Mental Toughness: The X-Factor in Sport and Life

Mental Toughness: The X-Factor in Sport and Life

>>Feel so powerful– I walk up
front and the room gets quiet. You’ve all been
very well taught. Appropriate
social behavior. Welcome, my name is
Dr. Frank Conner. I’m the Chair of the
Psychology department. This is the fourth and
the last presentation in this year’s psychology
department speaker series. I am so happy to introduce
to you Dr. Eddie O’Connor. Dr. Connor is a sports
psychologist at Mary Free Bred. Mary Free Bed. He’s not an animal
psychologist, although we did have
a presentation by an animal psychologist
one time, a few years ago. Dr. O’Connor is a fellow
and certified consultant with the Association for
Applied Sport Psychology. His PhD, his
Doctorate is from Illinois Institute
of Technology in Chicago. His Bachelor’s degree
is from Binghamton. And I would like you
to give a warm welcome to Dr. O’Connor. (applause) (no sound)>>Now I am?
All right. Well, I’m very excited
to see everybody here. Pretty brief
introduction, but I would like
to really focus on is what the point is and
what I personally hope you guys get
out of today. I don’t wanna
just talk at you. What I really
hope is that through the conversation we
have for the next hour or so, that you get something
very, very applied, that you can apply to
your sport, to school, to your relationships,
or whatever area that you want to be
more mentally tough at. So what the goals are
for today is to say, “Okay, well, what does
mental toughness look like?” I think everybody recognizes
it when we see it, but to actually
define it can sometimes be a
little bit tricky. So what does it look
like, very specifically? How do you develop it daily,
and then apply it to your life? And then, we’ll leave some
time for questions at the end. But honestly, there’s gonna
be lots of practical tips that I go
through. So if we’re on a certain
subject or segment or topic that you gonna spend a
little bit more time on, we’ve got a lot
of time built in that we could
actually do that to make this more
of a conversation. Sound good? All right. So, the X-Factor–
why did I call it that? Well, let me ask you
a couple of questions. When I say your game, if you’re
an athlete, respond to that. If you’re a professor, think
about your professional game. If there’s any of area of the
life that’s important to you, what percentage of
that game is mental? And I will
call on people. I won’t pick on the people
in the front row, because you’re brave
enough to sit here. But– (laughing)
did you hear the cheer? What percentage of
your game is mental?>>(indistinct).
>>90%.>>(indistinct).>>97%? Oh 90%, we got
agreement there. This side of the room–
you got game?>>(indistinct).
>>90%. (laughing)>>(indistinct).
>>100%. All right, you know,
I get a lot of– The worst I’ve
ever heard is 50%. 90% actually tends to be, for
whatever reason, very popular, and some people
do say 100%. And that’s– it’s
interesting. I actually think
it’s 100% physical and 100% emotional. We’ll get into that in a
little bit and we’ll see why, because I don’t think we
go out and do anything without thoughts
and emotions. But more specifically,
I’d like to know how much time do you spend
developing the mental game? Again, if we have
some athletes here, you know, take
that model. You spend a lot of
hours practicing. The athletes that I work
with at Mary Free Bed, anywhere from
2 hours a day to some gymnasts, 16, 18 hours
a week in physical practice. How much time do you
spend in mental training? Studying and school
doesn’t count.>>(indistinct).
>>Very common response. “Never thought
about it.” Anybody else?>>(indistinct).>>(chuckling)
“Not enough.” That’s a good
answer, too, which is probably
why you’re all here. But I do find it
very interesting. The athletes that I talk
to, we get these numbers. Well, not really.
Why do we do that? Well, I think, again,
because we’re constantly swimming through our
thoughts and our emotions. We’ve always
had them. There’s a little bit of
a stereotype against, “Oh, you know, if you have
to work on your mindset, “maybe you’re not– that
you’re weak of some kind.” But I was fascinated
to find out that I didn’t know
sport psychology existed until I was
a senior. It was the last class
I took in college. I already knew I wanted
to be a psychologist. I take this class,
I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, “you mean there’s something
I could have done “to fix all of
this stuff?” My career was over
by that time. I was really
disappointed. But to actually
find out that there is actually
a way to think, and to feel that can
enhance your performance, and skills that you
can use to build it. But most
people don’t. We don’t think
about it and we certainly
don’t prioritize it. I know, again, as an
applied sport psychologist, sometimes I’m competing
for time with certainly more coaching, I’m
competing with golf clubs, competing with
extra lessons, sometimes competing
with nutritionists and other things about
where do we put it in. But we always have our
thoughts and feelings with us. So, let me ask you,
’cause again, some people know
mentally tough people. Is this just something
that you’re born with or can you
develop it? Yeah, I hope we
can develop it, because otherwise we’re
gonna sit here and waste
time for an hour, right? Okay. We can absolutely
develop it. So here’s one of my favorite
definitions of mental toughness. It’s having
the natural– because some people are
kind of wired this way– or developed psychological edge
that lets you be more consistent and better than
your opponents in remaining determined,
focused, confident, and in control
under pressure. So to break this
down a little bit, when I think about
mental toughness, I look at those
two components of being consistent,
more consistent, and being better
than your opponents. More consistent because you’re
not either just mentally tough or not. I remember working with a
professional football team, and trying to
talk to them. Some of the coaches were, you
know, happy to have me there, and some of them
really just didn’t want me to be
there at all. And I’ll never forget
the defensive coordinator was like, “Doc, these
are the pros now, man! “These are
football players! “They’re already
mentally tough.” And it was kind of hard to stand
up to him and say, “Well–” and I was like, “Yeah, they’re
all big, strong, and fast, too, “but still, you work
out those things.” There’s something
threatening sometimes about feeling like, “Well,
if I’m not mentally tough, “I’m mentally weak,” and
that’s not the case. I mean, we wanna look
at it as a continuum, and then, if you’re
gonna be mentally tough, it’s really gonna
be in relationship to the other
people. So again, Olympians can be
fast, athletes can be fast, you could be good at your job,
but you could always be better, and then it really
comes down to, when you’re under pressure
and having to perform, not, “Are you mentally
tough or aren’t you,” but, “How much more can you
use that mental awareness, “intensity, focus,
concentration, “to use that to bring you ahead
of your opponent in winning?” Think we all know
what those things are and we’ll go into it in a
little bit more detail, but determined– we’re
gonna talk about that. Motivation versus
commitment, being focused, having to
choose your attention, where to put it
at the right time. Being confident–
and I’m actually gonna undermine
myself a little bit in saying that sometimes I
think that can be overplayed. And we’ll learn how
to deal with it when you don’t
have confidence. And then, my favorite
part of all of it is staying in control
under pressure, ’cause how many people here
react to their emotions? All right, good,
an honest group. I like it. So, I always like to
start off with the idea of mental toughness, and really anything
that you’re gonna do has to be grounded in
what’s important to you. So, with all, again, the
athletes that I work with, it always kind
of starts off, and I kind of get a
nice assessment of, “Well, what’s
your mission? “What’s the point?” I like this definition
of what do you value. Values provide meaning
to your efforts, direction for
your energy, and endurance
through adversity. It really is sort
of the foundation that all your mental toughness
is gonna be built upon. So let’s make this a
little bit more personal. Let me ask some people if
you’re willing to share, and if you’re not,
I’d at least like you to ask yourself
the question, and say, “Why did you
come here today?”>>(indistinct).
(audience laughing)>>I was told that that was
actually part of the reason. Okay, again, honesty,
I like that. If I could offer you
something more… as you listen, even
if you don’t know, but I’d like you to choose
an area of your life that you’d like
to be better at. Again, you don’t have
to shout it out, but I do ask everybody to
get the most out of this, to think about one area
where you’d like to be more mentally
tough. Okay? Everybody
got one? Now, I’d like to use
this other exercise. It’s an intervention that I do
with my athletes often early on. I’d like you all
to close your eyes. We’re gonna do a
bit of imagery. And what I’d like you
to imagine is yourself. If you’re an athlete,
for example, and you wanna be
better in your sport, I’d like you to imagine the
end of the season banquet. If you’re a student, and
you’re really thinking “Well, I wanna be
a better student,” maybe it’s gonna
be at graduation or maybe it’s even
further down the line, at the end
of your career. If it’s a relationship
that you wanna improve on, social skills,
or any other area, maybe you’re
actually looking at– I’ve done this with some
people– your funeral, and the very end when
everything is said and done. So I’d like you to kind of keep
some time off in the future, and start to imagine that all
these people have gathered. Let’s go with the
retirement dinner idea. That all your teammates,
your coaches, parents, friends,
family, opponents, everybody’s gathered to
celebrate your career. And there’s one
particular person that knows you extremely
well through it all, that goes up
to the podium, and is gonna address the
group that’s gathered to celebrate you and
your accomplishments. So I want you to
see that person… look around, see
everybody who’s gathered, and as this person
starts to speak, maybe they start off with
a few jabs, and a few humor, and a few
funny stories, but then they start
to get serious about the type of
person or athlete, or worker, or
professor that you are. And they start
talking about the way you came
to work every day. I want you to just be
open to what you hear, based on the way that you live,
the way things are going. They talk about the
attitude that you bring to practice,
to class. They talk about
your work ethic. If you go the extra mile,
or if you cut corners. They talk about the
quality of what you do. Your attention to
detail, precision… or halfheartedly. They talk about
what people see. They don’t know
what’s in your heart. They only know
what you do. So they talk about
the behaviors that demonstrated
these qualities. Season after season,
semester after semester, year after year… that you built
up this legacy. They start talking about your
relationships on the team or in the classroom,
or at the workplace. How you
treated others. If you were helpful,
or if you sabotaged… if you were selfish
or giving… if you were “team first,”
the things that you did and the stories that
this person would tell that illustrated that. Or if you looked
out for number one. And then, it starts to
get into the hard times, when things
got rough. How did
you react? Through pain
and injury, through losses? When you weren’t
motivated, when you got tired
as all people do, how you responded. How you handled your emotions
when things didn’t go right. When you made
a mistake. If you rebounded, or if you
let that stuff keep you down. The attitude
that you brought in the dark days
and the dark times. And I’d like you to
kind of now observe and pay attention to what
you heard this person say… and if you liked
what this person had to say
about you, great. I encourage you
to keep doing that and maybe apply some of
the things that we learned. But as you still sit there
with your eyes closed, I want you to think that if
you didn’t like the things that you heard, that if you kept doing things
the way that you’re doing them, this is the way
things are gonna go. And so, just… let
yourself think about, “Well, what do I want
to be different?” Because the
great news is, is that this is some
point off in the future, and our legacies are
built one day at a time with the choices
that we make. And you have time to
make those choices. So again, let
yourself focus on something that you’d
like to get out of today, something that you
can apply it to that has great
meaning to you. And when you’re ready to
come back into the room, slowly open your eyes
and take a stretch. And if the person next to you
still has their eyes closed, give them another minute and
then just nudge them for me. So again, this is a personal
exercise I like to do with my athletes
as practical way to kind of get
them grounded. You don’t have
to say anything, but I encourage anybody
if you have any feedback or questions about
the experience. Careful with moving your hair,
I might jump right on that. (laughing)>>(indistinct).>>He said it’s a
meditative thing. Yeah, absolutely, and a lot
of what mental toughness I think comes down to and
we’ll be talking about this, is, again, being
observant of yourself and making
conscious choices. This is not natural
by any stretch, and everything starts
with awareness. Any other
reactions? Okay. So, what I’d like to do
now for the next bit here is go into my favorite
mental toughness tips, and this is the one that
I love to start off with, get you really at the beginning
because I think of all of them– you know, I’ll say
this about each one, “Each one’s most important,”
but this one’s really good. And I think it’s so
common where my athletes tend to get mixed
up a little bit, but I like to start off
and say “play for excellence” or “work for
excellence.” And this idea of
excellence is to play to your own standard
of excellence, not up or down to the
level of your opponent. So much of what I see
is people coming in, they just wanna win, they’re
focused on the outcome. And how many people can
control if they win or lose? One person. So you win all
the time then? No. Do you choose
to lose then? Do you really
control that? No.>>(indistinct).>>What’s that?
