In sports training, an example of the proactive approach is seen in the use of the Functional Movement Screen, which helps to identifying movement imbalances that could lead to future injuries. Once identified, your individual weaknesses becomes your responsibility to work on pro-actively, allowing you to be free from the burden of future injury, pain and being sidelined.
Rather than being forced to spend time, money and effort on rehabilitation from injury or disease, cultivate the necessary habits of making small daily investments, to align your current behavior with future goals. Fostering this more proactive approach, not only prevents injury and loss of game time (pre-habilitation), but helps you develop the discipline, character and confidence needed for elite performance.
Principle 3: Quality over quantity
Albert Einstein said “everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted”. Our left brain dominant Western society has become so obsessed with the quantifiable, that we've been numbed to the cost of chasing after those fancy numbers and formulas. Whether in nutrition, fitness evaluation, or exercise, our bias towards quantity has led to a disregard for quality. In the field of exercise and conditioning for example, we test number of reps to failure, maximum repetition lifts, VO2 max, etc., but are ignorant to how athletes move to achieve these results.
When observing nature around us (take the swallow or the ant for example), the principle of respect is evident in disciplined and organized behavior. In the same way, for the farmer to pick good fruits, he needs to act in harmony with the laws of nature: planting the right seed, at the right time, in the right soil, diligently caring for his crop until harvest time.
Although the 'I want it now' culture of today screams for immediate success, there is no short-cuts to achievement when working with a living body. Rather than striving for short term success, by acting in harmony with the natural laws of life today, you'll lay the foundations for tomorrow's sustainable success, and thereby add longevity to your career and life.
Whether you are at work, at home or performing on the sports field, you are at all time functioning within the strengths and weaknesses of your physical capacity, - your emotional state, - your cognitive abilities, - your nutritional habits, - your spiritual character, etc. Due to your intrinsic survival instinct, weaknesses in any of these areas causes compensatory activity within this domain as well as in others, in order to maintain equilibrium. Although this compensatory response allows you to keep going, it limits your performance potential, and if left unattended eventually leads to breakdown.
Therefore, to identify the true causes of health and fitness related symptoms, we need to assess the person as a whole, and address imbalances on a holistic level. The importance of the whole being greater than the sum of it's parts can best be explained when looking at movement: a simple stroll in the park is the product of thousands of neural messages sent from the brain to muscles, ligaments and joints, as well as proprioceptive messages sent back to the brain, in order to synchronize the smooth activation of many muscles around various joints, to execute what is called movement patterns. The brain does not record isolated muscular actions, as no single part of the body functions without the whole. This principle therefore has huge impact on sports training and rehabilitation...
Principle 2: Respect for the natural laws that govern life
A true appreciation of life results in respect for one self and for others, as well as for the complexity, consistency and accuracy of all natural life. And although there is more to this majestic experience called life than can be accounted for by reason, the existence of some fundamental laws responsible for the order in nature, deserves our attention.
These are the principles I regard as foundational to my work and my being. My appreciation for these principles are the result of many years of experiential and conscious living.
Principle 1:The Whole is greater than the sum of it's parts
The human being is an integration of body, mind and soul, wonderfully and intrinsically designed to function as a whole. In the same way that a breathtaking African sunset is so much more than the appearance of diminishing light particles from a star over a horizon of mineral elements on a planet called earth, the miracle of human life is vastly more than the isolated parts of it's existence. Any attempt at improving well-being through isolation or treatment of only one aspect of the human being, is being ignorant of nature (see Principle no. 2).
Principle 4: Individual dynamics
Although all human beings belong to the same specie, there are so many factors that make each of us unique, ranging from genetic make-up, personality characteristics, history of exercise and injury, lifestyle and movement habits, and of course goals and aspirations. Due to these individual specific dynamics, we all develop unique strengths and a unique combination of weaknesses.
When it comes to improving individual performance therefore, no one magical program can address the needs of everyone. Commercial trends in fitness moulds people to fit their program, causing movement imbalanced, chronic pain and ultimately injury. A training program should instead be moulded to fit the individual.
Essential to respecting the individuality of every person, is spending the necessary time to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and understand their specific needs. Only then can one provide holistic solutions that are most effective for them, addressing their specific needs and adding value to their lives.
Since all sporting or recreational activities involve movement, it makes a great deal of sense to concern ourselves firstly with how we move, if we have any hope of improving our ability to perform these activities. The reality is that quantity of movement will never improve quality of movement, since if you have any movement imbalances, they are only aggravated by increased quantity of movement. “First move well, and then move often”, says Gray Cook.
Therefore, if exercise is to be a means to improved performance, the essential first objective should be quality execution. Thereafter the training focus should be on improving the ability to maintain quality while progressively adding quantity. The same goes for nutrition, rest, mental functioning, and really every domain of human existence...
Principle 5: Proactive freedom
Conditioning and circumstances can play a powerful role in our lives. But, thanks to our uniquely human capacity (which animals do not poses), we have the freedom to choose our response to any stimulus. The more we learn to exercise this 'response-ability', the less we empower conditions (or our environment) to control our behavior, and the more our lives become a product of principle based decisions. Taking the initiative for your life is the essence of pro-activity.