In this episode, we discuss the truth about championship performance. Nobody becomes a champion by accident. We uncover the counter-intuitive reality that being a champion isn’t about doing more, it’s about doing less. We expose the reality that most people spend too much time planning and not enough time acting and share the specific habits and routines that you can use to model your behavior after champions with our guest Dana Cavalea.
Dana Cavalea is a high-level performance coach, speaker, and author. He coaches Pro Athletes, Entrepreneurs, and Business Executives on lifestyle strategies to improve daily performance and outcomes. He is the former Director of Performance for the New York Yankees, whom he led to a World Series Championship in 2009. In his first book, Habits of a Champion, he shares his own secrets to becoming a champion.
Nobody becomes a champion by accident.
When you study high-level performers and world champions - what habits and abilities make them different from everybody else?
Champions are extremely consistent and extremely persistent
It takes a lot of work to become a champion - but there are commonalities
What makes people champions - a deep focus on the simple fundamentals and the basics.
It’s not about quick fixes, it’s not about “hacks” and short cuts - it's about really executing the basics and the fundamentals.
Step one for champions - MASTERY OF MINDSET
What are your daily habits? Where are you spending your time?
Self-awareness is another cornerstone of championship performance
What works for you?
What are the trip wires that set you back and sabotage you?
What is the mindset of a champion? What are the common mindsets of champions?
How do we learn from and emulate and ultimately create a championship mindset for ourselves?
3 Keys of Championship Mindset
Slow everything down
Quiet the noise
Throw one pitch at a time
What happens in the biggest and toughest situations?
“There are no big moments...all moments are the same”
How do you get ice in your veins? How do you perform under pressure?
What can Derek Jeter teach us about the psychology and mindset of champions?
Baseball is a sport that is “built around failure” and what that can teach us about the psychology of performance?
Reframe negative moments into positive moments
It’s about training your mind to see things in a certain way
Listen to yourself. Hear what you’re telling yourself. Self-awareness is the cornerstone of championship performance.
We waste a lot of precious time and energy - and FOCUS - on social media and minutiae
Focusing on externals - focusing on others and what they are doing won’t get you to where you want to go
Championship performance is not about doing more, it’s about doing LESS
No two people should have the same daily routine - we are all at different places in our journey, we have different strengths, different needs, etc
Tailor your daily routines to WHO you ARE as an individual
Lessons from managing over $300mm in human capital - and getting the most performance out of that asset
How do you go about crafting your own daily routine?
Dana recommends starting with your health as the basis of your daily routine
The basis of any healthy routine - start with hydration - how hydrated are you? Start drinking half of your body weight in ounces per day
Next - look at the activity - how much time per day do you spend sitting? You can add in some foam rolling, some stretching, etc
The best place to begin changing your mindset is to start with the physical body - activating the body, hydrating the body, taking care of your body
Focusing at one thing at a time - mastermind that, and then adding things beyond that
What is your vision for yourself? What are you trying to build? What are you trying to create?
How important is consistency to world-class performance?
You can’t be consistent at everything. You have to keep it simple. Keep it small. Keep it very focused. If you have too many things, you won’t be consistent.
“The Law of One” - Do one thing at a time, do it well.
Identify what is interrupting your ability to be consistent. Identify things that are draining your energy away.
Are you spending too much time on your strategy and not enough time on execution?
Forget the plan. Get to work. Make the phone calls.
The danger of over planning
Environments can impact your feeling - it’s important to create environments that enable you to focus on rest and recovery. Create a transition between work and home - create an opportunity to slow yourself down and transition out of work mode.
How do you reframe negative moments into positive moments? What causes your negative thoughts? Is your day set up to for you to win?
Homework: Ask yourself if you’re ready to take action and commit to what it is you say you want. Ask yourself - are you willing to do the work?
Homework: Start with the basics - hydration and mindset. Built consistency slowly with small habits.
Thank you so much for listening!
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Want To Dig In More?! - Here’s The Show Notes, Links, & Research
[Article] West Fair Online - “Dana Cavalea takes life coaching from the ballpark to the C-Suite” By Phil Hall
[Article] “Already forgot your New Year’s resolutions? Here are four tips to reset 2019” BY ABC News Radio
[Article] The Saratogian - “Yankee performance coach brought out the best” By Paul Post
[Directory] Article Directory on Medium
[Profile] Marketplace e speakers profile
[Podcast] Unconventional Life - 7 Surprising Things Ultra Successful People Do Differently
[Podcast] Be Investable - ML Strength's Dana Cavalea
[Podcast] Way of Champions - #97 “Nobody Becomes a Champion by Accident” with Dana Cavalea, Former NY Yankees Strength and Conditioning Coach
[Podcast] Top Coach - TC307: Dana Cavalea
Dana’s Youtube Channel - Coach Dana Cavalea
COACH DANA CAVALEA: Will walking 10,000 Steps a Day Help Me Lose Weight?
Good Morning America - Habits of a champion and how to win in life
Book Trailer on his channel (3 mins)
Northeast Athletic Club - Dana Cavalea 2016 #LIsummit
[Podcast] Natalie Jill Fitness - 035: 5 Drivers of Performance with Dana Cavalea
[Podcast] The Baseball Awakening - Strength and Condition and The Lessons Learned with Dana Cavalea
[00:00:04.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success. Introducing your host, Matt Bodnar.
