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PPP 007 GARRET KRAMER, AUTHOR AND MENTAL PERFORMANCE COACH

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In Episode 7 of the Peak Performance Podcast, I speak with my good friend, Garret Kramer, author of “Stillpower” and the forthcoming, “Path of No Resistance.” He is also, in my opinion, the top mental performance coach on the planet. I truly enjoyed talking with him about the missing link in the mental game today in the sports world. Simple, yet game-changing.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • A simple understanding that all great athletes know
  • Where our behavior, feelings, and experience originate
  • What determines how long you stay in a slump
  • How to access the zone
  • Why traditional sport psychology and mental coaching strategies, techniques, tools, and routines are not necessary
  • Why results are not the most important thing

Link:

Garret Kramer: GarretKramer.com

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MESSAGE #1648 ARE YOU RUNNING AWAY?

I have a client and friend I’ll call George. When I met George, he was depressed for many years. During our first conversation, he had an insight and understood how the human experience and mind worked. He realized that he was creating his own suffering for all those years via his own thoughts. His depression has disappeared and hasn’t shown up since. Recently, George and I were talking about how our thoughts create our experience in the moment. I said that you could be on a beautiful island sitting on the beach, but if your thoughts are stressed and filled with concerns back home, your experience will be unpleasant. I also told George that there are people in prison who feel more free than when they were not incarcerated.

George was silent for a moment and said, “That reminds me of when I was depressed…I was in Hawaii, looking out at the ocean, and all of a sudden, anxious thoughts came over me and I was miserable.” He went on to say, “Also, during that time, I moved to Florida, thinking that perhaps moving to paradise would make me feel better. It didn’t. I now know that it was my thoughts that were creating my suffering, not my situation. It was like the Bob Marley song, ‘You’re running away…but you can’t run away from yourself.’ ” I said, “Exactly! It’s like running away from your own shadow.” Thoughts and feelings are directly related.

Our experience of life comes 100% from our own thoughts. Our experience does not come from anything outside of us. It is impossible for you to have a stressful thought and feel happy. It is also impossible for you to have a happy thought and feel stressed. It’s a principle, like gravity: What goes up, must come down. What we think, we feel.

I had never heard the Bob Marley song George was referring to, but “Googled” it. It is now my new favorite song. Below are the lyrics and video on Youtube. Enjoy!

You’re running and you’re running
And you’re running away.
You’re running and you’re running
And you’re running away.
You’re running and you’re running
And you’re running away.
You’re running and you’re running,
But you can’t run away from yourself.
-“Running Away” by Bob Marley

MESSAGE #1646 THE ZONE

Everyone wants to perform in the zone, or in flow, but to nearly everyone, it is an “X-factor” because it is elusive, a mystery and people don’t know HOW to be in the zone consistently.

To me, the zone is our natural state. It is a state of no thought (at least we don’t realize we are thinking) and a clear mind. Or as my friend, Garret Kramer calls it, “Stillpower,” which is also the name of his great book. It’s the opposite of “will power” i.e., trying, grinding or pushing through. The zone is a state of ease and freedom and a place where we have access to all of our instincts, wisdom and well-being.

Now let’s talk about what the zone is not, or in other words, a losing streak or slump.

I was once talking to a top baseball prospect in the clubhouse before a game and he confided in me that earlier that season he was in a big slump. During that slump, he tried fixing his grip. He tried fixing his stance. And he tried fixing his swing.

Nothing worked.

Then one day, he just said to himself, “You know what? Screw it.” He stopped “trying” to fix his game.

Well, that same night he broke out of his slump.

He went back to just playing, instead of fighting the slump or trying to fix things.

When we take a step back and let our minds naturally clear, we have access to everything we need. And we have access to our natural state…the zone.

Thanks for reading.

For a free 10-minute consultation, email: ed@edtseng.com.

MESSAGE #1641 TOP 5 WAYS TO PLAY IN THE ZONE ALMOST INSTANTLY

In the Yankee Stadium bleachers with Jeff Nelson, a 4-time World Series Champion

I recently spent some time with the former Yankee great, Jeff Nelson at Yankee Stadium. We were at an event for Cystic Fibrosis and participated in the famous roll call with bleacher creature, Bald Vinny, Yankee writer, Jon Lane, and my friend Fred Weiland, among others.

What did I learn from “Nellie”?

