Perseverent

Are You Perseverent ?

In the world where many expect instant results, and quick financial success, they forget –

95% of success comes from pure perseverance, tenacity and the courage to pursue the dreams that keep us awake.

 

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

You have a bright future – because you have been trying hard.

I promise !

 

 

 

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The Story of a Traveler

For today, I thought to share with you a story. 

A traveler was walking a dusty road. He was loaded with all kinds of burdens. A heavy bag filled with sand was hanging on his back, he also had a heavy bottle of water that was hanging around his waist. In his right hand he carried a peculiar stone, in his left hand another heavy rock.

Around his neck, a millstone leaned at the end of a wear out rope. The rusty chains that were pulling heavy burdens in the dusty road, were hurting his ankles. On his head, the man was holding a half of a rotten pumpkin in balance. With each step the chains ware making noise. Moaning and sobbing, he was moving forward step by step, crying his hard fate and his fatigue.

On the road, in the heat of the day, he meets a farmer. The farmer asked him : ” O… tired Traveler, why do you carry this heavy stone ? ”

” How awfully careless I’m; I didn’t notice it earlier” , the Traveler responded. Noticing this he trowed away the heavy stone, and he felt relieved.

After another long walk down the road, he met another farmer, and the farmer asked him: “Tell me, tired Traveler, why do you go with the rotten pumpkin pumpkin your head and why do you pull the iron chains behind you ?

The traveler replied, I’m am very glad you showed them to me! I didn’t realized what I’ve done to myself. Then he put down the chains and crushed the pumpkin into the roadside ditch.

Once again, he felt felt more relief. But the further he went, the more he suffered again. Further on his road another farmer coming from the field crossed his path, looked at him with astonishment and said : ” O good man, why do you carry a bag full of sand, when you have sand all over the place, when is more than you could ever carry? And your heavy big bottle of water is like like you plan to cross the desert. Did you know that a clean river flows by the roadside and it will accompany in your journey for a long time ? ”

Hearing all of this the Traveler, emptied the bottle of water on the roadside. Then he filled a pit with the sand from his back. He stood there, thinking and looking at the sunset. The last sunlights ware warming his face. He took a good look at himself, and he noticed the mill stone hanging hard on his neck, and suddenly realized that it was the stone, that made him walk crunched.

With one move, he untied the mill stone, and he throw it the river as far as he could. Released by his burdens, the Traveler wakes further through the evening chill, to find shelter.

Therapeutic storytelling (or healing storytelling) is a form of storytelling that uses creative metaphors to tell individualized stories that help to address challenging experiences in a child’s (or adult’s) life, offering possible resolutions and the opportunity for insight and reflection.

 

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Grit

What Grit is and Why it Matters ?

Since the release of Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance, many people have been reflecting a lot on the research, the book, and the impact on society of a mindset like :

 

To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal. To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year, in challenging practice. To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise eight.”

 

In this instant bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

Grit (the book) offers a strong case for substantiating the premise that when it comes to successful outcomes, grit trumps talent every time. Duckworth is a scientist and her claim is convincing not because she believes it (although she does) but because of numerous studies that she has cited, may of which she has engaged in herself.

Unlike talent, which is fixed and remains fairly constant through life, grit can be developed and strengthened through intentional practices many of which she describes in the book.

Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realized that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Here, she explains her theory of “grit” as a predictor of success.

 

 

The examples that she uses are taken from a wide range of situations, fields and experiences including athletics, performing artists, outstanding entrepreneurs, spelling bee winners, and West Point cadets.

Since my area of interest and fascination is in the area of human performance, excelling at your passions, I found her theory applicable and relevant. From the years of study, work and personal observation in assisting others to grow stronger, I feel Duckworth’s research and theory validate the next conclusions about the ways that we can all grow grit:

  • Passion

Know what lights you up, where you feel enthusiastic, alive and happy. Know your deepest values and what your keen areas of interest are. Strengthen the desire to more deeply understand your chosen field. Being proactive to learn more will be fuel in your tank for the long haul.

  • Commitment

Having the fortitude to hang in there even when it is challenging or difficult

 

  • Concentration and Attention

Bring focused attention to your chosen area of interest and avoid distractions.

 

  • Vision

Keep your eye on the goal and take actions that are aligned with it.

 

  • Responsibility

Cultivate the attitude that “If it’s to be, it’s up to, me.” Hold yourself as being at cause rather than at effect of the process.