[0:00:11.8] MB: Welcome to the Science of Success; the number one evidence-based growth podcast on the internet with more than three million downloads and listeners in over a hundred countries.
In this episode we discuss the truth about championship performance. Nobody becomes a champion by accident. We uncover the counterintuitive reality that being a champion isn't about doing more, it's often about doing less. We expose the reality that most people spend too much time planning and not enough time acting and share the specific habits and routines that you can use to model your behavior after champions, with our guest, Dana Cavalea.
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In our previous episode, we discussed how your wrong about what you think will make you happy. Research shows that the vast majority of people are terrible at predicting what will actually make them happy. Even when you think what will make you happy, you're often wrong. We break apart the core delusions that stop you from being happy and we dug into the scientific analysis of the state of enlightenment to uncover that it's not just something for Buddhist monks, but a remarkable brain state that can be achieved by anyone anywhere, with our previous guests, Dr. Ash Eldifrawi and Dr. Alex Lickerman. If you want to find out what actually makes you happy, listen to our previous episode.
Now for our interview with Dana.
[0:03:18.1] MB: Today, we have another exciting guest on the show, Dana Cavalea. Dana is a high-level performance coach, speaker and author. He coaches pro athletes, entrepreneurs and businesses executives on lifestyle strategies to improve daily performance and outcomes. He's the former Director of Performance for the New York Yankees, whom he led to a World Series championship in 2009. His first book, Habits of A Champion, he shares the secrets to becoming a champion. Dana, welcome to the Science of Success.
[0:03:48.3] DC: Thank you. Thanks, Matt. Thanks for having me.
[0:03:50.2] MB: Well, we're very excited to have you on the show today and then to dig into these topics. Being a champion and championship, high-level peak performance is a topic that's been one of my own really passion projects and things that I've spent a ton of time and energy researching and studying. I can't wait to dig in. Even the subtitle of the book really caught my eye, which is this idea and I'd like to start the conversation with today off of, is that nobody becomes a champion by accident. What does that mean?
[0:04:24.0] DC: Yeah. Listen, in all my years of working with professional athletes, I realized that the great ones, there's something special about them. It's not just their talent. When you really start to pull things back and you really start to take a deep dive, you start to see what are these habits and what makes them different than everybody else, is that they have an ability to be extremely consistent, extremely disciplined and they're not chasing the shiny object.
Before we even get to that point, I realized that nobody becomes a champion by accident. You can't be a default champion. They had a vision for themselves. They had talent. They combine that with the work. When you put all of that together and you stay consistent in your daily process, the end result can be championship performances.
Becoming a champion, it takes a lot of work as we know. There are some key steps to getting yourself there. One of the keys is when working with guys like Mariano Rivera, is that you realize that he wasn't trying to be something that he wasn't. That gave him a lot of confidence from within. I say he was a very intentional champion. That took daily discipline, daily process. Through consistency, he was able to achieve what he's achieved, so just as an example.
[0:05:50.6] MB: What are some of those steps, some of those commonalities that you see of intentional champions?
[0:05:58.9] DC: Yeah. Well, it's interesting. I know we're in a culture right now of biohacking and looking for all of these. I still call them and consider them somewhat of quick fixes. Now some of them work really well, but what I found was what makes the guys champions and the steps that they take, it goes back to just the simple fundamentals and the basics. Before we talk about biohacking our system and really introducing some of those modalities and action steps, we got to get the body and we got to get the mind right. We got to get it aligned.
For me as an on-field coach, what I always started with was a conversation and understanding where the mindset was of that particular player as an individual, because every team is made up of individuals. We have to figure out what's going on in between those years, that 6 inches of each of those players.
For, me the first step of becoming, or moving somebody towards champion status is really understanding what their thoughts are, what are their patterns, what is going through their head when they may not be aware of what they're even thinking; that for me has always been step one. From that point, then we start to dissect and understand, hey, what are you doing throughout the day? What are your daily habits? Where are you putting your time? Where are you spending your time, that's giving you a return on your time and where are you wasting your time?
We start to go through this process, almost of dissection to understand what's going on. Then from that point, we start to move through this process of understanding and then moving into specifics, where we can start to say, “Hey, what's the return we're getting on this action? What's the return we're getting on that action? Which is greater?” That's how we actually start to formulate routines for our players. That is the ultimate goal, because your daily actions, your daily habits, your your daily routines are what move you through your process of success.
If you look at most successful people that don't just have success financially, but when you break down each part of their life, their relationships, their overall health and wellness and fitness status and what they do in their career, both for-profit and in terms of charity, that is what ultimate success is. How are we firing in all those buckets and making it work?
Then we have a sense of groundedness that makes us feel secure within ourselves. That's how the process of moving towards champion status and success works. It's very individualized. I always like to tell people, there are really no quick fixes. I know that's not good for marketing purposes, but it takes time to sometimes unwind the psychology habits and patterns that have been developed and conditioned for some, and most their entire life.
