Erin Davis: Welcome to REAL TIME, the podcast for and about REALTORS® brought to you by the Canadian Real Estate Association. I’m Erin Davis. We are so ready to take a deep breath and just be as we listen to the wisdom of our guests today. As a REALTOR®, you know success is tied to performance, but good things take work, and building a business in real estate is no different.
Performance, however, can sometimes feel like a synonym for stress. Fortunately, mindfulness can help bring balance. Today in Episode 42, we are joined by George Mumford, also known as the Performance Whisperer. George is a pioneer in sports psychology and performance, having worked with legendary athletes like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Today, George is renowned globally for his groundbreaking approach to mindfulness which he brings to us to help REALTORS®, to help you along your path to enduring success. Do I have to whisper, George? You are the whisperer. Can I just talk normally?
George Mumford: Yes.
Erin: We’re going to do this our way. Welcome to REAL TIME, George.
George: Thank you. It’s great to be here with you, Erin.
Erin: Well, you have such an inspirational story. We are going to get to all of that. First off, let’s talk mindfulness. In the big picture here, we all have an idea of what mindfulness is to each of us. To me, it’s reading Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are. I know that that’s one of your mottos. Meditating and just breathing, being conscious of the breath, but you, what is mindfulness to you, as we begin what’s going to be a great chat here today on REAL TIME?
George: Thank you for asking. Mindfulness to me is just mirror mind. What that means is that mindfulness is just a mirror and it allows us to see what’s in front of the mirror. The idea of developing mindfulness is so that we make sure that the mirror doesn’t have any dust on it. We just clear it off. It just reflects what’s in front of it, everything that’s in front of it. Not just one thing, a little thing. It’s like mirror mind.
When you’re mindful of something, you’re just noticing it. You’re letting whatever it is that you’re mindful of speak to you in its own language. When you’re being mindful of it, you’re not pushing it away or pulling it towards you. This means the data or the object is in front of the mirror. You’re not pushing it away or pulling it towards you. You’re not even interpreting it. Not initially. You’re allowing it to speak for itself in its own language. Does that make sense?
Erin: Yes, it does because we all do it in our busy lives or many of us do. In telling your story, you have, as I’ve mentioned off the top, an inspirational story, George, but can you tell us how you went from aspiring basketball player to one of the most sought-after sports psychologists?
George: Yes. I went to UMass Amherst. I was a walker and I wasn’t recruited to play basketball. I had an academic scholarship, and at that time, I was rooming with Julius Irving or Dr. J. He’s a Hall of Famer, and one of the– He was my roommate in college. I used to play with him. We were roommates and we were playing on the team, but we were– It was right about this time, I guess, and we were playing pickup.
What happens is right now, because basketball hasn’t started, the varsity players or the people who are going to play, they would play against each other. During the pickup, we were playing, and when I went up for a shot layup or something, one of the guys undercut me. Cut my legs from underneath me and I injured my ankle. That was pretty much the end of my career in college.
I struggled with that. Initially, I got addicted to pain meds and then I got addicted to illegal drugs, specifically heroin and alcohol. I was a very functional substance abuser. I was able to graduate from college and work in corporate world for a while, but then at some point, I couldn’t keep doing it and I couldn’t stop. Then I got into recovery. When I got into recovery, I noticed that I had– First thing that was clear is that I had chronic pain, but I had to embrace and say, “My life is unmanageable by me. I have a problem.”
Once I admitted I had a problem, went into detox, got counseling, and got out of it. In the process of getting clean, I realized I had chronic pain. I couldn’t really take pain meds, so I had to figure out a way of relating to the pain without using substances because my addiction doesn’t know if it’s prescribed or not. It would just kick that addiction up.
Anyway, I was in this experimental program and it was called Stress Management, so I learned how to manage stress. It was really more about me changing my lifestyle and taking a more active role in my healthcare. I learned meditation and yoga, and I got exposed to Tai Chi, but the main thing it did was it opened up this idea that I had to learn. We had a syllabus, a book, a list of the books to read, and the things– so that we start to learn about the mind-body system, and the process, and realize the mind and body are connected, and that through self-regulation, I could regulate my stress or manage my pain in a certain way.