>>(indistinct).>>You have
a choice?>>(indistinct).>>To participate
or not, absolutely. And that, actually,
the idea of choice is exactly what
I wanna hit on, is because so many times,
we get caught up in “I want the raise,”
or “I want this outcome,” or “I wanna win or lose,”
but we cannot control that. And again, I think
of this same coach that didn’t want me
as part of this team, which is yell
at the players to, you know, “Come on,
we gotta win,” or “Stop this drive,”
all these outcomes. How many people have had coaches
that just say, you know, “Make the shot,”
“Score the points”? You hear all
of this, right? And I’m sitting
there like, “How?” Like, “What can
you possibly– “don’t you think that’s
what we’re trying to do?” Do we need coaches
to tell us this? (chuckling)
You know, “Come on, win!” “Oh, is that why I’m here?”
(laughing) But, you know, again, it’s we
get so focused on the outcome, and it just screws
athletes up, it screws all of us up,
when we get so– because we can’t control
the outcome of this, but what we can control,
just like you had said, is what choices do we
make, the process of it. So if we get all screwed up
kind of thinking about, you know– what I love
about this picture is look at how serious
these two are. All right, now, if you’re
gonna sumo wrestle, according to expectations,
who’s gonna win this? We think the big
guy is, right? And probably 999 times
out of 1,000, he will, but look at the way
the two of them are. I mean, you see the parents in
the back, they’re laughing, and they think it’s funny,
but these two athletes don’t. What I love about this,
is they both look like they’re going to
play for excellence, which basically means,
“You know what? “I have a
performance to do. “My job is to execute my
skills, be technically sound, “play with
high intensity,” all the things that
we’re gonna talk about. And once you let
go of the outcome, and you say, “I’m gonna
control the process of it, “and I’m going to be the most
excellent that I can be, “I’m gonna play
as well as I can,” a whole lot of
pressure goes away ’cause you’re in
control of that. And if we have
football fans here– honestly, I’m
a Bills fan, so this hurts me
to tell this story, but you remember a
number of years ago when the Patriots
were going crazy and they just running
up the score and everybody’s talking
about the Patriots. They were like– you
remember this, right? I was a Bills
fan, man. They were beatin’ us by
like 40-something points and they had like fourth in
one on the one yard line, threw a touchdown pass to
Randy Moss, I’m like cryin’. But I had to respect
what Bill Belichick was doin’
that season. He was like, “I don’t care
what the outcome is–” kept Brady in, you know, up
by 50 points and kept him in. He wasn’t coaching to
anything other than “execute the play the
way we designed it.” Forget about
everything else. Forget the score, forget
the risk of injury. They did that throughout
the whole season. I thought it
was amazing. One of the few times
I’ve truly seen this be completely done, only
focusing on the process, only be the best
player you can be. “Execute exactly the
way we designed it. “That’s the only
thing we care about.” And that’s what
these guys are doin’. So you might think–
if you’re the big guy, you might kind
of think what? If you were gonna play to
the level of your opponent, how do you think
he’s gonna play? What do you think his
intensity level’s gonna be? He’ll be
confident. I might even take it further
and say “overconfident,” right? This is what I love
about NCAA tournaments. Why don’t we have four number
one seeds in the final four? We almost never get four
number one seeds, right? ‘Cause upsets
happen. Overconfidence is
a big part of that. So this guy, if
you’re overconfident, how do you end
up playin’? Weaker, you’re sloppy, maybe
slapping the kid, you know, not paying attention,
his intensity goes down. His concentration goes down,
his focus goes down. And what he does, by not being
the best athlete he can be, is he opens
up a window. Now, again, kid’s gonna need
a lot of things to go wrong in order for
this guy to win, but you start thinking about it
in your areas of performance. If you’re overconfident
against somebody of a relatively
similar ability, These are how
upsets happen. You’ve all
seen them. So now, this other,
little kid. Now, he’s, again–
if he’s gonna think that he’s gonna
get killed, what do you think his
attitude might be, and how might
he play? Weaker,
he’ll protect. How many people here, like,
if you know you’re gonna fail, how many people
give full effort? Even when we think
we’re gonna win, full effort– and I’m
talking full effort– we so rarely
do that. It is incredibly hard. We’re not wired to work
really, really hard. Do me a favor–
I wanna try something. Everybody, reach as high
as you can in the air. Now reach higher. Okay, for the–
now reach higher. I only saw one
person do it, and then you stopped
giving me 100%. Lady in the orange
in the back. (chuckling) Thank you– some
people stood up. Stand up,
I’m not done. Come on.
(laughing) Because I still don’t
think I have your best. Now reach higher. (audience laughing) Good, again, some
people who are now standing on
some chairs. Now, for liability reasons,
don’t do that. I’m not done! Reach higher. (audience laughing)
Good, thinking outside the box, going to the second
floor, he said, but I don’t see
anybody jumpin’. (audience laughing)
Oh, is that right– okay. All right, you
can have a seat. But you see what I’m sayin’?
I mean, like, how many times– I mean, now granted, why
are you gonna listen to me? But how many times
do I have to ask to say, “Gimme 100%,
gimme 100%”? We’re not wired
to do it! And how many people,
first time you lifted, thought, “That’s as
high as I can go?” Right? Some people were– okay, a
lot of people were knowingly just saying, “Well,
I’ll just entertain him.” But again, more
and more and more. Barriers to it–
“Oh, socially awkward, “I don’t wanna fall
and break my neck,” lots of reasons that’ll
prevent us from doing it. Love the coaches that
say, “I want 110%.” All right, first, besides that
being mathematically impossible, it drives me insane, because I’m like, “What
are you expecting from “especially these 8-,
9-year-olds “that we’re coaching?”
(laughing) But really, we
don’t do that. We wanna respect how hard
it is to truly do this, to play to a level
of excellence. And what my next
part is, I think, if I’m on target here, is
to give a career-best effort every time you’re
performing. It can take a lot
of mental energy, but this is where you want
all of your attention to go. And again, the quality
of what you do. That’s what I’m talking
about the excellence. It’s not just
showing up to practice, but it is some of the things
that we had talked about in this retirement
dinner here. You know, the idea of,
“How do you do this? “How do you approach
your sport?” More than just
showing up, but, “What do you
wanna be every day?” Mental toughness
is that. What does that
look like in the sense of intensity
and commitment, some other things
that we’ll get into? I love playing to your own
standard of excellence, because once you start to
identify the kind of athlete you wanna be, the kinda
person you wanna be, the partner you wanna be,
the worker you wanna be, the professor
you wanna be. Once you get that image of what
that excellent standard is, that’s a lot
to live up to. And put your energy and
attention into that. That has value
and has meaning, and that’s gonna
be your foundation. Do we have any
perfectionists in the room? Okay, good. I wanna talk about the
perfect perfectionist because I get a lot of
that at Mary Free Bed with the athletes
coming in. And it’s actually something
that actually I really admire. I wish more people
were perfectionists. You get a lot of stuff when
people do a job half way, and it can be
very frustrating, but it’s also something that
burns out a lot of my athletes, and it can really
be difficult. So, we all wanna be perfect
for a lot of reasons, or a lot
of us do. And that usually has
an attitude that I see of never
making mistakes. Mistakes are failures,
they are unacceptable, and, again, the
perfectionists in the room– I can’t see with the light
if people are nodding– but we beat
ourselves up, and we get so frustrated
when we make a mistake. It’s– you just get
this visceral reaction when things go wrong
because we wanna be perfect. We wanna be the best, and
that’s what it takes to win, and we gotta
be perfect! Anybody
achieve it? Okay. Now, again, that doesn’t make us
feel any better though, does it? To say, “Oh,
nobody’s perfect.” How many people
have heard that? How many people feel
good about that? Yeah, I mean, it
hasn’t helped me. I had to find
this way. So, what ends up happening
when you’re perfectionistic is you get angry, it’s unacceptable, and
you’re hard on yourself. Again, people
beat yourself up when things go wrong
are perfectionists. But you’re human beings–
I know you do this. What it leaves you
with is burnout. A lot of my athletes will end
up getting out of the sport or you’ll get burned
out in your life if you keep striving
for something that
you can’t achieve. So let’s talk about
striving for excellence, ’cause there’s still, I think,
the target of perfection. Again, I like
that idea. And you’re really not gonna win
gold, or be the best you can be, if you’re not really
striving for perfection. But you gotta understand it
and relate to it differently. Before I bring up some
other things under here, what do you think is
the key to switching from perfectionism
to excellence? What do you think is the one
difference in the two things?>>(indistinct).