[0:09:03.5] MB: I think that's probably one of the most important themes and one of the things that I see again and again, when studying peak performers across any field or any discipline. It's this notion that there's no such thing as a quick fix, or a hack, or a shortcut. Really, championship performance at the deepest level is about fundamentally mastering the basics.
[0:09:29.4] DC: Exactly. In addition to, I also find it also comes down to again, really knowing yourself, knowing what makes you tick and also knowing the things that take you off course. What are your, I call them trip wires. What are your trip wires? What are the things that you keep gravitating towards that are not positively affecting your overall directionality and where you want to go. Because sometimes as much as we want a hack, we're also being hijacked and we have to realize that. We need to find out what's hijacking our performance and what traps and tripwires are we falling into and tripping over in the process.
Ultimately, when you meet a lot of the guys that have 10 plus years careers, especially in pro sports, there's also a level of groundedness and security that you feel when they're around. They really get to the – then we'll take that breath and feel really comfortable around them, because they're so secure in themselves. They're not letting the externals affect their internal world. They're not externally driven and motivated. Everything comes from within and therefore, they don't let external things and situations and words and actions affect their internal environment.
[0:10:45.0] MB: Let's come back and I want to dig into a couple of the things you've talked about so far. I want to start with this idea, which you've already started expanding on, but this notion of the mindset of a champion. Tell me a little bit more about in your work with people, who are literally world champions, what have you seen in terms of what is their mindset and also how do they create and cultivate that mindset?
[0:11:11.4] DC: Yeah. I'll give you two great examples. One is very fitting for when we're reporting this in the great Mariano Rivera, number 42 closer for the New York Yankees and recent Hall of Fame inductee. Mariano came on the scene back in 1995 in the New York area for the Yankees. He was a skinny kid from Panama, takes the mound, opens people's eyes. 1996 he really makes a name for himself when the Yankees win the championship and he locks it down in the seventh and eighth inning each night.
I remember, I was a kid in high school at that time when I was watching him play. I just remember the elegance, the grace and most importantly, the calm that this man had. At the time, he was maybe only 27, 28-years-old. I said, “I wonder how he does it.” Because as a kid, I was somebody that was at that point, still trying to figure out who I am, what I do and what I'm all about. I probably had a lot of self-doubt at the time as well. I saw this guy pitch and it was something that I froze in my mind that image.
Anyway, fast forward, really about 15 years and I'm actually in Mariano's house in Westchester New York, I'm in his basement and we're just talking. I'm working on him. I'm stretching him and I say, “Mo, you know what? After all these years, I have a question that I need to ask you. It's been pending since 1995.” He looks at me and he says, “What's that buddy?” I said, “How do you do it? How do you do it?” He looks at me and he says, “Do what?” I said, “How do you get it done in the big situations? The situations when most people would melt, or they have 50,000 eyes on them, plus everyone watching from home and you go out there in the thick of it and just get it done.”
He smirks and he says to me, he says, “You know, buddy, I do three things. Number one, I slow everything down.” He goes, “Number two, I quiet the noise. Number three, I throw one pitch at a time.” He never again let the situations and things that were going on around him affect his internal world. For him, it was peace and quiet with conviction and determination. It wasn't, “Oh, man. This crowd, the situation.” He wasn't focused on any of that. He was actually able to see and visualize his success in that moment.
Then I said, “Okay, that's great for the regular season. What about the big games? The World Series, game on the line, everything matters.” This was a really defining moment in my own personal growth and personal psychological switch. He said, “Buddy,” he goes, “There are no big situations. Every situation and every moment is the same. We decide what we give life to. We decide what is a big moment.” He goes, “But everything is the same.” I said, “Wow.”
That was really profound, because how many things in life do we get worked up about? You think about it, you're getting worked up about it, because you're putting your attention to it, you're putting your focus to it. You're allowing that moment to become bigger than you. That's the fastest way to fail. As opposed to keeping everything calm and focusing and visualizing yourself having success, without the elevation of heart rate, without the elevation of respiratory rate.
That's what he was able to do better than everybody else. When you talk about the ice and the veins and performing under pressure, number one, he was a master. Number two, he taught us how he does it. He doesn't focus on the moment. He doesn't focus on the magnitude and the size of the moment, because in his mind, it doesn't exist, aas anything more than just another moment. That was one example.
The other in terms of psychological state was a guy by the name of Derek Jeter, who most people know. In baseball, and the reason I love baseball and I love relating baseball to business and life is because baseball is a sport that is absolutely built around failure. If you allow that failure to take you down, it will.
There was a point during the season where Derek Jeter was about 0 for 30, 0 for 31, he hadn't gotten a hit in 31 at-bats. What happens, he doesn't get a hit and the media in New York wants to know what's going on. Are you worried about your career? You're getting older. Could this be the end? He answers back and he says, “You know, I haven't gotten a hit in 31 at-bats. That means, I'm that much closer to getting a hit,” because he knew he couldn't go 0 for 60, 0 for 70. He knew that the deeper he went into the slump, actually the closer he was getting to a hit.
I found that these guys have an ability to do what I call reframe. They reframe negative moments, or perceived negative moments to be positive. You could do that in any line of work. It's getting caught up in the ups and downs of the stock market and allowing that volatility to create volatility within a deal that doesn't go through. That could train-wreck a lot of people if they've been banking on it.
