Lessons form Super Bowl…Executing a Philosophy of Winning Be Loosey-Goosey, In the Moment, Caring and Fun Loving

Aristotle once said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit”.

Russell Wilson Special example of Pete Carroll’s Winning Forever Philosophy– These words describe his core– Belief in Self and Others, Open Communication, Commonsense, Calm demeanor, Caring, Trust and Respect and Great Judgment, 18-25 completions and two touchdowns, not flashy just a solid leader…

Pete Carroll–“To accomplish the grand, you have to focus on the small. To exist in the eternal perspective, you have to live in the moment.” Well said! Ate heart of

 is competition and 24/7 responsibility and accountability, be authentic , caring and competition.

WOW, WOW, WOW………………………Talk about the domination of the Seahawks. The one-sided victory showed the power of the Pete Carroll Philosophy of Caring  and Playing in the Moment. This philosophy will definitely have an impact of the rest of the NFL. If you listened carefully to the interviews after the game you heard and saw the humility and pride of teamwork.  Let me  summarize, the “Winning Forever”  philosophy of Pete Carroll. The four words that capture the essence of the team culture are: Fundamentals, Man for Others, Caring and Respect. This means that “soft skills” as a leadership philosophy is on the ascent to building teams and producing results.  The Seahawks according to all the interviews is a “team of misfits” . What does that mean? It means that most of these players were not given the recognition they thought they deserved. The team is mostly made up of 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th round draft picks and free agents. No stars just players who were committed to do  the best they could with their strengths and determination to reach their potential. Now let’s break down the philosophy:

1. Fundamentals — Know you X’s and O’s…, competition, play to strengths, plan do what you need to do, practice, practice, practice the details, stay focused, alert and execute in the moment.

2. Man for Others–A tenant of Jesuit Teaching –play for others, don’t let your team members down. You need me I am here for you.

3. Caring-Respect–be there for others and take care of them. Build the trust needed to fulfill your dream. Communicate openly and honestly. Let us be who we are, take care of one another and play to our strengths. Constantly learn the lessons present to you.

4. Fun–Enjoy and embrace the moment, celebrate your victories.

Part III: Overcoming Negative Thinking: Case Study On Pete Carroll of Seattle Seahawks

Daily Quote: “Treat each day as if something positive were about to happen”. Pete Carroll’s Mom  

Why I am pulling for the Seattle Seahawks to win the Super Bowl. They are are already winners. Pete Carroll has instilled a philosophy based on John Wooden’s theory of Leadership called The Pyramid for Success. 

During his year out of football the following year, Carroll did some serious self-reflecting. He asked himself what he could do better and how he could successful use his positive philosophy work in the ultra competitive world of pro football. He would often repeat and reflect on the words of his mother, who often told him to “treat each day as if something positive were about to happen”. This mindset and mental toughness was considered nonsense and  “too soft” for the tough guy culture of the NFL, where people tend to focus on things that could go wrong. Carroll would no longer focus on the negative. He would create a culture of respect and “positivity” by focusing on the unique strengths and contributions of everyone in the organization.

He also read Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, the powerful memoir by the former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. It resonated with Carroll not only because Wooden needed 17 years before winning his first national championship, but also because he believed in being positive and nurturing.

Ultimately he formulated a blueprint based on Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. He simplified Wooden’s approach by focusing on fun, fundamentals, positivity, team caring and competition. Carroll’s approach was underpinned by taking advantage of the uniqueness of each individual and challenging them to be more than they thought they could be. He would have themes for each day of the week—Tell the Truth Monday, Competition Wednesday, Turnover Thursday. He would have the first-string offense and defense face off in brief unscripted scrimmages so they would be ready for things they hadn’t prepared for. He would blare music throughout practice to raise the energy level and force his players to focus and refocus to eliminate distractions and focus on the “here and Now” moment.

“I didn’t know I’d get another chance in the NFL—I didn’t think that—so that’s why I went the college route, to try to see what would happen if we applied these philosophies,” Carroll says. “Fortunately, going into SC, I was so ready to go in there. I had had a big change in my thinking and had adjusted things, so that was like the proving ground, and it worked out great. We’ve come here to Seattle and we haven’t done one thing different. It basically comes down to taking care of the people in your program and making them the best they can be—not giving up on them and never failing to be there for them. They don’t even totally know that’s how we are with them, because we do it so completely.”

Self-Coaching Challenge: I challenge you to read more about both Coach Wooden’s and Carroll’s philosophy and develop over the next month your personal Philosophy for Living a More Meaningful and Fulling Life.  

