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Coaching (Motivation, Punishment and Rewards) – External Control and the Poisoning of Team Culture

October 17, 2011

I often receive calls from coaches who, after being exposed to a workshop I have given or coaching with me, come to a point where they are pulling their hair out trying to either motivate some athlete or they can’t understand how players can be so individualistic and self-centered and choose not to play as a team.  What we don’t understand as coaches is how deeply we and the players are entrenched in the world’s psychology of external control. This psychology is the psychology of having power over other people as a means to cover up one’s deep personal insecurity. All throughout history, having power over other people has put humankind in a perpetual state of conflict and war.  External psychology, the hub of human misery in coaching, damages the team culture by slowly or sometimes quickly eroding the relationships between coach and players or players and teammates.

In any successful endeavor that human beings tackle, the ease and effectiveness of learning and succeeding is based on how well the people doing this endeavor get along. Players learn how to play together in supportive, caring environments at a rate that is ten times greater than in environments where coaches play head games, power trips, punish for poor performance, or reward for good performance.  This sounds strange in any culture to people who are external psychology people. They are lost when you tell them that honesty is the best policy, something they have known and have heard instinctively but is seldom practiced in their life. The exception would be for relationships in their lives that are very important to them where they tend to be more honest with themselves and the other person. Punishment is so ingrained into our psychology that whenever we don’t achieve what we want from ourselves or another person, we punish. If punishment were a method to correct behavior, our criminal institutions would be empty. But in fact most are full of repeat offenders.

Coaches have always asked me, without “bag skating” or doing “suicides” or other forms of punishment, how do you get a team to cooperate and play together?  When I ask them what they are doing now, they say the same thing they have been doing for years – bag skating (a horrible term for skating people to exhaustion), suicides (a horrible term for getting players to run till exhaustion), taking away their playing time (taking away the thing they love) – it makes no sense whatsoever.

Most GMs, except for a few, practice nothing but external control psychology on the coach because the common practice to achieve quality is misunderstood by most people trying to develop it. So coaches are often rewarded with bonuses for wins, which means that most people love the reward but hate the rewarder. Motivation is often very low for people you dislike. An external control coaching style often dangles carrots or gives incentives that destroy team culture because they often pit people against each other creating external pressure.  Most people feel this external pressure any time you feel that someone is trying to get you to care about something you don’t care about or see the value in. Then things become adversarial and one or both people practice the habits of external psychology.  These habits are always in the forefront of our minds because they are so well learned and we think they are part of our human nature. But they aren’t.

Below are descriptions of the habits in order to show you what I mean. Often when people get frustrated by other people they do one of the following external psychology habits. Remember these are well learned, not our nature.

1. Criticism. When you criticize another person you harm the relationship. This is the main habit that kills team culture.

2. Humiliation. Coaches often use this to center a person out and use them as an example. When teams use hazing as a means to build a team and you hear other athletes say that it does no harm and everyone goes through it, or “I made it through it!”, obviously they didn’t. If you asked them, “Well, why not haze in your family then, to increase your family bonding?”, Children’s Aid would take the children and they wouldn’t be allowed to parent. No loving parent that I know would willingly want his or her child to be humiliated.

3. Guilting. Coaches and parents often use this as a means to control the athlete or child and the damage it does it sets in motion the process of head games and the cycle of doubt, which destroys players’ and children’s confidence in themselves and others, which is one of the building blocks of trust.

4. Punishing or rewarding to control. This habit more the any other confuses the issue of how to get people to self-evaluate. Punishing allows and excuses the undesirable behavior because the person punished thinks, “Now that I have been punished, things are over and I don’t have to look any deeper at my behavior or take any responsibility for my attitude and effect on the team”. When the person gets a reward the same effect is created in a different way. It still becomes all about me and achieving my short-term goals and less about the how I achieve them. Therefore the person rewarded thinks “I can do a lot of damage and hurt the culture but I get the reward so I did what you asked so we are even, so go work on someone else”. Any time we focus on the outcome without deepening our understanding of the process, we move away from strengthening the culture.

