Mindfulness Coach: The Secret Weapon of Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and More

George Mumford may not be a household name, but if you've ever followed basketball then you've likely seen his work. If you've seen the 3-peat by the Bulls, the Lakers' championships, Michael Jordan's famous championship-winning jump shot, Kobe Bryant's magic, or even Shaquille O'Neil driving the lane, then you've seen the tip of his iceberg. He's the mindfulness coach and secret weapon behind Phil Jackson and many of the most successful NBA players and teams in the sport. At first glance, you'd never think George Mumford, with his NBA-like stature, giant hands, and strong yet calming presence, would be considered very woo-woo. Yet when he began teaching Mindfulness to Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippin and the Chicago Bulls, he couldn't even use the word mindfulness. It was considered too out there. Instead he had to be a chameleon; carefully choosing words that wouldn't scare the players.

Yet these days, mindfulness is hot, and it's all over the place. You can read it in the subway, your favorite newspaper, such as the Boston Globe, Washington Post, or New York Times, you can watch it on 60 Minutes, or even find it in your Costco magazine. The term's shed its woo-woo pedigree, and it's become something of a household word. But what is mindfulness, how do you live it, and what does it mean for you? These are questions George Mumford set about to answer in his beautiful new book, The indful Athlete. It's a story in part of Mumford's own redemption, of his personal struggle with a powerful addiction and severe negative self-talk issues, or what he refers to as "stinkin' thinkin". He shares how he turned it all around, has been clean for 31 years, and has taught what he's learned.
His book is also a guide to living mindfully 24/7, not just when sitting on the cushion. It's not so much a day-to-day, how-to manual, but general guidelines we can put it into practice, and reminders to help us live more from the heart and with integrity and to go beyond the illusion of separateness--where we're all interconnected.

In college George wanted to play for the NBA, ironically, his roommate was the incredible Dr. J himself. But while Dr. J went on to greatness on the court, George struggled badly with injuries, pain and later addiction. It wasn't until George found mindfulness, that'd he'd make an equally impressive mark on the game. Years later, after studying mindfulness under Jon Kabat-Zinn, author Wherever You Go, There You Are,and founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine at the University of Massachusetts, George began teaching mindfulness to a program for prison inmates. While there, George discovered how he could help inmates take triggers that once caused incredible anxiety and even violent melt-downs, and flip them on their heads, so these same triggers helped them become quiet, introspective, and even more peaceful.

During this time, Phil Jackson approached George to work with the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were a mess, they'd lost their star player, Michael Jordan, who'd gone to baseball, and they couldn't pull it together. George stepped up to the plate and helped bring a team together. He worked with Phil Jackson on the idea of five fingers, one breath and one mind, in essence community building, or as George puts it "putting the we before the me, while nurturing the me"--where each individual brings his own skills, but let's go of his ego, the entire team works together as one. The team improved, and of course, Michael Jordan came back. George Mumford worked closely with Jordan, as he has with Kobe and many of the other NBA greats. He helped Michael learn to eliminate distractions, to take game-winning perfect jumpers and The Shot in the 1989 playoffs we all remember so well.

According to George, Michael Jordan said "that Zen Buddhist stuff" really works! But he didn't teach Michael to push distractions away, but instead to embrace them, to become fully aware, noticing and observing everything around him, and then to let it all go; stepping out of his own way and taking the perfect shot. We all want to take the perfect shot in life. But we're often too distracted. Cell phones, billboards, the internet, cars honking, kids screaming, you name it, we're constantly pulled left and right. But it's actually not much different than Jordan. Pressure, sponsors, thousands of screaming fans, guys yelling, bumping and sweating, and him needing to quiet the mind, let go of it all, and take that perfect shot. George Mumford shows you how to do this. How to let go of it all, so you can live better and thrive in the present moment. His book is filled with tips, reminders and guidance to help you on your way. But it's more than that, it's a guidebook on being a better person, by being present and living truly mindfully and with integrity.

The Mindful Athlete starts with his unabashed story or addiction and having his "ass on fire". To Mumford, mind, body, and spirit are all inseparable. He believes we all have a divine spark or divinity within, whether you call it Christ-Consciousness, our Buddha Nature, or simply Divine Nature. And like Michelangelo, chipping away at the marble, by practicing mindfulness and becoming more aware, we can expose the beauty and greatness that is within each one of us. Through mindfulness he hopes you'll discover something sacred inside of yourself, and live with greater joy, love, and compassion.
Whoops, "compassion" is one word Mumford still won't use with his players--too "woo-woo" he'd say! Instead he might go, "Don't be hatin' on em!" Woo-woo or not, compassion is needed today more than ever, and perhaps mindfulness can help bring us there. Through Mumford's book, we can all learn to be Mindful Athletes in our day-to-day lives.

--Adapted from article by best-selling author Michael Sandler. Together with his wife Jessica Lee, they've started an inspiring podcast Inspire Nation!!! with Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee 

In The June 2016 Issue Of The Coaching and Leadership Journal

Here is some of what you will find in the June 2016 issue of The Coaching and Leadership Journal.