 

  • Optimism

Cultivate a hopeful, optimistic orientation. This serves to drown out critical voices of doom in the mind, discouraging words from others, and thoughts that can diminish your enthusiasm.

 

  • Time

Allowing sufficient time to devote to your specific area to use it for deliberate practice.

 

  • Patience

The journey towards any valuable goal takes more patience than we think it should and the practice of mindfulness is a great strengthener of patience.

 

  • Effort

The willingness to exert yourself.

 

  • Self-discipline

The philosopher Ken Keyes says, “The secret of life is sticking with it.” Just don’t quit.

 

  • Courage

Be willing to face and endure discomfort and pain in the process of fulfilling your vision.

 

  • Habits

Create new habits through diligent practice.

 

  • Support

The development of grit requires support. Enlist and engage with role models, mentors, teachers, coaches, and those who are further along on a similar path.

 

  • Creativity

Be willing to exercise your imagination and take the road less traveled.

 

  • Loyalty

We will need some to stay with it when the process is difficult or boring.

 

  • Perseverance

Sticking with the process allows us to constantly improve even when there is repeated frustration.

 

  • Consistency

Some people have a flare up of infatuation with an area of interest and are obsessed with it for a short time, but then drop it. Those with grit maintain their passionate area of interest spanning over many years. Their enthusiasm endures.

 

  • Resilience

Get back on the horse after you are thrown but don’t forget to learn from your experience.

 

Invite feedback, especially negative feedback from trusted friends and colleagues.

 

  • Purpose and Meaning

Choose goals that enhance the lives and well-being of others a well as your own. When we find out what our special gifts are and are busy giving them to our community, we know that we are contributing to the well being of others.

If you have a passionate interest in excelling at your dreams, these are some ways you can grow some more grit. The qualities mentioned above will position you well so that you are likely to manifest your vision.

 

 

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Performance Psychology

Performance Psychology Domain

When listening to coaches and athletes share their thoughts following competition, it appears that there is increasing acceptance that the psychological domain plays a central role in determining the nature of performance.

There is an abundance of commonly used phrases that individuals employ when attributing failure to their on-field performance including (but by no means limited to); “it’s the top two inches that count”, “we just didn’t show up”, “we played scared”, “our minds were elsewhere”, and the dreaded… “we choked”.  These types of comments are indicative of an individual, and collective, belief that our preparation, focus, and ability to manage our arousal and anxiety  levels in ‘the moment’ will be influential in shaping the quality of our performance.

Being involved in, and observing, competitive sport, it does not seem however, that the majority of athletes and coaches spend a proportionate amount of time deliberately practicing these skills.

So why is there such reluctance to address psychological elements of performance, or commit time to developing strong mental skills?  There are various determining factors that will influence an individual’s likelihood of deliberately addressing psychological skills with their athletes and herein these will be considered.

The belief that mental skills cannot be taught (or do not need to be taught)

Whilst some are holding on to the belief that elite athletes are 100% born, or have been provided with gifts from a higher power, the majority of people subscribe to the belief that elite athletes (while perhaps have been fortunate enough to inherit good genes) have in reality worked extremely hard, and had significant support and guidance to reach the pinnacle of the athletic pyramid.

This typically includes, whether consciously pursued or manifesting as a result of a particular coaching style or philosophy, significant dedication to developing robust mental skills that will allow athletes to perform as desired.

Of course some athletes naturally have an unwavering confidence, providing the unique self-belief which enables them to perform under immense pressure, while also (importantly) avoiding complacency, but unfortunately this is the exception, not the rule.

Most athletes that progress to the highest echelon of a particular sport will do so as a result of a collective (athlete and coach) commitment to developing both the physical and mental elements that encompass performance.

Remedial approach

As mentioned above, the acknowledgement of sport psychology is becoming increasingly prevalent; however, many still take a remedial approach to addressing mental skills which involves considering psychological issues if they arise.

Although this is better than not addressing them at all, why not take a more active and developmental stance, embracing the practice of mental skills to gain an edge over competition, as well as work towards preventing issues from arising? To utilise a very primitive analogy; we generally encourage athletes to drink before they experience thirst.  Also, as with dehydration, once issues do emerge, they can be fairly difficult to resolve, so remember, prevention is always easier than restoration.