5. Blaming. This external psychology habit is so pervasive in our culture we often don’t catch ourselves doing it. This is the habit shown when shit happens and players look at others or external things in the environment to excuse their poor behavioral performance. Coaches often use this habit in ways that blame player or bad calls by referees and don’t see how blaming anyone but himself or herself is acceptable. Blame is always about evaluating something you have no control over and therefore futile. Blame is an action that takes the pressure off in a way that harms the relationships and kills trust and collective responsibility. For a team to be a team, blame must be removed and when shit happens we all must see our part in it through self-evaluation. Blame is about evaluating others therefore killing the process of learning. Players that can learn a lot can perform better as a team than players who can’t learn.

6. Threatening. This is a habit that forces people to become defensive and instills fear. Fear is a quick motivator but a cultural cancer. It will only last a short time then the coach or GM places the player or coach’s job on the line and greater damage is done because when you attack a person’s livelihood you are messing with their means to survive and therefore strengthening fear.  Fear based environments create aggressiveness – not towards the other team but the players, coaches, and GMs that turn on each other.

I challenge any team at any level to learn internal psychology, teach it to your whole organization and within four years you will have not only a winning program but a team that is a contender for the cup on a regular basis.


Sport Testing Hockey Combine

June 21, 2011

hockey combine sm

My name is Brian O’Reilly. I am a high performance coach.  I have been working with athletes and teams all over the world and I am sick of the travel so I have dropped Europe and Australia and have been working closer to home, the U.Ss and of course Varna in Huron County. What I have been establishing over the last five years in the GTHL, OHL and in Varna is developing the total athlete program from the physical side to the mental toughness side (focus, behavior under pressure and practice and game prep as well as recovery from injuries, mastering emotional states, visualization and training character development, which helps athletes take the lesson they learn in a sport and transfer them over to life lessons).

I am now at the point of working with the Alliance in developing a high performance identification program which shall be introduced this season. I am holding the first hockey combine in Goderich during the first week of my Hockey Boot Camp, which is made up of players from A to AAA, NCAA, ECHL, RHL, AHL, and NHL players. I have worked as a National team coach for five years on the world tour and am a NCCP Level 3 coach. Over the past five years I have worked for the National Coaching Institute, under the direction of Andy Higgins, teaching internal psychology and motivation to Level 4 and 5 coaches. This On Ice  Hockey Combine is the first step in getting kids tested in the strict elements specific to hockey, and to start a database to see how we compare provincially as well as nationally. Please look at the image above and let your kids know about it. I will make all the results available to you.

If we don’t measure ourselves we are just guessing.!

Register here:

Hope to see you there! Bri

Hockey Boot Camp

April 5, 2011




At the Draft

September 29, 2009

It was a gentle rain that grew more intense in the strong breeze. It was like seeing the wind as it moved. It came in waves and would crash against the large stone house and cars in its driveway. The birds would all be very quiet and would start up again as the wind subsided. It all seemed like a symphony – the wind, the rain beating down on the metal cars, the birds chattering, and noise of water rushing off the roof into the large puddles that formed around the house. The trees seem to delight in the shower of rain that washed all the dust of the past days, allowing them to breathe fresh again. The bounty of the earth’s lessons speaks to us if we listen to her. But few are interested! Like the rain that washes away the dirt I wonder what will allow man to wash away his self-interest. It is our self-interest that seems to destroy everything.

There were lot of people; the energy of excitement was there. This energy of excitement comes when we as human beings identify our self with the things of thinking. It is not the energy of human beings connecting or people coming together for a noble cause. In the Bell Center there was a full gamut of energy. The energy was of people that were happy about their son being chosen and the energy of nerves and worry about not being chosen. It seemed for most of the young men it was a series of tense moments collapsing into themselves in a feeling of rejection and hurt. Then, when their names were called, elation and congratulations of hugs and kisses. As the day went on people grew impatient and small conflicts arose that soured the event. The crowd attached to their sport team often booed and cat-called other teams, making it almost impossible to hear what was being said over the PA system. We are so well trained to be competitive to allow people from the outside to judge us and we compare our self to another. It this self-centered process that reinforces the images we have of our self and the other. All comparison leads to disconnection and conflict. To compare human beings is to set self-centered criteria in place and fulfill it demands to meet ones own idea or ideal.

