Better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.
As a coach, I see many players “cursing the darkness.”
“The referee made a terrible call!”
“It was so windy!”
“Why can’t I make a shot today?!?”
The losers in life curse the darkness, or focus on the negatives.
The winners, on the other hand, light a candle (even if it is a small one), and focus on the positives, and the lesson learned.
“I can’t serve!” —Bad
“I am not a good test-taker!” —Bad
“I don’t have any money!” —Bad
“I missed that shot, so what? It’s in the past and I can’t change that, so let’s focus on this point—you’re still in control.” —Good
“Tests are difficult for me, but I am going to relax and trust all the hard work I put into it.” —Good
“Money may be tight, but this is a great excuse for me to think outside the box and creatively make more money—there are many options.” —Good
What you say to yourself affects what type of results you get. You don’t have to win the US Open to think like a winner.
Stop whining, start winning. And the next time adversity hits, don’t curse the darkness, light a candle instead.
Recently, I gave some advice to a young friend of mine, Madison (above). She had a test in school the next day and I told her to just relax while taking it and give it her all. Well, I saw Madison yesterday and asked her how her test went. Her response was, “I got a 100!”
We all want to achieve greatness, but the problem is we often put too much pressure on the results.
The best way to get the best results is…
Not worrying about the results!
Focus instead on staying loose and concentrating on the task at hand.
If you put the time in studying (or practicing), you are ready. Trust the work you put in, take a deep breath and go for it.
When you focus on HOW you can perform well, instead of IF you can perform well, your world changes. Your results change.
Too many people worry about what parents will think or what friends will think…if they perform poorly. This is a recipe for disaster. Don’t worry about the past or the future…the power is in the present. The best performers in the world from athletes to students to business owners, know the secret.
Relax and go all out!
One question at a time. One point at at time. One meeting at a time.
Gandhi put it best…
“Full effort is full victory.”
Thank you, Madison, for reminding me of this very important lesson and inspiring me to be better at everything that I do!
Anthony Robles has just become the NCAA Division 1 National Champion for wrestling. And Anthony Robles has only one leg. Watch this inspiring interview.
Have you ever been nervous before a big game?
Have you ever tightened up at a crucial point in a game?
Have you ever doubted yourself?
Of course you have, you’re human.
One thing I have unearthed by talking to some of the greatest athletes in the world is that the world champions and the weekend warriors feel the same feelings. They think the same thoughts. So what sets them apart?
Their perception of the situation.
The actions that they take.
Yankee pitcher, Manny Banuelos just turned 20 years old on Sunday. And on Monday, he was slated to pitch on ESPN versus the Boston Red Sox. The biggest game of his life.
What did he do?
He pitched 2 and 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up 2 hits, 3 walks and striking out 2.
Pretty impressive for someone who was a teenager just two days before.
What’s more impressive is how Man-Ban reacted to the pressure.
His perception was excitement, not pressure.
Banuelos admits he gets nervous, but it doesn’t last long.
In the second inning, Banuelos got into a jam, having the bases loaded and only one out. He stepped it up and forced the next two hitters to ground out.
Then, on his last pitch, the pressure was on again with a 3-2 count. He threw a change-up to Kevin Youkllis and struck him out.
The bottom line is that you can either let pressure hurt you or you can let it help you. It’s your choice how you react, and if you are able to do your best when it means the most.
It is then that you will be unstoppable.
Speaking of being unstoppable, I shared my new mental skills workbook, “How to be Unstoppable” with some of the Yankees players when I was down at Spring Training last week. You can pick up your own copy by clicking HERE.
Today didn’t go as planned—it was BETTER.
I woke up here in Tampa to heavy rain. It threw my schedule off. I had meetings planned and wanted to go checkout the Yankees game at the Phillies’ stadium in Clearwater. Due to the weather, I needed to rearrange and cancel some meetings. Then, the weather broke and it looked like the game would be played after all. So again I had to change some plans. But I stayed flexible and figured out the best strategy, and the day went extremely well.
What does this have to do with you, and mental toughness?
