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Below you will find articles about all things sport and performance psychology.

You're grounded! Four tips for staying out of trouble, when life gets you into it.

By: STEVE GRAEF
January 10, 2020

Remember when you were kid and your parents would tell you “you’re grounded” after you did something wrong?It was the worst, right?Having been condemned to a day spent locked in your room without video games, friends, or even your phone. It was punishment.Well, now perhaps it’s time to release that trauma and reclaim “you’re grounded” from something negative and unwanted to something positive and needed. You see in a turbulent, stressful, overwhelming world, we need breaks.We need times to quarantine, de-stimulate, de-tach, and unplug ourselves.We need to actually learn how to, dare I say it, ground ourselves.


Grounding is an important skill in the world of mindfulness as a way to de-stress.Taking a few moments to ground one’s self has been shown to calm a trauma flashback, manage a panic attack, recalibrate a frantic mind, and offer a break from a busy day.Rather than continually drowning in the turbulent waves of life, learn how to keep your head above water and your feet on the earth.Here are a few strategies to ground…yourself.


Go to your room. You can ground yourself by proactively identifying your grounding spot.Maybe that’s a cozy chair in your office, a spot in your house, etc.Whenever you find yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed or stressed out, you can go to that place, close your eyes, and notice all the good vibes, feelings, and sensations associated with being in that spot.


Blow it off. One of the easiest ways to calm an anxious mind and chill an amped up body is to connect with the breath.Connecting with the breath deliberately chills out the nervous system, as well as focuses the mind.Connecting with the breath involves inhaling slowly through the nose as though you are smelling a pizza.Filling the lungs from the bottom of the belly to the top of the chest.Holding the breath for a moment.Then finally exhaling out of the mouth by imagining that you are gently blowing out a small candle.


Talk back.In this strategy you talk back to yourself by identifying five things you see, four things you feel, three things you hear, two things you smell, one thing you can taste. Doing so will fill your mind with present focused content instead of the overwhelming chatter of stress.


Throw a tantrum.Sometimes sitting and focusing your mind can be hard.Instead, you might need a little more movement, a little more action.An effective strategy then might be to get up and move.Flail your arms, shake your legs, shimmy your body, and make some noise.


Conclusion.Grounding yourself doesn’t have to be a punishment.Instead it can save you from losing control or falling prey to a busy day.Next time life throws a bit of trouble your way, rather than getting caught up in it, take a lesson from your parents, and ground yourself.


Roll the D.I.C.E.

By: STEVE GRAEF
January 9, 2020

People sometimes refer to life being a game.I don’t disagree.Life is like a sporting game, a video game, and even casino games. There are some rules you have to abide by, stages through which you progress, luck that can be on your side or seemingly against you, and there are often obstacles to be navigated and problems to be solved.As such, if you want to “win” at this game, you better have some strategies in place.In today’s article I want to offer a problem solving strategy that follows the acronym, D.I.C.E….let’s roll.


Diagnose the problem.In order to solve a problem, you need to first know what the problem is. Assess and be clear about the obstacle that is in front of you.That clarity is going to make it much easier to overcome in the future.Consider the difference between “something is wrong with my car” verse “I have a flat tire.” From a problem diagnosis perspective, the flat tire diagnosis makes it so much more likely a resolution can be identified.You have a problem?First, know what it is.


Investigate options. After you have identified the problem, now is the opportunity to go buck wild with possible solutions. During this stage there may be some rules you have to abide by.A budget you can’t go over.Legal or ethical concerns.Time constraints.This is OK, however you want to be careful about pre-conceived limitations getting in the way of your investigation.Instead, you may be able to flex your innovative or creative muscles.You can think outside the box.Go crazy.During this stage there is no right and no wrong, there are just ideas.Here you can put all your cards out on the table.


Choose the best one.Now that you have a whole bunch of ideas in front of you, you can go through a process of pros and cons.You can place your rules onto them and consider which is going to be the best decision.Keep in mind sometimes there isn’t a perfect solution.Perhaps you’re choosing between multiple rights.Or you’re trying to identifying the best wrong or least damaging. Go ahead and take your pick.


Enact and Evaluate.Finally, it is time to enact your decision.Keep in mind a decision isn’t the right decision unless you make it the right decision.Putting the decision into action and following through in an appropriate way is what leads to resolution.Here you may identify a plan of attack, collect additional resources, etc.This is where the rubber meets the road.After implementation you will also have the opportunity to evaluate your decision.Did what you put in place work?Did it lead to a resolution? Put your idea into action and see how it does.


