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The Influence of Self-Talk

July 12, 2020 by  
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We all do it – some of it is very good and some is very negative. I’m talking about all of our self-talk. The good news, as you already know, is that you can somewhat control whether your self-talk is helping or hurting you. And that, my dear followers, is all about your brain and what you choose to let dominate and rule. Sadly, most often, self-talk is negative. It’s hurting you and keeping you from reaching your full potential.

Self -talk should say:

  1. This is something I can do.
  2. I’m so looking forward to this.
  3. I can do this very well.
  4. This is going to make me what I want to be and get me where I want to be.

But self-talk can say:

  1. I can’t do this.
  2. I’m not good enough.
  3. I’m not going to be able to pull this off.
  4. Why do things always happen like this?
  5. I’m afraid I will fail.

As Henry Ford famously said, “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, either way, you’re right!”

Think about this when playing golf. If you think you will hit the ball into the water, you probably will. The body follows the mind. It listens to the self-talk. It believes you. The body says, “Your wish is my command.”

I’ll never forget my self-talk as I was playing in this one tennis tournament. I got to a crucial point where I knew that I could not afford to double-fault. As I hit the net on my first serve, my self-chatter was very negative and said, “Wow, I just can’t double fault here.” Ouch!

What a negative thought and message I sent to my muscles. My mind probably only heard the word “double fault” and that’s exactly what I did. My second serve went long—I pretty much did exactly what I programmed my mind to do. My wish was the body’s command.

The point I’m trying to make is that life is lived mainly inside your head, so you’ve got to know what’s in your mind and how your mind works and the great influence of self-talk!

We all need to understand how the mind works and that you can control the self-talk and the self-chatter. You need to know how to direct the self-talk that’s hurting you and your life and keeping you from your full potential.

I learned a great lesson from that tennis double fault. From the terrible loss that day, I went on to win 4 gold medals at the Huntsman Senior games held each year in southern Utah. Before every match I would have some very positive self-talk with myself, saying things like, “Mark, you have a great serve and a super topspin forehand and a great underspin backhand and you will win this match today!” And yes, I did.

The bottom line is, we all need to practice controlling our self-talk and make it very positive. It’s pretty much all between your ears and mind. Sure, sometimes we will lose but if you are using a ton of positive self-talk, you will find yourself a winner in many, many situations – in sports, business, and relationships. Try it and you will see.

You Can Always Be Ambitious

May 3, 2020 by  
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I was going a little stir crazy with all this time on my hands and missing my social life, but then my thinking was quickly interrupted when I was contacted by an old friend who suggested we get together and play tennis. I said, “Absolutely, but we must be careful and safe.” So, we got together but didn’t touch the tennis ball until we had applied extra layers of disinfectant on our hands.

This friend, who I hadn’t talked to for a long time, is a great guy who had what most people would call a HUGE setback. Regardless of that, he’s a nationwide motivational speaker who plays tennis, golf, and basketball and has won some great national titles. But what was his huge setback, you may ask. Well, many years ago, when he was 22 years old, he told me that he fell off a 40-foot barn roof landing straight up. It paralyzed him from the waist down, but that terrible accident didn’t stop him and his athletic ambitions even though he’s been in a wheelchair ever since.

So I told Jeff Griffin I would love to play some tennis. We played on my home court and, man oh man, was he ever good. The rules are that when you play a person in a wheelchair the ball can bounce twice before your wheelchair opponent hits it. I only get one bounce. However, he didn’t even need that small advantage. He hit the ball very hard, his placement of shots was near perfect, and the way he changes direction in his wheelchair with such speed and quickness was amazing. So, I find myself, a 4 times gold medal winner at the Huntsman Senior games, getting kicked by my friend in a wheelchair.  He beat me 6-3. (We only played one set since he totally wore me out.)

