CFIC Days 6 & 7: High achiever

I have a problem. I’m what you would call a “high achiever”. Sounds good right? Well, it can be. I always want to improve and learn. But sometimes it turns into the fact that I want to be the best. It’s a behavior that I’m changing to not really focusing on “winning”. It can sometimes be a good quality to possess, but it can get me in trouble. Especially with myself. Sometimes I forget to be the student. I forget that I’m doing this course because I want to learn, not because I already know everything. So high achiever is not always something positive. It is, if I focus on the right thing. So naturally, it can cause a lot of frustration and a chaotic internal dialogue. So I’ll be honest with you. Today was not a good day. There was a lot of internal dialogue, a lot of self-doubt and emotion. I think it has something to do with just being exhausted after seven days and missing my family back home. I’m an emotional guy, it is what it is. I should have just tried to take in the information today without putting any emotion or value into it. Everything has been challenging and forcing us instructors to look at our system from other perspectives. It’s been a mix of “aha”, “oh wow” and “I don’t know shit”. But mostly it’s been one hell of a ride. Mainly I need to remind myself to enjoy the ride and not always analyze everything to shreds. Especially my own performance. Hell. If I knew everything, I would be leading these courses – not taking them. I’m too hard on myself, as I’m sure a lot of you are as well. It’s a problem that needs to be dealt with. Stay strong.

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CFIC Day 5: Why?

As you’ve probably read in the previous post, I’ve caught a cold or the beginning of a flu, or a simple man flu, as they call it. I’m doing this course with a brotherhood of people that are more than just friends to me. I mean, you need to have a special kind of relationship to train together for so many hours every day and for this many days in a row. It’s people that you see at different training camps, instructor courses or updates. Sometimes you meet people that you’ve never met before and with little or no introduction, you just insert your mouth guard and start exchanging kicks and punches; literally and figuratively. So naturally, when a comrade is not feeling 100%; the others care. They want you to do well, not just for the training, but they are genuinely concerned about your health. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people like this, be it in the training room, over the text messages I’ve received and other means of communication that has been used to express concern for my health and wishes for me to get better. So thank you everyone for your concerns.

So the question may be, why? Why do I keep going? I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. What’s the point? The ‘why’ for me, is probably different from your ‘why’. I know my body well enough to know my limits. Even though I’ve been compared to the cast of The Walking Dead today, I’m fine. Fine, for me, does not mean “100% healthy and injury free”. It means “good enough to continue”. But you do need to think about your ‘why’ once in a while. Why do you train, whatever you train? Doesn’t have to be martial arts. If you’re reading this and you’re a gym rat, fitness freak, bodybuilder, footballer, whatever. What’s your why? What’s your end game? What’s your plan? Why do you put yourself on the receiving end of a knuckle sandwich? Why do you go to the gym at 0500 in the morning when no one else is there? Why do you do those nasty uphill sprints? Doesn’t matter what your ‘why’ is. You don’t even have to tell anyone, much less explain it to them or defend it. But write it down for yourself. But if your ‘why’ isn’t strong enough, it won’t pick you up when you lose motivation. I’m not trying to be a dick here. But if you’re doing something for the wrong reasons, your ‘why’ will be weak; and when things get tough, it won’t be enough to keep you going. Stay strong.

If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.

CFIC Day 4: The easy day

Was yesterday. A few years ago I read a book written by a member of the SEAL Team Six, called “No Easy Day”. In the book he talks a little about his life as a SEAL, the training that they do and the mission that led to Bin Laden’s demise. Now, what stuck with me from that book was how he dealt with BUD/S, or Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training. It’s basically a 24-week training camp where they put the SEAL candidates’ mental and physical abilities through the ringer. It’s only one of several training courses that they do. But it’s said to be one of the most challenging ones. In the book, the author writes about how he got through the training; by knowing how to eat an elephant. There’s a saying: “How do you eat an elephant?” Simple, “one bite at the time.” So his mantra was basically “Make it to breakfast, train hard until lunch, and focus until dinner. Repeat.”

So why is that important? I’ve written a little about the internal dialogue before and this is sort of related to it. I’ll give you a little glimpse of it from my perspective. I’m feeling a bit feverish, my throat is hurting and my nose is running. On top of that, I’m sore from training and this oncoming flu/cold is making my joints hurt. I still have an elephant left to eat, four more days of training. If I, during the first training session tomorrow keep thinking about all the hours of training I have left, how everything is going to hurt even more because my body is in a weak state and so on; I probably won’t make it though the first hour of training. I have to focus on what I have in front of me right now, not in an hour, not after lunch, not tomorrow morning; right now. I have to silence my internal dialogue that wants me to worry about how I will feel tomorrow, or in two days or by the end of the course. It doesn’t exist. All that exists is now. Deal with the now, don’t worry about the later.

There isn’t much to say about today’s training. Or rather, there’s a lot to say. Too much. But I felt that this was more important to write about. We spend too much time inside our own heads, filling it up with self-doubt and self-created problems, worrying about the future. The next time you’re facing a greater challenge i.e. your own elephant; chop it up into pieces and eat it one bite at the time.

The “The easy day was yesterday” quote is also from the book. It’s a Navy SEAL saying. The only easy day was yesterday, because it has already passed, you’ve already done it. Stay in the now. Stay strong.

No elephants were harmed (or chopped up) while writing this post. 

