Dialed In: Doing Your Best When It Matters Most | Dr. Dana Sinclair

June 3, 2024

Join us as we chat with Dr. Dana Sinclair, a top sports psychologist, about the mental strategies elite athletes use to stay resilient and perform at their best. Learn techniques for managing stress, building resilience, and improving mental toughness.

Transcript:

Natalie 0:00

Hi, and welcome to the Invigor Medical Podcast, where we’re going to walk with you on your journey toward optimal health, performance and well being. My name is Natalie.

Derek 0:09

And I’m Derek.

Natalie 0:09

And we’re going to be your hosts on this journey. In each episode we share insights from top professionals in physical, mental and emotional health. With that said, let’s dive into today’s podcast.

Natalie 0:20

Today on our show, we’re thrilled to welcome Dr. Dana Sinclair. A renowned performance psychologist and the author of the compelling new book Dialed In: Do Your Best When It Matters Most. With a career dedicated to coaching the elite across sports, medicine and business, Dr. Sinclair shares her proven plan for excellence under pressure. I am so excited for this topic.

Derek 0:41

I’m super stoked.

Natalie 0:42

Welcome to the show, Dr. Sinclair, thanks for being with us this morning.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 0:45

Hey, it’s my pleasure, I’m looking forward to the conversation.

Natalie 0:48

I am too. It sounds like Derek’s already listened to some of your content. And I told Derek before we started, I’ve been a little under the weather. And I feel like my brain isn’t firing on all cylinders quite this morning. So I’m like, I might lean on you a little bit more. 

Derek 1:02

Okay. Okay.

Natalie 1:02

Or some of these, if you see me kind of just staring into the distance, it’s not because I’m trying to gather a thought it’s because I’m trying to find one.

[laughing]

Natalie 1:09

So just know, that’ll be…good to know. You know, I think there’s gonna be a lot to talk about here. And it is something that I’m excited, I think anybody who is into their health and wellness is probably to a degree, at least some level into their performance ability and capability and really tapping into the highest level that they possibly can. And so I’m excited for us to be able to dive into all the knowledge and expertise that you have and some of the key points of your book. But could we start with, I always like to know a little bit about you, as our guest, and how did you get here? And what is your background that led you to writing a book like this?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 1:50

Well, I will make a very circuitous route to this point, my life is short. So I got involved, really, because I start playing sport when I was young. I played on a national team in Canada. So playing internationally, the higher the level, the more fun and exciting it was. So I always liked the performing in that scene. Not in another zones, but in that zone. And then I just kind of kept going to school in psychology, I ended up there. I don’t have a very direct path at all, and ended up getting a PhD in sports psychology. Because I thought it was interesting, and then realized, Oh, that’s not going to get me what I want. I-teaching at a university is great, but I would like to do something else. So I had to get registered as a psychologist. So I did another PhD.

Natalie 2:41

No big deal. Just another PhD for the wall.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 2:45

Well, it was one of those things that just kind of worked out. And I started working in the hospitals actually in reproductive psychiatry. So I started there.

Natalie 2:54

Interesting.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 2:54

I know. I know, loved it. Researched, did private practice, but then realized I can join my husband in the business and I did the sport side, sport performance side because that was really fun and I really enjoyed it.

Natalie 3:07

Yeah. Can I ask what sport you played?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 3:10

Field Hockey.

Natalie 3:11

Field hockey? Okay, that’s not one you hear a ton about.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 3:13

No, I know. And then I played ice hockey in Cambridge.

Natalie 3:17

Ice hockey, too. Yeah. And so you mentioned your husband, you said joining forces. So is he also a doctor?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 3:22

No, he’s not.

Natalie 3:24

Oh, okay. Say that one more time. I didn’t hear that.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 3:28

He’s a management consultant.

Natalie 3:29

Okay, amazing. So you took kind of your passion and your love in the sport that you were doing. And then you’re like, Okay, let’s just kind of get this degree and see what we can marry. And then reproductive psychology is what you said? 

Dr. Dana Sinclair 3:42

Reproductive psychiatry which is when you think of infertility, postpartum depression, things like, that.

Natalie 3:47

Sure. Yeah. Wow.

Derek 3:48

That’s very fascinating. So what’s the-so how-did you find any connection? This is somewhat of a tangent from from your book Dialed In, but did you sign any connection between reproductive psychiatry and sports psychology?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 4:03

Absolutely. We are all performers, no matter what we’re trying to do. And, you know, we all want results. We all want to be good at what we do and feel satisfaction. And it’s sometimes not that easy to get to your best in your pressure moment. So we’re all trying to perform in our daily lives. We’re in work under pressure. That’s what I deal with, in my private practice. It’s those pressure moments when they’re meaningful.

Derek 4:28

Yeah. Now I just gotta-I just have Queens: Under Pressure going through my head.

Natalie 4:32

[laughing] Oh my gosh. It’s literally playing in my head right now.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 4:36

I like that.

Derek 4:38

That’s great. So really, I mean, this, that all ties into your book Dialed In. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? The premise of it and  then we can kind of start diving into some of the specifics.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 4:48

Of course, so the premise of it is really, after all these years doing what I’ve been doing, I-there’s a process that helps people get to their best and succeed well. And that’s a lot easier than people think. So I really wanted to show people how to do this. So what I’ve learned in my practice with Olympians and business executives. What are the best two? How do they do it? Here you go, we can all do it. We can all take parts of it, apply it to our own lives and be better, be more satisfied. And it’s one way to ensure mental health to if you are performing well and feeling satisfied, it’s a pretty great feeling.

Derek 5:28

Yeah.

