Mental Training Weeks 10 and 11 – Making The Categories Of My Life and ID
I’m combining these two weeks and assignments because they are hugely contrasting with each other, but also go work together in tandem. Week 10 is sorting your life into categories that you can break down and identify individual plans for how to manage, track and improve them: finances, relationships, health, fitness, business, etc. Basically, how to run your life like a Fortune 500 company. Then week 11 is reconnecting with your ultimate vision and creating an ID card for your ideal self. You have to do the categories in order to break down all the aspects and variables that go into this ultimate vision, and then you need to vision to drive the moderation of all these categories.
This was hard for me. If you were to ask me what kind of lifestyle is almost directly opposite to how I envision myself, both naturally and how I’d like to choose to be, running a Fortune 500 company is pretty near the top of that list. (Fitting in with the pseudo-hippies I went to college with is a tight competitor, though.) But that’s just a matter of semantics, I think. Niyi Sobo is a dude and to his mind, being a CEO of a multi-million dollar company sounds pretty sweet. An entrepreneur, a self-made man, a rapper fresh off his “come up.” None of those things appeal to me, although I can understand the motivations and ethics behind them. Instead, I like this alternate way of understanding the categories, which is that you can’t juggle sand. You can try, but what a mess. However, if you packet that sand into individual hacky-sacks by way of sorting out what goes with what, then you can juggle those bundles because they’re contained. By categorizing all the elements that go into how to become your ultimate self, suddenly you can get a grip on them. You’re not just throwing sand into the air and getting it in your eyes and hair and mouth.
So, my husband is way more able to feel comfortable with this kind of organization than I am, so in the car on the way home from a series of fights in Chiang Mai, we worked on my categories together. I’m a person whose “business” is also my personal life – fighting is all of it. So personal growth categories often carry over into business categories as well, but what I need to do to work on each of those for personal growth versus business growth is somewhat more defined. For example, it’s important for me on a personal level to become more emotionally agile, because that will help me in the ring as a fighter. But it’s also important for me on a business level to become more emotionally agile because being able to film with 3 legends in a single day after 9 hours of driving back from Chiang Mai, directly after 2 fights requires a kind of focus that, “I’m tired,” doesn’t fit in. I have to get that footage for my patrons and I have to have a good attitude in order to get the most out of the session… and that also makes me a better fighter. It was amazing when going through the different categories, from finances to fighter aims to sexuality, that all of these categories carried a similar theme to what I want to feel as a result of the work I do within them. Being more confident and free in any area of your life makes you more confident and free in every area of your life. That’s why it’s like a Fortune 500 company, because whether it’s the HR department or the custodial department, everything needs to be working toward the singular mission of making the business run efficiently. Same with your life. I just have to choose a metaphor that isn’t a company, but it’s the same process.
One of the harder parts of this particular lesson was coming up with how to measure progress within each category. As Niyi says: If you can’t track it you can’t manage it. So, if my category is “style” as a fighter, how do I measure increases or changes? They can be quantitative, like how many elbows did I throw in a fight or in training, or they can be qualitative, like how free did I feel under the pressure of sparring or a fight? And, yeah, naturally you want to include both in your “measurables.” But then in this process you have to keep track of them on daily, weekly, monthly and maybe yearly bases. I’m only a few days into tracking these things, but it’s already really helpful to see literally how many times my husband and I got in an argument and how well I feel that I recovered out of it, rather that just this vague feeling of “we fight all the time,” or “today was great but I don’t know why.” A difficult part of this process, for me, is tracking these things without judgement. The point isn’t to look at how many times I felt frustrated in training and then get all down on myself for not doing better. The point is to see that I have high days and low days and find the different variables that might play a part in that, or just to look at how many days I’ve felt 6/10 recharge versus days where I feel 3/10 recharge and say, “hey, I can make that better for myself by taking more time to recharge.” It’s knowing where to put your effort. It’s not “good” or “bad,” it just shows you where something is on a scale. Niyi has an entire system of creating gauges and scales for every meaningful category of your life, just so you be aware of where any one part is at. Learning and practicing not judging myself based on that information, but instead just using the information itself to create something that pushes me toward or pulls me away from my goals is something that will make a big difference for me. I’m excited for that.