>>Mistakes. Who is–
who, who? What about mistakes?
It’s exactly right.>>(indistinct).>>To let yourself
make them. That’s exactly it. It’s an attitude that mistakes
are an opportunity to learn. That’s the
only difference. ‘Cause again, people
are like, “Well, if I’m
not perfectionistic, “I won’t do
as well.” I had one guy who was a–
came in and he was– millionaire, had very– made
a lot of money doing things. He was like, “Look, if you’re
gonna teach me to relax, “you’re gonna
cost me millions.” I’m like, “No,
no, no, no, no.” I’m just saying– he
had terrible headaches and stress
because of this. I’m like, “I’m just
gonna tweak it so you
can actually be better.” This isn’t about saying,
“Oh, I made a mistake. “So what,
who cares.” You do care, but you understand
what mistakes actually are. So a couple of life
experiences to tell ya how important
this is. Anybody have
kids in here? Okay, anybody who
was ever a kid? All right, so you
can all relate. Kid, 1 year old or so–
is this how parents do it? “Okay, it’s time to walk,
Junior, so come on, let’s go. “You’ve been watching me
for a year, let’s go. “One foot in front
of the other.” You know, do you yell, “Come on,
come on– you’ve fallen again? “What are you doing?”
Right, but this is youth sport. Do you show the kid a
video, put on Einstein? What was it,
“Young Einstein”? “Here’s a video
of how to walk.” Do we teach
’em that way? How does this kid
learn to walk? Crawls and
then… falls. How many times
do they fall? How many mistakes should
they make– three, four? Thousands. And that’s okay–
we tolerate that. But you take that
same 1-year-old and then you put him
in a tee ball at 4. All of a sudden, mistakes
aren’t okay anymore, right? We’ve all see this. Maybe we’ve been
that parent. I have sometimes. It’s like something changes
when we put on a helmet. (chuckling)
But all of a sudden– and I’ll tell ya, when my son
was 6– great backyard story. We’re throwing the
ball back and forth, one of his first
times playing. I’m loving it, beautiful
day, picture perfect. I screw it up
because, of course, he’s doing well
so I gotta “up” it. Right, couldn’t
just play catch. So I started
throwing it higher. Throw it to the left,
to the right, so he could start
developing his skills, ’cause, you know,
at 6 years old, he needs to
develop his skills. And so, he
starts missing it. So right away, he
doesn’t like mistakes. He starts
getting sad. So then, all effort goes
out the window, right? ‘Cause when we’re not motivated,
we start throwing it like this. It’s going
over my head. I’m getting ticked off
and I’m like, “C’mon.” And what do I tell him?
I’m like, “It’s okay to
make a mistake.” In my head, I’m thinking,
“You know, there’s a long time “before you go to
Major League baseball.” (chuckling) But he’s not
buying it already. And like I said, he’s
throwing it over my head. He’s not even
reaching his glove out. And I had to stop
everything and slow down and I was like, “Buddy, it’s
okay to make a mistake.” And he’s like… And I’m like, all right,
what’s he not getting? I actually had to
get down on one knee, cup his face, and tell him,
“I want you to make a mistake.” And he got a
little eye roll. I’m like, “If you
don’t make a mistake, “that’s when you’re
gonna disappoint me.” And that got his attention,
so now he’s listening. The way I explained
it to him was like, “If you’re not making
any mistake, bud, “you’re not trying.” And in my head I’m thinking, “If
you think you know everything “about baseball
at 6 years old, “you know, there’s
a lot to learn,” but they don’t understand
all those explanations. He wanted to impress and he
already knew at this point– which is a separate story–
about how it wasn’t okay. And I was like, “If you’re
not making mistakes, “you’re not trying. “You’re not
giving effort.” I was like, “I want you
to challenge yourself. “I expect you to make a mistake
every day, at least one. “Now, don’t make
the same mistake “because then we’re
gonna have an issue. “Then, it’s laziness
or, you know. “I want you to
learn from it.” But I challenge
all of you, too. Make a mistake
every day. Make a different
mistake every day. There’s billions
to choose from. (chuckling)
Really, plenty of variety. “Okay, oh, did that,
learned from it.” Pick up a new one, but you
keep picking up the same one, again, that’s what I’m
talking about is a problem. Worked with a international
skier– downhill skier– who hadn’t been
reaching her potential. And tried all the typical
mental toughness stuff that we’re actually
gonna go through, but the thing that
actually worked for her was that I told her, “You
have to fall on your runs “down the mountain
more often.” I was like, “So I want you
to make more mistakes.” I was very nervous
about recommending this. (laughing)
I was like, “Don’t turn
it into trees on purpose “or do anything,”
but she was going here. Her coach said her
potential was here, and she wasn’t
getting past it because she wasn’t
willing to make a mistake. But she didn’t know
where her limit was. So we actually had
a homework assignment where she had to push herself
and go a little bit faster so that she fell on, like,
one out of every four runs. That’s what broke her
through, her willingness to take mistakes to be
able to learn from them. So where do we get this idea
that mistakes are not okay? Like, soon as we’re
born, practically, but again, going back to
my son who, two years prior to this fiasco in my backyard,
was playing youth soccer. So again, anybody been to a
little kid’s youth soccer game or remember when
you had played? So we practice, and we’re
playing in the backyard, teaching ’em how I’m a
great sports psychologist. I grow ’em
up right. Teach him, when he scores,
it’s not a big deal. It’s all about the process
and just walk away. So he happens
to get lucky and his friend passed him
the ball, he kicked it, and he scores the first
goal of the season. Well, what
do I do? “Yeah, yeah!”
(laughing) And reinforce–
“Yeah, that’s my boy!” I’m all proud. He freaks out because the
whole team runs up to him. They’re patting his head,
smacking his butt. He’s like, “What the
heck’s going on?” And it’s already
starting to change. So they start going back
to their positions and he leans over to his friend
and goes, “Let’s do that again.” Right, so the
game’s going on, I’m all puffy chest
and all excited. So they’re flying around, a big
group of kids running around with the ball, and then he
goes to kick another one, and misses, and so what
do all the parents do? Yeah, let’s do that loud–
let’s hear that.>>(audience)
“Aww…”>>Now, I’m a 5-year-old, and
all the most important people in my world, I have
now let them down, and I don’t
feel good. That’s the youth
sport experience. He learned– he unlearned
everything I’d been teaching him his whole life– five solid
years invested in this– and one game,
it’s all gone… because I’m acting
like a fool, jumping up,
celebrating a score, and then, I’m like, “Ohh,” and
then I smile, “Oh, it’s okay.” Bull crap,
it’s okay! Look at what’s
everybody’s reaction. That’s not real. We learn from the beginning,
from the moment we’re born, that mistakes
are not okay, and it’s unhealthy
and it’s unfortunate. But if you’re gonna
be mentally tough, if you’re gonna
be successful, you have to really adopt
the idea that mistakes, because you’re going to use
it as a learning process, that’s where it’s
gonna be at. I went on, like, six tangents
so we may not have time for any questions, but…
(laughing) Feeling me? All right. Gradual result of always
wanting to do better. This is the attitude that’s
necessary and needed. And then, you end up being
hungry, optimistic, confident. All this stuff sort of
naturally comes through. Once you’re allowed
to make a mistake, once you get rid of this outcome
of having to be perfect, which you’re
never gonna be. Excellence is
really very good. It’s very close
to perfection… with a whole lot of better side
effects than the alternative. So I encourage you
to work on that. Any questions from
the perfectionists before I move
on to point 2? So after a mistake– this is
actually a picture of my son. I don’t know if you can see it,
his eyes are actually closed. I couldn’t believe I was
able to capture this, but a very practical way
to deal with mistakes is what I call the
“four-F technique.” I actually got it from
a guy I trained under, Dan Kirschenbaum–
he came up with this. “Fudge,” it doesn’t
mean go get a snack. But basically, when
you make a mistake, it’s understandable
you’re gonna have an
emotional reaction to it, so allow yourself
2 to 3 seconds and internally
get mad. So, “Oh, fudge,” or
whatever else you wanna say and we’ll move on. And then, “Fix it,”
use imagery. Find some way to say,
“What did I go wrong?” Remember, I told you, mistakes
are an opportunity to learn, so if you can take the
break in the action, a lot of times,
like in baseball, this is really easy, or
tennis or something like that, you get a moment, you’re like,
“Okay, what did I do wrong? “Didn’t I hustle, was it
the position of my racket? “Did I take my eye off the
ball– was I distracted?” Whatever it is, imagine
yourself going through it again. So again, if you’re in golf,
imagine taking the swing and feel the way you
would’ve wanted it to go. But let yourself
get upset, fix it, and then, “Forget” about it,
which is really hard to do, but I find that when my
athletes are able to fix it, it leaves them something
else to hold on to. You don’t do– it’s
hard to forget something ’cause– well, for example,
let me give you five seconds. Don’t think
about chocolate. Go. All right,
how’d you do? The science out there
tells us when you try to
suppress a thought, you just make it go crazy,
and do a lot more of it. So if you try to
forget something, the easiest way to do it is
just to choose something else as opposed to trying
to push something away. So once you
have it fixed, you can forget about
the mistake itself, and then “Focus”
on the next play, or the next thing
that you need to do. Which leads us into the
next topic of, okay, “Well, what is focusing
and how do we do that?” Well, focus–
I like to define it– actually, I should
rename this as “Refocus” because nobody can focus
on anything consistently. I mean, if you can get one
second of dedicated focus before your mind
wanders off, I think you’re
doing pretty good. So really focusing is
much more of a skill of noticing when you’ve gone
off and bringing yourself back, and how quickly can you do
that and how consistently. But it’s essentially
defined as paying attention to the right thing
at the right time. And I don’t like
when my athletes say that, “Oh, I just
lost focus.” I’ll hear this
all the time. “Well, I did good,
but I just lost focus. “I’ll fix it
the next time.” Really, how? Like, if you already know
that that just happened, how are you just
gonna fix it? And it also– I think
it lets us off the hook. “Oh, I just
lost focus.” Well, again, I don’t think
you did it on purpose. Hold yourself accountable
and responsible. And start to recognize that
you have to develop slowly and consistently, but you can
develop the skill of focusing. So it’s a choice
that you make. You paid attention
to something else. Often what we pay attention
to are the things that, well, we’ll get into this
later, but we’re kinda wired to be like, “Okay, I had
an emotional reaction,” or somebody ticked me off, or
there was a bad call by the ref, or something that’s
important to me, and that’s more of
a mindless, impulsive “something grabbed my
attention and pulled it away.” We want to hold ourselves
accountable and say where is it that my mind should be
dedicated and committed to. And you can only– how
many people multitask? So you kind of feel like I’m
doing 12 things at once, right? Not really! You’re just cycling between
12 things very rapidly if you’re able
to do that, and that’s good and
that’s a great skill, but we have to understand that
at any given moment in time, we can only focus on
one thing at a time. Even if it’s for a
split second at a time, it’s still a
rapid shift. You can’t do multiple
things at once. So knowing that, you want to be able to pick
and choose your focus. So a couple things, when
I’m working with my athletes, again, that I
use with them, is understanding that your best
focus is when your thoughts, feelings, and
actions are specific, important to the task,
and under your control. A nice way I like to
look at this, too, is describe it as a
circle of concern and a circle of control,
and then the irrelevant. Circle of concern is
gonna be basically most things that my
athletes get distracted by– field conditions,
parents in the stands. Or at work, it’s like what
are our colleagues gonna think, or what’s the outcome
of the test gonna be. Any number of
things that– it’s important to
either winning or to the outcome that we
want, and it’s relevant, and it’s maybe something that
in another time, at half-time, you wanna think
about the strategy or you wanna be aware
of the weather, you know, to pick
the right cleats. So there are the right time to
be in that circle of concern, but in a moment
of performing, you wanna be in the
circle of control, which is
behaviors. What you choose to
do with your body. And I would–
I used to say, your thoughts and
your emotions, too, but how many people can control
their thoughts and emotions? I’ve tried, or
tried to teach it. I’ve tried to do it,
I can’t do it. But you control
your reactions to the thoughts and the
emotions that show up. We’ll do a little bit more
of that in a little bit. And then, the irrelevant
is sometimes like when you’re sitting
here and, anybody, if you’re thinking
about math class and what you’re
doing tonight, that’s the irrelevant stuff
that sometimes sneaks in, too. Don’t feel bad about it,
everybody’s doing it. Half of you are
doing it right now. It happens, just
bring it back. (chuckling) Let me work through this and
ask somebody for an example. Somebody pick an area
that you wanna improve on. Or you want to
improve focus on. I wanna do this
illustration of what goes
into each circle. Somebody?
