Self Help

Life as Sport - Jonathan Fader

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 34 min read

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  • The book contains strategies used by elite athletes that can be applied to everyday life to help people perform better.

  • Many trademarks and brand names are printed in initial capital letters throughout the book, where the manufacturer/seller claims the designation as a trademark and the author was aware of this.

  • All rights are reserved and no part of the book can be reproduced without permission from the publisher.

  • The information is intended to be informative but not replace medical advice. Readers should follow their doctor’s advice.

  • Descriptions of “hypothetical” individuals are not of real people but are used to illustrate points. Facts are altered to avoid association with living individuals.

  • Individuals named in the book consented to being identified, but this does not imply the author has worked with or is working with them.

So in summary, it outlines how trademarks are handled in the book and acknowledges copyright, while the strategies discussed are meant to be informative but not replace medical advice.

The author worked with a baseball pitcher client throughout his minor league career to improve his mental game and composure on the mound. Through techniques like breathing drills, they developed a plan for the pitcher to stay positive and focused in pressure situations. When the pitcher got called up to the major leagues for his first start, the author was impressed by how composed and confident he looked, as if it was just another game of catch. The pitcher was able to shrug off mistakes by others and tough calls from umpires. This showed how the mental training had paid off. While innate talent is important, elite athletes work hard on their mental skills just like physical skills. The techniques used are learnable by anyone hoping to improve performance, not just in sports but in life’s other challenges as well. The author concludes that these techniques have been helpful not just for athletes but also in his own personal and professional journey working in sports psychology.

  • The Life as Sport philosophy focuses on applying concepts from sports to living life, with four main pillars - enjoyment, present and future orientation, objective optimism, and process focus.

  • Enjoyment means actively seeking to enjoy the process and find fulfillment, as exemplified by baseball player Dave Winfield discussing enjoying aspects like being outdoors and never knowing the outcome.

  • Present and future orientation involves focusing on the current moment while also thinking ahead.

  • Objective optimism is maintaining a reasonable positive outlook even when facing challenges.

  • Process focus means prioritizing the journey over outcomes by focusing on improvement and performing your best.

  • The author began applying these concepts to his own life after realizing he was not fully practicing them himself. This led to greater success and enjoyment in both personal and professional contexts.

  • The book aims to help readers treat life’s moments like performances and apply sport psychology techniques to effect positive change. Examples from elite athletes illustrate the pillars in action.

  • When athletes lose or underperform, they may say “it’s just a game” to convince themselves the loss wasn’t important. However, sports and work do carry personal meaning and impact self-esteem.

  • Truly successful athletes find a balance - they enjoy their sport while still fiercely competing to improve. If they can “give up” on results and focus on the process, they often perform better.

  • Athletes may regret not enjoying their careers more when looking back. Being too focused on results can take the fun out of the game.

  • The book will help readers adopt an athlete’s mindset, looking at life as their sport. Practicing enjoyment each day, like an elite athlete would, can lead to better performance and satisfaction.

  • A concept called “ME” - motivation and enjoyment - helps athletes refocus on why they do it and having fun. Practicing enjoyment improves the process and often the results. Most successful athletes wish they enjoyed it more when they had the chance.

  • The passage discusses different approaches to optimism - positive thinking vs objective optimism.

  • Objective optimism means assuming the glass is half full and working backward from there, with an “innocent until proven guilty” attitude rather than a “guilty until proven innocent” one when facing unclear situations.

  • Optimism is important for expectations, views of self, and optimal performance. But successful athletes base their optimism on an organic objective analysis of their situation, looking for proof of their excellence rather than how they “suck.”

  • The brain is wired to focus more on negatives due to evolutionary instincts for survival. Sports psychology focuses on building confidence by understanding what is working rather than dwelling on past failures.

  • The passage advocates a present and future orientation rather than a past orientation, as dwelling on past failures can hinder performance. Breaking free of seeing the past as determinant of one’s life allows for more change and achievement of goals.

The passage discusses the importance of having a present and process-oriented mindset rather than focusing on the past or future outcomes. It argues that if you dwell on past mistakes or losses, it can negatively impact your current and future performance.

It refers to examples from the author’s career as a chef and his success cooking for the Obamas by staying focused on excelling in each moment rather than worrying about the past or future.

The passage emphasizes that in sports, business, relationships and other areas of life, you cannot control outcomes, only your process. It’s most effective to focus on improving your approach through strategies, routines and thought processes rather than fixating on results.

