100 Ways to Motivate Yourself : Change Your Life Forever by Steve Chandler, chapter name 61-65: Swim laps underwater, Bring on a good coach, Try to sell your home, Get your soul to talk, Promise the moon

61-65: Swim laps underwater, Bring on a good coach, Try to sell your home, Get your soul to talk, Promise the moon

61. Swim laps underwater

When Bobby Fisher prepared for his world championship chess match with Boris Spassky, he prepared by swimming laps underwater every day.

He knew that as the chess matches wore on into the late hours, the player with the most oxygen going to his brain would have the mental advantage. So he built his chess game by building his lungs.

When he defeated Spassky, many were surprised by his astonishing wit and mental staying power, especially late in the matches when both players should've been weary and burned out. What kept Bobby Fisher alert wasn't caffeine or amphetamines—it was his breathing.

General George Patton once gave a lecture to his troops on brainpower. He, too, knew the connection between breathing and thinking.

"In war, as in peace, a man needs all the brains he can get," said Patton. "Nobody ever had too many brains. Brains come from oxygen. Oxygen comes from the lungs where the air goes when we breathe. The oxygen in the air gets into the blood and travels to the brain. Any fool can double the size of his lungs."

I learned about Patton's passion for teaching his troops deep breathing from Porter Williamson. I had once written a few political radio and television commercials that caught Mr. Williamson's attention, so he called me and asked me to lunch one day. Because he had identified himself as the author of Patton's Principles, I eagerly accepted his invitation, having coincidentally read the marvelous book a few weeks earlier. Williamson had served in the army for many years as Patton's most trusted legal adviser.

Williamson told me many stories about serving with Patton, and how truly extraordinary a motivator the general was. Most of the Patton quotes in this book come from Williamson's own memories of his service with the great general. Williamson told me about how he himself had lost his leg to bone cancer, and how the doctors had erroneously forecasted his death twice. His inner strength, he said, often came from the inspiration he received in his days of serving with Patton. "Frequently, General Patton would stop at my desk," recalled Williamson, "and ask, 'How long you been sitting at that desk? Get up and get out of here! Your brain stops working after you sit in a swivel chair for 20 minutes. Keep the body moving around so the juices will run to the right places. It'll be good for the brain! If you sit in that chair too long all of your brainpower will be in your shoes. You cannot keep your mind active when your body is inactive.' "

That one principle—an active mind cannot exist in an inactive body—became Bobby Fisher's secret weapon in winning the world championship of chess. Who would have guessed that swimming underwater would make you a better chess player? Certainly not the overweight, worn-out chess "genius" Boris Spassky.

Sometimes, all you need is the air that you breathe to motivate yourself. Going for a run or a walk or simply deep breathing gives the brain the fuel it feeds on to be newly refreshed and creative.

62. Bring on a good coach

After a rare disappointing round on the golf course, Tiger Woods will often take a golf lesson.

When I first heard about this, I asked myself, who could give Tiger Woods a lesson in golf?

But that was before I ever really understood the value of coaching. The person who taught me that value was a young business consultant named Steve Hardison. Hardison taught me this: Tiger takes a lesson not because his coach is a better player who can give advice and tips, but because his coach can stand back from Tiger Woods and see him objectively.

Steve Hardison had created an art form of coming into corporations and seeing things objectively. In fact, his perception ran deeper than that.

He had near-psychic power to "see what was missing." It was a gift he could also apply to individuals, but only if they were ready for the rigors of his coaching.

I used to teasingly call one of his illustrative personal stories "The

Parable of the Mission." As a young missionary for his church in England, Hardison broke all records for enrolling congregants. He contrasted his own method with that of the other missionaries. While the others would rush out and knock on doors all day, Hardison would spend the first part of each day planning and plotting his activities. By creating his day before it happened, he was able to combine visits, economize on travel time, and increase the number of enrollment conversations in a given day. He also used his creative planning time to set up intra-neighborhood referrals for himself so that many of his visits came with a reference.

The other missionaries were very active, but they were focused on the activity, not the result. They were in the business of knocking on doors and scurrying about—Steve was in the business of enrolling people into the church. The records he set for enrollment were no accident. He planned things that way.

Steve helped me understand something that lives inside of all of us, something he called "the voice." When you wake up in the morning, the voice is there right away, telling you that you are too tired to get up or too sick to go to work. During a sales meeting when you are just about to say something bold to a client, the voice might tell you to cool it.

"Hold back." "Be careful."

"The trick is," said Steve, "to not ignore or deny the existence of the voice. Because it's there, in all of us. No one is free of the voice. However, you don't have to obey the voice. You can talk back to the voice. And when you really get good, you can even talk trash to the voice.

Make fun of it. Ridicule it. Point out how stupid it is. And once you get into that way of debating your own doubts, you start to take back control of your life."

