High-Impact Tools of Elite Human Performance Decoded For Your Life & Goals

  |   EP137   |   89 mins.

Shayamal Vallabhjee

In this episode, we dive into elite athlete performance, bioharmonizing training, and harnessing the power of the mind to achieve peak performance.

We discuss the power of environmental shifts to increase energy levels, personalized training plans using biomarkers, and how athletes can biohack travel & jet lag.

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Episode Highlights

When motivation does not exist, discipline must take over. Share on XChampions do the basics the best. Share on XYou're not a leader because you know how to apply a rule. You're a leader because you know how to apply the exception to the rule. Share on XWhat is seen cannot be unseen. When your awareness goes up, when you see the impact of it, you cannot unsee it. Share on XDon't look at whether you won or you lost, look at what percentage of something could you have improved and how much of it were you right. Share on X

About Shayamal Vallabhjee

Shayamal Vallabhjee is a South African-born Sports Scientist and Performance Coach with over two decades of on-field experience coaching elite athletes.

He has worked with the Indian and South African Cricket, Davis Cup, and Olympic Teams and spent years as a Performance Coach on the ATP Tour.

Shayamal is the 3x author, host of numerous shows on ESPN, Star Sports, and Nat Geo, and an ultra-marathoner.

He is on the teaching team at Stanford Business School, and an executive coach to numerous Fortune 500 and 1000 companies.

Top Things You’ll Learn From Shayamal Vallabhjee

  • Practices and habits for well-being and balance
    • Importance of changing the environment to increase energy levels and improve communication
    • Specific practices for absorbing sun energy and water into the body
    • The significance of incorporating certain practices into daily life for harmony and balance
    • Fasting, cleansing, and consuming plant-based foods for body and mind detoxification
    • Understanding the natural rhythms of the body and aligning daily habits and practices accordingly
  • Different strategies for peak athletic performance
    • The difference between high performance and elite performance
    • Recognizing the counterintuitive relationship between longevity and elite performance
    • Strengthening the body to sustain training load
    • Understanding the impact of workload on tuning in
    • Learning the specific, optimal movements depending on the sport
  • Insights into psychology and the mental aspect of athletic performance
    • The use of verbal prompts to induce stillness and prompt brain activity
    • Coping with pressure and maintaining composure under stress
    • Why earmark players for psychological work over 3-6 months
    • Principles for achieving high levels of performance and excelling under pressure
    • Thinking in terms of probability to reduce stress and improve outcomes
  • Identifying the individual personalities of each player
    • The importance of understanding one’s personality for how one shows up
    • Measuring one thing to guide decision-making
    • Understanding Subconscious vs Conscious Personality
    • Making interventions based on the person’s personality trait
  • A deeper knowledge of team dynamics at the top levels
    • The significance of high standards, transparency, and accountability within a team or organization
    • The impact of punctuality and adhering to ground rules in corporate and sports settings
    • Trust and commitment among team members and its impact on speed of execution
    • Building trust and creating a sense of commitment among team members
  • Understanding and utilizing wearable device data
    • Efficient use of metrics and other biomarkers
    • Using EEG devices to measure mental resilience and focus
    • Consistency in lifestyle habits when tracking data points
    • Professional athlete adjustments based on data versus average people
  • Optimizing travel for athletes
    • Strategies for effective travel, minimizing jet lag and cellular damage
    • Fasting during flights and adjusting eating plans for new time zones
    • Hydration, using compression devices, and movement upon landing
    • Specific accessories for sleep and reducing injury risks during travel

Resources Mentioned

  • Community: Inside the Locker Room (use code MINDBODY to get 20% off)
  • Book: Art of War
  • Book: Bhagavad Gita
  • Teacher: Muhammad Ali
  • Teacher: Karl Marx
  • Teacher: Albert Einstein

Episode Transcript

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Nick Urban [00:00:05]:

What do the world’s very greatest elite athletes do differently than the rest of us? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not just training. Hi. I’m Nick Urban, host of the Mindbody Peak Performance podcast. And in this episode, I have the pleasure of bringing to you secrets from high performance. In this episode, we’ll deconstruct what it is that the very best athletes are doing so that they excel and continue to reach new levels of performance? How they beat their own performance and stay composed under all of that pressure? Throughout this episode, I kept asking, how does this apply to the boardroom as well? Because many of these same principles apply to anyone doing just about anything? You don’t have to be an elite athlete to gain from some of the topics that we discuss. Our guest also helps break down where it’s best for you to focus, giving you simple, actionable tools to determine if it’s your physiology or it’s your psychology or it’s something completely different? We discuss the power of self monitoring even if it’s something as seemingly simple as your body weight? In the episode, we also discuss some of the common mistakes, myths and pitfalls that commonly hold people back? I really liked our guests’ distinction between elite performance and high performance? You may never try and beat a world record for something, but we can all perform at a high level every single day. Our guest this week is Shayamal Vallabhjee.

Nick Urban [00:01:48]:

Shayamal is a South African born sports scientist and performance coach with over 2 decades of on field experience coaching elite athletes? He’s worked with the Indian and South African Cricket, Davis Cup and Olympic teams? And he spent years as a performance coach on the ATP tour. Shamul is a 3 time author, host of numerous shows on ESPN, Star Sports, and Notgeo, And he’s an ultramarathoner. Shayamal’s also on the teaching team at Stanford Business School and an executive coach to numerous Fortune 500 and 1,000 companies? If you’d like to check out his personal community, it’s called Inside the Locker Room. And if you use the code mind body, that will get you 20% off for life. You can find him on Instagram at Shyamal, shayamal, and linkedin.com/in/Shayamall, spelled the same way, volabhje, v a l l a b h j e e? If that’s too complicated to remember, the link to everything we and more will be in the show notes at mindbodypeak.com/137. Okay. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Shayamal Vallabhjee. Shayamal, welcome to MINDBODY Peak Performance.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:03:21]:

Thank you so much, Nick. I’m thoroughly excited to be here, and I’ve been looking forward to this conversation for some time.

Nick Urban [00:03:27]:

Yes. Me too. And when I first met you, I was telling you that I actually came across your work long before I even started the podcast, and I’m excited to be having this conversation with you right now.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:03:37]:

Thank you very much. I was very humbled by, by the fact that you stumbled across some of my work early on, and, it just made this entire Experience a little bit more exciting for me.

Nick Urban [00:03:49]:

Perfect. Well, let’s begin today with something unusual about your line of work that will foreshadow the rest of this episode to get people to understand why this is such an important topic to cover, whether they’re a professional athlete, they’re a weekend warrior, or they’re just someone who’s interested in performing at their best?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:04:09]:

So something interesting about my work is well, my journey in life has really moved a large part from looking at physiology and Biomarkers and biohacking to, I think over the course of the last decade, I’ve been really putting a magnifying glass On personality markers and how they respond to stress. And I think it’s very, very fascinating for everyone, because When you look at peak performance in any shape and form, what it boils down to is a person’s ability to handle stress At the height. And that is a factor of cognition. And it’s an aspect that we do not look after. It’s an aspect we do not understand. It’s an aspect that we understand is important, but very few people peel away the layers of it. And it’s really been a core part of my work for the last 6 years as such with professional footballers, and I’m excited to delve into that.

Nick Urban [00:05:09]:

And luckily, that’s not one of those things that we’re stuck with. We have the ability to train and to make better decisions under stress? Because a lot of the things like communication or even performance tend to be a lot easier when there’s no stress. But once you add on the stress, It becomes a whole a holding ballgame. Well, let’s begin today with the unusual nonnegotiables you’ve done for your health, your performance, and your bioharmony.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:05:34]:

Okay. So I have lived a life as a vegetarian my entire life. So one of the things that is nonnegotiable for my health is One day in every single month for the better part of, I think, almost 17, 18 years right now, I do a full detox, a full fast, You know, on water only. So that is a nonnegotiable, and that part has come from spirituality, which we can talk about A little bit more, around that. A nonnegotiable for me for performance is counterintuitively, a lot of people think to raise the bar of performance, You need to go really, really hard. So a nonnegotiable for me is actually to be easy and effortless in the training And to build volume in that there. So whilst even with my athletes, we’re not pushing the glass ceiling every single time. We’re actually building volume and building capacity through easy and effortless effortless states, and, and that for me is a nonnegotiable For performance, bioharmony.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:06:38]:

You know, I really love the word bioharmony. I used to, use the word biohack. In a long time ago, I switched to that because, I didn’t like the word hack. Hack signifies shortcut. And I kept telling people that the human body has got centuries of intelligence in it. And I felt we came with such a level of ignorance that we think in 30 seconds by doing one simple thing, We can circumnavigate decades and centuries and lifetimes of intelligence. You know? So that word Really never resonated with me. So I really like this term, bio harmony.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:07:20]:

I think you were one of the first people Who used it? One of the things that are nonnegotiable for me for BioHarmony is the connection between and I’m gonna talk a little bit more about this, The connection between your voice and your brain. So whenever you are doing anything, If you’re doing something really difficult, like running a marathon or climbing a mountain and you need motivation, you tend to tell yourself, come on. You can do this, and you push Correct. You know? So most people use that relationship between voice and brain for performance when they need to push past a barrier, But that connection is sacrosanct and can be used in so many different ways to connect you to nature, To bring your body to relaxation, to help you reflect and introspect. And for me, the voice brain connection Is a way in which I harmonize with my entire environment and all the elements around me. So that Is something very unusual. I’ve not heard too many people speak about it, but it’s something that’s very sacred to me.

