Attitude & Energy
by Steve King
I have no doubt that since taking up running you will have noticed that
you’ve developed some positive attitudinal shifts, not just chemically
induced by the exercise, but also through the social, environmental,
relationship and racing experiences that have transpired.
I have been fortunate enough to have been involved in the sport of
running for over 50 years and know that it has afforded me
opportunities for personal experience, insight, growth and ultimately
wisdom, that can be put to very good use if I choose to focus on what
works and let go of what doesn’t.
Whether through watching all great sportsmen and women or through
analysing my own successes and failures, it is obvious, with the
exception of fast-twitch activities, that relaxation is a big part of
the key to being successful, i.e. letting one’s natural ability and
body’s wisdom be in a FLOW state.
Another truism is that Attitude is everything. It will determine how
you do and what you take from any experience, as well as what you give
to any experience or performance. Having an Attitude of Gratitude
allows for one to be in a natural FLOW state and to both give and
receive positive energy in the forms of fun, joy and satisfaction.
When young or first getting into any sport, we are usually initially
involved for fun, fitness and friendships. After time we may choose to
move into a more competitive mode or reach a certain level of comfort
or competence, whether by comparing ourselves to others or hopefully by
comparing with our `former` selves or what we had previously perceived
as our limitations.
Performance is usually presented as the pooling of three things;
1) Ability – the potentialities that are developed and refined by
knowledge and experience,
2) Focus – taking notice of just one thing by narrowing one’s attention
to other input, including the modulation of energy levels, i.e. being
able to calm down or energize oneself at will, which is often impaired
by disturbances such as anxiety or depression,
3) Motivation – the reason one does something, which incorporates
perspective, the ability to generate short and long term goals, and the
flexibility to move from one to another.
I believe, that to achieve absolutely the best possible personal
performance, we need to also include one’s Attitude/Mindset and Energy
Firstly, let it be understood that “Winning is independent of the
outcome.” It is about achieving the best result in less than ideal
circumstances, or doing the best one can under the given circumstances
at that particular time.
It is by focusing on the process rather than on the outcome that you
will achieve the best possible result – on the execution (such as when
driving a car) - being in a spontaneous flow state.
To achieve the personal best of ourselves we must be prepared in the
physical and nutritional realms, as well as having worked on the
necessary technical/tactical issues. But many coaches would agree that
the most important ingredient is in the mental arena.
Chiropractors and other health practitioners refer to the Triad of
Health, meaning the structural, chemical, emotional/mental elements of
our makeup. If any one of these is out of balance then the other two
areas get negatively impacted.
Hans Selye, an authority on the issue of stress, gave the name
`Eustress` to identify and differentiate that which is a healthy level
of stress, i.e. a motivating and rewarding level, from unhealthy
stress. Unhealthy stress can cause panic, anxiety, hyperventilation,
uptightness, anger and performance anxiety.
The first three items of the Suicide Status Form are
1) Psychic pain – which is an unbearable level of psychological
2) Press – pressures (stressors) that impinge upon one’s psychological
3) Perturbation – which is an intense state of emotional upset and
includes agitation, perceptual constriction, impulsiveness, and a
penchant for action.
The underlying feelings that stress provides are; fear, pain, and fear
of more pain. Suffering does indeed suck!
One item that gets little attention is the importance of sleep.
Deprivation of it often lends itself to some form of mood disorder,
therefore some discipline is needed and it should be viewed as training
– a time when the batteries get re-charged.
If we seek a balance of performance and personal excellence, then we
firstly need to ask ourselves whose needs are being satisfied by the
athlete’s performance? We need to be heading in a direction of our
personal choice and desire, and not that of another by trying to
provide some vicarious satisfaction for them or to attain approval from
At some levels you may note that you have you been your own worst enemy
and that you find yourself constantly self-sabotaging when the palace
of possibilities stand before you.
If we have that awareness then it behooves us to stop living with the
problem and start living with the answer, to recover or continue to
repeat the sabotaging cycle.
By virtue of our past experiences, our energy levels and our attitude,
we can find ourselves feeling spirited/motivated/enthused/passionate or
dis-spirited and lacking the wherewithal to perform anywhere close to
our true potential.
