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BY Joel Junker

Improve and Strengthen Your Mind

Yankee baseball legend, Yogi Berra, once said, “90% of the game is half mental.”  Yogi is known for his wit and wisdom that sometimes is hard to understand, yet this one is clear. What Yogi meant was,  that in order to be successful in baseball, one’s mental capacity is more important than one’s physical talents .  Yogi was not referring to intelligence in this case, but rather one’s mental “fitness” – confidence, ability to overcome fears, perform under pressure, visualize success, manage one’s anger and more.

Over my vacation (reason for the recent break in my blog posts), I read an excellent book titled Mind Gym by Gary Mack with David Casstevens.  Gary Mack is a leading sports psychology consultant who has worked with the Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, Phoenix Cardinals and other professional athletes throughout sports.  A Cameron-Brooks Alumnus who played collegiate soccer at the University of Notre Dame and went on to play professionally in the U.S., recommended this book to me.  Although the book is mostly about strengthening one’s mental capacity in sports, the analogy to a business or military career, and to interviewing, is quite easy to see.

Early in the book, Mack writes, “How you think affects how you feel and perform.  Training your brain is as important as training your body.”  Then he quotes Mark McGwire, who said, “The mind is a powerful thing and most people don’t use it properly.”  His point is that most athletes do not spend enough time increasing their mental capacity and preparing for the mental requirements of their sport.  The great ones, however, do.  This is also true for other professions.  If you want to be great, you have to learn how to dream, visualize, prepare your mind, face fear, overcome nerves and mentally prepare for adversity among other things. 

One of Mack’s clients is current baseball great and All-Star Alex Rodriguez from the New York Yankees.  Rodriguez states, “I believe a champion wins first in his mind, then he plays the game, not the other way around.  It’s powerful stuff.”  When I read this quote, I thought of JMO candidates conducting their interviews at Conferences and in the follow up process.  It’s so easy, and understandable, to get nervous.  This is going to be a huge change, and the JMOs future career.  At Cameron-Brooks we do several things to help candidates prepare mentally for interviewing.  First, we have all of the candidates ingrain the phrase in their heads, “Yes I can!”  That’s because essentially what the companies will be asking in an interview is, “Can you?”  Second, we provide all candidates with a couple of external motivational items at the Conference to keep them positively motivated.  We also conduct a visualization exercise on Monday morning having all of the candidates close their eyes and imagine a successful interview.

For those of you preparing for interviewing now, I recommend you conduct some visualization exercises.  First, visualize yourself at the ultimate end goal, in your new business career.  Take time to really imagine yourself being in your new career and being successful in the transition.  Second, imagine yourself in an interview with a company recruiter.  Take time to imagine yourself building rapport with the recruiter, explaining your competencies, asking good questions, and expressing interest.  Visualize the recruiter taking notes, smiling and giving you good feedback.  Be specific with your visualization.  Remember, you can accomplish anything that you create in your mind.

I will write a few future blogs about specific points from Mind Gym that impacted me.  In the meantime, if you are looking for an easy, relatively short, but powerful book for self-development, I recommend Mind Gym.  Do not just read the book, but take notes as you go along, answering the questions, and writing down specific steps you can take to increase your mental abilities and better prepare for your work.

Joel Junker