Formula for Peak Performing: Self 3 (Hardiness and Resilient thinking)

Formula for Peak Performing : Physical + Mental (thinking /feelings) + constructive action = Self 3 (hardy-resilient-constructive action self)

Life cycle:  Stuck——————-Surviving—————————Growing/learning (Mental Toughness )——————Peaking ( Self 3- Active Performer)

None of this is very useful information unless you know what to do about it and how to use it to your benefit and create a better selves. Mental Toughness (MT) is a very broad and complex topic involving the brain, neurology and psychological research, but where I would recommend starting by learning what the “hardy-resilient ” personality is.

Self 3  is broken down into four separate characteristics: Self-awareness, focused attention, integrated discovery learning, commitment to a constructive plan of action. These characteristics of Self 3 are based in an existential theory of personality and is defined as a person’s basic stance towards his or her place in the world.  ( Frankl 1954, Kobasa 1979; Dr. Rock 2010).

1. Self-Awareness (SA) is the ability to know ones strengths and weakness through experiences in life. SA means being observant and growing from involvement in life activities by involving  oneself in, rather than standing by and watching life pass you by.  It means being in touch with our true make-up (strengths/weaknesses). People with high emotional intelligence know that life will end and have a generalized sense of purpose that allows them to identify with and engage in meaningful activities, persons, and events to bring pleasure and happiness to their lives.

2. Reality and Control are the elements that allow you to think, feel and act as if one is competent and influential in making a difference (self-efficacy), rather than helpless, in the face of many difficult and high pressured situations and experiences in life. They lean-in to life because there was a time when they did not exist .  Persons with perspective and balance in their lives do not naively expect to determine all events and outcomes but rather perceive themselves as being able to make a difference in the world through their exercise of imagination, knowledge, skill and choice.

3. Challenge is the tendency to believe that change rather than stability is normal in life and that changes are interesting occurrences to grow from  rather than threats to security. So far from being reckless adventurers, persons with challenge are rather individuals with an openness to new experiences and a tolerance of ambiguity that enables them to be flexible in the face of change.”

In sum, the greater your levels of SA, Learning (commitment, control and challenge) when faced with a stressful situation, the greater your chances of performing well and doing so without a negative impact on your mental and physical health.

The catch here, is that a high level of self-awareness must be involved in order to assess these characteristics within yourself. This is called “metaknowledge” and is the ability to think about the way in which you are thinking.

The next time you are faced with a high pressure, stressful situation, read through that list of the three hardiness factors and ask yourself to what degree do feel commitment, control and challenge. If you’re coming up low in any of those categories, try to stop and focus on what behaviors you can control and then make the necessary changes.

Self-Coaching: Managing Your “Inner Critic” to Increase Positive Self-Talk and Focused Attention

Recently, I started to re-read the Inner Tennis book by Tim Gallwey then I came across  a great article on turning down your inner critic so as to improve performance in stressful situations. The a site I stumbled across is called SelfMatters.org. The site and its programs are run by two thoughtful and inspiring women, Jane Shure, PhD. and Beth Weinstock, PhD.

Dr. Shure and Weinstock believe that we can learn how to “turn down” the voice of what they call our “inner critic,” and learn to “turn up” our positive and natural voice of  “inner coach.” Gallwey’s point of view was that people are vulnerable to negative shifts in mindset which can have drastic impact on one’s performance in many different situations that require focused attention.

Both Gallwey and Shure/ Weinstock are talking about the powerful unconscious and how the brain builds in patterns that are repeated through the process of self-talk that impact our performance  Self-talk is the inner dialogue between parts of our mind, and is influenced by these neural pathways from past behavior in similar situations. When we grow-up with negativity and criticism from inadequate parents, critical teachers or bad experiences, we internalize negative messages. Our brains literally develop dysfunctional pathways and patterns that blame ourselves not others for failure and mistakes. We build many obstacles that prevent us from access our natural abilities.

Some of the obstacles are anxiety about our ability to handle difficult people and situations. Others include fears of failure or success, resistance to new endeavors or situations, test taking, , doubt about our ability to perform , etc. Gallwey teaches performers, managers and athletes how to tap into natural and positive potential for learning, performance, and enjoyment. Any activity can become an opportunity to improve skills, increase joy and heighten awareness.  Our Inner Critic as described by  ( Shure and Weinstock) or Self 1 ( Gallwey’s) are the center for negativity and criticism and yet they can help you focus at the task at hand.  These voices are not the only source of input available to us. Self 1 or the inner critic are powerful internal voices that can overwhelm our natural strengths and  are always in battle for our attention. The more we listen to it, the more we strengthen it and subject ourselves to its negative impact on our performance whether it be tennis, golf, singing, doing math, taking tests serving for “match point, or  making presentations “ad infinitum”.

Many of us live with the constant “self-talk” of a harsh Inner Critic. The critic’s voice thwarts our spontaneity, holds us hostage to anxiety, dampens freedom of expression, keeps us feeling inadequate and can sabotage and undermine your performance.  