Nick Urban [00:08:28]:

That’s very cool. What on a practical level does that look like? How are you actually using that connection? Like, are you doing any daily activities to, like, foster or strengthen that connection?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:08:37]:

So one of the one of the daily daily activities that I do is after, for example, when I wind down my day and I get into bed after everything is done, I literally speak to myself saying that, hey. I’m giving myself Shamul. I give myself permission To relax. I give myself permission to unwind. Without me saying that, the brain is still subconsciously tense, And you find that the quality of sleep, sometimes you struggle to fall asleep 45 minutes, an hour later. Just by giving yourself permission to unwind, You’re using this link here, and you’re allowing the body to really and truly just settle into that. So even when I’m breath work on a day to day basis. I tell myself, okay, I give myself permission to surrender to this breath.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:09:28]:

I give myself permission to allow this breath to bring into my body stillness. You know? So with everything, I use voice as the first level of prompt to get my brain to switch on to that activity.

Nick Urban [00:09:43]:

Oh, that’s cool. And this is a verbal out loud. You’re actually saying this.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:09:47]:

Yeah. It’s not necessarily out loud that someone else can can hear it, but I can definitely hear it to myself. Yes.

Nick Urban [00:09:52]:

Okay. Okay. So you’re saying it in your mind. You’re not necessarily saying it out loud for the rest of the people around you to hear.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:09:58]:

Yeah. Yeah. I’m saying it in my mind, but I am I am maybe mouthing the words in some shape and form As opposed to it just being like an affirmation in the mind, I am melting it. It’s because I’m trying to bring that connection in.

Nick Urban [00:10:12]:

Okay. Let’s go on to your background now. How did you get involved in the world of elite sports and sports science? And as I saw it described in your Instagram, locker room leadership for the boardroom?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:10:26]:

Yeah. Thanks, Nick. So, Nick, I grew up in South Africa, And I wanted to play professional cricket, and I was probably at the heights of the apartheid. And little did I know that opportunities for people of color were restricted. So I grew up playing cricket. I was in the South African under 15, under 16, under 18 teams. But when I turned 18, The opportunities in state level crickets and national level teams were very, very restricted. I think at that stage when I was playing, There was literally 1 per 1 position per person of color per team.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:11:00]:

And, you know, it didn’t matter how good you were. It was They stuck to that quota. So that was very, very disappointing for me. And, immediately, I had to make a a decision, and I wasn’t ready really lead sport. You know, I still wanted to stay in sport. So the first thing I did was I transitioned to start studying, and the only career that was available to me Was sport science, which was in the faculty of education at the University of Durban Westport. So I I took that on there. And and because I was studying it, The the cricket team, the national group teams paid for it.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:11:35]:

And immediately at 18, I transitioned onto the coaching team as such. So I was One of the assistant coaches that was working and then the strength and conditioning coach working with our national teams. So I was quite fortunate in that The transition was literally overnight, and I had to fast track a lot of my learning. I literally had to study overnight, learn everything because the application of it was In there. But that was the 1st lever that I had to pull to work as a professional coach. And and it’s been and I’ve been at that cutting edge of performance for, it’s now, I think, 22, 23 years.

Nick Urban [00:12:13]:

Yeah. That’s quite the history. And then Now you are working with a lot of the top athletes and teams around the world.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:12:22]:

Yes. Currently, I’m traveling with the Indian football team. I also travel and spend weeks on the ATP tour. I advise a lot of the Indian and South African Olympic athletes in various codes of sport. We do a significant amount of work in cricket as well with the Indian national team and the IPL franchises. So, the number of sports that are working is is quite large and quite varied, and, I like it like that because it gives me the opportunity to do research In both team and individual sports.

Nick Urban [00:12:54]:

The book you wrote, Breathe, Believe, Balance, a Guide to Self Discovery and Healing, is a lot about the relationship between the body and mind? And this show, we cover that in-depth. And from your experience, let’s go into the performance world. What are some of the observations, realizations, and things you think that are important to cover regarding performance based on your experiences?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:13:18]:

So the first thing, Nick, which when when we talk about performance, there are a few things I think it’s important for everyone to understand. There’s a big difference between what is high performance and what is elite performance. So I work in the elite performance world. You know? High performance means that you are doing certain things, bringing in certain interventions That are raising your game. So where you are, you’re going from a to b and raising your own performance. Raising your performance doesn’t necessarily mean you’re anywhere close to world class or close to an elite standard. Elite performance means that the gold standard has already been established, and you’re trying to close the gap between where you are today and go beyond. So in elite performance, the gold standard is established.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:14:08]:

High performance is really and truly an introspective journey of how can you get better in some shape and form? That, once we start to understand the difference between these 2 here, we start to understand where we are with respect to that. Now when I look at the relationship between the body and the mind, there’s a few interesting things that we look at. In elite performance, everything is the relationship between what we call the floor and the ceiling, which is what not too many people think about. Now The ceiling is elite performance. Raising the floor is high performance. So raising the floor is what you can do every single day, and ready and truly, It’s what people should be focusing on. Now when you look at the ceiling and the floor of one’s capacity, when you’re pushing the ceiling, When elite athletes are pushing the ceiling, right, they are breaking world records. When the average person is raising the floor, And what they’re doing is they are practicing the art and science of longevity.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:15:14]:

They are increasing Their health span and their lifespan. So this is critically important. And the last thing that’s really, really important for everyone to understand Is that longevity and elite performance are counterintuitive sciences to each other. You know? What you do to live long and healthy will not win you an Olympic medal, and what you do to win an Olympic medal would not ensure that you live forever and healthy. You know, these are 2 completely counterintuitive sciences to each other. And, yes, we borrow learnings and research from each other, But you need to be very intuitive in terms of how you wanna apply those things, but there there’s definitely not a direct application Between these 2?

Nick Urban [00:16:03]:

Yeah. I’m glad you brought that distinction because I was going to interject and say that exact thing that just because you’re doing something that will put you in elite performance? If you get that ability, that’s not gonna necessarily be good for your health span or the quality of your years as you age. It might be great for your performance in the short term, but not necessarily the long term. And in fact, like, the harder you go, the more you charge forward, the more you tax your body at the same time. So Although increasing your performance to an elite level and and just trying to break any records might be great for your accomplishment and for like, showing a world was possible just by focusing on the high performance, which is attainable to everyone? That is where you get the the biggest gains of both, like, quality of life and, at the same time, health span and your own personal satisfaction of improving?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:16:53]:

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think, you know, To to everyone who’s looking to improve, I always ask them. I said, really and under really and truly, put the put in the ground. Where do you wanna go? Elite performance is a very, very expensive game. You know? It’s an extremely expensive game. And and I laugh and joke. You know? I did a little bit of work with the Kenyan marathon runners.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:17:13]:

So, You know, there was, Dennis Camuto and Elliot Kapcioge and, you know, the all the amazing ladies that were running. So I used to tell them, you know, you could put they they running the marathon at about when I was spending time in Eton, Kenya, they were running it at about 202, 203. That’s where they were. You could take a stone and literally hit anyone in that village, And they would run a marathon under 250. Right? That that’s just the community that they were. And I said, you could put Any one of those runners in a pair of Bartataffy school shoes, and they would run a marathon in 250. But for them, you know, when you put them in a pair of, you know, new booths that have a carbon fiber plate in it, It’s dropping from 203 to 202. Right? But it’s not gonna move you from 4 and a half hours to 3:30.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:18:14]:

You know? And there’s a lot more you can do to close that gap, but and it’s an expensive investment that you’re doing. So when you understand What you’re trying to get, you’re able to tangibly understand where to invest, what to invest in, and how to invest To get those gains. Otherwise, it just becomes a splurge of money without much result. So what’s critically important with everything is, It’s clarity of thought. And the best way of describing this, Nick, is I tell this to everyone when I give a corporate talk, and we we are mentioning the boardroom Just now. I said, you don’t have to know anything about any sport. But if you go on the sidelines and you watch a professional athlete Practice. You in under 5 minutes, you can guess what he’s trying to master Just by watching the way he practices.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:19:11]:

You know? Because why? He has so much of clarity with what he wants to achieve that it translates in execution. Now you go into a gym, right, where there are only amateurs and novices, and you could spend a year there, you still don’t know what that guy’s trying to achieve because the lack of clarity in what he’s trying to get to It’s translating in the lack of execution or clarity in how he’s executing in there. So clarity of thought It’s really the fundamental you know, it’s the holy grail of performance, knowing what you’re going after first. If you don’t know what you’re going after, you’re never getting.

