Renita Kalhorn Head Shot-VA

Leadership and performance training expert Renita Kalhorn, MBA, joined me on “Turn the Page” to discuss “How to get a Mental Six Pack.” Renita teaches entrepreneur CEOs and their teams, and Navy SEAL candidates the mental toughness skills that are essential to optimal performance under pressure.

After the show, she elaborated on some of the core principles that underlay peak performance strategies, which relate to how we manage our thoughts and emotions. Renita shares:

“Whatever we do now, we’ve “trained” ourselves to do through repetition. Changing our behavior takes retraining.”

“Emotions are chemical reactions in our body, so we can become “addicted” to stress, anxiety, frustration, and other emotions, just like any chemical substance. We can continue to have the same emotional patterns or reactions, regardless of our circumstances, because we “crave” the emotional fix. Even if it’s not pleasant, it’s familiar and it reminds us of our identity.”

“Going through our day without processing the emotions that come out of our thoughts/interactions with others, will keep us from being present and productive. It’s like driving with the parking brake on.”

Renita offers strategies through which you can retrain yourself to be more productive:

“One client was a rock star in business development, bringing in $25M deals. She had a lot of stress and anxiety around maintaining a high level of performance and it was affecting her health and relationships. No matter what the circumstances were, there was always something to be anxious about: an upcoming negotiation, getting a promotion, getting a bonus, a new deal. She created a strategy to be more mindful (meditation, petting her cat, gratitude journal) and, on particularly stressful days, brought PRESENT MOMENT AWARENESS by simply noticing what she was doing using “I am” statements: “I am preparing a proposal.” “I am walking to the subway.”

“Because our thoughts are so ephemeral and yet feel so real, it’s important to CONCRETIZE them. When clients have lots of chatter from their inner critic in “high stakes” moments, such as important meetings and negotiations, I suggest they give that voice a name, and even find a mascot to represent it, that will help them to take it less seriously. Mine is a pink duck with an afro; one client’s is a porcelain alligator wearing red high heels. Have conversations with your mascot as if it’s another character – this helps create distance from the critical voice and enables you to see that there are other interpretations of what’s happening.”

“Start noticing when you’re going around and around in a thought loop or maintaining a negative emotion. Ask: “Is this a good investment of my energy? If I had to pay a $1 for each of these thoughts, would it be worth it?” One person who attended my “mental six pack” presentation said he had a colleague who would periodically email for help in solving essentially the same problem. Each time he got the email, he would be annoyed, but would answer the email without addressing the source of the annoyance. While it would require upfront thinking and energy, a better investment would be to take thirty minutes and have a conversation with the person to get at the essence of the issue: e.g. Does he even realize that he’s asking variations of the same question?!”

Renita recommends “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create A New One” by Dr. Joe Dispenza

Learn more about Renita’s leadership and peak performance training by visiting her website, and listen to her “Mental Toughness for Mavericks” podcast featuring Navy SEAL Mark Divine, self-disruption expert Whitney Johnson, and performance psychologist Dr. Sian Beilock.

Access my conversation with Renita, through which she shares THREE STEPS to developing a mental six pack!