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Pop Psychology

This place is not normally a home to pop psychology of any kind or any kind of motivational coaching. But I do have to say that the latest newsletter from Tom Venuto at Fitness Renaissance had some wonderful gems. The classic comes from Napoleon (I’d like to see the French for this one) apparently in 1769:

Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.

Some reflections on the possible from Vic Johnson picked me up a bit:

William James, the great psychologist and writer of the early twentieth century, said, “Belief at the beginning of a doubtful undertaking is the one thing that will guarantee the success of any venture.”….

One of the best known stories about the power of belief is about Roger Bannister, the first person to run a mile in under four minutes. Before his accomplishment it was generally believed that the human body was incapable of such a feat. Bannister, who was a medical student, held another belief, however. “Fueled by my faith in my training, I will overcome all obstacles. I am brave! I am not afraid to face anyone on the track. I believe this is not a dream. It is my reality.”

As soon as he broke the barrier, belief about the feat changed and his record only lasted 46 days. Within two years more than fifty people also ran a sub-four-minute mile…. What happened in 1954 that hadn’t happened in the previous 6,000 years of humankind that allowed Bannister to achieve this? Did the human body change so that this could be done? No. But the human belief system did!

As a college student, George Danzig studied very hard and always late into the night. So late that he overslept one morning, arriving 20 minutes late for class. He quickly copied the two math problems on the board, assuming they were the homework assignment. It took him several days to work through the two problems but finally he had a breakthrough and dropped the homework on the professor’s desk the next day.

Later, on a Sunday morning, George was awakened at 6 a.m. by his excited professor. Since George was late for class, he hadn’t heard the professor announce that the two unsolvable equations on the board were mathematical mind teasers that even Einstein hadn’t been able to answer. But George Dantzig, BELIEVING that he was working on just ordinary homework problems, had solved not one, but two problems that had stumped mathematicians for thousands of years.

How many great things could you achieve if you just “believed” they were as easy as they really are?

I went to look at taking some more German courses today – after losing my German for two weeks after my Spanish trip – it seems to have come back. My results would place me between level 3 and level 4 classes – with the choice of which to take totally up to me. It appears that even German is within reach with a stretch.

Tom Venuto’s own editorial has a wonderful story from his own life about being hampered by excuses:

Many years ago when I had just started college, my friend and workout partner, Steve, had decided to take the plunge into competitive bodybuilding.

I had already been training for five years (I started when I was only 14), and I wanted to compete too. I talked about it all the time, but I was making all kinds of excuses for why I couldn’t do it. Such as:

I had a small business to focus on, I had a girlfriend and social life, I was in college taking five classes, I didn’t have enough muscle mass yet (had to train a few more years to get bigger), I had recently injured my back, etc, etc. (believe me, I had a LOT of excuses!)

WELL… Steve went on to compete and at the age of 19, he won his first competition: the Teenage Natural Mr. America title. I didn’t compete because I was too busy making excuses.

You should have seen him – he looked AWESOME! I had never met anyone who had developed a body like that at such a young age. And he did it 100% naturally (absolutely NO steroids!)

As you can probably guess, that was the single spark that lit a motivational bonfire under my butt!

But it wasn’t just the fact that Steve competed and won that motivated me. It was the fact that he had all of the same obstacles that I did, (and then some), yet he didn’t let that stop him. He overcame, competed and won, and that’s what “blasted” my own excuses out of the water.

Steve was in college too; except he had six courses, compared to my five.

On top of his full academic schedule, he also had a part time job as a foreman/manager at a textile factory.

He had also recently gotten married and although he didn’t have kids yet, but he did have three dogs to look after!

Steve even had a bad knee from a high school football injury which required surgery and forced him to drop off the varsity team. Even that didn’t stop him. He trained around it.

So what was MY excuse now?

Back to work! There is much to be done.

I am so happy to be back in my beloved Vienna – the most beautiful and charming of all cities in the world, if often old world and occasionally austere – and life begins again.

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