Nick Urban [00:19:53]:

That’s so true. Back when I was first getting into exercise science and everything, People would ask me, like, about, like, creating a plan for them, and I thought the best concept was just to maximize overall health and well-being. And so I give them, like, this elaborate plan and completely forget that, like, what they’re training for and their specific goals really dictate the entire plan that not everyone wants just, like, good, long health span and wants to do, like, 5 different types of training mix into their weekly routine? And so then after I realized, like, If you wanna excel at a sport, you have to train that those sports specific movements and train them often and really master that movement because, Sure. You can do, like, the big compound lifts, for example, but they’re not gonna translate to your sport the same way as sports specific movements will.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:20:38]:

Absolutely. That the the individual the principle of specificity in exercise science is absolutely critical. And in psychology, we call it transference. You know, transference means that for the skill to move from practice into competition with the same degree of efficiency, Those practice situations need to mimic competition situations in terms of state of pressure and competitiveness.

Nick Urban [00:21:03]:

Yeah. And also, like, biomechanics. For example, like, if you train every day running on a treadmill, you go to run an actual marathon, it’s gonna be a very different experience. Okay. So what is the threshold? Like, if you wanna go to elite performance and you wanna improve, say, you’re not quite at the, 2 minute mark or 2 hour mark in terms of your timings and everything? How do you decide where to focus?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:21:27]:

This is interesting. I work on 3 levers. The 1st lever is, because of with elite performance, it’s a lot easier. So Let’s assume the gold standard right now is sitting at about 2 hours for the marathon. K? If you look at 4% from 2 hours, k, If you are not within a 4% striking range of that, then it’s it pretty much means Your physiology is not up to scratch, which means that you’re either not strong enough or you’re not doing enough training mileage. You know, you just not have the physical capacity. So 4% from the gold standard is, you need to be under that there For everything else to kick in, if you’re over 4%, then physiology is the biggest lever that you need to pull on, which means Look at your training methodology. Look at your biomechanics.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:22:19]:

Look at your load management. Look at your recovery. Any everything related to nutrition and body. Let’s assume you cross the 4% threshold, and you’re sitting between, 4 2%. If you’re sitting between them, then we can get performance gains using good strategy and using good technique And having a very tactical approach to it, even changing of equipment, like, for example, using lighter shoes or putting carbon fiber plates or getting A different type of shorts or getting more scientifically accurate energy gels for when you’re taking it and your hydration. Those things kick in when the gap is about, when the when you’ve got between a 4 and a 2% gap. And And, actually, that can even get you right up to to the finish line with respect to or on par with that standard. And then the psychological lever can give you anywhere between a 1 to 2% gain, but not consistently on a particular day depending on If there’s enough external motivating factors around there.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:23:28]:

And, you know, I was talking to someone, and, They were looking at the the the entire buildup to getting the famous runner, Elliott Kipchoge, to to break Sub 2. Nike was was working on that. And, you know, they tested everything. I I worked, And I spoke closely with the team that did it. They looked at the nutrition. They looked at the training. They looked at the regime. They got the the pacing team.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:23:53]:

They picked the perfect conditions. They did everything. And the 1st time he he tried to attempt it, he felt I think it was about 20 seconds short of it there. And then he repeated it again. And, the 2nd time that he did it, I think it was in Italy, his capacity broke, 2 hours. And one of the interesting things for me, which should have been done in the 1st attempt, was they should have had his family there, his kids and his wife Present on the first, which they weren’t, but they were there for the second. And I said, that is one of the external factors that I’m talking about That can give you that extra push when you’re right at the brink. That’s the psychology that I’m talking about.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:24:36]:

That’s the team talk. That is the motivation that gets you to dig a little bit deep, but that lever can’t be pulled every single time. It can be pulled very, very specifically. And in the world of sport, when it comes to psychology, we say something interesting. We say that when motivation does not exist, discipline must take over, Which means that you had to have had the routine, the hard work. You’ve had to have pushed and pushed and pushed for that to have actually, got you as close as that.

Nick Urban [00:25:05]:

So what we’re talking about is all of these strategies are less than 5%. So if you’re above 5% off of elite performance, You’re gonna need to focus on the the basics in getting your physiology right the underlying physiology right.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:25:20]:

Champions do the basics the best. There’s a very, very good chance that if you are nowhere close to 5%, your body is nowhere as strong, and not just strong enough For one event. So this is important for everyone listening to understand. When I’m saying your body is not strong enough, It doesn’t mean you’re not strong enough to run 1 marathon. No. It means that your body is not strong enough To sustain all of the training load to close the gap. That’s what I’m talking about. People often mistake it and say, Oh, the body 5% is such a negligible difference.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:25:56]:

We they can run a marathon. I said it’s not about the marathon. It’s about repeating A 150 to 200 kilometers a week so that you can close the gap on that 2 minutes repetitively for 3 to 6 months. So that is where that strength and that physiology comes in.

Nick Urban [00:26:13]:

Does this apply to all, like, elite performance across sports, or is it mostly just for endurance?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:26:19]:

It’s not for endurance. It applies to pretty much all sports you can quantify. But having said that, In games, you know, when a sport is purely phys physiological, so, 100 meters, 200, 400, 800, short parts, Things that are purely physiological, the application is more direct and stronger. When you’re playing a game like cricket or golf, Sometimes, skill and techniques circumnavigates physiology, and we see this a lot. So for some example, someone could be carrying A little bit extra body fat. They could be slightly unfit, and yet they could still perform in the exact same manner and and win it. So physiology is Important for practice, but it’s not a predetermining factor to success when you look at games. But when you’re looking at track and field, it’s definitely a predetermining factor.

Nick Urban [00:27:09]:

And then you also differentiate between athletes that are good and the athletes that are great.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:27:16]:

Yeah. I talk about, not just athletes. I talk about teams. Teams that are good, that are great. So what I try to get everyone to understand is that If you were looking at these athletes from the outside, from 30,000 feet, you’re gonna see that both of them are probably putting in 4 to 5 hours a day in training. Both of them are kinda watching their diet to some extent. Both of them have physios, doctors. They’re going and doing their rehab.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:27:42]:

They’re going and doing their recovery. They’re they’re using somewhere similar to the best equipment. Everything the optics are gonna look really, really similar between good athlete and an absolutely great athlete. It’s only when you bring the magnifying glass closer and and closer. You’re gonna start to see the difference, and the difference is in the standards by which they apply. So for example, You know, the the great athlete is you know, if he’s hitting a golf ball, he’s not gonna be happy with He he’s gonna want 9 out of 10 to land, you know, within 3 feet off of the pin as he’s approaching. He’s gonna wanna hit every green in regulation. You know, they want they the the standard that which they’re applying, they’re gonna hold extremely high standard, and they’re gonna practice till they get it right.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:28:32]:

K? So when I talk about good and great teams, everything boils down to standard. So how do we describe it? We say that in a bad No one is accountable for the standards of practice. And as a result, the competition, the results you get are pure luck. In a good team, it’s the management. It’s the support staff that are responsible for the standards. They are the ones who are pushing you. So you got a good core team. They’re making sure you practice.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:29:01]:

They’re making sure you eat well. They’ve got strong regimes. They’re really governing everyone, and they’re pushing you. If you slack off on your case, these make good teams, and these teams could go on to win a championship in a season. But a great team, A team that’s really great, a team that wins and sustains or builds a legacy over the decade, in that team there, every single athlete in the squad And everyone who enters maintains the standard of performance. Every single person is adhering to that same standard and making sure the person next to them maintains it? And this is beautifully described in in a book Called The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Sun Tzu says in The Art of War, the most important person in battle is the person standing next to you. And sport, team sport especially, it’s a battle.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:29:54]:

It’s a war. There’s just no gun. So when he says the most important person is a person standing next to you, what does he mean? He means you’ve gotta trust that guy. Because if you don’t trust that person, you’re gonna look to your side. And once you look to the side, right, you’re not looking where the threat is, because the threat’s coming from the front. K? So now what’s gonna make you ensure that you don’t look to the side? You have to trust that person. But what is trust? Trust is that he shows up every day, and he works so hard Based on the standards that the team has set, and you can see it, and he puts it in every day. That’s the trust that creates psychological safety that make sure you never have to look to the side and you can all move forward?

