“Success is much more of a relaxed intensity rather than an intense intensity.” – Jeffery Combs

One day I was playing in a pickup hockey game in Vancouver, WA and there was a player who skated circles around all of us.

I was amazed how good he was at keeping the puck away from the other players. The way he moved and stick-handled seemed to flow so effortlessly, yet he was quick and aware at the same time. But it looked as if he wasn’t even trying hard.

As I sat on the bench mesmerized by his ability I heard someone yell, “Center,” as he skated toward the bench for a rest. I was next up so I jumped off the bench and took up my position as Center.

When I got the puck I skated toward the goal and tried to deke the defender in front of me but he easily took the puck away. This happened again and again. I was frustrated.

As I was sitting on the bench, exhausted and catching my breath the Superhuman Player took a breather and sat next to me.

We chatted for a bit and then he gave me a piece of advice I’ll never forget. “Slow your brain activity down,” he said.

“Slow your brain activity down.”

He went on to say that the reason the defenders could steal the puck away from me so easily is because my frantic stick-handling movements made it easy to read. And that’s a result of “overactive brain activity” when playing.

Instead of letting the unconscious part of me control the puck as I skated I would overthink my stick-handling and then get nervous, which resulted in me going left, right, left, right with the puck in a predictable pattern.

The defender would just look at me coming and know when I was about to switch sides and then steal the puck.

But Mr. Wayne Gretzky (I never did find out his name) seemed to only do fancy stick-handling moves when he needed to. And when he did, every move was intentional and different.

It was like he was doing some choreographed Tai Chi movement on the ice, his head up the whole time, completely aware of his surroundings.

When he told me to slow my brain activity down it was not just an “aha” moment for me on the ice but also in life.

I realized I do the same thing in business. When I don’t know what to do my default is to just speed up and do more. And just like in hockey, I end up out of breath wondering why I failed to score.

But the times I’m able to slow my brain activity down and practice “relaxed intensity” I’m able to think clearly and focus on what’s important. My training kicks in. And my actions become ordered and intentional vs haphazard and wild.

What about you? Do you need to slow your brain activity down too?

If you’re wondering “how do I do this?” then consider doing activities that calm you down. For you that could be taking a long walk, meditating or spending less time on Facebook or reading the news.

Whatever helps you “slow your brain activity down” can help.