Conclusion. This problem solving strategy probably seems super elementary.However, sometimes the most effective tactics are also the simplest and easiest to remember.Basic strategies done well and consistently can win at a lot of games and I’m amazed at how often people freeze when they encounter problems or crumble in the face of adversity.No more I say.Don’t leave resolutions to chance any longer.Instead, the next time you encounter an obstacle in the way of your path, take a deep breath and roll the D.I.C.E.


Meaning Matters

By: STEVE GRAEF
January 7, 2020

A double rainbow! What does it all mean!? People like meaning. Most of us seek the purpose for the various quests we find ourselves on. And when meaning or purpose eludes us we get a bit rattled. We want to know the meaning of life, a layoff, a let down, a loss. So meaning manages. Purpose propels. Here are a few reasons why.


Meaning is motivational. According to Self-determination Theory one of the major reasons why meaning is important is because it leads to engaging and sustaining desired behaviors. For instance, if someone start’s exercising because a doctor told him he had to, that exercise behavior might not last long. However, if this person not only heeds doc’s advice, but also deepens it by identifying a purpose that he wants to remain on earth awhile to see his children grow, that would strengthen the motivational meaning behind his exercise behavior. It’s going to be more difficult to not do that workout if that purpose is attached it. Why? Because meaning is motivational.


Meaning is inspirational. One of the key strategies for any organization or team going through changes is to connect to the reasons why. Perhaps by going back to the group’s mission or vision. Going back to this foundation can elicit a sense of greater meaning and purpose behind the changes, which can inspire and influence others to get behind the decision. In Simon Sinek's book “Start with Why” he details the importance of leading off such decisions with a strong case of “why.” This case should have a heavy dose of meaning and purpose. Why? Cause meaning and purpose inspires.


Meaning is aspirational. To aspire is to direct one’s hopes towards achieving something. Hope is a very powerful emotion and can help humans manage many of life’s realities, including suffering. Such is the case in the famous book, by Viktor Frankl. In this book, Frankl is faced with the incredibly harsh realities of a nazi death camp. Rather than succumbing to the doom and gloom that could have easily filled his mind, body, and spirit during such a heinous period, he instead choose to find purpose and meaning in his circumstances and reminded himself of what he needed to do each day to survive. His deliberate enacting of a purpose filled day, helped him manage his suffering, which lead to his survival. Meaning helps keep you going because meaning is aspirational.


Conclusion. Regardless of whatever life pursuit we are on, there are times where we need to do something, change something, or deal with something. How can you use meaning to your advantage? If you are a coach, choreographer, agent, manager, how can you apply meaning to enhance action, inspire change, and manage suffering in yourself, as well as in your team members? Meaning matters, will you try it?


Taking the "ass" out of assertiveness

By: STEVE GRAEF
January 8, 2020

There’s the old adage that if you’re not controlling your day, someone else is. As high performers your time can already be fairly limited and it is likely that people are in higher demand for it. As such, one obstacle high performers have to learn is how to manage their time more effectively. One way to manage one’s time more effectively is learning to do less by saying “no” more. Doing so can be easier said than done, though. Many of us are people pleasers or just want to fill the day as much as possible to remain productive. For us, saying no can be particularly challenging and often we feel bad for letting down, disappointing, or coming across as harsh to others. Fret no longer. Below are five tips for taking the “ass” out of assertiveness.


Be Concise. Less is more when it comes to saying no. There is no law stating that you have to give a rationale for why you are making a decision to do or not do something. Though it may be the expectation of the other, it is not a requirement. As such, succinctly saying no can get the job done without talking yourself into a white lie or a weak argument. Be concise.


Show Conviction. Often times we can beat around the bush when saying no. This leaves open the opportunity for the other person to argue your point and convince you to go along with what they want. Not good. Instead, show a little strength. You don’t have to scream your decision from the mountain top or be a prick about it. But, stating your decision in a straightforward manner shows strength. A decision communicated with strength gets argued against less. Show conviction.


Practice Courtesy. Again, just because you’re saying no doesn’t mean you are, or need to be, a bad person. You’re simply not agreeing to do something that’s being asked of you. Usually there is no crime in that. Though layering your concise, convicted response with a bit of courtesy can go a long way. For instance, starting your response with “I really appreciate the invite…”, “I know I may be perfect for this project…”, “I understand I am needed for this meet and greet…”. Demonstrating an understanding and appreciation for where the offer is coming from can help make your “no” response a little easier to digest. Practice courtesy.


