What would Aristotle say about the “Marshmallow Effect and Happiness?

What would Aristotle say about marshmallow effect and happiness?

The essence of instant gratification or “marshmallow” effect is summarized here: Delaying Gratification More than 40 years ago, Walter Mischel, PhD, a psychologist now at Columbia University, explored self-control in children with a simple but effective test. His experiments using the “marshmallow test,” as it came to be known, laid the groundwork for the modern study of self-control. Mischel and his colleagues presented a preschooler with a plate of treats such as marshmallows. The child was then told that the researcher had to leave the room for a few minutes, but not before giving the child a simple choice: If the child waited until the researcher returned, she could have two marshmallows. If the child simply couldn’t wait, she could ring a bell and the researcher would come back immediately, but she would only be allowed one marshmallow. In children, as well as adults, willpower can be thought of as a basic ability to delay gratification.

Aristotle would be strongly critical of the culture of “instant gratification” or eating the marshmallow in the moment. Yet in our world of instant gratification, most people want to be rewarded now not later. For example, instant gratification is so predominate in our society today because of or selfishness and technology. Yet in Aristotle’s non-tech world his view was in order to achieve a life of balance and complete virtue, people needed to make the right choices, and that involved keeping an eye on the future, on the ultimate result want for lives as a whole. Aristotle believe that people  achieve happiness not by enjoying the pleasures of the moment. Unfortunately, this is something most people are not able to overcome in themselves because of lack of will power.

As Aristotle laments, “the mass of mankind are evidently quite slavish in their tastes, preferring a life suitable to beasts… and instant pleasures (Nicomachean Ethics, 1095b 20). Later in the Ethics Aristotle draws attention to the weakness of the willpower. In many cases the overwhelming prospect of some great pleasure obscures one’s perception of what is truly good. Fortunately, this natural disposition is curable through self-awareness and training, which for Aristotle meant education and the constant aim to perfect character or what he called perfect virtue. As he puts it, “a clumsy archer may indeed get better with practice, so long as he keeps aiming for the target.”

Note also that it is not enough to think about doing the right thing, or even intend to do the right thing: we have to actually do it. Thus, it is one thing to think of giving up alcohol or smoking, or create a beautiful piece of art or heart felt poem and another thing to put together a plan to create the sustained energy, effort and time to do it. When we impose a form and structure upon the idea of happiness and actually produce a compelling change in our daily life, we are challenging our rational and intellectual abilities and emotions that if accomplished bring a sense of delayed happiness, pride and fulfillment.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Examine your life over the next 24 hours and identify one instant gratification” habit  you would like to change. Then create a SMART STEP Action Plan for change it in the next 30 days.

Having Problems with Goal Setting ? Try using Mental Contrasting Technique.

Daily Quote and Challenge:

” Mental contrasting when used by those with high expectations of success leads to increased goal commitment and energization.” Gabriele Oettingen,

In using mental contrasting or visualization technique to reach a personal change goal it is important to identify and picture how you will FEEL once you have attained your goal. To execute mental contrasting answer these two critical questions:

  1. What does success look like ?

 

2. How will you know when you have reached your goal?

 

Vision of New 21st Century Leadership

Leadership and Growth Mindset

With increased self-awareness through dialogue and feedback from others comes more confidence in your ability to tackle challenges and be a collaborative leader. These practices are hallmarks of the work I do with clients, not only in our more formally organized leadership development programs, but also in my modules on self-coaching and growth mindset characteristics both of which provide people with extensive feedback on self-awareness and how others see them.

Out these insights I have developed a vision for what 21st century leadership looks like. In the 21st Century a leader’s ability to inspire others to “follow you over the hill” in the command and control style of leadership is of less importance than your ability “to align people around a sense of purpose and values…and then model and empower other people to step up and lead no matter what organizational position or level they are in. This sense of autonomy and self-direction are critical elements in this new style of leadership.

If you’re inspiring followers, self-awareness is less important than power and the natural charisma we’ve traditionally associated with strong leadership. Yet  if you’re aligning and empowering other leaders, your success will depend on your ability to connect with people not as “followers” but as independent decision-makers and to motivate and influence them by speaking to their needs and interests.  This requires a keen degree of self-awareness and the ability to see clearly through the eyes of others.