Voices

I’ve told you guys before, that everything is affected by your mindset. The way you think about something, can actually change the way you perceive it. Now I’m not saying that you can look at a rose and think it into a candy bar. But you do have an internal dialog that affects how you feel. Try waking up every morning and start thinking about how your life sucks, your living arrangement sucks, your job sucks, your car sucks, your boss sucks, the weather sucks. Everything. Sucks. Chances are, that day will indeed, suck. Why? Because in your internal dialogue, you’ve already declared to yourself that everything is negative, nothing is good and that’s the way it is. Now if you were to wake up every single morning and start the day by thinking about how great your life is, that rain is actually beautiful and that the cold weather allows you to use that winter coat you bought last year; the hormones in your body actually start changing and you will release endorphins into your system. Try and remember the last compliment someone gave you. How did it make you feel? Pretty good right? The same thing happens if you compliment yourself. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between YOU telling yourself your life is amazing and someone else telling you it is. Physiologically, it will trigger and activate the same systems. Your inner dialogue is the most important one, because you carry it with you in everything, every day. 

Try picturing waking up one morning with a little person sitting on your shoulder. From the moment you wake up, this little person keeps whispering negative things about you and your life. “You’re ugly”, “you’re fat”, “you should make more money”, “you should buy a more expensive car”, “your house isn’t big enough”. Imagine it and tell me you wouldn’t walk around, being pissed off at the world and hate yourself. That little person exists, inside your head, and they never shut up. Tuning out the inner dialogue is extremely difficult and takes a lot of practice. It takes some time, patience and practice. But even when you succeed, you can’t walk around in life in a medatitive state all the time. Most of us have things to do (or do we?). So if the dialogue is going to continue, why not make sure it’s positive? All these abstract philosophical things that I’m writing about, just imagine them with a “real” counterpart. Who would you rather spend two hours talking to, a person that complains about every, single, thing that has ever gone wrong in their life; or the person who accepts life as it is and tries to see positive things? It’s so easy to get stuck in a negative loop and focus on everything that has gone wrong (don’t get me started on getting stuck in the past), everything that is wrong and everything that might go wrong in the future. Or as negative people like to say “things that probably will go wrong in the future”

We all do it. Some more than others and I’m no exception. I’m nowhere near being a zen master and sometimes my internal dialogue resembles a war zone. I need to constantly remind myself to stop thinking myself into a pit of negativity. Thus, this post will act as a reminder for myself and all of you out there. Clean up your inner dialogue and stop being so hard on yourself. You’re only human. Stay positive.

“Stay away from negative people; they have a problem for every solution.”

Mental armor

I promised a post about the KMG Summer Camp in Karlstad, Sweden. So here it is. The subject of the camp revolved around Active Shooter Protocol, with a twist; Active Killer Protocol. Because it’s not always a shooter. If the latest events around the world are to bring any insight to the subject, they’re not always shooters. Last year alone, in little quiet Sweden, we had two situations involving edged weapons. One was a random stabbing spree at IKEA and the other was a killing spree at a school with a sword. Yes, a sword. So the MO might have been different but the perp mentality is basically the same. Regardless, the underlying motive may differ from case to case – but the outcome is always the same. Fear and death. We had the privilege of taking part of some statistics gathered by an FBI/MI6 joint task force. I won’t go into detail about it all, but the numbers are less than delightful, albeit interesting. One of the presenters was actually a Swedish LEO that had met with the task force, and we had the opportunity for some Q&A.

The entire weekend basically consisted of training Krav Maga Global-techniques involving armed attacks, then putting them into realistic scenarios. We also spent many hours on Global Medical Trauma Training. Running, hiding, fighting during an Active Killer Protocol is one thing. But being trained in basic medical trauma training was one of the major takeaways for my part. During the final day of the GIC, we were given a crash course in first aid/CPR. This course however, included applying torniques and packing wounds, among other things. From that day forward, I always carry two torniques in my car and one in my training bag. That’s knowledge (and tools) that might save someone’s (including my own) life some day. Be it a violent attack or an accident of sorts. 

My favorite part of the camp, shouldn’t come as a surprise for those of you who know me, was the combat mindset session. I’ve advertised the course in my earlier posts, but I can’t stress enough how big of a role this plays in everything that you do. If we take the ASP/AKP scenarios, it all comes down to your mental conditioning. It doesn’t matter if you pack the hardest punch in the world, the swiftest kicks or the strength of a bull; if your mind is not trained to act, your body will not follow. So, what is mental toughness? Combat mindset? Mental conditioning? How do you train your mind? To be able to train your mind, you must first learn how your mind works. In a way, it’s almost like a muscle. If you want stronger legs, most of you know that you should probably do some sort of squat-excercise. Because that’s the way your legs are physically and mechanically built. By adding weight and squatting, you make the muscles, tendons and joins around your legs stronger. I’m not even going to try explaining how the mind works. Mainly because I lack the in depth knowledge of the physiological aspects. But also trying to summarize the knowledge that I have, in a blog post, would take me days. Because there are so many different processes, reactions and chain of events that are ongoing at the same time. The CMIC won’t make you an expert in the field, but it will bring you some insight and magnificent tools to develop yourself and/or your students. One of the creators of the course, Ole Boe, has written an excellent post about this and who better to explain it to you than the man himself? Click on the link to get a glimpse of the vast knowledge of this amazing instructor and teacher.

If you didn’t participate in this year’s summer camp, I strongly advise you to come to the next one. There are few places in the world that provide you access to some of the top instructors in the world in this field. Although I don’t know what next year’s theme is going to be. I know that I’ll be going, regardless. The training is amazing and the people you meet, even more so. Send me an email if you’re interested.

I wanted to finish this post, by writing about combat mindset. Specifically, mental toughness. Today, the world lost one of the mentally strongest people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing. I know that you’re in a better place now and I’d like to dedicate this post to you my friend. Stay strong and keep your scalpel close. See you in Valhalla.

In Memoriam
Joakim Eriksson1967-2016
“Death is only a problem for the living”