Use the Clock. Despite the helpful tips above, you might still be someone that tends to commit in the moment. It’s too habitual and it’s too tough to say no when asked directly. That’s ok, just buy yourself some time. By saying something like “let me get back to you tomorrow or later this afternoon” it gives you time to craft your deliberate response instead of just reacting in the moment. Time isn’t always on our side, but in this case it is. Use the clock.


Consider Compromise. Lastly, not every request has to end with a no. Assertiveness can also mean adjusting the initial request to something that fits YOUR needs a bit more. We don’t have to accept the first request. Maybe you do want to agree to do something, but only if the details are altered a bit. For instance, maybe you will help that person move if it is a little later in the day, instead of first thing in the morning. Assertiveness doesn’t have to push people away, it can actually bring them closer. Consider compromise.


Conclusion. In closing, pat yourself on the back. You are someone that people want involved with. You are reliable. You are equipped. You re sought after. As such, people ask you to do things. However, if you are not careful you can be taken advantage of or start to lose the mastery and control over your own day. And it’s your day that is important and is going to help lead you to your goals. Find a bit more moderation and balance in your life by learning to say no. This doesn’t mean you’re an ass, it just means you’re assertive.


Meaning Matters

By: STEVE GRAEF
January 7, 2020

A double rainbow! What does it all mean!? People like meaning. Most of us seek the purpose for the various quests we find ourselves on. And when meaning or purpose eludes us we get a bit rattled. We want to know the meaning of life, a layoff, a let down, a loss. So meaning manages. Purpose propels. Here are a few reasons why.


Meaning is motivational. According to Self-determination Theory one of the major reasons why meaning is important is because it leads to engaging and sustaining desired behaviors. For instance, if someone start’s exercising because a doctor told him he had to, that exercise behavior might not last long. However, if this person not only heeds doc’s advice, but also deepens it by identifying a purpose that he wants to remain on earth awhile to see his children grow, that would strengthen the motivational meaning behind his exercise behavior. It’s going to be more difficult to not do that workout if that purpose is attached it. Why? Because meaning is motivational.


Meaning is inspirational. One of the key strategies for any organization or team going through changes is to connect to the reasons why. Perhaps by going back to the group’s mission or vision. Going back to this foundation can elicit a sense of greater meaning and purpose behind the changes, which can inspire and influence others to get behind the decision. In Simon Sinek's book “Start with Why” he details the importance of leading off such decisions with a strong case of “why.” This case should have a heavy dose of meaning and purpose. Why? Cause meaning and purpose inspires.


Meaning is aspirational. To aspire is to direct one’s hopes towards achieving something. Hope is a very powerful emotion and can help humans manage many of life’s realities, including suffering. Such is the case in the famous book, by Viktor Frankl. In this book, Frankl is faced with the incredibly harsh realities of a nazi death camp. Rather than succumbing to the doom and gloom that could have easily filled his mind, body, and spirit during such a heinous period, he instead choose to find purpose and meaning in his circumstances and reminded himself of what he needed to do each day to survive. His deliberate enacting of a purpose filled day, helped him manage his suffering, which lead to his survival. Meaning helps keep you going because meaning is aspirational.


Conclusion. Regardless of whatever life pursuit we are on, there are times where we need to do something, change something, or deal with something. How can you use meaning to your advantage? If you are a coach, choreographer, agent, manager, how can you apply meaning to enhance action, inspire change, and manage suffering in yourself, as well as in your team members? Meaning matters, will you try it?


“NO LONGER A LUXURY” - Why focusing on mental health is paramount and what Mindurance is doing about it

By: STEVE GRAEF
January 6, 2020

Even though Mindurance is dedicated to helping performers of all kinds manage stress and enhance performance, I cut my teeth working with student-athletes as one of the counseling and sport psychologists at The Ohio State University.I was also a football player at Ohio State in college, so athletes and the student-athlete population in particular, is one that is near, dear, and familiar to my heart. As such, the Forbes article “The Mental Health of Student-Athletes: A Necessary Operational Investment in Contemporary Collegiate Athletics” by Patrick Rishe resonated not only with me personally, but speaks to the type of issues Mindurance is aiming to address and the outcomes it hopes to obtain. Here are a few takeaways.