Coach bri

Taking the Side of the Marriage

August 22, 2009

It was a cool summer evening, the clouds and the rain had moved on. The earth was fresh and had the poignant smell of freshly spread manure. The true strength of the smell was held back by the stillness of the gentle and inconsistent breeze. The earth was full of moisture by the heavy rains of the past few days. One’s footsteps felt the sponginess of the soaked ground. The little wood cabin held many shades of grey and brown as the last light of the day grazed it. We sat in silence for some time, watching the sun set through the small window. The cabin seemed to take on its own serenity as the evening sky appeared.

It is very quiet here, she began.

Her husband answered: Yes, the wood holds the sound out.

Well how do you know that? she replied abruptly. I am talking about the inside, in here and like always, you have answer to everything.

Well I am just trying to make conversation! This guy hasn’t asked us one question yet!

Well why don’t you ask him one then? she replied abruptly.

For Christ sake, Kay do we even have to fight here?

You see Brian, if it is not his way then it is a fight! I can’t do anything or say anything because I am wrong or his fibromyalgia starts acting up.

Oh so now we are on that again! I’m sorry I have an illness. I can’t figure it out and I am not using it to control you! Well now you see what we do to each other? She is angry all the time and I’m tired of fighting. I have never won a fight with her, ever, in our 16 years of marriage. I have many emotional scars.

This is 18 years dear, just so you know!!!

Okay, 18. Sorry I lost a couple; maybe I wish it was 16! Two years less hell.

Well I’m not keeping you here. You can leave anytime.

You see what I mean! She is such a bitch!!! Why don’t you jump in here? We are paying you to help us and you just sit there!

I’m helping you! And you’re helping me!

How are you helping us? And how are we helping you? I don’t get it.

Well you have been here for about how long now?

I would say about a half hour.

Okay and how long have you been criticizing and venting about each other?

About 30 minutes.

Okay I agree with you! 30 minutes at 80 dollars per hour, so I have made 40 dollars so far. And how do you feel now?

Well I feel better! He probably feels better too but he won’t admit it.

I do feel better but this kind of feels a little messed up.

What does?

Well us paying you for something we can do anyway.

Yes, good, and how is that working for you?

I know it’s not working and that is why I, I mean we, are here.
And how are you helping us!

I will tell you! When you guys are arguing what are you waiting for me to do, or what is your intention?

I want to show you how controlling he is!

And you Tom?

Well I guess for you to see her supreme bitch mode!

Right, I guessed that, so you want me to take sides? Okay I’m going to do that now! I’m going to take the side of your marriage. And so far I think neither of you have done that in some time.

That’s for sure! I know I haven’t. I think Kay has.

Great, then I was wrong and I’m glad I’m wrong! I would like to know when Tom thinks I have because I would agree with you – I don’t feel I have in a long time.

You just have. I know you put up with me a lot my illness and all. I’m a pain in the ass!

What do feel about that Kay?

I think he is playing me and you!

Kay, I asked you how you felt and you gave me how you think. Could you please answer how you feel about it!

About what?

About him being a pain and you putting up with him!

I feel sad, okay? (Tears flooded her eyes, Tom reached for her and she pulled away.)

Okay thank you, you feel sad. Can I ask why?

Can I think now? Or do I have to feel?

Whichever. It is up to you!

Ever since Tom’s father died and his brother took over the business, Tom got sick, our best friend moved away. Tom hasn’t been the same.

Just Tom?

Okay I haven’t been happy either. Tom is just worried all the time and his brother, who got the company because he is older, doesn’t know what the hell he is doing and Tom won’t stick up for himself.

What do you say to that Tom?

He is my older brother, he is family but he doesn’t know what he is doing. My Dad gave the company to him and me but my brother is, well he just…..

An asshole! Christ Tom, just say it! He and his wife lost their company and they are going to lose this one if they keep going in the same direction.

We won’t lose it!

Tom, can I ask you a question? When did your life start to fall apart?

About 14 months ago when my brother made some bad decisions and I realized he real doesn’t get the business.

No it wasn’t Tom. I can remember you being in pain after you found out that your father had changed the will before he died. Tom, remember you came home from the hospital all upset the next day and you couldn’t get out of bed? For the next two weeks you had the flu and you were throwing up daily.

Yes I forgot all that!

Well, when did you get the diagnosis of fibromyalgia?

That was 14 months ago and that was me taking him to the doctor because he couldn’t walk and was in pain all over. Everything hurt!

Tom, what if this illness is self-induced?

I would be happy because living this way is hell!

