Watch this interview I did with mindfulness and performance expert George Mumford, who worked with Phil Jackson and The Chicago Bulls team during the Michael Jordan era, as well as with The Los Angeles Lakers winning another 5 Championships.
Now that I have been captivated by the extraordinary 10-part documentary series “The Last Dance” featuring Michael Jordan and The Chicago Bulls, it brings back my memories of the powerful insights George Mumford shared with me in this interview a few years back.
I am reposting the interview, as it’s not only highly relevant with the release of "The Last Dance" documentary, but also because of high levels of stress than many deal with in life.
You who have followed me know that a big part of what I do is teach awareness and mental skills for effective learning and high performance.
As you can imagine, I was extremely pleased to chat with George Mumford. His insights benefit not only athletes and performers, but are vital for us in all areas of life.
Listen as he addresses manifesting stress symptoms, processes of self knowledge, his view on meditation, mindfulness and performance, his own journey, and much, much more
Legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson said:
“George has "Mumified" the teams I’ve coached over the past 20 years. He has a style of mindfulness that goes beyond ‘just sitting/breathing’ to focusing while in action. For anyone needing to perform at the highest level, George’s book is for you.”
Kobe Bryant said of George:
“George helped me understand the art of mindfulness. To be neither distracted or focused, rigid or flexible, passive or aggressive. I learned just to be.”
Watch the interview below.
Then below the video please like, share and leave a comments of what your takeaways are from this conversation.
See more of George at www.GeorgeMumford.com
Whatever age you're at, whatever you think of your singing/speaking ability, wherever you are in your life and career, I’m sure you can relate to what she shares and her situation.
My Live Event is much about how we can release fears and restrictions that hold us back, and “perform” and succeed at higher levels in life. At this specific event, I offered some people to get up on stage and take the mic.
I especially encouraged those who would normally shy away from doing so. There was little preparation as far as what to say, but the task was to give permission and go with the flow and implement what we had learned throughout the day.
We had seasoned professional singers as well as non-singers in the audience, and everyone was equally moved by this. If you don't feel comfortable speaking or singing in front of an audience, I would like you to realize that you can have a tremendous impact. And it helps you, as well as those around you, when you become more comfortable releasing your voice and sharing who you are in song and speech.
Take look at the video below and see what happens. Relate to her story, as well as to this challenge of sharing your story from the stage. Notice how she comes alive, and recognize that the standing ovation is a genuine result from her genuine presence.
Yes, she actually became a beautiful and inspiring role model in many ways, which she likely hadn’t expected.
So, how many times do you hide behind a friend? How many times have you decided to not show up at an event just because your friend can’t make it? In what areas of your life have you lived up to exceptions of what you’re supposedly not good at?
How does this video inspire you?
Please like/share/comment below
I’ve written before about the ability to turn failures into successes, and why it is a developed skills – a crucial skill if we want to be able to learn effectively, be creative and productive, and be resourceful to find solutions when things aren’t going well.
Therefore, I'd like to share with you a wonderful resource to be inspired and really learn the mindset behind creativity and innovation by one of the true experts in the field. (Plus it’s for a good cause.) Watch this video:
(P.S. My son and I listened to Peter’s absolutely fascinating audio program “Exponential Thinking” a while back. It’s something every teenager, as well as adult, would benefit greatly from. Another fun fact is that Peter works a lot with Ray Kurzweil – named "Edison's rightful heir“ by INC magazine – who is the very man behind Kurzweil keyboards.)
I feel a little uncomfortable using my own son as an example today. However, this is incredibly important so I hope you and he will forgive me. You’ll see how this ties into being able to learn and develop effectively – yes, exponentially - whether it is singing or something else. This is crucial if we want to become more confident and able to perform under pressure. Ultimately, it really is about training ourselves to achieve great things – including healing and learning effectively – to create success and happiness in our lives.
My youngest kid loves to play baseball. His baseball season just started and at 11 he is the youngest kid playing with 12, 13 and soon to be 14 year olds. Nevertheless, he was selected to be the starting pitcher for the very first game of the season. (For you who don’t know baseball, the “pitcher” is the person who throws the ball that the batter of the opposing team tries to hit. If the pitcher misses the target 4 times – known as throwing a “ball” - the batter automatically walks to first base. If the pitcher throws 3 strikes the batter is out. )
Now, what I’d like you to do is imagine this as if it was your performance. Maybe your performance is a singing performance. The moment has come. All eyes are on you. You want to show them you’re good. What do you need to do to succeed?
So what do you think my son does?
First throw is a ball = a miss.