It suggests building routines to re-center your mind on the present, using positive self-talk to reframe unhelpful thoughts, and shifting your energy toward controllables like goals, imagery and mental strategies. Process focus involves controlling your cognitive and behavioral reactions rather than fixating on uncontrollable outcomes or results.

In summary, the key message is that a present and process-oriented mindset is better for performance and success than dwelling on the past or solely focusing on outcomes, as outcomes depend on many uncontrollable variables while your process and approach are under your control.

  • The author introduces the DOT concept to help focus on process over outcome. DOT stands for Doing, Outcome, Thinking.

  • The D is for Doing, i.e. following strategies and taking actions. Actions are more in our control than outcomes.

  • The O is for Outcome. Outcomes are not fully in our control and we should not obsess over them.

  • The T is for Thinking. Our thoughts can affect our actions and reactions, and how we think about challenges is important for performance.

  • The goal is to focus on what we can control - our actions and reactions (the process), not the outcome. Accept that failure is possible but focus on giving full effort.

  • Self-talk, routines, and mantras can help focus on process over outcome during pressure situations like games.

  • Visualization, goal-setting, managing motivation and anxiety are discussed as techniques to develop a process-focused mentality for achieving goals and performance.

  • In summary, the DOT concept provides a framework to focus on the controllable process elements of performing or competing, rather than unattainable outcomes which can undermine performance. Mastering this mentality takes practice of various cognitive and behavioral strategies.

  • Setting goals based solely on outcomes (e.g. “hitting better”) is less effective than setting process-focused goals that emphasize the steps needed to achieve the outcome. Process goals help improve performance by focusing on things within a player’s control.

  • Effective goal-setting involves setting goals that are challenging but not too difficult. Goals that are too broad or stressful can cause a person to give up or ignore them.

  • The chapter will discuss how to build smart, functional goals and provide tools like the DOT exercise to help identify the things within a person’s control (their actions and thoughts) to focus on in goal-setting and performance.

  • The goal is to redirect efforts towards process-oriented goals centered on improvement areas like technique, preparation, mindset, etc. rather than solely outcome-based metrics that are partly out of one’s control like batting average.

  • Setting the right goals is important for high performance and achieving desired results, whether in sports, business or other endeavors, as the brain views difficult performance tasks similarly.

  • The passage discusses the limitations of outcome-based goals and argues that process goals are more effective. Outcome goals are out of one’s control and don’t allow for nuanced measurement of performance.

  • Examples are given of a pitcher with a goal of striking out 12 but pitching well in other ways, and a salesperson on a winning team who may not have strong relationships.

  • Process goals focus on actions/reactions within one’s control, like a hitter focusing on preparation and mental approach rather than getting a hit.

  • Monitoring goals is important to get feedback and avoid avoidance of problems. An example is given of a trader setting process goals around enjoyment and calmness while trading.

  • Goal setting creates a “mastery map” that allows the brain to efficiently learn from feedback by tuning into details of tasks. Specific, detailed process goals facilitate a clear feedback loop for improvement.

The passage discusses the importance of setting specific, measurable goals with clear milestones when trying to improve performance or skills. It argues that goals should be ambitious but attainable, broken down into smaller, incremental steps to avoid failure and demotivation.

It provides examples of how an NFL coach could work with a quarterback to raise his completion percentage from 55% to 60% through strategically setting goals like attending extra passing workouts or improving film study. This targeted approach is superior to vague instructions to just “complete more passes.”

The key advantages of creating a “Mastery Map” of goals are that it provides clarity on exactly what to improve and anticipates potential challenges along the way. Goals are also more effective when intrinsically motivated and connected to one’s own priorities, rather than being externally assigned. However, goals still need to match one’s current abilities and allow for natural progression through incremental steps, to avoid setting unrealistic expectations that lead to failure and giving up. Overall, the passage advocates for breaking performance improvement goals down into measurable, attainable process-focused milestones.

  • The CEO wanted to be more included in senior leadership conversations about the company’s vision and have a chance to show her leadership abilities. However, she felt these goals depended on others’ perceptions of her, which were out of her control.

  • Through coaching, she realized she could focus on behaviors within her control, like initiating more positive conversations and building relationships with others.

  • She started having weekly lunches where staff talked about non-work topics to get to know each other better. She also made a weekly effort to chat with every employee, from reception to senior leaders.

  • Her goals centered on improving these social interactions, not overall outcomes. In coaching sessions, they celebrated small successes like an employee opening up after repeated contact.

