The Beginners Mindset

Boston Celtics Time Out - ByRMTip21 Flickr 667x408How can the athlete get the most out of their coaches?  Kevin Eastman, assistant coach of the Boston Celtics, suggest players have a beginners mindset.

In his article called The Beginners, Kevin is talking about the veteran player’s mindset that coaches want. I believe this beginners mindset applies to all players, especially those under 30 who have had some success.

Here are some quotes from the article:

…beginners are open; experts are closed. Experts are closed to new ideas, closed to new ways, closed to a different concept, generally closed from everything except what they’re already comfortable with or want to keep doing.
… Beginners are always open to new ideas, new ways to do things, new ways to improve.

Why does it matter and how does the beginners mindset help both players and coaches?

Where this comes into play is when we are teaching and coaching our players. We want them to trust that we have spent countless hours and years perfecting our way of doing things and that they are the best ways for our team that year. The players and teams that never reach success are the ones that challenge, oppose, or distrust everything their coaches put out there for them.
…We want our players’ minds to be open and ready to absorb and execute what we have thoroughly thought through and believe to be the best for our team that year!

Attitude and approach matter.



Power Poses – Feel More Confident Now

Can the way you hold your body or move, have measurable affects on how you feel?  Absolutely and Dr. Amy Cuddy has research to back it up.  Dr. Cuddy is social psychologist, teaches at the Harvard Business School, and studies our perceptions of others and how others influence us.

Fake it until you make it works and there is evidence to back it up as a useful strategy (for more details see “Power Postures Can Make You Feel More Powerful” (WIRED Science, May 15, 2012.)

The first video is a five minute overview and the second video is a 17 minute presentation about the idea that we can change our feelings about our own status by changing the positions of our bodies.

What do you think?

[Featured image courtesy of Flickr: Poptech]

How To Build Better Relationships On Your Team And In Your Life – Choose Your Response

Have you ever had someone react differently than you expected to something you said? We all have and there is something you can do about it.  Anthony Robbins says “The meaning of your communication is the response you get.”  If you don’t like the response you are getting, change your approach.  Okay but how and how do you not come off as a phony, a wimp or a suck-up?HighFive_240x150

A portion of Master Resilience Training is the way.  MRT is the third component of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness training developed by Martin E.P. Seligman.  The program trains drill sergeants on how to embrace resilience and pass on the knowledge.  MRT has three parts – building mental toughness, building signature strengths, and building strong relationships.

The building strong relationships section, based on the work of Shelly Gable, describes the four styles of responding to people:

  1. Active constructive (authentic, enthusiastic support)
  2. Passive constructive (laconic support, i.e. the use of few words expressing support)
  3. Passive destructive (ignoring the event)
  4. Active distributive (pointing out the negative aspects of the event)

Here is an example of basketball teammates.  Joe tells Sam, “Hey, I was selected as one of the co-captains.”

Active constructive – “That’s great. What else do you have to do as one of the captains? Has it been announced? What did the Coach say about why you deserved it?”

Passive constructive – “That’s nice.”

Passive destructive – “I saw a funny video online.  Look at this…”

Active destructive – “You know you don’t get anything extra for it and it will take up a lot of your fun time…”

Being mindful of your response style and working on having more responses that are active constructive, can improve how you are perceived.  You can be seen as being real and being nice.

[Image: Flickr user SashaW]

Building Resilience – Harvard Business Review

ResilienceTraining240x159_USArmyWhat makes one person grow from experiencing a trauma, another gets through it to be basically the same as they were before the trauma (resilience), and yet another fall apart?  Dr. Seligman shows how training can move people towards growth as the result of the trauma.  “These are the people of whom Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Dr. Seligman worked with the US Army to teach positive psychology through an initiative called “Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) and consists of three components: a test for psychological fitness, self-improvement courses available following the test, and “master resilience training” (MRT) for drill sergeants.  These are based on PERMA: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment—the building blocks of resilience and growth.”