Daily Quote and Self-Coaching Challenge: Coping with Life Difficulties and Losses

A Self-Coaching “Smart-Step” approach to Coping with anxiety and difficult times

Daily Quote: ” When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”.–Viktor Frankl 

Through out life we will encounter good and bad times. With the rapid pace of living  we all experience change as a way of life. Some of us learn to roll with the punches and find ways to get through our daily ups and downs. Others get “stuck” and have a difficult time functioning at an acceptable level. And still others find themselves anxious or increasingly depressed over a problem, concern, or worry for a long time. So we all react differently to change and try to find individual ways to cope. In my experience with clients, I have found some ways that are more effective than others to cope and push try to relief. Below I will provide two Self-Coaching tools that provide a practical framework and a mental set for dealing with these personal obstacles to live a life of constructive action. I suggest you write them down in your personal journal or on a 3x 5 index card so that when you find yourself on the edge or overwhelmed with worry and  insecure thinking, you read these tips to get you through the difficult situations you find yourself in. If necessary, read them over and over again, mantra like.

1.) I will let life be what it is. I won’t “make stuff up” too upset my balance and positive outlook. Sure there are obstacles and inconveniences but no awfulness and shoulds’ in life. Try using positive self-talk like the following: This too shall pass…it could have been much worst…this is inconvenient and unexpected so consciously  STOP. Take a deep BREATH. SMILE and Move ON. 
Sometimes, when the phone rings and the voice or message at the other end knocks you for a loop, you may feel shock, out of control or overwhelmed with what life has just delivered you. And yet you need to keep going on because sometimes there are no solutions or answers to life’s difficulties. Rather than reading these events as “awful” and “unsolvable”, a more constructive approach to terrible news is to notice and accept how you are feeling, if sad, be sad; if you start to cry just cry; if angry; be angry and then redirect your attention to something more useful. For example, find a tissue to wipe your tears, if you are standing sit-down, go for a long slow walk etc. Redirection physically can be a powerful constructive act.  Just remember this event as just a moment in life–not good or bad, just life.  Mentally reject the inner voice that tells you this is awful and you can’ go on. Don’t fight the fear or focus on it;  just notice it and accept it. Acknowledge these events are real, unwanted and  inconvenient obstacles that just need to be handled the best way you know how. With heighten emotions and unclear thinking about loss and fear driven thinking your insecurity and confusion will rise and you may find yourself slowed downed–but this is event is not the end of life or awful! What feels to be hopeless and overwhelming is only an emotional flooding created by this unexpected circumstance. Keep in mind your tool to STOP. Breath. Smile. Keep Moving and trust yourself to handle this situation.

2. Not every problem has a solution, and sometimes you have to just keep going and accept that maybe or maybe not an answer or understanding will appear. 
In time, some problems can be solved or understood. On the other hand, some problems will never be solved and you need to learn to live with this uncertainty and ambiguity of not knowing. Unfortunately, this is not easy to do, but begins with clear and positive thinking (3-1 rule of positivity) not with doubts, fears and negative thoughts. It is your irrational demand for answers and certainty in dealing with life’s problems and ambiguities that generate irrational thoughts, fretting behavior and other unhealthy symptoms such as nervousness, losing control, anxiety and feeling sick.

As you practice these new mental sets,  it helps to remind yourself of the countless problems and worries that have come and gone in your life. How many problems have you solved? One thousand? Ten thousand? or Hundred thousand? Many times you have faced problems and figured-out, how to survive these difficulties  by re-framing, re-strategizing, or over just letting time take its course. Right? Trust yourself and be more gentle and self compassionate because life difficulties eventually become part of your biography and you move on. Remember you have more fuel in the tank than you think you do.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Using Perseverance to Overcome Obstacles and Negative Thinking

Daily Quote: “Always continue the climb. It is possible for you to do whatever you choose, if you first get to know who you are and are willing to work with a power that is greater than ourselves to do it”.  Ella Wheeler Wilcox

                                                                                                       Another one by Michael Jordan

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give-up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it”.

Reflection: Perseverance is not an innate skill you are born with, it is learned and nurtured through life experiences. You can learn to challenge yourself by accepting the notion that sometimes you will make bad choices, take the wrong road or fail at a task or goal you are trying to achieve. The lesson to learn is that you never have to accept these things as enevitable. You have tomorrow to try a new way or learn a skill or task anew.  This called perseverance or resilience. I think it is in the willingness to keep trying that you learn to grow and develop all your potentials. If an activity is to easy there is no growth because you become bored or disinterested. On the other hand if you can find the “learning spot” where an activity pushes you to do more the challenge increases your motivation and energy to push ahead.