>>(indistinct).>>Where was–
“my career”? So, your career– I’m
talking about like a
moment of performance. So as far as
your career, are you talking
about taking a test? Are you talking about your
performance in your job at a particular
point? I want to get a real
specific behavior that you’re doing
as performing.>>(indistinct).>>Okay, so if you’re
involved in an activity, is that what
you’re saying? Okay, so give
me an example. What are you performing,
what are you doing? What is your
performance area?>>(indistinct).>>Yeah, this may be kind of
getting into more goal-setting, and sort of that
sense of planning. But for example,
I’d be talking about, like when I have an athlete
come in and they’re saying, “Well, when I’m batting,
that’s the performance area “that I wanna have
more focus on. “I want to be able
to focus on the ball.” So something real specific
as far as performance. Yes?>>(indistinct).
>>Perfect. So you are
taking the GRE. So let’s understand– first,
let’s start with the easy. What’s the
irrelevant stuff that’s going to pop
into your head that you wanna
recognize?>>(indistinct).>>That is actually in
the circle of concern. Because it is important
for graduate school. No, and
this is good. This is the idea
of understanding what goes in
each category, because when these
thoughts show up, when you recognize
that you’ve lost focus, you wanna kind of understand,
“Is it okay to stay here?” Because your mind’s gonna
hook you onto these thoughts. And you’ll probably spend a
lot of time during the GRE wondering, like, “You
know what, this is hard. “I’m not gonna
get a job. “I’m gonna
be homeless. “I’m gonna
live in a box! “Like, this is what’s
going to happen.” It happened to me.
(chuckling) It happens
to everybody. And that’s the idea of
the circle of concern, where it’s so dangerous,
because these things are– they really are
of concern. So let’s stay in
that circle, then. What are the other things
that are likely to show up? In the circle of concern,
when you’re taking the GRE?>>(indistinct).>>Yeah, oh, my gosh,
“what if” questions. “What if I fail? “What if I have
to take it again? “I can’t
afford this. “I’m just gonna lose another
couple of months of studying. “I spent so much on
the Kaplan course.” Yeah, all of
these things. What else?
People, help her out. What shows up– when
you’re taking tests, what shows up
in your mind?>>(indistinct).
>>Yeah, others’ expectations. Oh, that’s big. “Oh, my parents are gonna be
so disappointed if I fail. “I’m gonna let my
professors down.” Expectations are,
oh, tremendous. What else? Circle of concern.>>(indistinct).
>>Yeah. “I gotta beat my
mortal enemy over here. “Where am I gonna
rank in my class? “What’s the ranking
that I need “in order to get into
the school of choice?” Very good… other
things of concern. These are the things that
keep you up at night. Probably be worried about
it weeks ahead of time. “Did I study
enough? “Am I prepared? “What about that time
that I slept in? “I didn’t do enough
of the practice tests.” Very good. One more thing,
circle of concern.>>(indistinct).>>Yes, that’s
another thing, too. “Oh, my god, what if I do
get into graduate school? “That’s a lot
of money. “Where am I going
to get my loans?” Yeah, the idea
of success. The expectations
are gonna be raised. I work with a lot of athletes
or people in general, when they actually succeed,
that’s almost just as bad, because now they’ve
upped the ante and people are gonna
expect even more. We can never be happy,
it seems like. (chuckling)
But that’s another lecture. I’d be happy
to come back. So what’s the
irrelevant stuff now? “I’m hungry. “Oh, I can’t wait for
the new ‘Captain America’
movie to come out.” Whatever– you know, “What
am I doing on Saturday?” So all of stuff that really
has nothing to do with it. So if that’s all
the stuff now, what, then, am I saying you
should be concentrating on? What’s in the
circle of control? Taking the GRE. Well, I hope you’re
studied ahead of time, ’cause now you’re
taking the test. ‘Cause, then, technically,
that’s cheating, my friend. (laughing)
“Let me just check
the reference book.” Or what’s
up my sleeve. You’re taking the test– what
do you want to be focused on?>>(indistinct).>>Perfect, yeah. It sounds self-explanatory,
but again, we forget this,
don’t we? It starts with
awareness. “What is the question
in front of me?” What other things will you
want to pay attention to?>>(indistinct).>>The time– you might
wanna check in and out to kind of pace
yourself. Depending on the
time of the test, that could be under
circle of concern, because if you spend a
whole bunch of time worrying about how much time you have
left, you’re wasting time. But once in a while, at
the appropriate time, you might wanna check in
on that and then go out. Most of it has to do
with the question, and then the other thing is,
“How am I handling my anxiety?” You’re not going to be able
to control your nervousness when it shows up, but
your reaction to it– do I just sit there and
concentrate on my heartbeat, and how I’m sweating,
and oh my gosh, you know, I need some
more water. Or am I able to accept
that, let it go, and then get back
to the question? And then, I worry about
all these thoughts. I notice it, can
I let them go, and then get back
to the question? Because really,
of all the things that you’re
concerned about, what’s the only thing
that matters? Do you control
passing? Circle of control. Labeled it that
for a reason. Go back
two slides. Where you choose your focus
and the effort you put forward. That sets you up
for success. Anything else… anything else is
a distraction. Everything else seems
more important. (chuckling) We’re kind of built
weird that way. We’re not built to
be high performers. But anything
that pulls you from your attention to what
you’re doing at the moment is going to take away
from your performance. It doesn’t
feel that way, but as you start to experience
it and look at this, you’ll find that that’s,
in fact, the case. Okay, well done. Centering. Again, I’m going to
have you all stand up. Very practical tool that
I use for my athletes. Again, like I said, anything
in the present moment… I’ll let all
the seats go. If you get
distracted, and you start kind of
jumping to the future or going into the past when
you’re taking the GRE test, when you’re at bat, when
you’re shooting a free throw,
it’s gonna take away. You can only do your best
if you’re focused on what you’re doing
at that time. So, and that part about
forgetting your mistakes, too, this is a technique
called “centering” that I like them to do
in that forgetting part, where you’re kind of able to get
yourself right here, right now. It’s almost like wiping
the slate clean. Anybody here have
a negative thought, then try to make it positive,
and fight it back and forth? I’ve learned that
you kind of need– really need a
nice transition, ’cause you have
to let go of one before you can move
onto something else. And this has been
a great technique. So what I’d
like us to do, I’m gonna demonstrate it, is
put your hand on your belly. This is your
diaphragm. So I’d like you, when you
take in a deep breath, I’d like you to be filling
it up down in there. And we’re gonna count
in for five, hold, and then go
out for seven. And when I’m blowing
out for seven, I want you to blow it
out through your lips so that you can actually
hear the breath. We’re gonna do that
twice just to start off. So it’s gonna
look like this. We do it twice, because you’re
gonna have to pace yourself, and if you saw, I kind
of went in on three, and I didn’t
have enough air. Or I had too much air
and I couldn’t do it. So we’ll do it
twice to pace it. In through your
nose for five, out through the mouth
slowly for seven. And in, two, three,
four, five. Hold, out, two,
three, four, five, six, seven. In, two, three,
four, five. Hold, out, two,
three, four, five, six, seven. How do you feel? Some people I could
tell, looking at you, you still
look tense. So I’m going to– we’re going
to do it two more times. What I’d like you to do
this time, at six and seven, I want you to focus
on your shoulders. Especially you. (laughing)
There you go! And when you’re breathing
out six and seven, you should be running
out of most of the air. Now, don’t slump,
just your shoulders, and let your
shoulders drop. And at the same time, I’m gonna
add one or two cue words, and by “cue words,” I mean
sometimes it’s “calm” or “relax” and maybe that’s what
you wanna do now, but if I’m working
with an athlete, it’s sort of like, well,
what’s sort of that attitude or that focus point
that you want? Is it like focusing
on the ball, or again, I worked
with some defenders, and it was
like “kill.” Like, you don’t have
to necessarily relax, but whatever that intensity
is that you wanna get, wherever you want
your mindset to be as you’re breathing out,
you wanna focus on, again, at max,
two words, short phrase, one or two
cue words. And then, if
you’re an athlete, you kind of lower yourself
into a ready position, whatever that is– if you’re
an infielder for baseball, for example, you
get into that. If you’re not,
if you’re a student, and you want to
do it for that, you don’t have to get into
ready for the GRE position. So really focus on the
five, six, and seven, dropping your
shoulders, and as you’re exhaling
and breathing out, sometimes the athletes
are thinking about breathing out their negative
stuff or the tension. I’d like you to think
about that cue word. So everybody
have a word? Okay. And, in, two,
three, four, five. Hold, out,
two, three, four, five,
six, seven. In. Five, hold, out. Shoulders down. Okay, how
was that? Okay, you guys
can have a seat. A very quick and effective
centering technique that helps you move
from intensity, chaos, “my mind is stuck, I’m out
of control emotionally,” and then being able
to clear the slate, get your body into
the present moment. And that’s what
