The deeper you go . . .
Paraphrasing that pop-culture notion
from a bygone era, the more deeply engaged in our practice we become, the higher our
dice-influencing skills can evolve. At the
same time, the higher our skills evolve, the more deeply engaged we will be.
No matter what level of skill we
achieve, were involved in an ongoing quest to reach a continually receding horizon
of further improvement.
Knowing our mind
Its often said, and correctly,
that its all about the toss. We want it to be on-axis, and we want those
primary-face outcomes. Its also about
knowing the wagers that maximize our own advantage. And
its about leveraging our advantage further by acting on our current results, picking
up the familiar sweet scent of our own skill-based trail at the present moment. And its about discipline, and the qualities of
character needed to overcome the primal drives threatening to turn all that skill into the
mere wreckage of lost opportunity.
Ultimately, developing and executing
our skills, no matter which ones, depends on just how well we know our mind, and
how we use it. Mad Professor recently put it
to us this way: How we THINK has a direct and dramatic effect on how we SHOOT.
We cant escape the fact that our
mindset is always a factor. Its
especially true where our mental efforts are directed at accomplishing everything more
effortlessly, without interference from between the ears.
But too commonly, I think, we relegate
the mental processes involved to second-class accommodations as we navigate our paths,
giving artificial preference to everything else instead.
If were going to be putting our mind to these tasks, it would seem foolhardy
to minimize its role, whatever it may be.
Were not discounting any of the
myriad skills were so diligently involved with, by looking just as deeply into the
mental side. Optimum performance derives from
a synchronous blend among all the fine-tuned elements we bring with us to the table. Mindfulness might best be thought of as a
framework for our efforts, geared toward maximizing the whole process.
Learning an appropriate
I think most would agree that
monitoring our thoughts and attending to our state of mind are abilities which, like any
other, can be enhanced. We can learn to
become more consciously aware of whats going on inside our heads as we develop our
Ultimately, we can learn to be more
attentive, inquisitive and focused in everything we do.
In fact, our experiences in everyday life provide the perfect laboratory for
finding an appropriate mindset that will assist us in reaching our precision-shooting
As we learn to more deeply engage in
our everyday experiences, well become better situated to excel in all our more
esoteric endeavors. Our enjoyment in meeting
challenges, and the depth of our lifes passions; these are the source-pools for our
inspiration in everything we do, including dice.
The party is just beginning
If you havent yet turned on your
heels yelling Run away! like King Arthurs knights in Monty Python and
the Holy Grail, I want to thank you right here and now for exploring with me some of
the insights that the challenge of writing these articles is providing.
So I do hope youll continue,
because the party is just beginning.
If consistency of our toss is the sine
qua non of dice influencing, it should be obvious that consistency in our mindset will
play a role. So not only are we looking for
the right mindsetwell also want to be looking for ways to maintain it more
consistently, once something suitable has been unearthed.
Certainly, well no longer want to be taking chances that an ambiguous mindset
might somehow be working at cross purposes with all our efforts to take the gamble out of
Close Encounters of a Mental Kind:
The problem of Temporary Intensity
the feeling that weve got it all figured out
I want to begin with some examples of
how an inconsistent mindset can lead to inconsistent precision-shooting results. A good place to start is with the crucial and
much-heralded mental factor of intensity.
Mad Professor wisely alerts us that
precision shooting depends on having a PASSION for making each roll as near perfect as it can
possibly be. Gratification from each of our
newfound successes fuels our intensity.
Observation and emotion
Notwithstanding our tireless efforts,
though, our encounters with near-perfection can be rationed in such ridiculously fleeting
episodes that it may seem impossible to maintain much success-fueled
intensity. We can be head-over-heels excited
one day and then things might seem almost bleak the next.
Its why such extensive practice and continued patient experimentation
are a must.
Astute observation is fundamental in
these endeavors. Our vigilance to be on the
constant lookout for any semblance of success is vital.
But maintaining precision and persistence in the process is itself a skill that
takes a real commitment of time and energy to develop. And unless our efforts are infused as well with the
appropriate emotional capitalthe right attitudewell not likely be
sustaining them long enough to achieve the results we intend.
It shouldnt really be a surprise
that maintaining the right observational mindset requires a commitment of emotional
energy. Weve already noted there has to
be passion behind our every roll. Our
resolve to succeed is buoyed by any successes in our current results while the increasing
acuity of our observations helps fuel anticipation of further progress. Only with a synergistic commitment of all this
emotional and mental energy will we be taking full advantage of the efforts involved.
A balanced attitude
Yet, as Irishsetter has observed we
instead tend to reduce our concentration and intensity after having some success,
because we wrongly begin to feel as if weve finally gotten things all figured
out. MP adds that its because
were no longer working on learning and perfecting something new and
fresh. And as our intensity lags, of course, our skills
become less consistent again.