It is a habit of the brain. The Perseverance Factor is a practical way for overcoming unexpected failures, challenges, and unlucky setbacks in life. Remember your brain is driven by plasticity and you can increase perseverance and resilience by changing the way you think about problems and difficult obstacles in life. Perseverance or the resilience habit challenges your negative self-talk and basic beliefs that cause us to give-up and quit trying to accomplish our goals. Perseverance has been examined in many research studies in cognitive psychology, particularly the work of Aaron Beck, Father of  Cognitive Behavior Therapy  and Martin Seligman, the Founder of Positive Psychology movement.

Self-Coaching Challenge: How to create “flexible optimism”

Commit to challenge self-criticisms and negative thoughts by using positive self-talk. Try the 5 step cognitive tool of:

STOP-Deep Breathing–Challenge Thinking- Reframe- Act. This is not a feel good quick fix or psycho babble cliché. It works and you need to be patient and persevere when using this CBT tool.

Now think back to an actual situation where your  thoughts  upset you and you end choosing to self-limiting and self-sabotaging behavior and don’t do what you wanted to do. For example: ‘You are on your daily run and see the police ahead involved with some situation and you say yourself this is going to be awful, I’m going to be stopped by them and that worries me…’- (and then you turn and run another way to avoid them. Here is a better way to handle this troubling situation by using what cognitive psychologist call “Thought Stopping”

1. As you notice yourself saying these negative automatic thoughts, you can stop them mid-stream by saying to yourself “STOP”.

2. You might also wear a rubber band around your wrist, giving it a little pull each time you notice you are allowing negative thinking to take over or flood your mind. It will make you more aware of how often, and in what situation, you are having the negative thoughts.

3. Challenge the negative thought: Challenge the thoughts, examine them to see if they’re valid. Ask –‘Where’s the evidence for negative thought? Is there another way to look at it?’. Example: ‘Actually, it’s just the police doing their job, I don’t actually know what’s going to happen, all I can do is be who I am and this is going to be okay because they are protecting our neighborhood

4. Reframe situation and thoughts. For example, say I can cope with this situation if  they stop me and want to talk that is okay. I will be safe.  Don’t torture yourself with negative thoughts just be yourself and say this is okay I seen police do their job before and it doesn’t involve me.

5. Act-Calmly go about your business, Say I can do this I have done it before… 

Summary: STOP–Take a Deep Breath  –Challenge Thinking– Reframe Thinking Using Positive thoughts and then Act. 

Good Luck and let us know how this new approach worked for you.

Choosing Self-Coaching: Means Commitment to Openness and Authenticity

Self-Coaching –Is about discovering your strengths and gifts and taking steps to develop in positive ways to reach your full potential. I make the assumption that you already have the ability, talents and knowledge to reach your full potential but irrational thinking, shame, interference and painful experiences are blocking breakthroughs for living a more daring and fulfilling life. I developed a “process with structure” framework to support your goals and push you to not hold back or let interference block the true self you can become. The Self-Coaching principles and processes are focused on your needs and wants. A lot of people can relate to—the frustrations and emotional baggage of barriers in life, and why it is important to reflect and learn new ways to learn from these experiences, and figuring out a more positive way forward. Self-Coaching provides the opportunity to take a pause in order to really experience what you are feeling and how you can create more effective ways to handle difficult life situations in this modern era of constant communication and stimulation.

Key question in the Self-Coaching process is –How do you go about discovering your true potential and the courage to act upon and share your authentic self? In discussing that we are all infallible human beings One answer is to study and listen to Dr. Berne Brown when she so clearly points us in the right direction for living a more fulfilling life based on vulnerability, courage,  openness and authenticity when she writes, “We need our lives back. It’s time to reclaim the gifts of imperfection—the courage to be real, the compassion we need to love ourselves and others, and the connection that gives true purpose and meaning to life. These are the gifts that bring love, laughter, gratitude, empathy and joy into our lives.”

Avoid Derailing your Career: Pay attention to Blindspots and Other People’s Perceptions.