Second attempt: Another ball
Third attempt: Ball
Yup, 4 misses in a row and the first batter walks to first base.
So now, imagine this is you. You’re standing there alone. You have no one to talk to. Everyone is watching and everything is going wrong.
What would you do?
Have you ever felt frustration set in when things aren’t going well in life? Have you ever felt confidence crumble when you don’t do well? How would you feel and what would you do as a parent when your 11 year old is failing amongst 13 year olds?
Now, I’ve seen a lot of kid’s games. I am an eternal student of human behavior, and being a coach in the areas of human performance I am fascinated by these situations.
So before I share what happens to my son, let me tell you about another kid. Let’s call him John. We see John often. He has great athletic ability. He experiences situations when things aren’t going well very often. And what happens is always very predictable.
Let’s take when John stepped up to bat in this game as an example.
On his first attempt he swings and misses the ball. He shakes his head and stomps his foot in frustration and disbelief. Second pitch and this time John doesn’t swing. He let’s it go, believing it’s going to be a ball. However, the umpire calls it a strike.
John flails his arms in utter disbelief towards the umpire. Keeps shaking his head as he gets in stance for the third attempt. Third attempt and he swings for the fences and misses the ball by a mile. A minor tantrum ensues as he slams his bat into the ground, rushes to the dugout and violently throws his helmet into the fence.
For the rest of the game he never hits even once. With every miss, he gets more and more miserable and his life spirals out of control.
Here’s a kid who has never learned how to find inner strength when things aren’t going well. He makes such a big deal out of a “miss” that his exceptional fear of missing produces more misses. As long as this pattern continues, he will never succeed at anything in life. You cannot succeed at anything unless you learn how to learn from challenges and obstacles. Anyone can be good on a good day. Being resourceful and finding inner strength when things don’t go well is an advanced developed skill.
Not surprisingly John's dad is known for his own tantrums, and for casting blame on others such as umpires when things don’t go well.
As you can imagine by now, my son reacts very differently. Yes, we can be frustrated, sad and angry. There is nothing wrong with experiencing these emotions. The question is what we do when we experience them.
So what does he do? The second batter get’s ready and my son throws... Strike one. Strike two. Strike three. Three strikes in a row, and from there on has a great game.
Real success comes from learning to be resourceful and finding solutions when things don't go well. Real success in not about avoiding to fall down. It is about being able to bounce back up when you fall down.
Now, my son has already earned a reputation for being able to handle so-called pressure situations exceptionally well. Numerous times has he come trough when it is needed the most.
What I wish is that people would understand that this is a developed skill. Being confident is a developed skill. Being able to perform at your peak when it matters the most is a developed skill. Being able to learn effectively is a developed skill. I wish John some day learns that his failures are very predictable because that is the way he has trained.
In the next post I will address specific ways to train for success and why this ties into exponential learning, but let’s start with the most fundamental.
In our family and in my coaching there is no such thing as "missing". It is spelled l-e-a-r-n-i-n-g.
There is no such thing as failing. It is spelled l-e-a-r-n-i-n-g.
Unfortunately, people who have only engaged in singing training using traditional scales have never truly experienced this. Many have still after decades of training never learned to access the muscles that create seamless range because they have always been taught to avoid the “break”. They have always believed that missing a note is something that must be avoided, and therefore the training inadvertently creates restrictions and fear-based “control seeking”, rather than releasing the true freedom that mesmerizes an audience.
In part 2 we’ll continue with this. In the meantime I encourage you to ponder this. Do you become better or worse when things aren’t going well? Do you become stronger or weaker? What is success and what is failure? What do you do when you become sad, frustrated or angry? What could make you experience greater success in your singing?
Have you ever had that feeling when things aren’t working out? You’re working so hard but results refuse to appear? I sure have. It’s frustrating, isn’t it?
It’s like your banging your head against a brick wall. You may experience it in your singing, such as frustration of not reaching those high notes. Or maybe you experience frustration with your finances, health, relationship, career… you name it…. Most of us can relate to the frustrations when things aren’t going well.
It’s like that brick wall is pounding you right back.
Well, here’s what’s interesting. If you hit your fist against a brick wall, the brick wall does in fact hit you back.
This is, in fact, Newton’s third law of motion. The opposing forces are equal in magnitude.
Now, for practical purposes today, we could call that opposing force “resistance”, or why not “tension”.
Those of you who have done the Sing With Freedom program recognize that we already in lesson one did experiments that released tension and resistance. And what happened? That’s right, suddenly the voice became freer and more powerful. (We also reduced mental resistance.) For many, the changes can be immediate and dramatic.