Self 1 has the unique ability to focus our attention and ought to be used that way to improve your concentration. Self 1 is not all bad and we need to pay attention to it so as to use its positive elements when appropriate.

In the next blog I will provide some proven tips for overcoming the negative inner voice and help you begin to practice how to access your positive Self 2 and the integrated Self 3 to conquer performance fears and reach your potential. Stay tuned.


Part 1: What does Research tell us about Mental Toughness (Hardiness) and Performance?

Some people make the mistake of thinking that MT is all about extorting or putting pressure on themselves (efforting) to perform up to their potential no matter what the circumstances. So let’s start with clarifying the key concepts and definition of MT.

Definition: Mental toughness is having the natural or developed ability that enables you to:
ƒ to access your strengths and skills on demand. It is a learned ability that provides a person with coping and thinking skills to handle stressful and demanding situations. As a performer it is seen when a performer can be more consistent and better than an opponent in remaining calm, focused, determined, confident, resilient, and in control under pressure.

Key psychological characteristics associated with mentally tough elite athletes Jones et al (2002) are:
” Self-Belief and self-efficacy:  
• Having an unshakable belief in your ability to achieve competition goals
• Unique qualities that make you better than your opponents.
• Having an insatiable desire and internalized motivation to succeed (you really got to want it)
• Ability to bounce back from performance setbacks with increased determination to succeed.
• Remain fully focused on the task at hand in the face of competition-specific distractions
• Able to switch focus on and off as required
• Not being adversely affected by others performance or your own internal distractions (worry,
negative mind chatter)
• Composure/Handling Pressure:
• Able to regain psychological control following unexpected events or distractions
• Thriving on the pressure of competition (embracing pressure, stepping into the moment)
• Accept that anxiety is inevitable in competition and know you can cope with it
Key component of mental toughness is learning how to condition your mind to think confidently and be
able to overcome frustration/self-critical negativity (reframe self-talk into what it is you want to occur)”.

Lesson Learned created a new Wickism: Don’t allow frustration or being to self-critical undermine your confidence or mental toughness.”

Yet a recent study confirms that MT which is defined as being “hardy” is something different. The study results indicate that mental toughness is a key to success – and to getting through the ups and downs of  stressful events in life. The study results clearly confirm the old dictum that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Much like optimists vs. pessimists, hardy individuals, when compared to less hardy ones, perceive the world very differently. Where the less hardy see obstacles, the hardy see a challenge to be overcome. While the less hardy find themselves totally overwhelmed and unable to function when under stress, the hardy ones use stress as an adrenaline boost. Hardy people go where angels fear to tread; less hardy people are the types that play to lose by undermining their performance and wishing  they could just crawl into the nearest corner, roll up into a fetal position, and wait until it’s safe to come out again.

“Learning from experience helps build character and resilience, so it’s not surprising that mental toughness tends to increase with age,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of Psychtests AIM, company. “It’s not only a matter of developing better coping and problem solving skills. As we get older and have been knocked around in the school of life, we develop a stronger sense of perspective and self-efficacy; a greater belief that ‘I’ll get through this’. Think of  the pain of losing someone we love, for example. Regardless of age, everyone feels hurt after it happens. But with experience, we get to a point of acceptance more quickly, and move on more readily.”

Part I: Meaningful Life principle #2 –Learn to be a Great Communicator and Presenter

Author’s note: On this post I will flush out in more detail the number #2 principle from the Handbook for Creating and Living a Meaningful Life: 30+ Rules of the Road .

Meaningful Life Principle #2: Learn to become a “dynamic” communicator.   

Relevant thought trigger and quotes : Not only is there an art in knowing a thing, but also a certain art in communicating and teaching it. Cicero 

“The problem with communication… is the ILLUSION that it has been accomplished.”—George Bernard Shaw

A Presentation is a Performance Act. You are an Actor. Tom Peters

To be a great a communicator requires high performance (self3) behaviors  and takes “Truth Telling” which begins with clear thinking, courage and belief in yourself and the ideas you are trying to get across. Learn to be an active listener when preparing for the presentation, so you can identify your audience needs ( something you didn’t learn in school)–So if you want to come across to others as authentic and be perceived as “star presenter” practice the mental set, attitude, and actions listed in my “ten rules for excellence in communicating” they will speak volumes of who you really are and transform how you think about interpersonal communications and how you connect with others when presenting.

Dr. Mark’s 10 Tips Becoming a passionate communicator and public speaker:                                               1. Be clear and concise, confident and compelling about your purpose and goals for the interaction or presentation. Don’t present anything you would not want to hear if you were on the other side of the desk or in the meeting room.