It is important for us to figure out by whom or by what are we inspired
or motivated. Nowadays many runners are motivated to run for the
pursuit of fitness, camaraderie, challenge or charity, whereas, prior
to the running booms, performance was the main motivator. By virtue of
the `everyman` involvement in the sport there are many who provide the
inspiration that drives others to participate.
I have always found that my performances were `stronger` when, without
their awareness, I dedicated a race to somebody of significance to me.
The other times that I noted I always put in a full effort was in road
relays – by dedicating a race to a person or a cause
(inspiration/motivation ) I believe that we draw upon the inner
passion, enthusiasm and spirit that also manifests in those team road
Having and harnessing the necessary mental components used to equate to
being mature in an age-related sense, but it doesn’t need to be any
longer. It is about application of the knowledge. It is about letting
go of what doesn’t work and focusing on what does. We are the experts
on ourselves and there is enough external expertise in all forms,
including personal coaches and written material, that we do not need to
keep re-inventing the wheel. There will be some up-to-date information
and training methods that are worthy of our attention, i.e. the Pose
method, but we do not need years and years of trial and error to figure
out a good personal goal-oriented training program.
We need to be willing to risk and work at change if we have stuck to a
routine that has never paid the dividends we have sought, as
performance and experience alone do not lead to confidence. Confidence
and belief are the biggest determinants of excellence and we have to
make a personal commitment to excellence to reach the highest
This commitment is purposeful and planned and is based around fidelity
Although it would appear to be the ideal set-up, one should not rely
totally upon outside support for providing opportunity, encouragement
and motivation, as it is the person who has the internal self-driven
fortitude, combined with confidence, belief, experience and wisdom who
focuses on what works and lets it flow, while embracing and enjoying
Our biggest fear is usually the fear of failure. The most used acronym
for Failure is Found Another Important Lesson Upon Reviewing
Experience. One way to reframe that same thing is to review a perceived
failure as being feedback, fuel for future reference or fertiliser for
success! Regardless of success or perceived failure, there is always a
it is what you do with the result that counts. Are there any lessons
from it that you can take away with you?
If you start putting yourself down you with negative internal dialogue
or `roof brain clutter` then you have created and are already competing
against one extra opponent! We therefore need to modify our self-talk.
We can focus by using a
written personal script list, which we can verbalise internally and can
share with others, such as coaches or supporters, to use during an
event. These scripts would be positive personal commands and/or
positive, technical or mood phrases that can be used to counter
fatigue. They could be reminder of a dedication/charity or simply to
push/pull etc. They can also be used to help counteract pain and
It does not mean that we need to analyse every little thing as we can
get `paralysis by analysis`, but gaining confidence minimises the
worries and remember that `Worrying is praying for what you don’t want`.
After some racing experience, and possibly with the help of a coach, we
should be able to identify our own key to consistency.
The only difference regarding pre-competition and competition
conditions is having vs. not having control, the predictable vs. the
unpredictable. We can have routines and rituals in our training phases
but, given all the possibilities that a race or event can challenge us
with, we need to be very flexible in order to achieve flow and high
Emotion can be thought of and felt as either negative or positive, but
it’s how one chooses to use it that determines whether or not it will
be productive and work for you or be destructive and self-sabotaging.
Emotion is energy in motion and `energy flows where attention goes`
(see below) Attention and intensity equals focused emotion.
Over-arousal can be an issue - the antidote for which is relaxation.
Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner, uses the acronym
CANCER to represent those things that helped him survive the disease
and fully grow as an athlete and humane being. The acronym stands for
Courage, Attitude, Never give up, Curability, Enlightenment and
Remembrance (of fellow patients).
Millions of his yellow wristbands have sold as a result of people being
inspired by the man and his cause. As a result, `Live Strong` has
become a motivational personal script or self-mantra for many people.
Dr. Martin Collis of Vancouver coined the acronym MELLOW to encompass
those areas which I believe allow for a balanced triad of health. They
are Mind, Exercise, Laughter, Love, Optimal nutrition and Wonder. These
are indeed ingredients for a `spirited` existence.
The one thing we know for sure is that none of us will get out of this
existence alive, so we might as well make our life something that we
truly want it to be.