The ability to reframe, the ability to not create a bigger situation than the situation that's in front of you, all of that is super, super important when it comes to mindset. For me, it's not about the hacks. It's always about how can you create more security and more grounding within yourself. You realize very quickly that most of that is perspective-driven. It's not about if you take this vitamin, you'll be able to do this more or whatever. It's really about training your mind to see things in a certain way.
You switch the tracks very quickly. If you find yourself going negative and down and pessimistic, boom, as if a railroad track would switch tracks, you switch your tracks the other way. You have to have enough self-awareness to realize that your tracks are taking you down a bad road and a negative path, it's a negative patent.
[0:17:30.9] MB: That's such a cornerstone of any personal development is having self-awareness. Without self-awareness, you really can't take the steps necessary to correct any challenges, or problems that you're facing, or even know that they're there.
[0:17:47.5] DC: Exactly. I find today, like we – it sounds very cliche and you hear it over and over again. We're in the information era and there's information everywhere. There's always been information and it's always been accessible to those that want to access it. Today, what I find we don't do enough of is really investing in ourselves, not by seeking other people's information, but really seeking the information that we already have within ourselves and within our internal computer. Hey, when I do this, how do I feel?
Again, I coach a lot of executive leaders, Wall Street guys and athletes. The first thing I try to teach them is they listen to themselves. Hear what you're actually telling yourself in the moments when you're not fully conscious maybe of what you're telling yourself. Try to hit pause throughout the day. Now we're in that scrolling culture, which is different than the past. We scroll, we scroll, we go on Instagram, we go on social feeds.
I tell people. I say, “Listen, let me ask you something. What's the last five things that you saw? Please describe it to me in detail. Describe the last five things you saw while you were scrolling.” You'll be amazed that most people can't describe what they saw in detail, because the input of pictural imagery that they're taking in, their brain can't process it at that speed. They're taking in so much stimuli that they can't process it fast enough, so the brain doesn't remember what you're actually seeing.
We as a culture, again, especially in that 25 to 35 age bracket, we're wasting a lot of our precious energy and time and time that we could be focusing on ourselves in a healthy way, to ground ourselves, by looking at what others are doing and that's the fastest way to sabotage. That's the fastest way to based on what I said about Mo Mariano, is you're focused on externals, other people. That means you're taking away from yourself your own journey, your own ride and really taking the time to understand what's happening from within yourself.
[0:19:48.3] MB: The other piece of that is you said we're wasting so much time, we’re wasting so much energy on these things, like social media and focusing on other people. I think the other piece that underscores this is that we're also wasting so much focus and attention that could be much better spent.
[0:20:03.1] DC: Right, because we only have so much of it. I'm sure a lot of the listeners are probably like me and that the more time I spend on my phone and the more time I spend on my devices and technology, it exhausts me. I feel a level of mental and fog and fatigue. I know that that's just coming from too many inputs. It's about really, the more you can simplify things, and that's again something else that I learned from these champion performers is that they prefer a very simple life. It wasn't about how can I do more. It was about how can I do less and get more out of less, because I'm doing less. I can give better effort, I can give more attention and that less is actually what moves my needle.
So many of us, we may be doing a 100% of our work, but there's really only 25% of that total that moves the needle for you. It's your job to find out what that 25% is, and you could with a 100% effort on the 25% can move your needle a lot further and a lot faster than if you're just taking in so much and trying to do everything. That was another very important thing that I saw; efficiency and knowing your strengths, knowing your weaknesses and most importantly, doubling down on your strengths and delegating your weaknesses as best you can.
[0:21:30.0] MB: Another great point and I think it bears repeating that championship performance is not about doing more things. It's about doing fewer things. It's about doing less and it's about using things like the 80/20 principle to figure out the really important things to focus your time on and create leverage, so that you can get the maximum amount of effort for the few core things that you're focused on.
[0:21:54.4] DC: Exactly. It depends to where you're at, obviously in your business journey and in your overall career. I mean, as much as – if you're in startup mode, it's very hard to delegate everything. When you're in startup mode, you should be learning hey, what are the things that I'm awesome at, where I'm a rock star and what are the things I'm really struggling with? Again, that what you're really struggling with is probably where your first hires should come from. By you trying to put all your attention there and it's taking away from your greatness and that's what's going to be what drives you forward in all that you do.
The typical sports analogy, when I was growing up was about be the first one there and the last one to leave. That was something that was really important for a lot of coaches and a lot of programs and even a lot of employment settings. When I got to the Yankees, what I saw was Derek Jeter, A Rod, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte. Again, these guys are probably going to be first ballot Hall of Famers.
What I saw was they were the last ones there and the first ones to leave. When they got there, they executed a very tight, organized and time-sequenced process to get things done. They hit the ground running, boom. If you looked at your clock at 6:45, you knew where Derek Jeter was. I mean, these guys took it to the point where they ate the same things before every game. That was the level of consistency that they showed and applied. It was a different process. You don't have to be the first one there and the last one to leave. Face it, what am I producing and what am I getting done while I'm here? Instead of just being here.