  1. Mental health occurs on a continuum.There is a whole spectrum of “mental health” ranging from thriving performance enhancement to your typical daily management of stress to the diagnosis and treatment of psychological illness.As such, it is important to address mental health all along that continuum. Mindurance is focusing on the performance enhancement and stress management points along the continuum (while fully appreciating the causes and concerns associated with mental illness) in the belief that by doing so will not only help performers thrive in the domains that they identify with, but that they may also avoid or reduce the likelihood of severe bouts of mental illness by proactively addressing and learning to manage stress.
  2. Wellness impacts the bottom-line. When we consider mental, physical, social, or financial performance, one’s wellness is no doubt an influential factor.A little stress or dis-ease might help to enhanceone’s performance because of the cathartic release the activity offers.However, too much stress could potentially impede the physiological, intellectual, or creative pursuit and cap one’s performance.Finally, if stress gets completely ignored, it could have catastrophic consequences such as increased injury, accidents, or illnesses.For this reason, if our team, our employees, our actors, our musicians, our dancers, our surgeons, our soldiers are not proactively managing their mental health (along the entirety of the continuum) then that could lead to a decrease in performance and productivity.Yes, mental wellness impacts the bottom-line.
  3. Athletes aren’t the only ones.I’ve made reference to this a bit already, however there are many other types of performers in this world other than athletes.I, in fact, sang in a rock cover band, did improv, taught college classes, and facilitated yoga.All of which required leveraging the mental, physical, strategic, and technical aspects of performance, while also managing the stress of a challenging performance endeavor.Suffice it to say, we all perform.Though yes, there are some populations of people that enact performance more in the traditional or obvious sense.Athletes, dancers, actors, musicians, soldiers, police officers, surgeons, business executives etc.People that truly need to “turn it on” when they need.Though these are the types of performers Mindurance markets to, they are not the only types of performers that need strategies, an ear, a dedicated space, and just plain support. As such, the content, courses, and coaches that are available on the Mindurance site are also available to the non-traditional performer.
  4. Understaffed.Though universities and major league sports have come a long way in employing mental performance coaches, counselors, social workers, and psychologists, the reality is that most places are still understaffed. Take for instance, there are approximates 950 Division 2, 3, and NAIA colleges.I can count on one hand how any of them have a dedicated sport and performance mental health professional. In fact, some of them might only have one counselor on staff for an entire community of 4000+ students.As a result, resources are limited.When resources are limited access is limited.When access is limited, issues persist.This is where Mindurance comes in.Those students that might have bottle necked the counseling center for basic stress management or to get better at test taking might be better suited calling a remote platform at their convenience and picking from a large offering of professionals.One’s that best meet and match their needs. That is what Mindurance is hoping to accomplish from its Mindurance Now platform.
  5. Education is key.In the article, they make reference to the importance of education. But where is this education coming from?As stated above, many (most) schools lack the resources to effectively meet the need of the calendar year, yet alone offer up on-going educational opportunities.And we’re just talking schools.What about your business organization?Your dance studio? Your artist agency? Is your education up to snuff or is it lacking? Where do you direct your people for good resources in the effective management and enhancement of stress and performance? Google? EAP? No idea? Yes, yes, yes.The result.Inconsistent. Inefficient. Out of scope.Now, don’t get me wrong.I’m not hating.There are a lot of great resources out there, but shit, we can do better.Mindurance aims to do better by curating content and knowledge from the expert platform providers, as well as all the good stuff the internet has to offer.This content, these courses, and those coaches are vetted so that you know the information is reliable, researched, and relevant.
  6. Money matters. At the end of the day, money matters.A Division 2 school might want a sport and performance psychologist, but if it ain’t in the budget, they ain’t getting one. Same with the studio, the agency, the business, the academy. The cure here isn’t easy, so it’s important to provide options.Maybe some articles and relevant videos are free to access, which could offer a new mindset about things.Perhaps there are online-courses that offer a little more in-depth education, training, and support but at a cost-effective purchase price.Though maybe also having access to providers that range in cost that could offer services at a rate and duration that fits in your budget.Lastly, bringing groups of people together in a forum for a workshop can be a streamlined approach that has many touch points at once, while being easier on the wallet.Which one does Mindurance focus on?All of them.

Conclusion.Listen, this isn’t meant to toot the Mindurance horn.At the end of the day, we’re trying to do our small part to help tackle the growing concerns that exists in performers of all types along the mental health continuum.We are doing this by choosing to focus on the performance enhancement and stress management anchor points of that continuum.In doing so, we offer touch points for a lot of people, including student-athletes. So, as Patrick Rishe stated in his title, focusing on student-athlete mental health (along the full-spectrum) is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. And you can bet your ass Mindurance is up for the task. Are you?


Making the method match

By: STEVE GRAEF
January 3, 2020

Let’s get physical…physical. Match maker, match maker….We want to get physical…physical….make me a match…


I know we are going a little hard to the paint on motivation and exercise this new year, but let’s face it, weight loss and physical fitness is a muti billion dollar industry for a reason. Each year a lot of people purchase passes, explore equipment, seek services or buy books, only to cancel, sell, skip, or donate when they figure out their fitness goal train is derailed once again. So let’s hone in on exercise a little bit more while adding to the topic of motivation that we discussed yesterday.


