Monday, August 27, 2007

Believing vs. Expecting

There is a contradiction in what I am about to tell you. I’ve never played the game of golf. I guess some day I may like to, but it doesn’t really appeal to my love for games of fortitude and physical intensity. But I’m sure I would have fun trying it. But even though I haven’t played it, I study it constantly. Why? Because, as a sport golf is a great representative of the coaching triangle.

Coaching is like an equal sided triangle of the physical, the mental, and the emotional aspects of any pursuit. I have said often and my clients concur I am separate from most others at what I do because I pay more attention to the mental and emotional aspects of the coaching triangle than do “trainers” Golf is a great study of these elements and how the success and failure and outcome are more often than not determined by the mindset of the golfers toward competing. There are major similarities to golf and bodybuilding or any sport as a matter of fact regarding such success.

All too often emotional energy is squandered in the wrong direction and in improper thought process, which I discuss often in my Blogs. Athletes and people in general often think that “believing” is the nucleus thought and good enough for thought process to beget results. I’m here to tell you that is a fallacy. Believing is only the beginning of a process of thought. It is the starting line of correct thought if you will.

At the last tournament major this year in golf, one of the prominent golfer’s was quoted as saying “Tiger Woods has never been more beatable than he is right now” Later that same golfer had the chance to put this in to action as he ended up in the final round playing against Tiger for all the marbles. The day before the event he reiterated his thoughts and said “I believe I can beat Tiger tomorrow” What happened? Steven Ames, who made the quote went out and shot a terrible round of golf. Tiger was consistent and true to his moniker and nailed yet another major to his career. The fact is and this is a huge fact; Tiger Woods has NEVER lost a PGA event in his whole career when leading going in to the final round. NEVER !!!! What a stat!! Talk about killer instinct. Well let’s examine what is going on here and see the importance not of circumstance but of mental programming to create desired outcome.

Steven Ames quote was that he “believed” he “could” beat Tiger, but he never said he “would” beat Tiger. His mental state of belief did not translate in to the actual thing happening. This is important. Tiger will always have the edge. You see Tiger Woods is not only the best athlete of our generation but may be the best athlete for his sport by comparison, of all time. This isn’t so much a physical trait, but his mental and emotional preparation. Remember Tiger has never lost when leading going in to the final round. What is the difference?

The answer is “EXPECTATION” You see Tiger “expects” to win. He doesn’t need to “believe” he can win. This sets up Tiger to be in a unique position in the final rounds. At that point Tiger is always playing against the game rather than other players. He plays then with the expectation of winning and the game is the thing he is trying to conquer. For the rest of his career, other Golfer’s will not so much play “against a course” as a measure of themselves, but instead will have Tiger on the brain. This will affect their game, their preparation, and their choices come crucial moments of play.

You can believe all you want that you “could” beat Tiger Woods, but until some one of equal skill “expects” to win, and play their own game to do it, then Tiger will continue to dominate not only the sport but the minds of other golfers for some time. It really is quite an extraordinary thing. Every year I follow the interviews and every year I see the mental weakness come out in golfer’s who “think” they are prepared but who are not. And that is what I wish to discuss in this Blog.

I see the same thing all the time with my athletes and clients and those who pose questions within my Forums. Yes, they believe in themselves. They do everything required to prepare themselves. However they lack that one spark to ignite a “real” flame, and that is expectation. We need to remember that life is a mirror of our dominant thoughts. Believing is easy, expecting takes guts. It takes an extra step toward achievement in a way that cannot be defined other than expectation = belief come alive.

Not only is it important to allow your self to “expect” outcome, you need to demand expectation. This is where many athletes and people with body transformation goals fall short. It almost happened to two of my best athletes this year as well. I told them I would write about it.

Often people write to me who “know” the can lose weight but they can’t seem to keep it off. They look for the right diet, or the right program, but they don’t understand the lack of expectation they have within themselves. Most coast from one place to another, one workout program to another, and don’t realize they haven’t made the mental and emotional progression yet from believing to expecting. Belief in oneself and “positive thinking” are stagnant entities. Expectation is alive and perpetual. Let’s look at an obvious example here.

When a couple falls in love, they get married and “believe” someday they will start a family. What action do they take regarding having a family at that point? Maybe they have conversations, maybe they wax on about how it will be and where they will live and what schools they may choose etc. But the point is “believing” at this point does not lead to anything.

Take that same couple and use the term literally when they find out they are now “expecting” Once a couple finds out they are "expecting" a baby then action ensues correct? They go and look at nurseries, they buy a crib, people throw the expectant mother a baby shower, and give gifts, that will be “needed” once that “expectation” arrives. Do you see where I am going with this? You can plan all your life that someday you will have a family. You can do that even while you are single. But until you hear that you are “expecting” then belief is stagnant in thought process. Only when a couple finally hears that they are expecting a baby does action ensue to that reality.

The same exists in the athletic world. "Believing" you can win the Nationals, is a perpetual thought that does NOT beget anything except the “wanting” of that thing, much like wanting to start a family. If you understand attraction patterns as I do, you know that “wanting” only creates a mental and emotional set up of more “want” and not of achievement. This is dangerous. Focusing only on what you want or don’t want, just brings more “want” in to your life, regardless of what you believe is possible. (see golf reference above)

Too often clients focus on NOT "wanting" to be fat, or "wanting" to be lean, or "wanting" to win. All this does for the mental and emotional approach is create desire and more want. This makes achievement elusive, and less likely.

