Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Training for life

Gifted performers and athletes often make the career-ending mistake of believing they don't need to train as hard or as much as their teammates or peers.

Without naming them, some young athletes celebrated for their exceptional talent and performance always run into a wall sooner or later - normally sooner - if they don't train, and hard.

The reason for training is not just to make the most of one's talent - but to build stamina and prevent injuries, which insures their ability to continue doing what they love for a long time.

A one-time youthful baseball phenom had a prodigious home run record. While he was happy with his performance, considering himself fortunate. Sadly, his training regimen was sporadic, leaving his teammates unhappy. They knew he would ultimately hurt the team, but said nothing because there was his current blockbuster record, wasn't there - and they couldn't argue with that.

Sure enough, soon after his career seriously stuttered because of injuries. Injuries that, most probably, could have been avoided by smart, consistent training starting at a young age.

Not focusing on off-the-field preparation is a short term gain, long term loss mentality. It does not prepare individuals for a long and achieving future, able to weather the highs and lows with equal aplomb.

Most businesses will ultimately fail for the same reason. They want to push for the highest profits NOW, rather than putting in the tough work it takes to plan for consistent and stable production, along with stable profits over the long haul.

Constantly pushing for the highest profits NOW means more and more injurious cost cuts - cutting corners, cutting experienced work staff and slashing other necessary costs that result in decreasing the quality of the product, desperate employees making desperate, cheating and often illegal decisions to save their jobs or status or bonuses.

Those at the bottom scrounge for crumbs and hang on to a ship that will ultimately sink as it currently performs; those at the top develop a something-for-nothing sense of entitlement = demanding phenomenal salaries and ridiculous bonuses for precious little contribution.

One of the - if not *the* most gifted basketball player in the history of the sport, Michael Jordan, comes to mind. Unlike the rest of the players, the lesser talented athletes, Jordan showed up early to practice - and stayed after everyone else left. To practice some more.

He was the one player who did not "need" to put in extra practice, but he did anyway. For himself. To be a better player. He was alone on the court, practicing to prepare, practicing to adjust - in order to play the same team better next time.

No doubt coaches and/or family influenced his keen work ethic and attitude as a youngster.

Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are two champion athletes with a strong work ethic whose understanding of establishing and maintaining a practice and preparation/training regimen early on has paid off. Both, incidentally, were strongly influenced by Peyton's father, former famed Saints quarterback Archie Manning.

While a young age is the best time to instill a strong, systematic work ethic, you can start all over at any age.

The key is to start where you are.

If you decide to train for a new body, remember that your age, weight and condition will tell you where you are capable of beginning. And slowly. With appropriate movement and diet, not overworking a system ill prepared for pushing yourself too hard. A friend of mine recently spent three days of agony after starting out with a New Year's resolution too harsh workout.

Remember being constant, consistent, and persistent is the key.

Do this to create a habit. Without a habit, we'll have a hit-and-miss record, whether it's watching our weight or hitting home runs. Success is actually a habit. Even when we run into pitfalls here and there, we still have a sense we can succeed in the end if we establish this habit in at least one area of our lives.

Keeping your word to yourself is the definition of success. Whatever you do, keep your expectations and goals real and within your ability to reach them. Low to start, raising the bar as you move along the scales of success. Keeping your word to yourself establishes the habit of success.

It's also a terrific way to be a good role model for children.

The "quick start" may in the end be a sabotage effort.

Whether learning to be an actor, writer, director, athlete or simply a happy person - start with what feels safe and successful, no matter how easy it may seem. One step at a time. One baby step at a time. Building on the stamina and power you gain, those steps can become leaps, those leaps can become vaults higher than you ever imagined.

The reason to start at a level at which you can keep your word to yourself is that it avoids the inner turmoil that will be the real cause of any setbacks. Once we stop keeping our word to ourselves, the mind games begin. We're failures, we're not what or who we appear to be - so we're phonies who don't want to be found out- and on it goes.

Success starts by just keeping your word to yourself - you can build on that success with more success over time because you feel good about yourself. You are authentically you, not someone you're trying to be.

