Recently, we caught up with Garret Kramer the author of Stillpower, a book that challenges us to find that inner state of stillness, the zone, to achieve excellence in sports and life.

You define ‘Stillpower’ as the clarity of mind to live with freedom and ease; the inner source of excellence. Can you expand upon how you came to this definition?

To me, the human mind is designed to regulate to clarity and consciousness—if we don’t try to fix, or fight through, our lows. In effect, stillpower is the opposite of willpower. Finding peace of mind and performance excellence is built into the system. Human beings aren’t supposed to use self-help techniques or external tools which only thwart our intuitive functioning—not to mention our free will.

For years, coaches, teachers, and parents have told us that the harder you try, the more likely you are to succeed. But your book turns this theory on its head. Why don’t these methods of willing ourselves into ‘the zone’ work?

As all top performers would attest, the zone is a state of no thought. So, to me, it makes little sense to add thought (even positive thought) when we are not in this state.  Again, finding the zone (becoming conscious) is part of our innate functioning; if we interfere, we only go backward.  Think of it this way: We’ve all witnessed very young children have meltdowns, even tantrums.  But with no trying, technique, or strategy, they quickly return to a high level of well-being—to the zone. This happened by design with no effort at all.

There have been many scandals surrounding sports and coaches in the news recently. How do you see Stillpower revolutionizing the world of sports?

Stillpower stops the cycle of athletes (or anyone) becoming victimized by their circumstances and, thus, behaving badly. Rather than tell athletes what to look out for and what not to do, I remind them that their state of mind creates their experience; not that their experience creates their state of mind. In other words, you are free to act as you see fit; however, productive actions are the result of acting from high mind-sets and pulling back from low mind-sets.

You’ve worked with many professional athletes, including Olympians, and NFL and NHL players. Can you share a particular example of one of your athletes using ‘Stillpower’ to achieve athletic excellence?

This is a funny story. I was scheduled to meet with a pro hockey player on a Tuesday afternoon, but on Monday he frantically calls me and wants to come in. I agree. He sits down and starts ranting about what an SOB his coach is and tells me that he wants to be traded to a different team. I talk to him about how his perceptions of his coach are based on his own state of mind—I insist that it’s got nothing to do with the coach. The next day he comes in for our scheduled meeting and he tells me how respectful he was treated by the coach that morning and what a great guy his coach is.  Now, obviously the coach hadn’t changed overnight. This was all the proof I needed to teach this player that our perceptions of others are created from the inside out. So when we are low on the inside, stillpower and not willpower is the best option.

While your book is clearly aimed at athletic excellence its lessons seem to be applicable to performance in business, careers, and personal growth. How would you apply ‘Stillpower’ to life off the field?

All of us live in a continuum of moods, of states of mind. From the penthouse to the basement, we all ride the mood elevator moment to moment. When in the penthouse we are loving, resilient, compassionate, determined, secure, and understanding. When in the basement, we are resentful, vulnerable, judgmental, anxious, and insecure. Once this is understood, people stop taking their own state of mind, and the state of mind of others, as a given. Preaching about what is right or wrong no longer seems like a productive option.  In any walk of life, Stillpower points people inward. It promotes acting on instincts and freedom. When people act instinctively and freely their actions tend to be productive—not just for them, but for their coworkers, family, and community as well.  

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