Well the Mental Trainer is back from Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain. All good intentions sometimes get swept away. I’d intended on blogging from Bahrain. each step of the journey. For lots of reasons it didn’t happen. Even after I got back I couldn’t seem to catch up and report like I wanted to. There was always a self-created roadblock. Sound familiar? Just because I help others with their mental training does not for a moment make me or any other mental trainer perfect. It is too easy to blame jet lag and the holidays.
So here is my report. IT WAS GREAT! OK, not what you were likely looking for. Alright, a bit more. Flew out of Seattle via British Airways. A bit of a cluster as the ticket said American. One end of the airport to the other. Flight to London was comfortable. I’ve not flown business class in a while and was glad for it. Worked on finalizing presentation and working on book. 9 hours as they say flew by.
Landed at Heathrow and got through the Que. Business class meant being able to hang at the Business class club for a few hours without having to drag a bag around. I remembered that I had not printed a letter before I left for customs in Bahrain saying I was a presenter at a Government approved seminar. Spent a bit of time trying to hook my laptop to one of the printers at the club, gave up and printed through web mail. Printed two copies. Figured redundancy was important. Note to self. When you make a list of things not to forget to bring on an international trip, checking it twice would be a good thing. Walked around Heathrow. Like a mall in most cities. Not as good as I had been told, but cool none the less.
On to Manama. Slept and watched movies the next 9 hours. landed in Manama. Went through customs. Was told to take a seat while they checked me out. Sat almost 30 minutes. They didn’t even want my letter I had spent time trying to print. They let me go without much further delay, though they did send me through the x-ray line to check and see if there was anything hidden in the books (The Athlete within You) I had brought to the seminar.
I was met at the airport by the events manager Sam Sharma. went back to the hotel where we talked over plans for the next day. Went for a walk around the diplomatic area the next morning waiting for my meeting with National Sports Management. had lunch with Sam and his boss Frank Morais. Talked about the seminar and they showed me the meeting room. Scheduled to meet at 8am for set up. Might be slight delay getting started as they are over booked. I had been worried we would have only 50 or the planned 80-100. Now there might be a few more.
In the afternoon the hotel dropped me off at the Souk. The traditional Arab marketplace in Manama. This was a great deal of fun. everyone wanted to sell me a fake Rolex. In New York when I walk around everyone wants to sell me a real Rolex. Price is always the same around $20.
I didn’t sleep well that night. Not concern about seminar, just my body clock stuck in the middle of the 11 hour time change. Good thing adrenalin can do great things and coffee. Had an early breakfast and was ready to roll by 8am. So I am ready and down with books and my materials at the prescribed hour. I’m now told that there could be 130 in attendance. It ended up 130+ and 30 turned away. Had to start 30 minutes late due to registration issues. The only one concerned of course was me. I’ve mixed in some pictures and will talk about the actual seminar and return later.
Note the booth at the back of the last this was for the translator to use.
What Team Building in Sport offers the Business World!
Great Sports Teams have always had great General Managers. Is your life ambition to be GM of the year? Then see what team building in sports will do for you. If you head a project, a business unit or the entire company, you want that title of GM of the Year, because it means your efforts are creating meaningful relationships, products and reputations.
I don’t often post about The Mental Game Programs, but I thought this one would be of value. I think many of the components of this program are critical to businesses and there are things that offer transference to the business world.
Team Building for Businesses, Non Profits and Direct Sales Organizations. Let me show you why the sports world offers you great insight into how your organization can function at the highest level even under pressure. Great teams and GM’s create an atmosphere that instills Cooperation and Cohesion even in a competitive work environment. Not every team starts with good chemistry, but every team can have it. Every wonder why people who played on sports teams miss them so much? What if you could create a corporate culture that no one ever wanted to leave? Let me help get your organization moving in the right direction. Respect, admiration, discipline, cohesion and even competition are all attributes of good teams. A competitive environment is not in opposition to a good working environment. Respect and Cohesion are easier to achieve when missions and goals are clearly defined. Learn how to utilize everyone’s emotional intelligence to further your organizations mission. The secret however is how to succeed through both cooperative and competitive environments. If you think about a football or soccer team players must work together to succeed while at the same time compete for playing time with their team mates. Good teams thrive in this competitive environment. In the corporate / business world employees find themselves working on projects or in teams where they must both cooperate and compete with others. Learning to thrive in this pressurized can have great effects on an organization. Every wonder why people that played on sports teams miss them so much? What if you could create a corporate culture that no one ever wanted to leave? Let The Mental Game help get your organization moving in the right direction. Respect, admiration, discipline, cohesion and even competition are all attributes of good teams. A competitive environment is not in opposition to a good working environment. Respect and Cohesion are easier to achieve when missions and goals are clearly defined. Learn how to utilize everyone’s emotional intelligence to further your organizations mission. These activities are fun, intellectually stimulating and can have a tremendously positive effect on your company or organizations direction. Events are flexible and designed to work with you mission statement and goals.