NAtalie 5:29

That is really such a good point. Because I think sometimes it’s easy to just really be focused on the goal and the performance and not really see how hand at hand, it goes with your overall sense of, your overall sense of well being. You know, I think we’re like a very highly performative society. But I think we’re also really in the trenches when it comes to mental health.

Derek 5:51

Yeah.

Natalie 5:51

And so that’s an interesting correlation to talk about. I mean, you know, what is-kind of what is your experience in that sense of like, you know, the chicken or the egg, which came first? Like the, you know, focusing I was just thinking about, let me try to connect these thoughts I was thinking about as you were talking, you know, the idea of mind over matter, and how much of a role that plays here? But then, when it comes to our mental health, how often it’s brushed under the rug, right? And then it’s like, just push forward, push forward. And that doesn’t really help anything, either. So I’m kind of seeing this imbalanced or I don’t know what the right the right word would be, where it’s just like all about performance. Focus on performance. But also like, the effect it has on mental health and making sure that we’re nurturing and bringing it alongside instead of just sweeping it away by pushing through, is this making sense?

Derek 6:36

I don’t know if this is, intented is like is right in line with what you’re saying. But I think it is connected. I don’t know. Adam Grant recently talked about this in a podcast interview with Andrew Huberman. Coming out early with the Mr. Huberman.

Natalie 6:48

Hahaha. We always see how long it takes before he mentions Huberman.

Derek 6:51

But it wasn’t, it wasn’t him. And I would have to go back and look at who Adam Grant was actually quoting. But he talked about this idea of languishing, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this idea of languishing where it’s really like, I know, I could be doing better, but I’m not. And so it’s like, there’s this gap of like, Man, I don’t feel-I feel, I know that I’m not, I’m not doing bad, but I’m also not doing my best. And there’s like this really deep sense of like, Man, I wish I could actually get that. I don’t know if that connects into your idea as well.

Natalie 7:17

I think it does a little bit. I think it’s that sense-I don’t know, I think maybe the thought I’m trying to connect is, you know, again, that performative society that push, push, push, perform, perform, and kind of ignore any sort of negative mental health effects, right? And so that would be an unhealthy side of this and dialing in and doing your best. And maybe the healthy side would be like, being performative and, and and, you know, pushing hard and being dialed in, but bringing along the mental health with it, and recognizing that they are two things that go hand in hand, if that makes sense?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 7:50

They do go hand in hand. And that speaks, I think, to the argument, you know, about talent. Oh, your talent is the one thing that’s going to ensure success, and you’ve got to push and work hard, and all of that and there’s a lot of myths, I think involved in what it takes to perform successfully. And I’m always saying that talent doesn’t ensure success. It’s your mindset. If your mind is cluttered, turbulent, if you’re overthinking, if you’re negative, it’s very difficult to stay focused in the moment when you need to get something done, and actually perform well. That’s pretty frustrating.

Natalie 8:27

Oh, my gosh. I can relate to this so much right now. So this is like really timely. I mean, part of it is like, it’s February, and it’s winter time, and I have to remind myself, every year this time of year, like, it’s winter time. This-as soon as the sun comes out, you’re gonna feel better, like I remind myself of that, but at the same time, this is where I’m at. It’s wintertime, it’s tough. I’m struggling, and you know, all the things going on in my life, both personally and professionally, I feel this sense of overwhelm and this mind clutter and mind fog. And so in a really real, really real way. I feel myself. It feels like I’m just trudging through sludge and slop right now. Like, I feel like I can’t get any momentum going. I feel like as soon as I kind of start to there’s a hiccup like, I get sick, a kid gets sick, there’s a Monday holiday, so I’m not in the office or-and I just I feel like I can’t get going. Do you know what I mean? And so I am super excited to hear you talk about how to get dialed in and and how to really nurture ourselves when we’re in these spaces so that we can perform because you-life happens. It’s always happening. Even if you don’t have something directly going on in your life, probably something someone you care about does, or something crazy gets dropped in your lap like Derek’s got something going on in his life that’s just like dropped in his lap big deal that he’s got to figure out as well. And life goes on and you have you still have to perform at work and you still have to like get up and go to the gym and feed yourself good food and feed your kids good food which we’ve been having a lot of takeout lately in my house, which just makes us feel worse! Right? You know? So let’s dive into the book, please God. Dr. Sinclair, Dana, let’s dive in and tell us, how do we start to become dialed in so that we can perform at our best?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 8:27

First of all, I, I do think that one what you said about there’s always something happening happening in life for sure. And I think the idea of everything’s supposed to be perfect and then I can really get going, if everything’s in line, all that. I don’t know that that’s really realistic. So was this idea of, I’ve got to be flawless. I’ve got to not make mistakes. It’s got to go like this. Otherwise, I’m going to disappoint myself. I’m going to disappoint others. I’m not good enough. All of this, I think has to go.

Natalie 10:15

“Perfect is the enemy of done,” is my favorite saying on the matter.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 10:23

Say that again?

Natalie 10:29

“Perfect is the enemy of done.”

Dr. Dana Sinclair 10:37

Well, it is a huge superscript for self defeat, is what it is because it’s impossible anyway. So why are we doing this to ourselves? Why can’t we shoot for being really good, or excellent or good enough, and then move on to the next instead of getting yanked into sort of that distracted hotspot zone, which I talk about a lot. Getting sucked into distraction all the time, frustrations, worries, fuss time. We’ve got to limit the fuss time and move on to what we’re doing more often. We get too stuck in our feelings and we need to shift on over.

Derek 11:22

Yeah, so on that note…

Dr. Dana Sinclair 11:23

{In audible} used to say, right?

