Additional Human Performance Posts by Mike
- Part I: Going with the Flow
- Part II: The Tao of Resuscitation Performance
- Part III:
Optimizing human performance has been of paramount importance to the military for some time. In addition to the military, it is consequential for professional athletes as well as martial artists and even individuals in the corporate world. Psychological and physical training have been found by many in these areas to be a worthwhile investment. As opposed to building training that relies on equipment and technology, building resilience and mental toughness provides long--term, sustainable benefits that are manifest in nearly every activity. In deed, a truism in the world of military special operations is that “humans are more important than hardware.” I would argue the same is true in medicine.
The ultimate goal is to be able to enter into a state of ideal engagement where one is “firing on all cylinders,” or as many say “in the zone.” It is achieving a level of performance where clarity of thought and precision of physical activity are at their zenith. In a word: FLOW.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker School of Management, describes this phenomenon in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Entering into this state not only enhances performance, but also imbues happiness, creativity, and unparalleled innovation.
This state is fundamentally based on the balance between skill and challenge. Acquiring a high level of both cognitive and technical skill is, without a doubt, requisite. But, for intelligent and highly trained physicians, associate providers, nurses, and paramedics the other very important aspect of achieving “flow” is control of one’s psychological and emotional state in order to modulate the perception of challenge or difficulty. This is where focusing on human factors and performance psychology comes in. Psychological skills and tools can be taught to temper arousal, provide positive affirmation of capability, and improve coping skills. In midst of an arduous resuscitation, perhaps we should aim to go with the “flow.”
- Fletcher & Hanton. “The relationship between psychological skills usage and competitive anxiety responses.” Psychology of Sport and Exercise 2001; 2(2): 89–101.
- Herzog & Deuster. “Performance psychology as a key component of human performance optimization.” J Spec Oper Med 2014; 14(4): 99–105. •
- Hanton & Jones. “The acquisition and development of cognitive skills and strategies: I. Making the butterflies fly in formation.” Sport Psychologist 1999; 13(1): 1–21.
- Fiore & Salas. “Cognition, competition, and coordination: The ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of the relevance of the sports sciences to learning and performance in the military.” Mil Psychol 2008; 20(Suppl 1): S1–S9.
- Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: The Pyschology of Optimal Experience. New York, NY: HarperCollins; 1990.
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