In times of adversity—like when walking upon a saber-toothed tiger—our mind immediately goes to a place of protection. This mind of ours automatically reacts! The reaction, often occurring as an involuntary (we don’t need to tell our bodies to do it) defensive mechanism has been a blessing to the human race. When confronted with saber-toothed tigers back in the day, this defense mechanism would allow us to respond appropriately—either that of fight, flight, or freeze. These adversities were that of life-or-death and we needed to automatically respond.
Today, though, this may seem like a ridiculous example—a saber-toothed tiger!? It’s not so far off though. Our mind has not adapted. When facing adversity in today’s world—even when it is not life or death—like during competition, or when we are about to take an exam, or approaching that crush to go on a date, or interviewing for a job—the defense-mechanized mind automatically, subconsciously reacts. Our minds bring about the stress response simply because of the way we “perceive” these situations. This reaction is often rooted in fear, doubt, frustration, or other limiting reactions resulting in a fight, flight, or freeze reaction. The good news is that “perception” is within our control. We can train a completely different response to the threatening situation.
Although this type of reaction is great for surviving, it is not great for thriving. The response to perceived “threatening” (like job-interviewing) circumstances creates the same reaction in our mind as if they actually do threaten our lives. Although this defensive reaction is common it doesn't mean that it can't be changed. Actually it can. We have the ability to train our mind to react and respond in a different way. This is where the belief statement comes in.
A belief statement is a phrase or thought that you believe to be true about your capabilities. This is not a pollyanna perspective. This is an authentic belief in your abilities, skills, and self. Essentially, you create what is called an effective thought pattern. We utilize effective thought patterns during challenging times or adversity—as a reminder of our skills and capabilities. An effective thought pattern is purposefully put in place for the times when the idea of your "Self" is challenged. The most productive use of an effective thought pattern is to attach the statement to adversity. This way when something difficult happens the engrained mental habit is an unshakeable self-belief. Essentially, we condition ourselves to not just survive, but to thrive!
One example is a football punt returner ready to catch a high-lofted football. As you can imagine, he has several distractions when lined up to receive the kicked ball (e.g., the crowd, opponents determined to punish the punt returner, inclement weather, etc.). All of these distractions are competing for his attention. And all of these distractions create an input in his mind—internal chatter and potential doubt—that limit his ability to catch the ball and make some moves en route to the end zone. With practice, this mental chatter and doubt is replaced with his belief statement—“No one can touch me, I am incredibly skilled and can dominate this punt return." The more he authentically believes this to be true, the more successful he will be at staying focused and in the moment during the punt as well as reacting and responding to the play on the field.
Take a moment to develop an authentic thought pattern for a challenging circumstance in your own life. Write it down. And share it with us—post a comment on facebook or comment on tilt’s blog page…
What does it mean to have discipline? What kind of personal disposition is necessary to keep at it even when it's grueling, brutal, difficult, and the like? A learning disposition. The term discipline originates from disciple - someone who is in a position to learn. To have discipline means that even in the toughest situations--when the competition is at its fiercest or the training regimen seems nearly impossible--we keep at it. We don't keep at it though just to complete it - to be finished with it and put it behind us. We keep at it because regardless of the result, there is something to learn from the experience.
So what exactly is a learning disposition and how do you cultivate it? A learning disposition is a personal characteristic that describes one's internal inclination to purposefully engage in experiences that expand their knowledge base and deepen their understanding of themselves and the world with which they engage. In other words, people with learning dispositions intentionally decide to try new things. Furthermore, these individuals they keep at it when the going gets tough because of the wealth of knowledge that resides in the experience. At the core, they come to know themselves in a deeper way. Knowing thyself in this way creates better and more resilient athletes as well as better and more resilient leaders.
In less than a month my PhD degree will be conferred. I'll be Dr. Jonny! While I was putting the final touches on my dissertation, I ordered a book. The wrong book arrived ("Critical Thinking: An Introduction"). While flipping through to see what was inside, I came across a section titled, 'An analogy from basketball.' In this section, the author describes 11-year olds learning how to play bball - essentially by stacking their learning piece by piece rather than everything (shooting, dribbling, passing, defending) in one fell swoop (or shall I say swoosh)...