  • By concentrating on elements she could directly impact, like relationship-building, the CEO gained a sense of control over her progress despite external factors depending on others’ views of her.

  • The passage discusses the idea of being able to “fail better” - i.e. learning from failures and setbacks rather than getting discouraged.

  • It gives the example of Babe Ruth, who started his career as a pitcher but wasn’t satisfied, so he took the risk of switching to outfielder which ultimately led to his success as a legendary home run hitter. This shows adjusting course after initial struggles.

  • It emphasizes the importance of having a plan to respond quickly to struggles and rebounds, getting comfortable with adjusting goals as needed, and learning from negative results rather than avoidance.

  • Keeping detailed records of goals and progress through tools like a “Mastery Map” helps establish accountability and makes goals more tangible and concrete versus vague wishes. It provides clarity on the specific steps and processes needed.

  • Monitoring both objective metrics and subjective experiences helps evaluate what’s working and what needs adjustment. Getting feedback from coaches can also aid the process.

  • The example given shows how reframing goals in terms of controllable processes rather than unattainable outcomes led to improved results for a baseball player.

So in summary, the key is learning to persevere through failures by making small adjustments, having a plan to rebound quickly, and focusing on controllable processes rather than outcomes alone. Measuring progress clearly also fosters accountability and the ability to learn from experience.

This passage discusses the importance of identifying core motivations, or “power values,” in achieving goals and overcoming challenges like slumps. The author, who works with professional athletes, encounters athletes who can describe generic motivations like fame or money but struggle to articulate their deeper, intrinsic motivations.

Through questioning, most athletes will describe wanting to prove others wrong, honor family members, or feel a sense of fulfillment on the field as their true underlying motivations. Identifying these power values allows athletes to tap into a more focused source of motivation. It can be the difference between performing well consistently versus just occasionally, or playing through minor injuries in important games.

Power values are unique to each individual and connect to their core values and intrinsic drives. Expressing these deepest motivations for the first time provides a clarifying experience for athletes. Harnessing power values fuels athletes to work harder, reach deeper reserves, and separate themselves from others with comparable physical talents but less motivation. The passage suggests identifying and connecting to one’s own power values is important for achieving goals and overcoming challenges in any field.

Strong, clear motivation can make a significant difference in achieving goals and winning both in sports and life. Developing motivation requires identifying and clarifying one’s motivating factors or “power values”. Deep motivations are often intrinsic and stem from personal values or desires to prove oneself.

Several scientific theories have explored human motivation. Self-determination theory talks about the importance of competence, relatedness and autonomy for intrinsic motivation. Motivational interviewing helps people identify and strengthen their internal motivations to drive change.

Motivation can come from both internal and external sources. Internal motivation, governed by oneself, tends to be more sustainable and effective for success than external motivation from rewards. Extreme athletes demonstrate tapping into deeper internal reserves of motivation by ignoring body signals of exhaustion. The “central governor” theory suggests the body protects itself from overexertion but people can overcome this.

Developing strong internal motivation takes work to understand one’s specific motivating factors. It’s a process of reflection to uncover deeper personal values and reasons that fuel determination. Regular refinement helps harness motivation to continuously improve and reach peak performance.

The passage discusses finding internal motivation through identifying personal power values. At first, your power values may seem superficial, but digging deeper can reveal more meaningful motivations.

It provides examples of athletes like Mike Richter and Juwan Howard who found intrinsic motivation through focusing on giving their best effort rather than just winning. Richter was motivated by constant improvement and enjoying the process, not just outcomes.

The passage advises asking yourself a series of “why” questions to get to the core reasons behind goals. These deeper motivations are more sustaining than surface-level wants. It gives the example of a writer who was initially motivated by external factors like reviews, but digging deeper revealed she was motivated by using writing to manage depression and find meaning.

Identifying power values helps connect efforts to things that really matter personally. The passage concludes that finding accountability partners can also help with motivation, as humans are social creatures and it is difficult to stay motivated in isolation. Having others relying on you improves determination to achieve goals.

  • Motivation requires support from important people in your life like friends, family, coworkers. Enlist the right kind of motivational support by communicating clearly about your goals.

  • Think of motivation like a fire that needs fuel to stay lit. Choose “coaches” who can regularly provide inspiration and accountability to keep you motivated. Be specific about the type of support you need, like checking in periodically or participating in goal-oriented activities together.

  • Habits, both good and bad, are learned through cues, behaviors, and rewards. Build motivation into habit loops by associating goal achievement with positive consequences like calling your coach after a successful sales call.