Tom, have you had any relief in the 14 months?

About three weeks, strange enough.

What happened in those three weeks?

Well the first week I changed my diet completely. We were away for about ten days and I ate a lot of fruit. The other time is when my brother was away on vacation.

Who was in charge when he was away?

It was a joke. He called a meeting and put his assistant in charge.

What’s the joke?

The assistant was my dad’s assistant and she just came to me and we did business as usual.

Can I ask you something? And I really need you to be exact. When he called you into the meeting and told you the assistant was in charge, what did you do?

Nothing. I was fine with it I think.

Bullshit Tom. You called me and you had another attack and I had to come and get you. You were throwing up in the bathroom.

I guess I forgot all that!

Tom, do you want to know what I think?

I see what you’re getting at! You may be right! But why would my body do that to me?

Because you’re now happy and improving but when you don’t listen to your unhappiness it goes under ground and can affect your whole nervous system.

So you’re telling Tom what I have been telling him – to stand up for himself with his brother and grow some balls here!

No Kay, I am suggesting to Tom that he may be choosing this illness because he is having difficulty dealing with his brother, the death of his father, and his troubled marriage.

So I’m not crazy?

No, I’d say more disappointed and hurt!

I have been seeing this shrink and he is telling me that I have a chemical problem and he wants me to go on drugs for depression. He thinks I may be bipolar.

Tom, most of these shrinks have very little idea as to what they are doing. There are some good ones but they don’t buy into their own profession.

You know, when I think of my brother I get so angry!

So angry you make yourself sick?

I think you’re right! Pretty dumb!

No! I think you feel powerless and your relationship with him is hurt too.

We used to be really good friends!

I’m sure you were and that’s why it hurts even more!
Can you come and see me again next week!

I will for sure!

Well how about our marriage? I’m not putting up with this much longer!

Kay, how do you feel about this session today?

I think it was good for Tom! But we have to fix our marriage.

I agree. Will you give me some time Kay? I feel your hunches about Tom are correct. He’s got a good wife here and I don’t think he wants to lose her!

We’ll be back.

Thanks. See you next week.

But what happens if he has another attack!

Just support him through it and be positive. Trust me!
He might not even have one!

Okay, okay.

Thanks Kay.

Coach bri

When the Collective Effort is Lost

March 23, 2009

The players arrived early at 6:30 a.m. for practice for the big game tomorrow. The atmosphere was one of great hesitation. At the previous practice, a player had lost it on another player. Yelling, screaming, criticizing, and demanding he tell him something. The players who were yelled at stayed unaffected by the yelling. Many of the teams and coaches witnessed the whole thing and nothing was done about it.

It is sad, in a sport like hockey, that losing it on a player or fighting within a team is part of the culture. The player that was doing all the yelling seemed to be the type that intimidated other players. Perhaps it was his role in the sport and he was the emotional barometer of the team. Beneath the surface of this team laid a series of ineffective relationships. There were players that have lost touch with the fact that it is only a game. If choice, love and excellence are not driving them in their sport, then what is? Selfishness can be seen throughout the relationship on the team and I predict that they will not get far into the playoffs. Key individuals on the team who are supposed to functions as leaders are looking only to pad their stats. On losing teams that seems to be what happens. Players think as individuals and the collective effort is lost.

What is essential on a championship team is people playing the roles they need to, not what they want to. Teams go farther in the playoffs when they think and do collectively. But very few selfish players have any idea of such a concept. They don’t see that helping each other look good makes the team good. Most selfish players never reach the top of their sport. The ones that do are freaks – they have the right amount of talent and effort and someone that manages them well. We all know too well these talented freaks in any profession who make it and then succumb to relationship issues that get them into deep trouble with the team, drugs, or broken marriages. Excellence is something they have no idea about because money or fame is driving their ego and reason for doing what they do. Making it to the big league is the point of arrival.

Excellence teaches that character is found in how you do what you do, and motivation is an internal process driven to be the best they can be. Character is the thing that acts when one is put in a situation that allows you to take advantage of someone or something but you don’t. This is simply rooted in the fact that if you do, your conscience would bother you. You wouldn’t be able to sleep at night without drinking, drugs, or whatever poison you choose.