I got into this stress management course, which was taught by this woman, amazing doctor, Dr. Joan Borysenko. At the time, she was one of three psycho-neuroimmunologists. I learned about the mind-body system. Being the recovering perfectionist I am, I read every book on that syllabus, and then it gave me other books, so here I am in my 40th year of sobriety, and I’ve averaged over a book a week during that whole time.
Erin: Oh. Congratulations.
George: Thank you. It’s interesting because once I got clean and I started listening to myself, I noticed that I needed to be intellectually stimulated; ergo, I started learning things. Then I realized the best way to keep it was to give it away, and if I wanted to learn something, to teach it. I started working. I worked as a financial analyst during the day and then at nights and weekends, I would work in a detox helping people in recovery.
I started using this not only for my recovery, but for my well-being and teaching it to others. That’s how I got into it. Fast forwarding to 1990s, and I’m working with Jon Kabat-Zinn at the Center for Mindfulness at the UMass Medical Center. He knew Phil Jackson, and they were teaching in the summer at this place called Omega. This is 30 years ago. Chicago Bulls had just won three NBA championships in a row, and Phil wanted somebody to come in to help the players deal with the stress of success.
I ended up going to training camp and working with the Bulls, and of course, they had a full-blown crisis because Michael Jordan’s father was murdered and Michael retired. That’s how I got started. It was really more about me just going there and just wanting to serve, wanting to share my experience, strength, and hope. That’s how I got there, and then it just took off obviously. The Bulls won championships.
Then Phil went to the Lakers, and the Lakers won championships, and he took me with him. Then I started working with other folks. I left the medical center and I started freelancing, and that’s how I got here, but it was really more about the adversity. It’s interesting because I’ve written two books, The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance, and then my current book, Unlocked: Embrace Your Greatness, Find the Flow, Discover Success.
The interesting thing is people would say, “Well, why did you write about the substance abuse and whatnot?” I said, “No, without that, I wouldn’t be here.” The gift of desperation, what I call the AOF method of motivation. It’s like a lot of people I work with, I know they say yes, they want to change, but they don’t change. Well, what helped me change was my butt was on fire or ass on fire. That’s what I mean by–
Erin: Oh, that’s the AOF. Thank you.
George: Ass on fire. I got eaten. Then it was the sense of urgency, but I got to a place because I had a friend of mine who got clean. He was an inspiration. I got triggered, my ignition got lit because I’d seen what was possible for him. Then once I got clean, it was like, “This is an amazing life.” Living on life’s terms but without substances, and actually getting to know myself better. I got to know myself, so I could be myself, so I could express myself, so I could share myself.
That’s what I’ve been doing. Two books, I continue to work with people. It doesn’t matter where they are. As long as you got a mind, I could probably work with you or help you work with yourself. That’s how I got there. It was through adversity, but saying yes to it and using it as a stepping stone, having the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset, knowing it’s all about learning, growing, and developing. Over these 40 years, I’ve reinvented myself multiplicity at times as well as getting to know myself more and more because I change, everything changes. It’s been a wonderful journey of self-discovery.
Erin: Next up as we talk with performance coach George Mumford, one amazing guest, two kinds of mindsets. Which one is yours? CREA Café is your place to take a break. Grab a pumpkin spice or whatever you like, and catch up on the latest trends and topics affecting you and your clients. Find it all at creacafe.ca. Now, we return to our conversation with George Mumford, and I urge you just google some of his quotes because we’re hearing them from the man himself today. Words of wisdom that apply to you both every day and especially in your life as a REALTOR® on REAL TIME.
You talk about fixed mindset versus growth mindset. I think that really, among all of the things that you’ve said so far, like the term recovering perfectionist, everybody raises your hand, unless you’re driving, keep both hands on the wheel. I think that that really resonates too, my friend. Let us talk about fixed mindset versus growth mindset, can we?
George: Yes. Back in my youth, I would read something and I’d say, “Okay, either I get it or I don’t get it.” That’s it. A fixed mindset says you can’t learn, you can’t grow, you can’t develop, you are what you are and you can’t change. The growth mindset is the opposite, which says, we all have this masterpiece inside, or a divine spark, or Buddha-nature, Christ consciousness, Quan Yin energy, whatever it is. There’s greatness within us, and in all of us, not just one, some of us, but all of us have it.
It’s really a matter of embracing it, developing it, and accessing it. The challenge is it can only be accessed by us. It’s an inside job. To the degree that I embrace my greatness, I’m able to find my flow and discover success. It’s just me being who I’m supposed to be. It’s being my authentic self, giving myself permission to go inside and follow my strongest passion.