I've gone through just such a process recently in two areas of my life - where I have in the past failed miserably. And so far, so good. As long as I keep my expectations low and my hopes high, it's working. I'll explain exactly what I'm referring to after I've had a record of success long enough to show a significant difference.

I share it with you today in hopes that it may help you as much as it has me!

Something else I'd like to share - Oprah.com has a program you can download called the O Dream Board; it's a method to help you visualize what you'd like your life and future to be. It's simple and easy if you have minimal computer skills. Remember you can use photos from any source since it is for your private use only and not for publication. My friends and I are enthusiastic about how cool it is and how it infuses us with great feelings about the future!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Changing the world 1 positive reinforcement at a time!

As a coach, I love to learn how people have taught themselves to do things they thought beyond their reach, ability, willpower or capacity.

Lots of folks talk and write about changes they've made, but most of them don't last. They're merely short-term transitions rather than long term transformations. And there's usually lots more to the story than they're telling - and it's not positive.

Recently Carnie Wilson told Oprah Winfrey that after dropping more than 150 pounds after serious weight loss surgery and telling everyone how great it was to be slender? Behind the scenes she became a raging alcoholic - stopping after several years only because her husband gave her an ultimatum to quit drinking or he would leave her.

So many others have similar stories of temporary "recovery" from all sorts of addictions, destructive and self-destructive behaviors -- and after their seemingly astonishing success, they return to identical or worse self and other-abusive behavior. Often repeating this cycle more than once.

No more public example of this is Oprah herself.

So what can make for a successful learning experience that lasts?

And lasts and lasts?

The Seattle Times recently ran a story about a woman who lost weight because she loved herself enough to eat properly and exercise.

She realized the reason she initially tried to lose weight was because she hated herself - the way she looked and felt, the way she believed others perceived her.

But all the methods she tried, again and again, failed. So she beat herself up for 1) being fat, 2) looking the way she did, 3) feeling incapable of becoming who she wanted to be and finally, 4) feeling like a failure.

Until she decided she would eat well and exercise because she loved herself enough to be good to herself and accept herself unconditionally. She dedicated herself to learn how to do what's best for her body and soul, giving herself positive reinforcement every step of the way.

So all these years later, the 60 pounds is still off - a distant memory - because she kept giving herself positive reinforcement, support and appreciation for who she was and everything she did to love herself.

Negative reinforcement doesn't work because it's done to prevent perceived and real abuse or punishment of some sort. The change is usually instant and fleeting.

Positive reinforcement works in the long run 100%.

In my experience, it takes longer to establish a solid ground work and system of individual positive reinforcement from which to work and grow. But once it's solid? It sticks.

Unfortunately, some people are actually uncomfortable with positive reinforcement - they believe unless you're smacking them upside the head they aren't being "pushed" enough.

Others don't believe they're worthy of such good treatment.

One of my coaching techniques is to say a word, then have my client say whatever that word inspires. After they respond, no matter what they say, I respond, "Good."

It's meant to inspire confidence for whatever their response might be, to build a sense that their response is just fine - they don't have to "edit" themselves in order to be "approved."

Here's how it works:

CP: Wood.
Client: Shed.
CP: Good!

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

It's amazing how terrifically it makes people feel to do this exercise even for a few minutes.

I then suggest they tell themselves, "Good job!" a million times a day - for every tiny little success they achieve.

Like this:

You finish brushing your teeth. "Good job!"
You wash your hands. "Good job!"
You arrive at a destination, accident-free. "Good job!"
You pay a bill. "Good job!"
You mail the bill. "Good job!"
You find that (something) you've been looking for. "Good job!"
You help your kid with homework. "Good job!"
You make a healthy choice at a meal. "Good job!"
You practice piano. "Good job!"
You sing! "Good job!"
You take a walk - even if it's inside your apartment. "Good job!"
You decide to do something to spiff up your relationship. "Good job!"
You actually do something to spiff up your relationship. "Good job!"
You decide to leave an unhealthy relationshp. "Good job!"
You actually leave that unhealthy relationship. "Good job!"
You do one part of your acting homework. "Good job!"
Make a list of your own of things to which you can respond. "Good job!"

You read my blog? "Good job!" ;-)

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