How to Influence your Toughest Opponent

The biggest adversary you will face in your life is you.

More often than not, hurdles are imagined. Invented by your most dangerous foe, your mind. Let’s call your mind, for the sake of this piece, your opponent.

Consider the following for a moment.

“If the opponent does not move, then I do not move. At the opponents slightest move, I move first.”

How do you move before someone you are following? How do you set the conditions in which you can influence the decision making of your opponent, before he or she makes a decision?

Your opponent is always in flux and rarely in flow. Those rarest moments when you are in flow are the times when you are operating at a peak state. We have to become experts at cultivating the peak state, so that we can operate at our best, as often as possible.

Mastering your mind and creating the conditions where it is possible for you to get into a peak state requires you to build a trigger for the condition you seek.

Building a “trigger” refers to following a set pattern of actions that ultimately lead to the cultivation of a certain internal and external environment that will leave you in the best place to perform. The performance you are interested in might be anything from writing at your best, to pulling a max deadlift or being in a beautiful state before a business meeting.

Here’s how I build my trigger:

1. Take 5 deep breaths into my belly while thinking of being in the ocean (my favourite place to be)

2. Squeeze and relax my hamstrings and glutes (because I carry tension in the front of my hips and I am always trying to “set up” my posterior chain)

3. Put my head into a good position and make sure the muscles in the front of my neck are active.

4. I think about who I am trying to be.

There is no right or wrong way to build your trigger. Normally it will centre around some type of breath work. It might also involve completing an activity such as making tea or making your bed in the morning. It might have a physiological component, as mine does, like stretching or activating different muscles.

The fastest way to influence your psychology is to change your physiology. When feeling tired, if you were to jump up and down for 10 seconds, its likely you would not feel tired anymore. Thus, your physiology has easily influenced your pschology. It is likely you carry tension at your neck or lower back and hips. Squeezing glutes, abs and lats can help counter this, along with deep belly breathing. The type of belly breathing where you can feel your lower stomach expanding globally, even at the back next to your spine.

The worlds smartest and most successful people work in systems. What is important is that you begin developing your own and evolving it. Through the process of making smaller circles (, you will be able to decrease the time it takes for you to set up your trigger as you internalise the process.

Building your trigger and setting the right conditions for optimal decision making is the most important thing you can do towards directing your behaviours and intentions throughout the day.

Choosing the state in which you operate from, by performing your triggering actions, before you choose your strategy is fundamental to controlling intentionality. Your state will influence the meaning you give to the situation you are in, or the action you are about to take, and that will effect your strategy. Therefore, state is the most important thing to be certain of first.

Let’s re-consider the following verse.

“If the opponent does not move, then I do not move. At the opponents slightest move, I move first.”

Remember we are calling our opponent in this case our own minds.

The first stanza is straightforward. It’s about being reactive. It’s cause and effect. Being reactive and falling victim to cause and effect is exactly where we don’t want to play when competing against our opponent. We want to set the conditions which our opponent operates in.

The second stanza is more complex. However, if we have set the conditions for our opponent then we have indeed moved first, before our opponent and therefore controlled intentionality.

Our opponent has decided to move, and then we moved first.