Why do I say poison? Because that is what we do – we choose our poison. A healthy character doesn’t choose poison; they are free and can sleep fine at night. Selfishness on a team always leads to sabotage. Often the most skilled players on a losing team are the saboteurs. The problem is they think it is everyone else because their lack of character doesn’t allow them to self evaluate. The selfish or miserable are forever evaluating others because they can let themselves off the hook for their own lack of production. There is only one way to deal with selfishness on a team: Cut it out! Provide opportunity for them to get some help. Integrate them slowly inch by inch into relationships and show them how what they do is detrimental to the team. Let them come up with new behaviors they can practice. If all else fails, do the only thing that is best for team and make sure the team is behind it. Face selfishness and flush it out. Demand character, through self evaluation. If they can’t self evaluate, they will never get it.

Coach bri

There is No Recipe for Winning

February 8, 2009

The coach had assembled the team in the small warm room. It was a place they met often. Today, because it was 38 degrees outside, the room was especially hot. Soon the air conditioner was put on and it quickly offered some relief from the heat.

The athletes arrived and we all began to debrief. The athletes first described the match and their thoughts on technical things of the game. The atmosphere in the room held many emotions and all were hiding what they really felt. They were in a space where self-deception was going to divert from the problem and render people ineffective. The chat went on for some time and everyone avoided the heart of the matter. It is amazing how clever people can avoid the real questions and what really is going on within a group of people who have no regard for their potential and living up to it.

Often athletes who have some success are the hardest to work with because they think they can win or have the recipe for winning. The fact is that there is no recipe and every journey must begin each day new and fresh and the level of commitment to what you are doing must be in place.

We put so much attention on the technical things, facilities, tools etc to get away from the fact of team building and the competitive edge. It is not natural to be competitive. It is something that is put into us. It is a ruthless thing that easily can become twisted in the sense of power over other people and situations that can breed a heightened level of superiority. This level of superiority invites fear because it forms an image of the player based on success. Any time you identify yourself with your performance in anything, you invite fear and it cripples the love of the game and destroys it. These athletes were masters at building all kinds of “off ramps” with each other and scared to really reach their potential.

The thing we fear the most is the work we must do to be an effective team. Excellence is learning all the factors that prevent you from giving your best effort. Many people dream of winning Olympic gold but only a handful have the heart to do the training to achieve it. Fewer have the insight that winning is a quest for excellence, the dismantling of their brainwashing to end all fear. Where there is fear, all love is not. Love and excellence is our natural state.

Coach bri

Coach, I’m Not Scoring!

December 3, 2008

Coach, I had to call. I’m not scoring. I am so pissed, I had a chance in the shootout and I shot wide. If I would have scored we would have won the game.

Yes you’re right – you might have!

No, I was the last shooter, the one who could of done it. But I didn’t. I let the team down! I stink! I don’t know why I play this game!

I thought you did because you love it!

I did. I am not fucking loving it now!

Before the game, how many times did you rehearse shooting or practice a shootout that week?

Why? What the hell is that going to do for me?

When you were given the opportunity to take the shootout, what was your thinking doing?

What kinda question is that? My thinking doing?

Yes, were you thinking?

Another stupid question. What does that mean?

Sorry, but can you give me a bit of your time now or do you want to call me later?

I was shitting my pants!!! OK?! I was scared, it was a hard game and I needed to score – I blew it.

Yes I see! Fear. What is fear?

Fuck I hate this, I can’t think right now! You give me questions I just want…?



Yes! Ok. Sorry, I thought I’d mistaken you for someone who loves the game rather than someone who defines themselves by it.

Thanks! Thanks a lot! You can be such a prick!

Yes! Still afraid to look are you? You make it about me! Maybe I can take the shootout for you!

Ok I get your point. Sorry! Sorry!

So you were shitting your pants were you?

No but I felt like it, my stomach was gassy and nervous. My arm felt uptight.

What happened the more you focused on the outcome of scoring? The tighter your arms and stomach felt, right?

Yes, that’s exactly it!

How was your breathing?

Shallow and short. But I have been doing what you said – focusing on the process.

No, you’ve being talking yourself into talking about process, to get an outcome, which is focusing on the outcome pretending, you’re not.

You know, I think you’re right, as crazy as that sounds. But how do you know that coach?

You said your breath was short and you had fear! If you want to score in tough situations you must be all about process. Process is mastering your breath, mastering yourself and then the situation.