Jeff is an amazing person and has won so many awards that the list is too long for me to write out, but you can look him up on Google and read with amazement what he has done in his life so far. Sadly, most people, or at least many people, would look at such a huge setback like Jeff suffered and pretty much give up. Jeff didn’t let that terrible accident stop him though and, wow, has he ever gone to work on so many parts of his life to make himself better and, sometimes, even the very best!

When I get a little frustrated or disappointed I try to push my mind to think about people like Jeff and say to myself, “Hey, I am not going to let my little setbacks or failures stop me from whatever project or goal I’ve set out to do.” And neither should you!

The Friend Factor

April 19, 2020 by  
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I don’t know about you, but this world stopping virus has pounded into my head how very important and uplifting friends, and socializing in general, is to our lives. I’m sure you are like me, feeling the loss of this huge reduction of face to face socializing with friends, business partners, and even some family, especially right now. I’m sure that it’s not only me that believes keeping up friendships is important to your health and quality of life. I came across an article on the Mayo Clinic website about just how important it is to maintain your friends and social circle.

According to this article friendships can:

  1. Increase your sense of belonging and purpose.
  2. Boost your happiness.
  3. Reduce stress.
  4. Improve your self-worth.
  5. Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss, or death of a loved one.
  6. Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise.

Now, that’s a lot of benefits for something most of us would like to do anyways. Of course, with the COVID19 virus we are suddenly hit with a huge shortage of social encounters that we have probably been taking for granted. So why don’t we, even under normal times, keep up with our friends better? It’s likely because life just gets in the way.

We are constantly drawn away from time with our friends by other priorities such as work, caring for children or elderly parents, or trying to make a dent in that long to do list that is always hanging over our heads. Also, many of us do a lot traveling and even move around the country so sometimes even our well-established friendships start to fade with the distance between us all. And then, sometimes, it’s hard to find the time and even the motivation to go out and make new friends. But that is something that we really cannot afford to not do.  Hey, maybe this virus scare will stimulate us to greatly improve our drive to be closer to our friends and make more of them.  Personally, I am certainly going to pay more attention to my face to face social life and my friends when this thing is over.

When I think of my own life and all my friends, I realize and appreciate, even more, my business of investing in real estate and all the friends I made along the way. Most are still great friends to this day. I also got a huge increase in good new friends from that thing called TENNIS-I love it!!

So, hey… let us all stay positive during this virus thing and make plans to spend more time with our friends when this is over as well as having plans to make new ones!

Keeping Your Mind in the Moment

August 30, 2019 by  
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Some very wise person once said, “Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once.”  I’ve thought about and written quite a lot about this thing called “living in the now”.  I think I keep writing about it because it motivates me to live in the moment more often. As you might have experienced, living in the moment is very hard to stay conscious of and to do on a frequent basis.  But if you concentrate and keep trying to live in the moment, you are likely to do more and more of it.  And yes, I think it’s a great idea to write that down as a goal because, as you probably know, if you commit your goals to paper or on your phone or computer, you are much, much more likely to do it.

In Ernie J. Zelinski’s great book, The Joy of Not Working, under a section titled “Mastering the Moment”, the author says, “In some cultures, a moment can last the entire afternoon. Activities have natural starting and ending times not dictated by the clock. People don’t limit their conversations to fifteen or thirty minutes. Conversations start when they start and end when they end regardless of the number of clocks in the immediately vicinity.”

He goes on to cite a study that I found really surprising, and even a bit shocking. The study and research showed that most couples in North America spend only about 18 minutes a week in real conversation.

Zelinski also noted, “Out of 500 people surveyed by World Tennis magazine in a sex/tennis pool, 54 percent said they think about sex while playing tennis.” Wow, I play a lot of tennis and I don’t think I fit at all in that 54% group. Those tennis players obviously haven’t learned to live in the now, and I am quite certain if they did, they would win a lot more matches. I wonder how many people think about tennis when having sex. I think that might make it much harder to finish the sex round.