2. Learn that “Connecting with Others” is the most important factor to consider when communicating and delivering you message. Do you believe in what you are talking or spouting off about? How comfortable are you in presenting ideas and information to others? Are you open to other points of view? Can you communicate in conversational tones and gestures? Can you manage your nervous energy?

3. Believe in your self—Know your strengths and become a high performer by using them when communicating 1 to 1 or to an audience of 1000 people. This will allow you the freedom to overcome nervousness and self-doubts.

4. You must become a serious and formal student of communication and listening. Yes, the likes of presenting, conversing,  talking and listening can be studied and practiced with the same thoroughness with which you studied mathematics or science that is the bedrock for becoming a physicist or medical doctor.  There’s no more need to be casual about developing these soft skills of interpersonal communication than there is concerning mastering the job of doctor or lawyer. Granted formal schooling for the hard stuff is more available to aspiring professional presenters and students. Yet it can be done—and as I said before, the benefits of undertaking professional study in the art of communicating and presenting and listening is critical to your success in business and life.

5. Give as many speeches as you can—of all shapes and sizes. “Hey, Coach Mark, how did you get to where you are with your presentation skills?” “I’m a lot better after 2500 speeches than I was after 2 or 3.” Meetings are a great training ground for both watching and learning about performing; for example, observe how people react to this or that approach taken by a speaker.

6. The One Big Secret I have learned over and over again in my 40+ years in public speaking and giving presentations is that they are personal and open conversation whether it is a 1 to 1, face 2 face conversation, small staff meeting, conference key-note to 500 people. Make it personal and create closeness by being self-disclosing and truthful–tell stories… Remember an effective speech to 1,000 people is an intimate, 1-on-1 conversation so engage them and surprise them so they are interested and curious about what you have to say.

7. Speak with passion–be energized and excited that you get the privilege of presenting  what you know that can help the audience members live a more fulfilling life.

8. Stay focused but flexible on interests and needs of the other person. Be ready to change topis or re-focus speech if you get feedback or body language that the audience is not with you. Don’t be bound or married to your agenda, always remain audience-centered.

9. Don’t worry about what is going to happen next or be preparing to respond stay in the moment observe, respond and focus on the process of conveying your message and connecting.

10. Close with a bang. Let the audience tell you what they learned. Check for audience AHA’s,  discoveries and learning. Check on commitment for action and personal change.

Bonus Idea for getting ready to speak– Use “relaxation and release” tools to start in a great state of mind and energy…   be open to whatever arises, and be confident you can handle whatever comes-up.

Remember as JFK said,“The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.”

Self Coaching Module #4: Create A Daily Reflection Section in your Self-Development Journal

Life can only be understand backwards – but we have to live it forwards” A B Elliot

Buy a journal or notebook, or make an entry in your “everynotes” app and start a Daily Reflection Section:

So what is Reflection?

These are each pretty big topics, so I’ll explain how to use self-reflection now, and review the best questionnaires to use in a future article.

By “self-reflection”, I don’t just mean sitting and gazing at your navel or just sitting and waiting for something important to bubble up from your brain “Hmmm….what is important to think or reflect about or spend time on right now…”  Research has uncovered patterns in how people discover knowledge about themselves , and this gives you areas in which to focus your self-reflection.  Start with feedback from others or themes from your life where you get stuck.

The advantage of self-reflection is that you’re not limited to a fixed set of potential answers like you find by taking the Gallop Strength Finders questionnaire.  Reflection is harder work, but gives you more insight and doesn’t pigeon-hole you into a framework.  You can discover your strengths by reflecting on the following five areas :

1) Impulsive or Intuitive Reactions

If it is true that strengths are your brain’s efficient processes, you’ll probably use them as a kind of default response to various situations.  When a problem comes up, do you analyse the situation or jump straight in?  If you go to a party, is your spontaneous reaction to woo those people you don’t know, or spend time relating to people you do?  Looking for common and sometimes impulsive reactions over a variety of situations can give you clues to who you are and what you do when problems come at you in life. To counteract this type of immediate reaction it is important to STOP-TAKE A BREATH –THINK AND THE REACT. This focus allows your thoughtful part of your brain to override your primitive and emotional first impulses. Find a positive trigger to help yourself re-center and get control of negative thoughts and impulsive decisions.

2.) Energy

You’re more likely to draw energy from activities that use your strengths than those that don’t.  This is why it’s so hard to go against the grain of your strengths long-term – these activities are draining rather than energizing.  Ask yourself where you get your energy from.  What activities give you a buzz when you’re doing them?  If you can think of some, they probably involve your strengths.

3.) Dreams and fantasies

For whatever reasons, each of us is drawn to some activities but not to others.  There are some activities that turn us off, and some we get excited about.  This is partly because we get more satisfaction from activities involving our strengths, and it’s easier for us to get into a state of flow when we’re using them.