How other people see us impacts our identity, reputation and sense of worth. It can also derail a promising career. Here are some examples from my Leadership Coaching experience–Some people may see you as a “softie” because of your hypersensitivity to any comments that you perceive as criticism. This leads to less feedback because they are afraid of offending you and this leads to less feedback and others avoiding being straight with you. Others may see you as hot, impulsive, explosive, to quick to react emotionally or overwhelm them with your arguments. This leads to people seeing you as a bully or intimidating  because you are experienced as having always to  win with your idea or point of view. This type of style can be improved by being more open to other points of view and actively listening to understand people’s position and feelings.  Also, some withhold feedback because you are seen as to strong, rude or very opinionated; not getting feedback in any of these situations leaves you with many “blinspots” that can stall your career and raise undue tension and conflict in your management team.

These blindspots are not to be considered personality flaws but only areas for more training and development of your interpersonal communication skills. Blindspots generally signal a need for more self-understanding because people are experiencing you in a way that is not productive for you or your organization. A blindspot  area could also include issues that others are deliberately withholding information from you and this might lead to your inability to manage and lead the team.

Self-Coaching Challenge:  To reduce the blind spots that may de-rail your career or interpersonal relationships you need to seek more input and information from others. To do this you need to model and support more listening and less judgmental feedback. Modeling openness and support for  more individual disclosure, reduces fear and therefore encourages honest feedback to flourish.  The extent to which an individual seeks feedback, and the issues on which feedback is sought, must always be at the individual’s own discretion. Some people are more resilient than others – care needs to be taken to avoid causing emotional upset. The process of soliciting serious and deep feedback relates to the process of ‘self-development and growth as a leader.

If you are committed to seek more feedback the question becomes– how do you go about getting it?

Sometimes people describe blind spots as perception disconnects – when the people around us don’t perceive our words and behaviors in the way we intended. We might believe that our calm, composed demeanor is a serious advantage in a high-stress workplace. Unfortunately, our co-workers perceive us as robotic, uncaring and even bully. Our goal might be to appear decisive and candid, but others actually think we’re abrupt and insensitive. Are we energetic and driven? Or relentless and annoying?  Are we methodical and systematic? Or inflexible and overly cautious? Sometimes there’s a very fine line there. But, at the end of the day, perceptions trump intentions. Despite our goals and the impressions we intend to make, our career success is determined by our reputations and the perceptions of us held by others.

Over the next three weeks take time to inform others that you want more feedback. Ask a close associate to observe and provide feedback on your blind spots– Be careful to be concrete in your request–by saying something like this– during the next few staffing meetings would you mind observing and documenting my ability and manner of listening or not  with team members and after the meeting we can talk about what worked, what didn’t work and how I might improve my listening skills.

Remember in trying to get feedback and uncover your blind spots you need to be supportive when this person provides their feedback on areas for improvement. Good Luck and be sure and share with us how it your personal development goes.

Daily Quote and Reflections: What are your answers to the “big” questions about Living?

Quote:  “The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freeoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance…Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” Viktor E. FranklMan’s Search for Meaning

Reflection: Why am I Living? Victor Frankl challenges us about the meaning in life when he says: Survival for what and What?  Those who survived the ordeal of concentration camps in WWII created a future orientation rather than a self-center orientation. They created in their minds eye a future desire for reconnection with someone or something outside of themselves. This ability to find a mission outside of yourself is called, Self-Transcendance and says is the secret for creating a meaningful purpose in life.

Self-Coaching Challenge : Over this weekend take a few moments of alone time to wrestle withe these questions and then capture your thinking in your Personal Learning Journal. Then build a plan to translate you thoughts and insights into concrete actions for living a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

 

Daily Quote, Reflection and Self-Coaching Challenge: 6 Steps for Continuous Personal Change

Daily Quote and Reflection:

First Law of Self-Directed Coaching: ” To achieve personal growth and full potential first requires “self-awareness and acceptance”. Carl Rogers, Father of Client-Center Therapy 

Reflection: I agree with Dr.Rogers statement because if you do not know your self and are reluctant to examine and learn both your strengths and areas needing improvement life is just one activity after another. In addition, acceptance is not a state of passivity or inaction. I am not saying you can’t change the world, right wrongs, or replace evil with good but I like to focus on things I can control, thus making my life more exciting and fun.  Acceptance is, in fact, the first step to successful action. If you don’t fully accept the reality of a situation precisely the way it is, you will have difficulty getting going to change it . Moreover, if you don’t fully accept the situation, you will never really know if the situation needs changing. In the Self-Coaching Challenge I am going to provide a model for you to get going on personal changes.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Creating Your Future in next 30 days: 6 Steps for Continuous Personal Change 

