Posts Tagged ‘Business’


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


Miami Herald – Jan 31, 2005 – Cindy Krischer Goodman – There can be valuable lessons learned from pro football as coaches strive to balance players’ lives and work.

As we head into Super Bowl Sunday this much is clear: Bill Belichick is the NFL coach players most admire. Yet in a recent survey, only 10 percent of NFL players said they would want to be on his New England Patriots team.

Belichick recruits players who are passionate about football and teamwork. He doesn’t sleep much and doesn’t expect his players too, either.

Instead of Belichick, most of the NFL players surveyed said they would like to play for Tony Dungy, who is successful with the Indianapolis Colts but who also believes there’s a wide world out there beyond the stadium.

Survey South Florida’s workforce and you just might find the same reaction. Some people thrive in an intensively competitive environment where 12-hour days are the norm. Others work to earn a living and wouldn’t or can’t put aside outside responsibilities or interests. The goal is to find the right environment for you.

”It’s important for employees when looking for a job to take the corporate culture into consideration,” says James Lavin, author of Management Secrets of the New England Patriots. “They should look at themselves to see what they value in life. People want to be the best employees they can and should work for an organization that makes them feel better about themselves.”

Here in South Florida, Stephen McGill runs his credit union much like an NFL coach. He holds daily huddles and communicates the play of the day.

”We talk about the wins and the losses of the day before and the opportunities for improvement,” say McGill, chief executive of Eastern Financial Florida Credit Union in Miramar. ‘We have a very distinct culture. We exist to improve our members’ financial well being. We are laser focused on that and everyone here knows what we are trying to accomplish.”

McGill doesn’t tolerate egos. His 600 employees are rewarded for teamwork, communicating with colleagues, and giving outstanding service. That may mean opening the doors early or staying 10 minutes past closing. McGill expects employees to give work their all, then go home to their outside lives.

The wide range of leadership styles prove there are many ways to bring a team to victory or a business to success. Clearly, Belichick’s style works in New England. He’s won two Super Bowls in the last three seasons and twice eliminated Dungy’s highly touted teams from the playoffs. Most of us want to be on a winning team, but finding the right workplace to fit your values can be difficult.

Miami Heat president Pat Riley says the most important criteria for anyone is to work for someone they trust.

”We live in society where people are highly ambitious,” Riley says. “People put in a lot of work hours. People who give a lot expect a lot. People who are successful want to be in organizations that are respected and admired. They have to feel they can trust the leader.”

A coach or leader’s job, Riley says, is to create an environment where everyone flourishes.

”Giving people a sense of balance is important,” he says. “But never at the expense of what you have to do to be successful as a team.”

West Palm Beach sport psychologist John Murray gets called in when an athlete needs improvement working with teammates.

”Whether it’s a team sport or a corporation, you have to have everyone on same page,” Murray says. “That is stressful for some personalities. Everyone must work hard and be team oriented or the team is going to not do as well. It’s a subtle art, the tweaking of individuals.”

H. Wayne Huizenga, owner of the Miami Dolphins and the man who built several large public companies knows that the best coaches put their best players in the best positions to win. That means admitting when someone is in the wrong position.

”That’s the toughest thing to do . . . to say it didn’t work out,” Huizenga told the fledging Leaders of Tomorrow group in Fort Lauderdale last week. “You tell them you’ve got two choices: We can move you over here to another spot in the company where your strengths are, or you can go find something else. Sometimes they stay, sometimes they leave.

“The worst mistake you can make is keep a person in a spot because he’s been loyal. You’re not being fair to that person. I think he’s better off going somewhere else and rising to the occasion in an area where he’s more comfortable.”

Lavin, who culled his insights from what has been said by and about the Patriots, says Belichick’s genius is in his recruiting.

”Most players don’t want to train 365 days. Belichick finds guys that do,” Lavin says.

“When he is recruiting he will intentionally downplay the glitz and the salary issue. He’ll sit them down and say here’s why we brought you here, how we’re going to use you and why you can help us win games. He ends up with players who expect a lot of themselves and want to be around other perfectionists.”

Herald business writer Patrick Danner contributed to this report.

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.