Nick Urban [00:30:42]:

That is such an important distinction, and I play on some good teams and some great teams. Man, you’re absolutely right. When when I would play on the great teams, I didn’t have to look to my side because I knew that my brothers were there. They were showing up. They were putting in the work. If I needed them, I could, like, put my body on the line, and they’d have my back. But, like, on the good teams, I didn’t have that same confidence, and then my attention would get distracted for a brief split second and that’s enough in sports and in life to really disrupt your entire game.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:31:12]:

It’s even you see it in football as well. You look at the best Football teams. It’s so I mean, we spent countless hours analyzing footballers. And in In a bad team, they’re waiting for the player to make a run before they kick the ball. In a good team, When they see the person there, then they kick the ball. In a great team, the person is not even looking. The ball’s coming from here, And he’s just flicking the ball in 2 tenths of a second because he knows that someone will be there to receive it. Trust increases the speed at which things are executed.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:31:50]:

Right? So when you start trusting, things start happening from the subconscious mind very, very fast.

Nick Urban [00:31:56]:

It’s such a good point too about training and showing up to practice every single day. For a lot of sports, it might seem unnecessary to getting those many reps, and why can’t I just do this kind of stuff on my own? But at the same time, you’re signaling inaudibly with your behavior, with your commitment, with your dedication that you are there, you’re all in, your teammates can count on you, and that’s probably one of the the big factors that’s really recognize?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:32:22]:

One of the great things and one of the things you should really notice or I at least pick up is that, How does an athlete behave when he’s injured? You know? You get an athlete who is injured, who does the rehab On his own, in at home, or he’ll see the physio separately, or he doesn’t have to be at practice because he can’t practice, so he’s not there. And then you get the athlete who does his rehab, goes 10 times to rehab, but never misses a practice session. He’s there, he’s just doing a little bit extra on the side all the time there. Right. Those go on to become phenomenal team players and phenomenal athletes. Because why? They’re sending the right signals to everyone in the team.

Nick Urban [00:33:07]:

Yeah. I was just thinking that that it’s one thing to be the designated leader or the team captain or whatever it is for your sport, but it’s another to show up consistently to be the person who, if you get injured, you still show up. You still do your best. You filled signal to everyone that I’m involved in this? I’m you guys all matter. I’m here. And that applies both to the team on the field and then also in the in the office? Like, you don’t need to have an official leadership title in order to lead via those act types of actions showing that you care about the team?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:33:41]:

Absolutely not. Absolutely not. In the corporate world, I I often refer people to a book. It’s called Scaling Up Excellence by professor Haggi Rao from Stanford University. And in there, he’s got a beautiful quote. He says, excellence is not 1 person moving a 1000 steps forward. It’s a 1000 people taking 1 step forward. You know? And and that is that’s the true true definition of excellence in every shape and form.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:34:09]:

And the only way a 1000 people can take one step forward is when you just extend a little bit of yourself when you don’t have to. You know, that’s what that’s what organizations really and truly need to teach people. How do you do that?

Nick Urban [00:34:24]:

This is like the $1,000,000,000 question. Do you assemble that kind of team that really whether it’s in sports or in the office that acts that way?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:34:32]:

The first thing is, you know, because I work with national teams, We by by by the nature of a national team, we always have the best people on there. But I think one of the critical things you need to do is There’s a fine balance between giving people an opportunity and being clinical in carving out the weeds from that. You have to be critical in setting the standards that that team needs to show up with, and you have to be transparent in How you maintain those standards, you know, very, very critical. Very often, what happens is culture is eroded in a team When a person has made a mistake and those mistakes are swept under the carpet because of the nature of who they are and what they’ve done, You know, that is the biggest problem. You see, when you sweep things under the carpet, good people leave. A team doesn’t become a bad team because good people perform badly. A team becomes a bad team because good people leave the room. And good people leave the room when you drop the standards.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:35:43]:

You’ve got to be absolutely clinical about the standards that you would accept. Like, One of the very, very simple things in every locker room that I have worked on is that punctuality is absolutely nonnegotiable. You know? One second late is as good as not showing up at all. Okay? And irrespective of who you are, right, if you’re a second late, It’s the end of your practice. Whether you’re the captain, it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re gone. The day we break that rule there, We tell everyone else that it doesn’t you are you are very, very different from him. You know? Once you start doing that thing, you have absolutely no control over who shows up what show. And the way that That starts to erode culture is in the quality of the efforts they start to put in.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:36:35]:

So nipping things in the bud, and the way to do this is To have an established set of ground rules for every single team up front, right, and make sure That it’s adhered to very, very clinically and very critically, given it’s a little harder in in a in a corporate space than a sports team. But You have to find ways to bring in that level of discipline, that level of punishment, which has to be somehow communicated and be transparent amongst everyone.

Nick Urban [00:37:05]:

So what would some good examples of those types of things be? And, also, how important is the the meat of them, the actual substance, what those rules, ground rules are versus the fact that they apply equally and every single time to each person?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:37:24]:

No 2 people are exactly the same. And as a as a coach or as a leader, your first fundamental how to communicate with people? Once you understand how to communicate with them, you understand what motivates them and what drives them. Okay? Once, as a leader, you also understand when you’re setting a standard right up at the front, you would know, as a leader, who are the people who are most likely Gonna break this, or who are the people are not? Now a leader’s job also, very important, is you’re not necessarily gonna be a disciplinarian. You don’t wanna be a disciplinarian. And the leader’s job is not to take this rule book and apply it directly, because everyone should understand You’re not a leader because you know how to apply a rule. You’re a leader because you know how to apply the exception to the rule. That’s the first important thing that you should know. You’re not a leader because you know how to apply.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:38:24]:

Any idiot can apply a rule. Right? But You are a leader because sometimes there’s an exception to a certain rule, and that is where your knowledge, your experience, your everything comes in. K. Now how you choose to apply exceptions to preset rules that determine the standards of that team Will determine the culture of this organization. It could either be a culture that’s constantly eroding, or it could be a culture of trust, A culture of vulnerability, a culture that unifies and bonds them. So you have to understand as a leader, it’s not about what the rules are. It’s about the level of experience, the level of knowledge, the level of intuition and experience you bring To the exception every single time that rule is broken, how do you deal with that exception? Is that warranted or not? You know, that’s what’s the term in everything. Because, remember, everyone will always have a justifiable reason for everything that’s broken.

Nick Urban [00:39:28]:

Yeah. And then as we’ve already mentioned several times, a big part of this is the relationship between performance and stress and maintaining and building composure while under stress? What is your approach there?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:39:41]:

I talk about the 3 c’s, Nick, when it comes to. So I come from, like I’ve mentioned a few times, the world of elite sport. So when you look at someone winning an Olympic medal, winning a World Cup, k, The performance on that day has been repeated a 1000000 times by that athlete in many games and many situations. So what is the differentiating thing on that particular day or that particular moment? What is it that makes winning an Olympic medal at an Olympic stage so hard? When they’ve run the distance the same, the conditions are the same, everything’s the same. It’s that that moment is not and ordinary moment? It is a special moment, and it’s special because it’s the peak of pressure. And the reason why that moment is special is because When the pressure is at its highest, the spotlight is the greatest, which means your ability to get noticed is at its greatest. This is why Michael Jordan says pressure is a privilege. Because when there’s so much pressure there, you have the privilege to get noticed.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:40:46]:

You have the privilege to Get acknowledged. You have the privilege to shine. I tell my my athletes all the time. I said, you guys are so lucky When you wear your national shirts and you go on, in 90 minutes, you can do something that lifts an entire nation. Most people would work their whole lifetime and not have the ability to do what you can do in 90 minutes. That is a privilege, But that comes with pressure as well. So what makes one able to cope with pressure at that level? Well, For me, there are 3 things. The first thing that I speak about is is competence, is the Having the technical competence and having the knowledge of how to apply a certain skill set in a situation, How to assess the variables, know your competition, know your game, know your strengths, know all of that.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:41:39]:

The second1 is Eric Anderson speaks a lot about this, which is the 10,000 hour rule. And I’m not coaching the 10,000 hour rule, but I talk about the practice. The 10,000 hour road is significant of putting in countless hours of practice to master a skill. What does that do? That builds confidence, which is the 2nd lever. To be able to be to be composed at the height of pressure, you need to have a level of confidence In your ability to execute a skill, which comes from countless hours of practice. And the 3rd, probably the most critical lever, is conditioning. You need to have a body that is mentally and physically resilient enough to withstand all of the external and physical stresses Still remain calm enough to be able to think clearly and execute that skill. So body conditioning is Critically important.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:42:33]:

If these 3 levers are in place, there’s a very good chance you’ll be a little more composed than anyone else on that field, And the probability of executing a skill at that pressure increases quite significantly. 1 person is Crumbling under pressure, and 1 person is thriving under pressure. But if you look at the skills, both of those people’s skills are roughly relatively close to each other. That’s why they’re at that level. If you look at their physiology, they’re relatively close. If you look at their practice, they’re relatively close in how they’re putting it. The composure, the bringing together of all of that in that critical moment is actually the defining thing. The person who is able to remain calmer, And we can test this.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:43:17]:

We’ve been able to test it and see it, that a person, their resting heart rate’s a lot lower, their heart rate variability’s a lot higher, They’re a lot more composed in that moment. They’re able to neurologically think clearer. They’re able to assess variables clearer and execute in accordance with that.