CONTINUOUS CHANGE AND PERSONAL GROWTH MODEL

1. Ask yourself WHY you want to make this personal change

2. ASSESS?  Where your are NOW ( Point A)

3. WHAT? Describe in realistic and specific detail your end goal ( Point B )?

4. HOW? Creating the future (Development Plan)

5. ACTION PLAN: WHO, WHERE, BY WHEN

6. CONTINUOUS LEARNING AND FEEDBACK LOOP: Use a metric to assess your changes. Ask others how you are doing in regard to a specific change goal, like listening. Do they see the changes? Are they experiencing you in new way? What suggestions do they have for you to change even more?  Thank the for the feedback.   

Power of Self-Coaching: Frank Shorter’s Theory and Tips for Running

Frank Shorter, winner of the gold medal in the Olympic marathon in the 1972 Munich games and a silver medal in the Montreal games in 1976, put running on the map in the U.S. This great long-distance runner of all time discusses is theory of self-coaching. Here are a few comments from Shorter on how self-motivation and discipline are keys to success not just in running, but generally in living a more productive and fulfilling life style.

Frank Shorter shares his viewpoint and tips on the power of  self-coaching: ” My simple, basic theory involves running very easily—at what I call conversational pace—75-90 percent of the time. Integrate short, fast interval training at 5K race pace if you want to run faster. If you want to run a marathon, add a long run once a week working up to at least two hours (20 miles if you’re very serious). A clear outline of these training theories can be found in my book, Running for Peak Performance...I have coached myself.  I do not think of myself as that unusual. To me, it shows how we have lost sight of just how individual and independent athletic success ( or other successes) can be with just a little self-motivated focus. In a way, relying on yourself is a lost art…In a way I think of myself as a “sandlot” runner”.

Self- Coaching  Challenge: What in your life provides the passion, energy and focus that Frank Shorter found in running?

Single Most Important Factor For Happiness–Unique Connections

Unique Connect—Seek to understand and show interest before telling your story

“When we’re with other people, we feel more positive emotions, which leads to greater happiness. When we’re happier, we have better relationships. This in turn leads to more positive emotions…and being on an “upward spiral” of well-being and happiness. Connecting with others is the single most important thing we can do for happiness”… the cerebral virtues—curiosity, love of learning—are less strongly tied to happiness than interpersonal virtues like kindness, gratitude, and capacity for love.” Martin Seligman  

When you first meet someone, are you attuned and focused on them or are you more interested in telling them your story? Showing interest and learning about the other person 1st is key to establishing a good first impression and establishing a “unique connect” Learning about them and their interests is a powerful connector. This is a secret that too many people have never learned because they like being the center of attention. When done well it builds a strong foundation for building a long-term relationship based on memorable first impression that demonstrates in a concrete way your core values of caring and interest.

If you do the unique connect well the following will occur:

  1. You will enjoy the conversation more because you invested in someone else.
  2. They will like you more and the interaction is more engaging.
  3. You will be perceived as an interesting person.
  4. They will normally begin to ask you questions and thus become interested in you.
  5. They will perceive you as a great resource and worthy person, which will impact you in the future.

The “unique connect” is powerful because the shift that focuses on someone else makes them feel better and accepted. The “unique connect” helps keep your ego in check and good reminder that it is not about us but the people we serve – that we influence people all the time, whether you realize it or not, and that there is always more to learn and new ways to grow. When you are interested in someone and they begin to trust you, then your influence increases and impact occurs. And by the way they may complete the circle by asking about you and your story.

Self-Coaching challenge: Here two ways to increase your connections with others. In the next 24 hours pick one and try it out. Then reflect on how it makes you feel. The Emotional Life Series on happiness recommends these two techniques:

” 1. Connect every day. Find a way to connect with someone else every day. Make it a priority to have a relaxed phone conversation, take a short walk together, share a meal, or exchange letters or emails with someone you enjoy.