[0:23:40.9] MB: That gets into something you touched on earlier that I wanted to follow back up on, this idea of daily discipline of consistency and dissecting the daily habits of these world performers. I love to dig into a little bit more around what you saw and what you've learned about how to craft and create these really effective daily disciplines and daily rituals.
[0:24:04.2] DC: Yeah. I always say, no two people should, or can have the same routine. The results of two people doing the same routine will ultimately be very different. There's a lot of talk today about morning routines and routine, routine, routine. What I see is a lot of people copying the routines of other people. This is what a guy like Steve Jobs did. This is what so-and-so does. You have to realize that you're not so-and-so, you're you. What works for one doesn't always work for the other.
It's because we are all different. Cellularly, we're different. We all have different mileage. We're all at different age ranges, so we need to address that. When I look at a player that was 18-years-old and a player that was 40, the plan is very different, but it's not just because of their age that plays into it, but it's also because of their psychology, it's also because of some other factors that may exist, like pain patterns, injury history. If somebody's a natural evening person, or night person, telling them they need to get up at 5:00 in the morning is not going to get the best out of them.
Now you look at the people that are in fields like music, a lot of great artists are up at 2:00, 3:00 in the morning. Their greatest thoughts and their greatest creativity comes out at that time. My father-in-law is a Oscar-winning makeup artist; up all night and that's when his greatness comes out. If I tell him, “Hey, you need to be up at 5:00 in the morning and you need to – make sure you have your green juice, you need the foam roll, you need to do all the stuff,” he's going to look at me like I'm crazy, because that's not how his greatness shows and expresses himself.
When it comes to putting together routines, like I said in the beginning, it's very important to know the person, know yourself, know your tendencies. Because I'm a person that does best between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m., which would sound crazy. Hey, by 10 a.m., you've already – your best hours are behind you. I said yeah, because I love the quiet, the focus. I'm introverted and I just love that peace in the morning. You find me at 9:00, 8:30, 8:00, I'm all ready to pass out on the couch, where other people are just hitting stride at that time. My routine should be built around the morning, somebody else should be built around the nighttime, if that's their normal cadence.
That's where it all says. You're going to see, I always take the question back to who are you as an individual. That's what my whole practice is built on. I would say, I was an asset manager with the team. I watched over 300 million dollars in human capital. None of those two humans acted the same. I had to understand how they responded to everything and then create the plan based on their individuality. Now, if I tell you, “Hey, by the way, they've done research and they kale and spinach are so good for you. It'll change your life. It'll prevent cancer. It'll do all these things.” You say, “Hey, whenever I eat that, I get gastrointestinal distress.” Still, the research says it prevents this, it prevents that.
That's not a good suggestion for you, because it's creating – although in society, it may create a positive overall and the research says, the reality is for you, those may not be good choices. That’s just a simple example. We got to start to understand what works for us, how do we test things and start to build a routine around hey, I tested this on myself and I got a great result. I tested that on myself and I got a bad result. Even though, the mass marketing says this is really good, it may not be really good for you.
That is what it's all about, helping people to create, develop and understand their own personal routines that they can own. If I make it for you and you make it for you, it's now yours. What's going to happen as a result of that? Your compliance to it, your results when you execute with consistency on that routine are going to be that much better. That's really what I find to be really important.
I was at my cousin's house last week and selling me out, “Hey, you have to put butter in your coffee and you have to put all these things in your coffee.” I said, “Listen, that's not for everybody. If you have a lactose issue, if you have some other issues, that doesn't work. For some, it may work great.” That's why you've got to always go back to the individual. I bring up that 300 million dollar number, because we had to make sure that these guys performed at the highest level and that started by dissecting them as individuals and understanding what makes them tick and what makes them also rebel, even against themselves.
[0:28:55.5] MB: For somebody who's listening, how would you recommend that they start to take those first steps towards crafting a daily routine that is aligned and tailored to helping them personally perform at their peak?
[0:29:12.9] DC: Yeah. I always lead with health. I say all right, we're going to lead with health and we can wrap our fitness with that. Health and fitness, we'll put that together. This is going to sound so simple, but I always start with your overall hydration status. What is your hydration status? People say, “This is where we start. How much water am I drinking?” I say, “Listen, half your body weight in ounces, a day of water. We're going to start there. Are you doing that? Yes or no?” Most people will tell you, no. They are drinking half a gallon of coffee perhaps, but they're not drinking enough water.
When you add more water to your system, you create efficiency in your system from a contractile standpoint of muscle, to a hydration standpoint of all of your tissue and it'll also help to regulate your overall digestive tract. That's where I start. I am different than other people, because I don't hit them with a lot.
For example, I'm working with an executive in San Diego and what we're working on now is again, this guy was dehydrated most of the time. When you're dehydrated, it'll also affect your overall energy and vitality. Half your body weight in ounces a day, we start there. Are you doing that? Yes or no. Then I guide them through that. We do that for a week. We do that for two weeks. Then we start to introduce other aspects.