Nick Urban [00:43:35]:

That’s amazing. And I wanna dig into that as well, like these biomarkers of, like, physiology and personality, because a lot of people have a wearable, say, the Oura Ring or the Apple Watch or the Whoop or something? And just because you have one and you see the metrics? That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting anything out of it. And I know from our previous conversation that you’ve been able to do some pretty incredible things with some of these assessments and the tools you have at your disposal?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:44:02]:

Yeah. You know, Nick, I’m I’m a sucker for data. I love data. But I just want everyone to know that A professional athlete on a day to day basis, there are times when we measure and the times when we just practicing. And we’re not measuring every single day, and we’re not analyzing every single day. We may be capturing data, but we’re not looking at it all the time. You know? So most average people Are so pedantic about what they’re capturing that, you know, they forget the importance of it, and they don’t even understand how to use it. So I see a 1000000 people using the Oura ring and the WHOOP, for example, every day.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:44:40]:

And I asked them, okay. That’s interesting. When you wake up in the morning, what’s your HRV Score, and they’ll give me a number. They say, oh, it’s 34. I said, great. So what have you done to adjust your day on the basis of that? He said nothing. So I said, so what happens? You go through your day and then you sleep, and then you wake up next morning like a lottery and see what’s there. You know? And, and I said, yeah.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:45:02]:

Pretty bad. So That’s the that’s the big problem with most people is recapturing data, and we’re getting into the habit of looking at it, but we don’t understand what it is, What does it infer, and how can we use it? That’s a big difference with athletes, is that every time we look at a data point, we make an adjustment to our training regime, to our training regime, to our day, to our routine, right, to accommodate for that data point? Because that data point has been a signal to us In some shape and form. So one of the key things, for example, we look at is, heart rate For everyone listening, heart rate is the most stable data point in the entire ecosystem of biomarkers. Right? So you can wake up in the morning and check your resting heart rate. And and most, professional athletes, if you if you have an endurance baseball, would be sitting anywhere from, mid to low thirties to material forties? That’s generally where you are depending on what sport you’re playing. That’s a very, very stable data point. For that data point to even move 1 in your trend line would take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. So the stability in that is good, It’s very good, which means that if something moves there, it’s indicative of something.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:46:17]:

So when we wake up in the morning and our heart rate variability is Increased, for example. Right. Then and more often than not, it would increase by 3 to 4 beats per minute. And if it’s ever dropped, it will drop by 1 beat, But it won’t drop by 3 to 4 beats. Right? It’s a very stable data point. So that what that increase is indicative of Is the body is really and truly fighting some sort of infection, or the training load or the workload that it’s been put itself through Is absorbed, and it’s not being able to cope with that with that trading load. So you you’re reaching physical or either mental burnout and showing that in that marker. So we understand that, okay, we need to taper up.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:46:58]:

For the next 72 hours, we need to taper our schedule. Heart rate variability is another interesting one. Heart shaped variability is the one I ask everyone to use because it’s the most sensitive biomarker in the entire ecosystem Oh, bimonthongs. Right? It’s the most sensitive one. The reason why it’s so sensitive is because the technology that we use to capture it is also Very, very sensitive, and it’s not reached that level of stability inaccuracy in terms of collaborating. And so when you look at A whoop or an aura, and it gives you an HRV point. It’s captured that HRV point from about 5 minutes in the middle of deep sleep When your body is really still and really rested. So that HRV data point is indicative of you At your calmest, most deepest restful state.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:47:46]:

So if it’s sitting at 34, it’s letting you know that your body, even subconsciously, You’re right. It’s struggling to reach deep levels of rest. You know? Even at your deepest, most restful state, your body is being triggered or is thinking or It’s just not been able to calm down to that to that degree. It could be food. It could be climate. It could be something. We need to look, and there are 1,000,000 things we can look at, But it’s a massive signal to us. Right? And the implication of a low HRV in the morning is means that Post lunch, literally anything could trigger you off.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:48:23]:

You know? You’re highly, highly susceptible to any emotional trigger in the environment. You know? But let’s assume you that you start off your day at 90/95. You’re gonna be so much more resilient to stresses in your environment, and there’s a good chance you’re gonna get to the end of day well managed. You’ll be able to get to rest, Get to sleep, and you’re managing it. So understanding how to use these biomarkers is critically important. Now I’m not asking everyone to go and invest In a watch or an OOP, WIP, or an AURA, or any other device. But what I do recommend everyone do Is find one thing that they measure every single day. And for some clients of mine, it’s as simple as just a bathroom scale That’s digital.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:49:13]:

And you make and you weigh yourself at the same time every day. Because, Nick, I’m a big believer That when you get 1 data point every single day at the same time, you’ve got 1 marker by which to refer every decision you’ve made in that 24 hour cycle. You know, did I sleep 7 hours, 6 hours, 9 hours? Did I drink alcohol? What time did I have dinner? How many meetings? Did I take a flight? Whatever. You’re able to correlate it to that. You know? And because if you’re not seeing something shift, you’re not being able To understand, to granulate the impact of the decisions that you’re making on a day to day basis. So what this One biomarker or this 1 data point does is it starts to leave the data point on. It starts to drive your awareness up. Your awareness of what you’re doing on a day to day basis with relation to your health and your environment.

Nick Urban [00:50:08]:

Yes. And on the practical side, say you were to do a daily weigh in on a bathroom scale every day at 9 AM? That might be great. You might start to notice patterns after a week or 2 or 3 or whatever. But Just because you’re weighing yourself at the same time, say, 9 AM, you also wanna hold some of your lifestyle habits the same because you’re fasting some days, and then some days you’re eating breakfast at 8 AM an hour before? You might see huge differences, and that’s not gonna be meaningful, or actionable because you’re introducing other variables there? You wanna hold as much constant as possible.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:50:44]:

Absolutely. But the beautiful thing, Nick, is that once they start doing it let’s assume they’re doing it at 9 o’clock and they’re having breakfast at 8 o’clock. By day 3 or day 4, maybe day 7 or day 10, they will experiment where they’ll skip that breakfast, and they’ll see the impact of it. Or they will. You understand? Because you’ve got a reference point, you’re starting to micromanage different variables Just see how it shifts. You’re a 100% right. We wanna we wanna keep things controlled. You wanna be aware of it.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:51:16]:

But The availability of that data point makes you so hyperaware that the curiosity of the mind in itself will make you wanna pull a few levers?

Nick Urban [00:51:28]:

So we have a couple options, like the wearable data points, such as resting heart rate, HRV.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:51:34]:

Yeah. You can just scale weight. If you if you’re tracking sleep, sleep markers are great. Probably, of of all the wearable devices that I’ve seen around sleep, The total sleep time is probably the most accurate of all the sleep markers. Another interesting one worth looking at, which is not very, very accurate, and all devices don’t give it, it’s called sleep latency. Latency is the time you take to fall asleep From the time your bed hits, your head hits a pillow, optimal latency should be anywhere between about 10 and 16 minutes, so 10 and 18 minutes. K. If you’re falling asleep in under 5 minutes, that’s a sign of chronic fatigue.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:52:12]:

If you’re taking 45 minutes to an hour to sleep, it’s also a sign of fatigue or a sign of A lot of mental tension anxiety. You know? So measuring latency is also an indicator of, hey, how much is going on in my body? You you’ll be able to control that, looking at deep sleep as well. If you are diabetic or prediabetic, you don’t have to do it every single day, but you can use a, a CGM device, a continuous glucose monitoring device. And I tell people, I have a lot of, friends who use these CGM devices. When you use a CGM device, one is it’s expensive. Right? The second is it’s gonna be on you consistently for, 2 weeks, and you’ll be tracking it and and grabbing these sensors. But those 2 weeks for every one of you It’s not the time for you to be on your god’s best behavior. You know? I have my friends who, like, stay on their best.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:53:08]:

They’re not touching desserts, not touching sugar, not touching anything, sleeping, fasting, doing everything, got a stable trend line. Soon as they take it off, The lifestyle changes. I said, actually, experiment when it’s on so you could understand the impact of those decisions on your blood glucose. Don’t be on your best behavior. You know? So remember this, that when you’re tracking, experiment. If you’re not tracking all the time, When you decide to track experiments so you can correlate the decisions you make to what’s happening with your internal physiology. And if you’re doing consistently, then it’s a different story. But if you’re doing it very, very intimately, really, truly use that time for experimentation.