So if your ambition is to be GM of the Year, call me today and let me prepare an individualized program to meet all of your company or team needs. I will work within your budget to produce a memorable event with lasting meanings. Team Building by Mike Margolies and The Mental Game I have been helping build teams for over thirty years. I do team building events and presentations for all types of non-sport organizations. I have programs that will blend into your event or I can put an event on for you. Most Team Building workshops offer insights into how a team succeeds through cooperation and many organizations play down the competitive nature of the business environment, yet this is the reality for most organizations. Promotions, project selection and salary are dependent on being competitive. Building Competitive Cooperative Teams. These events can be Keynotes, 1/2 day events or full weekend retreats. Please check my SpeakerMatch Profile for other business programs.
ANTs being Automatic Negative Thoughts and how they can ruin your game
So the ANTs will inherit the Earth (if you let them). OK so for a change I’m failing to be witty in my title. No wait, I’m never witty. I’m never humorous. I am the least funny sport psychology consultant aka Certified Mental Trainer® on Earth. Why would I ever attempt humor to get a point across? Even my kids think I lack a complete sense of humor. I might just be the most serious unfunny person on the planet, maybe the Universe.
Perhaps this would be a good place to take a breath. A few deep breaths as a matter of fact from below the diaphragm before I am so self-conscious I throw this post in the recycle bin and click the Empty Recycle Bin button. If I do that, I give up an opportunity perhaps to reach someone who overwhelmed by ANT’s, will miss out on tremendous opportunities. OK I’ll take a chance and keep the title, after all some people do laugh at some of my stories when I am speaking. I’ve had more clients laugh than cry in my office (though there is a certain sport that is more tearful I have found). Even on occasion one or more of my sons have had milk come out their nose because of something I said was funny. Maybe this means I may not claim Mr. Unfunny Person in the Universe Award.
This is an example (totally made up of course) of a CBT- cognitive behavioral technique designed to help someone deal with an ANT. An ANT is an Automatic Negative Thought. We have them all of the time. The most ridiculous things pop into our heads and most of the time we accept them as truths, because there is no one to dispute them. They come from somewhere in our unconscious perhaps. Triggered by some association or another and we buy in. We believe in the thought. After all it’s our own thought. How can it be wrong? Even if it makes us sad, mad, nervous or leaving us with a feeling that things are out of control. Hell, most of the time we don’t even recognize we really had that thought (this is the subject of a different post, but a real good reason to Journal). According to some of the research I’ve read we have more than 60,000 thoughts per day. We really can’t pay all that much attention to every one now can we? Yet we react to them just the same. We form a map if you will of what we can and cannot do. If you are an athlete why would you want an ANT telling you what you can or cannot carry out. Back in my youth I would never learned to dunk a basketball if I bought into ANTs, as back then I didn’t know a lot of six-foot seventeen year old’s from my neighborhood that could. We tell ourselves all sorts of things that we need to fix.
Write down your ANT (Automatic Negative Thought). This is harder than you think because first you need to recognize your feelings. So, if you are sad, mad, nervous or feel like things are out of control, stop a moment and identify what you are thinking. I’d like you to write or type out what you are thinking and feeling. This in itself is very effective as you are clarifying your thoughts and emotions. A good deal of the time you are projecting outcomes based on these thoughts. Some call this Fortune Telling. If I do this, then this will happen to me in the near future. If I write a funny tittle to my post and no one finds it funny, they will not call me for an appointment. If I play the golf course aggressively I will bogey the par 5 and loose the tournament. Or then there is Mind Reading. If I tell a funny story someone in the audience will think I’m stupid for trying to be funny and again not hire me. In this case I am projecting what someone might be thinking.
A golf example of this is where one of my golfers three putted on a green from 12 feet because two college coaches were watching. She thought, if I miss this putt they will think I am terrible and not be interested in me. That was just last week. Yesterday she shot a 70 in her first round, 2 under par. This was her first sub-par round ever. Even with coaches watching. Get rid of ANTs and positive things may happen.
One of the things that happens to us when we are either fortune-telling or mind reading is that we are not in the NOW. We are in the future and we cannot play effectively out of the present. The other thing is that our game or what we want to do is affected by those negative thoughts and emotions to the point where some people just give up.