Ill just add what is already
well implied by those masterful observations; while well always want to appreciate
our dice-influencing insights as worthy rewards in and of themselves for all the time and
effort required; we must simultaneously embrace them as perfect opportunities for further
progress. If were not maintaining our
balance on this particular expanse of mental high wire, were simply not reaping all
we should from our dice-setting pursuits. Its
a juggling act requiring expert-level mental and emotional agility.
Seeing the future NOW
So its crucial to understand
that our sometimes fleeting experiences with the intensity of near perfection,
though perhaps not ideal precisely because they can be so abbreviated and unpredictable,
nevertheless provide important, recurring points of renewed perspective and opportunity in
our continued skill-development quest.
It is thanks to these episodes that we
are allowed our first quick glimpses of that receding horizon weve talked about,
just when it looks to be, for a brief time anyway, right at our doorstep!
These alluring experiences are the
gentle onshore breezes from the horizon of our own next level of development.
Making passage . . .
Well only be heading there, however, if we open up the storm
shutters and let the fresh air in. We must be
paying extremely close attention, resolved to put our mind to the new tasks were
continually involved withwe must maintain our intensity.
We need to be blending a genuine
feeling of appreciation for the sense of progress were experiencing with an
unfaltering discipline of continued commitment and a mature expectation that further
progress will be ours.
Only with such a balanced attitude and
tuned-in state of mind will we be granted passage as each next-appearing portal of opportunity draws close.
In later installments, well
explore how we might increase our sensitivity to these opportunities as they occur and
allow the bloom of our passion for the process to take hold more readily and more deeply
over time. In the meantime, our attitude now
is always going to be inexorably tied to the depth by which our skills will be
Encounters of another Mental
The problem of Temporary Intensity
induced by impatience and frustration
temporary-intensity phenomenon that Im nearly certain is also commonly experienced.
How many times have you been working
at the rig or a live game, and noticed that although you were warmed up and felt
comfortable, the results were just repeatedly not up to your hopes and expectations? And how many times when that has happened, have
you said to yourself something like, Okay, this is it; Ill give it one more
try, and then you finally shoot the way you know you can.
Maybe the problem was simply having
waited so long to really get down to shooting.
Recognizing a successful mindset
And before you respond saying, I
always shoot with the same intensity, you have to first look very closely and
honestly to ascertain the true qualities of the mind-states that prevailed during the
first rolls that disappointed, and distinguish them from what went on in your mind during
the successful later roll. Doing this
requires constant mindful observation of whats going on inside our heads during both
our successful and less-successful rolls.
When we do this, we can begin to gather important additional clues
for reducing the frequency of our mediocre rolls due to an ambiguous mindset, and to
replicate the successes derived from properly controlled intensity more often.
Far too often, in my estimation,
shooters will go through exactly the scenario I mentioned, noticing and reporting only the
mechanicsthat theyd made a minor correction to their grip; or re-targeted; or
changed their trajectory; or rotated the permutation of their setbut inevitably,
they remember little regarding their mindset.
Im suggesting its at least
as likely that it was their elevated resolve to succeed and the resulting higher
focus and concentrationtheir renewed intensitythat helped them clarify the
mechanical adjustments required and then to execute them, thus bringing about the improved
Yet, there is still a deficiency
associated with intensity when its induced by our frustration with failure and our
impatience to succeed. When extra effort
is required to arrive at an appropriate level of concentration and intensity, our overall
effort is merely symptomatic of a still-not-yet-perfect mindset for optimal performance. And like its earlier-discussed cousin,
temporary intensity due to spontaneous discovery; short-term intensity as a
mere antidote to frustration and impatience will be of limited service unless we ensure
that its assisting us in our efforts to improve.
We must, therefore, be taking
appropriate steps toward replicating the same intensity in our mindset sooner, more
frequently, and for longer duration, but also without requiring extra effort.
But we can only accomplish these goals
if our initial and continued insights are consciously recognized as the opportunities they
are from the outsetno matter what seems to be their cause, and no matter how
fleeting they may be.
Then, we must be prepared to adroitly
incorporate the fruits of our insights seamlessly into an ever-expanding
Of course, all this is far more easily
said than . . . begun.
Unfortunately, the only alternative is
suffering the sometimes chip-rack-purging symptoms of a malady we might appropriately
call, temporary-intensity deficit disorder (TIDD).
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I hope weve gained a foothold on
the kinds of things well continue exploring as we work to find a more consistent
precision-shooting mindset. When the
feng-shui, voodoo, trance dances and mojo-oil begin to lose their powers, lets just
look inside of ourselves instead.
So well be returning to the
topic of intensity, balancing our assessment with attention to the effortless calm
well hope to find residing at its core. And
well further explore why the most viable ground for cultivating a more consistent
precision-shooting mindset is really just our everyday lives.
In the meantime, please
rememberin everything we dothe more deeply engaged we become, the
higher the skills we will attain... And
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