Nick Urban [00:53:53]:

Yeah. I’m not sure if it was these markers or something else, but you mentioned to me earlier that you’re able to use your assessments and accurately predict who will perform well and who won’t on game days?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:54:06]:

Yes. Absolutely. These are a different set of tests that I use, and that’s really my core part of my work, Nick, is, so I look at psychological personality markers and psychometric markers track? So I run people through a whole series of tests. And and, you know, some of my background is in childhood trauma, so I even run the test on childhood trauma, but I use tests like the big five. I use subconscious tests. I also use conscious tests. I run them through For 24 hours before matches, I run them through a profile of mood states, and I’ve been able to see some really, really fascinating data. So for example, We run one assessment called psychogeometrics where it’s completely subconscious.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:54:48]:

The athletes don’t even know what’s happening, and they are literally drawing interesting shapes And, analyzing those shapes and decoding personality markers and then matching those personality markers to different positions in the sports field. And having run about 10,000 of these, I’m starting to see patterns with which personality markers Match certain positions in certain fields. For example, in football, I’m seeing people who are more rational, methodical, logical in their thinking, who work in a framework and very process orientated. These people make phenomenal defenders. They tend to hold the back line a lot stronger, and they stay in that position. I’m able to see that creative people, make better forwards. So They operate by their own set of rules. They have a high amount of conviction in their ideas, very free thinking.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:55:41]:

You know, they they have, they they literally believe they can do anything, And they make phenomenal defenders. I’m seeing that natural leadership type of personality, for example, dominate midfield positions quite strongly, so they’re able to govern all of that. Then I layer on top of that, something interesting now in the last 48 hours is I do a profile of mood states, which is also validated test. Profile of mood states breaks things up into, I think, six States, we’re looking at anger. We’re looking at vigor. We’re looking at tension. We’re looking at depression. We’re looking at mental fatigue, and we’re looking at confusion.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:56:18]:

Now What this data normally informed us was that if you had a high figure, then it predisposed you to good performance. And all of the other 5 markers were really negative markers. And even when you calculate a total moot score, it’s, You know, your vigor minus the other 5, which gives you a total moot score. But I’ve noticed a few things really interesting. I’ve noticed the vigor, which is The the the score that determines good performance. I’ve noticed when a person has high vigor and a person has high anger, They’re able to channel the anger positively, and the outcome is far greater. But if a person has high anger and low vigor, The anger becomes catastrophic to how they behave in there. You know? I’ve also noticed running profile at mood states now for about Almost a year on professional footballers that the most mentally tense star athletes are the ones who are performing the best and not the ones who are performing the worst.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:57:18]:

Right. And we layer on top of this. We know the the interesting research around willpower and decision making. So we’ve seen, world man. The more decisions you force to make in a day, the less willpower you have to when you faced against a difficult situation? So what’s really interesting is we’re seeing this dichotomy right now where Players who are mentally tensed are the best performing athletes, but those are also the athletes who have to make the most decisions in the day And are put into the most situations where they’re interacting with external stresses in the public in the form of media, brand commitments, campaign commitments, all of that. And very often, when it comes to clutch match, these athletes here who have been carrying the team all the way to the end somehow just either fall short, you know, just short of it, and the entire team kinda collapses in there? So we’ve been now looking at interesting ways in which we protect the mental and conserve the mental energy of high performing athletes, in this. So we’ve been we’ve been able to track that. And then I think one of the most fascinating aspects that I’ve been really looking at and and finding right now is the difference between what is a subconscious personality and what is conscious personality.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:58:37]:

You know? And I’ve been able to track that. And the reason why this is interesting for me is because if I dial up the pressure in a situation, a person will switch From what is conscious and learn to what is subconscious, innate, and natural. K. So a person could bring A conscious personality, a conscious learned skill, and a learned personality to a situation and constantly thrive, thrive, thrive, thrive, thrive. But if you throw him into a high pressure situation, and if he doesn’t have the skill set or is not being familiar with that, He will completely default to a different behavior or a different way of acting. Understanding that is critically important, And a large part of my coaching right now is trying to bring these 2 worlds together.

Nick Urban [00:59:24]:

Wow. That’s pretty cool. I’m looking forward to more developments as they come for the conscious and the subconscious and how you’re able to, like, help athletes do better and optimize around those?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [00:59:37]:

I mean, we we already learning so much. You know? For example, I’ll give you, one one critical example is that let’s assume We we run a big five test, and, one of the interesting data points that we look from there is called extroversion, which is an indication of the amount of communicate it’s It’s it’s indicative of the communication in the team and the communication score. So when I look at the person’s personality type and I look at How they are naturally and how they’d like to communicate. So we started to bring in certain interventions. Let’s assume we we want that person to start to speak more. Right. Then what we try to do is, as a coaching staff, I’ll give everybody messages where I’ll ask them that these are the players whose communication scores we wanna raise gently. So every time there’s a team meeting or every time you’re speaking to them, call them to the front of the room or bring them to the center of the room.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:00:30]:

Because these people would naturally stay on the periphery. They’d want to blend into the walls. They wanna they wanna fade into the backgrounds as such. You know? Now for us to rewire that completely, we need to change the environment in there. So if we change them, if we bring them to High concentration in energy environment, then all of a sudden, their focus goes up, and their likelihood of starting to communicate increases as well.

Nick Urban [01:00:55]:

And are you seeing good results from that?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:00:58]:

We are. We are. But, you know, we can we can mold, in a squad of about 23 players. We at any one time, we probably earmark no more than 5. You know, anywhere between 3 to 5 that we’re working on for a period of 3 to 6 months. You know, we’re not trying to change the whole team at once. We keep marking key p players. Right? And we’re just kinda doing molding that.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:01:23]:

And the others, we’re just creating basic tools and interventions and and doing that. What’s also interesting is I use a lot of EEG devices That that measure things like mental fatigue, focus, resilience. And this is interesting. You know, for every single thing, you know, in the world, if I if I asked you, you know, and and, Nick, we we started by speaking about running it. And this is the most fascinating thing when I tell people how scary it is about how little is known about the world of psychology. It’s you take you take a running shoe. K? And from wherever we are, there’s a good chance within 2 to 3 kilometers, you Find a a brand store, and in any brand store that’s selling these famous running shoes, you go in there. There’s someone there to help you.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:02:12]:

A random person Who’s probably just finished his grade 12 at school can look at your feet right now and recommend a pair of shoes that would most likely increase your performance in some shape and form. You know? We know that. Because running as a Science has evolved to that degree that we have so many tools, and so many people are able to interpret the application of those tools To improve performance. But yet, you take meditation. Right? We’ve got gazillion meditation teachers. And if I line you up with 15 players, And you’re not a meditation class. Right? You cannot tell me who do you think is gonna benefit the most from that. You know, yet we expect everyone to benefit in the same manner.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:03:01]:

So this was an interesting starting point for me. So I started Measuring the the impact of interventions on different personality markers. So I give meditation. I give breathwork. I give hypnosis. I give subconscious programming. I give visualization. I give imagery.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:03:20]:

I give, You know, rational emotional behavioral therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy exercises do everyone. And I’m measuring through EEG activity How their mental resilience, their focus, all of these things, these markers are actually shifting. So now Unable to codify which intervention responds best to which personality type or which, marker enable to shift them in the in the right direction?

Nick Urban [01:03:50]:

So cool. I was about to ask you if you’re combining your assessments with anything else like blood work or genetic analysis or EEG, like brainwave mapping? And, also, like, I think there’s a big future in sports to bioindividualize the training and the accessories and all the performance related stuff to the individual athlete? Like, yes, they have to continue doing their sports specific stuff, but also there might be a reason to cut them out of this team run a little bit earlier or to add an extra set on some kind of lift for their unique physiology in psychology?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:04:28]:

We absolutely are doing that. We’re already doing Customized and personalized plans for training? We’re just not doing it for psychology, and we’re starting to bring that into the football team. And to talk about the biomarkers that I layer in, yes, I do. I do look at all the blood markers. I look at all the heart rate. I look at the catapult data, GPS data. I look at the heart rate data that’s coming in. But all of those data points are informing me about this here.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:04:55]:

Because why? You know, I’m making sure that the physiology is stable before I make an assessment on the psychology. You know? So that’s what I’m looking at these markers for, because cognitive stress would shift one of these markers, would would shift the physiology. We we already know that. But I’m just making sure that the person’s health markers are stable enough before I can make informed decisions about their cognition. But we’re definitely layering all of that in there. If we’re seeing the data jump on the on the psychological market side, and let’s assume the data is also Moving is very noisy on the physiology side. Right? Then what we do is we split the 2, and we And we get them to work on the physiology more and get them stable first, because we can see that one is is impacting the other too much Right now, you know, what we want is in the in in elite peak performance, you need stable physiology, right, for you to stabilize psychology. If the physiology is noisy and moving up and down, if a person doesn’t have control over their own body, right, The probability of them having control of their mind is highly unlikely.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:06:08]:

But if they have control over the body, we can now start to stabilize the mind and stabilize their focal points.

