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Sports Psychology

I was in a nine hole golf match last week in Westport, Connecticut not LaQuinta, California where I took this picture last month. On the ninth hole with the individual and team matches all squared I was casually talking with my playing partner, a retired finance guy, and really enjoying the moment especially the camaraderie of playing with a really nice guy. I asked him to range find the distance to the stick after driving the ball down the middle. He told me it was 138 yards to the back left pin placement. Choosing a pitching wedge, I recall going into pure focus mode, completely empty of all thought. I took an effortless swing and hit the ball directly into the setting sun having that flush feeling of striking it solidly. A moment later, my opponent yelled from across the fairway that the ball was “In The Hole!” I held my hands up, did a little salsa waggle and high-fived my playing partner having effectively ended both matches. Afterwards, we decided to play up 16 to play the last three holes before dark. On 17 my partner said he didn’t make his usual two birdies. I asked him if that was his intention and he said that he tries to make two birdies every time he plays. I shared that I intend to have at least one experience of Magic every time I play! He responded by saying I had clearly pulled it off holing out from the fairway!

Magic is possible for all of us in business, life, and sports if we learn how to get crazy present and enjoy the experience as opposed to the outcome. The key is present moment time which enables us to get into the zone where Magic happens! To become more and more present practice following your breathe and bringing yourself back to the here and now as often as you can. The more you do this the happier and more focused you become, a great way to do intimacy, business, and sports!

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Lessons on Good Management

Adam Bryant interviews S.D. Shibulal, the C.E.O of Infosys, the technology consulting firm in this week’s Corner Office. Mr. Shibulal learned early in his career to tell the truth and acknowledge when he doesn’t know something after being caught in a lie in front of a group of underlings. I too am a huge believer in authenticity and veracity as a way of creating trust and building solid long-term relationships. Telling lies, half-truths or hedging and fudging is a short cut leading to mediocrity at best and mistrust more commonly. Whenever possible tell the truth and acknowledge your mistakes. If Bill Clinton had done so our country would have been far better off. There are countless other examples of politicians and business leaders lying or fudging the truth and often we see right through it losing respect for them in the process.

Mr. Shibulal also addresses the issue of being open to honest feedback and the importance of doing one thing at a time. From a 360 review, he learned how disrespectful it was to take phone calls during meetings. Now, he leaves his cell phone with his secretary before a business meeting. This is also a good practice with children and romantic partners. Too often in life we are distracted by our phones and not fully present or present at all for that matter. He states, “I’m better off focusing for 30 minutes on what I’m doing, rather than trying to do multiple things.” Well said!

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The key to success in life and business

Michelle Peluso, the C.E.O. of Gilt Groupe, the online shopping site hasn’t had an office in over a year! Her desire to connect and understand the various teams under her leadership has lead her to sit in the open with everyone. She has no interest in an ivory tower feeling disconnected from her people. Learning this approach and the power of positively from her father, an entrepreneur himself, and curiosity from her mother, a teacher, she brings passion and purpose to life and business.

In terms of hiring, Ms. Peluso loves loyalty. She says, “I understand that maybe it’s more generational, and maybe I’m crossing over to the old generation, and soon I’m going to be talking about how I walked to school barefoot, uphill both ways. But I like grit and persistence and loyalty.”
I do too!!

Her advice to women: grace! She states, “if your going to live a bold life, and if your going to take risks and try to step out of your comfort zone, you are going to occasionally fail, make some mistakes, and occasionally disappoint yourself… Grace is meeting those moments on your journey, then picking yourself back up, being humble enough to learn and not be to hard in yourself.”
Well said and a great perspective for both men and women as well as parents!!

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Great leadership skills

Brad Smith is the chief executive of Intuit, the software company. He learned leadership skills by becoming a black belt by age 18 and teaching 150 students soon after. There, he learned that “success is creating the environment where people can be their best selves and continue to grow and develop.” I love it! In my business I do likewise for the people I coach from athletes to entrepreneurs to adolescents trying to figure out life!

Mr. Smith, interviewed by Adam Bryant of the Corner Office, says that he learned from his father to: “never mistake kindness for weakness.” Again, I love it. Too few of us are truly kind. It takes courage to be kind. Anyone can be critical and judgmental. “Always be kind and generous but always stand your ground,” he states a core lesson from his father. Well said!

Mr. Smith also believes in the value of making mistakes, acknowledging your wrongdoing, learning and improving. When interviewing prospective hires he asks them to tell him about their biggest mistake and what the lesson they took away. In helping college students make career decisions he guides them to go for what excites them, to pursue their passion or what makes their heart beat faster, another lesson from his father!

I like Mr. Smith’s style and perspective; it’s positive, no-nonsense and progressive. With this kind of leadership, more corporate environments would be both humane and fulfilling!

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In the world of insurance and financial planning the basic game-plan to build a successful business is to meet at least ten new prospective clients each week by scheduling at least fifteen appointments every week. The idea is that two of these meetings will turn into sales and another three may continue to be prospects. Notice that on average only two out of ten actual appointments become sales. In order to schedule all those meetings, it may take hundreds of phone calls and emails as well. In other words, there is a lot of potential and actual rejection involved.

Over the years I’ve coached quite a few people in professions where networking and prospecting is fundamental to success. Salespeople, marketers, network marketers, small business and medical practice owners all come to mind.  One theme that consistently emerges is fear of success, which often manifests as avoidance. Not surprisingly, this theme tends to reoccur as people reach different levels of success.

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