Performing in challenging conditions – a different take

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This week’s blog comes from Simon Chodziesner, a K2 performance coach based in Melbourne, Australia. He shares how he’s using the performance readiness concept to help him prepare for one of the biggest challenges of his life.

Four days ago I was told that I needed to have open heart surgery. I have a condition which I have known about for the last year which, I was told, would eventually require surgery. My definition of eventually was in the range of 10–15 years. My heart had different ideas. “Sooner rather than later” was the recent call by the surgeon so I am now booked in for an aortic valve repair/replacement in twelve days time.

High Performance in action

Clearly the key performance moment here will come from my surgeon who has honed his skills over many years. He performs well under pressure, is always learning, is supported by a great team and has a great bedside manner to boot. I have total confidence that he will do his job well. My job in the operation is a fairly limited, albeit an important one in that I need my heart to keep beating.

Readiness for recovery

My recovery from the operation, however, is where my own performance readiness will be tested. Do I have all of the ingredients in place? As a human performance coach, I’m looking at this as a great opportunity to walk the talk and have a look at my readiness for an “elite” recovery through the lens of the Performance Pie!

Technical – I have never had to recover from surgery like this before and may need some help/training on what to do. There is a pre- admission clinic and planned rehab sessions that I can use as training sessions. I’ll be seeking to get as much knowledge and practical ideas about what I need to do to recover brilliantly. And I’m going to be entering these sessions with a mindset of exploiting the opportunity of learning how I can get better at getting better.

Tactical – I will go through different phases in my recovery – both physically and mentally. I will be aware of these phases so that I can be prepared to leverage all of the resources that I have at my disposal. I need to make sure that I’m doing the right stuff (applying my technical knowledge) in the right way at the right time.

Mentally – The patient will need to be patient. My surgeon has told me that the first six weeks I will not feel like doing much but the next six weeks I will want do more but will need to take it slowly. This means I will need to curb my frustration and occupy myself with useful things that I can do. Like read articles on “The Performance Room”… Mentally, focusing on the things that I can do (rather than the things that I’d like to be doing but can’t), and keeping in mind that my recovery/rehab state is temporary, and that I’m on the journey to recovery.

Physical – Rest will be key as will a gradual increase in exercise. I will need to stay hydrated, nourished and eating clean – those things will be important to aiding my body’s recovery. They’re often and easily ignored, but they’re all 1%ers which add up to 5% before you know it.

Emotional – Maybe one of the most critical elements. My wife and family will be a great support. I need to let them help me, especially in the early stages. Good readiness for this will be having conversations with them over the coming days so that they understand what’s happening and are ready – emotionally and practically – to play their role. And I need to be ready to let them do that, and talk to them about how I might find that difficult!

Contextual – Having the house set up so that I can access what I need with a minimum of fuss and movement. This may involve a bit of TV. My first week at home will coincide with the summer’s first cricket test. Seems like this is the easiest part of the pie to sort!

Having a performance plan and knowing where to focus has certainly increased my confidence. My goal is to have the best recovery, to leverage my resources and to embrace the opportunity. I plan to be able to hit the pavement in my running shoes by February 2017.

We wish Simon well as he goes through surgery and his recovery. He’s promised to write a follow up blog to report back on how well he has actioned his readiness plan!