What do you do when the odds are stacked so far against you that you appear to have no chance of winning.
What kind of thinking do you employ.
Do you tell someone who has no chance of winning that it’s all “just a mindset.”
Do you tell him or her to “be positive.”
I don’t think so.
None of these platitudes will help someone in the least if he’s up against someone who is head and shoulders better.
But there is something that will help – regardless of whether or not you’re the underdog or the highly chosen favorite to win it all.
That’s right. What I’m about to reveal will even help the person who’s already at the top, but lacks the drive to keep going because no one can give him a good race or put up a good fight.
More importantly though, it’ll help those who feel the pangs of defeat.
As you know, we can only have one winner in each race – or in each fight or game.
Unless, you redefine winning.
This past weekend, my daughter was in a swimming meet – and I was there supporting her – along with her coach.
In each of the five events she was entered – she was in the fastest heat.
But there was someone from another city – and she was faster than fast.
I looked at her times and she was four or five seconds better than anyone else in her heat.
My daughter wanted to win each race – but the chances of that happening were slim and none. So I decided to break the news to her before the races began.
“You’re in the fastest heat in all your races,” I began. “So that’s good. But I want you to know, up front, that there are some super fast times in each heat. One girl is at least four or five seconds faster than anyone else. This means that, based on time alone, your only real chance of winning is if she doesn’t show up or gets disqualified.”
My daughter looked at the sheets with me, taking in every word I spoke.
“So instead of winning the race, let’s focus on swimming your fastest times ever in each event. If you can beat all your old times today, I consider that a victory. What do you think?”
My daughter nodded in agreement, looked at all her times and the wheels in her mind started turning.
“It’s a great thing when you have super fast people to compete against,” I said. “And do you want to know why.”
“Because when you race the people who are the fastest, you end up swimming faster than ever. So it’s a good thing to share the same pool with them. They make you better.”
In her very first race, my daughter broke her previous best by 5.5 seconds. The winner of the race was still way ahead of everyone else, but knocking five and a half seconds off your best time is no small feat.
As the day continued, my daughter hit personal bests in every event she swam in. I was thrilled – and so was she.
Sometimes, in order to keep those whom you coach motivated, you need to redefine what “winning” is.
Winning is not just about what the timer says or what the score is. It’s not about who came in first, second, third or last.
It’s about whether or not you improved.
Winning is going out there and giving it all you’ve got.
If you’re willing to do that, then regardless of what the final tally shows, you are a winner.
If you want to reduce someone’s desire to succeed or to excel, there are a number of strategies that work incredibly well.
Strategy #1 – Praise someone up one side and down the other. Tell him he’s great. Tell him he’s awesome. Tell him he’s smart. Tell him he’s talented – or gifted – or blessed.
Instead of focusing on work or work ethic – the real crux of the matter – focus on self – or what we call self-esteem, and watch the person you’re coddling get worse.
Strategy #2 – Criticize someone for the very same qualities that others are praised for. Tell the person he’s stupid. Tell him he’s worthless, weak, no good and useless.
This is the flip side of the praise coin. Neither works because, once again, the focus is not on effort or work ethic. Instead, it’s on amorphous qualities that you cannot quantify or mentally picture.
Strategy #3 – Give no rewards in any way, shape or form to those who achieve more than others. Don’t let anyone stand out or look better than the rest. And punish him if he does.
Strategy #4 – Guarantee someone a large sum of money for a long period of time, for future performance, based upon his past performance.
Examples of Strategy #4 not working abound in Major League Baseball as well as all professional sports.
Case in point: A-Rod, also known as Alex Rodriguez. The one-time slugger for the New York Yankees. Five years ago the Yankees inked this man to a 10-year $275 MM contract. Right now they realize they have five years left on the deal – for a staggering sum of $112 MM.
Now, if the guy hustled down the first-base line, showed a lot more effort at the plate and didn’t get injured so often, that would be one thing. But when
you know you’re getting paid $29 MM for six months of work per year – regardless of how well you do, what’s the incentive.
In Sadaharu Oh’s book, A Zen Way of Baseball, he wrote that he was against long-term contracts because they kill a player’s desire to do well.
Fact is, over and over again, we see players who will finally be eligible for free agency, And they put up record numbers straight across the board. Then a team foolishly signs them to a seven or ten-year deal for well over nine figures – and the player goes straight down the tubes.
This happens so often you’d think teams would wise up, but they don’t.
Years ago I listened to football great, Y.A. Tittle, at a book signing. When asked about all the high-priced players, Tittle said that if owners only knew that most of the athletes would play for a lot less, they’d stop giving out these ridiculous sums of dough.
Now, I’m totally in favor of an athlete making as much as he can. What I’m not in favor of is ruining a player’s career with a MEGA multi-year salary guarantee. You either produce, or you’re fired. You produce, or you take a pay cut. You produce, or you take a seat on the bench.
And if the above doesn’t light a fire under your bottom, then the team can help the player ease himself into retirement.
Received a bunch of replies to yesterday’s email entitled “False Confidence.”
One reader, PJ, directed me to You Tube videos that confirm what I stated about praise negatively affecting performance.
The video was NOT mere theory, either. A teacher worked with two different groups of students. One group was told how smart they were when they completed an exercise. The other group was not praised for being smart – only for how hard they worked.
Results: those who were praised for having “talent” did worse as the tasks got more difficult. In fact, the students were given a choice as to what type of tasks they’d like to tackle next.
The “you’re really smart” group chose easy tasks because when they completed them it would confirm their belief. But they did NOT want to take risks that might make them feel that they weren’t so smart after all.
The group who was praised for “effort” however, asked for the difficult assignments. They wanted to be challenged. Right or wrong didn’t matter to them because they enjoyed learning from their mistakes. They didn’t see mistakes as failure or an assault on their belief system of being “smart.”
Keep in mind that praise is NOT the enemy.
The enemy is praise that gets the student focused on unclear images. You cannot mentally picture how smart you are, or how talented, or how intuitive, blessed, and so on.
But you can mentally picture how hard you worked. You can remember and picture how much effort you gave.
Last week a man sent me an article that told the story of growing up in a family wherein he was never praised for being talented or special. He felt bad about this – until I told him that his family did him a favor.
He then recalled how he’s most alive and feeling positive about himself when he’s creating music and performing onstage.
In my own case, I’ve always been suspicious of the motives of those who use flattery. I’ve never been comfortable with it –
never liked it – found it a complete turnoff.
At one point I began to question this. I even thought there may be a self-image issue attached to my dislike of this type of praise.
Then the research comes out. Deep down I probably didn’t like it because I knew I had to go out and perform, regardless of the praise – and good today does not guarantee good tomorrow.
It all boils down, once again, to effort and desire and how much you’re willing to put into something – not how much talent you have to draw from.
This morning, while looking through an old briefcase, I found a lot of very old papers that no longer served any positive function.
I began putting them in a stack to be shredded, when I came across a document entitled:
1993 Achievements in Review
As I looked at the list, I was simultaneously stunned and elated. Stunned because some of the achievements I held dearly at the time, pale in comparison to what I accomplished in later years; elated because, deep within my mind, these “victories” still hold a special place in my heart.
You could say, this one document represents where I stored a written record of confidence.
Being confident in yourself cannot be underestimated. There’s great POWER in CONFIDENCE. So long as it’s backed by the willingness to work with great passion and enthusiasm, to look at and correct mistakes without getting emotional, and making the choice to persevere when things don’t go well at first,
you’re always going to be further ahead with confidence than without it.
The above paragraph represents authentic confidence – not the phony confidence so many project today.
Let me give you an example of phony confidence.
Some months ago, I watched as a father took his son to the pool to get swimming lessons. The teacher met the young boy and began the lesson. The boy knew almost nothing about swimming and could barely float, yet the teacher was telling him, “You’re a really good swimmer.”
At the end of the lesson, the boy got out of the water and told his father, “I’m really good, Dad. I’m a good swimmer.”
The father smiled and agreed. “That’s right, son. You’re really good.”
I sat wondering, “So, when it’s time to correct the boy’s mistakes, what are you going to tell him? If he’s already good, what is he when you point out the errors?”
To build confidence, real, true, authentic confidence, you take the focus OFF the self and put it on what you’ve learned, what you’ve accomplished, what you’ve been able to create.
There’s little if any, “You’re good. I’m good. We’re all good. It’s all good.” talk.
To this day, I fondly recall the Chinese kung fu master who – upon seeing me repeat a move, said, “Not bad. But not good, either.”
After hearing him say this, I worked harder than ever before. I kept in mind that no matter how good I was able to do something, it could always be improved.
The master kept the focus on the move I was practicing and kept it off whether or not he believed I was good, talented, skilled, etc. It was about making the movement better. Once I got the moves better, I’d be better. Not the other way around.
Ironically, when you focus your mind on what you’re doing and keep it OFF whether or not you’re good, talented, blessed, skilled and gifted – you become a better person.
Because you’ve been given concrete, specific instructions on how you can improve something.
But when you hear someone say, “You’re great. You’re good. You’re talented.” – guess what your mind hears.
It hears: Oh, I guess I don’t need to train as hard as the others because I’m better than they are.
This is false confidence.
It all gets back to the Power of Mental Pictures.
You cannot mentally picture your level of talent, skill or ability. It’s a vague, nebulous and amorphous concept.
But you CAN mentally see, feel and imagine doing a specific skill better.
Specific skills are not vague.