Being so improperly prepared mentally and physically also leads to people falling for gimmicks, and strategies, based on want, and not seeing expertise as a guiding force. Belief is stagnant once acquired; want just produces more want, but it’s expectation that produces the perpetual flow to achievement. Again, imagine a couple finding out they are “expecting” a child and then doing nothing about it mentally or emotionally within the next 9 months. Yet athletes do this all the time. They don’t allow for the preparation to include “expectation” If you look at this example above, then how silly is that context?

The bible speaks of expectation over and over again, and not just in relation to faith. For instance one verse states, “the farmer waits expectantly” but still waters his seeds and ploughs his land.

In other words, expectation can be a great thing. It leads to action. But it leads to purposeful action. Belief leads to “hoping and wanting” kind of like “believing” you can win the lottery. Well sure you “can” but will you? Expectation leads to demanding! When you demand then you don’t wait for fate you control it.

For athletes this can often be confusing.

This failure to understand expectation leads to a lack of discipline in an athlete’s thought life. And success and achievement are generated there.

Many will not allow themselves to “expect” specific outcomes because of a fear of disappointment. They still believe, but will not allow themselves to “expect”. But this lack of expectation puts them right back to the hoping and wanting dilemma I mentioned above. That leads to all kinds of second guessing on process and choice and I see this all the time. Hoping and wanting are faulty thinking strategies going in to any challenge or competition whether that is body transformation or winning the Nationals.

Those afraid to expect victory for fear of disappointment take a huge step backwards. Even though they "believe" in themselves, and are prepared for victory they will not allow themselves to “expect it” or abide in it. All of a sudden they start to question procedure or even let their minds play tricks on them. Am I truly ready? So and so looks really good. Maybe I should have done X instead of Y. And the list continues. Like the other golfers, they are no longer playing against the game itself. This all happens from a “fear of expectation

Real champions find a way around that. Often it will take a coach for that. A few of my champions can confess to this losing emotional strategy that they have now conquered. They went in to competition “believing” victory was “possible” But they would not allow themselves to “expect it” As I said before regarding attraction patterns of thought, if you don’t expect to win, that is usually what will happen. Often you can see as they vocalize thought that they are in essence preparing mentally to "not expect to win"

For all of you out there undergoing any kind of challenge right now, abide in this thought from me. “Failing to expect, is the same as expecting to fail” regardless of what you “believe” is possible.

I am reminded of the story of actor Jim Carrey. At a down time in his family’s life, Jim did something unimaginable. On a worthless piece of paper he wrote himself a check for $10 million for what he called then “services rendered” and he put the check in his wallet and kept it there and reminded himself of it often. Now this was at a time when his family was not only not doing so well, but his career was hardly underway. Moreover at that time no one was making that kind of money in the entertainment industry. But this one little act took “belief” in to the realm of expectation. From there action toward achievement on all three fronts of physical, mental, and emotional preparation takes over.

You see no matter how powerful belief, it is blind without expectation. Of course belief is the pre-eminent factor, but it is expectation that brings fruition.

There is the old joke of the devout religious man who lived in a town where the people were warned of an impending flood. Everyone was evacuating their homes and leaving. He was steadfast instead of his “belief” that God will save him. As the waters rose, a van came by to rescue him. He chose to stay, saying I believe that God will rescue me. As the water’s rose again a fire truck came by and provided a ladder for the man who was now upstairs because of the rising waters. The man refused and claimed he believed God would save him. Finally with most of the town buried in water, a helicopter came by and now with the man standing on the roof of his house which was now almost completely submerged, the helicopter sent down a rope. The man refused, claiming his belief that God would save him. Soon the waters overtook the house and land and the man died. He drowned waiting for God to save him.

When he got to heaven and crossed the gates, he asked ‘God, why didn’t you save me from the flood?” God answered, “I sent you a van, a fire truck and a helicopter”

This represents the blindness of belief without expectation. Again it’s a funny story but shows that belief alone can lead to a lack of disciplined thought. Belief alone keeps one in the mindset of hoping and wanting, not achieving desired outcomes. Whether as in this example above or competition at the highest levels, always remember that in the end, life is made up of a series of moments. As Tiger Woods knows all too well, that his compatriots are still learning is that “either you define those moments, or those moments define you!”

A few of my athletes have almost let these moments slip away from lack of expectation which I am sure they will never do again. To prepare for any arduous task or competition or moment without expectation, is to fail to have that moment be all it can be once it is acquired. If life is indeed a series of moments, “expect” to define them yourself and for yourself!

I have always said, that to “expect more FOR yourself, you need to expect more FROM yourself. It’s a simple equation really but so often neglected. Now maybe more of you will know what I mean by that. And this was the amusing thing at this past National’s.

My athletes know I “expect” a lot of them up to that day of the show. As a matter of fact, the more gifted the athlete, the more I expect of him/her. So even though they may have not at first entertained fully the concept of “expecting” victory, I had been expecting it in them all along.

They were already physically and mentally prepared to win, they just needed to take themselves emotionally to “expectancy” That is not my story to tell. It is their own. To say one or more of them almost let it slip between their grasp, is not an understatement.

But a little emotional coaching at the last minute, and the blindness of believing in oneself, turned in to the 20/20 perfect vision of a champion expecting victory.

That is an amazing thing to witness: To watch someone capture a moment, and define it for themselves as it happens. It’s the stuff lives are built upon. Don’t just show up, clean up!

Time to create an attitude of expectation toward any meaningful undertaking you are facing. Expect the best. Expect your best. Expect outcome.

Expectation is not a good thing, it’s a great thing!

As usual, some of you will get it, many of you will not. Maybe these champions will share some insights as well. I welcome your comments in my Forums section.