Natalie 11:25

Right! On feelings. That is kind of funny, but I could agree. I think I want and it’s good that we’ve moved forward in our society, like be more in touch again, with mental health and feelings, but also like letting your feelings decide. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Mel Robbins and her five second rule. It’s like you just decide like, if you give yourself time to think about it, and how do I feel about getting out of bed with the 5am alarm, like you’re gonna talk yourself out of it. You’ll have a lot of reasons not to do the thing you need to do. But if it’s 5, 4,3, 2, 1 go. No, no thought. You just like, this is the right thing. Right?

Derek 11:54

You know, it’s kind of-you said that, that reminds me of cliff jumping. I don’t know if you’ve ever been cliff jumping

Natalie 12:00

On a very small scale, but it is very much-I’ve had to count down each time.

Derek 12:04

It’s just like, Alright, okay, I’m just going and don’t even think about it, which, you know, might not be the greatest thing. That being said…

Dr. Dana Sinclair 12:13

We could tweak that a little bit, but it worked.That’s fine for me.

Derek 12:16

Yeah. Great. So let’s talk about the specific strategies. So so you’re you’re talking about you’re in this state of kind of turmoil, you’re kind of in the state of cleverness, how do you go from that state of mind to a more clear, actionable state?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 12:30

Okay, sure. And I want to back up a bit and just drop on you a couple of myths, or one myth in particular that I like people to think about, because they always think they need this one thing to be successful. And people talk about confidence all the time, whether it’s in my office, at a dinner party. I’m sure you talk to people and hear these conversations all the time about how you must have confidence if you’re going to be able to perform well. And I say it is overrated. You might want to feel confident, but you don’t need it. You know, confidence is all about how you feel. It really is just your belief in getting something done or getting a result. Where as performing well is all about what you do. So I’m always trying to get people to not get too worked up over how confident they are or not confident they are, and move on over to the task at hand. And what do I normally do in the situation that’s gonna allow me to be successful? Okay, let’s go. So that’s a huge thing that gets in so many people’s way. And I’ll just tell you an example. I was working with a client, she was an American Idol contestant and she, you know, went through the first audition got her golden ticket, you know, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie. Woohoo! I thought she’d be so excited. When I got the call, she was beside herself. I’m not confident I’m in over my head. They’re so much more confident than I am, the other people I’m up against. There’s no way I can do this. If I’m not confident. I managed to stop her and say, Well, wait a minute, didn’t you just do it? at all, but she just did it? Oh, well, I do have a really good voice. And all I had to do is make sure that I just stay connected to the song and stay on top of my high notes. And then I was okay. So she shifted unknowingly from all this feeling when she got on to what she was doing. Golden Ticket. So I just like to help people think about confidence. Don’t worry about it.

Derek 13:08

Yeah. You know, that reminds me it makes me think it seems like that when we have a specific feeling or a specific state of mind that we’re trying to pursue, that’s where a lot of issues come up. And it’s very much like if you want to be happy, you can’t like necessarily pursue the state of happiness. You have to allow that to ensue, or like a state of peace. You know, when you’re meditating, if you’re thinking if you’re constantly thinking I want to, I want a clear mind, that thought continues to just come in and like clutter the space, rather than just allowing yourself to do the thing that will then cause this feeling state to then ensue. Is that kind of what you’re…?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 15:15

Yes, absolutely. I do think, though, that people do worry too much about future, about the result, about what could happen, what might happen, which never does happen. It’s just we come up with all these different thoughts that could get in the way. And we’re not using our time wisely to pursue the things we should be pursuing or how we should be doing. So back to that process. So that you guys are talking about it is really important. If you want results, or to be better at any kind of task, or interaction or what have you. It is important to figure out what gets in the way. I mean, it’s wonderful to know where you thrive. Maybe you’re a very patient person, and you listen well, so you connect well, that’s great. If so keep it up. But it’s also very important to figure out okay, what gets in my way here? Am I always worried about results? Am I worried about making mistakes? Am I protecting myself and holding back because I don’t want anyone to think I can’t do it? These types of things, you got to figure out what those hotspots are. And those distractions are first. That’s number one. Can’t go anywhere, if you don’t do that. You’ve got to face the fears.

Natalie 16:31

That makes so much sense to me. And I think it’s a step that’s easily overlooked. It’s I mean, I feel like it’s something that’s come up on a lot of conversations that we’ve had on the podcast, which is really about the first step of self awareness, you know? Because if you don’t know what your roadblocks are, how do you know how to take them down?

Derek 16:49

Or what your strengths are.

Natalie 16:49

Or how are you going to map where you’re going, if you can’t know where you are, you know? If you’re like, lost somewhere, and you’re trying to map a location, if your GPS isn’t connected to the internet, and can’t even tell you where you are, you’re S.O.L. on getting directions to teh place you’re trying to get to.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 17:06

True, but you know what I find to with my practice that most people know the top two or three things that bugged them. If they they really take a moment and think about it or look at if I have to like slide a list over to show them what the top ones are, Oh, yes! tick, tick, tick. It’s most of the time, we’re kind of pushing them away and trying to avoid dealing with them, as opposed to just being honest and getting to it. But I don’t know, what do you guys think about that? Do you think that rings true or not?

Natalie 17:35

I think it totally rings true.

Derek 17:36

I think my thought processes when you said that. The first thought that came to my mind is the fact that as human beings, we are wired to see the negative. We are wired to you know, because of our evolution from an evolutionary standpoint. Like, there’s tigers chasing us, and there’s bears chasing us and there’s lions chasing us. Oh my! Right? Sorry, I had to get that in. But and you know, we’re constantly looking for a source of food, and we’re hungry and do all these things. It’s like, we’re built to think about all these negative things. And so, you know, and especially like, the phrase like you’re your own worst critic, that also has also rings true because you, you know yourself better than anybody. And so, you know, okay, what am I allowing myself to slip up on? What am I allowing myself to, you know, do XY and Z? So I think that, yes, absolutely. Like, we are all very aware of, of the things that bother us.

