Eugen Herrigel was a German professor who taught Philosophy at Tohoku Imperial University in Sendai, Japan in the 1920s. He also studied the art of Japanese archery, Kyudo, hoping to explore and study Zen.
Though Mr. Herrigel’s work doesn’t have anything to do with the art and science of coaching, at least directly, his book Zen in the Art of Archery is one of the most read books by coaches across the world.
I wouldn’t want to get into the details as it’s the best that you just buy the book and finish it in a single sitting (it’s just 96 pages long!). There’s, however, one excerpt from the book I wanted to share:
“The archer ceases to be conscious of himself as the one who is engaged in hitting the bulls-eye which confronts him. This state of unconsciousness is realized only when, completely empty and rid of the self, he becomes one with the perfecting of his technical skill, though there is in it something of a quite different order which cannot be attained by any progressive study of the art.”
Does that sound familiar? The above is the perfect depiction of how defeating the enemy (your self-doubts, mental-barriers) within is the key to achieving the highest performance. Remove that barrier from the equation and you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that life throws at you.
The challenge? Removing these barriers don’t come easy. The biggest barrier to removing these barriers (a meta-barrier?) is our refusal to accept the way things are.
What’s stopping you from hitting that bulls-eye?