Joseph Campbell would say, “Follow your bliss.” To me, I want everybody to have that experience. I want everybody to have the opportunity, like I said, to get to know themselves, to realize that you have a masterpiece within, you can access it. Only you can do it. The bad news is we lock ourselves up. The good news is because we lock ourselves up, we can let ourselves out. We can unlock ourselves.
Erin: Okay. We are all open to the message here that you’re sharing, George. In terms of business, how are the concepts of mindfulness and performance related in a business context? How do you make the two co-exist peacefully within– you’ve described yourself as a Type A, which again, many of us are, and recovering perfectionists, but you say you’re a Type A without the hostility. Let us go back to the business concept or context, and I’ll ask you again, how do you marry the two and can they coexist?
George: Yes. I was in business for four or five years before I left business, and while I was on this journey, and it’s really about having a way of being, realizing that you can compete in a way where you don’t lose your humanity. I say this to people all the time. When I’m competing, I’m not competing against anybody out there.
I’m competing against my previous best self, and I will say with grace and ease, which came decades afterward, but it is like you can love yourself and you can have the tough love, but it’s really more about understanding that no matter what you’re doing, wherever you go, there you are. Whether you’re a business person or whatever role you’re in, you can learn how to be in the moment and live in alignment with the way things work.
We live in a network of relationships, so it’s about mutual benefit, mutual respect, and seeing the greatness in others. I see masterpieces all over the place. Even if people don’t see them, I see it. That’s how I’m relating to myself and others. Mostly to others, it’s challenging to do it for myself, but through doing it to others, I can do it for myself, but it’s really more about having a way of being where you say yes to life and you embrace it and you learn from it.
Whatever it’s there, it’s like, what’s the lesson? It’s that simple. You see things as challenges, not as curses or burdens, or instead of seeing the enemy, seeing somebody who is suffering, just like I am suffering. It just may be they don’t understand that they can be an infinity. They can come from goodwill rather than feeling like they’re in survival mode where they got to destroy or deny anybody who’s a threat. Everything’s a threat when you’re in survival mode.
Erin: Exactly. That’s how it often feels in business, in changing economies and changing situations. Again, of course, since we’re talking to REALTORS®, in changes in the markets all the time. George, how do we get into the zone to maximize our potential?
George: Yes. How do we get into the zone? That’s perfect because I live a lot of my life in the zone. You don’t have to just be an athlete, but you do have to have clear goals. You have to have an ability to observe your goals and know when you have to keep make adjustments on the fly. Under the conditions, you’ll be in flow, but if you try to get in the flow, you won’t.
I know if your challenges are high and your skills, knowledge, and experience is high, and you are just out of your comfort zone, it’s hard to do, but doable. In other words, you’re out of your comfort zone, you have access to flow. It’s something that once you get the flow, then it becomes normalized. It’s like a step function. You have to challenge yourself some more. You have to learn more skills if that’s what you want to do.
You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We know what the flow triggers are. We know that you have to have clear goals and get immediate feedback or feedback loops. In that loop, you got to keep adjusting, adapting so that you stay on task. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to feel uncomfortable, you’re going to experience some level of anxiety.
Anytime we change anything, we’re going to mobilize anxieties, but anxiety is the other side of freedom. It comes, but if you could say yes to it and just keep moving with it– The best example I can give is that you watch improv.
Erin: Oh, yes. Yes-and.
George: When somebody’s doing improv and someone says there’s a pink elephant in the bathroom, if you don’t accept that and you say, “No, I’m not going to go with that,” then there’s no flow. If you say, “Oh, just make sure he doesn’t use all the toilet paper,” or something like that, then– See what I’m saying?
George: Whatever life throws us, we have to say yes to it and see there’s an opportunity to step up. To get in the flow, but you have to train for it. You have to be able to challenge– that’s why it’s got to be inter-directed. We got to set clear goals and get immediate feedback, but we have to be clear about the feedback we’re getting, the error corrections, what we attribute the errors to.
If we attribute it to not being big enough or fast enough or the right size, or have the right here or any of that, that’s not what gets us there. What gets us there is we make choices and we can learn from our mistakes. We attribute the mistake to not making the right effort or not getting the right understanding of how things work. Once we align with that, then you’re rolling.