Natalie 18:31

I don’t know, I would tend to kind of disagree with you a little bit.

Derek 18:33

Okay.

Natalie 18:34

I think that we’re expert liars to ourselves.

Derek 18:36

That too. I mean that could be…

Natalie 18:36

I think to a degree, I think in a way we are fashioned to like naturally see the negative, but I think while cemetery, I might be like I’m not performing well, I’m not doing enough, I’m not getting my to do list and that. Like I’m seeing the negative, but I’m probably not always taking the time to really look clearly or be honest with myself. And what is keeping me in that state. Do you know what I mean? I think that’s partially you know, about, you know, keeping our ego intact, and it is a self preservation and, you know, it’s a very natural, normal part of being human. But I just also think it takes intentionality and reading a book, like Dialed In to like, learn how to like, check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 18:37

Actually, I like that. That’s actually very true. And you know, it depends on your performance style as well. Some people are just naturally more anxious and negative whereas other people are naturally more big picture and can take risks, etc. Depends on how you’re built. And you’re not, you’re not necessarily going to change your personality, but by invoking certain new habits and behaviors, you can certainly change how you behave in a particular situation or event or relationship that can make things better.

Natalie 19:57

How important would you say have a positive thinking is? Like I’ve been seeing a lot more-I mean, it’s always been out there, but one of my best friends…

Derek 20:05

Or positive self-talk.

Natalie 20:06

…yeah. One of my best friends has sent me a couple of Tony Robbins YouTubes lately, which is, you know, Tony Robbins, and there’s a lot of great stuff and that he’s done for years and years. But it just so happened that this one interview that I listened to with a comedian, and now I cannot remember his name off the top of my head, but…

Derek 20:22

It wasn’t Tom Segura?

Natalie 20:24

No, but it was the kind of the mullet and he’s…

Derek 20:27

Oh! Theo Von.

Natalie 20:28

That’s the one.

Derek 20:29

Yeah, yeah.

Natalie 20:31

Blown away. I was blown away by this interview, because it was like, in real time, Tony was walking Theo Von through these things. But anyway, it got me thinking and on a track again of like, the power of positive thinking and the power of shaping your mind and what comes out of that. So I’m curious Dana, what you would say, like, how important is the, you know, our thought track and what we’re telling ourselves every day?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 20:57

I do think the internal chatter is very important, but doesn’t have to be positive. I’m not worried about if it’s positive or not. That’s great if it is. If it’s constructive, I’m happy. And you know, sometimes if it’s negative, that’s giving us good information, too. If you’re, you’re criticizing yourself unnecessarily, or it’s not real, it’s made up, forget it,. We’ve got to change it. But sometimes when it’s positive, it’s not real, either and that’s not all that helpful.

Natalie 21:27

Oh, interesting.

Derek 21:29

So we kind of just had a-I’m glad that we had like that slight disagreement because it made me change how I was thinking about this.

Natalie 21:36

Yes, I love changing people minds. It’s what I live for every day.

Derek 21:39

And, Dana, I think that the point that you bring up too, is that we are all built very differently. Like there are people that are more anxious, and there are people that are more grandiose, I guess could be a good word for it, or more self aggrandizing. And, you know, the that, really, it sounds like the point that you’re making is it doesn’t matter so much with the self talk is because the self talk of the anxious person might be overly anxious, and the self talk of the self aggrandizing person might be, they might be lying to themselves. But really, it sounds like what you’re really the most interested in, is making sure that our self talk reflects the reality of the situation. Right? That essentially  if we need to improve being able to recognize that and tell ourselves internally, or if we said-if we did something that was actually a really good job, being able to like, I really nailed that and being able to, to address and acknowledge the reality that surrounds us.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 22:37

Yes, I think that’s probably well said. I do feel that there are two parts to once self-talk, we’ll call it. I think people should really try to talk their way through things more productively. And that means you have to pre plan it a little bit mean, and mentioning the accomplishments, I think it’s extremely important to have a list to call on that are facts of your own accomplishments, great feedback you’ve received, whether it’s promotions, or good behaviors, or kindness or whatever, have that list out there for yourself. So when you start getting negative and thinking, Oh, no, I’m no good, I can’t do this. You know, you can look at that facts list and say, Oh, come on, you know, you’re being ridiculous. Here’s what really is reality. Stick with it. I mean, it’s a way to help ground you back into what’s real. Stop making it up.

Derek 23:34

That’s fantastic. So let’s talk about some of the other tools. So let’s say if we-if someone is bogged down, you know, now we have this, this tool that is you know, essentially make a list. And you know, would you say that it’s important to like write actually write it down? Or is it okay, just to have a mental list?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 23:53

Write it down.

Derek 23:53

So write it down. And you can remember it later. But if you have a written down list, to me, that sounds kind of like a resume.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 24:01

I’m adding-I’m want other things than just a resume. It’s not just a promotion, or your salary or whatever. It’s things you feel good about, whether it’s work or life or anything.

Natalie 24:17

Somebody paid you a compliment that made you feel really warm and seen and heard and you’re like, Oh, wow. It really feels amazing for someone to notice that I’m really good at that. Because I felt like I was good at that. But yeah, but that’s, I mean, that’s a good point. Because I think, for example, I hate you know, my year end reviews at work, because there’s always this section that’s like, Please detail the things that you’ve done and accomplished and contributed. And I have the worst time trying-I’m like, Man, I know. I did stuff that was valuable and important and I can’t recall it because all I can think about is all of the things that I missed.

Derek 24:47

Yeah. 

