Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Green Bay Packers: A Season of Ups and Downs

“You never go into a season and think you are not going to face adversity.   Everybody stepped up and played the way they were supposed to play, and that’s what you have to have. The comfort level hasn’t been big since March, and it’s not going to change. We have four more quarters to go.”
--Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, discussing an up-and-down season in which the Packers had to win their final regular season game to qualify for a sixth-seed in the NFC.  

After a season of setbacks and failures, the Packers have now made an improbable run to the Super Bowl and are a slight favorite to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.  They have beaten the Philadelphia Eagles and Michael Vick; the Atlanta Falcons, the #1 seed in the NFC;  and the Chicago Bears on the Bears' frozen home field.  The remain standing while many other NFL favorites were sent home. 

Their season has been one  in which mental toughness, perseverance, and emotional resilience have been needed at times when their playoff survival was on the line.  They possessed the poise and tenacity that championship teams need to move forward.  

Perhaps their season has resembled your business or personal year. How well did you anticipate adversity? What kind of resilience did you need? How well  did you bounce back?       

What about this year?  Do you or your team have the ability to deal with adversity and failure?  Do you display extreme strength and emotional resilience to tolerate pressure and bounce back from setbacks?  Are you able to persist through difficulties?  Can you accept criticism and constructive feedback?   Do you have the determination to persevere?  

Are you willing to pay the price to achieve success?  Do you display the toughness to endure the pain, suffering and hard work that brings results? Do you have the mental toughness to withstand the most difficult of circumstances?  Do you have a way to learn from your mistakes?  Do you have the expectation that things should be smooth and free from difficulty?    Are you prone to whining and complaining about how hard things are?  

Perhaps you need to readjust your expectations and build up your tolerance for adversity, like the Green Bay Packers.  

Excerpts from the New York Times (January 25, 2011). 

For more on mental conditioning, click on The Handbook of Peak Performance.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Green Bay Packer Aaron Rodgers Thinks He Is In The Zone

"This probably was my best performance -- the stage we were on, the importance of this game.  It was a good night."
"I just got into a rhythm, not only throwing the football but moving around in the pocket.  This was probably my best performance. I think the stage that we were on, the importance of the game, so yeah, it was a good night."
"It was one of those nights.  I felt like I was in the zone."
--Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers' quarterback, who lead the team to an upset of the NFC's #1-seeded football team. 

In the Packers' 48-21 blowout of the Atlanta Falcons, he completed 31 of 36 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. His quarterback rating was 136.8. His 86.1 completion percentage was the fifth best in NFL playoff history.

During the game which put the Packers in the NFC Championship Game and one win away from an appearance in the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl wide receiver Greg Jennings said Rodgers shot him a nasty glare after Jennings slipped on a route when the score was 42-21. The message, as Jennings explained later, was clear: The Packers aren't about to let up at this time of the year. 

"He was pretty perturbed, but that's his mindset right now," Jennings said. "It's scary when you have a guy who's approaching things like that."

"It's a physical and mental phenomenon. A chemical cocktail floods through your body as glycogen, adrenaline and endorphins. And it's a feeling of a purposeful calm. When you have this feeling, you feel that nothing can go wrong. You feel in control. And you are completely immersed in the moment."

Jim Fannin, sports psychologist.  

The body reacts to stress by rushing blood to the brain, giving the individual a heightened sense of clarity. The blood also goes to the large muscles to improve quickness, strength and agility. Rational thought takes a backseat to the subconscious and intuition often takes over.

"I've coached singular athletes like golfers and tennis players who can get in that mind-set but when you're on a team, with many people in that mental and physical state, it's contagious. If you notice, most of the athletes that struggle with retirement are the ones that have not only had personal success, but they've also had team success," says Fannin.

"You're in a foxhole, you're in a zone state with somebody. You're still friends with that guy, if you both survived the thing, 50 years later. You have a common bond that you shared that you just can't replicate. And words can't decribe what you experienced. That's a mental dance that hard to replicate in business. It can be done in relationships. But those things take time."

"No one has been able to define what it means, but everyone knows it exists. It's when everything - the physical, the mental, and the emotional - comes together. Everything seems to click."

-- Walt Thompson, professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University.

Athletes refer to the state of being in the zone when everything comes together, when one does great things, and when mind and body are able to stretch to the limit to accomplish greatness. This state involves total immersion and focus, such that distractions and "noise" are absent. Often, at times of peak performance, athletes find themselves "in the zone." For basketball players the basket seems bigger and wider. They can't miss. For baseball players, they report being able to see the baseball bigger, more clearly and in great detail. Football players describe a feeling of being invincible with the ability to run all day through their opponents without being touched. In the zone, your confidence is high, worry is non-existent.

Mental conditioning helps athletes to improve confidence, increase focus, prevent distractions and manage emotions in order to get in the zone.  To get more information about mental conditioning, check out The Handbook of Peak Performance.  

Excerpts from ESPN.com (January 17, 2011).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Auburn Wins the BCS National Championship, War Eagle!

Auburn and Oregon Display Innovation To Get to the BCS Championship Game

The future is now.  

Auburn defeated Oregon 22-19 to win the BCS national championship last night.  The game was not the high scoring track meet many predicted.  However, it did provide many exciting moments and a view of what college football and professional football will be like in the future.  This season each team became known for innovation and had designed two of the most cutting-edge offenses in college football.  This innovation led to their epic meeting in Glendale, Arizona for the title.  

Auburn's Offensive Coordinator Guz Malzahn, who was also innovative when he was at Arkansas, was responsible for making the now famous "wildcat" formation into something that even NFL teams were willing to emulate. At Auburn, Malzahn's offense scheme has fluorished and led to a record-breaking season.  This offense also made the most of Cam Newton's skills and help him to win the Heisman Trophy as the most outstanding college football player of the year.   

Due to his innovative mentality, Auburn head coach Chizik was hired after he compiled a losing 5-19 record in two seasons at Iowa State.  Chizik made the most of his second chance, with the help of Malzahn's innovative offensive schemes, and is now a championship coach.

Oregon's head coach Chip Kelly designed a fast-paced offense perfected by equally fact-paced practice sessions.  NBA teams have studied Kelly's offense because it is so cutting edge. Using blown-up pictures pasted on poster boards that are used for game-time signals in his highly risk-taking and  innovative play calling, Kelly has developed a program that has risen to the top of the college football world.    

Now is his second season at Oregon, Kelly was given a chance by then Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti, and he made the most of it with his cutting-edge offensive formations, schemes, and game plans.

These successful college football programs are models for innovation and creativity.  

How is your organization or business using innovation, creativity and risk-taking to rise to the occasion?  

Do you foster an environment of innovation?  Do you hire others that have an innovative approach?  Will you rise to the top of your industry like Oregon and Auburn through cutting-edge thinking and execution?

Will you be able to unleash your teams' talent for a championship-worthy performance?  


Sunday, January 02, 2011

San Antonio Spurs Look to Improve Defense

"I don't think we've changed anything specifically. We just come out, good focus, good game plans and just execute them. That's the kind of team we're going to need to be."

--Tim Duncan, discussing the San Antonio Spurs' concern about their defense despite having started 29-4 this season.

The Spurs' start is one of the 10 best in NBA history. However, it is a long season and many challenges await.

Is your team focused? Do you strive to improve even when enjoying success? How well do you plan? How closely and precisely do you execute your plans?

The Spurs have four NBA championships by using their system and refining it for years. Can you show the same commitment or success?

Excerpt taken from espn.com (January 2, 2011).

Location:Decatur, GA