Small college makes huge champion

April 13, 2014

 

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Congratulations to the 2014 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey National Champions: Union College. The team worked hard over a long season–and well before–to earn their exceptional victory against perennial powerhouse University of Minnesota. Yes, Union had a strong and cohesive team who have dedicated this year to becoming the best college team in hockey. Yes, they have a strong network of support including a progressive coaching staff, talented training staff, and committed sport psychologist (still needed on many college and even professional teams). And, yes, they capitalized on everything they had going for them when it mattered most.

What most distinguishes this victory is the discrepancy in size between the 2 D1 hockey schools, comparing Union’s 2200 students to Minnesota’s 52,000. Union has allocated their resources efficiently and most effectively. I trust all 2200 students as well as staff and alums will continue to enjoy the celebrations!

Way to go Union with your first NCAA championship! You have secured an elite place in hockey history and should be very proud…and I will hope Harvard takes your spot there next year!

 

To read more, go to:

http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/10774791/union-wins-first-ncaa-hockey-beating-no-1-seed-Minnesota

 

The Dalai Lama makes me marvel.

April 8, 2014

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I was thrilled to learn that the Dalai Lama, whom I have long admired, was fascinated with skiing and adventurous enough to hop on a ski lift–without bar–to watch it in live on the slopes of Santa Fe. Not only that, he was exuberant! In all my years of living in Aspen, I can’t remember seeing anyone laughing hysterically after getting knocked down by 4 people getting off a chairlift. Leave it to the Dalai Lama to then observe, “At ski area, you keep eye open always!”

The other snippet from Douglas Preston’s engaging Slate article, that made me marvel was the Dalai Lama’s direct response to a question posed après ski, “What is the meaning of life?”  The Dalai Lama answered immediately. “The meaning of life is happiness.” He raised his finger, leaning forward, focusing on her (the waitress who posed the existential question) as if she were the only person in the world. “Hard question is not, ‘What is meaning of life?’ That is easy question to answer! No, hard question is what make happiness. Money? Big house? Accomplishment? Friends? Or …” He paused. “Compassion and good heart? This is question all human beings must try to answer: What make true happiness?”

Clearly, the Dalai Lama has found true happiness.

 

For those of you who want to read the full article, here is the link:

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/culturebox/2014/02/dalai_lama_at_a_santa_fe_ski_resort_tells_waitress_the_meaning_of_life.single.html

Team USA Sled Team Wins Gold in Sochi

March 15, 2014

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Congratulations to Team USA Sled Team! These guys have guts and they have heart. Ironically, I just read the latest issue of USA Hockey, which profiled the team. I hope they are out celebrating in Sochi. I am so impressed and moved by these men. I hope to see a number of them play at UMass Lowell in a few weeks.

Cheers to these athletes and to everyone who supports the Paralympics!

Zen Master Moves East

March 15, 2014

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Phil Jackson is a remarkable man. His insight links the past to the present, from tapping into Native American and Asian wisdom to motivating professional athletes. Jackson’s quest for personal discovery began with himself, which he openly shares in his bestseller, Sacred Hoops, and extends to his teams.

When I began my career as a performance coach, I had not encountered many people open to mindfulness in sport or business. Having spent time on an Oglala  Sioux reservation years ago and currently researching mindfulness in sport at Harvard University, I can relate to his quest for spiritual knowledge… as well as sporting success. Zen master Jackson continues to inspire me in “walking the talk” as well as sharing his knowledge with other open minds.

Having coached the Lakers to 5 titles, left and returned to the franchise, he now switches coasts and teams to help lead the Knicks to renewed success. The move east stirs many waters and adds an intriguing touch to the season’s final months. Being a loyal Celtics fan, I have never cared to follow the Knicks too closely, but I just may now.

Mindfulness in the Age of Complexity

February 23, 2014

Given that we all face challenges and demands in our increasingly complicated world, I encourage readers to take a few mindful moments to follow this link:

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http://hbr.org/2014/03/mindfulness-in-the-age-of-complexity/ar/1

Imagery in the Olympics

February 23, 2014

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How cool that the New York Times has “imagery’ as its feature article in the Sunday sports section today! Mental conditioning–imagery and other skills–is becoming more mainstream here in the U.S. (has a long history in Canada and Europe). We hear and literally see (Mikaela Shiffrin shown practicing her routine slopeside on TV) athletes succeed based on these skills. When it comes to hundredths of seconds and other slight differentiators between a gold medal or sliver/bronze/no medal, and Olympic athletes pretty much in the same physical shape, it usually comes down to the mental edge as to who will walk away with the gold.

