Visualization – Stand on shoulders of Giants
George Mumford was coach to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaq to name a few. Per Bristow interviews George in one of the best interviews on PERFORMANCE that I’ve ever seen. Per is a musical performer, but everything about performance is the same. Here’s my full summary of the interview if you don’t have time to watch it:
Per is known for teaching about mental aspects of performance, learning how to learn effectively, and how to deal with life’s challenges and health issues. Bristow wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes of great performances. He suspected it wasn’t just a pep talk before the games. His suspicions were confirmed when George goes deep into how he coached the best basketball player who ever lived.
It comes down to being very mindful about who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish. You also need your journey to bring you fulfillment, joy and excitement. It’s the journey you need to be grateful for and not the result. Focusing on the wrong things can be very detrimental to performance.
Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team. If he listened to everyone else, he would never have become the best in the world. You need to practice and train to become more mindful. Conceptualize what you’re attempting to accomplish. You need clarity and vision to see exactly who you are and who you’re becoming.
When you’re in the present moment, you need awareness and full engagement in whatever you’re doing. When you’re completely focused, you forget everything else. You forget your life problems, and any other unrelated issues, and that’s how these mindful athletes were able to get in the zone and stun spectators. Being mindful means creating space between stimulation and response. In that space in where you have the power and freedom to choose. Stress can manifest itself in many ways and you need to take a step back sometimes. When you do this, you’ll gain the ability to choose your response rather than being reactive.
George and Per discuss learning for learning sake and how it’s all about the journey. How mastering the basics become the building blocks and form habits and confidence. Once habits are formed, the game becomes second nature and it’s automatic. With that solid foundation you are free to be more spontaneous in the moment.
The physical aspects involved are persistence, practice and relentless training to push your body to the limit. The mental preparation is what makes you prepared to act with unwavering confidence in the moment. You need to be alert, aware and fully engaged as to where to direct your attention at every millisecond.
To gain more clarity and control, things like meditation are encouraged. Meditation increases your attention span and focus as well as makes you more aware of yourself. This brings about the emotional component of your performance. You want to be enthusiastic about your performance and be joyful about connecting to something greater than yourself (the Giants). It’s this idea of standing on the shoulders of giants that allows you to overcome any obstacles.
The joy is in every step, every inch closer to your goal. Be curious to gain an understanding of yourself and why you do what you do. Recognize when there is a stress present and recognize emotions of anxiety or fear when they come up. Let your Giant thinking step over these fears as if they were insignificant in the end game. Focusing on the lesson and being grateful for the opportunity is important, rather than taking a situation at face value and labeling yourself as a failure or concluding you have no talent. Talent is made through practice, perseverance, persistence and mindfulness.
At the end of the day, you’ve got to know who you are and where you’re going. It helps to look inside yourself and embrace your uniqueness. Develop your knowledge and see where it takes you and then share it with others. Have a trust in an order to the universe and have the poise to be yourself. Approach your difficulties as challenges and overcome them with a new sense of wonder and excitement.
Mumford also touches on confidence. He says confidence is trust in yourself. It’s saying to yourself, “I can do this.” It’s saying – when I make a mistake, not if, but when I make a mistake – what am I going to do to improve things so that the next time I do it, I’ll get better results. Be confident in your process and treat all things as a learning experience. You don’t want to ever think you’re not talented enough because then you’ll feel helpless. Failure is a one-time event, but some may choose to accept the label for the rest of their life.
To be a mindful athlete, you need to be a mindful person. You don’t need confidence to do something. You just do it anyway. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. It you try to go to fast you’ll burn out and not finish. Go to slow and you’ll never finish. You need to find your pace like the tortoise and the hare. You need to be the tortoise and consistently gain progress over time.
George ends with the importance of knowing who you are and where you’re going. If you don’t know who you are, you could end up being anyone. And if you don’t’ know where you’re going you could be going anywhere.