2. Fake it to You Make it– Act “as if.” Even if you’re not a very outgoing person, act as if you are when you are around other people. Researchers find that if you push yourself to be more outgoing when you are with other people, you’ll feel more positive emotions from the social interaction”.

Self-Coaching Mastery: Be who you are…5 Ways to Overcome Negative Mindset

“Your identity is what you’ve committed yourself to. It may just mean doing a better job at whatever you’re doing. There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are –and that too is a kind of commitment. They have the gift of kindness or courage or loyalty or integrity. It matters very little whether they’re behind the wheel of a truck or running a country store or bringing up a family.”  John Gardner on Self-Renewal

One of the key obstacles to self- renewal is fear. The reason fear is at the center as a barrier to self-renewal  is that fear what fuels negative outlooks and excuses. We start making excuses when we are afraid how someone will react to something we say or do. Maybe you say you’re “busy” when a friend asks you out for drinks, or maybe you say “I don’t know how to…” when you haven’t even tried. We all have anxieties, fears and make make excuses once in a while, here’s how to overcome this negative mindset and live a more engaging and fulfilling life.

  1. Focus on the type of self-talk you use. Listen to the kind of words we use is beneficial in understanding our excuse, fears and anxieties in life. Do you use negative and inaccurate words to describe your actions? Such as …stupid, dummy or other vague terms to put yourself down. Internal Your internal dialogue has a powerful way of directing your thinking, physical appearance and actions.  To stop this negative drumbeat we must stop and challenge the messages we are sending to ourselves. To over ride this “alien”  and unhelpful negative talk we must observe our internal talk and determine if it is communicating in a way that is helpful helping us get what we need and want in life.
  2.  Practice honesty. The first thing to know is that an excuse is nothing more than a lie to ourselves and others. The more you make excuses, the easier it gets. Lying, like most everything else, becomes easier the more you do it. But so does telling the truth. Practice telling yourself and other people the truth all of the time. If you don’t want to go out with a friend, don’t lie. Tell the truth. I am sure  YOU appreciate your friends telling you the truth?
  3. Prioritize. Use your talent, time, and resources doing things that are important and meaningful for you. Stop saying yes to doing things that you don’t like doing. If the person or project does not fit your strengths or interests or excite you or make you happy, then don’t waste your time. If there are people in your life who are draining your energy, then don’t give them yours. Make a list of what is important to you and do things toward that end. If spending time with family is a priority, then take steps to prove it.
  4. Start believing in yourself. Why not you…Why not us… Russell Wilson’s ( winning super bowl QB ) Dad constantly asked his son “why not you”…this reflective and encouraging question stayed “top of the mind ” for Russel through many ups and downs of his sports journey.  This question has kept him focused and motivated to be the best he can be in life. It is a very positive motivator for him. It is easy to say “Be positive!” to people, but it is a lot harder in practice. You might wake up in a great mood, but by the time you get to work that mood is nothing but a distant memory. Don’t let the weather or traffic ruin your day, or your argument with your wife dim the days outlook. If you find yourself hating the world, take a deep breath and think about a pleasant memory of your life. This positive recall will usually make you smile. And, smiling is one of  many ways to turn your thinking from negative mood into a bright, shiny one.
  5. Be Self-compassionate. One of the nasty ways excuses creep in to your mental mindset is “self talk”. Let me re-state a few key ideas from the above #1 point. Self talk is the way you think about yourself, or even talk about yourself to others. If you are aware of the power of self-efficacy you know the way you view a task or a challenge, and the way you view your own ability to conquer that task has a direct impact on your ability to actually complete it. If you approach a project thinking it is too difficult, or that you are not good enough, then chances are you won’t do it. The good news is that once you become aware of how you are talking to yourself, you can stop. Each time you hear yourself using doubt as an excuse, stop. Change your mental dialog into something positive, and you will become something positive.

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.  

Part I: Learn to Overcome your Demons and Negative Self-talk

Daily Quote: “First your negative talk controls and ignores your positivity, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win… Remember your past does not determine your future.” MWH 

Each of us has a set of internal messages that play like a tape recorder over and over in our minds. These internal messages can be either negative or positive. This dialogue frames our reaction to different people and circumstances in our life.

One of the ways to recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, is to observe and intentionally fill our thoughts with positive self-talk.