Remember when I said that there are a lot of sources of motivational gas that can propel us closer to our ideal selves? I wasn’t lying. There are, and though we solely wrote about social motivation and how to leverage it, it might be worthwhile to expand our motivation discussion a bit, particularly in how it relates specifically to exercise. First let me address some PDSD - post dissertation stress disorder. What I am about to share with you was a critical basis for my doctoral research project. As such, I got up close and personal, to my mental demise, with the framework and accompanying assessment that follows. Enter…(deep breaths Steve, deep breaths Steve), the Exercise Motivation Inventory by David Markland.


Though my dissertation proved to be mentally, physically, and emotionally straining, this measure was actually quite enlightening. Essentially, what Dr. Markland discovered was that there are 14 different motivations or reasons for why people exercise. As such, if you could decipher why people want to exercise and then offer them activities that match to those motives, you could theoretically help increase sustained behavior (e.g., You’ll exercise more regularly) and mental well-being (i.e., You’ll hate exercise less when doing it). So today, I would like to offer you a brief summary of these 14 motives, as well as provide a link to the assessment, so that you can more deliberately choose the method of exercise/physical activity/fitness that most closely matches the motive that you want out of it. Doing so, as mentioned previously, will help you do it and enjoy it…more.


The Fourteen Motives for Exercising

Stress Management: Wow, that was such a relief. I needed that!

Revitalization: I feel like I could take on the world now! I’m hyped!

Enjoyment: I just love exercise! I truly just enjoy doing it!

Challenge: I’m going to get one more rep today!

Social Recognition: Hey instagram, I just left Equinox!

Affiliation: Let’s get a post-spinning mimosa together!

Competition: I finished the 5k first!

Health Pressures: Doc told me I have high blood pressure, so here I am.

Ill-Health Avoidance: Ever since I started exercising my risk of diabetes has gone down.

Positive Health: I love exercising! It keeps all my levels in the normal range and mentally I’m more with it.

Weight Management: I need to lose some pounds! I need to gain some pounds!

Appearance: I love the way I look in a swim suit now.

Strength and Endurance: I’m feeling so strong and that I could run forever.

Nimbleness: I’m really loving this flexibility. I can tie my shoes and not worry about pulling my back.


There ya go! Any of those motives sound familiar or more appealing to you? Why do you think you exercise? Any reasons why you’re damn sure you don’t? Check out the written inventory to see where you land (assessment starts on page 3, and the scoring key is on page 7). You might have also had some particular activities in mind while you went through those motives. For me, it’s hard not to think about yoga as a nimbleness activity, water aerobics for affiliation, or triathlons for endurance. However, those are my matches and may not line up for you. Maybe yoga helps you feel strong and enjoy the Tri-culture. Whatever it is, find out what your desired motive(s) are and then consider what activities are out there that match. Doing so will help you enjoy the exercise more and increase the likelihood that you keep doing it.


One final thought, though referring to exercise above, I also believe that we can match methods more often in many aspects of our lives. For instance, maybe you want to enhance your creativity. Well, journaling could do that, but so too could improv classes. Same outcome (creativity), but a huge difference in method (solitary vs social). So key take away, whether talking exercise, creativity, or any other goal pursuit, consider your general and specific motivators (e.g., why you tend to like things), and then match your method to that motive. That, my goal crushing friends, is how you make your methods match.


Hey, match maker, let's get physical.


Motivation and the power of other

By: STEVE GRAEF
January 2, 2020

It’s one thing to identify a goal, it’s another to remain motivated enough through the year to pursuit it! Hopefully, the tactics we discussed in yesterday’s article, Start with One, can help, but we need all the support we can get! For starters, you might be one that cringes when you hear the word “motivation.” Images of parents, teachers, and coaches stating things like “you’re just not motivated”, “you need more motivation”, “the key to success is motivation” might be filling your noggin. Ugh, enough with the motivation already! But much like many of the life lessons we hate from those in authority when we are young, truth is, they’re actually kinda right. I know…damnit. You see, though we can do a lot of things without much motivation, either out of habit or having to (which interestingly does have some under the surface motivation), we could also do ourselves a service by leveraging aspects of motivation to help enhance the likelihood of us continuing with our 2020 goal pursuits.

