“Spring training” for the business people

Executive Toughness: The Mental-Toughness Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance By Jason Selk McGraw-Hill Publishers $22 hardcover

Spring training isn’t just for athletes. It’s a good time to jumpstart work performance too. Jason Selk, Ph.D. and director of mental training for the St. Louis Cardinals, is a top-tier executive coach and knows everything there is to know about developing the mental toughness required for achieving goals. The techniques he outlines in this book are the same ones he used to help the Cardinals defeat the heavily favored Detroit Tigers in the 2006 World Series. The book also features a daily 100-second mental workout.

Selk believes spring training for the business mind should include five performance-boosting lessons from the Cardinals bullpen. “When I was hired by the Cardinals, it wasn’t to teach them mechanics. It was to train them in mental toughness,” he said. “I became their first director of mental training, and that year they went on to win their first World Series in 20 years.”

Since that time, he has trained many world-class athletes as well as entrepreneurs and executives using the same techniques. He says there are important parallels between these groups. “First and foremost, business people are prone to many of the same unhelpful behaviors and mindsets as underperforming athletes, which prevent both groups from being at the top of their game and outshining the competition,” he said.

According to Selk, the five spring training tips are: focus on your swing, not the home run; keep your eye on the ball; follow your code of conduct; rest and rejuvenate between games; don’t push through the pain.

This executive and athletic mental trainer espouses three fundamentals for attaining high-level success. 1) Accountability — admit to mistakes, correct them and, most important, learn from them. 2) Focus on your strengths, on winning, on reaching your goal for only 100 seconds per day. 3) Optimism — don’t just believe you can succeed, know you can succeed.

Executive Toughness takes readers through the steps of making these critical behaviors part of their every day routine. “Practice your accountability, focus and optimism, and you’ll be on the path to attaining your goals. Make them part of your mental DNA, and there will be no turning back – ever,” he said.

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