Most people today, they sit for a majority of the day. Step two, is now we start to address more of the physical. I get them doing a daily foam rolling routine, a daily stretching routine. I put that right when they get up. If they get up at 10 a.m., or if they get up at 5 a.m., it doesn't matter. Well, we're going to address your tissue and there's two reasons. We're first hydrating the tissue with water. Then what we're doing with the foam rolling is we're pressing. We're getting the tissue to break up any knots, or trigger points, or what I call tension points. Because the higher the stress, the more type-A the person, the more of a chaser and hardcore, hard-charger they are, the body harbors stress within its tissues.
That makes you more susceptible to aches, pains and injury. We hydrate the tissue, then we relax the tissue. Then from there, we stretch the tissue. That's the first three steps of me building out a routine for a person. They're very easy checkpoints and that routine itself can take you maybe 10 minutes. That's how we start them on their day. Now if somebody comes to me and says, “Hey, that's not working for me,” then we start to create alternatives to that. Some people don't like foam rolling, so we use hot baths instead. That's how we start that tweaking.
The best way to know what works for you is ask yourself, “When I do this, do I feel better, or do I feel worse, or do I feel the same?” Your answer should be a, “Hey, you know what? It may not feel great while I'm doing it, but when I'm done I feel great.” That's how we start building it out.
[0:32:20.1] MB: It's interesting, starting these daily routines even for performers beyond the athletic space, as somebody who comes out of the fitness world, why do you think it's so important to begin with a physical component to these daily routines, or focusing on the body first?
[0:32:38.6] DC: I break it down really simply. Hey, after you work out and after you exercise, do you feel better, or worse psychologically? I don't know many people that finish their workout and don't feel great about themselves. I like to start my day feeling great about my day. I like to start my day feeling great about myself. Although I train athletes on their mindset, I change their mindset by first starting with physical modification, because I believe if you activate the body physically, you'll create a different mental state and a different mental feeling.
I find a lot of people today, they don't feel good about themselves. I mean, at the end of the day again, I can say this because I've coached a lot of people through the years. Ultimately, people are – there's a lot of down-and-out people and they lost their way. They lost their will. I've always found that it's my job to help get them back on track. I say, “Listen, we're going to get you in shape, but we're not going to do it with detoxes and cleanses and 10-day this and 10-day that. We’ll put you on the Brussels sprout diet. We're going to get you to execute this process one step at a time.”
When we look back over three months, nothing is going to feel like it was that hard, because we're going to focus on one thing at a time. Then we're going to focus on the next thing and then we're going to the next. When we look back, we've changed a lot of things about how we live and how we feel and then how we think. It's all of that together, but we do it one step at a time.
That's why for me, I'm not for everybody, because most people don't have the patience. I did an experiment with one of my clients that wanted to go fast. I said, “You want to go fast? Let's go fast.” What happened was his train derailed, because he wanted me to hit him with the diet, the training, the this, all at the same time and I said, “Let's do it.” Now he lost his mojo and he feels like, “Man, I don't know where to begin.” I said, “That's why we start one thing at a time.” It was meant to teach a lesson. It's about what you do over a year, what you do over two years and can you be consistent in that evolution and development of yourself. That's how you become a champion.
[0:35:01.5] MB: That comes back to what we were talking about earlier, this idea of focusing on fewer things, mastering really simple things. Then once you've mastered that really simple activity, then you start to add on something else and master that and then you start to add on something else.
[0:35:18.1] DC: Exactly. Also, part two is I ask a lot of people, “Hey, what is your vision for yourself? What are you trying to build? What are you trying to create? What does it look like?” You'll be amazed after you ask that question, how many people can't answer that question. They're working their butts off. Every day, they're working their butts off. They're showing up. They're giving a 100% effort and they can't even define what it is they're trying to build for themselves. That's crazy to me.
Think about it. How could you be possibly feeling fulfilled and happy and excited if you haven't defined exactly what you're trying to build, because if what are you doing everyday, is your process taking you closer to – what is it taking you closer to? You haven't defined where you actually even want to go. It's like saying, “Hey, I want to go on a vacation and travel,” and you have a picked a destination, but you're at the airport jumping on flight after flight after flight, you end up all these different places, but you actually wanted to go somewhere else. That's how I look at it.
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[0:37:45.3] MB: I want to come back to – actually before we do that, one of the other things that you've touched on, but I think it – I want to take into it a little bit more is something that sounds cliché. You hear it all the time. How important is consistency to world-class performance?
[0:38:04.0] DC: It's everything. I always say the fastest way to disrupt a high performer is disrupt their routine. By disrupting their routine, you've automatically disrupted their ability to be consistent, because they don't go and say, “I want to be consistent.” That's not how it works. It's within them. That consistency is a part of their being. A guy like Derek Jeter, I’ll use as an example again, when we would have rain delays, that would be the only time you would see distress on his face. He'd almost be panicking. He literally be watching the weather and tracking jet stream movement from the Midwest to the New York area, to see when the rain would hit and when there maybe what we would call a window to where we can get a game in, because he wanted to know, he had to start his pregame routine at the same time before the first pitch every single day.
That is something that altered routines. The consistency factor, it's everything. You can't be consistent at everything. Again, circling back to keeping it simple, keeping it small and keeping it very focused, if you have too many things, you can't focus on anything. Therefore, your chances for consistency go way down.