The next step is to dispute those thoughts. Think of yourself as a teenager (many of you might still be). If you are like me on rare occasions (OK not so rare) I talked back to them when they said something I didn’t like. My boys of course never talk back to me. (Another attempt at humor) Use that same tone of voice, if you will and dispute what the ANT is telling you. Break it down and show yourself the lie, the un-truths. You have a 12 foot putt for birdie. The coaches just saw me hit a great shot. I can roll this putt in. When we conquer the ANTs, we allow ourselves to not only be present, but we can perform at much higher levels in sport and everything else with positive focus. This plays a major role in our confidence levels, focus and how we deal with stress.
I guess I will keep the tittle as is. Because I know I have produced magic from time to time and milk has mysteriously shot out of all of my sons’ noses one time or another. So perhaps while I may not be Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy or even Lenny Bruce I can produce a smile once in a while. If that is the case, then my original statement to myself cannot be true and if it is not all true and can’t be real.
Here are the steps:
1- Take a deep breath
2- Write down your thoughts
3- Dispute them like you are a teenager
4- Get on with your game because you are free to be you
I guess I can keep the tittle, go for a small smile or laugh. I might even get that ANT off my own back and go out and play a good round of golf. Hold on. Let’s not get delusional here. If you would like to join me on the golf course or in my office please drop in at The Mental Game.
Illustrations coming to my book. A group in the UK has asked to publish an electronic version of my book “The Athlete within You”. It is a great advantage for me. It will be in a different version than the already available Kindle. The coolest part are the illustrations. They are going to illustrate it for me. The draft is pretty cool. I copied a few of me, yes I am now a caricature or character in my own book.
They drew them up from my picture in the book. It is an interesting thing from a psychological perspective to see oneself first on a book cover and then in illustrations. I am very particular about the photos used of me in print. I flat-out have a thing about them. Yes perhaps on this issue I could use some help. haha. A young friend corrected me on the ha thing as I was hyphenating each Ha. Live and learn.
Anyway on to the illustrations. I don’t mind the illustrations. It’s a funny thing. Is it because it is art? Is it because it uses imagination to depict something, where a photograph (un-airbrushed) represents reality with all of our flaws? I don’t look 30 anymore. My friends just fell over laughing at my semi implying I should. So what is it. If you look at my picture it is pretty accurate It represents me differently perhaps. The thing is because it is art I don’t mind. If Picasso drew me I’d likely have three mouths and ten hands. That would be OK because it is or was Picasso. It would also be worth millions, but that is neither hear nor there. It is just how we look at ourselves. This is not much different then how we look at ourselves as people. How we judge ourselves as athletes or business men and women. We see ourselves very often though different lenses. Sometimes it depend on the hat we wear. When I am speaking to a business group or corporation I often spend a good deal of time preparing the way I look. Is my shirt pressed. My running shoes clean (The speakers group I’m in would love it if I would always wear dress shoes, but then who would know I was involved in sports) and my tie properly arranged.
If I am speaking to a community group with lots of young people I might be in jeans and a tee-shirt, with sports coat.
When I am talking with a sports club I am very often in my Adidas warm-ups.
Part of our emotional intelligence is being aware of our strengths and weaknesses. I can handle my overt concern with photography. I have chosen to acknowledge this weakness. I live with it because I have to. My mental toughness persuades me to move forward regardless. And for athletes and others this understanding is critical. Be aware of a weakness. You can spend time on it if you need to perform optimally or you can build on a strength that allows you to overcome this flaw.
I feel differently about each set of attire. I wore suites and ties for 20 plus years so it is not a discomfort dressing up. It has to do with impressions and our own self perception. I am always excited to speak to groups. The intensity of some of those talks ratchets up and causes me to concern myself in greater detail with my appearance. I am comfortable in my own skin, but on camera the perception of reality is different. I just may have to have the illustrator follow me around for speaking engagements.
I’ll let everyone know as soon as the book is out on their site. It will be at the D-Book Store.
I was looking through some old pictures and articles from over twenty-five years ago. I don’t have a lot of the old things due in part to a burst pipe in the basement, but I have a few things. I pulled out this old and not very well written article I did for some magazine. It was called “The Final Frontier Mental Training”. I had written it because I thought sport psychology and mental training were finally becoming “NORMAL” for all athletes. I had been working with a number of athletes preparing them for everything from World Championships and High School. I was seeing 10-15 athletes a week. Life was starting to be good not only for the athletes as their success was almost always improved but for me as well. This was pre-internet days. Social media was word of mouth. Athletes and their coaches were starting to reach out. I assumed mental training was now finally in the mainstream. I used the Final Frontier because of Star Trek. I in fact went looking for the old article because of the new Star Trek movie release and it hit a nerve with me. The Final Frontier. My meaning then was two-fold. We were exploring how to get the most out of an athlete. New techniques and ways of teaching mental skills The second was we were being accepted in mainstream coaching. Sport Psychology Consultants were being hired in pro sports.