  • Even if you don’t feel motivated, take motivated actions anyway. Feelings don’t always come first - actions can shape feelings too. Put yourself in situations where you may naturally find enjoyment and motivation, like going to a party even if you feel unmotivated at first.

  • Transform challenging moments by focusing on playfulness and enjoyment. Engage difficult people in conversations about things they’re passionate about to improve interactions and perspectives. Motivation comes from how you respond to life’s hands, not just the hands themselves.

Here are the key points I gathered from the passage:

  • Our bodies have an automatic alarm system (sympathetic nervous system) that primes us for “fight or flight” when it detects danger or threats. This helped our ancestors survive predators.

  • However, this system does not distinguish well between real physical threats and perceived or minor threats. So it can respond the same way to fears like public speaking as it would to a lion attack.

  • Anxiety is a result of this alarm system doing its job even when there is little real danger or risk of harm. We evolved to pay more attention to potential threats than positives to avoid danger.

  • So on the sports field or in meetings, our bodies can perceive normal performance fears like missing a shot or making a mistake as serious threats, causing anxiety even though intellectually we know the risk is low.

  • The skydiving video serves as an example, showing the author’s biological alarm response kicking in even though logically skydiving was not a severe threat to his safety.

The key takeaway is that anxiety often stems from an overactive, overly sensitive alarm system in our bodies that does not differentiate well between true risks and normal performance fears or pressures. This was an adaptive response for survival that now causes problems for many in lower-risk modern situations.

The passage discusses managing anxiety and emotions in competitive situations. It notes that anxiety is an emotional response to the physical manifestations of arousal, like rapid breathing and increased heart rate. Elite performers learn to recognize their level of arousal and operate at an optimal level of activation, not too much to be out of control.

Some key strategies discussed for managing anxiety include breathing exercises, which research shows can significantly reduce anxiety responses. Practicing slowing breathing to 6 breaths per minute gives more physical control. Detached “third person” perspective is also discussed, where performers view themselves with nonjudgmental awareness, gaining a sense of power over feelings. Objectively examining sensations and accepting anxiety feelings as natural helps deescalate anxiety. The overall message is that anxiety management is a learned skill that improves performance.

  • Managing anxiety involves observing your physical sensations objectively and having a positive interpretation of the experience.

  • You can practice asking yourself three questions: 1) What physical sensations am I experiencing? 2) How do the sensations begin and end? 3) How am I doing at having a positive interpretation?

  • Much of the discomfort of anxiety comes from judging experiences as good or bad rather than observing sensations objectively.

  • An example is given of a rookie baseball player experiencing nerves in a clutch batting situation. He notices his physical signs of anxiety but reframes them positively in his self-talk.

  • Maintaining composure allows you to perform better under stress by seeing situations as opportunities rather than threats.

  • Adopting a “growth mindset” of seeing abilities as improvable helps manage anxiety better than a “fixed mindset” of seeing abilities as innate talents. Notable experiences provide learning opportunities.

  • Positive self-talk and reframing physiological arousal as helpful preparation can help manage anxiety and allow focus on the task.

  • The passage discusses the importance of maintaining a positive attitude and composure even when facing challenges or setbacks. Negative body language like sulking can undermine confidence and fuel opponents.

  • It describes a baseball pitcher who was hitting batters and struggling with control. He showed poor body language like punching his glove and hanging his head when mistakes were made.

  • Negative body language tells your body to feel like a loser, hurting self-confidence. But positive body language like celebrating a victory sends empowering messages.

  • A study found forcing a smile by holding a pen in the teeth positively influenced emotions, showing the mind-body connection.

  • The pitcher worked to improve composure by imagining pulling his shoulders back and looking up instead of down when facing difficulties. This helped redirect physiological arousal to be more focused.

  • Regulating breathing through controlled inhaling and exhaling can induce relaxation and calm the “fight or flight” response, aiding stress management and optimal performance. Practicing five minutes daily conditions this reflex.

So in summary, the passage advocates maintaining confident, solution-oriented body language even when facing setbacks, as this impacts emotions, focus and self-confidence in a empowering, productive way. Controlled breathing is presented as a tool to calm the mind and body for peak performance.

Here is a summary of the key points about visualization from the passage:

  • Visualization involves mentally picturing yourself successfully completing a task or performance. Elite athletes regularly use visualization to mentally practice and prepare.

  • When you visualize, your body has a physical reaction as if you were actually performing the activity. This helps your mind and body prepare for what’s to come.

