05 June 2012

"Stillpower" by Garret Kramer Review and Quotes

I got the chance to get an early copy of the book Stillpower: Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life by Garret Kramer, and I have to say that I enjoyed it. It was not my favorite book, but I think it is worth reading for athletes and coaches on the chance that they are able to glean one or two insights from the book that will really help them out.

The book talks all about recognizing that motivation is internal, whether it is in sports or in life, and we cannot seek external motivations. If we do that, it will be fleeting, and we will soon find ourselves performing worse. If we look to things happening to us as getting us down or up, we are not relying enough on the internal factors of performance.

One story that I enjoyed from the book which talks about being motivated and satisfied by the right things was a story about former Argentinian golfer Robert De Vicenzo. The story from the book goes:

Robert De Vicenzo, the renowned Argentinian professional golfer, once won a tournament with a substantial cash prize. After receiving his check and smiling through interviews and photos, he went to the clubhouse and was prepared to leave. Sometime later, as he walked to his car in the parking lot, he was approached by a young woman. She offered well wishes on the victory and then told him that her baby was seriously ill and near death, but she had no money to pay the doctors' bills and hospital expenses De Vicenzo was so moved by her story that right on the spot, he took out a pen and endorsed the winning check over to the woman. "Make some good days for the child," he said as he pressed the check into her hand.

The following week, De Vicenzo was having lunch at the next tour stop when a PGA official approached him. "Several members of the parking lot crew told me you met a young woman after the tournament last week."

De Vicenzo nodded. "Well," said the official, "I hate to tell you, she's a phony. She has no sick kid. I'm sorry, my friend, but that girl fleeced you."

De Vixenzo responded, "You mean there's no dying baby?"

"That's right."

"That's the best news I've heard all week," De Vicenzo responded.


I can only imagine how most people (myself included) would have responded to that situation if I was De Vicenzo, but reading about him response and his clarity (the world is better if there is no sick baby compared to if there is a sick baby), it is easy to see how he was a person with his priorities and life in order.

At the end of the book, Kramer gave his ten reminders that will "point you away from external quick fixes and toward your own natural understanding" :

1. Only when you feel a sense of cooperation with your teammates, coaches, and even your opponents will you be mentally prepared to compete to the fullest extent possible.

2. Struggles only occur when you are not operating from a clear mind-set. So when you attempt to solve problems from this state of mind, your performance will only get worse.

3. A coach's words are much less important than the state of mind from which the words are spoken.

4. A coaching methodology that focuses on behaviors is mentoring after the damage has already been done.

5. Recognize the difference between your life situations and your life.

6. Keep goal setting in perspective.

7. Without the free will to choose, you will lack the resources to draw upon personal insights and move through errant emotions.

8. The opportunity always exists to move through any situation successfully, no matter how challenging it might appear.

9. Understand that no matter what you are thinking at any moment in time, there is nothing you actually have to do.

10. You will perform to the best of your ability from the ease, simplicity, and peacefulness of stillpower.

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Is Stillpower worth the read? It depends. If you are an athlete or coach, I think you could get something out of this, because obviously even one insight that improves your performance will make it worthwhile. In addition, it is a quick and easy read, which should make it a relatively easy book to get through.

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