Nick Urban [01:06:14]:

I also wanna touch on your approach to or approaches to bioharmonizing the body before we wrap up.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:06:20]:

For me, I I work with the Five elements. And I think around the 5 elements are critical. You know, I used to be this person who, Who took a lot of supplements in. You know? And and every time I read an article, someone else was recommending a different supplement. And, You know, I was like, oh, great. I should do this. And it got to a stage where, you know, you’re having your breakfast looked like 10 capsules, and I was and I I pretty much was sure. I said, You know, it I I don’t know what good this is doing because I’ve got no way to measure it, but I’m pretty sure all of these capsules are great for me as well.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:06:56]:

You know, I didn’t wanna get as much of those, gelatin capsules or whatever that was in me, so I I kinda Hit the reset button there, and I went back to Vedic wisdom, ancestral really ancestral way of thinking. An ancestral way of thinking works on the 5 elements. They say fire, water, air, space, and earth. And it gives us a Beautiful way in which to bring our body into rhythm with these 5 elements. So the first it’s saying is fire is Sun sun energy, which we need to absorb, which is vitamin d. So according to Vedic sciences, it says, wake up Before the rising sun, and try to look at the rising sun, right, for about 15 minutes. As the sun is coming up the horizon, Look at it. It’s the safest time to look at that sun.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:07:45]:

Right? Look at that. They absorb that that that vitamin D from there. And it also resets So kick starts almost about 30 to 40 neurological and biological programs in the body. The second thing is after 9 PM, it says, When the sun’s really hot and it’s bad for your retina, then vegetables, for example, absorb sun’s energies very, very well. So take your vegetables And leave them out in the sun for about 45 minutes to an hour before you eat them. Allow them to absorb that energy, And then don’t overcook them. You just clean them, wash them, and eat them in that way because they’ve also absorbed that energy. And mushrooms, for example, Absorb vitamin d better than us, in fact.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:08:28]:

You know, they they really pull pull it in there. So that was the the fire energy, really looking at at that there. You know, also, you could bring in, in in certain climate conditions, like, you know, being that sun exposure. So we’ve seen, Infrared saunas and steam boxes and other natural way to grade, but looking at sun is the natural way to to absorb sunlight. Water was spoken about really interestingly. The best way to absorb water into the body is by eating. 60% of our diet should be Combining foods that release water when cooked, so water rich foods. So spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, fruits, anything that releases water When heated or cooked, is a water rich food, and 60% of your hydration in a day should come from that, not from drinking.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:09:18]:

Drinking water would would flush out. So That was the next thing that I did. So I brought in a lot of greens, lot of spinach, lot of fruits. In fact, I eat a significant amount of fruits and and vegetables in a in a day to day basis. The the air is the breathwork. So what Vedic science says is start your day and end your day with breathwork Because it speaks of 2 nadis or 2 energy channels in our body that get balanced through the in and out, through the inhalation and exhalation. We see a lot of this being spoken about, in biohacking and biophysiology and biorhythm sciences right now where The inhalation stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. The exhalation stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:10:01]:

Very excited speaks of something else, which is even more powerful. It speaks of the holding phase in between. You know? They call that, Kumbaka. Kumbaka is the holding phase in between. Right? That holding phase is really exceptionally powerful exceptionally powerful. And they could be very interested in this, that That holding phase of our breath has inspired in me an entire look at suspension And the role of suspension in our life. So I’ve seen, you know, like, for example, the amount of strength you could develop by just Holding onto a certain weight to the point where it becomes an eccentric load. You know? You know, even in psychology, they say, you know, holding on to emotion Can be healing, can allow you to, process that emotion.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:10:52]:

Holding your breath in an exhalated face increases the carbon dioxide content. It’s great for bronchodilation. Increasing holding your breath with air in you stimulates soma or the the pineal gland, We can give you a psychedelic experience. So that holding is really, really critical, and that has inspired so much in me. So that was the third one, the air. The space is significant of fasting. And I told you once a month, it’s nonnegotiable for me to go on a 24 hour fast. So I I recommend a lot of fasting.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:11:28]:

And interestingly, you know, you’ll see that fasting is the one practice That is common in every single religion and every culture in the world, irrespective of it. We fight about so many other things. The one thing we all do Is we fast or we cleanse? Because that fasting is a is significant of really cleansing. And it’s telling us that, you know, the body needs That cleans. You cleanse the body. You give it a chance to to cleanse the mind in some shape and form. And the earth was, eating that whole plant based food. You know, that’s super important for our our gut bacteria in doing that.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:12:06]:

So the way I look at everything is I look at these 5 elements. And these 5 elements, for me, they look at the relationship between, The guts and the brain, they look at the relationship between everything. And speaking about hacking, I break everything down into certain channels. You know, so the one, like I said, that we just mentioned that’s very, very important, we started off the podcast with the voice brain connection. Then the next one that everyone is aware of is the the gut brain connection, you know, the relationship between that. The the next critical one that’s important is the foot core connection for good mobility, you know, the relationship between the muscles of The foot, how they stimulated, and the core. And similarly, there are many such connections that work in the body that are very, very direct relationships. When you start to honor these relationships here, right, then, you know, movement, synchronicity, harmony, They they all seem to flow in a very, very beautiful way.

Nick Urban [01:13:09]:

I especially like the idea of leaving the fruits and vegetables, the produce outside in the sun for about 45 minutes before eating it because I know that it’s it has all kinds of benefits, like that sunlight, that spectrum, that to my day, but I’ve never heard that one specifically. And it makes intuitive sense to me, so I’ll have to give that a shot.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:13:28]:

Yeah. For sure. Yeah. It’s it’s actually better, and you you you’d notice, run it as an experiment. Just With the vegetables that you’re doing, break them split them into 2. Leave half outside and leave inside, and you’ll notice a distinct taste difference in them as well.

Nick Urban [01:13:44]:

It’s like charging the produce.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:13:46]:

Literally. It feels like that and tastes like that.

Nick Urban [01:13:49]:

Yeah. And I love your elegant system of actually just, like, looking at the different elements and then establishing 1 or more habits in each of them each day to stay in balance, in rhythm with the natural world?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:14:02]:

I think the world of biohacking really took us further away from harmony as opposed to bringing us closer to it, And and that’s what we should be doing. We should be looking at what are the naturally occurring rhythms and processes in the body, and what can we do to bring us closer to that As possible, you know? And so you have your circadian rhythm, which is important. You have, you know, for women, The hormonal systems that are working and how hormones are secreted, it’s really critically important to understand What is the natural rhythm of the body and operate in accordance with that? I think it’s fundamentally important that we start to approach things like that. And and when you understand connections with things, it’s so important. I I touched on the the foot core connection. So important. One of the best practices someone can do is just take your shoes and socks off and walk Barefoot on earth. You know? Just ground that energy.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:15:00]:

You know, it’s a science called grounding. But within 15 to 20 minutes of just spending time barefoot, If you start to walk really slowly, you’ll notice that every single time your foot hits the ground, your lower abdominal muscles, Your pelvic core tightens. It crunches because that’s what’s supposed to happen. You know? When your foot hits the ground, your core is supposed to hold tight To stabilize the spine as you’re moving 1 step forward. The shoes that we’ve worn have severed that connection in there. Now reestablishing that connection is not difficult. It just requires a little bit of mindfulness in terms of that. Even a simple thing like, our gut bacteria, it only requires mindfulness in terms of the diversity of foods that we eat.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:15:50]:

You know, you’re bringing different vegetables, different cultures that are obviously clean, you know, and you start to reculture bacteria In a new and and a beautiful way. So all of these things require a level of mindfulness, and and for those people who are really interested in the body, there’s there’s a There’s a sentence that I use and I coach a lot. I say subtract before you add. Subtract before you add means you’ve already got enough on your plate. Start getting things off. You know? You already got too much to think about, too much to focus on. The probability of you living a long and healthy life It’s very, very small if you’re gonna keep adding more things to your plate. Because the more things you get on there, the more distracted you are.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:16:34]:

The more distracted you are, the less likely you are gonna pay attention to these naturally occurring rhythms that are gonna keep you healthy. There’s a good chance you’re gonna certain try to circumnavigate anything, and all the money you make, you’re gonna spend it to try to fix your health. So, you know, so subtract before you add, And your awareness will go up. Once your awareness goes up, in in in sport, we show things to athletes because we tell them what is seen cannot be unseen. So similarly, when your awareness goes up, when you see the impact of it, you cannot unsee it. You know? You may forget it for a few days, But you come back to it because you’re already aware of how powerful it is.

Nick Urban [01:17:13]:

I love that. That’s such a good reminder. That’s precisely what I did. It applies to sports. It applies to life in general. It’s like once you get certain workload on your plate, you start losing the ability to listen to yourself and to tune in, and that’s how you that’s that’s, like, the fundamental, like, foundation of everything. You lose that, you gotta reestablish it somehow, and that can be getting an assistant, that can be getting housekeeping, that can be getting a 1000000 different things just to, like, lighten the workload on you so that you can, like, reestablish that and then build from there? Well, Shayamal, I wanna talk about a couple more things. I said I was gonna let you go right now, but I lied.