Ok, next week I want to write more about Zelinski and give you a few quotes from him and this subject of “living in present moment”, or the way I say it, “living in the great right now”.  I am also, due to feedback from readers, going to move my blog from Friday mornings to Sunday morning. This should give you some time to really ponder the subjects I bring up. So, look for the follow-up to this post next Sunday!

Of Gratitude and Appreciation

August 16, 2019 by  
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A few days ago, after returning from California where I had a wonderful, belated 75th birthday celebration with all my kids and grandkids, I was walking out in front of the airport looking for an Uber driver when suddenly, a lady walked right in front of me, pulling a suitcase on wheels that tripped me and smashed me onto the concrete.

Next thing I knew, I woke up, flat on my back and was looking up at a policeman, a security guard, and about 8 or 10 other people staring down at me asking if I was alright. I finally answered and said that I thought I was okay. They asked if they should call the paramedics, but I said, “No, I think I’m okay.” However, I wasn’t.

Throughout the day, the pain in my left arm and rib cage kept getting worse. So, my wife, Kimberly, drove me to a medical clinic and the x-rays showed a broken rib and severely damaged left shoulder. And to add to my misery, a few days later I had terrible stomach problems with even more pain so that I could hardly get out of bed.

So, what’s the point of this story? Bad things like this can be, and many times are, good lessons that we need to learn from. What is learned, if anything, in cases like this?  It’s fascinating to me that it often takes bad stuff happening to us humans to pound into our brains that thing called gratitude as well as an appreciation for all the good times we have had with few problems — everything from our good health, to our family, friends, finances, and freedom that we have in this great country.

After this latest accident and minor health setback I came across a list that I wrote in my journal on June 27th, 2013. My list was entitled “What I Am Grateful For”. From time to time I read down that list, and it lifts my spirits and my appreciation of what I have, big time.

Here is my list. I hope you also have written or will decide to write your own “Gratitude and appreciation list”. I highly recommend it and be sure to review if from time to time. You will see that it can lift your mind, your spirts and your life to a higher level, especially when you need it most.

I AM SO VERY GRATEFUL FOR …

  • A wonderful, loving wife.
  • A wonderful life.
  • Great kids and grandkids.
  • My beautiful view from our house of the valley and mountains.
  • Super vacations and world travel.
  • Warm and helpful friends.
  • Financial stability.
  • Incredible health … most of the time.
  • A fairly clear-thinking brain.
  • Discovery of the power of “self affirmations”.
  • My super great mentors that helped me so much.
  • The deer and coyotes we’ve seen in our yard.
  • The moose I saw while hiking in the mountains.
  • My wonderful work staff.
  • My thoughts for writing my blog and the positive feedback I receive.
  • A very warm and comfortable bed.
  • Our beautiful Kauai home and time spent there in the winter.
  • A cuddling, warm wife.
  • The great Wimbledon tennis matches I’ve attended.
  • My ex-wife’s love of Kimberly and vice versa.

Again, I hope you go make your own list if you haven’t already. Having boundless gratitude and appreciation, even for the little things in life truly does enhance a person’s life. Do it. You won’t be sorry.

 

Big Brain Boosts

March 15, 2019 by  
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One of my favorite things about the brain is how a new, unique, or novel situation – seeing something totally new or having a new experience – can pump your brain and your body up and suddenly make you feel fantastic. The brain seeks and loves novelty. Novelty really does do great things to our brains. This brain stimulus is what motivated me to travel the world, to see new countries and cities, and to meet new people in different cultures. Even when I’m a bit fearful to visit a rough, semi-dangerous and poor country, like some that I’ve visited in Africa and the Middle East, I push myself to follow the advice in Susan Jeffers’ great book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

When I see and experience all the unique and novel neighborhoods, cities, countries and people in my travels, it gives my brain and life a huge boost. Even our short trip to the Indian Wells tennis tournament last week, watching guys like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, was a good brain booster, partly because we stayed in a new place, in a beautiful big house with friends, met and befriended new people, and drove through unfamiliar areas of the wonderful desert towns of Indian Wells and Palm Springs. Even the super oversized palm trees they have there (they are twice a tall as Hawaiian palms) turned my head and gave me a rush.

