Brent Frei, the co-founder of Smartsheet.com, a project and software management company, looks for people who are “mentally athletic and agile.” He prefers attitude and aptitude over experience. I like his perspective, a lot!
As a Sports Psychologist and Life Coach I constantly help people improve their mental game and develop a great attitude toward life and everything in it. This is not easy. Sometimes, as we all know, life has a way of knocking us down. That’s why good decision making and perseverance are so important. The more we learn from our mistakes, get tougher mentality, and learn to take consistent action toward our dreams and goals the greater the chance we will eventually succeed!
This morning I was working out at the Equinox in West LA and this guy next to me asked me why I was taking a picture of my television screen on the workout bicycle. I turned to him with a smile and said this interview will Bill Gross is fascinating! He laughed.
Bill Gross had a celebrated career at PIMCO only to be forced out. At seventy, instead of walking off into the sunset as a billionaire, he chose to start again at Janus Capital, a smaller asset management company. His reason: the desire to fulfil his competitive nature! He compared the new job to a game of HORSE, a basketball game played against a fellow competitor. He wants to beat the market and beat his fellow competitors no matter what his age and since it’s not basketball or golf, he relishes the second chance!
I watched Mr. Gross in fascination because it was clear he is businessin touch with his nature enough to know who he is and what’s best for him. The idea of retirement never made sense to me either. Retire from what? I love to make a difference in people’s lives and the world. This can be done for a lifetime. Yes, things will change as they always do but there is no substitute for finding and doing what you love. The more you do so the less you need to retire from anything!
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!
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!
I’ve been working hard for months and months with very little down time. This weekend my twin brother and I went on a three day golf and fishing holiday. Getting some sun, time away, twin time, and especially time on the water was just what the doctor ordered! Occasionally, I take clients for walks on the beach or to fish and even to hit golf balls. Sometimes, I take clients to my parents’ island where I walk them out over bridges and do a session looking at the water below or the pond in the back. There is something truly amazing about the water and the elements of nature I tell them, especially when it comes to letting go. Many of us are too busy; busy doing, doing, doing and spend very little time just being. Fishing and any activity involving water is a fantastic way to help the mind release and just be!
I mediate a lot, far more than most of the people I know and yet there is nothing like a few days of exposure to the elements to facilitate peace and a feeling of rejuvenation. I recommend time in nature every week to most everyone I guide. If you can find a few days in a row every so often, all the better!!
Last month I attended a sectional qualifier for the United States Open golf championship at Old Oaks Country Club in a Purchase, New York. Four golfers qualified out of a field of 77. I followed Lee Janzen of two time U.S Open winner fame and Cameron Wilson of Stamford University and the winner of the 2014,NCAA individual golf championship. The experience was especially fascinating because Cameron is 21 and Lee Janzen is 49. Both played well but not well enough though Cameron got in as an alternate beating Lee by a few shots finishing fifth. One at the twilight of his career, the other at the beginning, I was struck by the contrast and yet similarity of all athletes. No matter what age, true competitors want to win. Next month I am giving a presentation on the mental game to hockey players in Los Angeles. No matter who you are, athlete or entrepreneur, the same principles apply; you must deserve it, desire it, and know how to create it. This means present moment time, mental toughness, and physical ability. I teach the mental game because this is my thing. I love working with athletes and entrepreneurs because their commitment to excellence, in general, is much greater than the population at large. This means that the desire piece of the equation is gigantic, a real turn-on. The deserve piece means overcoming whatever fears and insecurities are in the way. Even the best of us have them and sometimes the best have more of them – Tiger Woods, Elliot Spitzer and Lawrence Taylor come to mind. Working through fear, insecurity, and self-sabotage can be a major challenge and yet it’s the biggest no-brainer ever. So whoever you are try to be honest with yourself, acknowledge your limitations, and find someone to guide you on the mental game in life, business and sports!
Last week I experienced several days of wonderful flow, a state where life seems effortless and even magical. For instance, my girlfriend had set me up with her accountant, a man hailing from Middletown, CT, perhaps an hour’s drive from Westport. We arranged to meet for lunch on Tuesday at a half-way point in Milford. I called a buddy who set me up with three restaurants there. I chose the first one and made the arrangement for 1pm. That morning I was at a coffee shop in town working on my novel and suddenly decided to call a friend to see if she could join me. She told me that she had a busy day but could meet me at the restaurant after lunch and we could go up together. Following my CPA meeting I ordered food my friend Alison to go just as she walked in and the manager with whom I was chatting gave her a hug! As a nutritionist, she had made a huge difference in this man’s life and didn’t even know he worked there! The manager told her to leave her car in the restaurant parking lot and off we went. The baseball game was in Manchester, CT a small town northwest of Hartford that I had never even heard of. As a Sports Psychologist, my client’s baseball game was great to watch as it gave me plenty of info to help my client going forward.
On the drive back I asked Alison about her life prior to nutrition and I was surprised to find out that she had spent a year in Colorado at age 27 teaching ski school. I shared about a client that I had coached for years on the phone continuously encouraging him to continue learning and growing even if college and traditional education wasn’t for him. He lived in Aspen then working as a ski patrol guy becoming an EMT over time. With my guidance and strong backing, he eventually applied for paramedic school moving back to CT to work after completing the training.
That evening, I had a phone session arranged for 6:30 pm and then fishing at 7! I dropped Alison back off at the restaurant at 6:28pm just in time to do my phone session and then followed her to Bridgport where I had arranged fishing with another friend. In the rain, the three of us fished until someone suggested dinner. We chose a fun restaurant in Blackrock, a hip section of Bridgeport. Given the rain and low tide it was a no-brainer. Twenty minutes later the three of us walked in the restaurant and there was Sean, my client from Danbury whom I coached on the phone while he lived in Aspen. He gave me a giant hug and told me that he got the firehouse job, a five year ambition even since he graduated paramedic school! He also said that he was about to text me to set up a session too. I asked him where the fire job was and he said Manchester, CT!
That evening as I drifted off to sleep I contemplated the beauty of Flow, a state of being that is directly related to the energy of allowing. Learning to eliminate interference like drama and the need for control is a great way to set yourself up for Flow. It is the best way to live!