Nick Urban [01:17:49]:

I have 1 more thing I wanna ask you about quickly before that? And that is if there are any tips or tricks or strategies you have to help your athletes travel better and more effectively? They minimize the jet lag and the cellular damage that’s occurring to their bodies from, say, like, a nineteen and a half power hour flight across the world from India, say, to the US?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:18:10]:

Quite honestly, I think one of the the simplest things that we do is, You know, we we fast during our flights. We hydrate a lot. We fast during our flights, and we try to adjust our eating plans in according to our new time zone. That is strictly one of the things we do. There’s also certain devices that we use. There’s for example, there’s a Lumos eye mask that we use that has, an infrared light that kind of even while you’re sleeping, it tends to activate the brain in the time zone that you that you are. So your brain’s actually waking up In the time zone that you will be in even though you you are asleep. So we use some of these technologies in there.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:18:49]:

The things that we’re doing whilst we’re traveling is, obviously, we we’re managing hydration. We’re managing salts. We’re using compression devices, Compression stocks. We’re trying to, these are the basic ones that we’re trying to do. And and soon as we land on the ground, the first thing we do is we move. Okay. So movement within a couple hours of landing in the ground is absolutely critical today, and we try as fast as possible To reset to the to the sleep time in that clock there, sometimes we would use, You know, Melatonin would use a sleeping tablet because we found that if you fasted in the plane, literally, just by getting to bed On the 1st night in the right time zone, you can certainly navigate everything and hit back into a rhythm.

Nick Urban [01:19:36]:

Any other gadgets or gear you wanna mention? Because I I know you mentioned the elite mass? That’s pretty cool, and I’m sure people who are hearing this are gonna wanna know about any other systems or devices or gadgets you have to help that adjustment?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:19:48]:

The one main thing that that all of my professional athletes travel with is we travel with the exact same pillow. You know, the yeah. So pillow is is critically important for us for sleep. So in their flight that sleep with that same pillow, they It they they most of them are flying in business cars, so they get a chance to to sleep. Okay. The pillow is the number one thing that you should be traveling with in there. In terms of other devices that we use whilst we’re traveling, sometimes we use compression socks or we use, graduated compression on the legs if It’s a very, very long flight, but not too much. We generally quite honestly, in the plane doing very, very little, we All of our management starts, once we hit the ground.

Nick Urban [01:20:31]:

And what does the compression do?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:20:33]:

The compression is just circulating blood flow. It’s preventing the pooling of blood. You know? So yeah. So what happens is in, because of the pressure in the plane, poor blood tends to pool in our legs and in our joints, And you’ll get information around those joints. So if you don’t, increase the circulation throughout the flight there, then you’d increase your chance of Recovery? Joe, for example, if you’re an athlete who’s running and your your blood is pooled in your ankles, in your knees, then The ankle joint is not as stable on the foot, so you increase your risk of a sprain or an ankle strain, as soon as you’re running on a On the surface like, soil or grass, you know, because of that. So what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to manage all of those, micro things that that most people are not aware of, but we see it in our data in terms of the number of risks that are going up and the types of injuries we’re getting.

Nick Urban [01:21:29]:

Yeah, especially across an entire team? I know when I’m traveling for a long period of time, I’ll be the person in the back of the plane doing squats and lunges and stretches and, like, mobility stuff every couple hours? And it’s not the same as compression gear, but it feels like it makes a big difference to me as well?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:21:45]:

It is. And then, you know and and as far as possible, when you’re lying, we’re trying to obviously keep, the legs elevated a little bit. So Sometimes you can’t have them elevated, so the graduated compression, socks, what they do and if they and some of them are mechanical as well, so they’re pumping The the blood literally out of there. But if you don’t have that, just raising your legs up will allow the blood to to drain out from those legs. You know?

Nick Urban [01:22:09]:

Well, Shama, we’ve covered a lot in 1 episode. I’m gonna let you go in just a second. If people wanna connect with you, grab your book, or just to stay in touch? How do they go about that?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:22:19]:

I think my book is called Breed, Believe, Balance. I think they can get it on Amazon. It should be available on most Amazons. If you want to follow me, I’m, on Instagram. It’s at Shyamal, s h a y a m a l. You can find me even on LinkedIn at Shyamal Balaji, Twitter, no more Twitter, x, I think. Yeah. Shyamal v.

Nick Urban [01:22:40]:

Amazing. Thank you for that, and I will put a link to all those channels in the show notes for this episode. And now the final real question before we sign off, And that is if you would imagine that all knowledge on Earth is lost, but you get to save the works of 3 teachers. Who would you choose and why?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:22:58]:

The one book that’s impacted my life the most is what was the Bhagavad Gita, because I I spent 4 years living in the ashram. So I definitely wanna Say that it’s been one of the most impactful books in my life, and it’s taught me a lot and taught my athletes a lot. I like the teachings of Muhammad Ali. You know, I think, yeah, Imam Ali was a was a great disciplinarian, but just the caveats with how we move through life and how we inspired at a time was remarkably interesting. The the one teacher that I am learning more and more about and I’m extremely by is Karl Marx, the German historian, because so many people were influenced by his writings. You know? And you’re looking at all all walks of life from socialism to communism to democracies. Everyone read and was influenced by him. The great thinker in some shape and form.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:23:54]:

And, so I I I love the work of Karl Marx. And I think, probably the last one was, I think Einstein. I liked Einstein’s thinking. For me, it’s it was a tough choice between probably Carl Jung And Einstein. But, you know, Einstein and and his application of compounding has has had such an impact In our world, in terms of finance and how we’ve grown and how we’ve thought about everything, that, it would be an actual travesty to have lost that.

Nick Urban [01:24:23]:

Well, I love that you push the limits there. Instead of giving me 3, give me 5. We’ll accept it. That’s great. And now if there’s one thing Your tribe does not know about you. Your athletes do not know about you. Let’s share it right here, right now.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:24:38]:

One thing. Well, I’m I’m a crazy marathon runner, and, so I don’t know how many people know. I’ve I’ve I’m sitting on 5 stars right now. I’ve run 5 majors. I’ve run 48 marathons across 6 continents, 5 stars. But my one dream is to, summit the highest peak on each of the continents And run a full marathon on each of that. So I’ve got 2 peaks done, 6 continents done, 5 stars. So Let’s hope in the next couple of years I get to tick all of those off.

Nick Urban [01:25:09]:

Nice. That is quite the feat. Well, Shayamal, for people who have made it this far with us, about an hour and a half, What are your takeaways for them that you hope they leave this interview with?

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:25:19]:

The main takeaways is, To really and truly, if you’re gonna invest in one thing, start investing in, a, peeling away the layers of understanding your own Because your personality is an inroad to how you show up in the world. It gives you a hell of a lot of insights. And it’s not as simple as just the The data that comes from a Myers Briggs assessment, there’s a lot more that you can do. Invest some time in sort of understanding that. The second one is invest in measuring one thing, because that one thing is really and truly a, It’s an inroad to every decision you make. But if I can give you the most powerful tip I ever give of anyone, anyone, I tell them, Most of the world thinks in binary. They think things are either success or failures. Most athletes even think they think.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:26:12]:

I’ve either won or I’ve lost things. If you can train your brain to think in probability, your stress will drop Significantly more. You’ll take far more risks, and you’ll end up winning a lot more of the time. So when what does thinking probability means when it means Before when you’re doing something, start to evaluate based on the amount of preparedness you got, the amount of resources you got, what is the probability of success? And at the end of it, Don’t look at whether you won or you lost. Look at what percentage of something could you have improved and how much of it were you right. And once you start identifying things and probabilities, right, then you don’t see yourself as a failure anymore. You’ll take a lot more risks.

Nick Urban [01:26:57]:

I love that. That is the perfect way to close. I haven’t heard that, and it’s such it seemed like such a basic idea. I’m surprised it’s not common knowledge. Well, Shayamal, this has been a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining me and imparting so much wisdom on the episode today.

Shayamal Vallabhjee [01:27:10]:

Thank you, Nick. I I was really looking forward to this. I I spoke a lot, but thank you for giving me the opportunity. I it was really such a pleasure.

Nick Urban [01:27:18]:

Pleasure is mine. I’m Nick Urban here with Shayamal Vallabhjee, Signing out from mindbodypeak.com. Have a great week, and be an If you enjoyed it, subscribe and hit the thumbs up. I love knowing who’s in the 1% committed to reaching their full potential. Comment 1% below so that I know who you are. For all the resources and links, meet me on my website at mind body peak .com? I appreciate you and look forward to connecting with you.

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This Podcast Is Brought to You By

Nick Urban is a Biohacker, Data Scientist, Athlete, Founder of Outliyr, and the Host of the Mind Body Peak Performance Podcast. He is a Certified CHEK Practitioner, a Personal Trainer, and a Performance Health Coach. Nick is driven by curiosity which has led him to study ancient medical systems (Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Hermetic Principles, German New Medicine, etc), and modern science.

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Music by Luke Hall

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