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The Belmont Abbey College Professorial Blog

Embrace Change Through Understanding its Process

Most of us don’t like change. We seem to like it even less if it means changing something about ourselves. We usually try to avoid change altogether because it will cost us something: time money, energy, comfort, or more. And even when we know deep down that it may be for the greater good, we still can’t help but cringe at the thought of change. 

But what happens when the game, or even a life or business situation, isn’t going your way? Most likely, if our current efforts aren’t working in the heat of a game, we change our plays to employ a new strategy. The same is helpful in all facets of life – if it’s not working, change it.

Similar to the philosophy behind Pascal’s Wager, either change and possibly win or do nothing and lose. By understanding the process of change while strengthening your will to overcome your resistance to it, you will minimize the pain and eliminate the procrastination that often stops you from changing when you know it’s for the best. Here’s a roadmap on the process of change from “Less Than A Minute To Go”:

* Fear and anxiety: Change begins in your mind, but how does your mind do it? What enables your mind to figure things out and take the proper action? The first steps we take toward change often involve trying something new. Sometimes, we struggle with fear, in this case an emotion based on the false belief that something bad or uncomfortable is going to result from change. This is the reason for our resistance, or even the decision to stop change from happening entirely. This is why knowledge and reason are helpful.

* Knowledge and reason: Knowledge is simply the mental process of being aware of something and comparing or connecting it to something else. Reason is how you make good use of what you know. It enables you to infer and arrive at a sound conclusion by seeing the connection between one premise and another that you already know to be true. With these two components, you are prepared to act – “I know what it takes: this is reasonable. It’s safe. I can do this. I will do this.”

* The will to pursue: Even if you’re willing to enter the uncarted waters of change, it doesn’t mean it will be easy. When you are faced with an endless stream of negative thoughts, it’s not the one drop of water that gets you soaked, but rather the sudden downpour of a million droplets. In the same way, it’s not the one negative thought that holds you back so much as the endless harangue. The answer – exercise your will to pursue and persevere positive change.

No matter how difficult the circumstance, if you have the knowledge of what is objectively true, use your reason to make good use of what you know and exercise your will to put reason into action. It begins with the first small step, and then the next, and the next, and so on until you are doing what you know is true and right. If negative thoughts creep in along the way that preoccupy and distract you, remember who’s in charge and don’t sign for them.

Monday, December 23, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

The Cost of the Super Bowl Leads to a Conversation on Virtue

Super Bowl XLVIII will cost approximately $70 million. When viewing sports through the lens of history – originating in the form of competitive play – it’s amazing how over time we have structured play into an industry garnering billions of dollars each year.  

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Is spending an exorbitant amount of money on “elevated play” somehow erroneous? Do we need to readjust our perspective? I recently discussed these topics with Drew Mariani of The Drew Mariani Show, using the business world (among other topics) as an analogy. The podcast in its entirety can be found here, with our discussion beginning halfway through (minute 29).

We like to be the best of the best in all we do, and with that comes the desire to watch the best of the best perform at top levels. In business, athletics and life – we keep an eye on the experts because their talent and precision is intriguing. The difference with sports, however, is that we are willing to pay to watch other people play and showcase their skills. And as a result, a 30-second commercial spot during the Super Bowl now goes for $4.5 million.

While spending millions to produce and promote a single football game is undoubtedly a large amount of money, it will likely generate billions in economic impact for memorabilia, food, tickets, parking, lodging, and the like. Still, the bottom line is that the reason why these numbers are so high is because we are willing to pay for and endorse the experience. 

Some people argue that professional athletes are paid too much money. But, in reality – just like in business – it’s all about supply and demand. If someone is highly skilled and good at what they do consistently, such as Drew Bees of the New Orleans Saints, the highest paid NFL quarterback, he can demand more. And it is often those who earn the most who are the most generous. They recognize their responsibility to be good stewards of what they have received and gladly share it by giving back in forms of volunteerism, service or financial generosity.

Drew Mariani raises an interesting point when he says that paying people more – athletes or employees, alike – creates incentives to do better and perform at higher levels. If everyone within your organization received the same pay, there would be little motivation to produce higher quality work and go above and beyond for the betterment of the company. (Except for an exceptional few, but that’s another topic for another day.) Why should I break my back when my coworker isn’t performing and we are awarded the same?

In athletics, or even among the most successful businesspeople today, there lies a common misconception that world-class performance and living a life of virtue are at odds with each other. There are many examples to lead us down that path of thinking unfortunately. Interestingly though, many of the methods used to become a great athlete are the same methods used to become a virtuous person. There is wisdom to be gained from sports, regardless of whether or not you play.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

Focusing in Detail

Peak performances are possible, and they happen every day. You are capable of experiencing them more often than you think. Think in terms of detail – the more you try to see, the more absorbed you become. It is the secret of performing “in the zone.”

Human beings can do incredible things – make headline-worthy plays, solve the most complex mathematic equations, come up with the most leading-edge business innovations – the list goes on. But, for some reason, we have a hard time tapping into our full potential outside of extraordinary circumstances. And yet, it’s possible.

One of the keys to reproducing your peak performance is in seeing detail. The more task-related detail that you focus on during any performance, the more absorbed you will become in the moment. Albert Einstein probably wasn’t multitasking when he proposed the general theory of relatively. More realistically, he was undoubtedly so invested and focused in his work that it was his total consumption in it that lead to his discovery. That is what makes peak performances possible.

As outlined in this TIME magazine piece, Stanford researcher, Clifford Nass, challenged 262 college students to complete experiments that involved switching among tasks, filtering irrelevant information and using working memory. The expectation was that frequent multitaskers would outperform non-multitaskers on at least some of these activities. But, the opposite was true and even worse: only one of the experiments actually involved multitasking, signaling that even when focusing on a single activity, frequent multitaskers use their brains less effectively.

Multitasking is not a strength; being in the “zone” requires your full attention, not segments of it here or there. In a sense there is no such thing as multi-tasking. Someone who is a good “multi-tasker” is someone who is really exceptional at quickly shifting their focus to a different task but still seeing each one in great detail. The degree to which you improve your ability to focus on the details of the task at hand is the degree to which you will ultimately improve the quality of your performances.

One hundred percent. That’s it. You can’t give 110 percent. There is no secret slice under the pie. Using 100 percent of your attention to focus on the task at hand, only on the things that are involved with what you are currently doing, guarantees that you will perform at your best in each present moment for the rest of your life. The good news is that there is more – much more – for you to learn that will dramatically improve all that you do.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||