  • Visualization can help reduce anxiety and inoculate yourself against pressure by mentally practicing scenarios and your emotional response. You become less surprised by situations.

  • Theories suggest visualization activates muscles slightly in patterns, provides a mental plan or roadmap, and builds mental concentration, confidence and stress resistance.

  • Anyone can learn visualization techniques. Regular visualization can enhance physical and mental performance in sports, business, exams, presentations, trades, conversations and more. It’s a tool for success in any challenging situation.

So in summary, visualization is a learned skill of mentally practicing tasks that can improve performance by preparing your mind and body. Regular use builds confidence and composure for high-pressure scenarios.

  • Visualization is the process of mentally rehearsing or envisioning a scenario or activity in great detail using all five senses. Elite athletes and business people use dedicated visualization to fine tune their mental imagery.

  • Sam Kass, a former White House chef, uses visualization for both cooking and policy work. He envisions what a new dish or strategy will look and feel like before implementing it. This helps him achieve success.

  • The basic visualization skill is mentally rehearsing a scenario from the first-person perspective to train the mind and body. Elite performers visualize both successes and failures to build confidence and adaptability.

  • Effective visualization involves envisioning specific techniques, motions, responses to cues, etc. rather than just envisioning the outcome. This provides more detailed “blueprint” information for the brain and body.

  • Visualization helps automate tasks like sport skills by creating mental “shortcuts,” similar to how walking becomes second nature. It can help athletes quickly learn new skills like pitch recognition that normally take years of real-time practice.

  • Visualization allows the brain to turn off logical/analytical thinking and turn on more creative/visualization pathways. Being in nature can help facilitate this state of mind.

  • It’s important to visualize the process (actions, techniques, decision making etc.) rather than just imagining the outcome. This helps prepare your body and mind for what to do.

  • Adding sensory details like sights, sounds, feelings makes the visualization more impactful. Regular practice over time strengthens this “muscle”.

  • Athletes report similarities between their detailed practice visualizations and actual performances, making them feel calm and prepared.

  • Negative self-talk can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Repeating phrases like “that’s just my luck” reinforces a pessimistic outlook that can hold you back from success. Visualization and positive self-talk can counteract this.

  • A step-by-step guide is provided for conducting effective visualization sessions, including setting the scene, practicing routines, imaging varied realistic results and focusing on enjoyment.

  • The author explains that we all have a “life story” or internal narrative that shapes how we perceive and react to experiences.

  • Elite athletes like Tom Brady are able to recover quickly from mistakes due to their positive internal self-talk and neutral or positive way of framing setbacks.

  • Improving one’s self-talk can boost confidence, self-esteem, and mental performance. Negative self-appraisal hinders performance.

  • The author discusses cognitive behavioral therapy techniques for changing thought patterns related to anxiety and confidence.

  • Two maladaptive thought patterns are “jumping to conclusions” (making assumptions from little information) and “blowing things out of proportion.”

  • A story is then told about a successful pitcher who jumped to conclusions during a game. He misinterpreted his coach’s expression and let it get in his head, derailing his performance. After the game he discovered the coach was never actually displeased.

  • This story illustrates how jumping to conclusions based on little information can negatively impact self-esteem and confidence during performance. The chapter aims to teach techniques for developing more positive self-talk and addressing maladaptive thought patterns.

The passage describes how easily jumping to conclusions can negatively impact performance. It provides the example of a baseball player who started pitching poorly after assuming his coach’s facial expressions meant he was unhappy, when in reality the coach was just dealing with digestive issues.

It explains that making quick conclusions, even incorrectly, was evolutionarily advantageous for survival. But in modern life there are rarely real dangers, so we need to check our thoughts and reactions. Positive self-talk is important, but it needs to be objective and based on facts, not just hoping or inventing unlikely outcomes.

It then gives examples of how some athletes maintain confidence through objective self-talk anchored in past performances. The key is to acknowledge setbacks but keep them in perspective rather than assuming a single mistake portends total failure. Learning to view struggles appropriately, without panicking or blowing things out of proportion, is important for staying composed and continuing to improve.

  • Thoughts can be controlled, while feelings cannot. You can work on changing unhelpful thoughts but not feelings directly.

  • It’s important to differentiate thoughts from feelings to avoid jumping to conclusions. Things like “I feel like I did a bad job” are actually thoughts, not feelings.

  • Developing a strategy to examine your thoughts and argue with unhelpful ones, like what a supportive friend might say, can help prevent negative spirals.