In sports and life, we need to be flexible. If you go into a game thinking there is only one way to win, you may be greatly disappointed. Instead, there are many options. Obstacles will always pop up, that’s not the problem. The problem is how we react.
I always tell the following to the athletes I work with: “Every strategy works for someone—NO strategy works for everyone.”
Try this exercise:
1. Find three red things in the room you are in.
2. Close your eyes and quickly think of something green in the room.
If you are like most people, it was difficult to think of something green. This is because you were focused on the red items in the room. How does this affect you?
You get what you focus on.
During peak performances, athletes focus on the right things: their target, strategy or game plan.
During poor performances, athletes focus on the wrong things: results, bad calls, bad conditions, spectators or the score.
Focus is important, but make sure you focus on the right things.
FOR A COPY OF MY NEW MENTAL SKILLS WORKBOOK, CLICK HERE: https://edtseng.com/purchase-game-set-life-the-book/mental-skills-workbook
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that Bob was Arthur Ashe’s hero. In fact, when Arthur Ashe was 14, he said, “I only want to be good enough to be able to beat Bob Ryland.”
Bob has taught tennis to the Williams sisters, Barbra Streisand, Bill Cosby and many others in his career. I recently had lunch in New York City with the living legend and every time is like the first time. What impresses me about Ryland is that even though he lived through segregation, he stays one of the most optimistic people I know.
You think it’s hard to play tournament tennis nowadays?
I remember when Bob told me about a time when he got accepted into a tournament in California because of his high ranking. But once he arrived, and the tournament director saw that he was black, Ryland was told to “Go get some lunch and come back.”
When he returned, the tournament director said that his opponent showed up and Ryland wasn’t here, so he was disqualified. Of course, this was intentional because of the color of his skin.
Ryland also frequently was pulled over by the police for no reason. There were blacks strung up on trees and also dragged down the street when he was a young boy. He lived through hell.
Bob Ryland could easily be bitter and angry at those situations, but he isn’t. According to him, “It is what it is.”
Much of life is not what happens to us, but how we react.
I am proud to say that Bob Ryland is a dear friend, hero and role model. Bob will be 91 years young this June 16th and you can be sure he will be around the Central Park Tennis Courts once the weather warms up.
Many people say, “Be like Mike.” Today, I say, “Be like Bob.”
Thanks for reading.
Suppose you are playing a tennis match and the score is tied. Your opponent hits you a weak shot and you…hit the ball into the bottom of the net.
How do you react?
If you’re like most people, you will either, let out a sigh of frustration, say something like, “How can you miss that?!?” or perhaps even hit your racquet on the ground.
Do these reactions help you or hurt you?
They hurt you, of course. Plus, you will give your opponent increased confidence to “finish you off.”
Here’s a better response for next time:
1. Transfer the racquet into your opposite hand.
2. Immediately turn away from the net.
3. Walk confidently.
4. Take a long, deep breath.
5. Think about how you can make an adjustment next time.
6. Say an affirmation to yourself like, “That shot is in the past—I can’t control the past. Let it go and focus on this point.”
7. Move your feet like a boxer, and get ready for the next point.
8. Think about your strategy for the next point.
9. Trust your game.
10. Just play.
The greatest athletes in history have something in common, and that is, they are able to let go of past. You can too, it’s a choice.
Thanks for reading.
JUST RELEASED! How to be Unstoppable—A Mental Skills Workbook by Ed Tseng. If you are an athlete, coach, parent or just someone who wants to be more mentally tough at work or in life, pick one up today! In a few weeks, Ed will be introducing the workbook to some Yankee players down in Spring Training. Email for team discounts, otherwise order above under PRODUCTS.
William James is known as the father of American psychology. He once said:
“Everybody should do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice.”
I call this mental cross-training.
There will always be things you dislike doing–laundry, homework, making sales calls, practicing, or eating healthy, for instance. But what if we didn’t feel like doing these things and did them anyway? How would that make us feel? I would guess that it would make us feel pretty good; it would make us feel proud. That would give us confidence. And it would give us momentum. That’s part of mental toughness.
Winners do what losers don’t feel like doing.
In other words…
You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.