Mind Over Sports

PITTSBURGH STEELER LINEBACKER JAMES HARRISON SENT BACK HIS SONS’ PARTICIPATION TROPHIES

Posted on: August 19, 2015

USA TODAY columnist Nancy Armour wrote a great column in today’s USA TODAY about Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker James Harrison giving back his sons’ “Participation Trophies” because they hadn’t earned them, something Ms. Armour was in complete agreement with. As am I. After reading the column it reminded me of something I had written in my new book, “Psycho Self-Imagery” about how the Self-Improvement Movement in this country was heading in the wrong direction. Here’s what I wrote:

“The self-improvement movement in America is heading in the wrong direction, exploiting needs of people who want a quick fix. One of the founders of the positive thinking movement built an entire industry based on a false premise: You can affect behavior in people through positive affirmations; that is, by standing in front of a mirror and telling yourself how wonderful you are. Or by rewarding school children with gold stars for mediocre work; or by engaging in positive self-talk to turn your life around. Best-selling books speak to us of The Personality Ethic, Unlimited Power, Personal Power, Cognitive Behavior & Success Triangles.

Self-proclaimed experts tell us how to reach peak performance, how to master the art of selling, how to deliver superior customer service, how to tap into the power of focused thinking and how to be a great communicator. But none of these approaches takes into consideration the self-image, or self-esteem, of their audiences. Individuals take action and respond to situations based on how they feel about themselves – and this is something they seldom address.

People have grown wealthy in this country by posing as motivational speakers, but I don’t believe you can motivate anyone. Inspire, yes. But not motivate. Motivation must come from within, and the higher an individual’s self-image, the greater his or her motivation.

It has often been said that certain coaches are great motivators. What really is meant is that these coaches create an environment for their athletes to build their own self-images and then motivate themselves.”

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N. V. I.
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