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Practice, Practice, Practice, Pray

April 9, 2014

One of the greatest privileges I’ve ever had in my life was being contracted to write The Mental Conditioning Bible for Weider.  The project allowed me access to some of the greatest minds in a variety of competitive arenas.  One of the people I interviewed was a renowned NFL Coach.  He told me his motto, as the team understood it, was Practice, Practice, Practice, Pray.

I got the practice part, but that all seemed physical.  I was seeking out mental conditioning strategies so I inquired further, he paused, and he smiled.  “I’m telling you precisely what my Mental Conditioning strategy is.  Practice, practice, practice, pray.”

OK, I heard him the first time, but I still wasn’t getting it.  Practice, to me, meant running drills, throwing passes, mastering defensive plays.  Where’s the mental part?

He was patient with me.  “The practice isn’t only physical.  Every team practices.  The practice involves mental rehearsal as well.  I want every player to play the game, in his head, at least a dozen times before the game takes place.  Nothing that happens on the field should be new or unexpected.  We practice on the field as skilled individuals seeking mastery, we practice as a team seeking intuitive team play, and we practice in our imaginations which may be the most important practice of all.  I am not a PhD and I can’t provide detailed research studies, but I am certain that the formula is a key to our success.”

OK, I get it, but what about the pray part?

“We pray after our practice sessions, we pray before the game, and we express gratitude afterwards, whether we win or lose.”

“And is that also a key component of the formula?”

“Of course.”

My naivete showed itself as I continued to explore with my well-intentioned questions.

“Doesn’t the other team pray also?  Someone has to lose.  Do you really believe that God makes the decision as to which team is going to win on any given Sunday?”

“No, I don’t believe God hedges his bets, but we don’t pray for a win.”

“Then what do you pray for?”

“The top of our game.  Doing things right.  Staying healthy.  Playing at our fullest potential.  Being the absolute best that we’re capable of being.  We ask God to allow us to give it our all utilizing our God-given gifts and talents and to come out knowing we did our best.”

I nodded.  This, in the moment, seemed profound.  He wasn’t suggesting prayer ensures the win as much as suggesting that a full connection to the idea of excellence in performance provides the winning edge.

I didn’t think much about that interview for awhile.  I just had to do a System Restore on an old computer and recovered all my old files.  I found my interview notes from years ago, and for some reason, this idea of Practice, Practice, Practice, Pray resonated with me more today than when I originally pursued it with the agenda of completing a contracted book.

I’m speaking now to Personal Trainers, so let’s translate the message to our world.

If you want to be an exceptional fitness professional, you have to practice honing your skills.  I’m sure by now you’ve been exposed to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of practice theories.  Honing your talents as an individual is a vital piece of achieving excellence.

You also have to practice as a team, in a real world environment.  If you work as part of a training team, this is simple, often fun, and motivational, but if you’re operating professionally as an individual (sole proprietor), realize that you still have a team.  Practice your networking with other business owners, practice your contagiastic pitch when you meet someone who has a fitness interest, practice negotiating for space, equipment, advertising deals, and marketing opportunities.  Rally up your testimonials.  Get your clients referring.  It all takes practice, and practice in this regard can only help you exceed your previous bests.

Finally, you have to practice mentally.  See the outcome before it happens.  Think of the achievement you most hunger for as an inevitable outcome that simply hasn’t happened yet, one that you can visit in your mind before it manifests for all to see.

This is the strategy upon which my Be Better program is built.  Develop your skill set so you separate yourself from those who may consider themselves your competition.  Develop the strength of your reach by building a living entity made up of resources, referrers, and testimonials.  Then get good at going into your imagination, relying upon mind-power, to create multi-sensory outcomes that thrill you.

Is this far fetched?  Nope.  Not at all.  It’s the formula that works.  As participants go through Be Better, they start to tap into new potential, begin to recognize opportunities that were present but elusive, and stretch the boundaries of their confidence and abilities.  Practice, Practice, Practice.  So where does the pray come in?

Whether you consider the decades-long success of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, you consider classics such as As A Man Thinketh, or you’re a student of quantum physics and are coming to understand that “thoughts are things,” the link between mindset and outcome is indisputable.  You understand that we are all ultimately connected and that each of us is an operating part of a massive and mind-blowing whole.  Prayer creates expectancy.  Prayer creates belief.  Prayer marries with faith.  Prayer connects that mental rehearsal to a sense that something greater than you is at play here, and with a committed focus on praying for “your best” (rather than the win), you show up with a greater knowledge of the power behind your visions, your mission, your desires, and your actions.

See ya soon.  Be Better.  Always Better.




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