For example, a dream of becoming a professional golfer because of the fame and money, not for the joy of competing and winning.  The way to fulfill a realistic dream is to assess your strengths, set concrete and measurable goals, set deliberate practice structures in place, get feedback and never give-up. Don’t focus on the end result but on actions that will get you to your goals. This type of change process makes your goals from the inside-out not outside-in. If you’re unsure, it can help to interview someone already in the role you striving to become. This will help you to realistically see what it’s really like.

4.) Payoffs 

As positive psychologists have discovered, using your strengths makes you happier.  Reasoning backwards, we find that the things that make us happy may involve our strengths.  Of course, not everything that makes us happy can involve a strength, otherwise you’d come up with a rather silly list, maybe including “being surprised”, “drinking beer”, and “buying a carpet”.  Obviously, these are not strengths.  You have to use common sense and maybe look at activities that are challenging to some degree, activities that you’d like to do again.

In it you can record any good luck, “coincidences” and fortunate events be sure and share them with us..

Your Reflection Section will be as much as you choose to make it. I have kept one for 10 years and when ever I become confused or have doubts about my journey in life, or disappointments or feel stress and sadness with friends, colleagues or family members or my life journey , I read, observe and write about my success and what I should be grateful  in life.

The Glue for Successful Self-Coaching: Five phase T.R.U.S.T. Process

Emerson once said: “Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly, and they will show themselves great”

Emerson was talking about how to learn to trust, connect with others and build loyalty. His point of view is that trust doesn’t start with the other person,but begins by looking in the mirror and deciding what it takes for you to trust others. Do you give trust away automatically until the person disappoints you or do you make others earn trust ?  Essentially, Emerson is talking about how to connect emotionally with others.

Since coaching goes nowhere fast if there is not a trust connection, I thought how could I tie the nebulous and sometimes vaporous concept of trust into a concrete and tangible process for coaching.  So for the last year I have noodling and experimenting with my coaching clients and now would like to share the “process with structure” TRUST framework with you. Here is the framework:


” Real friendships are built on selflessness, and selflessness is built on trust”. Wickism

1. Tell the Truth

2. Reality Check 

3. Understanding by Listening and Empathy

4. Solutions by Partnering

5. Together set Action Plan

Next blog I will explain in more detail the first step to the Self-Coaching process--Tell the Truth.

If you want the full model and tips for executing your Self-Coaching process sign up for Self-Coaching newsletter at http: thewick.wordpress.com/us

Thanks for your interest and support.

Expectations and Payoffs Key to Changing Behavior in 2013

As we ponder setting goals and making resolutions for change in 2013, I thought it would be helpful to see what research and theory might provide support for finally making the changes you want to make in 2013. I think Dr.Julian Rotter,who developed a powerful theory of Social Learning in the 1950’s By the 1960 his ideas initiated an enormous amount of research on the power of control and choice. “In 1966, Rotter published his famous I-E scale in the journal “Psychological Monographs”, to assess internal and external locus of control. This scale has been widely used in the psychology of personality studies. Rotter  was astounded by how much attention this scale of Inner Directed and outer directed control generated… He himself believed that the scale was an adequate measure of just two concepts, achievement and motivation for change (which he took to be linked with internal locus of control) and outer-directedeness, or tendency to conform to others (which he took to be associated with external locus of control). There are  four main components to his social learning theory model for predicting behavior.”These are reviewed below: behavior potential, expectancy, reinforcement value, and the psychological situation.

Behavior Potential. Behavior potential is the likelihood of engaging in a particular behavior in a specific situation. In other words, what is the probability that the person will exhibit a particular behavior in a situation? In any given situation, there are multiple behaviors one can choose to engage in. For each possible behavior, there is a behavior potential. The individual will exhibit whichever behavior has the highest potential.

Expectancy. Expectancy is the probability that a given behavior will lead to a particular outcome, or reinforces change. How likely is it that the behavior will lead to the outcome? Having “high” or “strong” expectations means the individual is confident the behavior will result in the outcome. Having low expectations means the individual believes it is unlikely that his or her behavior will result in reinforcement. If the outcomes are equally desirable, we will engage in the behavior that has the greatest likelihood of paying off (i.e., has the highest expectancy). Expectations are formed based on past experience. The more often a behavior has led to reinforcement in the past, the stronger the person’s expectancy that the behavior will achieve that outcome now.

Reinforcement Value. Reinforcement is another name for the outcomes of our behavior. Reinforcement value refers to the desirability of these outcomes. Things we want to happen, that we are attracted to, have a high reinforcement value. Things we don’t want to happen, that we wish to avoid, have a low reinforcement value. If the likelihood of achieving reinforcement is the same, we will exhibit the behavior with the greatest reinforcement value (i.e., the one directed toward the outcome we prefer most).