Dr. Dana Sinclair 24:48

Right.

Natalie 24:48

Yeah. And that’s getting in the way of me performing at a high level and being dialed in.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 24:53

Yes, it is. Yes, it is.

Derek 24:55

You know, I think of the term dialed in,this is a little bit of a tangent, but I feel like there’s so many ways so many different avenues that this can go into. One of the things of being dialed in, it reminds me of like what’s called a flow state, you know, where it’s like you’re just in the flow of it. And there’s lots of books, lots of people that have talked about this, but essentially, where it’s like, you lose track of time, because you’re, you’re just in it, and you’re just really dialed in, you know? You’re just doing the thing that you love. And you’re just, you know, you’re it’s right on the edge of, of where your capabilities are. But it’s so it’s, it’s difficult enough that you’re being stretched, but not so difficult that you can’t accomplish it, or that you’re able to accomplish it 80% of the time. And occasionally you get like this 20% space where you have to figure something out, but you’re capable of doing that. Can you talk a little bit more about the flow state?

Natalie 25:43

Well and is that like, what you because I know there’s a note here, about you talking about the zone in your book.

Derek 25:50

Yeah.

Natalie 25:50

Would you say that’s like similar to what Derek is describing about like flow state?

Natalie 25:52

Hey, I hope you’re enjoying today’s podcast. I just wanted to take a quick break because if you’re listening, you probably know what we do here at the Invigor Medical Podcast, but maybe not what we do and Invigormedical.com. So let me introduce us. At Invigor, we provide prescription strength treatments and peptides for weight loss, sexual health and lifestyle optimization. Every treatment plan is carefully prescribed by licensed doctors and sourced from legitimate pharmacies. You don’t ever need to buy questionable research chemicals again. And bonus, as a podcast listener, you get a 10% discount on your first treatment plan with code PODCAST10 at Invigormedical.com. Now, let’s get back to today’s episode.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 26:32

Yeah, absolutely. It’s the same type of thing. And really what I mean by it is, it’s that place in time where you’re calmer, calmish. You don’t  have to be super calm. Calmish. You’re clear mentally, right? And that allows you to stay focused on the critical factors in the moment, right. So if you are, let’s say playing tennis, there’s a lot of things going on. But you don’t have to pay attention to all of them, because half of them you do automatically anyway. But there might be one or two things that you do have to pay attention to, to get the result that you want, whether it has to do with a certain shot or a certain tactic. And you do have to actually think your way through your match. You talk your way through your match. Now, this flow state, that perfect state that Derek’s talking about that just sometimes happens. And when that’s happening, I tell my clients, Bye! Have fun. See ya. Don’t worry about a thing, just carry on. But I also tell them, you have to be ready for when it starts to go sideways, or you just, it doesn’t just show up. You have to be able to make that happen as best you can as opposed to just well, it didn’t happen today. I guess that’s the way it is. We’re in control of more of it than we think. And it’s not as hard as we think it is to do.

Derek 28:00

You know, a concept that comes into my mind with this is this idea of muscle memory. Right? And tied to that is this idea of doing something slow, repetitively, until you can do it fast. And at that point, it kind of becomes ingrained and you’re able to do it without necessarily thinking about it. 

Dr. Dana Sinclair 28:22

Except…

Derek 28:22

What role would you say?

Natalie 28:24

Oh, she said, except.

Derek 28:25

Except…

Dr. Dana Sinclair 28:26

When the pressures on.

Derek 28:27

Yeah.

Natalie 28:29

Ooooo

Dr. Dana Sinclair 28:30

That’s what I’m talking about is when the pressure is on, Uh oh. Because we all are pressure moments, right?

Derek 28:37

Yeah. You know, I, there’s a, I can’t even remember what book this was, I think it was A Fight, The Fighters Mind by Sam Sheridan. He talked about this concept. He basically-the concept of the book is that he went around and followed a whole bunch of different practitioners of different martial arts and kind of figured out, he has two books, one about the heart, one about the mind, and really try to think about like, how do people think about high stress situations and how they perform when they’re competing in these very violent, very high pressure competitions. And he actually talked about, I think police officers that are able to react so quickly, like just on a dime. It’s like life or death situation. And the response that the police officers would say is essentially like, I’ve practiced that so many times that when it came in that moment, I was able to do the split reaction within a fraction of a second. So how do you balance that with this idea of like-Is it is it just a number of repetitions? Or is it a number of repetition under pressure that really help you get there?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 29:41

Well, it really does depend. I mean, there’s the skill part of it. There’s the talent and okay, I know what I’m doing. I’m a I’m a heart surgeon and I know what the protocols are. I know what the systems are. I know what I have to do in these moments. Okay. Well, when something critical happens, when there’s a crisis, some people, if they’re not expecting it, or they just aren’t handling it as well, or it is just a real crisis moment, they aren’t necessarily automatically going to just do it, they actually have to think their way through it. They have to calm themselves, they have to zone in to the most critical factors. They’ve practiced it, but their mindset is allowing them to get to their skill set. So it’s not just about, oh, 10,000 hours, and I’ll be able to do it no matter what. We all know that from day to day, our mindset can change, our mental approach can change. Our talents are still there. It’s how we utilize them, depending on the day and how we’re feeling and just what’s happening. So I’m always pushing the mindset, you better know what to do if something happens, or if you’re just not ready.

Derek 30:58

Yeah. You know that that makes me think of a book that I read a while ago called The Talent Code. I can’t remember who it’s by, but it talks about how, just like you said, the 10,000 hour method doesn’t like it. 10,000 hours doesn’t seem to be a magic number. Obviously, if you do something for 10,000 hours, you’ve probably got a decent amount of competency in it…

Dr. Dana Sinclair 31:52

Maybe!

