RIP Robin Williams
It’s been a hard few days for me. A lot goes on in life. Client needs, family needs and of course business needs, so the news that Robin Williams had taken his own life hit me hard. I am not one to follow celebrity. I rarely watch the news. I am too involved in the present. Too involved with Shifting the Paradigm of Sport Psychology & Mental Training to something that everyone will see as important and use to watch what goes on outside my little window of life. I work with people who are normal to exceptional. I understand genius on the field and off, it has been my life work. How to bring people to the next level. So I look for it in others, not just in sports, not just in business, but where it exists. So I have watched the genius who was Robin Williams intently. RIP Robin Williams.
I’m old enough to have watched Mork from Ork. To have seen him play-off with Jonathan Winters. To have seen him in roles like Popeye and wondered how things would go from there. Good Morning Vietnam was eye opening. Yes there was comedy, the riffs as he was playing the DJ role, but there was much more there, wasn’t there? He could act. He was no longer Mork. Not the stand-up comic, but an actor. Eye opening. RIP Robin Williams.
Then came roles like Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting and the depth of his abilities grew more. He moved me in ways I couldn’t understand at the time. From comic to Soldier DJ to Teacher and to Psychologist (naturally this one hits home) he was remarkable. His family movies came out when I was raising my sons. Their first thoughts of him were from Aladdin and Jumanji. He touched all of the buttons. He played some disturbing roles as well like pervert killers. He played every man and he played villains and comics. There are great actors and he was one. RIP Robin Williams.
There was the other side of him as well. Well documented by the media. He talked about it himself. Battles with drugs, with alcohol, depression. When I have looked at genius and tried to understand it, I am always in awe. It can be the genius of a Tiger Woods, Steve Jobs, Ernest Hemingway or Albert Einstein, it doesn’t matter what their field happens to be. The apparent effortlessness of mind and body. It is what I try to teach after all to those I work with. Not with all geniuses of course, but a disturbing number have suffered from mental illness ( Don’t start, I am not implying anything with woods or the others) as did Williams. RIP Robin Williams.
Here is one thing I know and mental illness is not something I work with, but have a bit of insight with. It has to be worse when you are a genius. When you are aware of every thought, every feeling. When you measure yourself not against other normal people but against the greats. Can you see how hard it is when you are depressed and you know you are in control, that you are the smartest person in the room and you can’t pull yourself out. The highs and lows of Robin Williams life are of what dreams may come. It is hard to go quietly into the night. It is difficult to watch yourself be chased by demons and not be able to remove yourself from the path. I wish to all that is holy that Robin Williams had found another way. RIP Robin Williams.
He was for me not just another actor or comedian. He was genius. He was what I want others to find within themselves. What I want to find within myself. To know you are at another level. This is where greatness comes from. It is a terrible thing to be so smart, to be so aware that you see all and to see the importance of life slipping away from you. I wish to hell he’d have found another way for all of us. To have found a funny way to say good bye instead of what I know he believed as the only way out of the pain. Robin Williams died this week. I will not criticize his way out. I will honor him by remembering his roles and what he gave me in laughter and experience. RIP Robin Williams.
Those who condemn his actions as a selfish act need to walk in his shoes. It would be different I think for me if he was the 20 something Mork who had taken his own life. Then it was the waste of what might have been. He was a few years older than me. He had fought these feelings most of his life. The things that made it better (Drugs and Alcohol) really made life worse. Were there other ways out. Of course there were. There are always options. But sometimes people get tired of the good fight. I am sorry he is gone. I will miss what might still have been. Go not silently into the good night, my friend. RIP Robin Williams. Nanu Nanu!
Build your company using the athlete within you
I get this question a lot during presentations to companies or associations, so I thought I would dedicate some time to it. I get asked or told, depending on the person asking the question. Why sport psychology and what does it have to do with business? Now generally I answer with a series of metaphors like making a big sale is hitting one out of the park or you know that question is a real curve ball. Mostly people get that our business language and sports language often dovetail. That’s when we can focus on how to build your company using the athlete within you
Sometimes I talk to them about working with their customers especially after a big NFL or college game. What used to be talk around the water cooler now takes place there, on Facebook and any place people communicate with each other.
After I have done this we proceed to talk about the Mental Game and how it will help them. Right now however I want to go a different route, a more direct route if you will. If you don’t understand why sport psychology works for you in your business world, please ask this of yourself. Why wouldn’t you want to be an athlete? Train like an athlete and succeed like an elite athlete? You see, elite athletes are your best example of who you want to be like.
Let’s try this for logic. If you looked at your job as if it were a sport, what would change? Certainly it would be more fun. You would want to win the Super Bowl or World Series every year. You would prepare for everything with passion (The Fury). You would prepare for each meeting and there would be no question that you would strive to be the best.