Predictive Formula. Behavior Potential (BP) is a function of Expectancy (E) and Reinforcement Value (RV) can be combined into a predictive formula for behavior change:

Behavior Change = (Expectations + Reinforcement Value)

So back to my coach with Bill H. It would have come as a great shock to everyone except his few close friends, had they discovered, how deeply unhappy he was with work routine. He was really only happy in his music studio, were he can listen to his favorite songs and composers, and very few knew that his real dream was to own his own music shop and teach others to appreciate the beauty of classical music some day.

Joe C. was by nature very out going, and I suspect that he suffered from a mild form of grandiosity and depression. Working as automotive executive was a struggle for him that never eased. Not to disappoint his wife, parents and work, he resolved to stick with it until something changed. His inability to be more self-directed, goes to work –  living out a self-inflicted misery instead of a happy life.

There are actually many people pursuing careers and goals that they are ill-suited for, and they too will remain stressed and unhappy until they make a change. But many feel trapped by the need to keep up a certain lifestyle, family expectations, and accumulated financial responsibilities.

The only way out of this unhappy state is to make a change in line with your true nature, or what the Buddhists call one’s being or “suchness.” Your true temperament will never allow you to feel comfortable, happy, or content, when you are engaged in activities that are not a good fit with who you really are.  So I asked Bill C. how committed he was to make a life change that better fits his perception of himself and his natural strengths? Stay tuned he says he is pondering what that change would look like and how committed he is to do it 2013. Will you commit and make the choices need to find more joy and equilibrium in your life?

Update: 15 Habits of Mental Toughness

15 Habits of Mental Toughness

The only source of mental toughness is experience under pressure”  MWH

1. Mental Toughness (MT) is being clear about goal or purpose no matter the context or situation.

2. Act even when one does not feel like it or are in the mood to do it.

3. MT is choosing the most important thing to do right now.

4. Focused on doing one thing at a time

5. The Mentally tough individual possess a positive attitude–Use the Dr. Fredrickson’s 3-1 rule of thumb when trying to be optimistic in interacting with others.

6. Flexible—able to re-define  and re-set new strategy after failure

7. Fear doesn’t hold them back—They lean in and confront hurdles or barriers to success.

8. The MT don’t get distracted by little or insignificant stuff–they embrace stress .

9. They are able to make decisions without full information available and act.

10. Value their time and have a plan of how to use it; then evaluate outcomes against plan.

11. They are continually developing their communication skills.

12. Mentally tough are open minded and curious to learn.

13. They seek feedback on their actions and correct what needs improvement.

14. Learn the technique of deliberative practice –practice the right things not just practice.

15. They are non-judgmental and able to quickly change behavior under pressure.

Weekend Quote and Reflection: Fatigue makes cowards of us all.


Daily Quote 1: “Are you wondering whether your head is about to explode? Personal stress can be at the core of mental and physical upsets and stress because being tired and suffering from mental fatigue can be hard to read. Negativity, however, is a leading symptom, and it’s often ignored as just living a hard and productive life. I’m almost always looking for ways to meaningfully assess how influential — positively and negatively — my colleagues, collaborators and co-workers are. “Influence” increasingly is the coin of the organizational realm. Influence defies title, credential and seniority. Somebody may be smart, talented and still with precious few exceptions, be dominated by negative emotions which are stressful, hurtful, and destructive — to our ability to function, think and active in constructive ways for ourselves and to others. Obvious as this may seem, most of us spend a good deal of time feeling impatient, frustrated, angry, or anxious, defensive, and fearful without fully recognizing why these emotions arise so persistently or the toll they take on you physical and mental health”. Dr. Jeffrey Brantley 

Daily Quote 2 : Lombardi once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all”. Vince Lombardi


By contrast, think for a moment about how you feel when you’re performing at your best. How would you describe this state of being? I am sure that these are some of the words you would use – such as energized, in a zone, happy, excited, optimistic, confident, alive, and connected. These emotions not only feel good, they also help us to perform better.

So what prompts us to move so frequently in a negative or glass half-full direction? 

The answer is that we do it involuntarily because of our mental or physical fatigue. We move into negative emotions and become reactive. At an unconscious and  in an automatic way, when we’re feeling endangered or threatened. Nothing makes us more vulnerable than being physically tired and mentally drained through exhaustion. 

When we feel fatigue, or tired, what gets triggered first is our biochemistry — the fight or flight response. Adrenalin, noradrenaline, and cortisol flood our bloodstream. These hormones prompt a series of physiological responses designed to help us react more quickly and effectively to the perceived danger. Control of our behavior moves from the pre-frontal cortex where we do our rational thinking by using logic , to our primitive and barbarian part of the brain called the amygdala. This is where our fight or flight response, takes over and reacts far more quickly and often in an unproductive way, such as panic, freezing or getting angry.  