Derek 31:19

But that really…Hopefully, if you spend 10,000 hours on something, hopefully you have the competency in it. But one of the things he talks about is how to actually develop talent includes like a passion for it, right,? You have to be able to be driven to come back to it again and again. And then either expert practice or expert guidance from like a coach who can have an outside view. And you know,-because an hour of practice with a coach that’s telling you, hey, work on X, Y, and Z is like 10 times more effective than doing an hour of practice by yourself.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 31:52

Should be but depends on the coach too.

Derek 31:54

Sure.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 31:54

I’ve seen a lot go on there too. And, you know, you might be able to do in 5000 hours what it took me 10,000 hours to do, right?

Derek 32:03

Yeah. Some of that, I’m guessing probably kind of falls back to like our proclivities of like, what we are actually naturally gifted at or what we more naturally, are attuned to, I guess you could say.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 32:18

Okay, I’m going to jump in on that one with the passion comment. Which is always very interesting to me. Because in terms of passion, I never worry about people being passionate, or you have to have passion to reach your goal or to be good at anything. I think a lot of times people start to get good at something so they like it.

Derek 32:41

Yeah.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 32:42

Is it passion? I don’t know. I don’t think it’s a, I don’t think it’s a given that you have to have. If you do great, but I think a lot of people maybe misread passion as, Oh, they happen to get really good at something so they’re, they’re going to love it. So let’s go, let’s get even better at it.

Natalie 33:01

That’s interesting. I think there are probably people that like, discover they’re passionate about something as they learn to do it and realize they’re good at it. Yes, passion comes after? I’m in if you would have told me 5, 10 years ago that I would be passionate about doing a podcast, I’d be like, well, that’s interesting. I don’t see that. Like now that I’m like doing a podcast. It’s something I’m incredibly passionate about, and brings me a lot of joy.

Derek 33:28

Yeah.

Natalie 33:30

And I think I’m really good. I’m just kidding. Anyway, moving on to the next question. Okay, so I was I actually am some of these questions are really good. And I usually don’t even really look at them. But there’s, I feel like I could go on so many different tangents with your expertise in your book that I want to like, come back to this a little bit. I was looking at one here. We kind of touched on this one a little bit that you stress, the idea that perfection is the enemy of progress. And so we already dived into that a little bit. So I wanted to do, how can someone recognize and develop routines that truly enhance their performance? We just talked a bit about like, you know, writing down a list of things that are like getting in your way, but what would be the next step and helping develop routines to enhance performance?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 34:17

Okay well, I’ve skipped a step. So I’m going to throw something in the middle there. Once you figure out what does mess you up and gets in the way. There are four skills to pick from that actually help, you know, they’re strategies that help you do a good job in the moment. And one of them is being able to stay calm-er. Another one is picking out those mental cues for the task that you’re going to embark on. More on a, could be on a technical side or a tactical side. What do I need to do here to perform well? Then there’s the talking your way through it. Then there’s some mental rehearsal Then you’re ready to get a routine. So you’ve got sort of a blue print have a number of strategies that you think work for you. And again, there are all kinds of samples laid out. And then you sort of pick, okay, when I have a presentation, when I have to go into a big meeting and negotiate a deal, when I have to take an exam or talk to a tough, difficult person, what’s my routine? What’s my plan? Same type of thing. And that should be small enough to fit on a sticky note. No bigger. So in preparation for that event, you want to get ready, you need to warm up. You need to maybe go over your fat list, maybe you need to breathe a little, maybe you need to rehearse, see yourself being calm and competent, or, you know, speaking clearly, and articulately, whatever it is. And that’s what you do to warm up. Then you pick one or two things that in the moment, you’re going to do if you start to go a little sideways, or if you’re not in the zone. And then out of all of that you’ve got that’s basically a routine, you’ve picked up the things that you know, if you do, you feel prepared, you feel at least a little bit more relaxed and ready to be clear in the moment. That’s it.

Derek 36:20

And so essentially, you just repeat that. Iit sounds like essentially, there’s a pre performance stage that you’re talking about. And this is very clear in like sports, you know, is you have the time before the actual event or the you know, the race or the the meet or anything like that, along those lines, were you able to kind of prepare yourself. And then it seems like there’s that list of saying, write down the list of things, kind of review them kind of go over some of the critical information, if whether that’s something specifically that you need to do through visualization. And maybe that’s something we can talk about, I’m very interested in that. Or something that is very critical for you to know and to have that fact, like ingrained in your mind before you go in. So there seems to be kind of like this pre, a preparatory phase and then when and then and then when you’re actually in it, basically, having a set plan of like, okay, if things fall apart, I can, I know, I can always return back to this base point.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 37:26

Yes. And that’s essentially it. And that’s, that is a form of routine that I think is very helpful, because I think a lot of times people think a routine, I have to do this, this this in order to perform well as in, okay, golf. People are big on routines in golf. I have to, you know, set up this way. I have to look at here. I have-now, it could be a list of 10 things to do. And they might be germane to what you’re, you know, the fairway you’re on and what you have to do, but there’s only going to be a couple of critical things that need, you need to pay attention to. And I guess what I’m trying to get people away from is I have to do it this way, otherwise, I can’t start. Whereas you have to-as long as you’re connected to the main things in your routine, you’re fine. And I like people to shorten it because it’s very difficult to have a long routine, and then expect a good result.

Derek 38:27

Yeah, and really to have that come off more like a, almost like a nervous tic. You know, like, if, before I can do this, I have to like pop my knuckles and I have to clap three times and I have to like slap my knee. You know, like, if you have to do that every single time to reset people were like, Man, this guy’s crazy. You know?

Right. Spoken more like superstitions.