This is another example that I use. If I told you, “Listen, you got to do 10 push-ups and 10 jumping jacks every single day for the next three months.” You would be amazed at how many people couldn't do that. They can't do it. The average person cannot commit to doing the same thing every single day for a 90-day period. Can't do it. That shows you that even in a very – with even the smallest of tasks, they need to actually start to train themselves to be consistent again in the moment and say, “Listen, I have this to do. Let me do that. I need to get that done before I can move to the next thing.” That's why I'm very focused on the law of one. Do one thing at a time. Do it well. Achieve it and then move on, because that'll improve your overall consistency in what you do.
[0:40:18.7] MB: Tell me more about the law of one. For listeners, how do we build consistency? For somebody who is in a – I feel in our world today, it's so easy to get distracted, disrupted. Your attention gets sucked away by Instagram, or your phone, or all these notifications. How does somebody who's in this state of distractions start to create consistency in their life?
[0:40:43.1] DC: Yeah. Like I said before, the first part is to identify. You got to identify what is interrupting your ability to be consistent. Ultimately, it's you, but there are things that we allow ourselves and choices that we make and we allow ourselves to get involved with these energy suckers. For me personally, I had to take apps off my phone. I had to take Twitter, I had to take Instagram, I had to take Facebook, I had to take LinkedIn all off of my phone, so I can only go on them – I mean, I can go on them through my browser, but I don't – only through it a desktop.
Because I realized, hey, if you have all these things that you want to accomplish today, what is inhibiting you from accomplishing those things? It was the scrolling. That scroll would take me off path. It would take me off center and take me off my own mission, vision and goal. I said, if I can stop that, I'll start to create more efficiency just by elimination. That's what I find. There's things like apps, there's also in the corporate world, meetings are so ineffective, so many different – oftentimes. We're meeting to meet, it gets to that point. That becomes a drain and takes away from the consistency of your work and the consistency of your flow.
The other thing is working too long and working too many hours. I believe that you get your best output and your best production in working in 90-minute windows. You work an hour and a half, then you take a break, relax, let your mind unwind, take a break for 30 minutes. Then go back in. If you could do four micro-cycles of an hour-and-a-half, you're actually getting six hours of focused work done and you're getting two hours of total rest in between when you added up the 30 minute, 30 minutes, 30 minutes and 30 minutes.
That's why again, taking it back to self, where did you get off track? Those things that are taking you off track are ultimately hijacking your ability to stay focused, which is ultimately taking away from your ability to stay consistent. Find where you're wasting time, find where you're focused on things that are um not serving you.
I had a guy that works on Wall Street that was spending way too much time on his strategy and not enough time on executing what moves his needle. For him, it was phone calls, getting in touch with banks, getting in touch with other PE guys. He was trying to come up with this plan. I said, “Forget the plan. Get to work. Make the phone calls.” In one week, he had more action in one week than he had had in almost 52 weeks all of last year, because he kept drawing circles and lines and connecting this. He was over-planning, again taking away from action, which ultimately hijacks his results and his overall consistency. That's why it always returns to self and understanding your negative habits, so then you could eventually create those positive ones that leads you to again, more of a champion performance.
[0:43:57.3] MB: You bring up another really good point, which is and this is a theme I've seen in my own study of world champion performers, is this importance of rest and recovery and having that down time and integrating that into the routine as a part of the ritual of being a champion.
[0:44:18.6] DC: Yeah. There's two things that I do with that. I always tell people, “Listen, you got to have a transition between work and home.” For some, that's taking a shower, for some that's a workout and a shower. For some, it's hitting the steam room, some it's getting home and changing out of work clothes into more relaxed wear, for some, like A Rod for example, he was a guy that he'd actually staged his home for nighttime. At about 6:00, the lights would dim, music would go on Sonos that was more calming and chill, candles were lit.
People don't see athletes in this manner, but they get it, because they understand, they're so in-tune and in-touch with their body, that they understand how environments make them feel good, or make them feel bad. They understand how certain actions make them feel good, or make them feel bad. Ultimately, when you put all that together, you were able to find what works for you. As it relates to recovery, what I find as a non-negotiable is putting in a transition between work and home. Just to calm yourself, slow yourself down. For some, like I said, it could be a hot bath steam, sauna, it could be a workout, it could be laying on the floor literally for 5-10 minutes, not meditating, but just being unplugged. That is so important.
I have one guy that I work with that he's a drummer. After work, he runs his company during the day, he takes 15-20 minutes and plays the drums and jams out. That's his transition to where he could then go be with his family. Recovery comes in so many different forms. Many things today, like I said, if you're a meditator, if you see other people not meditating, you feel as if they're missing out, but not everybody is ready for a full-throttle meditation. For some, a walk after work is meditative, for some a walk in the woods is meditative, for some sitting outside and just listening to nature is meditative.
Recovery comes in many different forms. Many of our players after a game, I set them up with bath salts in their hotel room and they would literally take a hot bath and chill out. I call it burning their top layer off in a warm hot bath, more of a hot bath and then shower, nice cool shower. It brings their whole system down. It downshifts their whole system. That's a form of recovery. I do think there needs to be a place for recovery every single day.
