Protocol vs. Practice | Brian MacKenzie

Notes From the Field of

Human Performance & Stress Resilience

Issue #2

If you read my last post, I went through the stress response and how I am no stranger to it. I also suggested a few tools I use during more “busy” times when I may feel a little more on edge; I’m sure you know what that feels like when our life-management resources get tapped out.

Today I want to focus on the response part of the stress response, and for a particular reason.

Day to day, I work with people, professional athletes, CEOs, and high-profile individuals to keep their cool and not flip their lids during times of very high stress. Of course, this is much easier said than done, as trying to change high-stress responses is an art requiring an entry point of less significant stressors. For example, I’ve watched folks at the top of the food chain yell profanities into the phone when a deal doesn’t go their way, and believe this is just how they respond to things like this. Imagine how this follows them into their everyday life, and it does.

I teach clients how to recognize this heightened response, then, through practice, we begin to change the answer; sometimes, by using the very same techniques I use myself, the most tangible of these is breath control.

A Protocol versus A Practice:

A breath protocol, as simple as breathing seems, impacts our entire being far more profound than you can imagine, only when adopted as a regular practice. Let me explain why this is so important:

Following a breathing protocol once or twice weekly will remind you to take a breath every so often. This is a great tool when faced with a challenging situation; when you feel the fire inside rising (aka about to flip your lid, or maybe you have already flipped your lid).

A practice, however, is specifically carved out time in your day when you get to be fully present… when we get to pay attention to the things that are so easily ignored; like how that person made us feel yesterday or why we reacted to our kid the way we did.

Our brains only learn through repetition. And if we mention neuroplasticity in any of this, it has to do with repeating an action to understand it truly. Practice brings a greater possibility of awareness, which is limitless. And as my friend Mickey Schuch, always says, “Awareness is the currency with which you buy time.”

Having a practice made me laugh this past week when I arrived an hour before my flight to the wrong airport.

It wasn’t until I got to security and scanned my boarding pass did the TSA help me realize I should have been over an hour south at another airport.

PAUSE… Now, if I were me from 5 years ago, I would have flipped the f*k out. You could bet I would have sworn a lot and thrown an adult tantrum (drama). Instead… I laughed. I even surprised myself.

The problem is in the eye of the perceiver.

This is the importance of having a practice. I wasn’t even bothered by this situation for the rest of the day due to the practices I have put into my life. I rescheduled my flight without skipping a beat and drove to the correct airport. This impacted my day further as well, as I now had to figure out dinner in a location that didn’t have many options, and my bedtime would be pushed back too. Anyone who knows me knows sleep is boundary number 1.

Flipping out has a host of other physiological consequences on the body. For example, it’s one of the reasons why stressed-out business folks can get diagnosed with autoimmune diseases like type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, poor patterns of behavior transcend dis-ease in many of our cases.

Will there be a point in your day that you can laugh instead of losing your shit?

If you need the reminder or the push to start your practice:

Go HERE and use the Breath calculator on the SHI//FT website.
Follow the chart to Cadence or Apnea breathing, plug in the number, and come up with your own breathing protocol that you can start today.
Find a time in your day that is uninterrupted and spend 10 minutes simply following the pattern as see where this goes after a few weeks.

Only those ready to up-level will make the time for practice. And, I believe anyone is capable of this. I did. If you think you need it, you can schedule a one-on-one consult with me here, and I will help you figure this out.

Yours Truly,

– Brian

brian mackenzie

Brian Mackenzie is an innovator in human performance on stress adaptation and a pioneer in the development and application of custom protocols to optimize human health and performance. His clients and work have included: Ari Emanuel, William Morris Endeavor, Sheppard Mullin, Deloitte, Google, Tim Ferriss, U.S. Military (Navy, Army, Marines), Canadian Military (CANSOF), San Quentin State Prison, The UFC Performance Institute, Altis, Jon “Bones” Jones, Laird Hamilton, Tia Clair Toomey (3X CrossFit Games Champion), Rich Froning Jr. (4X CrossFit Games Champion) and many others.

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