We know that what the mind dwells on, the body reveals and therefore
our primary goals should incorporate becoming a friend to the self and
not, at times, being our own worst enemy and continually beating
oneself up. We will inhabit our body 24 hours a day for the rest of our
lives, so we might as well make peace with the vehicle and engine we
drive in and provide it with the best possible fuel!
There are some important questions that we can ask ourselves in order
to assist us in determining and developing our other life and athletic
How do you want to be, and how
would you know when you are there?
What dreams did you have as a child that you have given up on?
Who do you wish you could be like?
What would you like to do that you haven’t been able to do yet?
What would you do/attempt/be if your success was guaranteed?
What legacy of self would you like to leave behind?
I am not a religious person but I do subscribe to the Huna philosophy
which consists of seven basic principles;
1) The world is what you think it is.
2) There are no limits.
3) Energy flows where attention goes.
4) Now is the moment of power.
5) To love is to be happy with - love is the only ethic needed in Huna.
6) All power comes from within.
7) Effectiveness is the measure of truth.
As Frank Outlaw wrote “Thoughts
become words, words become actions, actions become habits, habits
become character, character becomes your destiny”.
Being the world’s leading experts on ourselves, I suggest that we need
to utilise our own `inner coach` wisdom by calling upon what I call the
`Independent All-Knowing Expert Observer` part of oneself. By stepping
`outside` of ourselves we can avoid athletic and other forms of
self-sabotage by asking questions such as, “What advice would I give
right now if I really cared for this person and I were watching him/her
(meaning oneself) training/racing, or if I were coaching a runner in
this predicament.” When we hear our own loving advice then we need to
heed it by applying it to our self, even when a part of us doesn’t
believe that we deserve it.
When, at some future point, you reflect on this time in your sporting
life - this particular stage, ask yourself how you want to think of
your performance and attitude or your own part in the team’s
performance? Do you want it to be one of enjoyment and satisfaction or
disappointment and frustration? Define the attitude you wish to take
into it with you and observe the difference it brings to your overall
The manner in which you train or practice will define your performance.
For high performance one should incorporate deliberate practice,
which is designed to take you out of the comfort zone, and pressure
practice, i.e. tactical. One should not avoid focus on any weaknesses –
in fact, the purpose of a drill is to expose weaknesses.
We are forever involved in self-dialogue and, if we find ourselves in a
state of inner turmoil, some healthy reframes that we can use could
include, “I am cordially invited to change my mind.” “I can choose
peace instead of this.” “I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt.”
If you have not yet achieved a goal and find yourself internally using
put-downs, it is more productive to use a reframe such as “To this
point I haven’t hit the stride that I want to.”
Sports psychologists now play a big part in elite athletes` training
arsenals and regimens. Mental rehearsal is of vital importance to all
goal-oriented athletes, regardless of comparative performance level. If
our visualisation is of watching or observing a third party, then it is
passive and external, i.e. modeling. However, if it is in the first
person i.e., seeing and feeling the self doing it, then it is internal,
active and kinesthetic, which creates the desired simulation. It is
therefore possible to use mental rehearsal as one’s basic warm-up and
it re-defines dry-land training.
Dr. George Goodheart developed a disputed means (Applied Kinesiology)
by which, I believe, we can test the effects of beliefs, thoughts,
statements, images etc. on our physical well-being and ability.
Testing can also be done on the foods, medications and supplements that
an individual uses. I have often demonstrated Applied Kinesiology and
the body’s innate wisdom as it comes into contact with substances such
as water, coffee and tobacco, as well as with an electrical socket or
battery – by reversing the polarity the body’s resistance is lowered or
heightened. Dr. John Diamond has authored the books `Your Body Doesn’t Lie` & `Life Energy`, which detail what is
happening, how to apply it, and its many applications and implications.