The human tendency is to force more and more when we meet resistance. The bummer is that when we do that we just create more resistance. This can be in communication with others at work or at home, or forcing our bodies with drugs, forcing our minds to come up with ideas, adding force to any problem.
And by pounding that fist into the wall harder and harder out of frustration we just creates more and more resistance, restrictions, tension and stress in our lives.
I believe it is incredibly valuable to become more and more aware of the difference between power and force, and how by reducing resistance you actually achieve greater power – in your voice and in life.
Having said that, a certain amount of resistance is not always bad.
When we work out with weights we call that resistance training. We use resistance to our benefit in order to become stronger. Challenges in life are useful to make us stronger. And challenging our voice is useful for getting a stronger voice.
However, forcing becomes counterproductive when we don’t recognize where the force is and what it is leading to. That is why athletes are exceptionally aware of “good form” so that strength is being built in the desirable muscles. (I illustrated and gave examples of this in the free video that I provide at The Singing Zone.
Unfortunately in singing, people are seldom made aware of this, and when they sing and speak they just create habitual resistance/tension (as I demonstrated in the free video)
(And let’s not forget that much resistance also resides in the emotional area, such as fears.)
But once we become aware and skilled enough to release the habitual tension and restrictions, a newfound power emerges.
Now power is no longer about being loud. You can, in fact, be exceptionally powerful when singing softly. Now it's not about forcing the notes or forcing the audience to like you (which obviously never works). Instead, you can become powerful because you have the ability to empower and positively influence others.
Can you apply the principles of reducing resistance to achieve greater power today?
Happy New year! Yes, the New Year is upon us and while people are busy breaking their New Year resolutions already, you and I are busy planning and strategizing for long-term success, right?
So you want to make more money, be healthier and sing better in 2013? Well, having goals are great. But have you thought of what the skills are that you need to develop in order to accomplish your goals? Let me address one fundamental skill here.
I want to share something about Christmas celebration – a fundamental difference between Christmases in Sweden that I grew up with, and how I have come to understand Christmas is often celebrated in the US.
And I’m not talking up the religious aspects now. I’m talking about the way presents are given.
You see in Sweden, it is on Christmas Eve that we get presents. For some, Santa mysteriously arrives in the evening. Unfortunately, poor Dad just missed him since moments earlier he went out for a walk or went to “buy the evening newspaper” at the store. (Hmmm, he always returned saying the store was closed). For others, Santa arrived during the night and the presents were found under the Christmas Tree in the morning, but were to be opened in the evening.
The point here is that Christmas Eve for a kid is just about the longest and most trying day ever. It is the ultimate test of patience. Once has to wait endlessly until one can finally open Christmas presents.
Then, once it is time to open presents, one does it in an orderly fashion. One present at a time. One person at a time.
As far as I have come to understand, many American kids wake up and open their presents right away on the morning of Christmas Day. From those I have spoken with, it is more of a process of ripping open the presents as fast as possible.
This has always made me wonder. Is there something inherent in the culture that has become accustomed to fast foods, quick fixes, quick-diets, and make-money-quick-schemes? Is there a relationship between this behavior and why the pharmaceutical companies and junk food companies are able to thrive in tandem on people’s desires for band-aid solutions?
I once chatted with a badminton player and coach from Malaysia who had represented Malaysia many times in the world championships. (Malaysia has a long history of being a powerhouse nation in badminton).
He had come to the US to train the US badminton team. He told me he noticed a fundamental flaw in the US badminton players: Lack of patience. Americans wanted to kill the ball early, while the Malaysians were all disciplined martial art black belts.
My life centers around developing strategies for effective and accelerated learning – because it is indeed very possible to learn skills much faster than most people are aware of – whether it is to become a better singer, healing an injury, learning a language, building a business, or whatever. And I find it fascinating that those who learn effectively and fast have a completely opposite attitude and mindset compared to those who seek quick fixes.
I get emails all the time from people who “just want a quick tip”, or people who seriously believe watching a video on Youtube is going to make them world-class singers
The unfortunate reality is that it is when we are poor we want to make money quick. And that mindset keeps us in poverty. It is the overweight person who seeks to lose weight quick. While she may succeed short term (oftentimes by simple losing water), she has never learned the real skills necessary and will therefore gain it all back. And it is the quick-tip seeker who never really learns.
It is the person who truly engages in training to develop the brain that learns. Yes it is always the brain that does the learning, that creates the healthy body, that makes you wealthy, and that makes your voice soar – although not the same part that does trigonometry calculations. You can indeed develop skills in months that the quick-tip seeker will spend years searching for.