But what exactly is motivation? Motivation is that psychological fuel that propels us towards a desired goal. Motivation can come externally, it can come from within, and it can come from a variety of sources. Money can be motivating. So too can the desire for self-growth. I could go in depth about all sorts of motivational theories and sources, but that would overwhelm you and I need additional content for later posts. What up content calendar!? So today, let’s just start with one…the power of social motivation.

Social motivation is a scientifically supported source of motivation and is not surprisingly defined as our ability to be motivated by, and for, other people. Unless you’re in the bush of Alaska or deep in the Amazon jungle, my guess is you are surrounded by people daily. Whether at home, at work, or out and about, people…are…everywhere. As such, we might as well use them to our advantage, especially for something as positive as accomplishing our 2020 goals. Want to know how? Here are three ways.


Community. One major way that we tend to use others as a source of motivation is when we choose to enter into a team. Once we are on a team and we have a common goal, we tend to not want to let our team down. Whether we did it for our mama, our hometown, or for the United States of America, joining in and identifying as part of a team are crucial for staying motivated. Want to commit to fitness? Join a bootcamp. Want to get better at public speaking? Attend toast masters. Want to read more? Start a book club. The team atmosphere feeds off of each other. You don’t want to loaf, not show, or forget to read. You want some motivational fuel? Use others to fill up your gas tank!


Call it out. Has a friend of yours ever asked you to attend an event, but in the moment you didn’t have the heart to say no? What happened? If you’re like me, and many others, you probably went to that damn event because you didn’t want to go back on your word. Yep, once you put your decision out into the universe for others to witness, it takes on a whole new power. You see, we don’t want to go back on our words, nor do we want to be that asshole that says things and never follows through. We can use this social commitment to our advantage. Did you decide on a key goal for 2020? Awesome! Call it out to the important people in your life. Shoot out a post on social media letting your followers know what you’ve committed to. Doing so strengthens your commitment not only vocally, but behaviorally. You’re going to think twice about skipping the gym if you know your Starbucks barista is going to ask about it. Need another way to leverage social motivation in your 2020 goal pursuit? Tell others about it.


Compete. Does competition ever sneak up on you? Even if you are not a super competitive person, I am sure there are those people or situations when that inner competitive fire gets stoked. When it does, what happens? Yep, you go revamp your own wardrobe. You go buy your own plane ticket. You also decide to start drinking a little less. Anything you can do, I can better…whether we say it or not, sometimes we think it, and “better” yet, we try it. So, in the final social motivation tip we can use others in our goal pursuits by deliberately competing with them. Want to go to the gym? Bet a friend that you will go more than she does. What to become more financially fit? Compare monthly costs with a co-worker buddy. Want to travel more? See who gets more passport stamps in 2020. Yes, us social animals like to commune, but we also like to compete. Use that reality to our benefit. Your goal can’t be beat, if you compete.


Conclusion. We often forget about the others in our lives. Not only from an appreciation and gratitude standpoint, but also as a source of challenge and significant motivation. As such, consider your tribe, your squad, your crew, and either join their cause, tell them your goal, or offer up a challenge. That is how you harness the power of other.


WANT TO CRUSH A LOT OF GOALS IN 2020? START WITH 1

By: STEVE GRAEF
January 1, 2020

Happy New Year! If you’re anything like me, once the fog of the NYE hangover detoxes from my body and brain, I start to think about all of the cool shit that I want to do, see, and accomplish in the upcoming year. However fast forward about three weeks later, just in time for Punxsutawney Phil to not see his winter shortening shadow, my goals are much like that prophetic rodent, back in the hole and not to be seen until next year. The culprit? Trying to do too much too soon. You see, anytime we want to start a new habit or alter an existing one, we have to call in the neurological construction crew to pave some new roads. Sometimes a road already exists. Sometimes it’s a dirt path. Sometimes, there’s a damn forest in front of us. Regardless, the construction work of the brain requires the same basic tactic…identify the path and roll over it, a lot. Not every path. Not any path. THE path. As a result, by going over the same path over and over and over again, it gets paved down, smooth, and becomes very driveable. This, my goal quitting friends, is exactly how we can use our own neurology to help us tackle the pursuits that we want to achieve this year. You want to accomplish a lot of goals in 2020? Take a lesson from the catalyst itself…New Year’s Day. That’s right, to do well starting January ONE..start with ONE!


