Watching the Lionel Messi, Michael Jordon, Diego Maradona, Serena Williams, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Pele and other elite athletes, may cause you to ask yourself, how did they do that or how did they get so good? I have heard people describe some of the greats as, “having eyes in the back of their head”, because they know everything that is happening around them in the game. Top players have developed incredible athletic intelligence, which allows them to bypass the constraints of the conscious mind, as their subconscious mind guides them to the highest levels of performance. Call it a “sporting sixth sense” or whatever you want, the fact is, the special ones are different.
The other day I was taking the subway on my way to work, while working intently on a project the entire time. I got off the subway, walked up a flight of stairs and found myself on 42nd street in Manhattan. I stopped suddenly and said to myself, “how on earth did I get here”? I didn’t remember anything about the commute, literally nothing at all. I was 100% focused on my work while sitting in the subway car, yet I ended up exactly where I needed to be. Was it just luck that I got where I needed to go, or was it something else? A couple weeks ago I participated in an “Active Shooter” presentation given by the New York Police Departments Anti-Terrorism Unit. The detective who gave the presentation was engaging, experienced and obviously very skilled. He said a few things in the presentation that led me to believe he had some knowledge of superpowers, similar to an elite athlete. No, he didn’t have a red cape hanging out from his pants and I didn’t see any indication of a large “S” under his shirt, so how did I know he had some superpowers? He told us for the next three days, he wanted us to notice every exit in every room we walk into. That’s how I knew he was part superhuman. You don’t get it do you, how is that a superpower? How does that relate to developing athletic intelligence? Stay with me, it’s all interrelated. He went on to explain, counting all the exits might sound like a pain in the a## at first, but eventually at some point it will become automatic. Meaning after you train yourself to identify all the exits in every room you walk into, at some point you will not have to identify them anymore, it will become an automatic skill (like breathing). Think about that for a second and let it sink in. If I walk into a room and without consciously thinking about it, I automatically already have located all the exits, if an emergency situation occurs, I will be the first to react without having to think. I would Immediately be able to barricade a doorway or get people out of an exit, while others may be stuck in panic mode or frozen with fear. Why? For the same reason Messi can pick out the perfect pass that most people don’t even see. Another “super” friend of mine, who is also a retired NYPD Detective, gave me some similar advice. The next time you stay in a hotel, count the number of doorways you are away from the exit. Why would you do such a thing you might ask? Simple, if there is a fire the smoke will fill the hallways and your vision will be zero. The only way you are going to find the exit, is to crawl down the hallway feeling the number of doorways you pass, before you get to the exit. It’s no coincidence my friend doesn’t have to count doorways anymore; he just knows at this point, much like Lebron James knows how to get a last second shot off to win the game. Its’s the same thing really, but there is a secret.
When you think about what superhuman might look like, I bet you were not thinking about the fireman or police officer that was standing next to you at Starbucks getting coffee. It just seems too ordinary and unassuming for superhero’s to be at Starbucks! Let me warn you right now though, don’t approach them asking how they became superhuman because the reality is almost all of these people have no idea they possess superhuman or incredibly sophisticated intelligent abilities. Let me give you another example using chess players. There was a study done that involved lower- level chess players and higher-level players. They showed the chess players a game that was already in progress, then the game was quickly covered up with a sheet. The players were then asked to re-create the game they saw. The lower-level players were able to recall and set-up around 6-8 pieces from the game, coincidentally the average person’s immediate memory or working memory can only recall about 6-8 steps when tested on a simulator so this makes perfect sense. However, the higher-level chess players were easily able to recreate the game exactly. When the higher-level players were asked how they were able to recreate the game they couldn’t give specific answers. When I look at these examples and others I see a definite trend going on here! If you look beyond the surface not everything is at it seems to be. Just like snow isn’t really white and grass isn’t really green. Those are not the true colors of the grass and snow. I hate to disappoint anyone but colors are an illusion, the color of objects is simply a combination of the frequencies of light it reflects. So now try and look around, over, through, to the side and everywhere you never looked before and you will see that a lot of people do have superhuman abilities. Many of these people are completely unaware of their powers and have no idea how they even acquired them. Most of the Superheroes’ that are running around out there, don’t even know they possess these superpowers or special skills, and the ones that do know can’t explain them. A world famous skateboarder commented on his special powers saying “All I can tell you is what I already told you: When I’m pushing the edge, skating beyond my abilities, it’s always a meditation in the zone or flow.” This is one of the most skilled people in the world at his craft, he has cheated death many times and he still can’t put it into words how he does it. However, he doe does provide us with a very important clue when it comes to attaining our superpowers or game intelligence. Take a second to think and process what he said. Ok, times up. Did you figure out how to access the universe and your superpowers yet? Ahhh don’t worry, I’m here to push you in the general direction. He mentions being in a meditative state when he is at his best and his life is literally on the line. This is a guy who jumped over the Great Wall of China on a skateboard, using a one of a kind custom built super ramp, not once but twice, all with a broken ankle. If anything went wrong on those jumps he would have died instantly. Knowing that, I certainly value his insight. Could a meditative state help connect us to the universe and a never-ending supply of superpowers? My answer is a resounding, yes! The use of meditation I will talk about later, but it is one of potential pathways that can lead us towards attaining superpowers and game intelligence!
This is Part II in My New Series: “Increasing Athletic Intelligence”