I love about this, is that everybody
notices that your breath, I love the breath,
everybody know this, and we think about it, but
the breath is always present. So you can’t
forget it, you can’t lose your
lucky rabbit’s foot, or anything like that, or
those magic socks that, you know, you
wear for games. Your breath is always there,
and it’s always right here, right now, and it’s
always accessible. Yes?>>(indistinct).>>Right.>>(indistinct).>>Well, I guess more the
question, I’d be like, “Well, what are you
using this for?” So my reaction
to you would be, “Well, it depends on
what the problem is.”>>(indistinct).>>Yeah.>>(indistinct).>>Yeah. Um, well, certainly
with the breathing, that’s gonna be one thing
that if you’re getting tense, you know, throughout
the numerous mileage, you wanna say, “Well, I wanna
be dropping my shoulders,” so you can be,
as you’re running, you would be taking some of
these breaths to slow it down. If you need to change your
physiological intensity. As far as the focus aspect,
there’s some techniques that we’re gonna be
getting into later and talking more about a
willingness and commitment, that’s gonna come later
in the presentation. That’d be more applicable
to help you in that, for that sport
and that situation. Yes, sir.>>(indistinct).>>So the question
is, he’s like– he’s a jogger and a runner, and
as he’s starting to get tired, he’ll start throwing
some shadow punches. Is that a
distraction? I would say probably,
and that’s okay, depending on the
reason for training. Again, we want
to match up sort of the intervention
that you use for your goal. So sometimes, it’s
okay to distract. Sometimes, it’s in fact
necessary to distract, especially for a
running sport. But it kind of depends
on what you wanna do. With my athletes, if your
goal is to get through it– let’s say you’re running the
Riverbank for the first time, and you want to– you know,
you just wanna get out through the mileage,
distraction can be great. You can’t rely on it, though,
because at some point, the pain is gonna
make you pay attention. So that’s okay, and
then you also notice that if you’re
using distraction, you’re taking the
intensity away. So if you’re, again, more
of a recreational runner and you just wanna finish,
that can help you get through, but for my more advanced
runners that want speed, I can teach them more
to lean into the pain and be more
willing as opposed to trying
to distract from it. So, again, it’s kind
of situation-specific. Good questions. Confidence is another big thing
that athletes come in with. And what do you
think is the– when athletes tell me that
they want to be more confident, what do you think is the very
first question that I ask them? I’ll give you a hint–
the answer’s kind of
already up there. I didn’t make this a slide
that brought things out later. Yeah, I say, “Well, tell
me about your training.” Last thing I wanna do is get
somebody who’s not working hard and really isn’t that good
and make them confident, so they can go in there
and get slaughtered. But that happens
all the time. Overconfidence is actually more
deadly than underconfidence. For all the reasons that we
talked about at the beginning. But if– I don’t like to think
of confidence necessarily as just a mindset
or an attitude. I mean, certainly that
can be part of it. But there is nothing
stronger than knowing that you are
fully prepared. So if it’s the GRE, and you
wanna be confident about it, and you wanna– so, start
taking those practice tests. How often are
you studying? Are you looking at the things
that are hard and difficult? Because we tend to shy
away from our weaknesses, because we don’t
like to engage them. But are we
attacking them? Again, whatever
your sport is. Well, what is your
training practice? Do you have confidence
in your coaches? What are your weaknesses?
How are you developing those? What are your strengths?
Do you know what they are? And how are
you using them? You need a reason
to be confident. I don’t mean just
going, looking back, and being like, “Oh,
well, because I’m great, “and because I’ve won
all these trophies when
I was in Little League, “so I should therefore
be this good.” More so, what are you
doing in a daily basis in order to base that
confidence in on? You are what
you put into it. So I would, I never
worked with my athletes to just all of a sudden
develop some mental set. It’s, like, you need
to BE that person and base your confidence
on that reality. And so, really
preparing. There’s no substitution
for preparing. So let’s talk
about preparation. One of the best things that
you can do when you practice– and I am talking about
practice in a sport, I’m talking about
practice for your job. Again, this is not only
mental toughness for sports, but I think these apply to any
area that you wanna perform in. Do you have a
specific goal every time you’re
working on your craft? And it really surprises
me that, again, particularly a lot
of college athletes or high school athletes
that I consult with, it’s like, “I just do what’s
on the sheet of paper. “I just do what
the coach tells me.” What did you learn
at practice today? You know, for runners,
“Well, I ran.” Do you just put
in the mileage, or can you do something
where you put into it, and say, “Well, what are
you going to work on today?” I remember when I was training
for a marathon that I had done. It was a long run and it
was during the winter, because, you know,
we got some snow here. And I had on– I don’t know
how many layers I had. And I go out, I’m
a half mile into it, I think I had a
13-mile run that day. And I had my Under
Armour on backwards. And I– first layer–
and I had that darn tag was cutting
my throat. Felt like a kn– well, that’s
a bit of an exaggeration. It was nicking me, but
I had all these layers, and it was bothering me,
so I’m running, and I’m like, “Oh, man,
this is annoying!” And I was like, “Well,
should I go back?” And I was like, “You know
what, sports psychologist?” I’m like, “Why don’t you work
on some mental toughness, “you know, this 25k or
marathon is gonna hurt.” So what I had done is,
like, my run today is not only to
do the 13 miles, but I’m gonna tolerate
this annoying thing. I’m gonna run with
it for 13 miles and practice
letting it go. So can you build
things into it? One of my favorite
interventions with my athletes is to keep a
training journal, and say, at the end
of every practice, why am I better today
because of this workout? What did I learn today or
what did I develop today? It doesn’t
have to be new, but why am I a better athlete
because I did this workout? What do I wanna get
out of the next one? And then, that’s how you
build the confidence, over and over again, that
sense of telling yourself, in reality, what you’re
doing to improve on a day-to-day basis. SMART just is– you may have
heard this, but SMART goals. When you go
to set a goal, how many people set the
goal like, “Oh, I’m
gonna do my best”? Yeah, terrible goal. Okay, because what the
heck does that look like? “Well, I’m
gonna try hard.” Okay, again, we already saw how
that was a miserable failure when we say, “I’m
gonna do my best.” So what you wanna do,
“SMART” stands for Specific and Measurable–
you wanna be able to see it and measure it,
so that you know, “I either did it or I
didn’t,” very objectively. Attainable– challenging
but realistic. Don’t set it too low,
because that’ll protect
your self-esteem, “Oh, I achieve
all my goals,” but you’re not
gonna get anywhere. But you also, how many people
set goals way out of their– “because even if
I don’t reach it, “at least I’ve gotten
really far,” right? We used to set
those all the time. How do you feel when
you fail at those? Go back to the perfectionistic
slide– you feel terrible! Who wants to fail at
their goals all the time? So the best goal, when I say
“challenging but realistic,” is a goal that you can hold
yourself accountable to that, “I will definitely
achieve this “only if I work
really hard at it.” Sometimes, you have to
sit down and be quiet and be honest with yourself,
because then it’s the question about how much effort
I wanna put into it. But those are the best goals,
as far as Attainable. R is Relevant. Make it
personal. We get so many goals from
our coaches, our teachers, our parents, we do these
things for other people. But you won’t succeed– and
I’ve had so many athletes come in that wanna be the
best for their parents or something else, and you
will never achieve your best if it’s not personally
meaningful to you. Another important part
of mental toughness– making it personally
relevant. And then,
time limited. All right. When under pressure. The attitude towards pressure
is really important. A lot of times, athletes will
often see this as a threat. And you really don’t
wanna be involved in sport or anything else if the
idea is that you’re
gonna lose something. “I’m already entitled to it,
and then if I don’t do well, “something’s going
to be taken away.” But if you can start to
look at these things– like there again,
the GRE, my sport, a big tournament, it’s the opportunity
to do something great. Now, when you’re
really freaking out and nervous about it, it’s kind
of hard to adapt that attitude, I understand, but
spend some time at it, and look and
say, you know, “All great accomplishments
have come under adversity.” I mean, it wouldn’t be
great if it wasn’t hard. So there’s something
about that, again, in talking with
athletes, too, I’m like, how many athletes
hate losing? But isn’t it weird that if
you would win all the time, you’d hate
your sport? Apparently not
my 6-year-old, because going back, I
didn’t finish that story. Two days later or
two weeks later, he comes running off
the field and he goes, “What if we won
100 to nothing?” I’m like, “Buddy, that
wouldn’t be any fun.” He looked at me like
I was the crazy one. He goes, “Yeah, it would!”