  • We tend to listen to our “inner foe” - the critical voice - rather than an “inner friend” when feeling bad. Developing a mantra or internal dialogue with a supportive perspective can fight the inner foe.

  • Examples are given of working with athletes to change their self-talk from negative to positive, focusing on evidence of past success rather than recent failures or doubts. Developing a helpful mantra can improve mindset and performance.

  • Separating thoughts from feelings, examining thoughts critically, and employing strategies like an internal supportive dialogue can help thinking adaptively and avoid jumping to flawed conclusions.

Here is a summary of the key points in the passage:

  • Mantras are short, positive self-statements that can help improve confidence and focus. Actors, athletes, and others use mantras to stay optimistic and focused on their capabilities.

  • The actress Liz worked on developing a mantra (“I’m doing it differently”) to combat negative thoughts about not getting an Oscar nomination. Repeating this mantra helped shift her mindset.

  • Enjoyment self-talk, where Liz reminded herself what she enjoyed about her work each day, also helped her focus on the process rather than just results.

  • Athletes like boxer Yuri Foreman and tennis player Rennae Stubbs discussed effective mantras they used like “I’ve trained hard” and “Do what you do” to summon confidence.

  • A mantra acts as a tool to change negative self-stories by rewriting them in a positive, evidence-based way. It centers a person in their abilities rather than doubts.

  • Many other professionals have found mantras helpful too, like a law enforcement officer focusing on honor, an actor feeling welcomed by Broadway, and so on. Regular repetition of a mantra can shift one’s mindset and boost performance.

Here is a summary of the key ideas about the law of attraction from the passage:

  • The law of attraction proposes that positively thinking or focusing on positive outcomes will increase the likelihood of those things occurring. It was popularized in books like The Secret.

  • However, there is no direct causal relationship between simply thinking positively and outcomes actually occurring. You can’t become rich just by thinking you will be rich.

  • The law of attraction can be helpful when it changes your behaviors in pursuing goals. Believing you will find love may change how you interact with dates and opportunities.

  • Positive self-talk, like mantras, can improve performance by changing physiological responses and focus. A basketball player who told himself he was a bad free throw shooter performed worse, but improved with a positive mantra.

  • The law of attraction isn’t magic, but positive thinking can influence behaviors in small ways that accumulate to better pursue and achieve goals over time. Things like always believing you will find parking and arriving home in a better mood as a result.

So in summary, simply thinking positively won’t directly cause outcomes, but it can change behaviors and approaches in ways that improve performance and increase the chances of achieving goals over the long run through accumulated small influences on actions.

  • The scenario describes a string of unfortunate mishaps and mistakes on a typical morning - opening windows and leaving the toilet overflowing, having no clean clothes, empty fridge and wallet, etc.

  • This is highly unlikely to happen in real life because most people operate based on routines to handle daily tasks and prevent such issues. Routines provide standardized plans for daily activities.

  • While routines help manage everyday life, most people don’t have well-planned mental routines for peak performance goals. Elite athletes and business people use careful mental and physical routines to optimize their mindset.

  • Routines help perform without thinking about distracting thoughts or results beyond your control. They give your mind a focused task (physical or mental actions) to shield from unhelpful distractions during important moments. Practicing a routine until automatic provides this benefit.

  • In summary, while the scenario is improbable, it illustrates the importance of routines for handling daily tasks and optimizing performance in important situations through management of one’s mental state.

The passage differentiates between effective routines and superstitions. While superstitions may provide a sense of control, routines should have actual behavioral benefits.

It discusses how athletes like Wade Boggs and Serena Williams develop superstitious pre-game rituals to feel more in control mentally. However, a good routine should include behaviors that quantifiably improve performance, not just superstitions.

Research shows that humans and animals can develop superstitious behaviors by associating actions with rewards, even if the actions don’t cause the rewards. However, superstitions should not interfere with actual performance.

A good routine can incorporate some superstition alongside proven preparation techniques. Elite athletes describe combining rituals and visualizations in their routines.

The key is for routines to fundamentally improve performance through directing thoughts and behaviors, not just relying on perceived “magic” from superstitions. General templates from sports can effectively be adapted for routines in business and life to optimize thinking and handle challenges.

  • The passage discusses the importance of pre-performance, in-performance, and post-performance routines for athletes and other professionals. Having a routine helps you manage stress, focus, and perform at your best.

  • It provides examples of specific routines, like a baseball pitcher who recites the alphabet backward while rotating a ball in his glove after giving up a hit. A salesperson who listens to motivating music and reviews positive aspects of past meetings.