All this makes great sense if you’re facing an urgent and dangerous threat to your life. In those cases, thinking only slows down the time it takes to respond. If there’s a lion coming at you, it’s far better to react instinctively rather than reflectively.

Ways to re-energize pay attention to your stress and fatigue.

Have you ever noticed how many of your waking moments you spend in your head, anxious about meetings, fretting about what is going to happen with your job or company, focusing on in-completions in your life and staring at your things to-do list, mulling over past emotional up-sets with colleague, friend or family member, or just generating endless worries and concerns? Where is your body in all this thinking? What’s your body doing and feeling while you’re fatigued and  mentally stressing? Let’s explore some potential consequences.

  • Take this quiet moment to really pay attention to your physical body.
  • What is your body doing right now? Are you slouching, at cease, or tense or feeling aches somewhere? 
  • If your body had a voice, what would it say to you? Would it remind you of your knee or back pain? Would it ask you to do a few stretches to unwind and relax? Maybe it is asking you to sit upright and relax your legs. Maybe your eyes are tired after staring at a computer screen all day and they need a break or a good rub.
  • Take this time to listen to your inner body. When you hear what your body is saying, stop and stretch or take a deep breath or just stand and stretch because these activities will help your body relax and reconnect with it in deeply healing ways.

Have a good weekend and we will talk again next week. Coach, Mark 


Daily Quote and Reflection: What the Olympic Games teach us about choking and performing.

Daily Quote: As philosopher Kant said: “In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.”

Reflection: Like many of you I have been watching the Olympic games. While watching I have being observing and listening to the athletes comments before and after performances. Most of the athlete’s before the event talk about being proud to represent their country and that they would like to win a Gold Medal” .  Of course “playing to win” a Gold Medal can be an excellent goal and  motivator for “doing your best” but it is also can be a distraction during a performance event because you start to focus on outcomes rather than just playing. Let’s take Roger Federer, of Switzerland  in his run-up to playing for the GOLD MEDAL medal against Andy Murray of GBR. Most interviewers kept asking Roger about never winning a gold in singles play or how important was it to be victorious in the games? The outcome of winning must of gotten to Roger because he lost in three sets to Andy Murray. Murray was relaxed and focused on just about every point and ended the match with three aces. On the other hand, Roger looked tight and tense throughout the match. He was asked after the match what happened? He said,  ” Andy was just the better player today and the disappointment of not winning was huge for him and his country.”   From that statement could we speculate that the pressure of winning and meeting other people’s expectations over took his mental thoughts rather than just playing and having fun.

Action Challenge: There is a cardinal rule in Mental Toughness training for performers  to NEVER focus on the outcome of your performance while you’re in the middle of it. By “outcome”, I mean whether you’re winning or losing when playing … So the next time you have to make an important presentation, a critical pitch to a client or impress someone at a job interview—just be yourself, focus on the here and now and be sure to have fun doing the activity. Because if you try to hard you will become anxious and probably will perform poorly. Remember, the bigger the event, the more you will be tempted to focus on outcome and lose your ability to perform at the Self 3 level. Luck and keep us informed how your next important event turns out.

Learn to Win from Within: Part 2–Audience-Centered Presentations

Part ll Self-3 : Radiate through your Presence  

Presenting your ideas is a risky proposition that takes clear thinking, courage and openness to other points of view. There’s something special about  someone who keeps their vision high, ideas clear and shows flexibility when challenged–they radiate authenticity. They’re connected to how they want to be of service, what they want to create, and the power of what they have to offer.

What they radiate isn’t coming from expectations–how they’ll perform, what other people will think and the end of speech smiles on the evaluation sheet. It comes from loving what they do, having ability to influence with meaningful stories, communicating clearly at the level that everyone understands and having fun doing it. Do not make the mistake of taking the importance of communication for granted  – communication matters. Put simply, the ability to effectively communicate with others is often the difference between success and failure. Don’t be fooled into thinking your title, education, influence, or charisma can take the place of clear, simple and sound communication skills.

While the aforementioned characteristics certainly won’t hurt, they can be quickly eroded and/or undermined by making poor choices in the words you use.

If you communicate well the radiance you project is coming from the pure, utter joy of feeling alive and connected. Being connected to their passion and other people–of being excited that they get the privilege of doing what they know they were meant to do communicate to be understood.

It’s not about winning, money or recognition. It’s about being real and authentic.

