I’m a big fan of people who communicate straight-up and with integrity. The challenge for many of us is consistency and practice. The more we practice being straight forward and authentic the better we get. I often tell people that I am a trying to help and teach people to communicate better and with more authenticity. And the good news is that the more we practice the more graceful we become!
Anne Williams-Isom, the head of Harlem Children’s Zone, a nonprofit anti poverty organization, seems to have a similar style. She learned from a mentor to have clear goals and be really straightforward with people. I couldn’t agree more!
Roger Ferguson, C.E.O of TIAA-CREF, the retirement services provider, is a huge believer in personal responsibility. So am I! The first thing I do with a new client or business is to make sure they own everything in their lives regardless of how difficult that might be. Our parents and early environment may shape who we were but what we become rests upon taking ownership of who we are, our strengths, weaknesses and all the rest. Determining to change what we don’t like and develop ourselves by constantly learning and growing is how will become what we want.
Mr. Ferguson went to Harvard and scrubbed toilets for other students as part of his student aid package. He wasn’t the least bit resentful but did the job better than anyone else. Fortunately for him his father helped instill such values as hard work and doing things well. There is little substitute for a great attitude. With passion, creativity and common sense, so much more is possible!
These days travel can be stressful given the TSA stuff, Ebola, and congestion among other issues. Nevertheless, I find travel to be deeply rewarding because it offers me so many different perspectives on life and business. I tend to be very open and friendly when I travel thereby meeting lots of interesting people from all kinds of backgrounds. It’s a great way to learn and expand your awareness. The more exposed one is to diverse perspectives the greater the chance of relating to others as if we are all in this together as opposed to us verses them or other limited ways of thinking and being. People are fascinating in all their shapes and sizes and personalities. And at the end of the day, most people want to feel and be loved even if they have a funny way of showing it at times!
I’m a huge pet and nature lover! Clients often come to me for Stress Management issues. I often suggest they spend time in nature, with a pet if they have one, or both. It’s nearly impossible to stay in your head, stressed out and miserable if you go for a long hike. Nature is so powerful that the elements will eventually cause the mind to release or let go! When was the last time you found yourself stressed out on a fishing boat? At some point, the mind lets go when exposed to beauty and the natural world, especially in copious amounts. So take a hike, go fishing or just hang with your beast the next time you are upset and see how the magic of nature and animals help!
This morning I played 18 holes at Palos Verdes Country Club in beautiful Southern California! Lately I’ve been playing golf 1X per week but managed to shoot 72, a fantastic round especially since I’ve had little time for actual practice. The key to my success today and on many other low scoring rounds is the mental game! I spend a great deal of time off the course eliminating the dramas and distractions that are such a normal part of living for most of us. This allows for greater focus on the course and greater potential in general. I also spend a fair amount of time meditating. Meditation is a process of learning how to better focus the mind and to train it to be more still, a wonderful aid in business, life, and sports!!
Yesterday, I met with Greg Mathews, a former St. Louis Cardinale pitcher, who is now the pitching coach at both Glendale College and Compton College. He is helping young boys become better athletes and better pitchers, in particular, through a combination of strength and conditioning and technical expertise. We talked about Sports Psychology and the importance of the mental game, especially as kids are developing. Good mental and emotional habits lead to better performance, period. For instance, if we learn to harness the power of our minds to focus more and more on what we want and to let go of the myriad of drama and distractions then we will dramatically improve our game in life, business, and sports! I proved this last year with a minor league player who hit .208 and .212 his first two years in professional baseball without mental game coaching and with the assistance of Dr. Brett he hit .272 and is now well on his way to the next level!
My twin brother just sent me this pic from Bermuda where he is vacationing with his family! I sent him one from LA where I go every month as I commit to creating a business here in part to experience more creativity and diversity and in part to leave New England winters behind!
I’m writing this post from a coffee shop inside Rancho Park Golf Course, an awesome public facility walking distance from my apartment in Century City here in the heart of Los Angeles. I am reflecting on a great week of life that was special because I allowed the Flow! On previous trips I’ve over – scheduled and tried to squeeze too much in. This time I flew on a Saturday which takes the pressure off because I don’t have to go right into client mode or networking mode right off the airplane. It’s part of a greater desire to chill more, flow more and effort less! I’ve done less meetings this week than previous trips but the quality of the experiences was far better and more fun too. So if your at all driven or ambitious like me, perhaps there’s a way to do more Being and less Doing, a style of living that enhances the quality of your experiences and invites the Flow!!
The new leader of the M.B.A players union, Michele Roberts, is impressive to say the least. In an organization dominated by men, she beat out 300 hundred others to earn the honor and job of replacing a man who mismanaged funds and failed to deliver in recent years. With an economically impoverished background and an experience as one of the few African American woman to earn a private school scholarship to the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, she worked as a public defender at San Quentin after graduating law school in 1980. Later, she became a successful criminal defense attorney before joining a large prestigious corporate law firm.
Without knowing much about her personally, professionally Ms. Roberts is clearly not someone to underestimate. As she stated in her interview in the New York Times Sports Sunday section: “My past is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.” Wow!
I’m a huge fan of people who work hard, refuse to roll over, and earn success. Too many of us are willing to give up or let up when we need to persevere. One of the challenges of life is to know when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em, and when to walk away. Becoming super diligent and thorough often gives us more information upon which to make these decisions. I have no doubt this is the way Ms. Roberts has lived her work life. As the first woman to represent the M.B.A players it should be interesting for us to follow and likely great for the players. Good luck Ms. Roberts!
Adam Bryant interviews Kate Cole, the president of Cinnabon, in this week’s Corner Office! Her perspective is worth knowing. For instance, when business is going well she tends to ask more questions to be certain of the why and to be prepared for the downside. She likes to encourage feedback and communication and even disagreement though in respectful ways. Ms. Cole also encourages coach-ability, curiosity, and commitment to others. I like her perspective because she seems to genuinely care about others, is intelligent and very interpersonally oriented values I teach and value myself.
There are many ways I can express what I do for living as a sports psychologist and business and life coach. One playful way is to say that I teach self and other. We live in a society that does a fair amount of self. In other words, lots of people are self-absorbed. I liked Ms. Cole’s perspective because she clearly values other. If you want to be truly happy you must know how to love and value people! The ability to feel, create, and express love is essential for happiness and makes for greater success as an athlete, businessman, or parent. To cultivate love, show a genuine interest in other and learn to be generous with your body, mind and spirit!
The New York Times Sunday Review feature article on happiness by Arthur Brooks concludes that we must learn to love people not money, power, status, or sexual pleasure. This seems pretty evident to some and yet it’s super-challenging for many in a culture addicted to Facebook, Twitter, Reality TV, and video games to name a few. The challenge with happiness is that we must cultivate good habits over long periods of time. Essentially, I teach non-avoidance, a way of living that means we live and express out truth! Wow, that’s not easy. I often tell clients that if they are ready I can teach them how to be happier and more fulfilled but it requires substantial work on their part. The majority of people I’ve coached in over two decades of working with people have quit well before they graduated. In other words, they didn’t want to work that hard.
Depending on how we were raised (conditioned) and our genetics, happiness is something we must learn and cultivate over time. In addition to avoiding nothing, I teach presence, honoring thyself, integrity, and intuition as a basis for success in life and business. Presence, for example, means a commitment to live in the here and now as much as possible. This means learning how to observe and pay attention to the mind without getting caught up in self. Again, not easy and yet like the other principles, it is a foundation for well-being!