  • Routines should incorporate elements from different aspects of performance psychology, like motivational triggers, anxiety management techniques, and focus cues.

  • Building a routine as a habit takes time and consistency. It’s important not to get discouraged if you can’t follow it perfectly - the goal is to improve over time, not be flawless.

  • Even professionals get pushed out of their routines sometimes during pressure situations. The ability to “reset” and refocus on the next opportunity through a routine is important for continued success.

  • A micro-failure is a small mistake or setback during a performance that on its own will not lead to defeat, but could distract from the game plan if not moved on from quickly.

  • An important tool for overcoming micro-failures is a resetting routine - a series of actions or thoughts that allows an athlete/performer to flush away the mistake and refocus.

  • Examples of resetting routines include taking a deep breath, removing glasses briefly, or repeating a positive self-talk mantra.

  • The chess player used removing his glasses, shutting his eyes, breathing, and repeating a focus mantra to reset after early-game mistakes.

  • Developing an effective routine involves thinking back to past successful performances, identifying mental and physical factors that contributed, and incorporating strategies from psychology like self-talk and visualization.

  • Routines should be tailored to the individual and evolved over time based on what works best for present challenges. They can include pre, during and post-performance elements.

  • The key is to experiment and adjust routines to maximize enjoyment and competitiveness in the long run. Having fun with routines is also encouraged to enhance positive mindset.

  • The conclusion emphasizes living life to the fullest each day and enjoying both the process and the little successes along the way, rather than purely focusing on outcomes and wins/losses.

  • It suggests taking small steps each day to push your limits, such as smiling at strangers or changing up your routine.

  • The overall message is to fully immerse yourself in each moment and experience, and find satisfaction in the effort and growth rather than only the end results. Living life as a sport is about competing against yourself and continuously improving.

  • Success is subjective - it’s about knowing you worked hard to be your best and enjoyed the journey, not just focusing on achievements alone. The ability to experience and appreciate all parts of life’s competition is a skill that leads to greater satisfaction.

  • Winning comes from fully committing to purposeful practice each day and maintaining motivation, but also from practicing enjoyment of the process above outcomes in order to find real fulfillment.

  • Focusing on enjoying the process can lead to more satisfaction and success, both conventionally defined and otherwise. Taking the pressure off results allows you to perform at a higher level for longer.

  • Finding something enjoyable about daily activities/routines, like baseball batting practice, helps you stay engaged and get the full benefits. Players who laugh and chat tend to perform better in the long run.

  • Enjoying the process frees you from performance pressure and the “stigma of failure.” As long as you did your best, you haven’t failed - you gained experience.

  • Bobby Cannavale describes his acting process - fully preparing so he can confidently and enthusiastically embrace each role. This keeps him motivated and getting work, like constant “batting practice” for life.

  • Some competitors are so focused on winning/results that they never seem satisfied or register joy. Will they be proud looking back, or wish they accomplished more? How do you want to remember your striving when you retire?

  • Take action by incorporating Life as Sport philosophies and techniques into your daily routine and thinking through the DOT model - what you will Do and Think to integrate these ideas. Come up with behavioral and thought goals to work on purposeful practice.

The key message is that focusing on enjoying the process, not just results, allows you to perform better in a more sustained and less stressful way while also finding more fulfillment in your pursuits. Taking actions and thinking in ways outlined here can help apply this approach to your own “game of life.”

  • The passage describes a meeting between the author and Harvey Dorfman, a legendary baseball psychologist. Dorfman coined the term “stretch” which the author sometimes uses.

  • Dorfman was not well when they met at his home in North Carolina. Still, he agreed to share insights about his successful career working with teams like the A’s and Marlins.

  • The author was eager to learn from Dorfman, a pioneer in the field of sports psychology. They discussed the author’s work helping athletes maximize performance and challenges getting others in sports to value mental skills training.

  • Dorfman responded by sharing colorful stories from his long career, including time with Hall-of-Famer Roy Halladay. He brought the conversation back to emphasizing core human traits like character over just analyzing stats.

  • It was a special opportunity for the author to meet and learn from Dorfman, a true legend in the field, before his passing shortly after their meeting.

The passage describes advice given by a man named Harvey to the author when he was younger. Harvey emphasized not being afraid to take risks and put yourself out there to be successful. He said “scared money don’t make no money” - you have to have courage.

Harvey advised that by avoiding hard questions or new ideas out of fear of failure or criticism, you will never achieve greatness. Greatness only comes from those willing to try something new and different, even if it means failing or shaking things up.