Derek 38:48

Yeah. And so it sounds like you aren’t necessarily for those. You’re, you’re kind of like, okay, you’re you’re doing that for a specific reason to get to what? To what result? Really you’re trying to get to a state of mind where you’re clear, and where you’re not necessarily confident, but you know that you are competent to complete this task.

Natalie 39:09

Well and maybe you could differentiate a bit for us between beneficial routines and unhelpful superstitions.

Derek 39:16

Yeah.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 39:17

Of course, so superstitions we all know about them. We all maybe have a few. But you know, my lucky socks. I can’t. I can’t perform well, unless I wear the same shirt or eat the same thing.

Natalie 39:32

My team won when I wore this color, and so I have to wear this color the next time they play or they won’t win.

Derek 39:37

Yeah.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 39:38

For sure. So all of that can be fun and whatnot. But if it turns into fear is when-you know it’s really superstitions are just a way of dealing with our anxieties. It’s the tension that’s bubbling up before an event or a situation that we’re trying to deal with. So we like to do these check off the box of these things, but they’re not very constructive. So I’m always trying to get people to, you know, stop worrying about, you know, their lucky earrings and or their lucky hat and get over on to some constructive strategies that might actually help them when they’re scared. When they’re unsure. When they’ve drifted back into the zone of worries and frustrations and self criticisms, we need to shift over on to something helpful, because your earrings aren’t going to do it. I was talking to an Instagram post the other day, and she was laughing about her lucky earrings. So.

Natalie 40:36

[Laughing} So what would be an example of that, and maybe we could like break it down even to, you know, really basic performative or performance within a day. You know, like, say, you know, I’m halfway through my work day. And, you know, the school just called because my kid is sick. And I’ve got to figure out if I’m leaving work, or if I’m calling, you know, a sitter or family member to pick up my kid from school, and I’ve got this big meeting and the, you know, and it just everything starts to just fall apart in my brain. What would be a real example of, you know, this is I mean, obviously, you don’t know my own tools. But let’s just let’s abstract here, if keep getting myself back in the moment, rather than completely falling off track, if that makes sense.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 41:18

Well in that situation, clearly, your tension will have shot up, right? So you might be a nine or 10 on the scale instead of a, the normal three or four. So when our tension is high, what happens to us physically, okay, heart rate, tension, etc, we have tight muscles, can’t move. And then what happens to our brains? Clutter, we jump right back into all the things that could go wrong, and all the worries, and what’s not going to go right, etcetera. So we go right back into those derailleurs and we can’t function very clearly. Yeah. So what’s the first thing you do? You gotta get calm. How are you going to get calm? Well, guess what? Sounds funny, but breathing properly is the first thing and it is the best thing that anyone can do to them, or do for themselves in any kind of critical moment. So that’s number one. Now, just as an offshoot, I deal with a lot of people in the NFL and NHL and all of that. And I talked to like four guys last week who were laughing about how breathing was saving their games like with playoffs. One guy’s in the playoffs, other guys not. But it’s like they had to actually keep breathing during the game.

Natalie 42:34

Yeah.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 42:34

So they could get to what they were supposed to be doing because there was so much going on.

Natalie 42:39

Yeah, I bet.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 42:41

So it’s the same thing for all of us. We’re all performers, right? So in your situation, what are you going to do? I bet you if you calm down and settle, it’s a lot easier for you to talk your way through what you’re going to do.

Derek 42:54

And the details just kind of fall into place. Yeah.

Natalie 42:59

And so step one is breathing. What’s step two?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 43:01

Step two, is those mental cues, those performance cues. Okay, do I call someone? Who do I call? Like getting those sort of task related things set, then you’re going to talk then you’re going to talk to yourself, talk your way through it. Keep talking, talking your way down. Talking your way calm. It depends on what’s bothering you, or what you’re really worried about. But being able to get calm is probably all you really need to get to, Okay, here’s the progression of things I need to do…

Natalie 43:28

Yeah.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 43:28

…in this particular case. Because you handle that all the time, right?

Natalie 43:34

More than I’d like to, I’ll be honest.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 43:36

But on your, on your good days, you’re calmer than on your days that it’s feeling alot more chaotic.

Natalie 43:41

And you’re onstantly in a reactive state is what that feels like.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 43:58

Yes. Rushing, rushing, rushing.

Natalie 43:46

And I think that’s a big thing for me is like, once I kind of get in a reactive state, then I feel like I stay in a reactive state for the rest of the day. You know? Which is not helpful.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 43:58

And, no, but you know, so many people are built that way, just fast paced people, which is great because it helps you get things done and push forward. But in other situations, yeah, people end up rushing or get frustrated or, or defensive or even snippy, and can’t think. And all they have to do is learn to-maybe those people, they’ve got to learn how to slow down just a little bit. Boom. Right now. Like in five seconds, I’ve got to slow down and settle for a moment, because owning the ability to self soothe is a huge skill in performance.

Natalie 44:32

Hmm. That makes a lot of sense. And I think, yeah, I think that I wanted it to be like this big like, Hey, you got to do all these things and then here’s 10 things like the fact that you’re like, hey, you need to calm yourself down. Right.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 44:45

Because you do all those things naturally anyway once you’ve calmed down.

Natalie 44:50

Right. And it sounds like to having done the prep work beforehand, like you said, like making those lists. Will help too because then it’s like once I’ve calmed myself down now have already done the work to know what it is that I need to be focused on and where I need to be in order to get dialed in again. 

Dr. Dana Sinclair 45:07

Yes, because your first step was knowing what’s going to trip you up. Oh, maybe I rush under pressure, okay, well, when I do, this is what I’m gonna do. Oh, all right.

