Flow Interview – Andrew McBride – performance coach
Andrew is a performance coach currently working in New Zealand at the U21 Football World Cup. He kindly agreed to an interview with The Flow Centre so we could pick his brains about how he helps top athletes to plug into flow and peak performance.
Andrew starts by quickly reminding us that: “Flow is a skill itself”. It is a state that we can train for and experience in our everyday lives. When we think about flow as a unique mental state that is not combined with notions of luck or some illusive magic space that finds us at random, we can then empower ourselves to find flow frequently in our lives.
“If you want to find flow in your performance, practise it in training…we need to practice under pressure.” His words echo one of The Flow Centre’s core messages – if we want to experience flow, then we need to train for it.
Andrew has formed a company called Brain Builder, which is built around the philosophy: “Living above the line everyday, day in and day out”. He says this phrase means that we need to adopt a ruthless mindset to succeed and leave nothing to the “too hard basket”. It is a phrase that we can use to instantly assess how we are doing in any given situation – are we above the line?
He states we must replicate the performance environment in our training and life as a whole. “Performing at a high level is not a magic switch that we turn on and off…..preparation is key…..you have to guarantee you are doing the best you can in everything you do”. Andrew reminds athletes that we have to be above the line on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, not just on game day.
One of the primary issues he says athletes face is performing under pressure. Sound familiar? He says: “Pressure is a concept and different for everyone…..when you put your whole self into the performance….and approach pressure with our competitive fire – never give up attitude – the pressure reduces.”
“Its very hard to make it as a professional…so if we are not willing to make our bed in the morning how can we expect to make it in professional sport.”
When asked about the availability of flow for the average Joe, he replied: “If you put yourself above the line you will be amazed how many flow opportunities come available.” He goes on to say: “It is absurd to think flow is reserved for the elite few…..I see students enter flow everyday.” Later in the interview he sums it up concisely: “Flow is not a magic tablet…it takes practice…but we can experience it multiple times a day.”
Andrew reminds us that play and fun are key to maintaining intrinsic motivation, which is one of Csikszentmihalyi’s key principles of flow: “You can’t find flow in something you don’t enjoy.”
Andrew describes the flow state as a split screen experience of the event. He explains that sometimes we have a ‘helicopter’ view and see things from a distance, as if we are looking down on ourselves. Sometimes we are the ‘ant’, looking at the minute detail that only an ant digging in the dirt can see.
How can we practically experience flow more frequently in our lives?
“Control our breathing. If we can take a moment to invest…ten seconds…to control our breathing and really focus on that…we can control our thoughts a lot better.”
He continued to say the second piece of advice he offers is to detach from the situation. Understand whether the pressure is situational pressure or pressure from within. Once we understand the situation better we can gain clarity and control.
What is the difference between good/best performers and great performers?
“In a one word answer: mindset. For me, this means an unshakeable self-belief…..No matter how the odds are stacked up against us the greats have a never give up attitude…..The greats always find a way…they have an inner core and unshakeable self-belief.”
“Willingness to put yourself out of the comfort zone and not be afraid of failure builds layers of self-belief.”
We would like to thank Andrew for his time and thoughts on flow and peak performance. If you would like to find out more about Andrew, then please get in contact and we will connect the dots, or you can find him on Twitter: @mcbride_andy