·         Who is behind the Denver Broncos’ culture 
·        What really matters
·        5 ways reading makes you a better leader
·        The energy of decision making
·        Leadership Profile—Dave Pietramala
·        Tips for coaching today’s players
·        Assistant Coaches Code
·        Three costly coaching mistakes
·        Mental skills of successful athletes
·        Networking 101
·        Chip Kelly’s keys to practice
·        And Much More!

"The Coaching and Leadership Journal is a great resource! 
--Ken Mannie, Head Strength/Conditioning Coach, Michigan State University
Joining the growing list of impressive subscribers that already includes both the NCAA's men's and women's all-time winningest hockey coaches, Illinois all-time winningest high school football coach, the 2014 NCAA champion Florida State women's soccer program, the Michigan State football strength program and many more. 

Our subscribers realize that for less than most people’s monthly cable bill they can get an entire year of essential information delivered to them that make them better leaders, coaches and people. We believe it's no coincidence that our subscribers are some of the most successful people in the profession!

The Coaching & Leadership Journal 
Written specifically for busy leaders, the Coaching and Leadership Journal gives you the latest strategies in a concise, quick-read format.
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Will Smith's Rules for Success.

Newsweek called him “the most powerful actor in Hollywood” and is the most bankable star worldwide according to Forbes. He’s worth over $250 million. He’s Will Smith and here are his ten rules for success:
  1. Don’t listen to the little man. Don’t let other people tell you what you can and what you can’t do. Don’t let their assumptions stop you from doing what you love or what you think is best for you. Other people will always try to stop you if you decide to do something that’s different than what they are doing, because that’s how society works. Take charge of your life don’t let others make your decisions, if you believe in something, take the leap of faith and see where that leads you – if you fail, good – you gained valuable experience; if you succeed, well you succeeded. Period.

  2. Where you are isn’t where you are going to be. “If you don’t like how things are, change it! You’re not a tree.” – Jim Rohn. There’s an Arab proverb that states that you should write the bad things that happen to you in the sand, so that they can be easily erased from your memory. Your past doesn’t define you, and where you are is just temporary. If you are feeling stuck, it’s time to rewire your brain and focus on the bright future ahead of you.

  3. Make a choice. You can’t make a difference in your life until you make a decision. Just decide what is going to be, who are you going to be and how you are going to do it- that’s the first step. We are who we choose to be.

  4. Have a purpose. When you discover and live true to your life purpose in the highest possible way, your soul will “sing” in a way you’ve never “seen” before. It’s a feeling you’ll know when you realize it. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you do. As long as you wish to live a more meaningful and conscious life, you need to have a life purpose.

  5. Be great. “Greatness is not this wonderful, esoteric, elusive, god-like feature that only the special among us will ever taste – you know it’s something that truly exists in all of us. It’s very simple, this is what I believe and I’m willing to die for it. Period. It’s that simple. And that’s all I need to know, so from there you do what you need to do.” --Will Smith

  6. Commit. You will absolutely never succeed if you don’t stay committed to your decisions. Never.

  7. Don’t be outworked. “The majority of people who aren’t getting the places they want or aren’t achieving the things that they want in are usually getting out-hustled. It’s usually based on missing crucial opportunities. If you stay ready, you don't have to get ready.

  8. Work on your skills. The separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, who have dreams, who want to do things. Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft. Most people see the outcome, they don’t see the hours that has gone into it, they don’t see the hustle – they think it’s about talent, but that’s not the case.

  9. Let fear motivate you. F.E.A.R – ‘Forget Everything And Run‘ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’ The choice is yours. It’s not easy to face your fears and push through them, but it’s essential in order to succeed in life.

  10. Be amazing at what you do. You don’t have to be amazing at first, but if you follow all these tips – you will become amazing at your craft. And from that point on, you will be unstoppable.


Dream Killing Excuses

  • There’s Always Tomorrow. There’s only going to be so many tomorrows in your life time. Can you really afford to waste another day on this excuse? You know that starting tomorrow is going to have a smaller advantage than starting today, and if you’re happy to tell yourself that ‘there’s always tomorrow’ now, then it’s likely you’ll have no problem doing so again in the future.

  • I’m Too Old. A lot of people think they are too old to achieve their dreams, and that it’s too late for them to begin working towards them. The truth is that no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to do something you love, or work towards your dreams. Age is just a number and not a limit on what you can potentially achieve.

  •  I Have No Idea Where to Start. We’ve all been there at some point or another. We’re not quite sure where to actually start and get the ball rolling. It can be difficult to know what to do when beginning on something new, but you shouldn’t let that put you off. The general thoughts are that you start small, and work your way up, so the less you actually know, then perhaps the smaller you should start to begin with.

  • The Timing Is Not Right. There is never going to be a perfect time to do what you want to do. You just have to make it the perfect time, by actually starting something and putting 100% of your effort into it. People who wait for the perfect time never start working towards their dreams. Life just sort of passes them by, and 20 years down the line they will be saying exactly the same thing they did before. Create the perfect time, don’t wait for it!