Even in seemingly irrelevant texts (like critical thinking text books), sports are relevant. Sport is very much a metaphor for life. We'd love to hear from you. What have you learned from sport that applies to your life now?
Recently, tilt facilitated a mental and physical training combine with a university football team. The program was a HUGE success. We are grateful to have worked with a group of guys that, collectively, worked - truly willing to grind it out.
Following the mental toughness portion of the program, one of the athletes approached me and simply asked...what if you don’t believe? (I should preface this story by saying that the player is DOMINANT. He is a leader, has unbelievable football talent and has potential to play at the NFL level.) I was thankful that this player had the guts to ask such a honest question. He was not scared to hide behind the fact that self-doubt often creeps in uncontrollably. This honesty and self-awareness is a must-have for athletes trying to get improve. More than anything I think this player wanted to be prepared for the times that he meets players on the field that share his talent and toughness.
When self-doubt emerges, the first thing to do is to become aware that we are pulling ourselves down and limiting our potential. There is no place for self- doubt in optimal performance. From that awareness, we can shift those negative, limiting, self-doubting thoughts to ones that are empowering and motivating.
If you know anybody that is part of the tilt family then you will know that much of our work and the foundation of success in sport and life is based on a foundation of unshakable self-BELIEF. If you BELIEVE in your ability to accomplish your goal, consider the battle all but won. As far as tilt is concerned, when it comes to mastering thoughts and emotions on the field there might not be anything more important than how great you believe yourself to be.
For too many of our institutions, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is ‘time off’. Classes are cancelled, offices are closed, and reflective stances are ceased—at least temporarily. It has become a vacation day—a play day.
We want to challenge this notion. This day should be “time on”. Not in the traditional sense, though. This is not a day where we should engage in our regular routines. For MLK Jr. was far from a regular man. Rather, we should purposefully challenge ourselves. There is no better way to develop the content of our character than to engage in actions that challenge our sense of self and our abilities.
As Martin Luther King Jr. professed, “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” This is a day to build character by engaging in activities, by experimenting with who we are when it matters most—during those times of challenge and controversy.
What can you do today to build character? Here are a few options:
Start the day off Right!!!!
This blog is inspired by the craziness of my life; and if you are a dreamer/believer I suppose your day is just as crazy as mine. Juggling priorities and distinguishing between what you truly want to do and what you “should do” can be a constant struggle. Hopefully these “morning must’s” will help you attack the day and accomplish all that you can in the time that we are given….Let me preface by saying the day is a GIFT!!! Treat it as such. Make the decisions to honor yourself and whatever/whoever you represent…. DO WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN; BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU DO all day, everyday!!!!
This might sound stupidly simple but we all know it can be difficult (i.e.- snooze button)…Research has shown that the 10-15 minutes you use to “snooze” and “wake up” can actually be detrimental to your energy level. So when the alarm goes of. Get out of bed and make the decision to actively pursue your day. As opposed to waiting for something/one to find you; GO FIND INSPIRATION!!! And one more thing, Make your bed!
#2-Meditate, Pray, Reflect, Thank, or Ask-
Connect to the Source! Regardless of your spiritual/religious background I believe taking a few minutes to purposefully pause… and connect with your body, mind, and soul. The suggested method would be 5 minutes of diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing is the most primitive most basic of any activity we can perform as human beings. Everything starts with the breath so why not start your day with it in the form of one of the 5 source connectors- meditate, pray, reflect, thank, or ask.
There is something about going outside early in the morning that just feels good…This excludes the 15 second walk to the car juggling bag, coffee, and keys trying to not be late to work. I am talking about being outside on purpose and slowly for a few minutes to soke up the day… Rain or shine, cold or hot expose yourself to the elements.
Stretching at any point in the day is a great way to get the blood flowing. In the morning following a hot shower spend 3-5 minutes stretching muscles and opening joints. Most of us spend hours upon hours either sitting or standing which has the tendency to create compensatory muscle imbalances and asymmetries. A good stretching routine will help increase your energy. Mobilize your movements and your muscles.