Derek 45:19

And then I feel like that really ties into this idea of visualization, of being able to, to like-the person, the main person that I kind of like, first learned about visualization from is Stephen Covey. You know, Seven habits of Highly Effective People. When I was a teenager, I read that multiple times.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 45:40

Oh good!

Derek 45:41

And one of the things he talked about is if you visualize yourself in a situation, in fact, he talked about a practice that he did with his son when he was like, trying to practice some sort of football thing. And what would happen is that the son would visualize himself panicking in a situation. He’s like, well, if you’re visualizing yourself panicking in a situation, then when you get to that situation, you’re going to be panicking. And so he’s like, being able to visualize, very calm, very-and have a very vivid, can actually make a very profound effect. I don’t know, can you can you talk about some more visualization techniques?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 46:18

Absolutely. So visualization, imagery, both have so much good research out there. But I think it often makes people think that they have to spend an hour a day or they have to, you know, constantly be working on their mental rehearsal, and I like to talk about it in terms of daydreaming. We all Daydream anyway, why don’t you just focus your daydreaming a little bit more. So like three times a day, doing a 15 second clip, in your head of rehearsing something, will actually make a difference. And it’s not daunting. So I like to talk about in terms of daydreaming, because you know, it’s not something special, you have to sit down and do, just harness it a little bit more during your day. Now there’s, you can use mental rehearsal for all sorts of things. For being just learning how to chill out and seeing yourself doing that, for being better at a skill, for improving a particular skill, or speaking up in a meeting, or whatever it is that you want to do. Maybe you need to visualize fighting back more. If something goes wrong, how to correct it in your mind, don’t just stop and think, oh, no, I’m panicking. Keep going and do something fantastic in your mind that makes it palatable or right.

Derek 47:47

Yeah.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 47:48

And then the other type of daydreaming I like is step up daydreaming, see yourself from where you want to be. Maybe you’re not there yet in terms of your abilities, your performance, but step out, go big. Start seeing that in your head, too.

Derek 48:04

And that can really help you imagine like, what are the steps I would have to take to be able to get there, and you might start visualizing, you know, like, if you if you want this amazing physique, it’s like, okay, I want this amazing physique. And then you’re like, Well, how do I get that, oh, I have to go to the gym, and then you all of a sudden, you start visualizing yourself going to the gym, makes it more likely that you’re actually going to do that.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 48:22

Yep, absolutely.

Derek 48:23

You know, as you were talking about that I was thinking about, because like, I feel like I daydream quite a bit. You know, like, I think about a lot of different possibilities and a lot of different things. One thing that I realized where I think I do this is when I’m, like listening to educational material, or I’m looking at something of like, How can I specifically work on this one thing? Like, as the person is talking, I think about, Okay, how would I actually do that in this specific situation? There’s this one weightlifting channel that I follow and like, they talked about all these very specific techniques. And as they’re talking about it, I’m like, can I visualize myself actually doing that thing and imagine how it would feel. And then when I actually go to the gym, it feels great. Because it’s like, this is exactly what I thought it was gonna be like, and being able to really attain those results feels awesome.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 49:13

All I can say is way to go.

Natalie 49:17

Maybe I just need to visualize myself popping out of bed at 5am with like Cinderella status, like singing to the animals and nature and like, the world is coming alive and I’m full of joy and wonder. And maybe that’s all I need is visualize my wake up calls. Like…

Derek 49:31

That’d be awesome.

Natalie 49:33

Oh, my gosh, I feel like there’s so much that we could continue talking about with you and I really appreciate all of the time and the insight that you’ve offered to us. Where can people find your book?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 49:46

Any bookseller. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, anywhere? Or dr.danasinclair.com.

Natalie 49:53

That’s what I was gonna say is where can they find you? So that’s your website. Are you also on socials?

Dr. Dana Sinclair 49:58

Yep. @drdanasinclair.

Natalie 49:59

That’s amazing. Did you have any other questions you wanted to follow up with, Derek?

Derek 50:03

No. I mean, I could I could go down the rabbit hole.

Natalie 50:05

I know.

Derek 50:05

I just wanted to, like Natalie, express my appreciation for you joining us on the show. And really, I think that the work that you’re doing is so specific and so dialed in, you could say. And I really think that it’s very powerful. And I think it’s a good conversation. I think that our listeners will truly enjoy the conversation we had today. So thank you so much for joining us.

Natalie 50:30

Yeah.

Dr. Dana Sinclair 50:30

Well thank you very much. And if I may, I just want to remind people that it does take courage to try to be good, but give it a go. It’s not as hard as one thinks.

Derek 50:40

Yeah. I think that’s a fantastic advice.

Natalie 50:43

I think it is. It’s very timely. I have too. I know that people, you know, still being in the first part of the year and probably starting to hit that wall a bit on their resolutions and all of these improvements usually need something to kind of help keep you going. And I think this is going to be really timely for our listeners to be able to pick up the book and listen to these insights from Dr. Sinclair and, and figure out how to get dialed in and perform at their best.

Derek 51:06

Thanks for tuning in to the Invigor Medical Podcast.

Natalie 51:09

If you enjoyed today’s episode, you can support us by liking and subscribing.

Derek 51:12

Your feedback matters, so feel free to share questions for future episode ideas in the comment section.

Natalie 51:17

For more information about our prescription strength treatments for weight loss, ED and overall wellness, all from qualified doctors and reputable pharmacies, visit us at Invigormedical.com. And don’t forget to use code PODCAST10 for a 10% discount on your first treatment plan. Until next time, stay well.

Podcast Guests

Dr. Dana Sinclair
PhD

Podcast Guests

Derek Berkey
Host
Natalie Garland
Host
5226 Outlet Dr, Paso, WA 99301
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