Friday, December 22, 2006

"The Season of Giving"

'Tis the days before Christmas
And I'm stirring and writing and figuring around here
To get as much done as possible
And close out this year.

So night before last
What do I do?
Watch a little TV.
Maybe you, too.

It's not my normal thing, TV.
But something inside was telling me
"Flip it on, flip it on
And see what you'll see."

And to much of my surprise
What do I find ...

The show that immediately came on: PBS News Hour. But not with Jim Lehrer. The story: "The Many Legacies of Andrew Carnegie" in which Paul Solman (NewsHour Economics Correspondent) interviews David Nasaw - a Carnegie biographer. Seems that Andrew was quite a multifaceted guy. Loved by some, hated by others - even to this day. He believed in survival of the fittest (socially speaking) yet he saw one of his missions as being to pull others along with him.

Proportionately speaking (considering the economy of his day) Carnegie gave away more money than Warren Buffet and Bill Gates combined for the betterment of his fellow human being. Yet, he simultaneously refused to raise his workers wages or give them a shorter workday. He was a complex man ... or as Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation described him, "a man of contradiction."

I felt it an intriguing short episode - especially at this time of year - "the season of giving." I also felt it was significant given the that the Allied Ronin Leader's Retreat is just days away ... that this retreat was inspired in some ways by old legends of how Carnegie, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and Luther Burbank supposedly would slip away from their day-to-day business, get out in nature to camp with each other and talk about ideas. It was for them (I was told) a way of reflecting on life and stimulating their creativity for the future.

You can read the entire PBS interview by going to

An aside - It was a further interesting vignette given the roots of "human potential movement" from which has come the modern self-help, positive philosophy, personal and professional coaching, etc., etc., industry. All of this was in large part inspired by an early twentieth century assignment given by the great steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie, to a budding young author, Napoleon Hill. The result of which became one of the most sold books written in the English language - "Think & Grow Rich." For background on this see "The Laws of Success" by Napoleon Hill.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"The Mental Game"

The following article is adapted from Lance Giroux's book "The Mental Game" - ISBN 0-9713892-0-9 available at

Do you have a tendency, when you “make a mistake”, to immediately and silently chastise yourself? I've noticed this with a lot of golfers, including a pro that I was providing "mental coaching" for while he was preparing for the US Open qualifications. I noticed it when he was on the driving range and while he was on the course during tournament. As his faded to the right he would stand and shake his head. His face would tense and it appeared, even from the distance that I stood, that he was saying to himself, "I'm a looser." Do you sometimes do something like this, too?

Here's the first lesson and assignment I gave him to work on in this regard:

LESSON #1 - Mental Chastisement.

A human being expresses power through word. To our knowledge, no other creature on this planet has the ability to form and communicate an intricate language. Human beings define themselves and their conditions through word. And human beings CREATE a future for themselves through the way they use word. Word is the result of thought. The formation of word is the self-talk - and is PHYSICALLY MANIFESTED, DEMONSTRATED and REFLECTED in gesture. Often, the individual is unaware that he is doing this self-talk. BUT the self-talk doesn’t lie. It is there.

The body acts on the most hidden word. And it is demonstrated. Others see the self talk, and form agreements with the self talk. This is why individuals who are having a bad day can walk into the presence of someone who is happy and the bad mood changes as well as the experience of themselves and their results. And it’s also why someone who is having a good day can walk into the presence of someone who is in a terrible mood, and the terrible mood can wipe out the happiness that was present. WORDS HAVE POWER!... In fact - words are power.

When someone else forms an agreement with your word, they actually “assist” you in perpetuating that state. For example, if someone sees you physically demonstrating ease, comfort, confidence, problems not getting you down, lightness, etc.. they enter into an agreement with you that moves your state forward into the future... they add power to your state. Similarly, when someone sees you physically demonstrating up-tightness, discomfort, cowardice, problems getting you down, darkness, moodiness, etc... they enter into an agreement with you that moves YOUR STATE forward into the future... they add power in that state.

Your thoughts create a future into which you move. Other people’s mental energy adds substance and form to your thoughts. Those who really know what the Mental Game is will tell you -- “What ever the mind conceives and believes, it achieves” -- like it or not. (Napoleon Hill, who included this into one of the greatest best sellers ever written - “Think and Grow Rich” - didn’t invent that concept, he just reported on it.)

When you allow yourself to indulge in self disgust - you give others the ability to add to your own self disgust. When you indulge in self confidence - you give others ONLY the ammunition to add to your own self confidence.

ASSIGNMENT#1. Spend time each morning and each evening PRACTICING MENTAL RELAXATION. DO IT. Don’t think about it ...JUST DO IT. Don’t concern yourself with results right now. Don’t think about what others might think of you if they knew your were listening to some kind of recorded medidation ... or if they walked in on your “meditation”. JUST DO IT. YOU ARE PRACTICING CALMING AND STILLING YOUR MIND. YOU ARE EXERCISING AND EXTENDING YOUR MENTAL CAPACITY. What is more important to you - Your capacity to achieve OR your image?? "