Five Excuses That Put Your Motivation On Hold

Excuses are the the number one cause to the death of dreams. People will definitely give an excuse to themselves or someone else at some point in their life. And for many people, it may be that these excuses occur daily. Below are five excuses that kill motivation and put your motivation on hold.
  1. I’m Too Tired. Number 1 on the list the excuse of ‘I’m too tired’.It’s not really the fact that they’re too tired to do something on that day; it’s the fact that they’re simply putting off starting whatever it is they want to do, because they know they will fail. Sometimes they’ll have started, but slowly get bored or just want to give up all together; and that’s when the excuse of being too tired begins to pop into their head.
  2. I Don’t Have Time. It’s true that you can’t do everything in one day, but you can always make time for the things that are important to you. So many of us will waste time, either looking at internet or sitting around watching T.V, and yet still tell ourselves that we don’t have the time in the day to work on our dreams or our passions.
  3. I Can’t Do it. The fear of not being able to do something stops many people before they’ve even started, which is the worst possible thing that could happen. We all have doubts that we might be unable to do something, but the thing is, you will never know until you have actually pushed yourself to the limits. Don’t let fear cripple you. You only live once, so believe in yourself and go after what you want.
  4. I Can’t Afford it. This is a very interesting excuse, as somethings that you want to do and have in your life, you won’t be able to afford right now. That’s the point. The point of having a dream is to strive for something you wish to have in the future. You won’t be able to afford it right now, but you don’t need to be able to in order to get started. You can always begin somewhere.
  5. People Will Think I’m Weird. Learn not to care too much about what others think and just do what makes you happy, and be proud of it. Don’t live your life in fear of what people may think of you. Just do what you love and share it with the world.

Grow a Pair: How to Stop Being a Victim and Take Back Your Life, Your Business, and Your Sanity

The Magic of Thinking Big

The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz is a project of thinking 5 times bigger of yourself than what you think currently, “Remind yourself regularly that you are better than you think you are”.Easy and interesting to read David explains how your mind works and how you can harness it to achieve success instead of allowing it to torture you. Here are some of the main points I took away from The Magic of Thinking Big:
  • Believe You Can Succeed And You Will. When you have an “I-can-do-it” attitude, the how-to-do-it traits develops in your mind. Believing that you WILL succeed is the one of the basic and essential traits of successful people.Schwartz says that it is great to admire and respect the leader; study and observe them. However do not worship them. Aim to be better than them.
  • How you see yourself, is how others see you. Think success, not failure. Remind yourself regularly that you are better than you think you are. Believe Big. The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief.
  • Cure Yourself of Failure Disease. The common excuses people make are; age (I´m too old/old), health (I´m not well), intelligence (I´m not smart enough) and luck (I´m not a lucky enough).When it comes to your health be genuinely grateful about your health, it is better to wear out then rust out. We sometimes underestimate our own brain power, and overestimate others. Don’t. The ability to think is much greater than the ability to memorize facts. Eliminate the habit of making excuses; see reasons why you can succeed. The right attitude and one arm will beat the wrong attitude and two arms every time.
  • Build Confidence and Destroy Fear. Action cures fear. Indecision, delays on the other hand, feed fear. You should deposit only positive thoughts into your memory.
  • Think and Dream Creatively. Big people monopolize listening. Small people monopolize talking. Top leaders spend more time requesting advice than they do in giving it.
  • You Are What You Think You Are. As a leader the way you think towards your job determines how those around you think towards their jobs. Look important. Think your work is important. Sell yourself-to yourself.
  • Manage Your Environments. The company you surround yourself with will surely have an impact on your success. It is up to you to surround yourself with people who uplift you and whose presence calls forth your best.Analyse your crew, filter out the negativity, and dedicate time to relationships. People who tell you that it cannot be done are usually unsuccessful people.
  • Make Your Attitudes Your Allies. Attitudes are mirrors of the mind, they reflect thinking. When our attitude is right, our abilities reach a maximum of effectiveness and good results inevitably follow.Grow three attitudes:
    • The attitude of “I´m activated.” Results come in proportion to enthusiasm invested. Dig in deeper when you find yourself disinterested in something, learn more about it. This sets off enthusiasm.
    • The attitude of “You are important." People do more for you when you make them feel important. Practice appreciation; practice calling people by their names and don´t hog the glory, invest it instead.
    • The attitude of “Service first.”Put service first and money takes care of itself. Give people more than they expect to get.
  • Turn Defeat Into Victory. Study your setbacks to pave your way to success. Have the courage to be your own constructive critic, stop blaming luck. Blend persistence with experimentation and remember – there is a good side in every situation.
  • Think Like A Leader. Achieving high-level success requires the support and the cooperation of others. Schwartz gave various principles on leadership.Trade minds with the people you want to influence, try to understand them. “Be-Human” in dealing with others , show that you put others before yourself. Think progress, believe in progress, and push for progress. Take time out to confer with yourself.