ONE FOCUS. Remember how much trouble Elmer Fudd had trying to catch Bugs Bunny? Imagine if he had to try and catch five Bugs Bunnies at the same time??? Lesson: If you try to catch five rabbits, you tend not to catch any. Why? Because your attention is diverted. The same goes in goal pursuits. It’s way too challenging for our neurological construction crew to pave a weightloss road, a stand up comedy road, and a financial budget road all at the same. Take away? I know you are super enthusiastic about conquering all the world’s things this year, but temper your enthusiasm and choose one single focus for your goal pursuit. Perhaps it’s critical to your livelihood or kills multiple birds with one stone, the key is to pick one thing and stick with it. Check out a book called The One Thing for more on this.


ONE METHOD. Ok, so far so good. We’ve picked our goal for 2020 (at least the first one). Now it’s time to think about how we want to go about accomplishing it. For the sake of example, let’s say you wanted to try to lose 20lbs in 2020! Not a bad goal! It’s specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time based…all of that SMART kick ass stuff that you learned about in Goal Setting 101. But now let’s say that you wanted to sign up for spinning, goggle up for swimming, and glove up for boxing. All of which would certainly create an increase in calorie expenditure, however it also increases the likelihood of overwhelm, burnout, and quitting. You see, trying to do too many things is also like trying to pave too many roads. Why? Each new behavior require a new construction. Spinning road. Swimming road. Boxing road. Way too much for just starting out. So, much like we choose one goal to start the year, let’s also choose one method to get there. If later on down the “road” this new behavior becomes automatic, then cool, add on another method. But, until then…yep, you got it…Start with one.


ONE REP. Alright. So let’s say we’ve picked our first goal: losing 20 lbs in 2020. We also picked our first method: swimming. Next aspect to consider is the amount that we engage in our method and to make sure we don’t overdue it and set ourselves up for failure. A common story. An optimistic goal setter swimmer walks into the pool ready to do his first swim in a loooong time. “I’m ready to lose weight! I’m going to swim! 30 minutes here we come!” Outcome: One of two things happen. He either makes it 5 minutes and wakes up the next morning discouraged. Or he does the full 30 and wakes up the next morning sore. You see, a new road, especially a BRAND NEW ROAD, cannot be paved in one pave over night. It requires paving it over and over and over again. So we have to set ourselves up for success by starting off with small pavings. Mini pavings. Micro pavings. We want our daily task to be so simple and easy that it’s impossible to fail. So, in the case of swimming, literally, start with 1 minute. The next day…2 mins. The next day, 3. So on and so forth. Not only do you ease into the method, but you also ensure that your neurological construction crew can properly clear a new path which can continue to be paved. Before you get all crazy with your method, pair it down to one minute, one lap, one dollar, one calorie, one rep. That’s right boys and girls, you want to master your method…start with one!


Conclusion. Listen, I get it. We’re excited! It’s the new year! You want to crush it. All of it! And you can! And you will! BUT, you gotta clear that forest. Throw down that dirt. Pave that road. It starts from humble beginnings. One focus of millions. One method of many. And one rep of multiple. You want to crush a lot of goals in 2020? Start with 1.

WELCOME TO MINDURANCE

By: STEVE GRAEF
December 31, 2019

It was February 2019. I was standing with my buddy Brett in the kitchen of a house he and his family rented in Longboat Key, Florida. We were having a beer getting ready to go grab dinner. We were reminiscing, laughing a bit, and talking work. It was at this time that he said the following:


“Ya know Steve, I get what you do as a counseling and sport performance psychologist. I kinda wish I would have chatted with someone when I was playing baseball in college. It would have been nice to just call someone occasionally, even if just for a couple minutes. But instead, you had to call ahead for an appointment, go to an office, fill out a bunch of paperwork, and make it a big deal. I would have just wanted to call someone occasionally and quickly to talk some shit out.”

It was at that moment where I realized something had to be done. But first, a bit of context. I am Steve Graef. Founder and Owner of Mindurance. I am also a board certified and licensed Counseling Psychologist with a specialization in sport and performance psychology, as well as a former collegiate football player at The Ohio State University. So, I have spent my life devoted to the learning and application of psychological theory and practice, and have a fairly decent understanding of the bi-directional impact that “mental health” can have on sport and performance and vice versa. I also understand how mental health can be appropriately managed and I understand, and have personally experienced, what can happen when it is not. And I know the pros and cons associated with both traditional and modern methods of assessing, diagnosing, and managing psychological concerns.