and ran off. But you know– I mean,
if you won every time, sport would
be nothing. Why would
you do it? We get into sport because of how
we get pushed and challenged and because the risk
of loss is there. So we want to embrace it–
that’s the whole reason
that we’re doing it. We’re gonna
lose sometimes. We’re gonna lose, actually,
a lot of the time. And baseball’s a great
metaphor for that. You can go to the Hall of Fame
failing 7 out of 10 times. Pretty amazing. Anyway,
under pressure. Challenge yourself to
do something great. And I like to– I got a couple
of strategies that I use, but I want to share
this one with you is that when you
get overwhelming… and your mind– like, when
you’re under pressure, right, like all those things
start to come in. All these distractions, all
the things that you have to do, coach is pulling
you aside, and you’ve got 12 things
to take care of, and all these responsibilities–
it’s just too much to do. Like I said, you can focus
on one thing at a time. So I like to have my
athletes, before the game, or before their performance,
is to say, “What’s your job?” Take, at most,
three. Probably no
less than two. Two or three
behaviors that you can specifically
do, that you say, “If I do these things,
it’s gonna move me– “give me the best
chance to succeed.” So I had a basketball
player, for example. And she– just a lot
of negative self-talk. She was in this big
pressure situations. Actually, it was
a great story, and I swear I’m not
making this up, because this sounds
like a Disney movie. But she had a coach
that had left, and she was really
close to the coach, and went to
another school. This is the
next season. She was really nervous
about this game, because she was gonna
play her old coach. And she loved this old coach,
but, at the same time, she wanted to beat her, because
she wanted to let her know that she shouldn’t
have left her team and she wanted to be a
great player in that game, and really show
her, you know, and make her proud
but also kind of– all these
emotional dynamics. So she was just really,
really stressed out. Lots of pressure
in this game. And so, this intervention
worked really well for her. I says,
“Okay, look. “What are the three things
that you need to do? “And if you do
these things, “that’ll give you the
best chance to succeed.” She says, “Well, I need to
keep my arms up on defense.” She tends to kind of drop
them as she gets tired. “I need to communicate
with my teammates.” She was a vocal leader, and she
wanted to keep them focused and play that
leadership role. And she goes, “I really need
to keep my hustle going,” because when
you get tired, we tend to kind of
take the edge off. But she’s like, “If I
do those three things, “we could play
pretty well.” So she said that probably
one of the best things that she was able to do is that
when she had all this pressure, she was thinking
about her coach, she was thinking about the
score, and this and that, and the other thing, she
did a centering breath, at lapses in the game, and then,
was able to say, “What’s my job? “What do I
need to do?” Did this with the lacrosse
team and stuff, too, and they talked about it’s
just– it’s really nice, because then it lets you
forget everything else. Which you know you don’t
forget everything else, but you’re able to really
say what I can control… and move in
that direction. Well, the game was–
I think they were down by 1. She had the ball in her hand
for the last shot of the game. Made the
shot to win. You know, everybody
runs onto the field, and I’m just like,
“Are you kidding me?” I was like, “We gotta
sell this to Disney.” But it was just exactly
like you describe it, against the old coach
and everything else. And she really said
it was her ability– that the calming effect of
knowing what her job was. So, elaborating on it, you
gotta identify what your job is. Do you know how
to do your job? Because it would be
great if, you know, if my job was
to guard her. I don’t know
how to do that. I am not that
type of a player. So do you
know this? Do you understand
what your job is? And then, can you? I may know how to do it, but I
don’t have the physical ability. So, before you
set yourself up for having a job that
you can’t really execute, you want to kind of go
through that checklist, to, again, help build
your confidence and really
invest in it. And once you get through
those three points, maybe the most
important questions
you wanna ask yourself– and don’t do this
too quickly– “Will I do
my job?” Very interesting, when
I’ve worked with athletes, I’ll go through, “Yeah,
okay, I know what my job is, “it’s these three things, I
know how to do it, I can do it,” I’m like, “Will you?”
and they’re like, “Well…” Do I need to give this
lecture over again? And they’re like, “Well, you
know, but this is important. “But what about this,
and what about that?” And they lack
the commitment. They lack
the choice. And that’s not
gonna be effective. And so, it’s been amazing
to me about asking yourself to really slow
down and say, “Can I make that
commitment to say “I’m gonna commit myself
to these points?” These three
behaviors. And that’s where the
settling comes in. That’s where your
focus comes in. And again, if they’re
under your control, you’re gonna get
the best result. So this is one of my favorite
interventions for pressure. Positive focus. Maintain a positive focus
and effort and all times. We’re gonna visit
that in a minute, especially
after mistakes. I know it’s gonna be
impossible to do this, but as best that you can,
keeping that optimism. I think we all
kind of know. And again, mentally
tough athletes are able to do this
to a great degree. Part of the reason that you
wanna do it, too, though, is, especially
in a team sport, when you choose a
positive attitude and you kind of keep that
optimism and that hope alive, you’re affecting
your teammates. You’re building
confidence on the team. And then, when you’re like
this, like if I’m playing you, you, you,
you, you, you, if you see me on the other
side of the tennis court, and I’m like,
(tired sigh), what happens to
your confidence? Right, if I’m looking
like I’m already beat and I’m already negative,
not only am I hurting myself, but I’m giving fuel
to my opponents. So even if you have to “fake it
till you make it” type thing, you wanna be able to act and
portray that the best you can. I’ll go over this quickly,
because the next point I think is even
more important. Can you beat
negative thinking? I mean,
really beat it? Is there anybody here that
doesn’t think negatively? Is there anybody here that
hasn’t thought negatively today? And by that, I don’t mean that
you’ve been beating yourself up and in a
depressed state. I just mean a quick doubt
will fly through your head. Or a negative
emotion. That’s part of
being human. I’ve actually, in fact,
changed the way that I practice with athletes and clients in
general where I’ve given up. I don’t believe in
positive thinking anymore. Because if I
can’t do it, how unfair is it for me
to take a depressed person or an athlete who’s
got real pressure, making a million-dollar
putt, and be like, “Oh, just choose
these thoughts. “This is what’s
gonna help.” Well, it would, but you can’t
beat this negative thinking. So here’s my favorite
part of the presentation. Follow this
story with me. When a turtle gets
threatened, what does it do? It goes into
its shell. When a cheetah, gets
threatened, what does it do? It runs. When a porcupine
gets threatened? About six of you, I
always love that reaction. You get the quills
that go out.>>A chameleon?>>(indistinct).>>A skunk?
>>(indistinct).>>Why does it do
all this stuff? Why does each animal
have their thing?>>(indistinct).
>>”Defense.” Let’s get a little
bit more specific.>>(indistinct).
>>”Adaptations.” It’s actually been evolved
as they have their thing for survival. It’s their thing
for survival. So what do we have as human
beings… what’s our thing? We dominate the planet,
top of the food chain. We’re not
very strong. Not very fast.>>(indistinct).
>>We have our brains. So what about
our brains?>>(indistinct).>>”Higher thinking.” Let’s get real
specific. There’s one thing that our
brain does for survival. Survival.>>(indistinct).
>>What’s that?>>(indistinct).
>>”Adapt.” I don’t know exactly
what that looks like. We do it every
day, when you… when you go to
cross the street, what’s the first thing that
comes through your mind?>>(indistinct).>>That’s your
survival mechanism. Our brain is actually
built to worry. So I tell my athletes when
they’re coming in, I’m like, “I’m not going to get
you to stop worrying. “I can’t. “No more than I can take a
turtle out of its shell, “or have a skunk decide if
it wants to spray me or not “if I kick it.” It’s like…
we just worry. And again, I’m not
talking panic attacks and the extreme
phobias and things. But we are– our brain is built
to scan the world for danger. Constantly! Constantly. If I’m here
talking, I don’t care how interested
you are in this presentation, or how good you
think I’m doing. If a bomb goes
off over there, who’s going to
still listen to me? I’m going to
keep going. I’m going to be giving
you all this good stuff. Who’s gonna pay attention
to what I’m talking about? Nobody!
(laughing) It’s okay, I don’t
take it personally. You won’t
be able to. You ever have
this experience? You’re at a party, and you’re
all talking, you’re chatting, but you hear your name a
couple social circles down? You weren’t listening
for it, but you hear it, and again, not that it’s
necessarily threatening, but you wanna know what
they’re talking about. You’re feelin’ me.
(chuckling) All right, we
can’t help it. Even when you don’t know
it, it’s unconscious. Our brain is
always scanning, looking for something
that’s gonna hurt us. It’s a survival
mechanism. Our brain doesn’t care about
how well we play soccer, or how we’re gonna
do on the GRE. It does to a certain
level, and you care, but at an instinctual level,
we’re built to worry. We are just very, very simple,
in some ways, at our core. We approach pleasure
and avoid pain. Right? Think of your
lives for a second. Whatever makes me feel good,
I want more of, I crave it. Anything that I don’t like
at all, I want to avoid it. Explains almost
everything wrong. Psychology professors
in the room, right, explain almost everything
that we will ever treat, and everything
human being. We’re wired
to do this. So my athletes
come in, and what do you think they’re
gonna worry the most about? What you care
the most about. So, again, I start off
and let you guys know, if you’re worried
about the GRE, if you’re worried
about your at-bats, if you’re worried about
your boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s because
you care. You’re normal, and
you should worry. But your mind’s
not your friend. Your mind is your
survival mechanism. So we gotta start to develop
sort of a healthy skepticism of what our mind is
actually telling us. I don’t know if you guys are
as fascinated by this as I am. We’re going to do
an exercise here, but this stuff likely
started to change the way I interacted
with the world, and certainly
with my athletes. But we’re going to
kind of fundamentally look at things
differently. We gotta remember, your mind has
got one job and one job only, and that’s to
keep you alive. Everything else is
secondary to that. How many people have their
lives threatened every day? Almost none of us–
one person said three
times in their lifetime. And so, sometimes, you
get into that occasion, but most of the time, we’ve
got this taken care of, because we’re at the
top of the food chain. But we have to remember,
again, how we’re wired. Our mind has one job,
and it’s to protect us. So our happiness
and our performances are always going to be secondary
to awareness of these threats. I left this
dot-dot-dot because I want to figure out
with the size of the room. Here’s what I’d
like you to do. Everybody,
go like this, and for 45 seconds, pat
yourself on the head, and say, “I can’t pat myself
on the head,” out loud. After 45 more seconds,
I’ll say then, “Think it,” and I want you to keep
thinking over and over again, “I can’t pat myself
on the head.” And I just want you to
notice what happens. You can’t fail at this,
you can’t do it wrong. I just want you to
notice what happens. Okay, so…
go. “I can’t pat my head,
I can’t pat my head…”>>(audience murmuring).>>I can’t pat my head…>>(audience murmuring).>>Really believe it.>>(audience murmuring).>>”I can’t pat my head,
I can’t pat my head.” You can’t pat
your head.>>(audience murmuring,
scattered laughing). (audience murmuring).>>And now, quietly think it
as you keep patting your head. You can switch arms
if you’re tired. Now, really think–
I mean close your eyes, and really try
to believe it. Listen to that voice
that nags you, that tells you you can’t
do things, that worries. And just notice
what happens. Keep thinking,
“I can’t pat my head.” Okay, you
can stop. So? Reactions? What did
you think?>>(indistinct).