1. He was always confident.
2. He was always nervous.
3. He treated both feelings the same way.

Nelson said that he was always confident, but there are so many factors in sports so you never know what’s going to happen. He also said that being nervous is normal. And he didn’t think too much about either one. That leads me to my Top 5 Ways to Play in the Zone Almost Instantly.

1. Understand that feelings (both positive and negative) are random.
2. Understand that feelings (both positive and negative) are neutral.
3. Understand that feelings come and go.
4. Understand that feelings come from your own thoughts.
5. Understand that if you don’t take your thoughts and feelings so seriously, you will play in the zone more consistently.

Notice my Top 5 has no technique, routine or ritual? There’s no how-to. All you need is UNDERSTANDING. The reason why is because when you are in a slump and you look to a technique, it will not work. It will just begin to make you think more. And when you think more, you perform less. The zone is a state of no thought (at least you don’t realize you are thinking), so why would you do the opposite when things are not going your way?

I don’t know either.

Let me end with a quote from another famous Yankee…

“You can’t think and hit at the same time. A full mind is an empty bat.”
—Yogi Berra

MESSAGE #1387 HAPPINESS IN SPORTS AND LIFE

“Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them”
-JACKSON BROWN

Happiness in sports is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them.

Anyone can deal with playing well, but most athletes cannot deal with playing poorly. But most people don’t get it—it’s not about getting rid of problems/challenges, but how we react.

How we make adjustments.

The next time you are in a tough situation, think NOT of the situation, but HOW you are going to react.

Then just do it.

MESSAGE #1379 MENTAL BLOCKS

Mental blocks are common in all sports, at all levels. I have seen beginners and professionals get stuck on the six-inch playing field between their ears. Perhaps they are a baseball player, who, all of a sudden can’t throw the ball to first base. Maybe it’s a diver who can’t do a flip.

Physically, nothing is wrong, but mentally they can’t get out of their head…yet.

Slumps happen when an athlete is thinking about the wrong thing at the wrong time.

During competition, an athlete should focus less on the internal (negative thoughts) and focus more on the external (target, form, etc).

The beauty of focusing on the external is that your brain cannot think about your target/form and negative thougths at the same time.

So the next time you have a mental block, accept it and re-focus on the things you can control (your effort, body language and strategy). I think you will be pleased at the results.

And if it doesn’t help right away, stick with it.

Why?

Because if you don’t quit, you can’t fail.

MESSAGE #1290 HOW TO PLAY YOUR BEST GAME

Let’s face it, most people play a reactionary game.

When they play well, they react positively.

When they play poorly, they react negatively.

The champions create how they play.

Here’s a great exercise to help you play your best game more often:

1. Think of a past great performance.
2. On an index card, write down what you did well during that performance.
3. Write down what you were focusing on.
4. Write down how you were feeling.
5. Write down what type of body language you had.
6. Keep that index card in your bag.
7. Read it before you practice or compete.
8. Then go out and duplicate that performance.

MESSAGE #1281 AN EXERCISE

Do you remember a time when you performed REALLY well?

Perhaps you were playing tennis and you could not miss, or you were working and had unbelievable focus, or you were performing a violin recital and nailed it.

Here’s your assignment:

Go back in time to when you were performing at your peak. Write down:

1. Where you were
2. What you were feeling
3. What you were thinking
4. Smells
5. Sounds
6. What your body language was

After doing this exercise, you now have a model of success. Go to this model when things aren’t going so well. Read it and re-create it.

Better yet, create a voice memo on your phone and listen to it whenever you are in a slump.

Slumps are part of life, you can’t control that.

The only thing you can control is HOW YOU REACT TO THEM.

Leave your comments below.

MESSAGE #1273 HOW TO WIN MORE

Today’s message is especially dedicated to Quinn Martin and his high school basketball team in Washington State.

What happens when you are in a slump?

If you are like most athletes, your body language is poor, you begin thinking too much and you get down on yourself.

Most people begin thinking about the past (we haven’t won a game in weeks), or the future (what if we lose again tonight?). But the great performers focus on the present moment (your effort, energy level and adjustments).

Last night the Jets beat the Patriots when they should not have. On paper, the Patriots were the better team.

But the Jets played better.

The better team never wins, the team that plays better always wins.

So when you are in a slump, act like you are on a streak.

Go all-out and focus on the things you can control (your effort) and don’t worry about the things you cannot control (winning/losing). I think you will be pleased with the results.