The people who learn effectively and who therefore excel in various areas of life, are in fact the ones with an exceptional strong sense of discipline (which is a developed skill). They are the people who don’t mind delayed gratification. In fact, the prefer it over instant gratification. Practicing the art of delayed gratification could perhaps turn out to be one the greatest exercises you can engage in.
And as parents, delaying gratification maybe one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.
Does this have something to do with how we open Christmas presents? Maybe? Who knows?
Do you prefer instant gratification or do you prefer more powerful gratification even if it is delayed?
Today, here in the US, is the day of Thanksgiving. And, as we all know, reflecting on what we are grateful for is a very powerful activity.
As we get into reflecting on what we are grateful for, the more things pop up in our mind. It’s one of those things that expand the more we do.
Gratitude comes easily as a result of success. But I think it's even more valuable if we embrace the belief that gratitude is a precursor to success (however we define success). Perhaps gratitude is even a prerequisite for success.
As I look back, I am exceptionally grateful for having suddenly lost my health, voice and therefore gone broke some years ago.
If it hadn’t happened, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten the kick in the rear to realize the importance of publishing my method that previously had helped so many people.
But the truth is, although I was miserable many times, there was something inside me that knew there was an opportunity. I knew I couldn’t publish anything unless I healed first. I couldn’t speak about health and about improving the body with integrity unless I could be a role model for what was possible. And I knew “healing” wasn't enough. I needed to become stronger, healthier and more knowledgeable than I had been if I were to expect success.
Even then, and every time I face a challenge now, I feel gratitude for the opportunity to grow, improve and learn something I need to learn.
I am grateful for the back injury I had as a kid. Would I ever have become so interested in learning about the body and mind if I hadn’t experienced it? Would I have experienced my achievements in sports if I hadn’t? Would I then have become a performer, coach, etc?
We’ve all heard the old talk about “obstacles being stepping stones to success”. I am immensely grateful that I never believed that it was just “positive talk” from people who already had “made it”, but that I realized at an early age that it is actually true.
Yes, I am of course even more grateful for the painful events after the fact. Let’s face it, it's much easier to talk about being grateful when we no longer are in the moment of despair and pain.
However, I truly believe that reflecting on what we can be grateful for – even if it is just seemingly small stuff – is what becomes the fuel for healing and improving.
And of course I am extremely grateful for YOU – for you who are reading this, for all my customers, clients and members of The Singing Zone. Hearing your stories – your struggles and your successes – is what gives me the reason to do what I do. Your emails, your comments on this blog, your amazing insights and ways of assisting other members in The Singing Zone forum are just phenomenal.
You are inspiring and I Thank You!
As always you are welcome to share your thoughts. Maybe you have found gratitude to be a way that has helped you out of pain?
Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert? What is an introvert and what is an extrovert?
As you may know, I am not big fan of labels of any kind. On the other hand it's not necessarily a bad thing to understand that there are differences within us. But are we born with these traits, or is it something we become later due to circumstances?
I am, on the other hand, a big fan of developing awareness. Awareness is more than being able to feel some muscles (such as the muscles that are involved in producing sound). It is also about understanding how we function as human beings.
So let's stick to the categories of introvert and extrovert, and ask the big question:
Do you need to be an extrovert to be an effective performer?
In fact, I am going to make it short today and not say too much about the issue, and instead ask YOU.
Do you think performing singers are more extroverts or introverts? Does one or the other bode for greater success as an artist?
Please share your thoughts on this below.
Today we are going to delve into three super important aspects of learning effectively. A member posted an interesting question inside The Singing Zone member’s forum, which inspired me to write him a long response to help him better. I also told him that I will post it on my blog here (he will remain anonymous) as it will help all readers.
It is in no way meant to make him look bad. Quite the contrary. Because it offers us insights into how we probably all think from time to time. If you recognize this within yourself, I am certain it can help you tremendously. And if so he has done you a service.
Here is the question he posted:
“I am new to your course, I am a low key voice but even then, most times voice runs into a squeaky voice when key tends to go higher. I tried all your exercises and still cannot yet master stability. I am also new to singing & also do not understand the pulse thing in your audios for rhythm training. Pls help. Thanks very much.”
So the beauty with The Singing Zone forum is that members pitch in and help out and give suggestions based on their experiences. Sometimes it’s actually more helpful to get suggestions from your peers than from me. But once in a while I butt in and offer my thoughts.
Now what is interesting is that when we are beginners (and we are all beginners at some point), we tend to have a very different mindset than when we become more advanced.
And we often have very faulty beliefs of what advanced people do and think.