Many times I'd be in the middle of a large business project and ask to meet with Steve for an hour. After he listened for a few minutes, he would almost invariably see right away what was "missing" in my behavior. Like a great golf teacher watching Tiger Woods' backswing, he would say, "Are you willing to accept some coaching on this?" And I would eagerly say yes. Then he would tell me truthfully, sometimes ruthlessly, what he saw. I didn't always like what he saw, but I always grew stronger from talking about it.

Hardison's coaching was so jolting that sometimes it reminded me of an incident that happened to me when I was a boy playing Little League baseball.

I had injured my knee in a play at third base and when the game was over the knee was swollen and my entire leg was stiff. As I sat on the bench with my leg straight out in front of me, a doctor whose son was on our team was kneeling down by my leg as my father looked on. "I'd like you to bend your leg now," he said to me as his hands gently held my swollen knee.

"I can't," I told him.

"You can't?" he asked, looking up at me. "Why can't you?"

"Because I tried, and it really hurts."

The doctor looked at me for a second, and then said simply but gently,

"Then hurt yourself."

I was startled by his request. Hurt myself? On purpose? But then, without saying anything, I slowly bent my leg. Yes, there was tremendous pain, but that didn't matter. I was still mesmerized by his request.

The doctor massaged my knee with his fingers and nodded to my father that everything would be okay. I'd have to have x-rays and the usual precautionary exam, but he saw nothing seriously wrong for now. But I was still aware that something very big had just happened to me. After a boyhood that was characterized by avoiding pain and discomfort of any kind, all of a sudden I saw that I could hurt myself if I needed to, and that I could do it calmly without batting an eye. Perhaps I wasn't the coward I'd always thought I was. Perhaps there was as much courage in me as in anyone else, and it was all a matter of being willing to call on it.

It was a defining incident in my life, and it was not dissimilar to the way Steve Hardison, as a coach, has required that I call on things inside me that I didn't know I had.

One time I was having a hard time enrolling people into seminars and doing my prospecting calls on the phone. Steve grabbed the phone and started calling people and signing them up. Then he accidentally dialed a wrong number and reached some mechanic at a car repair garage. Most people would have apologized at that point and hung up and dialed again. But rather than waste the call, Steve introduced himself and then stayed on the phone—until the mechanic had signed up for a seminar.

Hardison is a gifted and courageous public speaker, a resourceful and relentless salesperson, a talented athlete and a committed family man and church member. The kind of guy who used to make me sick! I could write an entire book about Steve Hardison's remarkable work in coaching and consulting, and someday I just might. Examples of ways that he coached me to higher levels of performance are plentiful. But I think the greatest thing he has taught me is the value of coaching itself. Once you open yourself up to being coached, you begin to receive the same advantages enjoyed by great actors and athletes everywhere. When you open yourself up to coaching, you don't become weaker—you grow stronger. You become more responsible for changing yourself.

In The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck writes, "The problem of distinguishing what we are and what we are not responsible for in this life is one of the greatest problems of human existence...we must possess the willingness and the capacity to suffer continual self-examination."

The best coaches show us how to examine ourselves. It takes courage to ask for coaching, but the rewards can be great. The best moments come when your coach helps you do something you have previously been afraid to do. When Hardison would recommend that I do something I was afraid to do I'd say, "I don't know if I could do that."

"So don't be you," he would say. "If you can't do that, then be someone else. Be someone who could do it. Be DeNiro, be Bruce Lee, be anybody, I don't care, as long as you do it."

Coaching's contribution to my life is illustrated in these words by French philosopher Guillaume Apollinaire:

" 'Come to the edge,' he said. They said, 'We are afraid.' 'Come to the edge,' he said.

They came.

He pushed them. And they flew."

You can get coaching anytime. If coaching is appropriate for your golf or tennis game, it is even more appropriate for the game of life. Ask someone to be honest with you and coach you for a while. Let them check your "swing." Let them tell you what they see. It's a courageous thing to do, and it will always lead to more self-motivation and growth.

63. Try to sell your home

Once when Steve Hardison and I were discussing a few of my old habits that were holding me back from realizing my business goals, I blurted out to him, "But why do I do those things? If I know they hold me back, why do I continue to do them?"

"Because they are home to you," he said. "They feel like home. When you do those things, you do them because that's what you're comfortable doing, and so you make yourself right at home doing them.

And as they say, there's no place like home."

"Home" can be an ugly place if it's not kept up and consciously made beautiful. "Home" can be a dark, damp prison, smelling of bad habits and laziness. But we still don't want to leave it, no matter how bad it gets, because we think we are safe there.

However, when we inspect the worn-out house more closely, we can see that the safety we think we're experiencing is pure self-limitation. It's very hard to leave home—many of us try and fail many times. Noel

Paul Stookey wrote a hauntingly beautiful song called "The House

Song," which captures this feeling. The opening words are, "This house goes on sale every Wednesday morning...and is taken off the market in the afternoon."