How your perceptual Lens and Mental Maps impact Reality–Story of the Nude Lady

Here is an interesting and enlightening story on how we are all depended on the lens we look through to see the world.:

“Three men are in a car driving down a city street early one morning . . . The car pulls up at a stoplight, and crossing the street in front of the car is a beautiful young lady who catches the attention of all three men. Her beauty is particularly apparent because she is wearing no clothes.

“The man on the right becomes engrossed in thoughts of how nice it would be to be with this lady under other circumstances. His mind races through past memories and future fantasies of sensual pleasures . . .

“The man sitting in the middle is seeing an example of modern decadence. He’s not sure that he should be looking closely at the girl. First miniskirts, he thinks, then topless dancers, and now they’re out on the streets in broad daylight!

Something must be done to stop all this! He thinks that he should begin by straightening out the playboy on his right.

“The driver is seeing the same girl that the others are observing, but is simply watching what is before his eyes. Since his ego is uninvolved, he sees neither good nor bad, and as a result, a detail comes to his attention which was not noticed by either of his companions: the girl’s eyes are shut. He realizes that the lady is sleepwalking, and his response is immediate and uncalculating. He stops the car, steps out and puts his coat over the woman’s shoulders. He gently wakes her and explains that she must have been sleepwalking and offers to take her home”
Gallwey, pp. 41-42

W. Timothy Gallwey, in The Inner Game of Tennis, offers this story, told by his friend Bill, as an analogy for three kinds of tennis players:

Here they are:

  1. ” The positive thinker, filled with self-esteem because of his superior attitude and mental toughness that make up the core of your game
  2. The negative thinker, constantly analyzing what is wrong with him and being negative toward himself if his game isn’t up to standards of his game
  3. The player of the Inner Game, simply observing, enjoying and doing that which seems natural and reasonable.”

Same styles seem to apply to how presenters approach public speaking.

Become A Dynamic Self-Coach–Learn to use Self 3: The C.O.A.C.H. Framework

“There is always an inner game being played in your mind no matter what outer game you are playing. How aware you are of this game can make the difference between success and failure.” Tim Gallwey

We have all heard about Tim Gallwey’s Self 1 ( critical) and Self 2 (natural) elements when playing the inner game from tennis to stress management. These books are wonderful in the way they teach readers about distortion in perception, listening, controlling and overcoming self-talk, and many other interference factors in high performance behavior.  Now there is more support than ever for these concepts because of a break through in behavioral, neurological and brain chemistry research. My goal in this blog is to bring ideas from the new research into a new concept called “High Performer” Self 3–This concept is based in a framework called “Process with Structure” Model that produces control of mental process, self-awareness, development of keen observation and focus on strengths development beyond your natural self 2 awareness and  action to access on demand to be the “best you can be so as produce productive behaviors and desired results.

Self 3–Is the process of learning how to access clear and positive thinking, positive self-talk, mental toughness and performance excellence in critical situations. The “performing (Self 3) is based on clear thinking, observation and action focus that eliminates environmental and mental interference and distortions, such as loss of clarity and confidence, sabotaging self-doubts and fear of failure.

Self 3 builds on the  original models of Inner game, Flow, Improvisation, Choice Theory and Cognitive Behavioral methods to increase self-awareness, acceptance and positive outlook in making effortless and meaningful life decisions, choices and action a reality. In this way, the Self 3 process empowers you by freeing you by using the power of doing what is in your control to do and to face your true wants .


Self 3 Process with Structure Framework called  C.O.A.C.H.                                                                                                                           

  1. C = clarifying and reviewing your goals, needs and wants for achievement; then integrating different messages from Self 1 and Self 2 to get instantaneous agreement for what action is required.
  1. O= observations and focus Attention on our thinking and emotions about  what needs to be accomplished in regard to our behavior, people’s reaction and situation we find ourselves in.
  • What is the status of your current situation?
  • Reflect and review obstacles and successes for handling these issues and situation . What has worked in the past?
  • Tune-in to how you think (inner self-talk) and feel about the situation and people involved?
  • What have you tried or are trying to remedy the situation or solve the problem?
  • How do I access my strengths and focus on hitting the mute button of internal negative self-talk? Just letting go by staying in the moment.

      3.  A = increase self awareness  and accept and listen to self-talk and other viewpoints by clarifying, asking questions and restating ideas and reflecting in calm manner the circumstances of a situation. Then doing what  needs to be done to accomplish our goals through Smart Steps action.

  •      4.  C= Create solutions for opportunity finding in the “here and now and the future”. Review present knowledge, skills, behavior and attitude about the situation from a technical, people, strategic and urgent point of view.

      5. H= How to’s of Behavioral and Mental Action Plan to overcome obstacles… the  WHAT,  HOW to think and Behave to be successful.  Also, review resources and support needed and commit to reviewing progress at a specific time in the future. Capture learning outcomes between self-coaching sessions in Personal Learning Journal.