JENNY R. SUSSER, PH.D.

POWER & PERFORMANCE SPORT PSYCHOLOGY SERVICES

Dreams vs. Goals

Posted by on Jan 17, 2015

DREAMS vs. GOALS Jenny R. Susser, Ph.D. “Welcome to Hollywood, what’s your dream?” Who can name that movie? Pretty Woman, in case your brain was still rattling around. The movie starts with a dream of a prince and a white horse and ends with it coming true…which happens all the time in real life, right? Think about the power that line had in the movie; a whole movie based on a dream…that was more like a fairytale. Powerful. Dreams and goals: big words, big thoughts, scary thoughts, success, failure, fun, devastation, elation, short-term, long-term, powerful, meaningful, shared, secret, motivating…I could go on for hours with the stream of consciousness on dreams and goals. I love dreams and I love goals, but have you ever stopped to think about if there is a difference between the two? I also love language and find that we don’t put enough thought into the way we say things these days—and the result is a loss of power. We use words like “awesome” when we find a good parking spot…what word will we use then for things that truly inspire “awe”? I travel all over the country and find the same thing, no matter where, people afraid to use the word goal so instead use the word dream. Dreams have this magical element, like, if it’s a dream, then it has to come true. Goals seem to be reserved for the “successful,” a distant idea reserved for someone else, something you have to accomplish or else. My goal is to change that. So how do you become part of the successful then? Maybe set some goals… Let’s start using our language more powerfully by distinguishing dreams from goals. What is a dream? Funny you should ask because when I look it up two things come up: a dive into Freudian theory about dreams that occur when sleeping, or quotes to help you follow your dream. Humph. It seems that when we say, “following our dreams,” it is really daydreams we are talking about. Daydreaming is a very good thing. It is said to foster creativity by brain scientists. For the non-scientist, we like it because it makes us feel good. It is a great escape from things, a good way to elicit some of those good chemicals in our bodies, and reminds us of younger days when daydreaming was a much larger part of...

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Happy Holiday Energy!

Posted by on Dec 24, 2014

Happy Holiday Energy! Happy Holidays! Whatever type of holiday you celebrate, I wish your celebration to be wonderful. Tired of hearing and saying this and not knowing what the heck it means? I have to admit I’m a bit of a bah-humbugger (not sure of the spelling here). I’m not in love with the holiday part of this time of year. I do enjoy this time of year, especially living in the Northeast. I like the weather changes, the cold, crisp air and how it makes me feel alive. I like the time to reflect and how the end of one year and the start of another seems to inspire us all in some magical way. The part I don’t like is the mindlessness that we have fallen prey to in our overly commercialized culture, but let’s not focus on that. Let’s focus on what’s important here: relationship. I had a great conversation with a friend who was asking me why I was a bah-humbugger. I said I don’t need a holiday to be kind to others, to be grateful for the blessings in my life, to be reflective or thoughtful, to buy someone I care about a gift, to give back, or to eat great food! She pointed out the one thing I was missing…the time with family and loved ones. Yes, the holidays create this great excuse for us to congregate, and for some, it is the one time each year we get to see each other. She was right, that was the important part that I was overlooking. Some of those relationships are tough, though. Some are not as wonderful as they used to be or as they ought to be. Some people don’t do or say what you wanted them to. Some said bad things about you to others, and so on, and so on. This is where the holidays have the potential to take a bad turn. In the corporate work that I do, we ask people where they put most of their energy. Work, duh. And that makes sense, especially in terms of contact hours. We spend more time at work than we do at home and that is just the nature of the beast these days. While changing that is an entirely different story, the one thing we can change is the kind of energy we spend at home. When asked honestly,...

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Decisions, Decisions

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014

I think that the quality of our lives comes from the decisions we make. Bold statement, I know. Perhaps some luck is involved, but I’m not entirely sure how much. What is luck anyway? I hear so many definitions, it’s hard to really say what is true about luck. Then there is fate. Again, what is fate? Well, we could go on for hours here but what I want to write about are decisions and the interesting experience I had today. I like to pay it forward when I can. Sometimes in the grocery store, I help out some folks who like they could use a hand and buy them “dinner” (pay for their groceries). I got that from a friend who is a geriatric physician and she taught me what to look for. You know, an elderly person, usually alone, the food on the belt is mostly staples…some meat or canned beans, a family pack of generic chips, no milk because it’s too expensive, and rarely fruits or vegetables. It makes them cry with gratitude and perhaps a bit of shame. It makes me happy and sad at the same time, but the happy outweighs the sad, so it’s well worth it. I don’t look for these moments, what happens is someone catches my eye and I have that thought race past my mind saying I should help them. See, I really believe we are all in this together and that if I ignore someone else, I’m really ignoring everyone…including myself. I know I can’t help everyone, but there are times when it’s really awesome to help one person…or even another living being. I saved three frogs the other day when I was dragging my riding ring on the tractor. Little frogs, the size of the face on my watch and they hop around like crazy. I have to pick them up (yuck) because they can’t get to the edges and out of the ring in time and I can’t bare the thought of running them over—it’s far worse than picking them up! It’s funny how powerful it is for me to press through my discomfort of picking them up to save them. I felt proud and good and connected to it “all” when I did that. It still makes me smile. Today I was behind a man at a gas station (no pay at the pump so...

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Does A Moral Code Still Exist Today?