After grasping Hardison's metaphor of home, I immediately saw that I needed to move out of my house. I needed to move up in the neighborhood. I needed a better home. A home that contained habits that would keep me focused on goal-oriented activity. Hardison helped coach me in that direction until the new activities began to feel like where I should have been living all along.

Hardison's metaphor of "home" as the equivalent of old disempowering habits has stayed with me for a long time. Recently while I was putting together a tape of motivational music to play in my car, I included the energetic "I'm Going Home" by Alvin Lee and Ten Years After. As I drove around listening to it turned up all the way, I thought about what Hardison taught. I let the song be about the new home I would always be in the process of moving to.

Don't be afraid to leave the psychic home you're in. Get excited about building a larger, newer, happier home in your mind, and then go live there.

In Colin Wilson's brilliant but little-known, out-of-print novel Necessary Doubt, he created Gustav Neumann, a fascinating character who made many discoveries about human beings. At one point Neumann says, "I came to realize that people build themselves personalities as they build houses—to protect themselves from the world. They become its prisoners. And most people are in such a hurry to hide inside their four walls that they build the house too quickly."

Identify the habits that keep you trapped. Identify what you have decided is your final personality and accept that it might be a hasty construction built only to keep you safe from risk and growth. Once you've done that, you can leave. You can get the blueprints out and create the home you really want.

64. Get your soul to talk

We've always been a little nervous, culturally, about talking to ourselves. We usually associate it with insanity. But it was Plato who said that his definition of thinking was "the soul talking to itself." If you really want to get your life worked out, there is no one better to talk to than yourself. No other person has as much information about your problems and no other person knows your skills and capabilities better. And there's no one else who can do more for you than yourself. A lot of people in the motivational and psychological professions recommend affirmations. You choose a sentence to say, such as, "Every day in every way I'm getting better and better," and repeat it whether or not you think it's true. While affirmations are a good first step to re-programming, I prefer conversations. Conversations work faster. The two most inspirational guidelines to productive self-conversational exercises are in Martin Seligman's Learned Optimism and Nathaniel Branden's The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. Seligman offers ways to dispute your own pessimism and create the habit of optimistic thinking. Branden offers provocative sentence stems for you to complete. Rather than brainlessly parroting "I'm getting better and better" to myself, it makes a longer-lasting impression when I logically argue the case and win. With enough back-and-forth conversation, I can prove to myself that I am getting better. Proof beats the parrot every time. It's one thing to try to hypnotize myself through repetition of words to accept something as true, and it's quite another to convince myself that it is true.

Branden suggests that we get our creative thinking going each morning by asking ourselves two questions: 1) What's good in my life? and 2) What is there still to be done?

Most people don't talk to themselves at all. They listen to the radio, watch TV, gossip, and fill up on the words and thoughts of other people all day long. But it's impossible to indulge in that kind of activity and also get motivated. Motivation is something you talk yourself into.

65. Promise the moon

One frightening and effective way to motivate yourself is to make an unreasonable promise—to go to someone you care about, either personally or professionally, and promise them something really big, something that will take all the effort and creativity you've got to make happen.

When President John Kennedy promised that America would put a man on the moon, the power of that thrilling promise alone energized all of NASA for the entire time it took to accomplish the amazing feat. In his book about the Apollo 13 mission, Lost Moon, astronaut Jim Lovell called Kennedy's original promise "outrageous." But it showed how effective being outrageous could be.

In his book Passion, Profit, and Power, Marshall Sylver recalls seeing a billboard in Las Vegas put up by one of the casino owners who wanted to become a non-smoker. The billboard read: "If You See Me Smoking in the Next 90 Days, I'll Pay You $100,000!" Can you see the power in that promise?

A couple of years ago I promised my children that I would send them to camp in Michigan. They had been to the camp near Traverse City before, and loved it. When you live during the year in Arizona, there's something magical about the water and emerald forests of northern Michigan. It was an expensive camp, but when I made the promise I was doing well financially, and I was confident that they could all go.

Then as the summer neared I'd run short of money and had to rearrange my priorities. My speaking schedule had replaced much of the commissioned selling I was doing and it looked like camp might not be in the picture.

I remember specifically talking to my boy Bobby, who was 8 years old at the time, about how times were temporarily hard and how camp didn't look like a good possibility any more this year. He was in the front seat of the car and I'll never forget for as long as I live the look on his face. He said very softly, so softly that I could barely hear him, "but you promised."

He was right. I didn't say I'd try, I didn't say it was a goal, I promised. And the feelings I had at that moment were so overwhelming that I finally said to him, "Yes, I did promise. And because you reminded me that it was a promise, I will say to you right now that you're going to camp. I'll do what it takes. I'm sorry that I forgot it was a promise." The first thing I did was change jobs, and my first condition on accepting my new job was that my bonus for signing was the exact amount of money it took to send my children to camp. It was done.