What if Muhammad Ali Believed He Would Fail?

Ali pounds ListonI recently posted an article over at Lifehack.org about the motivational potency of reminding myself, “Not exercising is like taking a brain damage pill.”

This got me thinking about the importance of how we talk to ourselves inside our own heads. Don’t think it’s that big a deal? Consider this question:

How would the history of sports be different if Martina Navratilova, Jack Nicklaus, Muhammad Ali, Joe Montana, Nadia Comaneci, David Ortiz, and Michael Jordan all had the habit of thinking to themselves, “You’re going to choke – you can’t do it – here comes disaster!” just prior to the most critical moments in their athletic careers?

An absurd notion, I know — which underscores the fundamental power of the words we use (and don’t use) in our heads, every moment of every day.

2 responses to “What if Muhammad Ali Believed He Would Fail?

  1. Short, sweet, but oh, so powerful. If only people knew what a transforming experience it is to, as you say, learn to speak to themselves.

    In high school in the 60s, I discovered Maxwell Maltz’s technique that he called “Psycho-Cybernetics” when a professional baseball player suggested it helped him. His theory remains, in my view, the bedrock of useful techniques in this area. A number of his books are still readily available and still highly relevant. I continue to benefit from them today.

    My favorite more or less current books are James Loehr’s “The New Toughness Training for Sports” and Saul Miller’s “Hockey Tough.” Don’t be mistaken. These books don’t just speak to athletes, but provide techniques for everyone to really improve their self-image.

    If your kids play sports only for the purpose of training themselves to “self-talk,” it will be a life changing and enhancing experience for them, the benefits of which will be seen for rest of their lives.

    Nice post, Craw.

  2. Ali’s big at the moment, I think we are all searching for cultural heroes.


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