I was watching the movie The Devil’s Advocate, and was struck by a perfect description of Mental Toughness. Al Pacino is trying to seduce a small town lawyer from Florida to join his firm in New York. Here’s what Pacino says: “I know you got talent. It’s the other thing I wonder about. Pressure. Changes […]
Ever heard the phrase, “Balls to the Wall?” It always kinda confused me. You’re out on the field or on the court, and some guy’s yelling, “Balls to the Wall!” I never knew what the hell it meant. And I guess if I gave it any serious thought, it would have brought up some pretty […]
My old High School football coach had some memorable quotes. Some of em…not so positive. I remember him yelling at us in the locker room: “No matter how good you are, you’re all replaceable.” Or telling us, “The more negative energy you have, the better football player you’re gonna be.” He was like an alcoholic […]
The good word from a Tension Blaster member, Tyler: “I’ve just completed the 9 week Heavy Tension Blaster cycle and I have got to say that I’m impressed. My anxiety has lessened a lot. For example I was almost in a head on collision with another car. In the past when something like would have […]
There are plenty of reasons I look up to Royce Gracie. For one, he was the guy who cleaned up on all the early UFCs, proving to the world the unbelievable power of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. But what really amazes me is something I heard in an interview with him. He said he was so […]
Sometimes I get some flack for being so hard on the ‘positive thinking’ crowd. Truth is, I don’t really have anything against positive thinking. If I’m gonna have thoughts rattling around my skull, I figure they may as well be positive, goal-directed, achievement oriented, etc. That’s all good. It might even be helpful sometimes. But […]
I loved the original Star Wars when I was a kid. Especially the scenes where Yoda trains Luke to become a Jedi. Go figure. As it turns out, that Jedi stuff is pretty close to Mental Toughness training. So let’s see what we can learn from Master Yoda: “Unlearn what you have learned.” Whenever I […]
This is one of the craziest stories in sports history. On June 12, 1970, Dock Ellis, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, took some LSD with his girlfriend. It was his day off. Well, he thought it was his day off. About an hour after they took the acid, Dock’s girlfriend opened the newspaper. “Dock,” she […]
Want to hear the most powerful words ever spoken when it comes to Mental Toughness?
The mantra that can rocket your progress forward exponentially and increase your enjoyment tenfold?
Here it is:
“Screw it, who cares.”
Now, this is an advanced mantra. It only works when you’re already committed to doing the work necessary to achieve your goals.
If you aren’t, it may do more damage than good. You may end up on the couch eating doritos and watching daytime TV until the neighbors investigate a smell and call an ambulance.
But if you’ve already doing the work, these words can work like a magical spell that multiplies your power and progress.
Look at it this way.
If you care too much about the outcome of anything, you start to get tense. The more you get tense, the more you think about what you want, the more you worry about not getting it.
Suddenly your most valued goal becomes an object of anxiety. Every time you think about it, you think about how terrible it will be if you don’t get it.
You start to pile it on with your sense of identity, your sense of self-worth.
“If I only beat my last time on the next Marathon, I’ll be a happy, worthwhile, successful and desirable human being.”
The flipside to that, of course, is that if you DON’T beat your time, you’re a miserable, worthless, unsuccessful, undesirable slug.
Now imagine you’re training for that Marathon, but instead of grasping fearfully at your goal, your attitude is, “You know what? Screw it, who cares.”
Your heart rate drops. Your muscles relax. The whole thing ceases to be life-and-death. You don’t need to meet your goal to be happy and worthwhile–you’re already happy and worthwhile. Meeting that goal is just the cherry on top.
That’s the power of indifference. It turns the Unscalable Mountain into a cherry on top of a Sundae.
Think of it like a Chinese finger trap. The more you try to get out, the more imprisoned you become.
The only way out is to relax. Stop trying. And then it’s easy.
But you gotta do more than just tell yourself, “Screw it, who cares.” You gotta feel it. Or else it’s just another silly self-development mantra that keeps you walking in small, purposeful circles.
To really feel it in your gut, you gotta hit that worry, that attachment, that clinging-to-your-goals where it lives: your body tension.
Do that, and you’ll be a Zen Master of Mental Toughness.
How much time do you think you waste in the average day?
I don’t just mean cruising youtube or scrolling through pictures of cats on facebook.
I mean wasting time and life-force on worrying about the future, or thinking about the past.
I’m always on the lookout for ways I’m letting my time on Earth slip away. I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be. Years of NRW has freed me from most of the mental baggage that once weighed me down.
But still, any amount of time wasted on worry or regret is too much.
Time is all we got. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it flies by pretty fast.
It always seems like there’s gonna be more of it. Like there will always be a chance down the road to wake up and really get committed to becoming everything you can be.
So we roll over, hit the snooze button, and sleep-walk through another day.
But one day, there won’t be any more chances.
There’s only thing anyone knows for sure about life: it ends. None of us knows when it’s going to happen. It could be decades from now, it could be seconds from now.
There’s not enough time to waste a single second.
Of course, just knowing that isn’t enough. You can dance around for five minutes saying “Now Is All We Have!” and ten minutes later you’re back on the couch staring at the idiot box, running out the clock.
We don’t need a single wake-up call. We need to slap ourselves out of our stupor again and again until being awake and mindful and real is a habit.
NRW has been my wake-up call of choice for years. Whenever I feel myself slipping into a coma, I do some of these techniques and I feel the life-force flowing away from nonsense worry back into my hands, where I can control it.