The second part is this ID card. In Week 7 we created an “Alter Ego,” for which we had to make this kind of ID card that expresses what that character’s strengths, motivations, drives, and “bloodline values,” are. A bloodline value is something Niyi is big on, which are those things about yourself that might not be your favorite aspects of yourself (but could be) but that cannot and will not change. So you just embrace them and figure out how to make them work for you. For example, I need to be alone and I can be pretty emotionally flat. Both of those things can read as disinterest or hurt the feelings of people in my immediate social circle, but it’s just who I am. So, if that’s true to me as a person, it’s true to my “alter ego” and it’s true to whomever I’m trying to be in the ring. The difference with this week is that we’re writing out this ID card for ourselves, not an alter ego, but ostensibly we’ve kind of collapsed the space between those two images throughout the weeks in between. So, if my alter ego needs to dominate every moment in the ring, the regular Sylvie probably has some more wiggle room (so as not to be a crazy person), but whatever my drives and aims are should be in alignment with being able to access that more extreme version in the ring.
I haven’t done this part yet. In the early weeks of the program we had to come up with our ultimate vision, then hammer down or “G Code,” which is pretty similar to the bloodline values except you choose these G Code values, whereas bloodline values are just in your DNA, basically. It should, should, be really easy to pound out my new ID card because all these weeks have been building toward that understanding of ourselves, toward creating a system that constantly and steadily works toward the focusing and refining of that vision. And Niyi has reiterated several times that you have to keep revisiting these goals and visions of ourselves because they change. Everything is about adjustment and this stuff isn’t written in stone. But the important part is to touch base with your goals and visions – who you want to be – on a very regular basis. Like, multiple times throughout the day and every day. So, writing this out, and Niyi supplies really helpful PDFs to fill in, is just organizing the thoughts that I should already have and looking at it frequently will cement it in my mind so that, at some point, I should be able to rattle these things off without hesitation. Like, if you ask Michael Jordan what the “musts” are for him in each game, he doesn’t have to stop and think. His ultimate vision and who we all see him as is the same thing. That’s what we’re reaching for with these two weeks, with the categories and the new ID card.
I think for me the great struggle is having to define things. I’m of a generation where how you feel is this all-natural, needs to be protected and giving voice to all our thoughts even if they’re not super well considered. And I own this as a flaw. When I was in school I could zone out most of the time and then if put on the spot by the teacher come up with a pretty vague but intelligent-sounding answer that let me off the hook. That’s not a good thing, but it’s how it was and everyone I went to college with had the same bag of tricks. What I said always sounded good enough that I was never tasked with the next, horrifying followup, “why do you think that?” or “what’s the evidence for that assessment?” In my generation, it’s enough that you think something or feel something, you’re never forced to reason out why you think or feel anything and so it’s just a blur. In the process of organizing my categories, I’ve realized that the things that are important to me are important to me everywhere in my life. Feeling unrestricted is a main goal in every single category, even if it was obvious to some and less to others. I hate thinking about money, it’s a sore spot from the way I grew up and I basically have one setting: being super stressed about anything financial and therefore just ignoring it as a way to mitigate the panic I feel at the mere mention of the subject. So, with this tendency I would never have done the work on my own to write out how much money I want to be making, rather than simply looking at a solid number that is an absolute must for Kevin and me to get by. “Getting by” isn’t a goal. But realizing that I would never set “getting by” as a goal for what kind of fighter I want to be allowed me to also realize that the kind of freedom I want in the ring is the same freedom that would feel amazing in the realm of having my finances in order. Freedom here means freedom there and I can work toward both with the same focus, in tandem, in a cohesive vision and method. I’d have never made that connection without this program. So as much as I resist the super-organized framework of running my life like a Fortune 500 company, I really appreciate how directing all your sails toward the same destination makes your chances of getting there much, much better.
These were my categories in no particular order:
Personal: Sexuality, Marriage, Finances, Friendships, Mental & Physical Health, Recharge Time
Professional: Fighter Skills, Fighter Style, Fighter Mental Toughness, Fighter Strategy, Physical Strength:Power, 8Limbs.Us Content, Patreon Content, Advocating for Thais (female fighters, legends), Promoter Relationships, Branding
The other posts in this series: