May 28th, 2012
Mental toughness is fast becoming more important and I have been asked over the last few years, to work with many pro and amateur athletes that want to improve their performance. Interestingly enough, though, it is not just improving their performance on the field of play that they are interested in, but in life in general. Which helps their performance on the field. It seems it is there life off the field is interrupting their performance.
I have been a student of human behavior since I was 16 years old when in high school our football coach and teacher, Lou Tice introduced us to concepts and principles of cognitive psychology that did the same for us. Helped us improve on both on and off the field.
Now, some 40 years later, and after working with Lou for many of those years, I have become somewhat of an expert of what it takes to improve human performance. No offense to the sports psychologist out there, but what my clients always answer when I ask them why they are not using the team’s sports psychologist… Their response most of the time is “they are to clinical.”
What Lou has taught me over the years is common sense, scientifically researched and proven, concepts that we all use everyday but we are not totally aware of how it works, why it works and how to make it work even better for us.
It starts with the first principle of “We act and behave in accordance with the truth as we believe ourselves to be.” BELIEFS. How are they formed? Where did they come from?
You have heard the term 2nd Nature. Well what is first nature?
We are who we are by the 30% we were born with and the other 70% is what we have developed along the way, 2nd nature. Habits, attitudes, beliefs and expectations.
What do you believe about your performance on the field, in certain situations, against certain teams, players? Dr. Albert Bandura at Stanford University researched Self-Efficacy. Simply put; ‘ones appraisal of one-self, of what they can cause, bring about or make happen.’ He said it is job or task specific. How efficacious are you?
Next blog is about Collective Efficacy.
For more information contact me at email@example.com
December 13th, 2009
During this christmas season remember to enjoy it. Have a good time this season. Take a moment to look around. See all what we have to celebrate about. Look for the good in people. Not the bad. Enjoy your family. Your friends. Celebrate the goodness around you. It is everywhere. Look a stranger in the eyes and wish them Merry Christmas.
Smile more. Be aware of your body language during the course of the day. Does your body language say stress or peace and happiness?
Tell that special someone you love them like the first time you ever told them that. Put the emotion and meaning behind it like the first time you told them. Watch how they react.
Make this season the “happiest” Christmas season ever!
With a smile on my face and a glow in my heart, MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone and simply have a wonderful Christmastime!
August 19th, 2009
It’s Your Life, So Make The Most Of It.
One of the most important ingredients in your personal development is taking real responsibility for your actions. This requires that you consciously become the cause of the results that you want. Refuse to behave like a victim… or to wait for someone to save you from life’s problems.
Keys to Self-responsibility
To reach your full potential, you need to take responsibility for your actions in meaningful ways…
Consciousness. You have a choice — you can pay attention and be fully present when you are making critical decisions, such as working on a project, reading your performance review or deciding whether to have another drink. Or you can be physically present but mentally absent during these activities. Either way, you are responsible for the level of consciousness you bring to any occasion — and you are responsible for the results.
Decisions and actions. It is tempting to “disconnect” from our choices — to insist that someone or something is driving us to behave the way we do. Other people don’t make you talk or act in certain ways. You are responsible for how you speak and listen… whether you act rationally or not… whether you treat others fairly or unfairly… whether you keep your promises or break them. Once you recognize that you are the source of your own decisions and actions, you are far more likely to proceed wisely — and to act in ways that will not cause embarrassment or regret later.
Fulfillment of desires. A major cause of unhappiness or frustration is imagining that someone will come along to “rescue” you — to solve your problems and fulfill your wishes. A self-responsible person recognizes that no one is coming to make life right or to “fix” things. You acknowledge that nothing will get better unless you do something to make it happen.
Beliefs and values. Many people are happy to reflect passively what others believe and value. Or they assume that their ideas arise naturally out of their feelings — by instinct. Self-responsible people work to become aware of their beliefs and values… to critically scrutinize them… to seek out people who see things differently… and then to make up their own minds.
Setting priorities. The way we spend time and energy is either in sync with our values or out of sync with what we claim is important. If you understand that the way you prioritize your time is your own choice, you are more likely to correct the contradictions. Instead of being overwhelmed or neglecting people and activities that are important to you, you reexamine your values or set priorities that make more sense.
Choice of companions. You can blame and resent others when they repeatedly hurt or disappoint you. You can feel sorry for yourself. Or you can recognize your responsibility for choosing with whom you spend time… and make different choices.
Actions in response to feelings and emotions. When you’re angry, you have the urge to lash out. When you’re hurt, you may feel like sulking. When you’re impatient, you may want to drive too fast. But you don’t have to act on every feeling or urge. When you accept responsibility for the actions you take, you act more thoughtfully… less impulsively… and with better results.
Happiness. If you believe your happiness is primarily in your own hands, you give yourself enormous power. You don’t wait for events or other people to make you happy. If something is wrong, your response is not, “Someone’s got to do something!” but “What can I do?”
One’s own life and well being. In taking responsibility for your life, you will recognize other people’s rights to do the same. Other people do not exist as means to your ends, any more than you live in service to their goals. People may choose to help one another — voluntarily. Life is usually more pleasant when they do so. But no one is born with a right to other people’s assets or energy — despite the attitude of entitlement that is so prevalent today.
Learning self-responsibility. You can become more responsible by asking yourself two powerful questions several times a day…
• What possibilities for action exist?
• What can I do?
Instead of just saying, “I want…,” try asking yourself, “What am I willing to do to get what I want?” To become more aware of whether you are acting responsibly, ask yourself, If I wanted to be fully self-responsible right now, what would I be doing?
Try this exercise: Psychotherapist and philosopher Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D, taught me this exercise. I have made my own twist to it. Every morning for one week, write six to 10 endings to each of the following sentences…
• When I operate a little more self-responsibly today, I am…
• When I am 5% more self-responsible in my relationships, I aml…
• When I accept responsibility for my choices and decisions, I am…
Don’t worry about what you should say. Just write the first words that come to mind. Over the weekend, reread the week’s sentences. Then write six to 10 endings for this sentence…
• If any of what I wrote this week is true, it might be helpful if I…
Done consistently, this exercise helps to shift your mental focus. Changes are often quick — and dramatic.
Practicing Self-Responsibility will make a positive impact on your life.
Go on, what the heck, it’s your life, so make the most of it!
July 20th, 2009
Wow, have you noticed all the empty retail spaces lately? What happened? We were all doing great then BAM* change happened. Were you prepared? Were you ready? Did it catch you off gaurd?
It did to a lot of people I know. They were not prepared. Now they are trying to figure out what to do with all of their “stuff.” They are also trying to figure out how to pay for all of their “stuff.”
I know five people who have lost their lives over the last 2 years. All of them over what they were experiencing in today’s economy. CHANGE, massive change. These people did not know how to deal with it. One of them, an Executive Vice-President at a medium company committed suicide over the closing of the company where he felt responsible for the failure. He took his life by jumping off a bridge. Two of them shot themselves, another overdosed on drugs and the last one had a massive heart attack. Whoa!
What happened to these people? How did they go down the wrong path? It’s just “stuff.” It was not life-threating. I do not know a lender that had a clause in their contract (at least the legitimate ones) that if you don’t pay you will die.
I was watching the interview of Katie Couric with Captain Sullenberger, the pilot that landed the US Airways flt. 1549 in the Hudson River last February saving all 155 pasengers and crew. It was amazing to watch the interview in the context of what we are experiencing today during these changing times.
His was a life and death experience. Listen to it again in this context and I will bet you that you will hear a different story. One of confidence and extreme equanimity.
Let’s start with what he said when he “saw the birds, felt the birds hitting the plane and then smelled the birds he said “I can’t believe this is happening to me.” Have you said that lately to yourself or do you know someone because of the current economical times has said that? He thought that he would go through his entire carreer without an incident. I think we all want that, expect that, then boom, something happens and it throws us a curve ball. It did not take him long to get his act together and make some defining decisions.
He first wanted to return to LaGuardia, his comfort zone. It’s human nature to want to retreat to the familiar. He soon, within seconds, figured out that he would not make it. He still was confined to his comfort zone and wanted to know where the next closest airport was. Teterboro in New Jersey they told him. He was still locked onto his beliefs as most pilots would, that he needed to find an airport to land in. Within seconds again, he determined that he could not make it to that airport in New Jersey. He only had one choice, the Hudson River! Are you kidding me? How do you come up with something so indifferent to the usual? The Hudson River?
He needed to clear the George Washington bridge first then he needed to land the plane with the nose up, wings level, speed right, and the right pitch as not to slam the tail first. He said all this had to happen simultaneously and “if” he could make that happen he said he had the right crew to get the passengers out of the plane safely. He knew this when he announced “Brace for impact” and he heard the crew prepare the cabin for a crash landing. Katie asked,stated “That’s a big if!” Captain Sullenberger responded confidently “I was sure I could do it!” He did it alright and after landing it he turned to his co-pilot and said “That wasn’t so difficult.”
He added, “it just seems that the 43 years of my training and experience had prepared me for this moment.” That is what I am talking about. Haven’t we all been prepared for this moment. That statement defined him. He dealt with change within seconds and did not feel sorry for himself. He did not worry. In other words he did not dwell on the problem and feel sorry for himself. He was thinking first and foremost what needed to be done. The solution. Had he dwelled on the problem and think “why me”, it would have been disastrous.
These are defining times and we need to think outside of our comfort zones. We need to look at some of the limiting habits, attitude and beliefs that might be holding us back from making change happen. Ok, so this that has happened to you has happened and you are not happy about it. Don’t dwell on it find a solution.
All your training, education and experience has prepared you for this moment. Remember It’s all just “stuff.” It’s not life-threating.
If you think that change is over guess what, “Brace for Impact” becuase more change is still coming.
July 9th, 2009
How to Cultivate Equanimity In Your Life
By Jim Madrid
Been a little stressed out lately? Overwhelmed? Does your life feel like it’s out of control? Do you feel like your theme song should be I feel overwhelmed and out of control? Welcome to Life in 2009!
A question I’m frequently asked is “How can I live a more balanced life?” This is usually preceded or followed by statements like: “I feel overwhelmed and stressed out most of the time. My kids are growing up and I have so little time with them. It’s as if I’m sacrificing my personal life on the altar of my career.” Sound familiar?
Ever heard of the word equanimity? I love this word. It means evenness of mind especially under stress; right disposition; balance. Synonyms are composure (controlling emotional or mental agitation by an effort of will or as a matter of habit), and sangfroid (great coolness and steadiness under strain). When you cultivate equanimity in your life and work, clarity follows, and out of clarity comes drive, energy and creativity. Clarity can make you approach life more passionately. Clarity will move you in the direction of your dreams!
It’s human nature to be drawn toward habit and familiar routines (comfort zones are familiar places where habit rules). But when you deliberately choose to resist habit and the familiar—choose to break out of your comfort zone and grow—life becomes exhilarating. Stepping away from habitual behavior brings energy back into your life!
What are you doing in your personal life or at work to create equanimity? What are your habits, your routines? What do you do without much consciousness, because, well, who knows why? Where are your habits of attitude and behavior creating an imbalance, a disconnect between you and what you value most? When you’re out of balance, the result is negative stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed
The reason most of us feel out of control and stressed out is, I believe, lack of a clear, compelling vision. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But without this clarity of vision, there can be no equanimity. During her journey in Wonderland, Alice came to a fork in the road. She questioned the Cheshire Cat about which path to take, but the cat wanted to know where she was going. Alice said, “I don’t know,” whereupon the cat replied, “Then it doesn’t matter what road you take, does it?”
Business has slowed down, at least for the moment. Some of you don’t know what to do with your time. The new slowness concerns you; you worry about it, and the worry takes a toll. But stop for a minute. What about the outstanding performers in your business or community? What are they doing? And why are they doing it?
When I asked a high performing executive the motivation behind her continued success, she said, “When we have children, my husband, and I will be in a position to spend plenty of quality time with our child. We will be able to have a more balanced lifestyle and provide a comfortable, high-quality life for our family.”
Another top performer,responded to my question like this: “I have a strong need to provide financially for my family.” This person is a single mom who not only supports her daughter, but also, because of her success, is able to employ her brother as her assistant. When I asked her to define the word provide, she said, “To make it possible for my daughter to attend any school she chooses; to make sure she has many opportunities open to her; to help my brother create a secure and comfortable life for his family.”
Why haven’t these high performers stopped being high performers? Why has their business slowed only slightly during these changing times? They have a clear, compelling, highly-motivating vision! With vision comes equanimity, with equanimity comes clarity, and with clarity come drive, energy, and creativity. Oh, and don’t forget passion.
Success starts with a vision. Unfortunately, most of us are vision impaired. You can’t depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus. Here are a few questions to stimulate your thinking and help you see more clearly:
- Do I have a clear, compelling vision of where, what, and who I want to be over the next five to ten years?
- What is the purpose behind my vision? (In other words, why do I want these things?)
- Have I written down my vision and goals?
- If so, how often do I review and/or affirm it?
- Do the important people in my life and work know about my vision?
- Were they involved in the creation of it?
If you want to get down in the weeds and create that compelling vision ask yourself the following questions and then answer them:
What difference will it make?
Not long ago, a Harvard Business School study revealed that, of people with similar backgrounds and educational standards:
- 3% are successful,
- 30% are moderately successful, and
- 67% just exist
Now, get this: The 3 percent who are successful have clear, detailed written goals. The 30 percent who are moderately successful have a general idea of where they’re going, but have no formalized written goals. The rest are happy (well, maybe not) to watch the rest of the world go by.
Something else that fascinated me about this study was that the people in the 30 percent category only needed to exert a small effort to jump into the next group. The secret behind that effort was “the development of habits and strategies that support the achievement of clear goals.”
Experience has shown me that most people haven’t written their goals/vision out in a specific, clear way. Their complaints are loud and clear, though: “Help! I don’t know what to do! My life is spinning out of control! I have too much stress! My career is out of control!”
Get clear about your vision and your goals. Write them down. Get clear about the purpose behind those goals. Why would you want to accomplish those things? What matters to you most of all? Create a business plan for your career and a plan for your personal life, too. Set goals that work to align the various aspects of your life, enhancing each other rather than conflicting, and you will bring equanimity into your life!
June 8th, 2009
Values are fundamental beliefs or principles. They define what we think is right, good, fair, and just. They are standards, based on what we believe to be of worth and importance (valuable).
An employer shouldn’t try to tell employees what their values ought to be; values come along with people as they enter the workplace. But it is an employer’s responsibility to set the organization’s behavioral standards and make sure employees know exactly what those standards are.
Morals are a particular kind of value. They spring from a belief system that helps us define right and wrong, good and bad, and usually get their authority from something outside the individual—(e.g. religion, government, society). Moral concepts and practices often vary from one society to another. They also change over time within a given society as that society changes. Business leaders generally avoid framing ethical matters in terms of morals in order to avoid offending any group’s or individual’s beliefs.
Ethics are principles of behavior. They tell people how to act in ways that meet the standards set by their values. When we act in ways that are consistent with our values, we are acting ethically. When our actions are not congruent with our values, we are acting unethically.
Defining what is ethical is not up to an individual, a particular group, or a particular organization. If it were, one could argue that what Saddam Hussein did while he ruled Iraq was ethical, since his actions conformed to his own definition of right and good. While the ethics of our decisions and actions must be defined by society, individuals and organizations may still create and follow codes of ethical behavior that express society’s ethics in their own words and ways.
Workplace Ethics: Threat & Opportunity
The post-Enron/WorldCom environment of public distrust and tightening regulation exposes corporations to both new threats and new opportunities. The principal threat is obvious: disastrous loss of shareholder value as a consequence of real or perceived unethical practices or behaviors. The opportunity may be less apparent, but is equally real: to reform corporate practice and norms to gain strategic advantage and minimize risk.
Rethinking and restating corporate purpose in terms of social needs is an effective way to distinguish your company from the competition, promote public trust, and ultimately increase stakeholder (not just shareowner) value. The goal must be not only to do well, but also to do good. In that respect, it is important to balance the interests of all stakeholders by practicing enlightened self-interest—economically, competitively, and socially.
Corporate Ethics: A Matter of Trust
No matter what you manufacture, sell, or service, your company is in the trust business. If you sell cars, motorcycles, airline tickets, food, pharmaceuticals, children’s toys, cosmetics, or countless other products, you know that if people don’t trust their safety, they won’t buy your products or services. If you’re a bank, brokerage, insurance company, or accounting firm, you know that if you aren’t trusted, your profits will dry up. If you accept credit cards as payment, your customers must trust you with their account numbers. Whoever you are and whatever you do, without trust you’re out of business.
Once trust is damaged, it takes enormous effort to regain it. Sometimes, despite Herculean attempts, it simply can’t be done. It’s not simply an exercise in damage control, as Enron and Arthur Andersen now realize. Together, Enron and Andersen have become the latest in a regrettable series of corporate poster children that make a compelling case for the importance of trust. Ethical behavior engenders and deepens trust.
The High Cost of Low Ethical Standards
Leadership behavior shapes the organization’s ethics culture. When leadership practices are not aligned with the organization’s ethical standards, it can result in:
· Employees ignoring ethical standards to pursue operational results at any cost.
· Loss of organizational credibility as people watch ethical standards being disregarded.
· Decreasing productivity as employees feel less committed to the goals and objectives of their leaders.
· Concerned employees not believing they can legitimately raise an ethical question at work.
· Ethics guidelines seen as window dressing rather than legitimate operating principles.
· Increasing conflict as people are required to do things that violate their personal standards.
· Increased stress levels as the work environment becomes ethically incongruent.
· Loss of overall organization effectiveness and, inevitably, profits, as ethical conflict undermines other aspects of the total operation.
Ethical Leadership: Roots and Results
Ethical leadership begins, perhaps, with a willingness to face reality, search for the truth and the courage to tell it to others but it doesn’t end there. Ethical leaders are also responsible for finding hope and inspiring action that increases, not just the benefits to himself and those he leads, but also to something bigger: the common good. This doesn’t always make him popular, but ethical leadership isn’t about popularity. It’s about integrity and service for the greater good.
The Center for Ethical Leadership in Seattle, Washington, has developed a “4V” model that is useful in understanding both the roots and desired end-results of ethical leadership.
Values, Vision, and Voice are at the points of a triangle, with Virtue in the center. Surrounding the triangle is a circle representing the common good—the end goal.
The starting point is Values. An ethical leader must know her core values and integrate them into her daily life. Between Values and Vision lies the territory of service. When our values are tested in the context of service to others, they liberate the vision within our values. Vision then leads to Voice as we move toward taking public action based on our Values and Vision.
When we take this public action, the territory changes from service to polis, the Greek word for city, and the root of the word politics. As we learn to give Voice to our Vision in the context of a public act, we are engaged in the art of politics, even if polis, in our case, is within the context of an organization.