How do you know I didn’t master myself?

Because you said your were shitting your pants, you were putting yourself under pressure therefore … fear. Fear is always the future! Future is outcome.
Therefore you couldn’t…

Master the situation! I get it coach. I see it!!! Now what do I do?

Nothing! Seeing is doing! If you’re really seeing!

How will I know if I really see?

That’s easy! You must come to terms with your self-centered approach to sport! You are, in those moments, an egomaniac, all about you, not the team.

Thanks coach – just say it as it is!

Deep breath in through your nose, out through you mouth. Breathe deep into your belly and as you exhale release with a sound hawwwww. Then clear your mind, positive thoughts, only on process, on what you are doing, love the pressure, love the game and shoot. What happens once you release the puck is gone forever.

You miss because:
1. The goalie is more focused that you.
2. You are identified with the outcome of your shot. You have made it personal.
3. Your breath is shallow, your thoughts bring fear, your body is tight and movement is out of rhythm, you are feeling pressure, not challenge, therefore you are at the effect of your stinking thinking.

Yes that is me! You’re right coach!

No, I’m not right – you see the truth in what I am saying, that is all. What is the purpose of your feelings?

I remember this coach – to tell me something is wrong! Right?

Partly. Feelings tell us if what we are doing now is effective or ineffective.

Oh yeah!

How do you feel now?

Better! Thanks Coach bri!

You do a sport! Never let it define you, your performance is but a mirror to see your own ego get in the way. When ego is not there you find discipline. Discipline is doing what you have to do when you have to do it.

Thanks coach!

Coach bri

Lazy Talented People

July 28, 2008

I have been traveling around the world and working with people for the past thirty years. One of the things that I have discovered because of my work with people is the fact of laziness. I am also amazed at how laziness is found in most in people with the most talent. There are more talented people who are lazy than there are talented people with a good work ethic. As a matter of fact, I find more less talented people succeed than talented people. The combination of talent and work ethic is barely beatable.

I would like to start out by saying that people are not lazy. It is thinking that is lazy. If you buy in to your thinking you can become lazy at any moment. I have worked with talented people and most of them have a struggle with laziness. Most lazy people are very self-centered and self-serving. They are poor candidates for being team players and often they can be an environment destroyers.

If you have been raised by parents who didn’t hold you responsible for the choices you made in situations where you didn’t succeed, it is easy to see how these people, as adults, they are inappropriate in social situations. They often demand attention and always take rather than give. Lazy people are often reduced to people who whine, complain, and are disappointed in themselves and hide from it by seeking to cause trouble by using laziness as a tool for revenge in social situations.

Because of the low esteem and lack of power, laziness becomes the tool to gain back power and protect the suffering picture of themselves. Lazy people have come to fear defeat and rarely push their talent because if they do then the talent they have is the measure of their worth or if they train it and are defeated they will hate themselves. Therefore because of their talent they do everything half-assed except of course for sex. In sex the lazy person has a deeper escape from their low sense of esteem because in the orgasm of sex that bliss completely takes them out of their misery.

Lazy people never rise to the true challenge of competition or insight. They never really enter the contest or put it all on the line. They just go through the motions, never committing too much because if they do it means others will expect more from them and the pressure to be not as self-serving will bring forth their true inadequacies. This is then covered up by the lazy person by saying, “I am lazy, I didn’t give it my best”, which protects their ability from being in question. To be successful and maintain high performance, talent, a work ethic, and a hunger must all come together. Gamers have talent and hunger and can succeed for a period of time. But to stay on top, work ethic must be chosen and developed and purified. If not, they are only interested in themselves and what’s in it for them. Their self-serving nature impairs there relationships so they can only get along with other lazy talented people like themselves. They contribute little to a team but always seek the help of others. They love to benefit from the hard work of others and take the glory. In short, they want to bless you with their presents. Show me what a person does and I will tell what they want.

Coach bri

A Team Using Internal Control

May 28, 2008

It was a quiet evening in Osaka Japan. The subway had very few passengers and when one arrived at the station and entered into the night there was a tingling rain. The air seemed heavy and out in the night air the city seemed to be slowing down on a busy work week. The team I have been working with has been very successful and tomorrow we will play for a chance to win a medal. The players have been practicing internal psychology with each other after a long period of going external on each other.

