Cincinnati Enquirer – Jan 29, 2005 – John Eckberg – THE BENGAL SYSTEM Sport psychologist John F. Murray figures that nobody likes discipline less than a player in the National Football League.
And Murray, who has consulted for NFL teams – that he refuses to name – says Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has a bead on performance that should pay off.
Lewis gives players three strikes before they are out. The first strike is a breakdown that leads to a meeting with the head coach. And the meeting itself is the second strike. So if you’ve screwed up one time, you’ve really screwed up twice.
The third strike is when the same thing happens again.
“I like Marvin Lewis’s disciplinary approach,” Murray said. “NFL players respond to that. They want direction. They want to feel like somebody is in charge of the ship. The problem with a lot of coaches is that they try to please everybody.
“There has to be a little fear, consequences that are real. There has to be a bite – otherwise you’re just barking.”
Today’s Super Bowl XXXIX brings local sports fans one final evening of professional football from a 2004-2005 season that was disappointing for avid Cincinnati Bengals fans but fairly entertaining for everybody else.
Performance expert and sport psychologist John F. Murray of West Palm Beach, Fla., believes the Super Bowl is an annual event that gives everybody a chance to look for lessons into achieving peak performance.
This year Murray picks the Philadelphia Eagles.
He arrived at this conclusion by extrapolating from the play-by-play behavior of players and teams’ mental make-up during the intense pressure of post-season playoffs.
He calls his gauge the Mental Performance Index and used it last year to correctly predict that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would upset the Oakland Raiders by at least two touchdowns.
The Bucs won 48-21, a margin of about four touchdowns.
“When you think about it, performance enhancement is far more important in business than in sports,” said the sport psychologist who is known as the “Football Shrink.”
“In business, money is on the line. And like professional football it’s extremely competitive.”
Keys for success
Murray has worked with NFL teams and has testimonials from many sports figures: Dave Wannstedt and Jimmy Johnson, former head coaches for the Miami Dolphins, plenty of college tennis coaches and tennis pro Lindsay Davenport.
Though Murray, 43, can talk for hours on the topic of performance under pressure, he says his strategy has eight broad, mental keys for success:
Discipline and hard work.
Passion and having fun.
Resilience or bounce-back.
Confidence and expectations of success.
Intense focus on the task at hand.
Setting and achieving goals.
Controlling emotion and energy levels.
Visualization and imagery.
Dealing with pressure
But nothing separates peak performers from the almost-as-good as the crucible of pressure.
“When lights are shining and the moment is there, super performance can emerge more easily,” said Murray, the author of “Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game” (Jossey-Bass).
Companies that want to encourage peak performance should order up ground-zero evaluations of individuals and then treat people as individuals, not as a group, since the best approaches spurn one-size-fits-all.
When asked to choose one aspect that companies should focus on, he did not hesitate:
“Taking care of the customer is No.1,” Murray said. “Do you give them what they need? Do you find out what they need and provide quality service that is focused and passionate?”
Forget about talent, creativity, goals, vision and leadership.
I would not agree to “forget about” those other factors, but assert that customer service is indeed top priority!
“Finding out what a customer needs and then filling that need is by far the most important action that companies can take to achieve peak performance,” he said. “Talent is not everything. It’s the intangibles that are sometimes ignored that are important.” Dr. Murray’s Bio