Dr. Donald Lepore (The Ultimate
Healing System) uses AK to determine the body’s nutritional
needs and deficiencies (fuller details are also available in my book `Rapid Recovery` or via my website –
Applied Kinesiology has demonstrated that an athlete’s motivation has a
major impact on the mind/body/spirit energy level. If motivated by
pride or greed (i.e. the thought of defeating opponent, becoming a
star, making lots of money) then the arm will go weak – whereas if the
motivation is about the honour of representing your country, your
sport, or dedicating a race to someone, or just the sheer joy for the
sake of excellence, then the arm will be strong. This could, in part,
be a reason for someone who has little pressure on them to set a new
personal record in the heats, but who then falls apart in the final due
to the added pressure and mindset motivation shift it could facilitate!
One of the main reasons for many doctor’s office visits is due to
hypoadrenalism, though it will often be given other names such as
fatigue or depression. Nutrition is a big factor for all, but
especially so if you are engaged in athletic activity. It is easy for
our system to become depleted of essential nutrients, vitamins,
minerals, amino acids etc. and water and electrolytes such as potassium
and sodium are vital. Dehydration is a major issue that was only really
appreciated as such with the running boom of the 70`s when aid stations
became more readily available in road races. With the body being made
up of around 70% water and through Dr. Masaru Emoto’s fabulous book `Messages from Water`, which
beautifully illustrates the impact of thoughts and images on water,
(see the film `What the Bleep do we
Know`) we are only now becoming fully cognisant of the statement
that `what the mind dwells on the body reveals`.
Dr. William Tiller, a Stanford professor who is working on the genome
project, has spoken about the major role of `loving
intentionality` in healing and his work and opinions are also featured
in the same film. Dr. Wayne Dyer has been the host of a popular TV
program called the `Power of Intentionality`. These issues have been
somewhat minimised in the past, but clearly they have a major impact in
our overall athletic, fitness and wellness goals and successes.
Neurological Disorganisation (Polarity Switching) can happen to anyone
on a temporary basis as a result of some form of toxicity, including
`stinking thinking`/negativism, allergens – even nightmares (as the
body cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is
imagined). However there are some people who have a major problem and
the `norm` for them is being in a permanent state of reversal. This
would possibly show itself in their gait – that, when walking or
running, instead of their left arm moving forward as their right leg
does, it is the left arm and left leg that does so. Another sign can be
when someone constantly says the exact opposite of what they mean, i.e.
East when meaning West. This `state of reversal` will have a
detrimental effect on a person`s purview and perceptions of the
universe and of themselves. With pre- and post Applied Kinesiology
testing, I will often demonstrate the impact of the `Collarbone
Breathing` correction method for Neurological Disorganisation. Apart
from shifting the mental reversal state, those tested also note a big
increase in their resistance strength. I use this technique every
morning (as well as the four correction points listed below) for
maintenance and prevention (from reversal) as well as to maximize my
physical, emotional and spiritual strength. It should also be used
prior to any competition or potentially nerve-wracking or uncomfortable
There are four other reversal correction points that I recommend be
used daily and for pre-competition and these are;
1) The adrenal massage.
2) The tender spot near heart - clockwise rub (Neurolymphatic Reflex
3) Tapping under the nose (the `Peak Performance` point + under the
bottom lip - these are the end points of the Conception and Governing
4) Tapping the side of the hand (karate chop point).
For a fuller description of Collarbone Breathing and these four
reversal correction points and how, when and why to do them, please refer to the relevant section in my book `Rapid Recovery: Accelerated Information Processing & Healing` or to my
and look under the headers `Collarbone Breathing` and `Performance
& Psychological States`. It should be noted that doing this energy
regimen on a daily basis will take only two or three minutes and has no
cost attached to it except the time - but the potential payoff can be
the optimal experience of the palace of possibilities.
Most people carry with them some form of miasm or predisposition to a
certain ailment, such as the chicken pox virus, which, if it gets
`expressed`, can manifest as a painful case of shingles. However, we do
have the ability to create much healthier forms of cellular memory by
means of visualisation, training and racing experience that we can
specifically gear towards expression at the peak time in order to
experience and be rewarded with the desired athletic goal.
Visualisation is now an accepted and validated tool of sports
psychology (remember that the body does not know the difference between
what is real and what is imagined) and the whole system will start to
respond well as it gains a comfort level `knowing` that it has been in
the imagined scenario many times before.