You don’t have to go out of the country, or even out of your city, to get a big brain boost from seeing and experiencing new and novel things. Just taking a walk or a drive through a totally new and different part of your city, or going to a big game or competition with new friends (maybe one that features a sport or some big event that you have never seen in person), can perk up your brain.

A big reason I go on so many hikes in the mountains is that I almost always see something novel. Even a totally super twisted tree, or an oversized or undersized deer or elk, will give my brain a rush. And, if I see a bear, yikes … my brain gets a rush but my adrenaline is instantly overloaded too. I don’t like that as much.

The bottom line is, don’t ever let up on seeking out new and different places, people, and experiences if you want to stay excited and turned on by life. Keep your brain and body excited and curious and you may not only live longer, but you will probably be healthier and certainly more fulfilled and content.

One more helpful hint – if you are not already signed up with a travel service like Kayak, Expedia, Hotwire, or Priceline, you should do that inasmuch as they send you many super deals on airlines and hotels. I’ve seen prices as low as $390 round trip to Paris from Salt Lake City and under $200 to Hawaii. Also look at sites like TripAdvisor or the experiences listed on Airbnb to find unique tours and guided experiences doing things and seeing stuff you might never have known existed. By the way, I have just scheduled a trip to Cuba this summer which will be country number 92 that I have visited!

Refilling Your Social Life in a Fulfilling Retirement

February 8, 2019 by  
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The great thing about regular work or a job is that it gives you a good reason to get out of bed each morning and get going, and it is very important when you retire is to set something up that replaces that for you. One way to do that, as I mentioned in last week’s post, is put yourself to work in a way that can better the world.

As you push yourself to get involved with a charity, or whatever it is that you choose, you will find that you can replace what your work gave you in terms of structure and routine with the activities of your new mission. This will give you something to get you out of bed but, just as important, that structure and routine will also give you a new social aspect to your life.

Most of us develop a significant social life that revolves around work, but then, when we retire, this is often lost. So, getting involved in a charity or other organization can replace what you are missing when you leave your job or no longer work. It will do all that while you do a little something to make the world a better place.

Most of us humans really don’t realize how very important our social contacts are until they disappear or are greatly diminished when we retire. It’s not that you won’t know those same people or continue to have great friendships with some of them, but when you’re no longer working together, you are suddenly not nearly as involved in each other’s lives and you don’t see each other nearly so often. Most people will greatly miss the regular social contact if they do not replace it with another purposeful and regular activity that also involves time connecting and interacting with other people.

Each of us will have our own plan but here is what I plan on doing to push myself to create a new routine, structure, and source of social connections in my life that will make me get out of bed every morning and look forward to the day: I would like to teach grade school, high school, and university students in classes on writing, marketing, public speaking, financial methods and strategies, and maybe even tennis, on a regular scheduled time and day. I know quite a bit about all those subjects, and I do love to teach others how to do these things and show them how they can have great success and a huge sense of fulfillment and satisfaction from learning these new skills.

So, my challenge to you is to start thinking about your own retirement and start making plans on what you will do to create routine, structure, and social connections. Make a list now, even if you are many years away from retirement. You can change up that list as things come to you but just being aware of the necessity will help you create a fulfilling plan. You won’t be sorry if you do that now!

The Possible

May 11, 2018 by  
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A few weeks ago, I was at a book signing party by the great basketball legend and good friend, Mark Eaton (who holds the NBA record for the most blocked shots), when I met an incredible man, Jeff Griffin. He was in a wheelchair, the result of a terrible fall he had while painting a barn many years back. But, wow, what a guy. We have since become very good friends. I told him I wanted to feature him in my next blog post and so, in turn, he wrote this:

I met Mark O. at a Mark Eaton event some time ago. His energy and excitement about life, as you all know, is contagious and palpable. Our first encounter was of mutual respect. We sized each other up and quickly knew that we were both cut from the same mold; his being a little more expensive than mine! I consider Mark to be a giant among men and am fortunate enough to call him my friend.