As a result, when my friend disclosed his thoughts, I couldn’t disagree. I too have felt for a little while that there was something amiss about the field. That somehow in the process of raising awareness and necessity around mental health care we have instead become hypersensitive to it and have overemphasized the possibility of being one of those people that develop advanced depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. In doing so, we may have left the larger majority of the population out of the discussion and perhaps further ostracized them into thinking that “they’re not depressed enough or anxious enough or fucked up enough” to warrant help for these things that people are now talking about. A few statistics. According to National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) approximately 20% of American adults will experience a psychological illness over the next year. Further, it is estimated that we have a 50% chance of experiencing some mental illness by the time we are 75 years of age. So though those statistics represent millions of people and is not something we want to ignore, let us realize that those numbers also show that the majority of us will be mostly psychologically well during the next year, and likely the rest of our lives. So, let it be stated that the MAJORITY…yes the MAJORITY of individuals do not have and likely will not have a severe psychological disorder. However, EVERYONE experiences stress that could better be managed and wish to do life a little bit better than they currently are. This majority is the population that Mindurance aims to address. Why? Well, its the majority. It’s also preventive. Assuming there is no genetic predisposition for severe mental illness, the majority of us will be predominantly mentally well as long as we take care of ourselves. Take care of ourselves physically, nutritionally, socially, spiritually, and yes mentally. And what does taking care of ourselves involve? Well, for the minority, it is in-depth intense psychological treatment. Deep diving into years of trauma or attempting to use frequent counseling, latest medications or technological advances to manage intense, frequent, and highly disruptive psychological symptoms. However, for most people, it involves basic stress management, talking things out, brainstorming ideas, learning new tactics, getting better sleep. These simple, non-serious approaches can be enough to manage stress (hence reducing the likelihood of having worsened mental health) and enhance the performance of and productivity towards our life pursuits. So I repeat, for the majority of us, our mental health is not super serious in nature, but it is important. Much like blood pressure. Blood pressure is important. Many of us have fine blood pressure. But if we eat like shit, stop exercising, and overwork ourselves, our blood pressure will get out of hand. However, simple tactics can keep most of our blood pressure within fairly healthy limits.

Let’s consider a change. The current model of counseling is based on an outdated premise. Going back to Freud’s Psychoanalysis, it was assumed that you went to see an analyst (psychologist) when something was wrong with you and to correct any dis-ease that was prominent in your life. Despite counseling psychology appropriately evolving theories of change and realizing that people can also be psychologically-well, the infrastructure of the counseling endeavor remains the same. Drive to an office. Sit in the waiting room. Fill out the paperwork. Go in the room. Close the door. Give your entire history. To the person with the credentials. Fill the full hour. Pay the receptionist. Schedule for next week. Try to leave unrecognized. Rinse and repeat. Now again, this model isn’t awful. But it isn’t for everyone. And it doesn’t need to be. It doesn’t have to be. It shouldn’t be.

How about this? What if you could go to a website that had a bunch of specific information addressing your particular needs or concerns. You could do your own reading, listening, or studying on the topic(s) of your choice. This “self-help” might just give you the insight necessary to manage whatever stress you have going on or help positively influence the mental component of your particular performance activity. So far so good? Cool. Well maybe that doesn’t quite cut it for you. You want a little additional accountability. Maybe you just like talking things out so they make more sense to you. Maybe you do like the idea of chatting with someone that knows a lot about your particular concerns or have answers to the questions that you seek. Though, admittedly, you don’t want to drive anywhere extra. You’re not sure if you want to commit to the full hour. You certainly don’t want to wait 3 weeks to talk to someone. You also, likely, don’t want to be “forced” to see a practitioner you don’t vibe with solely because they are the only person in town. What if instead you had choice? You didn’t have to drive anywhere. You didn’t have to commit to lengthy sessions. You didn’t have to tell your entire life story on a document that people might not even read. What if you could call who you want…when you want…from where you want….for as long as you want…to get the support you want. That is what Mindurance Now offers. You can search and find the provider that works for you. That fits in your budget. That knows your sport or dance or job. That is available when you are. Now imagine calling them and paying for each minute you use, rather than feeling compelled to fill an hour that you might not have had in the first place. Choice indeed. Now suppose you value community. You would love to eventually meet your provider. Interact with like minded performers. Receive more intensive training at premier locations. Well Mindurance Live offers a re-thinking and tooling of how such interaction and development can occur. Intrigued?? Well you came to the right place.

So almost one year ago, thanks to that conversation, I decided to supplement the field of sport and performance psychology by offering a set of products and services that help athletes, performing artists, and professionals manage stress and enhance performance. This is what Mindurance does. It isn’t meant to take away from the important, necessary, and traditional models of care that already exist. But it is meant to offer something new, something unique, and something relevant to that majority of the population outside of the 20%, that still have questions that need answered, behaviors that need changed, stress that needs managed, performance that needs enhanced, and concerns that need heard. If that’s you, welcome to the movement, let’s have a conversation.