It’s this ability to make mistakes and to learn from them, is this ability– and it’s interesting because Winston Churchill said, “Success is going from failure to failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” What I’m really talking about is this idea of being a learner, learning to learn, and just realizing that it’s a lesson. What’s the lesson? You learn a lesson, and you keep it moving.
You have to say yes to stuff, embrace it, generate the hope, and then figure it out because that’s the other thing about us being these masterpieces. We figure stuff out. We are wired for success, but we have to be willing to get comfortable being uncomfortable and be willing to be honest with what we are getting and then stop blaming and denying. We have to say, “I am responsible. Even if something happens to me, I get to choose my response and my reaction to it.” In that space between stimulus and response, we get to choose in alignment with our goals and our core values.
I know it’s challenging, but we got to go inside and know what do I want and what am I willing to do, or who am I willing to be to do what I want to do. It’s that simple and that challenging. It’s easy in terms of, it sounds easy, but it’s challenging because it’s going against the stream. It’s going against everything we probably learned, that if you make a mistake, you don’t have to beat yourself up. All you got to do is see this feedback and then make the adjustment. You can do it with joy.
Whether you’re in business or not, it’s like, okay, you got core values, you have a worthy cause, and you have rules for engagement. You want to have your integrity, but you also want to keep your kindness and be able to have goodwill. Nobody wants to be around somebody who looks at them as a thing. Everybody wants to be seen as a whole person, not as a thing. If I don’t relate to you as a person with a body, with a mind, with a heart, and a soul or spirit, if I leave any one of those dimensions out from my interaction with you, then I’m relating to a thing, not a person.
The same with myself. I can embrace all of that, my body, the way it is, my mind, I can make my mind my best friend, my heart, I can manage my emotions. I can have emotional intelligence and the spirit. The other one about contribution and meaning, the meaning is to relate to people in a way that I want to be related, to see myself and others as one. We see that every once in a while when we have a catastrophe like 9/11, or when the young man, American football, Damar Hamlin, he was making a tackle. After he had the contact with the person, he just stood up and he fell down on his back and he had a heart attack.
Everybody came over and the game stopped. Everybody just was concerned about this young man. The NFL never cancels games or any of that stuff. At that moment, everybody’s individual selves melded into us, and what’s happening to him is happening to us, and we want him to be the best. Every once in a while we get through beyond this illusion of separateness. That’s helpful.
I would say that there’s a way of relating with integrity, with compassion, and with goodwill. You can do amazing things. Not only that, where you’re able to share the market, grow your business, and create an environment where people will work there because they’re able to be themselves. They’re able to grow professionally and personally. I know some people might say, “Okay, this guy has never been–” I’ve been in business, I work with CEOs. I know how this works. I know if you want to perform at an elite level, you got to be genuine. You got to be real. You got to have integrity.
You got to do the work. You have to not lose your humanity and know that I’m the other one. Even if you compete against somebody, you don’t make them a thing. You see them as a person. You relate in that way. It begins with me. It begins with me relating to myself as a whole person and taking care of myself.
Erin: We return to George Mumford, gatherer and sharer, and more about the importance of listening, especially when things are swirling around you, both in business and in life. We are glad you are following our podcast. We have 41 insightful episodes just waiting for you to dig in and be inspired. There’s a new one every month, and we’re grateful to have you joining us here in our REAL TIME podcast community. Now, back to the Performance Whisperer himself, George Mumford on REAL TIME.
Going back to so much that you’ve said, and honestly, you are preaching to the choir here, George, from man’s search for meaning to the stoics. That happened. Now what are you going to do about it? Als,o the aspect, the image of improv, and the yes-and, but the most important part of improv besides having a really good mind is listening. Listening is part of what you have given as a message to people who are in the– it’s chaos around them. As a leader, what do you do? What is the thing that is most necessary for you in order to not control chaos, but to ride it?
George: Yes. Be the eye of the hurricane. In the hurricane, the eye is calm, peaceful, it’s quiet, the blue skies. There’s no turmoil there. There’s just silence, spaciousness. I would even say love, compassion, openness, there’s an ease of being. You’re in a place of rest. When you’re in the eye of the hurricane, you can be aware of the hurricane without being identified or pulled into the whirlwinds. You’re not trying to make the hurricane go away. You’re trying to just– your intention is to let it be the hurricane. You be the eye, and like everything else, it’s going to rise and fade away.
