Wednesday, August 23, 2006

>Mental Toughess is 90% of the Game


I don't think we spend enough time talking about the most important aspect of investing, trading and forecasting. This is the part that sits between your ears. Its the most important thing you possess. ITS YOUR MIND.

This summer I've decided to upgrade the brain cells and eliminate whatever cobwebs I have left. I've undertaken the beginning stages of mental toughness training. From what I've studied, I've come to find out that mental toughness is the most important factor in a person's success. This topic is timely today because we are lucky to live in a time where we have one of the great role models available to show us what results mental toughness can produce.
The roaring 20's had Babe Ruth. The 60s and 70s had Muhammad Ali. The 80s had Wayne Gretzky. The 90s had Michael Jordan. Now we are lucky to have Tiger Woods in our midst. By the time he's done, Woods will likely overtake Jack Nicklaus for first place in amount of major tournaments won. Next to Bono, he is likely the most recognizable figure on the planet.

What makes Tiger Woods so special? Is he really that much of a better golfer than the rest of the field? Not really. Many of you know the story of how he was trained by his dad from a young age. For those of you who don't know, Earl Woods was a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Army. He had Green Beret training and did 2 tours of duty in Vietnam. Here is a short excerpt of an interview he did with Golf Digest a few years back:

I know it's hard to quantify, but how much of Tiger's achievement is physical and how much of it is the mental toughness?

At the professional level, the game is 90 percent mental.

Who do you see on tour who can do some of the same things Tiger can do physically?

Suffice it to say, there are players out there who are not capitalizing on their ability because of their lack of mental toughness.

Are there any players you particularly admire -- besides Tiger -- for their mental toughness?


Anyone from another sport? Michael Jordan?

Yes. Michael Jordan is right there, but I was thinking of Cris Carter of the Minnesota Vikings. He's talented, but the thing that sets him apart is his mental toughness. Jim Brown -- mentally, mentally tough. John Elway. Joe Montana. These are guys who transcend the game by virtue of their mental toughness.

There you have it. According to his father, its the mental part of the game that separates Tiger from the field. Why is it that Tiger is 12-12 in winning the tournament when he has a share of the lead going into the final round? Its because he is able to lock out every emotion and be in the zone when other players can't or won't. He seems to be impervious to the pressure. He was able to do it because he was the recipient of mental toughness training from a Green Beret. Most of the other players on the tour have enough mental toughness to be at the top of their field, but not enough to win with the pressure on.

I don't think we are born mentally tough. Some of us have a higher tolerance for pain than others. For the most part, we need a mentor or a role model to show that there is more potential in most of us than we care to realize. Some of us succeed because we saw how our parents did it. Others because we were lucky enough to have a teacher or coach who pushed us to the limit and got more out of us than we knew we had. Once you get to that level, I won't say it becomes routine, but we do know where the marker for excellence is.

I'm studying mental toughness under Steve Siebold, a former professional tennis player who was good enough to make the circuit but not good enough to win. Mr. Siebold dedicated the rest of his life to learning what he missed in not being able to win consistently. It took 20 years but he mastered the art of mental toughness, first by being the partner of the great Bill Gove and later by developing a whose who list of corporate clients. Siebold has books and tapes as well as a Mental Toughness University which is primarily for corporate clients.

The main reason most people are not as mentally tough as they could be is because they really don't have a mission or vision for their life that really juices them enough to want to run through walls. Many people don't know what they want out of life. THAT'S A MAJOR PREREQUISITE.

Assuming you do know what you want, you have to make the decision that you are going to go for it with intelligent passion. We've heard the saying, a winner never quits and a quitter never wins. That's true, but if something is not working, you can't keep banging your head against the wall. You must make adjustments and improvements to get to the next level. The irony of a strong person is the ability to admit when they are wrong. I know the role model for toughness is John Wayne (I'm old enough) or Arnold Schwarzenegger. But tough people are confident enough to not let their ego get in the way.

If you can do that, then you'll have the drive to persevere through pain, obstacles and rejection.

Why are we discussing mental toughness in a stock market blog? Simply put, a large part of our success in financial markets depends on our mental toughness. In financial markets we must get used to doing the uncomfortable in order to succeed. We always have to go against the crowd and pull the trigger in places on the chart that are scary to most people. Then it requires a certain amount of toughness to stay with a trade. It also requires a certain amount of toughness to abort and admit when something isn't working. I think you can see how important mental toughness can be.

from - THE FIBONACCI FORECASTER - Edited By Jeff Greenblatt

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1 comment:

Vinayak said...

Good thoughts

Keep them comming