For anyone who in interested in peak performance, I highly recommend you read this apropos article, Olympians Use Imagery as Mental Training:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/sports/olympics/olympians-use-imagery-as-mental-training.html?hpw&rref=sports

The Power of Mindfulness

May 31, 2013

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I had the pleasure of attending a seminar with Jon Kabat-Zinn this week. Having read several of his books and listened to his mindful meditation cd’s, I was intrigued to hear him present live. The theme of his presentation focused on the power of mindfulness in relation to trauma. As Kabat-Zinn, eloquently phrased it, “Transformation and Healing at the Confluence of Science and Dharma.” What Tibetan monks, Indian yogis, and other enlightened people have known intuitively through personal experience, can now be scientifically tracked through recent advances in neurobiology. Our brains literally change—for the better—through consistent mindful meditation.

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, a time when people continue to feel uneasy and stressed, mindful meditation is an especially valuable antidote. Not only does it lower anxiety and stress hormones for oneself, it also benefits those around you. In my work, I find that an all-too-common common hurdle for people is carving out time—even 5 minutes—for themselves to mindfully breathe. Whether you prefer quiet solitude, a peaceful walk, or recorded imagery on a portable device, consistent mindfulness meditation is a practice that provides a priceless benefit…both in the moment and beyond.

Surreal Days

April 18, 2013

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Cheers to the heroes these past—and ongoing—72 hours. Your kindness, care and effort to help those in need is incredibly uplifting and comforting. This horrific series of events initiated by two has triggered a heartwarming reaction by innumerable. From first responders—who in the moment epitomized peak performance—to One Fund donors (and everyone else between), thank you to all who have played a part, large and small, in helping the victims and our city!

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Another Reason I Like Sports

November 6, 2012

On this election morning, I can’t help but think of performance as it relates to our political leaders and the direction of our country. The media has been infused these past months with men and women at all levels of government and public service proclaiming their superior performance record while degrading their opponent’s. The amount of money spent throughout these races astounds me, especially considering our country’s financial situation.

To me, actions speak louder than words. Rather than spend hundreds of millions of dollars and take so much incredible time (theirs and ours), why can’t these contenders step into an “arena” and emerge with a victor and a loser? Much as Mitt Romney and President Obama may have felt at times they would like to go head-to-head (like professional football players), there could be other ways the two men could try to highlight their performance: Basketball shoot off? Round of golf? Running race? Tennis match? Swim meet? Well, ok, I guess those aren’t necessarily their areas of performance (at least why we are electing them). But, perhaps our country could create a clearly designated and delineated time when politicians could present their ideas in a controlled and substantive manner—about 3 of the most pressing current challenges (up to 7 more other items could be identified/briefly addressed on single overhead slides) the next President of the United States will face. Each person could highlight his/her presentation with visuals incorporated into their proposals, including their role as leader. The American public could then have 24 hours, from the close of the presentation, to vote. For instance, the Presidential contenders could prepare as much as they want and in the way they want in advance and we would focus on their actual performances, much as we do when we watch Sunday football. Those, and all other athletes, prepare for years in advance much as politicians do. Yet, we as fans primarily focus on their performance game day.

Ok, back to reality and election day. Go vote!

THE Jump

October 14, 2012

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What an amazing feat! This certainly makes skydiving and bungee jumping—even tightrope walking in NYC–look passé. With the demise of the space shuttle, it is incredibly inspiring to see an individual take such initiative. As one media source aptly remarked, it was a “collective moment.” I certainly enjoyed a momentary diversion from my day-to-day routine, omnipresent national election coverage, and challenging world news to imagine what he experienced.

“When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data,” Baumgartner said after the jump.

Hitting—and enduring—Mach 1.24 (833.9 mph) is truly impressive.

As for having to dig deep and draw on mental reserves, he obviously had exceptional fortitude. In regard to his horrifying uncontrollable spin Baumgartner commented, “In that situation, when you spin around, it’s like hell and you don’t know if you can get out of that spin or not. Of course, it was terrifying. I was fighting all the way down because I knew that there must be a moment where I can handle it.”

“Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are,” an exuberant Baumgartner told reporters outside mission control after the jump.

Simply amazing…

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