Work ethic would be great. You would train for success. Mental preparation and even physical preparation would be critical to your success. Right now I am doing some work with a training company, reviewing their business mental toughness program. I review the online test answers their students are giving. I am somewhat shocked how many of their employees see this course work as meaningless because all they want to do is sell like they have been doing for years. They don’t want to prepare, they don’t want to learn anything new. An athlete would be shocked by their attitude.
Great athletes are always in the game. They are focused and don’t get distracted. The best of them handle stress and even use competition to bring out the best in themselves. They also practice a lot. They practice everything they do that occurs in a game or might transpire in a game. How about you? Do you prepare for your presentation like a champion? How about sales calls or negotiations? Do you rehearse until it is perfect or just good enough and then wing it? Athletes are the best prepared individuals I know.
I’ll give you just one more important factor in why I focus on the mental game in business. Athletes make great team mates. Great teams are made up with great athletes. So in building your team, in creating an atmosphere for success within your company and maybe even more importantly leading the team like a great coach, wouldn’t you want everyone to at least have certain attributes of an elite athlete? Building your team with the mentality of a great coach with people who have the drive for success of elite performers will produce tremendous results for you and your business. Be the coach and provide the leadership to train your athletes, so that they have the mental game for success. Of course if you would like some help, you know where to find me.
How to prepare your mind for competition and success
When it comes to getting ready for competition, your mental preparation means more than you might realize. I often call this the “game within the game.” If you have been a competitive athlete at all in your life, you can probably recall a time when your mental state caused you to perform better or worse. What you might not realize, however, is that you can achieve peak performance more consistently through mental preparation.
As a sport psychology consultant and mental trainer, I often ask athletes to consider the best and the worst games they ever played. After they’ve done this, I ask them what they think the differences were between the two. Was the other team flat-out better, more fit, or coached by a genius? Almost always, the answer is none of those things. So to win the mental game, training makes a difference.
Instead, people often look internally. Talking about their worst performances, they point to anxiety, fear, or a lack of focus. The words differ, but the meaning is essentially the same: It was a “mental thing.” My next question is this: How much time do you spend practicing the mental game? Whether we’re talking about sports or business or personal affairs, if your answer to this question is “no time at all,” then it’s time to rethink your approach.
The game within the game is the mental contest we play as we prepare for competition, whatever form it may take. It’s about what we tell ourselves before, during and after competition. It involves managing stress, setting goals, and visualizing success. How we play this mental game determines how we perform when it counts.
These are the five tenets:
3. Carefree approach
Although each of these carries its own importance, they are also interrelated. Improving one area can lead to improvement in the other areas. Here’s a closer look at each.
Calmness: If you aren’t relaxed while playing or performing or working, you’ll more easily lose the feel for what you’re doing. Although learning to relax may seem simple, it’s actually a skill that must be practiced. Before you go to work tomorrow, try sitting on your couch for three minutes. Breathe slowly and just relax. The next time your stress level picks up on the job or during competition, take a deep breath and talk yourself down from the ledge. Refuse to get stressed out. It does no good.
Confidence: If you don’t feel confident that you can handle a competitive situation, you’re setting yourself up to fail. When you don’t believe in yourself, how is anyone else supposed to believe in you? Whatever it is you’re trying to do, tell yourself you can and believe it when you say it. Picture the success you are about to achieve.
Carefree approach: This is all about staying loose and knowing that no matter what happens, you’ll come out better for it. When the pressure mounts, refuse to let yourself get tight. It’s also important to make sure you don’t let worries from other parts of your life affect the task at hand. Stay mentally relaxed regardless of what you face. This goes hand in hand with staying calm.
Motivation: If you don’t have motivation, you don’t have much. Think about the things success will bring you. If you win the game, what will that mean? If you nail that presentation, what effect might it have on your career? Find your motivation and think about it often.
Focus: People often remind athletes of the importance of concentration. But what does that mean? Quite simply, it means focusing on the task at hand, avoiding distractions, and remaining fixated on what must be done. When players are off their game, it’s often because they’re thinking about something else. You can’t just go through the motions. By staying in the moment and avoiding mental interference, you can keep your mind where it needs to be.
STRENGTH FROM WITHIN
We all deal with stress. Life isn’t easy for competitive athletes, surgeons, lawyers, investment bankers, writers, or anyone else who’s trying to achieve great things. But it sure is fun. Remember that when you’re faced with long odds and the prospect of
failure. Enjoy the ride and know that you are doing exactly what it is you’re supposed to be doing.
Live for exhilaration and learn to deal with pressure. It makes you special and it sets you above the competition. You didn’t get where you are in life without putting in the work. And you won’t continue moving up by quitting or giving in when things get tough.
Instead, look within for strength, envision your success, and practice your mental preparation. Professional athletes typically spend 20 years perfecting their game on the way to reaching the highest level of their sport. By committing yourself to your own mental game and practicing often, you too can achieve greatness.