As Voice returns to Values, the territory changes again from polis to renewal, suggesting that we need to withdraw from action from time to time in order to reflect and consider whether our actions are congruent with our Values and Vision. We also need to identify behaviors, processes, or people that inspire us to reconfirm our commitment to our Values and Vision. But how many of us take vacations or sabbaticals that actually provide us with ample time alone to reflect and renew? How much of our “time off” is actually “time on,” filled with a never-ending To-Do list?
At the center of the model is Virtue, which stands for the common good. We earn virtue by doing the right thing—the thing that advances the common good. At work, at home, everywhere we go, engaging in relationships that are just and caring is a powerful way to pursue the common good.
When we engage the world—our world, our community, our organization—on behalf of the common good, we are bound to develop virtue. When we are fully committed to justice, care, and compassion, we see things from multiple points of view and we shape questions that challenge ourselves and those we lead to find creative, inclusive, compassionate solutions to the problems we confront.
Steps to Growing an Ethical Business
Ethical leadership practices are a necessary prerequisite for organization effectiveness. Leaders ultimately fail if they settle for less than the highest ethics standards. Here are six things corporate leaders can and should do to ensure that their businesses grow in ways that are both profitable and ethical:
1. Develop consensus on a revised statement of corporate mission/purpose that includes your company’s ethical foundation and intentions.
2. Clarify the role of profit in your business equation. David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, once commented: “Profit is not the proper end and aim of management—it is what makes all of the proper ends and aims possible.”
3. Communicate the distinction between old and new purpose, values, and behavior to all stakeholders—employees, customers, vendors, and the general public. Every leader in your company should be trained in what the organization’s ethical standards are and how they are expected to support them. This training should not be limited to reading a handbook or set of documents.
4. Set a strong, unmistakable personal example. Get clear about what ethical behavior is; then, as the saying goes, walk the talk, every step of the way.
5. Provide systems to support the ethics-related actions of leaders. These should include ethics policies, measurement and rewards (see #6, below) that recognize the value of ethical leadership practices, as well as structures that allow employees to raise ethics
6. Revise your organization’s management measurement and reward system so that when the values and ethics your organization preaches are practiced by managers, they are appropriately acknowledged and rewarded.
June 8th, 2009
When Julio Diaz stepped off the New York City subway platform after work one night, he was simply planning to walk over to his favorite local diner for a meal. But when a teenage boy approached him with a knife in his hand, Diaz, a 31-year-old social worker, knew the evening was about to take a more dramatic turn.
The young man demanded Diaz’s wallet, and Diaz passed it over without objection. But just as his mugger turned to walk away, Diaz called after him:
“Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something.” The mugger turned around, surprised.
“If you’re going to be out on the streets for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”
The teenager looked at Diaz in disbelief, and asked why he would do such a thing. Diaz replied,
“!f you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money.”
He then told the young man that he’d just been heading out for dinner, and that he would be happy for some company.
“You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help,” Diaz told NPR’s StoryCorps.
The young mugger decided to take Diaz up on his offer, and they headed into Diaz’s favorite local diner together. As they were sitting at the table, the manager, the dishwashers, and the waiters all stopped over to say hello to Diaz, and the young man was really surprised at his popularity.
“You’re even nice to the dishwasher,” he exclaimed.
“Haven’t you been taught that you should be nice to everybody?” Diaz asked him.
“Yea, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way,” the teenager replied.
Thanks to Diaz, he was beginning to see that kindness wasn’t such a strange phenomenon, after all. When the bill came, Diaz told the teen that the teen would have to get the check. After all, he still had Diaz’s wallet.
The teenager slid the wallet back across the table without a moment’s thought, and Diaz treated him to dinner. Diaz then gave the would-be mugger $20. He figured maybe it’ll help him. But, Diaz asked for something in return, the teen’s knife. And he gave it to him.
“I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right,” Diaz said.
“It’s as simple as it gets in this complicated world.”
~ The author is Michael Garofalo who wrote the story for the Morning Edition of National Public Radio.
You can here the interview between the author and Julio Diaz by clicking here ~
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