As we continue to install and reinforce our desired memory cell images
and feelings, then the whole person begins to experience and enjoy a
`flow` state, whether one is performing or in competition. Performance
anxiety is one of the main obstacles to those `white light` moments and
that is why I incorporate energy techniques such as Tapas Acupressure
Technique (TAT) and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) for quicker
and more complete installation of the goal-oriented visualisation and
Success will be more likely to come if one has an expectation of
success. Therefore, by changing one’s goals to that of performance
process rather than only on the outcome, the event will be a fully
present one with constant access to one’s `inner coach`, and the
body/mind/spirit will have shifted from an anticipatory anxiety-based
to an excitement-based experience.
It has been said that you cannot have a strong emotion while you are
physically relaxed. Therefore, if you find yourself having strong
emotions that stiffen the body and stifle the possibilities you might
need to consciously remind yourself of that and choose to do the simple
`Wet Noodle` exercise. Just allow yourself to relax as much as is
possible in a given situation and give an internal command for every
part of you to relax, release and totally flop – just like a wet
noodle. The progressive muscle relaxation combats any pressure or
perturbation. Notice whether or not you have the ability to observe
thoughts in your head without any reaction to them (sympathetic nervous
system or otherwise). If you are able to then you are in a Tapas state,
which allows for total psyche and physical relaxation.
The simple Serenity Prayer contains a magnificently powerful message
that has been a guide for millions. It states, ”Grant me the Serenity
to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things
I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Dr. David Hawkins, author of `Power
vs. Force` (which fully endorses the use of Applied
Kinesiology), stated that "All stress is internally generated by one’s
Gerald Puls, a 75+yrs old Ironman competitor from Pueblo, Colorado sent
me a card that stated, “Exercise is the chain that links us to the
Chariot of well-being. Well-being means happiness, but happiness is
also an attitude, and the best attitude is one of gratitude.”
How lucky we are to be able to choose to run for fun, fitness,
adventure, competition or to complement and honour our existence. Our
attitude of gratitude needs to extend to those who help make it
possible, whether they be our loved ones, race directors, volunteers or
those who assist in our healthy overall maintenance. Putting out
positive words, thoughts and vibrations - and being willing to receive
them, allows for the quantum possibilities to be personally and
We have to recognise that life is indeed, at times, a struggle and that
winning or losing are in the hands of the gods. We must therefore learn
to celebrate the struggle!
Albert Schweitzer stated that, ”The
greatest discovery of any
generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their
attitudes of mind.”
As a final note of coincidence, providence or serendipity, you might
find it interesting to note that, when using the word ATTITUDE and the
number that corresponds with the letters of the alphabet, i.e. A(1)
T(20) T(20) I(9) T(20) U(21) D(4) E(5) you get a grand total of 100.
The attitude you choose to carry with you directly determines your
experience of everything!
“He who cannot change the very fabric
of his thought will never be able to change reality.” President
“All stress is internally generated
by one’s attitudes.” Dr. David Hawkins.
“The only thing I could change was my
attitude and by changing that, everything changed.”
Anthony de Mello. “Nothing has
changed except my attitude – so everything has changed”. The
Enlightenment by Anthony de Mello.
“The longer I live, the more I
realise the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more
important than facts. It is more important than the past, than
education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than
successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more
important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a
company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice
every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. We cannot
change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a
certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do
is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am
convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to
it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
Armstrong, Lance. with Sally Jenkins. It’s Not About the Bike.
New York: Berkley
Diamond, John. Your Body Doesn’t Lie. New York: Warner Books, 1979.
Emoto, Masaru. Messages From Water. Tokyo, Japan: Hado Kyoikusha. 2001.
Hawkins, David. Power vs. Force: the Hidden Determinants of Human
Behaviour. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. 2002.
King, Serge. (not related – honestly!) Mastering Your Hidden Self: A
Guide to the Huna
Way. Wheaton, Ill: Quest Books. 1985.
King, Stephen P. Rapid Recovery: Accelerated Information Processing
& Healing. Victoria, B.C.: Trafford Publishing. 2004.
Lepore, Donald. The Ultimate Healing System. Provo, Utah: Woodland
Nickel David J. Acupressure for Athletes. New York: Henry Holt &
Co., Inc. 1984.