I’m re-reading Noah St. John’s book The Secret Code of Success. St John talks about our “head trash” or the subconscious roadblocks that keep folks from acting on their real hopes and dreams. His “fun-house mirror” concept explained why some of my most talented athletes unconsciously sabotaged their own success.
Remember what it is like to look into a fun-house mirror? What happened? You’d see a weird, distorted view of yourself. It kind of looked like you, yet it wasn’t you.
Looking back at my coaching career I now see how some of my players were raised with fun-house mirrors. The self-image reflected back to them growing up was distorted. They failed to receive accurate information about who they really are. This negative reflection formed the basis of the “head trash” they are still carrying around.
It’s the little voice in their head that says things like:
“You’re not good enough”
“If only you had more talent”
“What were you thinking?”What’s missing for these athletes is a true reflection of their real self or what St. John calls a “Loving Mirror.” A loving mirror is a person who gives unconditional support – sounds like a good coach to me. Nearly every successful person has someone in their life who believed in them when they didn’t believe in themselves.
St. John summarizes the evolution of success into the following stages:
- Someone believes in you.
- You believe in someone.
- You believe in you.
So instead of telling our athletes to believe in themselves, we need to start with believing in them! Look for greatness within each of your athletes, find the things they may never see in themselves. Encourage them: “I know you can do it,” “I see a great leader inside of you,” etc.
Remember, according to St John:
Human beings perform best in an environment of unconditional support. That happens when someone looks at you and sees your full capacity, potential, and greatness. That person knows that you can do it, and holds you to it.
…88 consecutive wins, 10 NCAA championships, 38 consecutive NCAA tournament victories, eight undefeated PAC-8 championships and 4 undefeated full seasons. At 99 years young, John Wooden is the true Final 4 Phenom!
My most prized possession on my bookshelf is an original (1972) well-worn, copy of They Call Me Coach, the classic autobiography of legendary coach John Wooden. When I first read this amazing book (way back when) I was struck by the emphasis on the word “They” in the title. Other people called Wooden “coach”, he didn’t. Wooden wanted to be known as a teacher. This notion stayed with me and continues to shape my coaching and parenting.
I also discovered Wooden’s Pyramid for Success in this little book. The pyramid is a graphical representation of Wooden’s philosophy that success is built block by block. Each block in the pyramid is a key principle to achieving life-long success in every area of life. I’m shocked at how few coaches in my workshops know about the Pyramid of Success. Please Google it and download a copy for yourself!
In They Call Me Coach, Wooden tells us his own story in his own words. It focuses on his 27 years coaching the UCLA basketball team and offers insight into “success” both on and off the court. Wooden’s dedication to his craft made him “America’s ‘winningest’ coach”.
They Call Me Coach covers everything from the basics to important life lessons like “The team that makes the most mistakes will probably win. There is much truth in that statement if you analyze it properly. The doer makes mistakes, and I want doers on my team — players who make things happen.”
This classic is a must read for every coach!
I guess it’s only fitting that my first book review discuss Dr. James Loehr’s The New Toughness Training for Sports: Mental, Emotional and Physical Conditioning from One of the World’s Premier Sports Psychologists. This little red book profoundly impacted my coaching career.
I knew of Dr Loehr’s work prior to the publication of this book – most of his early clients came from the tennis world and I’d heard Jim speak at a few conferences. When the book finally came out in 1994 I devoured it from cover to cover. I wanted to synthesize the various material from his presentations and discover the big picture. I wanted to figure out the model.
Growing up, I didn’t consistently exhibit the “killer instinct” (as it was called way back when) so I was so relieved to learn that one’s Ideal Performance State (IPS) is a learned response, not an inherited one. Dr. Loehr defines toughness as “the ability to consistently perform toward the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances”. I wanted to know how to teach this skill to my athletes. This book showed me how.
Even though I’d been in Berkeley for a few years, Jim’s book showed me how the mind and the body are one. His “performance triad” shows that toughness is mental, physical and emotional. When you impact one sphere all are impacted. Thoughts, feelings, health, happiness and performance are all intimately interconnected and influence performance on and off the playing field. Being a bit of a geek, I loved that he discussed the science behind this seemingly “woo-woo” phenomenon.
I loved learning the connection between acting and competing. A successful actor is a person who is able to summon whatever emotions and physiology are required to bring the script to life. Great actors are so convincing they get us to shell out $12 to watch them pretend to be someone else! How do they do that? Well, acting skills control our physiology. I learned how to help my athletes become top-notch performers.
A major key to the Toughness Training Program is to create rituals of success – ones that will summon the most appropriate and adaptive response to whatever life throws at you. A ritual is a “controllable sequence or disciplined pattern of thinking and acting that enhances your ability to perform at your best”. A big part of my coaching is helping athletes (and coaches) discover their success rituals on and off the court.
This book has been around a while and I still think it’s one of the best performance training books to date. I can’t tell you how many copies I’ve purchased over the years. It is a constant staple in my lending library. You can order it below.