If you’re going to praise someone, praise him for what he is able to do and for how he’s improved. Then lead him to greater heights by telling him that he can do even better.
As I take another look at the document entitled: “1993 Achievements in Review” – I notice one other fact. There’s not a single reference on any of the 26 achievements listed, that states in any way, shape or form, that I’m good at anything.
However, the words “learned” and “improved” showed up more than once.
One line reads: “Improved my writing skills.”
It does NOT say, ‘I’m a good writer.”
Today, despite having sold hundreds of thousands of books that I personally wrote, I would still much rather say, “My writing skills improved” than “I’m a good writer.”
Real confidence is built by learning how to do something, learning it better, getting good at it, and continuing to get better… ad infinitum.
P.S. The very best tool to read and listen to when it comes to building confidence, is the world-renowned Zero Resistance Living Program. Grab yourself a copy of it today – and start improving everything in your life tomorrow.
When it comes to the exercise called bridging, you’ll find it to be an art, a science and one helluva workout.
There are many variations of the bridge – and the one I’m most famous for teaching is the”wrestler’s bridge” – sometimes erroneously referred to as a “neck bridge.” Calling this wonderful total body exercise a “neck bridge” makes about as much sense as calling pushups “wrist and elbow benders.”
When you do a wrestler’s bridge correctly you are using your lower back, abdominals, hips, buttocks, legs and diaphragm MORE than your neck. So you have to be an idiot to call it a “neck bridge.”
Not only that but bridging is one of the all-time best exercises for eliminating lower back pain. How could this be if it was all about the neck.
Yes, there are a few people who bash the bridge – but their bashing comes from ignorance rather than real world science. Those who slam bridging don’t know how to do a bridge correctly – and they really don’t want to because they have something else to sell you, like a ridiculous neck machine, neck harness or another neck routine. It’s all bunk and junk compared to the overall benefits of bridging – along with the other neck and back exercises I teach in the Combat Conditioning System.
Bridging helps eliminate back pain for many reasons – foremost of which is the fact that it simultaneously stretches and strengthens the muscles of the back and core while giving the spine a much needed arch.
The very act of sitting causes the vertebrae to compress – so each time you bridge, even if over a ball, you relieve pressure from the spine and increase energy throughout the entire system. Your spine is the electrical switch for the entire body – so anytime you work on increasing flexibility in the spine via bridging – you light your body from within.
Your internal organs, spine, brain and muscles benefit. And when combined with deep breathing, chi flow throughout all the body’s meridians expands. This also accounts for the “glow” and peace of mind you will feel after holding a bridge for a minute or more. Your body and mind have been joined – at the brain, hip, spine and core.
If you’d like to know even more on the Science of Bridging, I’ll be glad to send it to you as a bonus along with the Combat Conditioning System, wherein a top orthopaedic surgeon, uses x-rays of the cervical vertebrae to explain the science of this wonderful exercise.
After that, ask yourself if you’d like to do one minute of pushups – or just one minute holding the pushup position. Or one minute of bridging. Or one minute of deep breathing.
And if a minute is too long for you – how about 5 seconds with the Farmer Burns Stomach Flattener. My goodness, everyone has 5 seconds, right.
Now what if you did 10 reps of the Farmer Burns Stomach Flattener.
That would be how long. About a minute.
Can you dramatically affect change in your body in one minute.
The answer is: Hell yeah.
And the good news is that when you can conquer one minute – and you enjoy that minute, you’ll want to go for a second and a third minute – and so on. Yet the desire for you to do more comes organically.
No pushing, prodding or flogging yourself to be motivated.
Use this method and I assure you that you’ll be kicking butt in no time flat.
P.S. For more information on The Farmer Burns Stomach Flattener go here. 5 seconds of this exercise at a time can dramatically change your waistline.
Ever notice how many people cannot do a simple hamstring stretch without feeling pain and stiffness.
Perhaps you’re one of these people. If so, I have some very good news for you.
Whenever you stretch your hamstrings, you create a sense of calmness. You unwind your mind. You de-stress and decompress. You get rid of fear.
The further you’re able to stretch your hamstrings – the further you stretch your mind.
You let go of fear.
You let go of the past.
You start going places you’ve never gone before.
When you stretch your hamstrings in the proper way; a way in which you let all the air out of your unnecessarily inflated balloon – you don’t just cause a physical change in your life. You cause a change in your mind and body.
You open yourself to greater possibilities. You stop holding back. You get up and go.
Making even a 1/2 inch improvement in your hamstring stretch can be a huge marker in your ongoing development. And the day you can toss your foot onto a tree branch to stretch your hamstrings, the way you see me doing here your friends will be amazed.
You, on the other hand, will simply be relaxed and loving life.
Yes, life is a lot better when you’re loose, limber and flexible – all
the way around.
So make sure you give yourself some of the flexibility your body/mind
wants, needs and deserves.