Mark has graciously asked me to share a few words about my journey. I hope you read this post through the lens of how you might be, or were, able to amplify the power and potential within your own life because this story is more about YOU and your life-altering experience than it is about mine!

My dream and my desire are to be a Sherpa of sorts, to move and motivate 1 million people to slay their own demons of doubt and fear, the ones that paralyze them from solving the possible!

My mother named me Jeffrey, but my friends call me Griff. I’m currently in a wheelchair, but not forever! I’ve always dreamed of playing sports on the ‘big stage’! As a kid I envisioned playing college football as a receiver. I played two downs and tasted the sweetness of success and was one-step closer to fulfilling my dream when a construction accident left me broken and paralyzed from the waist down. I was given a life-sentence and was confined to a wheelchair. I was told I would never move my legs, let alone ever walk again. I was devastated but not defeated! Although my back was broken, I could not allow this to shatter my childhood dream.

I’ve learned for myself that pain hurts in any form. Whether it is personal or business; pain still hurts. While the difficult takes time, the impossible takes a little longer. The key is to overcome the pain, which paralyzes us, and slay the demons of doubt and fear one step at a time. It will be difficult but with courage and faith, the impossible will become POSSIBLE!

During those dark days I had a decision to make: I could stay down and quit or get back up and succeed. I chose the latter. “I’m going to walk again someday!” I declared out loud. Until then I’m going to live life to the fullest. As an ordinary man living life from a wheelchair, I’ve accomplished some extraordinary things. I played in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, and am a silver medalist for the USA men’s wheelchair basketball team. I’m also a national champion and a four-time All-Star MVP who played for the Utah Wheelin’ Jazz.

“Jeff is one of my best friends and heroes. Not because of what he went through but because of what went through him that created such resolve and determination.” – Mike Schlappi, Four-time Paralympian gold medalist and motivational speaker.

I play a little tennis and, for a short period, was the number one men’s wheelchair tennis player in the state of Utah. Five years after my accident I won the St. George Marathon – on my first attempt. You will find my name in the Guinness Book of World Records with two world records. I’ve written an award-winning book, I’Mpossible: Desire. Dream. Do., which I consider one of my greatest accomplishments since I got a D- in English and was told that I would never be able to write a coherent sentence. As a part of me giving back, I’d like to offer you a coupon code ‘love’ to get $20 off my book. https://goo.gl/5qyxfD Just cover the S&H!

I believe everyone has the power and potential to accomplish the impossible if they are willing and want to take the proper steps forward. One of those steps, which Mark mentions all the time in his books, is to have a clear and concise plan with written goals. Once you plan your work; then work your plan.

What a fascinating guy Jeff Griffin is and what great words of wisdom he has to offer. There will be more coming from Jeff in my next week’s blog.

The Hardest Challenges

April 20, 2018 by  
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Life sure has its challenges. This past week there has been a lot of doctors’ visits and tests as we try to figure out what is going on with me. It would be easy to let this get me down, and I can’t say that it hasn’t gotten to me at moments, but it is important to stay positive and focus on meeting – and beating – this challenge.

So, while I’m focused on finding answers to my health questions, I thought I’d share with you another story of how I was able to overcome a challenge with the power of positive and what that means for you and for me. This post was written in October 2010:

The Biggest Rush Comes from the Hardest Challenges

Alright, first, I need to warn you that I am on a super unbelievable mental high right now and have been all week. It’s all because I won the Gold at the Huntsman Tennis Tournament. Well, that’s not quite right. It’s because I played the hardest match I’d played in years against a really tough player and even though I’d trained so very hard this year, I got to a point in the last game when I just wasn’t sure I could go on, but I pushed myself just a little harder and finally eked out that last point I needed and won the gold! Yes, I won the gold last year too but the competition was nothing like it was this year. It was because I had to work so hard and it was such a difficult game this year, that the win was many, many times more exhilarating and satisfying.