Posted by on Mar 18, 2014

Does A Moral Code Still Exist Today? The cover story for last week’s issue of Sports Illustrated is called “The Dilemma” and is about Pete Rose. The author, Kostya Kennedy, wrote a book about the story and takes a look into the question of the slugger’s eligibility for the Hall of Fame. An entire book, a cover story on the number one sports magazine in the country, a divided fan base, and opposing positions from those in management of the sport…all over whether or not a gambler should be called one of the greats, not only in bars and hotel lobbies, but also in the Hall of Fame. This book asks if we should overlook his crimes against the sport in light of newer, more significant violations, namely the steroid-era cheating? Lance Armstrong comes to mind in this scenario. Yes, he (finally) admitted to cheating (and cheating, and bullying, and lying) to win his record seven Tour De France titles. But then there is the emotional caveat: “Look at all the good he has done for cancer research.” Lesser contributions but similar cheating “stars” include Ben Johnson, Marion Jones, and the incredible list of baseball players, a few of whom are mentioned in the article and book. I don’t know what the answer is, but I feel as though asking the question is an important place to start. I am in my late forty’s so born in the late 60’s. I grew up being punished for lying and cheating so that taught me it was wrong. Am I perfect, no, but I don’t cheat, have never cheated in any sport I have played, and I have a hard time with those that do cheat. To me, cheating is a sacrifice of self. When winning becomes more important than who you are to yourself, that is a problem. Dr. Jim Loehr wrote a great book called The Only Way To Win: How Building Character Drives Higher Achievement and Greater Fulfillment in Business and Life. This book spoke to me, not just because I work for Dr. Loehr, but because of the brilliant and simple commentary on how we might have gotten here…with here being a society and culture driven by achievement; leaving values and ethics behind. His “solution” to build character, value character, and teach character is so simple; it’s complicated. Anyone with a child should read this book. Heck,...

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Olympic Pressure

Posted by on Feb 15, 2014

The Olympics are on! I love the two weeks, not just as a former athlete (who still can’t shake that competitive drive) but also as a Sport Psychologist. I love to watch and listen to what the athletes say, what the commentators say, and the flow of energy and momentum. I was watching the Men’s Slopestyle and the Bronze medalist, Mark McMorris from Canada, had one shaky run and then pulled it together in the semifinal and final. He said in his interview when asked about the event, “the pressure just finds me.” I loved hearing this! Mind you, this was a 20 second sound bite so who knows what comments preceded or followed this, and I don’t know him or how he thinks, but I found this interesting for two reasons. One, that he was almost surprised at the pressure. Heck, it’s the Olympics! There is not much pressure-wise that can compare to this event. And two, this tells me his preparation either made him feel he shouldn’t have felt pressure, or he didn’t prepare enough for the pressure. I work with athletes preparing for big events all the time and many of them fall prey to the faulty thinking that if they just pretend it won’t be pressurized, then it won’t be! You know the old, “I will just treat this like it’s every other meet/show/race/match/game.” Not possible! The pressure will find you! What there is to do is to prepare for the pressure. So, how does someone prepare for pressure? Isn’t that the $64,000 question! First, figure out what pressure looks like for you. Not everyone feels pressure when his or her whole family is there, some find it relieves pressure. Who is your “opponent” and does that create pressure or motivation? Home court or away, which means more pressure to you? Remember, what creates pressure to you might create power to someone else and vice-versa. Second, third, fourth, and to infinity is to prepare for the pressure. The more you have practiced performing with pressure, the better you can handle it. I know too many competitors that create a performance bubble at home that protects and insulates them from pressure. Now, this is a useful tool in some parts of your training, but must not become the only practice habit. You need to practice performing or competing with things bugging you! Distractions take away mental...

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Lost Art Of Talking

Posted by on Sep 11, 2013

Lost Art Of Talking

“Keeping Alive The Big Questions” I love this article! The lost art of actually talking with someone, a past time that is sadly “lost” these days. Technology has given us many gifts, but the costs, obvious to some of us, will disappear and be lost over time. The ability for language is something that distinguishes human beings from animals. Sure, animals communicate, but we do it differently and in a much more complicated fashion. I love to conversate (is that a word, because it sure sounds like one; humor me here). I love to listen to new ideas, or old ones with a new twist or color of passion never seen before. I love to learn from people. I love to listen to stories unravel and try to figure out the source, the cause, the meaning behind thoughts and what makes one person think one thing and another think the opposite. When I am in a conversation, I can almost feel my brain tingle as it works to listen, process, control my need to talk over someone because I’m sure my thoughts are better or more important, wonder how they got that opinion or position, and try to connect to what they are saying no matter how I feel about it. I read this piece Saturday morning as I drank my coffee and watched two horses and riders wander out into the field behind my house. I am lucky to live on a horse farm and to be surround by the wonder and beauty this animal provides daily. A few minutes later, I got a frantic call that one rider had fallen off and could I get out there quickly! I grabbed my phone and ran. The horse had spooked and then he zigged while his rider zagged (that’s a technical way of saying she fell off). She was completely calm laying on the ground and simply said in a monotoned voice, “I think I broke my arm.” Wondering if she was a little in shock, I called for an ambulance and then we headed the 2.3 miles down the road to the hospital emergency room. If you are wondering how this story ties into this article about “big conversations”, well, we had several hours in the ER, and after she had stabilized physically and mentally, we simply talked. One other woman from the barn was there and the...

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