5- Eat, Drink, and be Merry
Getting at the day on purpose with focused energy can be enhanced by a god meal. There is MUCH talk about what should be consumed when… is breakfast good or bad… should it be before my workout or after… I can’t eat right after a workout though… are my eggs free-range… is yogurt good for me… full fat or non-fat. The answers to all of these questions can really go either way. Do what works for you. And, as is the common theme with each other “value” do it on purpose and mindfully because you know it will help you do what you do better today. Tomorrow morning instead of reaching for the snooze button take these values into consideration and begin to cultivate them as HABIT…
Everyday we are faced with new challenges some small and some large. Our lives are overflowing with unforeseen highs and lows whether they are mental, physical, or emotional. We can judge ourselves by how well we adapt to the plethora of circumstances that we find ourselves in on a daily basis; how well we adapt to positive circumstances, and how well we adapt to negative circumstances. My experiences have helped me to realize several facts about adapting to life’s uncertainties. One that I would like to focus on is this:
-Do not avoid seemingly negative circumstances because you believe you are unable to navigate through them effectively.
The negative judgment implies that we already know what the ultimate outcome will be and beginning any difficult endeavor with such an attitude is not a good place to start. It is true that we simply don’t know enough to be pessimistic. Additionally, I believe that the greater the obstacle the greater the triumph….. “Both virtue and art are always concerned with what is harder, for success is better when it is hard to achieve.” Heraclitus-
Within the field of counseling psychology the phrase systematic desensitization is used to describe how fears can be overcome if you progressively expose yourself to whatever it is that you fear. I would like to challenge you (believers) to put yourself out there and refuse to be paralyzed by your fears. Demand more of yourself for the sake of becoming a better YOU! Challenges can come in many different forms. What is challenging for one may not be challenging to another; but stepping outside of your comfort zone is GREAT for anyone. Many times I say to the athletes that I train that you should get comfortable with the uncomfortable. In training as in life, each day is an opportunity to become better; MAXIMIZE the OPPORTUNITY.
Take a look at this short clip of Simon Sinek’s Ted talk. Sinek is the author of a phenomenal book called, Start with Why. The book has a business/corporate overtone however athletes can and should guide there actions and decisions in a similar way. At tilt, we call the idea - finding the why. It is the idea of connecting with your true source of motivation. Motivation is a major tenant of Sport Psychology. It is a concept that has been researched for years and the intricacies can be discussed endlessly. Although the concept seems abstract it's power is unmistakeable. When you find your why you are automatically connected to a reserve of energy that can drive every second of your hard work.
Motivation can come from many different places and everybody has one (or more) things that drives them. Sometimes money, sometimes mom or dad, sometimes fear of failure is the source of motivation. Most mental conditioning coaches will tell you that lasting success is typically driven by something deep within, something that you truly identify with. When you find this source of motivation work becomes joy and it is near impossible to rationalize your Self out of doing what you know you should be doing (i.e. training at 5am) to accomplish your goal and be the person you know you can be.
How do you know you are connected to your source:
Enjoy the video..find your Why!
During the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, Jonathan Kraft - President of the New England Patriots - was discussing where Tom Brady (the famed quarterback who was drafted 199th overall) would be drafted today. Although he is a top-tier QB, Kraft suggested that Brady, even today, would not be a high-draft pick. Technological advancements in scouting aside, Tom Brady has something that is not easily analyzed, but is critical to leadership and performance - 'the intangibles'.
Kraft did not share what the intangibles were. But we can assume they are connected to both leadership and performance practices. Brady has a vision. He is driven to realize that vision on the playing field, in the locker-room, and when out of the stadium. He knows ultimately what he is working for and is dedicated - compelled - to live out that vision. He does so by building synergistic relationships with his coaches and teammates. While watching the Patriots under Brady's command, you can tell they are in flow. He is confident in his abilities, while knowing he can strategically improve. And he is masterful at balancing reflection with action. Brady purposefully pauses and intentionally acts. When off the field, he is able to find a quiet space (often internal) to recollect, reassess, and reengage. And then is able to deliver, through methodical, on-field play.
What other 'intangibles' does Brady - or other greats from any sport - have that we can learn from?
A fantastic and long-time friend recently sent me a TEDx video with the energetic statement, "you've got to see this!" She sent me Roselinde Torres - of the Boston Consulting Group - speaking about leadership. About 1/3rd of the way in Torres asked a question that really struck a chord:
How are you cultivating great leaders? Drop a comment and We'd love to hear how - send us a note sharing how you're doing it!
We envision a world