Fourteen Countercultural Ideas for You and Your Team to Consider

If, like me, you follow the work of coaches, mental experts, and motivational speakers, you’ve probably noticed that the same concepts are stressed over and over again: positivity, hard work, culture, servant leadership, goal setting, growth mindset, communication, focus, self-belief, etc. The question is: Are the majority of athletes and teams benefiting on and off the field as a result? The answer, to me, is: not really. In fact, many teams employ these concepts year after year, with less-than-satisfactory results.

That’s why, if you’re a player or coach, I’d like you to consider the following twelve countercultural ideas for your team. Then make up your own mind and see if any of them have the potential to bring out the best in you, and those around you.

1.  Keep goal setting to a minimum.

Goal setting narrows focus, which limits opportunities and shrinks the perceptual field (awareness). It’s cool to possess the burning desire to win. But because winning has no ability to regulate your happiness or self-worth, it makes more sense to relish the journey, experiences, and relationships along the way. If you do, the imaginative path to success will become evident on its own.

2.  Embrace individuality and genuineness.

Even within team environments, it’s essential that individuality and genuineness be fostered and encouraged. Why? Free will is the number one ingredient to productive behaviors and performances. A person will simply not perform up to par if his or her inner wisdom (intuition or personal thought system) is compromised.

3.  Limit rules and expectations.

Codes of conduct are a slippery slope. The inner conflict between what a person thinks is right and what an organization says is right binds and confuses—leading to dysfunctional behavior. Rather, here’s a freeing alternative for your team: Hold each other accountable to acting from elevated states of mind and pulling back from low states of mind. Avoid offering opinions on which behaviors are, or are not, acceptable.

4.  Encourage love for, and respect of, opponents.

Love and respect are the ultimate symptoms of a high level of consciousness. Hate and disrespect are symptoms of a low level. So, just ask yourself, “How do I feel when I’m not considerate of others, when I resent my opponents, or when I hold them in contempt?” Now why would you ever want to perform from this insecure psychological perspective?

5.  Discourage the creation of a pecking order.

When people operate from low levels of consciousness, they dwell on their differences. They become insulated and egotistical, and, in a team setting, it often appears that certain members are more valuable than others. Not so. Although roles vary, if you remove one piece from the puzzle, the team ceases to be whole and its natural chemistry and functioning is lost.

6.  Discard “how-to’s.”

Even the best coaches, mentors, and teachers cannot constructively tell another person how to do something. If a player is underperforming, he or she is merely overthinking. And overthinking blocks wisdom from rising from within. Clarity of mind, and thus insight, will occur all on its own, provided we do not strategically add more thinking by trying to employ the methods of someone else.

7.  Do not stress communication.

Believe it or not, one reason that teams fail is because people overcommunicate. They speak or listen when they’re at their lowest level of psychological functioning—when feeling insecure or upset. Lack of communication is never a real issue. A person’s state of mind when he or she communicates, or does not communicate, is the only key to productive interactions between teammates.

8.  Do not preach confidence.

Preaching confidence or self-belief is simply not helpful. It often creates more doubt and confusion. Instead, explain why players might not feel confident in the moment: Thought comes and goes. From mental clutter, no one feels confident. From mental clarity, everyone does. Since both states of mind are normal, confident or not, one’s potential to excel is always present.

9.  Have fun with superstition, but avoid buying in.

Sure, it’s sometimes fun to adopt quirky rituals and routines. However, superstition is built on the false premise that certain outcomes are, in truth, more desireable than others. Many of us waste tons of energy, and add tons of thinking, by forming cause-and-effect connections that don’t actually exist.

10.  Do not promote a specific team culture.

When players adhere to an organization’s predetermined traditions, ethics, or customs, they’re adopting someone else’s idea of what’s important or how to behave. This binds thinking, obstructs free will, and creates followers who are not capable of coming through in the clutch. To foster potential, allow a team’s identity (what’s important to current team members) to develop and evolve on its own.

11.  Leave the past in the past.

The past, like a culture, is simply a thought system carried through time. No matter how hard you try, you cannot replicate a former triumph, technique, or feel. They’re not relevant now because they no longer exist. Besides, today’s players don’t care about a team’s past successes or the good old days. They intuitively live in the present—don’t lead them away from it.

12.  Avoid grinding.

Many teams continue to promote a grind-it-out paradigm that has little to do with success. Passion is the result of staying in the game regardless of bad feelings, which allows thoughts to settle and the mind to clear. It does not come from stepping on the gas when your tires are mired in mud. If a team isn’t giving its best, there’s one reason: Players are forcing or trying to control passion—an instinct that comes and goes naturally.

13.  Don’t worry about your team’s “why.”

Finding your “why” requires thought—a lot of thought. Why do we play sports, coach, write books, help others, or do whatever? Please don’t think hard and make up a reason. Clarity of mind causes excellence, selflessness, and productivity. No analysis (or clutter) is required.

14.  Find answers in state of mind, not behavior.

This last idea is the foundation for the rest of the list. Nothing risks the welfare of a team more than a coach (or teammate) who focuses on a player’s behavior over his or her state of mind. No one tries to behave badly. Consistently wayward behavior is a byproduct of mental clutter and suffering. And you simply can’t help a suffering person by judging and then trying to mold his or her behavior.

