Archive for December, 2013


Mental Confidence

Many factors come into play when discussing success. Some will point to a superior educational pedigree. Others to inherent class advantages. Some like to chalk it up to luck. And then there are those who talk about cognitive patterns that are hardwired into us–obviously, that’s my preference.

We are conditioned into our mindset by those around us and other environmental stimuli.

As the quote goes from Good Will Hunting, “Most people never get to see how brilliant they can be. They don’t find teachers that believe in them. They get convinced they’re stupid.”

I won’t get into the debate over which type of teacher, professor or coach is ideal– authoritarian, authoritative or hands-off. But I will make the bold suggestion that if certain types of people don’t mesh with your goals, perhaps it’d be better to move in separate directions.

In a great article from ExpertBoxing.com on the Mindset of a Champion, the author talks about how our relationships are key to success. Some common pitfalls are listed:

The worst thing you can do is start throwing negativity into relationships before they’ve even been established. Talking behind someone’s back. Arguing with people over nothing. Letting jealousy affect your ability to be professional/courteous/polite. Maintaining or allowing negative relationships and people to stay in your life is another mistake.

No matter how talented someone is, no matter how much potential they have, they can be brought down to the level of mediocrity or non-achievement without the right people around them. The bad attitudes of others rub off and surface as bad habits in you.

Formula One champion Nigel Mansell devotes a page in his autobiography on how himself and his wife actively distanced themselves from friends who were overtly negative about his embryonic efforts in Formula Ford (a feeder league for Formula One):

There were people whom we hardly ever saw, but if something went wrong they would come up to us and say, ‘I could have told you about that. I could have told you that wouldn’t work.’ It’s amazing how many people we’ve run into with that attitude.

Mansell goes on to say that if these people were more constructive in their approach, their opinions would have been palatable.

I have a cousin who has always been negative to me since my childhood. She’s older by about 7-8 years, so perhaps a false sense of superiority or smug condescension blossomed with the age gap. While I couldn’t imagine going up to her and criticizing her prospects at her office job, she’s always had “smart” things to say about writing, journalism and the arts.

I find it ludicrous that this kind of person presents themselves as a direct impediment to mental confidence and then complains when communication breaks down. Worse still is when someone with no context or background in an area wants to pontificate as an expert on the subject material.

As the article from ExpertBoxing.com states, I don’t need an army of ‘Yes-Men’ to fluff false confidence and agree with everything that I do. But I also certainly don’t need prolonged exposure to toxic opinions that offer no benefit to me whatsoever. And neither does anyone else.

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Resonance

Sometimes a song catches us because we know how real it is. The Killers “Mr. Brightside” is one of those songs, and it has an interesting back story.

Says vocalist Brandon Flowers, “Lyrically, it’s about an odd girlfriend of mine. All the emotions in the song are real. When I was writing the lyrics, my wounds from it were still fresh. I am Mr. Brightside! But I think that’s the reason the song has persisted – because it’s real. People pick up on those things. And that goes all the way down to the production; we recorded it in a couple of hours, but it just sounds right, you know?”

Of course, the listener feels the emotional resonance. That’s what makes a hit. The artist can’t explain after the fact– the song has to speak for itself.

Back in the day, in high school music class, I noticed an interesting phenomenon: we learned to play instruments with high technical proficiency. But something was missing– there was no emotional attachment to the music. I can only speak for myself, but I never put my heart and soul into playing the notes; I just went through the motions because I was doing what I was told to do.

Creativity is such a personal journey. If you’re working to please the teacher and allow them to overlay their own concepts of good and bad onto you, you’re silencing a part of your own dynamic range. You’ll find a rebellious spirit in every emerging artist worth mentioning because they brought something different to the table.

 

A Farewell to Georges St-Pierre

Leading up to Canadian Georges St-Pierre’s announcement of his impending retirement, I wrote about how the UFC has to rely more on light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. With UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez out for a year,  GSP retired and lighter-weight fighters not drawing, it really does look like Jon Jones will be forced to carry the brunt of duties as Zuffa’s point man.

I gave my thoughts on GSP’s retirement in a new CagePotato article, A Survivor in a Dangerous Game, GSP Finds the Exit Before It’s Too Late:

Georges St-Pierre’s tremendous desire for public validation of his talents was both his greatest strength as a fighter and his greatest weakness in terms of his personal health. He put it on the line for fans, media, and a promoter who were all just as likely to offer scathing criticism as they were to give him praise.

[Read more here]

Finally, Kid Nate from BloodyElbow.com scheduled an MMA Tete-a-Tete with myself and former USA Today reporter Beau Dure as guests. See video embedded below.