>>Put you to sleep? I can honestly say
that’s the first time I’ve had that
reaction, but okay. Any other reactions?
(chuckling) I don’t know how to
respond to that one. (laughing)>>(indistinct).
>>I’m sorry?>>(indistinct).>>Okay, you were aware that
you were getting tired. Usually I do this
with walking, so it’s not quite as exhausting
as this exercise was. Let me help lead
you through. What did you think
about thinking one thing and doing another? I mean, usually what
athletes tell me is that, the first reaction I get
is, “That was weird.” They sit down
and they laugh– I heard the laughter
at the beginning. It felt weird, it felt
stupid, didn’t it? So let’s talk about
that experience. There’s a lot in
that experience that’s actually extremely
important to be aware of. Like I said, you
can’t fail at this. This is just the
way things are. If we were able to say
“I can’t do something,” and then do it, that tells us something
about the world we live in. Let’s forget for a moment about
the content of our thoughts. That’s really where we live
and where we get stuck. I just want to talk
about thoughts as they exist in the world,
versus behaviors. So if I do something–
let’s talk about behaviors. If I do something,
have I always done it? For example, I’m going
to step to the right. Did I step
to the right? And when we reference
that moment in time, have I always stepped
to the right? Right? Okay, if I throw
this on the floor, which I won’t,
’cause it’s not mine. But if I did, would I have
thrown it on the floor? If a billion
people saw it, would a billion people say yes,
I threw it on the floor? And in that moment in
time, would that have
always been done? It sounds kind of silly,
but let’s say, anytime we have a
behavior, that’s reality, it’s always
happened. But what about
thoughts? Had the thought that I can’t
walk, but I’m walking. Had the thought
I can’t pat my head, but I was
patting my head. So what does that tell
you about your thoughts, and the content
of your thoughts? On at least
some occasions? They’re not
always true. They don’t
reflect reality. Now, sometimes they do,
and, oftentimes, they do. If I say I’m
a male, okay. We can prove that. We won’t, but we can prove that.
(audience laughing) Thank me later. It can sometimes
correlate. But if I have the thought
that I’m a female, you know, it’s like,
it can sound the same, and we can– people can
interact with it the same from a level of content,
it screws us up. I’m botching that up,
here’s a better example. So me– you put me on
the roof, and I think, “I can fly,
I can fly, I can fly.” I’m never really gonna hold
on to that thought and jump. But if I have somebody
who maybe has delusions, who actually will hold
onto that thought, what’s he or
she gonna do? They’re
gonna jump. It doesn’t matter whether
or not we can fly or not. What’s gonna happen
to that person? They’re gonna go crashing
down to the ground. So we relate this to the idea
of the content of our thoughts. It doesn’t really matter about
the outcome, “I can win,” or “I can do this”
or “I can’t.” Who knows? Actually, that
doesn’t matter. What matter is that
does that thought, what is the function
of that thought? What does it
make us do? I can believe
that I can fly, and that’s gonna make–
then I’m gonna jump. If I don’t believe
that I can fly, even though
I’m saying it, even though the thought is
there, then I won’t jump, and isn’t that what
we’re talking about from a level
of performance? That’s important. What does it
drive us to do? So, backing it up,
notice the disconnect, then, between thoughts
and behaviors. And actually, how
independent they are. We often think– and again,
in the traditional CBT model, that thoughts– if I
have a certain thought, it’s gonna create
a certain emotion, and then it’ll determine
what behavior we have. Well, that can
often happen. If I think I suck, I’m
gonna feel depressed, and I’m not
gonna play well. Most of my athletes
will come in that way–
it can start anywhere. I’m not playing well,
and therefore, I think I’m no good, and I
have depressive feelings, and so it all moves
in this direction. But in the actual
reality of things, I can think I can’t pat
my head, as I pat my head, and feel
stupid doing it. Our thoughts, our feelings,
and our actions are actually
independent. They’re not built
to be that way. Because if I think, “Oh, my
gosh, this is dangerous,” my fight or fight
response will kick in, and I’ll wanna run
away from the threat for all the survival reasons
that we talked about. So it’s good
survival. Not good to help
me play soccer. So we want to be
able to respect that, and start to notice when we
get thoughts and feelings that interfere with
our performance. This is where mental
toughness comes from, being able to continue to
move in that value direction what’s going to
be best for me, all the skills that
we’ve talked about, regardless of how
I think and feel, rather than engaging in the
battle of thinking and feeling. Because if we argue with our
negative thoughts all day, what are we not
paying attention to?>>(indistinct).>>Well, let’s say I’m
thinking about the
positive thoughts, too. “I’m a great sports
psychologist,” or “I’m gonna
kill this test.” What am I not thinking about
when I’m taking the GRE? You gave me the right
answer the first. No, about five minutes ago.
(chuckling) When you’re
taking the GRE, what’s the thing you’re
supposed to think about?>>(indistinct).
>>The question in front of you. If I’m thinking about
how good– and how I’m
going to kill the test, that’s just as bad
of a distraction, because I’m not thinking
about the question. Let me elaborate
a little bit more. What was your experience–
now as I’m talking about it– saying one thing
and doing another? Which one is
ultimately real? What you’re doing,
your behaviors! Trusting your
experience, not trusting your
internal experience. The experience of what’s
going on out here, THAT’S what’s
critical. If thoughts
affected movement… I guess you guys got
physically tired. Real quick story,
I was– when I have my athletes
do this, they say, “I can’t walk,
I can’t walk.” And sometimes, they’ll start
to get, like, tight butts and they’ll start to walk weird
and their gait’ll change. And I say, “Well,
what happened here?” And they’re like,
“Well, I was actually– “I was thinking about
how I can’t walk, “and it actually started to
affect how I was walking,” and they found like
that’s kind of scary, because I’ve been walking
for 10, 20, 30 years, and yet, it’s starting
to interfere with it. And it does let us know
the power of belief, and how we can kind of
create an alternate reality, much like that person
jumping off the roof if they believe
in these thoughts, even though they’re
not objectively true. The issue is our attachment
to our thoughts, not the presence
of them. And that’s where
the breathing, the getting focused
on the moment, choosing your attention
on what you can control ends up being so important
in tying this together. And I think I
kind of explained how this experience might
help in your performance, so we’ve got 10 more minutes,
so I’m gonna skip that question to go through this
exercise with you. Let me ask you– and you don’t
have to answer these out loud– but did you ever feel sick or
tired and want to stay home, but go to work, school,
or practice anyway? Gets lots of giggling,
some professors are here, so hold onto
that one. Did you ever feel frightened,
but act confidently? Do you ever think that you
can’t do it, and do it anyway? Did you ever think about
stealing something, but didn’t? Do you ever feel sad,
but act happy? Do you ever feel angry,
but act calmly? Again, don’t answer
these out loud, but did you ever think about
cheating on your partner, but not do it? Did you ever want to quit school
or skip class, but go anyway? Do you ever want to yell at
somebody, but keep quiet? Did you ever
dislike a teammate, but cooperate with
him or her anyway? Did you ever feel
like running away from a stressful or awkward
situation, but stay? If you’ve had these experiences,
what does this show you? I don’t think we recognize,
we get caught up so many times with what we’re thinking
or what we’re feeling, and we feel like we have
to act in that direction. What we haven’t given
ourselves credit for is that we ignore this
stuff all the time. Let me ask you
another question. If you did everything
you thought, where would you
be right now?>>(indistinct).>>(laughing).
>>(indistinct).>>That’s about
the best answer. But I challenge you to
think about more thoughts than just being
in Hawaii. Most people say they’d
either be dead or in jail. If you did everything
you ever thought of. You have a
tremendous capacity to let some of
these thoughts go. It’s just harder when you’re
built to hook onto the ones that are meant to protect you
from a survival standpoint. If you’re an athlete, and
you care about something, losing is
gonna hurt. So you’re going to worry and
hold onto all the things that gonna try to get you to not
put yourself in that situation. Great for survival, horrible
for quality of life. And I think this is a
fundamental summary point of this whole section here
that I’d like you to think of, is that if there’s
an area of life that you wanna perform in,
and do well and be tough in, you gotta understand that all
the fear and all the worry and all the negative
emotions are there to protect you
from getting hurt. But that should be
your number one sign that you are in the
exact right spot. Because if you didn’t care,
you wouldn’t worry about it. But the more you care and
the more nervous you are, it’s actually a
very positive sign that you’re right
where you need to be. Because you care and it
makes your life worth living. And if you want to
perform your best in it, just acknowledge all
that negative stuff as something that’s
there to protect you. Let it go
to the side, and use the skills that
we’ve talked about. You can’t get rid of these
negative thoughts and feelings, but let them
be there, and then make the mental
toughness choices anyway. Which really gets to
the idea of commitment. I don’t talk about
being motivated anymore. “Oh, I need motivation– can
you do a motivational talk?” I’m like, “Nope,
I don’t do that,” because motivation
is short-lived. I will take a
team of athletes, team of people
in the workplace who are committed, long before
I take anybody that’s motivated. And here’s why. I’m going to–
I’ll have somebody pick. Somebody tell me
something about a decision that maybe
is hard to commit to. Whether it be exercise,
quit smoking, or going on a diet,
we’ve all got ’em, but would somebody
we willing?>>(indistinct).
>>”Studying.” So what reasons do
you have to study?>>(indistinct).>>To get a good grade,
to pass. Other reasons
to study?>>(indistinct).
>>To learn. To build your
self-confidence. Other reasons
to study? To get a job, college,
set yourself up. Good. What reasons do you
have not to study?>>(indistinct).