There’s the list. As I said, consider and reflect on these alternative ideas. I’m not saying that they’re necessarily right or wrong for you, but perhaps they’ll stir a different perspective from within.

Any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. Thanks for reading,


A Cry For Help – Bryan Ryan

At the start of this year I received an email from a woman and some of the words she said were, “I have always suffered from Depression”, I think I am going totally mad”, “I’m desperate for help”.

So she came to see me, and told me her story. She had 3 children and one had died nearly two years ago, and she feels that she cannot grieve properly over the loss of her son, because her mind is so full of other stuff, and she blocks it all out because she is “terrified of her grief”.

She was also diagnosed with Post Natal Depression some ten years ago.

She found herself “stuck to the bed”, and can’t sleep with “unwanted thoughts”, and “no energy”.

In this loop of lifestyle there is little room for anything new to happen, and quiet connected intelligent conversation becomes a rarity.

So many of my clients have such busy lives, it seems that they rarely create time out, on their own, to just relax and chill out.

Others feel what time they do have, they feel the need to be productive and fill it with other stuff.

It’s such a pity really because it’s this quiet time that is the incubation period for creativity and real productivity.

From looking after children, to paying the bills, to working with people, so many things to fill the day, and then dealing with their own inner insecurities and worries.

How many times do we get to sit down and have a nice quiet intelligent conversation with someone?

Few people these days get a chance to be on their own somewhere, let their minds settle, and allow their whole system to completely simmer down, so much there to be enjoyed.

The thing that amazes me all time is that when you have a conversation with someone on a deep quiet connected level, their wisdom always comes through.

When you listen, and really hear what they are saying, you have a wonderful opportunity to then reflect that information back in the form of a learning about how our thinking actually works, and causes, moment to moment, the feelings and emotions that we experience, which then causes us to act in the way that we do.

Because we all want to feel better, more of the time, and we kind of know that life is a “full contact sport” anyway, with its natural ups and downs, and we are always looking for ways to feel better.  

The great thing about people and the resilience within us, is the innate wisdom and common sense that is available to us all, and which automatically brings new thinking, born out of a new understanding, another piece of the unending jigsaw puzzle of life.

Now after a few sessions with this lady, where we discussed how this understanding can transform our lives, how our emotions and feelings are caused, and how we as energy beings are having a human existence, through the vehicle of thought, she is now finding that her life is returning to some kind of normal stability, as a result of her knowing a lot more about how we as humans experience our individual lives.

She is finding that even though other people may be causing friction and problems around her that, she can still be fairly calm, still and wise in the background.

This simple understanding has transformed her relationships with other people as they pick up on this new calmness, and find themselves thinking differently as well.

She said that “I am grieving in a healthy way now, remembering my son in a good way, with a smile on my face”.  

She also said “I am not carrying around any guilt anymore, and I know that if I get in a bad feeling that, if I let it, it will move on, and a nicer feeling will take its place”

This is the “rudder” that we have for our ship, and as captain we have complete control over the directions that we take.   

This is what happens when we lose the conditioned way of thinking, and the untruths that we have all grown up with, as new and more up to date information forms new beliefs within us.

None of us are broken, no matter what anyone else says, and we all have the potential to go in a different direction, at a moment’s notice.

To see how quickly someone can turn around their life, in real life, is wonderful, and so simple really, just from the want of knowing one of the fundamental truths of life.



Why Confidence Is Not a Choice

Back when I played college hockey, I remember being extremely confused every time our coach told us that confidence (or positivity or happiness) was a choice. And unfortunately, this was one of his favorite expressions.

I often thought to myself: “If confidence is a choice, and surely I’d like to be confident, why can’t I make myself feel that way? I’m either doing something really wrong, or something is really wrong with me!”

I now understand.

Confidence is not a choice. Neither are positivity and happiness. These wonderful feelings are byproducts of clarity of mind. When a person’s head is clear, he or she will feel confident. When the same person’s head is cluttered, he or she will feel insecure. That’s why, back then, the more I tried to choose to feel confident, the more insecure I felt. Confidence results from clarity of mind and making a choice requires thinking.

You might be wondering why my old coach, like many people today, believed that we actually have the power to choose our sentiments at will? The answer is that it’s easy to mistake an insight (an impromptu realization from the spiritual wisdom within) for a deliberate choice. Have you ever experienced a sudden shift of mood, or swiftly changed from an insecure feeling state to a confident one? Well, it may have looked like you chose to make that happen. But, in truth, the credit belongs to your God-given propensity to self-correct.

I suppose that there’s both bad news and good news in today’s message. The bad news is that we cannot strategically choose to feel a certain way. Trying to do so revs up the intellect and lowers our state of mind. The good news is that the less we try to feel a certain way, the better—and more confident—we feel. Good, simple, and freeing news indeed.

My Parents are Divorced…Does that Mean that I’m Likely to get Divorced, too?

Whether married, test-driving spouses, or single, we often see a trend: people whose parents divorced often end up living chronically worried or relationship-phobic. Maybe you already see yourself repeating some of their dysfunctional patterns in your own relationships? Yes, we … Continue reading