Limited time and resources

One of the more common rationales for not implementing mental skills into regular practice is the limited time (either perceived or real) that coaches have with their athletes.  This is at times perplexing however, due to the concurrent belief that it is ‘whoever turns up (mentally) on the day’ that will likely be successful.

The aim of this article is not to suggest that mental skills are more important than addressing physical elements, but it is unrealistic to think that just because an athlete can perform a certain skill in a low pressure environment, that they will naturally inherit the mental skills that are necessary to enable them to perform to the same level consistently under pressure.

Reflect on your approach regularly and assess what opportunities you are providing your athletes to practice performing in situations similar to those that will confront them in competition.  Also, think about what skills your athletes are developing to cope with pressure, setbacks, success, adversity, etc. as these are all inevitable in competitive sport.

Unsure of how, and when, to teach mental skills

Another reason we are still seeing a reluctance to teach mental skills is a ubiquitous unfamiliarity with exactly how to address mental skills.  Coaches often use instructions such as “stay positive” or “you need to focus” which are often acknowledged with a confused look on the athlete’s face.  If an athlete has just made a few errors, how does one go about staying positive?

Sport psychologists and mental skills trainers are regularly approached by coaches asking how often mental skills should be addressed; once a week, once a fortnight, or at the beginning of the season?  The answer to this is EVERYDAY.  Mental skills should be made part of everyday practice.

Developing effective strategies to cope with pressure, maintain focus, avoid distractions, and perform physically under stress requires systematic and deliberate practice, just like physical skills.

It is important to note, however, this does not mean that you need to break halfway through each training session to sit around a dry erase board and talk about feelings.  It may just mean before a particular drill, that you instruct your athlete to focus solely on arm movement, and then afterwards asking him/her to reflect on the technique.

By providing this instruction, and then a follow-up question, you have helped the athlete focus on a controllable element (which should help skill acquisition and avoid outcome thinking), as well as promoting reflective thinking (likely developing analytical skills) and heightening engagement.

Sport psychology continues to gain momentum, predominantly as a result of high-profile athletes attributing success to a synthesis of physical and mental skills, and is moving closer towards receiving the deliberate attention that nutrition, strength and conditioning and biomechanics (rightfully) enjoy.

We are beginning to see greater use of the various skills and strategies that can enhance performance and wellbeing in competitive sport, and similar to the aforementioned fields, in time, sport psychology will become a mainstream field with the majority of coaches and athletes addressing this area as a critical part of preparation and performance.

I want to change

I want to change

It happens over and over again – my clients want to change. I urge them to start from where they are TODAY. They want to change!

Things will be better once they are calmer or angrier or more outgoing or more introspective!

Every once in a while, someone considers what I’ve said, and then they ask the question: “How do I know where to start? If I’m going to accept who I am… who am I?”

Easy, right? Should be no problem putting together a blog post that tells you how to figure out who you are! Well, maybe not so much. But here are a few easy ideas for getting started down that path, and finding out what it is you really want.

Because, as I’ve said to about a million clients by now, people tend to be happier when they change their environment to suit themselves than when they try to change themselves to suit their environment. (Warning: You may hear me say that again sometime.)

 

Pay attention to what worries you the most.       

You’re trying to tell yourself something. If your biggest anxiety is that you have to get up and go to work, is it about working, or is it about the kind of work you do? Is it about performing under deadline pressure? Is it about the people with whom you work? See what I’m driving at? “I’m anxious about work” doesn’t tell you much about yourself. “I don’t like working with people,” or “I don’t like driving for 45 minutes a day” tells you a lot more.

Pay attention to what others say.  

Same thing here – what are people telling you that you do well? What are their worries about you? This is less about what people reward you for (because often that’s about what they NEED from you) and more about what people tell you about yourself when you really listen without judgment and without trying to deflect attention from yourself.

Go and learn.

Follow your curiosity, follow your whims, follow that little voice that wonders what it would be like to be a professional pole vaulter. Those whims are your soul trying to be heard over the voice of your boss and your kids and everyone else. This is important to know – you are much, much more free than you’ve ever imagined that you are. Make the things in your life a CHOICE.

Any of you reading this could head out the door, right now, and walk (drive, roll, crawl) to the nearest ocean. It would be difficult for many, and it would cause some major repercussions for most, but you COULD. And armed with that knowledge, all you need to do is figure out where to draw the line.

And, remember, try and find the joy in the DOING, as much as you’ll find the joy in the getting there. The beauty, as always, is in the work.

Time to get started.