No matter what we do in life, nothing is ever perfect. Perfection does not exist, especially in the psychological field. I think the Japanese know this because perfection is not the goal but constant improvement is. When dealing with material things, constant improvement has its place. But when dealing with human beings, perfection becomes a problem and a virus to relationship and performance. Each relationship we have in our life is undergoing a change. It is our ability to be aware of the movements going on in people that strengthens our relationship with them. Whenever you’re unaware of what’s going on in the people you care most about or people you have to accomplish some project with, you are greatly increasing the chance of conflict and ineffectiveness.

The problem in all human relationships is that they are a process, not an outcome. When you focus on the process, a relationship moves in the direction it moves and one begins to look at themselves with the awareness of how to stay connected to that person. When you focus on the outcome, you come to points in the relationship where you say, “we’ve already dealt with this” and this is a constant issue. When you see relationships in this way you are setting up the disconnect because, again, relationships are not an outcome. You can only understand human relationship by observing it, not criticizing, judging, or comparing. In relationships there is no such thing as a rival; every living thing is undergoing a change. We cannot understand that change but we can be aware of the movement of change and be sensitive to how it affects us and the relationship or relationships around it.

What actually happens with human beings is the constant need to create an environment that works for both people. Often when one environment doesn’t work for one of the persons in the relationship, they become critical of the other person or practice some external psychology on them. They do this instead of looking at themselves and their own self-evaluation and understanding what isn’t working for them and what they can do in order to change their environment so they can feel more effective in it. The last thing we want to be is ineffective. And when we feel ineffective then we often poison the environment and practice the habits that destroy the relationship or make the situation significantly worse. The way we poison the environment is when we practice any of the four premises of external control psychology.

The first premise of external control psychology is responding to information personally. When we do this we stop listening to the person and whatever emotion they are expressing, we take what they’re saying into our head and create the disconnect. Now I’m not saying that one should say whatever they want when one is upset. It is very important to be aware of the fact that when you are upset you should be very careful what you say because you can poison the environment. I would repeat a very old saying: It’s not what you put into your mouth that defiles you but what comes out.

The second premise is that whenever we don’t feel good we blame someone or some situation for the way we feel. When we do this what we are really saying is people and situations have the power to make or break me. Some people love to live into this because they then are not responsible for the situations in their life.

The third premise of external control psychology is this notion that when I don’t feel good and I want you or the situation to change. This is a very narcissistic view of the world and people go around trying to change other people and situations all the time to accommodate how they want it.

This leads us to the fourth premise of external control psychology that probably does more damage than all the other three premises put together. The third premise is about changing things outside of us and the fourth premise leads into people who know what’s best for them beginning to know what’s best for everyone. And often the problem is they let people know about it! And when you do this you make huge disconnections with people in a relationship. We often call these people ‘know-it-alls’.

If you look at the world truly you can see what’s happening in your own house, in your own backyard, in your own neighborhood, in your own town, city, province, and country. You will see one or more of these principles being practiced everywhere. All of these principles are really about laying a power trip on other people. When I take information personally it’s my way of fighting back from the person who’s come in at me. When I’m miserable and blame them for how I feel what I’m telling them is that they have to change, which is a pretty powerful position. When I start telling them how to change, well that’s even more powerful. But the most powerful of all is when I know what’s best for people or a situation. This is when you often hear the phrase, “Well who died and made you God?”

What I am really amazed about with this team is their development as people. They are true athletes that are beginning to recognize that the breakdown of other teams, even technically, often does become injected into the relationship between the people on the team. And then the team members start practicing external control psychology on each other. When this happens you can actually see the disconnect between the athletes and the team is unable to respond to pressure situations and therefore they can’t perform at their best.

It kind of makes a lot of sense: if you want to have and see people succeed in life, build environments for them that are caring, supportive and loving. Stay away from criticizing, blaming, threatening, ‘guilting’, humiliating, rewarding and punishing to control (just to mention a few of these external control habits!). Success in any endeavor that human beings do is dependent upon the health of the relationships. Healthy relationships adapt quicker than poor relationships. Healthy relationships support each other in times of trouble and find a way to succeed. Healthy relationships have broad shoulders, suspend judgment and are sensitive to the needs of the person. There is no arrival point!!! Just always live every day as a fresh beginning.

Coach bri