This advice stuck with the author and helped keep him involved in professional sports. The philosophies in the book come from the experiences this allowed. But the most important thing Harvey taught was the willingness to take risks and be uncomfortable in order to achieve success.

Now at the end of the book, the author is passing this message on to the reader. He encourages the reader to pick one concept from the book and commit to getting outside their comfort zone. Change is difficult but necessary for growth. It’s time for the reader to take their first pitch or face their next challenge with courage.

The passage thanks numerous coaches, trainers, doctors, colleagues, friends and family who have supported and helped the author over many years of his career working in sports psychology and mental training.

It specifically thanks people who have worked with him directly like trainers, coaches and other support staff from the New York Mets baseball team. It also thanks colleagues from various professional organizations like the American Psychological Association.

The author expresses gratitude to mentors who have provided guidance and leadership. Thanks are also given to staff at the Union Square Practice where the author works.

In conclusion, the author thanks hundreds of athletes he has worked with over the years, noting they have helped him understand what it means to live life as a sport.

Here are brief summaries of the research papers:

  1. “Research on goal setting in sports and exercise shows that specific, difficult yet attainable goals lead to the best performance outcomes. The positive effects of goal setting have been demonstrated across many studies.”

  2. “This study examined the efficacy of heart rate variability biofeedback for reducing anxiety and regulating emotions. It found that biofeedback training enhanced participants’ ability to consciously control their heart rate and reduced self-reported anxiety and stress.”

  3. “This study further explored the relationship between goal setting and self-esteem. It found that setting specific, challenging goals had benefits like increased motivation, performance and self-esteem, while vague or easy goals did not provide the same benefits.”

  4. “This book established benchmarks for setting available and stretch goals based on past performance. It presented goal setting theory and research demonstrating goals lead to higher task performance.”

  5. “This paper examined how maintaining momentum towards a goal impacts subsequent goal-setting. It found that explicitly linking small wins to an overarching goal led to greater reengagement when progress was lost.”

  6. “This seminal work extensively covers backsliding and relapse during attempts to form new habits. It presents strategies to help maintain changes in behaviors and prevent returning to old patterns.”

  7. “This encyclopedia entry defines the ‘abstinence violation effect,’ which refers to the tendency for a lapse or slip to trigger a return to regular substance use or unhealthy behavior due to feelings of failure or loss of control.”

  8. “This article summarizes the evidence rebutting the commonly believed myth that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.”

  9. “This book analyzes Nike’s company culture, citing a company slogan emphasizing the importance of setting goals and dreams.”

  10. “Studies have established the benefits of writing down goals versus just havingthem in one’s head. Writing makes goals clearer, increases commitment, andimproves follow through onachieving them.”

Here is a summary of the key points from the chapter:

  • Routines are important for managing anxiety and winning before the game begins by getting mentally prepared. They help establish confidence through familiar patterns.

  • Many successful athletes have detailed pre-performance routines to get in the right headspace, like golfer Jason Day’s routine described in the first reference.

  • Routines help manage arousal and anxiety levels, as discussed in the second reference about psychological skills.

  • Superstitions like Wade Boggs’s chicken ritual (reference 3) are different from purposeful routines, though sometimes blend together.

  • Routines provide reminders to reset like using the bathroom, mentioned in reference 9 about Ken Ravizza’s strategy with the Tennessee Titans.

  • Developing routines includes consideringPower Values and visualization, with flexibility to make minoradjustments depending on circumstances.

  • The conclusion emphasizes that developing routines is crucial to help “win today” through mental preparation, as David Wright’s quote in reference 1 illustrates.

  • Self-esteem is based on goal attainment. Negative results can impact self-esteem. Self-talk and self-improvement are important for maintaining self-esteem.

  • Self-talk influences anxiety levels and the likelihood of blowing things out of proportion, jumping to conclusions, or perceiving differences between thoughts and feelings.

  • Developing an “inner friend” mindset through positive self-talk is more effective than an “inner foe” mindset.

  • Objective optimism involves focusing on the process rather than immediate outcomes to avoid anxiety.

  • Visualization is a powerful technique when practiced regularly. It involves visualizing the process, outcomes and results in a step-by-step manner.

  • Mantras, routines and focusing on strengths can boost self-talk. Beneficial mindsets include focusing on the process, not attachment to the results and thinking in terms of long-term development.

  • Anxiety levels are influenced by self-talk and beliefs. Superstitions sometimes develop due to anxieties around chance events.

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About Matheus Puppe