Traveling Mental Trainer
Travel Blog Series
It’s Wednesday the 17th of December, 2013. I am a little more than 24 hours away from flying to the Middle East to do a one day seminar for 70-100 athletes. I thought I would blog about the adventure, about the travel, food and the people I meet of course with pictures. This is exactly the way I have been envisioning my work as the Traveling Mental Trainer. Seminars and workshops around the world. Talking with Athletes, Teams, Coaches and businesses about sport psychology and how it can solve issues and help others perform at the highest levels. Now it’s true that this vision of mine is 25 years after I first planed on working around the world. I’m getting better as some will remember it took me 32 years to finish my book. Ha- so there. I am getting better on my time table. Things get done sometimes in their own time, but it helps to follow through to encourage things along.
What I find so fun is the opportunity to meet with and help people of different cultures in different environments. Sports bring people together and I am really looking forward to being part of that.
So this trip is to the Kingdom of Bahrain. I was engaged back in July by the National Sports Management Group. It was an interesting process as I needed to be approved by the government and that included my book and all of my handouts and my curriculum vita (resume). The seminar will be at the Crown plaza Hotel in Manama. this will be Saturday the 21st. On Sunday I am scheduled to do a two hour workshop with one of their National Teams.
I want these posts to be fun. I’m not going to talk about The Game within the Game. I’m going to talk about the travel, the people I meet and the food. (Yes I am a repressed foodie blogger). I am taking a good camera and will have pictures and video to share. Come join me on the adventure. I leave for London and then onto Manama in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Here’s a picture I lifted from the hotel Website to show what Manama looks like. I’ll make a comparison later.
Until tomorrow. Be Well.
Forgot, here’s the link to the seminar.
Review Athlete within You
Please review Athlete within You. I am looking for some new reviews of my book “The Athlete within You – a mental approach to sports and business”. I need these on amazon.com. The link will take you there and you can just add a short review. So if you have purchased a book and would kindly add a nice review I would appreciate it. If you have not yet read my book, I will make you an offer that is tough to beat. email me and I will give you a PDF version of the book for you to read and review (and I trust enjoy).
There are no conditions. Oh except that you need to email me for the book request. I promise not to sell or otherwise disrespect your privacy.
all you need to do is email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Just put review athlete within you as the subject header and I will gladly email you a copy. When you finish, if you liked what I had to say, then all you need do is click on the amazon link here and add your review.
Couldn’t be easier. I am grateful to all that help me out.
Some time ago I wrote a post called Five Frogs Sitting on a Log. You might want to re-read it now. I wrote about the difference between deciding to do something and actually doing something and that they are different. I trust that it made sense to you. The next step is the Two Cs: Commitment and Conviction. I want to start by telling you about an athlete.
About a year and a half ago I got a call from the mother of a gymnast. Her daughter was a junior in high school. She had been a gymnast since she was like 5. She wanted to be on a gymnastics team in college (@ an Ivy League School no less). She had been to Nationals the last several years, but now she was unable to do her release on the uneven bars. That’s a reverse double somersault She needed to do well at State to make Regional’s, and then Regional’s to go on to National’s. Failure at any stage would impact her competing in college at the level and school she wanted. There were college coaches who wanted to see her at Nationals. She was on their radar. Could I help her daughter? Oh and by the way State Championships are tomorrow!
So I went to the gym and watched her be stuck. We talked, she got unstuck. Then we worked on keeping her at a level where she could perform. End of story is the young woman is at an Ivy League College and she is on the Gymnastics Team.
She was just missing a small thing that was keeping her from success. It wasn’t magic. She was under pressure to perform. She had seen a bad injury. Her thoughts were on that and not on her commitment to doing the routine. She was not focused on the NOW, but in the past and future.
With regards to her routine she was focused on the result. She was committed to landing her dismount. This is what I noticed. She was not committed to her routine. It was slow and out of rhythm. It threw her timing off to the point that she could not let go of the bar and do her release. So we talked about being committed from the start.
Being committed from the start does two things (something soccer players should note). 1) It gets you going from the beginning of the event. How many soccer players start of slow? Are you one of them? Make a commitment to bring it from the get go and you will start faster. 2) Commitment is the resolve to be who you want to be and do what you want to do. Commitments are hard. All you need do is look around you to figure that out. So when you make a real commitment, things that were once a problem don’t seem to stand in the way any longer.
The next part is conviction. Don’t get this confused with arrogance. Believing you are right has to be measured. And level doesn’t seem to matter. If you do something well, have the conviction to believe you can do it. In her case she had been doing double back flip releases for years. She just let other images get in her way. It came down to her belief. When she had conviction, her release was easy.
In soccer and other sports I see the same thing all the time. Great players, even if they do things a bit different from everyone else have the conviction that they can be successful playing a certain way. In a team sport of course this better fit the team and coaches style, but you can make it work.
If you have the two Cs you are a lot closer to success than you realize. If you don’t, well it’s just a matter of adding the third C: Convincing yourself that the other two will get you there. Give these two Cs some thought the next time you head to practice or your game.
Is there something in your life that has you stuck?