One concern about the training was that it would be see as “touchy-feely” or “psychobabble” by hardened soldiers.  The initiative was extremely well received with participants giving the course a 4.9 out of 5 rating and a many say it is the best course they have ever had in the army.

Building Resilience, By Martin E.P. Seligman – Harvard Business Review, April 2011.

[Image: Flickr user familymwr]

Performance Statement – How to Improve Yours

Think_striaticThe average person has up to 60,000 thoughts per day. Why not make them self-created and truly positive thoughts?

From a mental perspective the most tried and true way to enhance performance is through self-confidence. Positive self-talk enhances self-confidence which enhances performance. Internal dialogue significantly influences performance.

A performance statement specifically identifies the process of success and what it takes to perform at your best. Think about a statement you have told yourself before an event, performance, classroom test or social situation that put you in a frame of mind to do your best. For some there may be more than one statement, such as a basketball or baseball player when playing on offense and then on defense.
The key is to identify the single most fundamental idea of what it takes for you to be successful, allowing yourself to simplify your task. Simplicity keeps distractions away. It is very beneficial to know what to think before a competition or task.

I try to use positive phrases. I could have said I try not to use negative sentences. Notice the difference. First, all positive. Second, eliminate “don’t” thinking – such as saying what not to do. Tell yourself what you want to do. Around a pool – Walk! Versus Don’t run. Ask about examples in their sports. Don’t thinking increases stress and anxiety. Focus instead on what needs to be done.

Avoid mental clutter which is random mental thinking. That is, unfocused thinking. Keep it simple.

The essence of mental toughness is the ability to replace negative thinking with thoughts that are centered on performance cues and that contribute to improved self-confidence. Your body will listen to what your mind tells it. 60,000 thoughts a day – make them positive thoughts. See what happens.

Identify thoughts that produce consistently strong performances. Give me examples. If we are going to eliminate ‘don’t’ thinking, what are we going to replace it with? Think about what you want to happen and what it will take to make it happen. Life will be more enjoyable and you increase the odds that you will reach or exceed your perceived potential. Determine what you want to accomplish and lock your mind on what it takes to achieve that task or goal. Think about the path to success rather than thinking about the obstacles in your way. Then put your energy into going down that path. Realize sometimes the hardest step is the first step. Allow for your mind to process positive steps.

Performance statements serve two purposes: they help to avoid self-doubt, negativity and mental clutter. They help you to perform at your best by focusing on the tasks that need to be accomplished.

Eliminating self-doubt and negativity is half of the process. Try this – don’t think of a pink elephant with blue running shoes. -pause- What did you think about? How many things did you think about? The mind can only think about one thing at a time. Thus, if you are thinking about what’s going wrong, you cannot think about what it takes to make it right. If you can only think of one thing at a time. Think about positive things. I can . . . I am able . . . I will. . .

Your Performance Statement must keep you in a positive frame of mind. Avoid the word “don’t.” Remind yourself what you need to do. Create a brief phrase. Use what you think works for you.

Creating a Performance Statement:

  •  Imagine the biggest competition of your life. 60 seconds before the competition your coach looks you in the eye and tells you to stay focused on one or two things to be a success. What are those one or two things? (Avoid the word don’t.)
  •  Again imagine the biggest competition of your life. This time you are the coach & athlete. What one or two things would you, the coach, name? Keep them short & simple. You decide how many statements you would like to have. They can change over time. Knowing what to think or scripting what to think is far better than letting thoughts occur naturally. Otherwise, your mind will likely revert back to negative thinking. And your body will listen to your mind.

You are more likely to be successful and work closer to your potential by listening to your positive performance statement.

The more frequently you focus on your Performance Statement the more likely you are to be successful and work closer to your potential.

Use your Performance Statement – especially if you catch yourself using the word “don’t.”

“10-Minute Toughness: A Summary from Coach Terry Horn, Burlingame, CA”, By Jason Selk in the “American Swimming Coaches Association Newsletter” Volume 2010, Issue 07,