25 plus years ago I did believe I was on the cutting edge of sport psychology. I was one of those applied people. Working in the field with athletes rather than a researcher. My interests were in helping athletes run faster, jump higher etc. We were helping athletes at all levels. We were mainstream. Move ahead 25 years.
I’m still explaining what I do to athletes, parents, coaches and people I meet on the street. I was on the phone yesterday with an internet consultant from GoDaddy. He was helping me with a technical issue with my website. When he wondered what it was I did, I thought here’s a geek, a non sports guy. So I explained. Turned out he was a geek that played college DI basketball at a pretty big University. He had no idea about mental training. Never really used visualization or imagery. Had issues with being able to focus and relax. At 6’8″ he might have been able to continue to play. He decided he just wasn’t good enough so he gave up something he loved as a sophomore in college. He has not played ball in seven years. Not even for fun. Such a waste. maybe he will get a pair of shoes and wonder over to the gym now. I hope so.
Performance is mental
I’m fond of misquoting Yogi Berra the Hall of Fame Baseball player and coach. 80 percent of all performance is mental and the other 50 percent is physical. Then why are we still at the edge of the Final Frontier. Why are we not mainstream. I train a football player preparing for his Pro Day. His time to be seen by NFL scouts so he might be drafted. (He understood the importance of mental training and sought me out) He is working with a strength and conditioning coach. He is working with his position coach. He is getting nutritional advice. An he is working on his mental game. That alone makes him unusual. You see while everyone says it is the biggest part of performance, few actually practice what they admit to.
When I am speaking I often ask for a show of hands and ask “What was the reason for your poorest performances. Virtually everyone says the other team or opposition was better physically, technically and strategically says everyone, like NEVER!. It is always some form of I wasn’t mentally there. I couldn’t concentrate I was stressed out. It it so rare that I hear they were just a better team. Do you think that the San Francisco 49ers are saying that the Baltimore Ravens are a better team? (Now John Harbaugh is likely still blaming the refs) but the players will point to a mental let own somewhere. It is as I said the difference maker.
Still on the Edge
Yet here we are still on the edge of the Final Frontier. Pro teams, college teams all have full time strength and conditioning coaches. Some will have a part time Sport Psychology Consultant. An outsider not integrated with the team. Helpful, but not there yet. Individual athletes are the same. I had a conversation today with someone who wants mental training for his team and his own kids. I know he has the money, but a new pair of cleats or a technical camp is a higher priority.
If mental training is your lowest priority then take it off your list. If you are going to fail then it is not because of anxiety, stress, focus, negative thoughts, motivation, fear, discipline, mental toughness, anger, emotions, self-confidence or even team cohesion. You just are not good enough. You are physically inferior to everyone you have ever lost a contest to. The player that beat you last week that you have never lost to before, just got better than you. You might as well either hit the gym or give up because there is little you can do. What’s that? Practicing harder seems to hurt your performance. You can’t seem to find the discipline to stay on track with your training. Don’t worry it is genetic. Nothing you can do about it.
The water in the pool is just fine
OK sarcasm rant is over. Yes I do think Mental Training is the Final Frontier. I know that mental training will help you perform at a higher level. It’s just a mater of are you going to do the work. You are out there working your butt off, lets exercise the mind as well. It will make a difference. Jump on in the waters fine.
I’ve not ever felt a need to do this before, to have a year in review. It is a new experience for me. I want to look back at 2012 with clarity and be able to move forward in new ways. So taking my own advice, I am going back over the successes and of course challenges of the past year. You can cut to the chase by going to the last paragraph if you like.
Starting with the Athletes and their sports
Sounders FC U23 Player DeAndre Yedlin with Mike Margolies
I worked with an amazing group of athletes this year including those in the following sports: Golf, football, gymnastics, hockey, equestrians, soccer, tennis, swimming, softball, baseball, track, diving, roller derby, basketball, triathlon, cycling, fencing, water skiing, fitness, power lifting and lacrosse.
Competitor’s ages ranged from 12 to 70+. Competitive levels were club, high school, college and professional. Seven high school athletes earned scholarships or were accepted to their first choice college as an athlete (Ivy League = no athletic scholarships). One college walk-on earned her full scholarship. Most the athletes, but not all, were starters on their respective teams. In the end all were starting most of their games. I worked with a few teams as well at the club and minor league levels. All in all it was a very good year for the clients I worked with. If I were to put it in baseball terms, I would say that we batted around .900 Read the rest of the post by choosing more…. (more…)