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!
Lately, I’ve been on a TSA Pre-Check kick! For $85, a ten minute online application and a 40 minute drive to Westhaven, CT where I was briefly interviewed by a company hired by the U.S. government, I am now certified to travel without hassle domestically. As I told my twin brother recently and others, this is the biggest no brainer ever, especially for those who travel a lot!
As some of you know, I am traveling back and forth to Los Angeles every month where I am building a coaching and consulting business and a way out of winter on the east coast. The TSA Pre-Check has made the customary stress of the checkpoint screening process much easier. There is no more taking my laptop out of its case, my belt and shoes stay on, and most importantly I avoid that machine where the hands must go up. If you travel at all domestically please take my coaching on this one and get it done!
Adam Bryant interviews Hannah Paramore, president of the Digital Agency. Several things she said resonate with me: one is how important it is to take personal responsibility. I am working with a client now who has a pattern of running the negative emotions of jealosy and envy. I’m trying to teach him to shift his thought process and change a devastating cycle of emotional states that leave him weak and ineffectual. Taking personal responsibility for our emotions is at the core of successfully navigating relationships in business and intimacy. If you blame others for anything you are effectively giving your power away and acting like a victim. Powerful people make tough decisions and do something about situations that are not working for them. This may not be easy but it is the only way to take control over your life and business.
Ms. Paramore ends her interview by stating the value of trusting one’s gut. I am a huge believer in developing and trusting your intuition. It is my fifth principle of living successfully! To develop your gut instinct you must practice slowing down and listening to yourself by bringing yourself constantly back to the hear and now, the essence of mindfulness and good decision making.
Gina Centrello has a great attitude! It’s obvious from her interview with Adam Bryant, the New York Times Corner Office guy. Ms. Centrello stresses over and over the value of hard work, curiosity, and teamwork. She believes that the success of the organization hinges on the harmonious interaction of its key members and strives to create an atmosphere that fosters teamwork!
As a sports psychologist and life and business coach I foster teamwork for a living. I do this by teaching others the value of and know how of graceful communication and the importance of communication in general. Yesterday, I worked with a high school pitcher on communication issues with both his coach and girlfriend. The better we communicate the less drama and distraction we have and the more synergy we create and experience! My argument to this 18 year-old is to practice as often as possible for the more we address problems and potential conflicts in a straight-up and real manner the more we find our lives working and the easier it becomes! The time is now. Trust your intuition and learn to communicate straight-up. It is simply the best way to live!
I’ve been coaching more and more athletes on the mental game over the past several years! A reoccurring theme is what to do with criticism. It’s part of a larger discussion on mindfulness. When we are able to slow down our thought process and become more aware of our mental and emotional states we then have the capacity to unhook from our reactions and change our thoughts. This applies to parents as much as business people or athletes. Suppose you are pitching a solid game and have one rough inning and your coach comes to the mound all pissed off. He says a few words, goes back to the bench and kicks the water cooler. Do you let that rattle you? Get under your skin? Or do you pay attention to your breathe, settle down and redirect your thoughts to throwing a strike on the outside corner? It’s similar in extreme examples like road rage? Do you let someone’s idiocy get you going or do you pay attention to your breathe and redirect your thoughts to the possibility that this other person is dealing with an emergency?
Training the mind is as important as training the body. The more you practice the better you get. So the next time you find yourself overreacting to one of your children breathe, pay attention to your thoughts, and redirect them to something positive or something you appreciate about them. This works!!
I recently began working with a high school baseball pitcher with a big dream: he wants to work in the front office of a Major League Baseball team one day! I asked him if wanted to be a GM and he replied that was like asking him if he wanted to be the president of the United States one day! I smiled.
I asked him why he sought out a sports psychologist and he said that he was having trouble maintaining his focus and concentration on the mound for more than four innings. I looked at him and said that his dream was a nine inning dream and that I could teach him how to build mental toughness and stamina that would allow him to pitch even ten innings, a metaphor for unlimited possibility! He said he was on board. We began with a discussion about eliminating the drama and distraction in his life outside of baseball. By teaching him to communicate at a higher level too he would learn patience and discipline, a necessary step along the way. My argument is that everything we do off the field affects our performance on the field. The more we practice patience, discipline, present moment time and self-expression the more muscle we build everywhere! I even asked him to listen to his girlfriend more. He said that would be tough and I replied: “How bad do you want to successfully pitch nine innings?” He smiled!
What are you willing to learn, change or do differently to accomplish your dreams?
I just did a session this morning with a man in his early forties who has worked on Wall Street for nearly two decades. He is gradually becoming “lit” by Being! I have been teaching him present moment time and the art of Being for nearly two years. As a result, he is becoming happier and happier and learning how to let go and allow, a way of living that creates the backdrop for Flow!
As I often share with others, I come in and out of Flow in my own life. The key distinction is that I drop in; for when I do life is simply amazing! Recently, I holed out from the fairway to win a golf match. I was on a plane flight back from LA last month and met a woman with the exact same birthday as me – I mean exact: same day, month and year!! The buzz we caught when I intuitively asked her when she was born and then showed her my drivers license was extraordinary! Life is amazing when we get very present and allow ourselves to open to the Flow!!
Ron Kaplan, the C.E.O. of Trex, a manufacturer of outside decks, learned from his father that the number one job of a leader is to “make the staff feel secure” which comes from your presence, integrity, and reliability. Being focused, fun, and real the mantra of my website communicates a certain presence, style, and way of being! I love congruency and authenticity as a way of guiding others and living successfully!
Mr. Kaplan prefers to give advice by asking questions, a style I prefer as well. When I used to teach at a community college, I preferred to ask questions instead of lecture feeling that students learn more by having to think and be proactive about learning than rote memory.
As a marksmen, Mr. Kaplan learned the power of focus and concentration, a necessity in a sport as precise as shooting! Focus responds to presence and a quiet mind. To quiet the mind, it’s fundamentally important to meditate and practice mindfulness, something I work on daily and practice over and over. In my last blogpost on sports psychology I talked about holing out from the fairway to end a golf match in style. I have no doubt that shot went in from nearly 140 yards out largely because I continually practice meditation and mindfulness!
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!