I believe if we help beginners understand the mindset that the more advanced have, we also help them to move away from being beginners more quickly.
As this person becomes more knowledgeable about music he will learn that it is not the key that moves higher (unless the key changes), but the melody within the same key, and we are helping him to use the rhythm course.
But we won’t discuss that here, because those things are simply solved by learning about music and we can’t expect a beginner to know that yet. (With the music theory course and rhythm course inside of The Singing Zone, he soon will). What I instead am going to address here are the three very important “secrets” to effective learning that are hidden in the sentence “I tried all your exercises and still cannot yet master stability.”
Granted, English is not this person’s first language, and we are okay with that, but even so, there are some very common beliefs hidden here. Let's first start with the word "master". I hear this word used quite a lot, and what fascinates me is that it is mostly beginners who use that word. The reason for that is that people who are very accomplished at something become very accepting of the fact that they will never “master” anything.
Have you ever heard the old saying that "the more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn"? This is absolutely true. Personally, I never think of myself as having mastered anything in my life, even though I might feel I am fairly “good” at some things. More importantly, I love to learn, grow and improve, but I never seek to master anything. This is actually a very important mindset and not just a play on words.
The other part of the sentence is "I still cannot". This is also a mindset which is crucial to let go of. However great I am at something I will always be able to say "I still cannot". But it is meaningless to think that way as it doesn’t propel you forward. It will certainly make you miserable and hinder any progress though. In this case, the person feels this way only after the first lesson, which of course makes it even more destructive.
Part of being able to learn effectively is to develop awareness. And a crucial part of increased awareness is the ability to recognize progress – however small it may be, rather than what we “still” cannot do. (And it's more fun.) So I advise you to turn from "I still cannot" to recognizing progress. The better you become at recognizing progress, the faster you will learn. Remember though that progress is not always measurable. Awareness itself is progress. "Mistakes" and "failures" can be part of tremendous progress in the big picture.
And the third part of the sentence is "I tried". Well, you already know that "trying" something is not the road to success. However, it is a very common use of language. I hear it all the time. Someone has a voice problem or a health problem and feel exhausted because they have "tried everything". What's interesting is that when one probes a little deeper one finds that the person who has "tried" a lot, has in actuality "done" quite little.
So I'm not writing this to make anyone feel bad. Our member who wrote the question is congratulated and is to feel good about posting his concerns and seeking help. That way he can get feedback to help propel him forward.
So for you others reading this, here’s my advice:
1)Stop trying and start doing.
2)Focus on recognizing progress rather on what you still cannot do.
3)Seek to grow, learn, discover, and experience, rather than to “master” something.
Feel free to comment below.
I read a fascinating discussion on the Internet a while ago. It was in respect to mental versus physical. My name was also thrown into that discussion by someone who suggested I was very much into the mental aspects.
And it's true. I am. Very much so.
…we could also argue that I am very much into advanced muscle development.
One of the cornerstones of my method, as well as the Sing With Freedom program, is to develop advanced kinesthetic awareness. That is how we can effectively develop all physical aspects of the voice. That is why it has been proven so effective for pros as well as beginners. And that in turn enables us to practice and learn effectively so we can ultimately express with greater passion and freedom.
In the free video that I provide I mentioned my passion for developing strategies to make my fingers move effectively when I played the violin as a kid.
Now here’s the thing; being able to isolate muscles, release tension, effectively develop strength, coordination and functionality of our body is very much a mental activity.
Being aware, being able to focus and being able to shift your focus by choice is very much a mental activity
Becoming aware of mental resistance, such as fear – whether it is fear of making a fool out of yourself or the fear of singing a high note alone in a room – is very much a mental exercise.
Every athlete who excels at a psychical move has become good at it because of the mental capacity to be aware and recognize the movement and balance in the body.
Everyone who has ever become successful at something has done it because of the mental activity involved in being able to focus on a tasks, choosing the activities to engage in, facing challenges, facing their fears, motivating themselves, developing passion and discipline, and we can go on and on.
What is your right foot doing right now? What about your jaw right now? What is your right hand doing?
Ah, isn’t it fascinating that you can do that?
Hey what are you thinking right now?
Now, “mental” doesn’t necessarily mean “thinking” (quite the contrary actually).
As an athlete I was very much involved in advanced mental training and still am to this day. In all honesty, that is not what the Sing With Freedom program is about. (Maybe I’ll create a real mental training program on learning advanced skills in your mind one of these days?)
The good news is that increasing the awareness of body and mind is a developed skill.
And skill development, as you probably know already, is my passion. Physical or mental - call it what you want, I think we are amazing.
Aren’t we amazing?!