The Filler Part of the Brain (Part One)
In the first Advance Class last week, I began to understand more about the brain’s ability to fill in the stuff that is filed in its automaticity part.
This is how the brain is deceived. It’s not what you are focusing on that is part of the deception; it’s the stuff that the brain is filling in based on your prior experiences. That’s where the deception occurs.
How Your Brain Builds Filler
As you become more and more skillful at something, the brain begins to fill in parts of what you are doing and you get better and better. And as you do, the brain fills in more and more. Eventually, the brain fills in a lot of what you perceive and you find yourself in the zone. When you’re in the zone, you’re focusing on only 15 to 20 percent of what you are consciously aware of.
In shooting, the most basic thing is an awareness of where the muzzle is pointing without looking at it. The ability to focus on the target past the barrels and see the target behind the barrels – and really, just the ability to move and mount the gun the same way or the same level of competence – is an example of what we are talking about.
Then we go through all the steps that we have outlined in the past few months as important things that must be experienced, cataloged, and evaluated so our brain automatically knows what needs to be filled in from the subconscious to allow you to have higher levels of performance. And as you develop more and more circuits in the brain that are filled in the automaticity file, you can have higher levels of performance. You become more skillful and can perform with less focus on what you are doing and become more intent on the desired outcome desired because of all the stuff that’s already been handed off to the subconscious part of the brain.
The Zone and Your Brain’s Filler
On the program Brain Games, we learned that as you develop an action into a skill and it becomes more subconscious, you become less and less aware of what you’re doing. And you begin to focus on less and less of what’s going on.
So where does the stuff that makes up the zone performances come from? What is it really and how do we make it come up more often?
Well, it occurs to me that as you get better at something, you become less focused on what you are doing to have better levels of performance. You have to focus on less to achieve the same level of performance. That would be the zone.
The filler must be of the highest quality. When you just let it go, it means you allow the filler to just flow and take over and you consciously focus on so much less.. When you overtry, you’re focusing on too much and get in your own way.
The Zone: The Art of Not Thinking
It makes so much sense to me because we have all been there. All of a sudden we’re aware that we’re in the zone. But we didn’t do anything to get there. And we became aware that we were in the zone. So as soon as we were aware of it, we were out of it because we started thinking and the filler stopped. It stopped because we started to consciously try to control what was going on.
Being in the zone is the art of not thinking. So when we are practicing and competing, we are building filler. Our abilities to have greater and greater performances are determined by the quality of the filler we’re building. In turn, this is determined by how you react to what happens to you in practice or a tournament.
This is why it’s so important to always look at whatever happens to you as an opportunity to learn. It’s not good or bad – it just is what it is. That way, everything can become good filler.
The quality of the filler allows you to go into the zone. It’s also the quality of the filler that allows you to let it happen. And the more you let it happen, the less you actually focus on and the easier it becomes for you to have a great performance.
Where Does Filler Come From?
So it hit me: since the filler allows you to focus on less and do more at a higher level, where does it come from?
It’s just the quality of your practice but the evaluations you make about everything you do on and off the course. And it’s how you emotionally react to what happens to you. These things determine in great measure the quality of the filler.
You can’t consciously create it, but it becomes a by-product of your everyday life and how you handle everything that happens to you. The quality of your practice must move to higher and higher levels. And as it does, so does the quality of the filler that comes in on game day.
This is why if you can do it once, you can’t just go out and do it all the time. Being able to do it all the time when it counts comes from doing and doing it and failing and learning from the failures and emotionally looking at them as opportunities to grow and create quality filler.
Failure is a necessity for learning. But the way you react to the failures determines the quality of the filler. So you’d better be careful how you react to what happens.
This was a huge breakthrough for me. It eventually helped me understand performance and how you can’t trick the brain into doing something if you haven’t put in your time. And it showed how performance is a gradual process that’s tied to your emotional reactions, your evaluations about what happens in practice and competition, and in life itself.
You can’t lie to the guy in your head!