[0:46:49.9] MB: I want to come back to something you talked about earlier that I want to figure out how we can apply to our lives, which is this idea of reframing things. You talked about the mindset of a champion and dealing with high stress, difficult situations. How do we concretely think about reframing those negative moments into positive moments?
[0:47:13.8] DC: Yeah. Again, I go back to this. You got to know what's causing that negative thought process, right? Oftentimes, you'll probably find you’re shortchanging yourself in some way somewhere. If you're working too much and you're not recovering and you're not spending time with family and doing some recreational things, that builds negativity over time, because you're so off balance.
First again, it's understanding is my day set up to win? You got to ask that for – only you'll know the answer for that, or am I too much on one side of the field and not spending enough time on the other. That's the start of it. The other thing is really just understanding your thoughts. Again, almost hearing yourself think. Personally, I know that with a lack of sleep, I can get negative pretty quick, especially the next day. That's why sleep helps keep me positive and I need less reframes.
Again, after every phone call, if you're in business and you have a call that doesn't go well, you got to take a minute. After that call, diffuse the call. At that point, you tell yourself, “Hey, although that may have been a negative result, boom, now I switch my tracks and I'm moving past it.” I'll give you just an example of baseball players. If you watch a guy like Derek Jeter through the years, if he struck out, or he got out in a big situation, he'd come into the dugout. He'd take a towel. It looked like he’s wiping his face, but he took that moment and screamed, dropping an F-bomb into the towel. At that point, he wiped his face again and the moment was clear. That was his tactic, if you will, to reframe.
It wasn't a conscious thought of, “Hey, I'm going to switch my thoughts.” He let it out. Then at that point, he moved past it. You got to find what works for you. We're all wired very differently. There's again, certain moments that cause us to be more negative and certain moments that that elicits positive. What I found is if we can work to create almost a flat line where our mood stays very, very consistent, because we've conditioned ourselves to think more on the positive side, that doesn't mean we have to get overly excited and jubilant. It's just means, hey, you know what? My perspective on life is more on the positive side, because I'm choosing that.
I have an analogy I use. I call it staying above the horizon line. You look out, you see a horizon line, below the line is negative, above the line is positive. You could say, “Hey, above the line on a sunny day, it's positive, it's bright and it's happy.” You got to catch yourself falling below that horizon line. When you're there, realize it and all you got to do is say, get above the line. Move above the horizon line. That's a verbal cue to do it.
There's different tools and every person responds differently. Some people yelling, getting it out. I say, let the demons out. I used to have a CEO of a private aviation company coming to my training facility. In the mornings he’d be on the treadmill and he'd literally scream at the top of his lungs. I would say, “Get it out. Get it out. Get it out.” That for him was a way of getting almost like an emotional release.
After that, he was calmed down. It was amazing. Everybody's a little bit different and obviously, people observing that would think he's borderline clinical. There's different tools and different tricks for everybody.
[0:50:59.4] MB: For somebody who's listening to this interview that wants to start concretely implementing some of the things we've talked about, what would be one action item that you would give them as a first step to really begin applying some of these ideas?
[0:51:15.1] DC: Well, the first step is asking yourself if you're actually ready to take action and commit to what it is that you say that you want, because that's the key. I mean, you ask somebody, “Hey, do you want to be rich?” 9 out of 10 people, 10 out of 10 people will say yes. “Are you willing to do the work?” 9 out of 10 people will probably say yes, and then when you actually describe the work that goes into it, you may be down to 20%. It's the same with this. You got to ask yourself if you're actually ready to take action. When your pain is great enough, you take action. For me, it starts with that question.
At that point, like I said before, activate your physical self. Before you get into the diets and all that, just hit your basics. Am I drinking enough water? Number one. Are my thoughts more positive and negative? Can I catch myself in the negative moment and move myself above that horizon line? Start there. Hydration, mindset. Then like I said, you can start to add in the morning stretching and flexibility and move towards the transition in the afternoon. Start there. Worry about the Monday, Wednesday, Friday, the Tuesday, Thursday or the Monday through Friday, work out. Worry about that after.
Show consistency in the water, show consistency in your ability to catch yourself in your thought process. Then lastly, get your daily stretching in, because stretching is a great intro point your, foam rolling and stretching, to get somebody to activity and get them to take the next step is more exercise. I basically walk them to the end of the diving board with the hydration, the mindset shifting and the daily foam rolling and stretching.
Then the next thing they say is, “Hey, I’ve been really good at that. What's next?” Now you're at the end of the diving board and I get you to jump. Once you jump off the board, then we get into a formal training program in terms of your exercise, and then we move you into some dietary reform and move you through the process from there. We've got to walk you to the end of the diving board. You have to choose to get on the board, walk to the end and then you make the decision if and when you're ready to jump. That's how it works.
[0:53:40.7] MB: Where can listeners find you and your work online?
[0:53:44.9] DC: Yeah. danacavalea.com. I write a daily blog with some of these habits that we talked about and have a YouTube channel. It's all accessible through there. The book is on the on the site and it's also on Amazon.
[0:54:01.9] MB: Well Dana, thank you so much for coming on the show, for sharing all this wisdom. Some really great insights into what it truly takes to perform in a world-class level.
[0:54:12.0] DC: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
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