This whole experience reminds me of what I was trying to get across in Chapter 9 of my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living” where I talk about the guy who goes out and shoots a perfect golf score the very first time he played. And then he does it again and again and realizes that there is very little, if any, satisfaction from doing so well at something he didn’t have to work at. Well that story is very much the opposite of what I did and how I felt.

This year I trained so much more than I had last year, taking lessons from a couple of great pros, Clark Barton and Jason Newell, as well as putting in more time on the ball machine and playing more matches. And yet my opponent, Michael Murphy, still hit back every ball and he could run as well as I could. I even began thinking that I couldn’t beat this guy but I pushed those negative thoughts out of my mind and tried to take the match one point at a time even as my body was screaming out for some rest and relief. And it worked. Positive thinking, taking it one small step at a time, and all that hard, even painful work, paid off leaving me with an immense feeling of true accomplishment.

Of course, while I was in the game, it was hard to feel that what I was going through was worth it, but I’ve done this enough to know that it usually is. And it so was. I know, too, that I wouldn’t still be riding this high if it hadn’t been so tough to win and if I hadn’t worked so hard at it. That’s the lesson here–The hardest work reaps the most satisfying rewards.

Just remember that next time you feel like giving up, bowing out, or taking the easy road. Just keep going, doing the best you possibly can. You’ll accomplish what you’re after and not only will it feel more than worth it when you do, it will make give you the energy and optimism to reach for that next great thing and get it.

 

The Key for a Longer, Healthy Life

January 12, 2018 by  
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I thought I was in great shape and looked pretty darn good now at almost 74 years old. Then I went to my favorite Kauai tennis club last week and played tennis with this old friend, Ken, who looks like he is 55 or 60 years old and plays a great game of tennis. But would you believe this guy, who is in super great shape, out on the court with me, is 87 years old? You’d be shocked if you saw him and he is not slowing down at all.

Ken inspires me to keep moving and, yes, I set some more new year’s exercise resolutions including playing more tennis with Ken and many other friends. I think most people know that exercise–even moderate exercise–is good for your health. According to a one large study, 75 minutes of vigorous, or 150 minutes of moderate, exercise per week extends life by 3.4 years. That might not seem like a lot of extra years, but that’s just the average and you and I might be able to push that to 10 or 15 years like Ken has. Plus remember that most likely those extra years are going to be so much more enjoyable because your physical and mental health will be much better.

And hey, 150 minutes a week is only about 22 minutes a day and if you are anything like me, you can easily push yourself to do a little more than that each day if you have the proper motivation. As I mentioned in another post a while back, one of the best gifts my wife ever gave to me was a little simple “Fitbit” that counts all my steps among other things. The recommended goal is 10,000 steps a day. However, that little device has had me competing with myself to continuously increase my daily steps to the point that I now shoot for 20,000 steps a day. That is more than 3 hours of walking, but it is not hard to spread it out over my day and, I have to say, I love it.

By the way, if you want to increase the chances of reaching your exercise goals, it’s a very wise move to tell your spouse or a good friend about your goal and then encourage them to remind you and ask you how you are doing with those goals. They can basically act as your coach and prod you along but mostly, you know they know and so you will feel accountable to them.

There is another big health related benefit that comes with working out when you do it via a game such as tennis or golf. That benefit is the social interaction you get during and after the game. Keeping up an active social life is another proven life extending way to keep you healthy.

So, I do sincerely hope you will be motivated to set exercise goals and never forget the many benefits you’ll be receiving. Write those goals down and get someone to remind you and push you. Next week I’ll want to expand on this subject because we could all use a little extra push, even me!

 

 

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