Too often the pattern of self-talk developed through life experiences is negative. We remember the negative things we were told as children by parents, siblings, or teachers. For some reason this negative commentary has more power than positive messages. Most of the research shows that it takes 3-5 positive messages to override negative ones.(Fredrickson and Gottman). Over the years these negative self-talk messages have replayed again and again in our minds, fueling our thoughts of frustration, shame, fear, guilt, and hopelessness.

Overriding these negative patterns takes willpower and sustain practice to change our brain. If people learned as children that they were worthless, we show them how truly special they are. If while growing up you learned to expect bad reactions, or unlucky events, you need to rewire these patterns and find better ways to react and create a more positive future.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Try the following reflection and re-wiring exercise.

1) Write down some of the negative messages that replay in your mind, ones that undermine your ability to feel comfortable and in control of events and circumstances in your life. Be specific whenever possible, and include anyone you remember who contributed to that message.

2) Now take a moment to focus on how to override these negative messages with positive experiences by remembering events where you triumphed in spite of negativity or changed negative self-talk to positive messages. Don’t give up if you don’t find them quickly. For every negative message there is a positive truth that will override and counter balance the power of the negativity.

You may have a negative message that replays in your head every time you make a mistake. As a child you may have been told “you’ll never amount to anything,” or “you can’t do anything right.” When you make a mistake — and you will, because we all do — you can choose to overwrite that message with a positive one, such as “I choose to accept my responsibility and grow from my mistake,” or “ When I find the lesson in making mistakes I now have the opportunity to thinking and behave in a more effective way. As I learn from my mistakes, I’m becoming a more functioning person.”

During this exercise, mistakes become opportunities to replace negative views of yourself with positive options for personal worth and growth. In addition, every time your over-ride a negative thought you form new paths for succeeding in the future.

 Positive Self-talk is Mental Toughness. Positive self-talk is  mental toughness in action. It is looking at circumstances with eyes that see the reality and truth of what is happening. Positive self-talk is about reaffirming your strength and worth. One of the fundamental truths is that life is difficult. To expect perfection in yourself is unrealistic. To expect no difficulties in life, whether through your own actions or sheer circumstance, is also unrealistic.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Learning Self- Control and Self-Mastery to Live a Life On Purpose

Daily Quote: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”. Mark Twain

Reflection: All the “stars are aligned” and at that moment someone ask you this question–If you could get paid for something you really love and are skilled at doing it (master). What would you do? What is holding you back? How do you want to get started? What is your commitment level on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)? What do you need to see or what has to happen for you to turn love and dream into action?

If you want to be really good at something, it’s going to involve relentlessly pushing past your comfort zone and a significant amount of practice and dedication, usually 10,000 hours, of practicing the right things known and accepting self-doubts and potentially bad things that happen in living a self-directed life. This is true as long as you want to continue to improve, or even maintain a high level of excellence. The reward is that being really good at something, called mastery, is earned through hard work and still can be immensely satisfying once accomplished. Watch this video on self-control which impacts the ability to mastery and personal  changes.

Here, then, are the seven keys to achieving mastery found to be most effective:

  1. Pursue what you love. Passion and conviction” are incredible motivators. They fuel dreams, focus, resilience, and perseverance.
  2. Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That’s when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.
  3. Deliberative Practice.    Without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appear to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.
  4. Seek expert coaching and feedback, in small steps and small doses. The clearer and more concise and focused the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments to your thinking and behavior . Too much feedback, given continuously can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, loss of confidence and interference with constructive learning.
  5. Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense practice not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also helps to embed concepts, behaviors and overall acceleration of learning. It’s also during rest that the right-side of the brain becomes more effective and dominate, which can lead to long-term memory gains and behavioral or creative breakthroughs.
  6. Establish practice leading to new behaviors and habits. Self-discipline and will power are difficult to access without training and practice.ResearcherRoy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of the right amount and kind of will power sustain dramatic personal change. The best way to insure you’ll take on new learning challenges and difficult tasks is to build rituals and new habits — specific, times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to waste energy thinking about them or forcing yourself to do things.
  7. Learn to accept life’s uncertainty, develop mental toughness, be resilient and learn to utilize relax and release techniques. In doing these actions you can access the right focus to live your life on purpose and with meaning.

Self-Challenge: What  are going to do so that you can do the thing you love to do in life? What does your plan look like? When are you going to start? How can the keys to self-mastery help you get where you want to go?