There’s a lot we don’t have control of. Life has its way with us most of the time.
We didn’t choose to be born, or to be saddled with a mind that worries, and a body that fears.
We don’t choose the trials life puts us through.
But we can choose how we handle them. Do we lie down and play the victim, blaming everything around us but ourselves? It’s a popular and fashionable solution.
Or are we going to stand straight up and march on with dignity and determination, and let those trials do what they’re supposed to do: make us stronger. Make us more real.
If you died today, would you be satisfied with the life you lived? Did you play the game well?
Or did you hang back, just waiting for something to happen that never did?
Is today a good day to die?
The Warrior never goes too long without asking himself that question.
And if the power and intensity of the answer “Yes” doesn’t bring a smile to his face, he knows…he has work to do.
My high school’s rugby team were a rowdy bunch.
They used to tour around Britain and Ireland during Spring and Winter breaks, basically annihilating the competition.
I thought it was weird they would beat teams in countries where rugby is much more popular than in the U.S.
That is, until I heard their kick-off strategy.
Rugby games start with one side drop-kicking the ball, and then both teams scramble for possession. It’s a pretty informal affair, sort of like a bar brawl that starts with someone dropping a lottery ticket.
But everyone on my school’s rugby team was also on the football team, so they all knew how to line up for a football kickoff.
That’s a much more awe-inspiring affair, sort of like a phalanx of Roman legionnaires charging an invading horde. And as it turns out, it’s technically allowed in rugby rules.
So that’s how they introduced themselves to their competition.
It must have been quite a sight (and a little bit of deja vu, come to think of it): the American underdogs putting the British establishment off balance with a demonstration of what must have seemed like sheer insanity.
These were also great rugby players, so they could follow through. But they’d learned it’s much easier to dominate when you already have the momentum going in your direction.
You won’t always have such a show-stopper of a surprise attack to throw your opponent off. But you can always work on making sure he doesn’t throw you off. And to do that, you gotta get Mentally Tough.
In the context of your mental game, your opponent is your own tension and anxiety.
That’s what kills your confidence when you get in front of a crowd, or when your opponent does something unexpected, or when it seems like you’re doomed to lose. And it’s ultimately what beat those poor, flabbergasted British.
You can’t stop competition from being high intensity, nor would you want to. You can’t stop the unexpected from happening, and you can’t make 100% sure you’ll never have to come back from a losing position.
But you can be proactive against the natural human tendency to let those things kill your game.
You have a choice. You can wait until the stress gets to you before you start thinking about Mental Toughness, and let your inner opponent set the tone. Or you can take control and start now, while you’re already feeling pretty good, and get the momentum going in your direction.
Here’s a tip. This is the essence of NRW, and it can be your show-stopper surprise attack against your inner opponent: Don’t try to beat it where it has the power, in your thoughts or in your emotions. You can’t out-think worry, and you can’t out-feel fear.
Hit it where it’s not expecting it, where its real power lies: in the neuromuscular tensions that anchor and fuel your fearful thoughts and feelings. Without the foundation, the rest comes tumbling down.
So hit it, and hit it hard. Because whether you’re battling the outer opponent or the inner one, the best defense is always an insane offense.
Yesterday I gave a session to a long-time private coaching client, Marc.
After chatting a bit, I had him do some warm ups, starting with face stretching.
The face exercise is one of the first things I have any coaching client do. And after years of working together, I still have them do it.
Hell, after six and a half years, I still do it. I did it first thing this morning, lying in bed.
But here’s the thing: You never do the same exercise twice. Every time you do it, it’s different.
Each time, you go a little deeper. Sometimes a LOT deeper. And each time you learn a little bit more about your body, your mind, and the progress you’ve made.
You stretch a new face every day.
That’s what it means to have “beginner’s mind.” Every time is the first time. You never become jaded. You never have to say, “been there, done that.”
And you never have to drag yesterday around with you.
Of course, it helps when the techniques you’re doing make enough impact that each time you do it really IS different. Because YOU’RE different.
And every time you go out into the world, to compete, to train, to dominate, you’re doing THAT for the first time, too.
There’s no “old you” holding you back. Yesterday means nothing. You start from scratch, with infinite potential, every moment.
THAT’s beginner’s mind. And that’s what you need to be a Warrior.
The exercises in the Tension Blaster Workout Series help get you there. And they help you go deeper for as long as you do them.
I started my day with them. And these are some of the same exercises that blew my mind when I started doing them more than 6 years ago. As long as you do them, they keep giving back.
It’s designed for beginners, so don’t worry if you don’t have experience with NRW yet.
And after all, a beginner is the best thing you can be.
By the way, Marc is a Sports Psychologist and manager of a tennis club. Here’s what he has to say about NRW:
“I’ve spent a lot of time working with out tennis pros. One of the key things in athletics is the ability to be relaxed and focused. It’s really the foundation of consistent performance, especially performing under pressure.
I had tried other things to try to get results, and I feel like I still wasn’t getting into it. When I went out to Portland to visit Riley, I really felt a lot of the tension dissipate, almost like you’ll see an animal in the wild shake and release stress. Well, our bodies want to do the same thing.
I’d heard of this idea before, but then to actually experience your body shaking and releasing past traumas is very cool. It’s very straightforward: we have stress stuck in our bodies, and our bodies want to shake and release it. And the exercises help that process.
So for any athlete to do a couple exercises a day, they’re gonna see results. And that’ll speak for itself: the results.”