger are alive at cocktail parties when we’re supposed to be having fun, but we’re worried about what other people might think of us” – Michael Gervais
    • Whenever we’re in a moment that feels hostile, it is hostile. Your mind will react the same way to a perceived threat as it will to an actual threat.
  • “When you’re in a moment that feels stressful, it’s because your brain thinks it’s hostile” – Michael Gervais
    • (And if we don’t work to overwrite this natural instinct, the brain will win)

Performance Strategies

  • There are two main strategies in performance psychology: self-discovery and mental-skills development
    • Mental-skills development involves seeing, feeling, tasting, and smelling an environment, and imagining how you want to respond in the future (it’s all about using your imagination in a skilled way to become familiar with how you want to respond in a future setting)
      • When practicing this skill, don’t multitask; a high level of focus is essential
  • When you have a big game, think of it as an opportunity to express yourself and showcase your talents—this puts you in the driver’s seat and gives you the chance to take responsibility
  • Just like physical training takes time and effort, so does mental training

Pursuing Greatness Requires Focus and Sacrifices

  • To be a high-performer, you must be able to cultivate a state of presence, allowing you to focus on the task at hand
    • “That present, deep focus on the task at hand is the place where wisdom is revealed, and in the performance world, it’s where high performance is expressed”Michael Gervais
      • Being present is a difficult task, even for high-performers; some are masters at cultivating presence during big games but struggle with doing so in general day-to-day life
  • When an athlete “chokes,” they’re choking off access to their talent
  • Greatness comes at a cost; sacrifices are a must—both personal and relationship-wise
    • Greatness requires isolation to practice and hone your skills; family, loved ones, and intimate relationships often suffer 
      • “There’s a dark side to it … It really is a loneliness; it’s a selfishness, and in those two spaces, there’s an isolation that takes place.” – Michael Gervais
  • Smart, high-performance athletes know that too much adrenaline will compromise their thinking, inhibiting their ability to make clear decisions

Purpose > Pain

  • “If purpose is bigger than pain, then purpose wins”Michael Gervais
    • For this reason, your purpose must be clear:
      • It should be bigger than you
      • It should matter to you
      • It should be future-oriented
    • Michael adds on the above: “When those three elements are clear, we can do so much more!”
  • If you find yourself in a situation where your competition may be better than you, positive self-talk is essential for boosting your confidence
    • “Say things like, ‘A real challenge? Okay bring it. Let me see what I got.’”Michael Gervais

Working with Clients

  • In the past, Michael has worked with the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, and coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks
  • When working with a client, Michael tries to identify the vision, history, and roadblocks/obstacles that lie ahead. Then, they work together to map a strategy to move forward.
  • One of Michael’s most exceptional skills: reminding people that everything they need is already inside of them, and they simply need to express it

Additional Notes

  • “Curiosity is an inoculation for anxiety” – Michael Gervais
  • Some people have a genetic predisposition to manage stress better than others
  • Life coaches may provide words of wisdom, but the real “life coach” is going out there and living through experiences that allow you to test yourself
    • “No one can do the work for you”Michael Gervais
  • If you’re going to read books, whether fiction or nonfiction, read what’s stood the test of time
What Got You There with Sean DeLaney : ,
Notes By MMiller

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