>>(indistinct).>>Wow, we got a lot more of
those, I can’t keep up. “Lazy,” “boring,”
“don’t feel like it.” “Not motivated,”
“don’t feel like it.” “Sleep” is
a good one. Work. Work, in a sense
of competing? Like, I can make money
or I can study a book. There’s a billion other
things that you could do that are more
enjoyable. I could be watching TV,
I could exercise. I mean, anytime I make a
choice in one direction, there a thousand things
that I’m not choosing to do. So let me as you,
how many times do you try to talk
yourself into it? Right? What’s the point? There is no point. There’s a billion
reasons to do something, and a billion
reasons not to. So I try to get my athletes
to say, “Forget about it.” Forget about this
argument that goes on. And this works in
clinical disorders, too. I mean, like,
you get somebody who’s trying to rehabilitate
from substance abuse. Like, “Well, I’m gonna
do it for my family, “I’m gonna do it
for my kids.” Well, you
know what? You had a family and kids when
you were using drugs, then! That doesn’t change. So don’t falsely latch
yourself onto something for motivation. What you need to
do is go back to the idea of the values
and the commitment, and recognize that there are
reasons to do it or not do it, but neither one of is going
to be the thing to depend on. So I will take a
committed athlete, somebody who’s going to
be willing to do things because it’s
important to them, regardless of what they’re
gonna think and feel. And again, I think this is
critical to mental toughness. So, good timing here– we’ve
got about six more minutes, so this is the last
slide that I have. You don’t have to
say this out loud, but what I’d like
to ask you to do, as a result of this workshop,
what are one or two things now, based on your retirement
dinner that we did earlier, there’s a lot
of information. But if you would just,
right now, take and pick one or two things that you’re
gonna start to do differently. This isn’t meant to be
a motivational speech. I want you to make a behavior
commitment to yourself, and say, “What am I
gonna do differently “so that I could be that person
at that retirement dinner “at the end of the season
that I wanna be?” I want you to
be realistic and think about what barriers
are gonna be to that. Maybe go back to these reasons
that we were talking about. They’re gonna
show up. For the long-distance
runners that were over here, in talking this, we didn’t
really get a lot into it, but it’s the idea
of this willingness. What am I going to
be willing to feel? What am I going to
be willing to suffer in order to achieve
my goal, my legacy? And how will you
get over them? Again, lots of tangents
that we could go on, whether it be
mindfulness training, whether it be getting a
coach or social support, lots of different ways,
but if you know a
barrier is there, plan. Don’t think, “Oh, I’ll just
deal with it when it happens.” Our mind has a way
of hooking us. And I’m going to
challenge you to get an
accountability partner. If you don’t have one, just
turn to the person next to you, switch your
numbers. But give yourself
a deadline. Give yourself
three, four weeks. I wouldn’t go too
long for that– you know, longer than that
for the first check-in. I don’t see anybody
switching numbers, but okay. I got email, maybe
people are texting. But I really encourage you
to make that commitment and share this
with somebody, ’cause that public
accountability and being able to report
to somebody is a nice way to kind of get this
behavior change started. Let them know what you wanna do,
specifically that SMART goal. How am I
gonna do it? And then, in two,
three, four weeks, check in with
each other and see the difference
that you’re making, see if you can
build on that. And good. So I got some contact
info up there if anybody’s interested
in getting in contact, and we have five minutes
for questions. Well, glad I didn’t leave a
whole lot of time for that. (scattered chuckling) Thank you.
(chuckling)>>(indistinct).>>Um, how much of your
breathing is affected by stress? Is that the
question?>>(indistinct).>>So the question is, as
a sports psychologist, when people are
running out of breath, is it psychological
or physical? Um, and what
do I see? That is such a general
symptom, it’s really– I don’t know that I can
necessarily address it, because there are– I mean,
you’re gonna run out of breath if you’re just
giving effort. So there’s that
aspect of it. Then, some people
do have asthma, and how do you deal with the
asthma and work through that? But there certainly
is a component that when your fight or
flight response goes off, because you’re– of the mental
aspect of you’re nervous, and if you’re
hyper-intense, like let’s say you
wanna shoot a free throw. You might have some
heavy breathing because of the
physiological aspect, but there’s also a component
of it of nervousness. So it’s almost
always a combination. I guess what I
would say is that, and this may not directly
answer your question, but it’s something that I think
is a good point to bring up, is that a lot of times
athletes will say, “Well, teach me to relax,
teach me to relax.” Well, maybe you don’t
always wanna relax. Sometimes, you wanna stay
intense but focused. I’m not gonna teach a
defensive lineman to relax. But he might use the
breath, like I said, to then focus on “kill”
or “effort” or “power.” So you wanna be able to
choose your intensity to match your
job description. Tiger Woods is gonna need a
different level of intensity than a defensive
lineman. Both of them may
use breathing, but it’s a matter to
match up their intensity to what they want
to accomplish. And like most things,
I said at the beginning, how much of your game
is mental and physical? It’s 100%
of both. So it would be I think more
to the individual situation that I could answer
that better, sorry. But I appreciate
the question. Does anybody
else have one?>>(indistinct).>>So to summarize the question
so everybody can hear, he’s looking at the
overlap, I guess, of the mental toughness, how
it fits in with introversion and extroversion,
personality types, and then what I would also call
“achievement orientation,” doing it for yourself
versus doing it for others, and how do
they all mix? Quite a
complicated aspect. I personally– some people
like to get into profiling and tendencies, I really
like to avoid that just because of
my orientation, because I see every
athlete that I work with as an individual, with
their own set of history and goals
and nuances. So I think those literatures
are, of course, very important, but I really hesitate to
kind of start to profile and make people think this is
the box that you fit into. With that being said,
I have athletes that are very introverted
and extroverted. I don’t see too much
of a correlation one way or
the other. And then, as far as the
achievement orientation
aspect of it, I think that the more you
do it for other people, actually the more often
I’ll see you in my office, because that’s not
the right orientation. If you’re doing it for
other people’s approval versus your own
intrinsic motivation, you’re not gonna
do as well, because you don’t have
control over that. And, you know, my
parents’ approval has nothing to do with
me hitting my free throw. And so, that’s going to end
up often be a distraction. And sometimes, it can get
actually pretty severe. Again, sometimes, I’ll
see athletes come in, and again, this is kind of a
note for the parents out there, you know, you
wanna keep your– you wanna let your kids
know that you love them regardless of
their outcome. I mean, I didn’t do a good job
of that on my 5-year-old’s game. But they begin
to pick that up. They know what makes you
happy and what doesn’t. And what you wanna instill
in kids and in yourself is to say, “You know,
it’s just a sport, “and it can be
very important. “But it’s not a
measure of your worth, “and you don’t achieve love
through this accomplishment.” But the whole world
doesn’t tell us that. As parents, we wanna
teach our kids that, as coaches, as
volunteer coaches, we wanna get that across, we
wanna reinforce the effort. And so, I want their
achievement motivation to be based on, “Look,
I wanna have fun, “I wanna get good,
I wanna get in shape, I wanna do these
things for me. And the healthiest athletes,
the most successful athletes, are really
grounded in that. I see in a number of athletes–
I’ll tell one quick story– a girl came in really
stressed out about tennis. Really flipping out,
making mistakes. Dad was in there– it turns
out she was like, “Look, “I just wanna make my Dad proud,
and I don’t think he’s proud, “and if I make a
mistake, this is…” I’m like, “Well, Dad’s
out there, can we just
bring him in?” And I’m like, “Oh, gosh,
you know, this could go bad.” But I brought
him in. He had no idea that she
was that stressed out. She’s like, “I just wanna
know that you’re proud of me.” He’s like, “Honey,
I’m proud of you. “I don’t care
about tennis. “I mean,
I care, but…” He was like, “If you wanna quit
tomorrow, that’d be fine.” And she was relieved,
and she went out, and won state
championships. And everything had to do but she
was so distracted about that. And I’ve got more stories about
literal clinical depression. One basketball player
in high school. Really, it brought
tears to my eyes, where she sat
there and said, “Dad’s not gonna love
me if I don’t do well.” Do you know how hard it is to
hit a free throw with that? You know, “If I miss this,
my dad’s not gonna love me.” He stood there and he’s like,
“Oh, she knows that I love her.” I’m like, “Dude,
she doesn’t.” I’m like– you–
you know– the intervention
there, I was like, “You gotta stop talking
about basketball. “He was her
coach, too.” I was like, “I don’t wanna
hear you guys talkin’
about it over dinner. “And you guys need to go
on a date once a week “and talk about
something else. “You need to build
your relationship “around something
other than this.” And he was a hard
switch to make, because he didn’t
really buy into it, but she was clinically
depressed as a result of this. And so, by being able
to switch it over and get dad
out of it, and they developed a
relationship otherwise, then she was able
to go back playing, having fun with basketball,
and actually doing well. So that achievement orientation
can be a really big deal. Long answer to a short
question, and we’re out of time.>>(indistinct)–
Dr. Connors. Thank you so much
for coming. Please… (applause) Have a great end
of the semester! (general chatter)

18 thoughts on “Mental Toughness: The X-Factor in Sport and Life”

  1. We can do this! Please take a minute to help!
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  2. What if your bosses – in corporate job like me – only valuate you for your sale records, because THAT is the only thing that matters to them? 

  3. audio is low! this guy despite not having a natural talent in presentation & teaching, knows his subject well. worth listening. well done. atleast he speaks from empirical evidence.

  4. will he discuss the point in challenge when u choose to stop whereas if u pushed urself more u can do it ? …. i'v listened till min 40 and still he speaks generally.

  5. I'm so happy I've found this video. I feel like I'm on the verge of either severe depression or a breakthrough and this video is very helpful. I'm not naturally mentally tough and I didn't have the perfect upbringing to instill confidence and resilience at a young age. But I am an adult now and what happened in the past doesn't define my future and I am taking responsibility & control of my life so I can empower myself to become the confident, mentally tough, determined and successful person I want to become. I can't afford counseling or life coaching although I know I'll benefit greatly from it so I am very grateful for this video. Thank God for the internet and thanks to the speaker and channel for sharing this. Day One of the rest of my life starts today. 😊

  6. This is do fucking vague & shit. A 9 year old could present this. Be aware of who u are listening to. There's a lot of bullshit out there. So vague advice. So cringe worthy.

  7. Please visit for my "Psychology of Performance: How to be Your Best in Life" course for even more … 24 thirty minute lectures!

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