Hurricanes don’t last forever, they end at some point. You need to stay in the eye and realize you’re in the eye from this place of rest. Joseph Campbell talked about it in The Power of Myth. This is anybody, but he said that when the athlete is in championship form, they come from this place of rest. They come from their center, so that they’re not compelled by desire or fear, they hold their center.
Now, you get to a place where you can be alert and relaxed at the same time, and notice things, and then the question is, “How can I help? How can I serve? Or what’s the win? What’s important now?” or make the next play. Just holding the space and having it calm makes a big difference.
I’ll share with you a story, the experience of the first year I was working with the Lakers, it was 2000, and the Lakers were playing the Portland Trail Blazers, and my buddy Scotty had a team and they had an amazing team. It was fourth quarter, Game 7, whoever won that game was going on to the NBA championship. It was 10 minutes and 28 seconds left in the quarter, this 12-minute quarter. They were trailing by 15 points.
Phil called a timeout when I was sitting behind the bench. Obviously, I got up when the team came over, and the team came to the bench and he said, “We have them just where we want them. One stop, one score. That’s how we’re going to win.” That’s all he said, we’ve been practicing mindfulness and this ability to be the eye of the hurricane or just make the next play, what’s important now, and won that game. It was a tremendous comeback, we won by seven.
That’s because he held the space, and he changed how things occurred to them. We can do this. I imagine Tom Brady did the same thing when they were down even more, when he came back and beat the Atlanta Falcons. It was the same thing. “Okay, man, we got this. Just got to make the next play, we ain’t got to get them all at once,” but that’s what it is. It’s being in the moment because, in the moment, you can manage the moment, and then the next moment, and the next moment.
All things are possible when we can be in the moment, and be clear about what our intentions are, and be able to execute them. It’s not about the other team, it’s about you, it’s about us. As a manager, there’s this idea of knowing what the rules are, and what’s important now. We got to begin from now and then, “Okay, stay calm, and then just focus on the next thing. Do what you know to do, and the next step will be given to you.”
That’s how you do it, but you have to program yourself because we’re programmed to overreact and curse and to feel like we got to be in there and we got to look like we’re angry or we got to look like it’s serious, we got to have a scowl face instead of a smile and say, “Hey, this is going to be awesome, we got this.” You just got to make the next play, and even if you don’t achieve everything, you still have changed your state, and you’re at ease. You’re having fun, you’re having joy, and then you realize that that can be a way of being.
Even if you’re challenged by a difficult task, or having a balanced workload and play, and you have somebody who’s sick, or something happens, if you stay in the eye of the hurricane, and then you ask, “Okay, what’s the next play?” You got to embrace, “Yes, this is happening, I don’t like it, but if I can say yes to it and generate hope, I can learn the lesson, I can relate to it in a way where it’s going to take me forward, and it’s going to transform not only me but the whole situation, people that are engaged in it and whatnot.”
That’s what’s possible, just being able to find that place of rest, that still point, that eye of the hurricane and observe experience in a way– There’s something I’ll say about that. From my own experience, when I come from that place of rest, when I come from the eye of the hurricane, there’s wisdom and creativity that comes out of that, that is beyond description.
That’s what flow is; you’re in flow, and you just know things. There’s no self-consciousness. You’re fully engaged in what you’re doing, not on how you’re doing, or seeing it as a personal self, you’re just in the flow. We have the capacity to do that, no matter what we’re doing. We can have access to that, but the best way to have access to it is not to have access to it. Just to create the condition in which that happens.
Erin: Can I ask you, George, if you’re in the center of the eye of the hurricane, the calm, and you’re talking about your teammates, your Phil Jackson, and you tell your bench that this is what’s going to happen, and glory be it does, what about in terms of REALTORS® and their clients? Because the clients are spinning sometimes. Buying a house, selling a property is so, so stressful. How do you help external forces or external beings who may not be on your bench?
George: By holding space, by staying calm and serving, just recognizing that they’re– asking them questions. People, they have their own way of doing it. It’s just focusing on the person that’s in front of you, focusing on making the connection and being a service. That’s the best way. I’ve had this experience where in between my jobs, when I wasn’t making enough money, and I’d be worried about paying the mortgage and all that stuff, and I’d be eager, maybe even people that are needy because there’s a different energy, but once I could just relax and just focus on serving, the money comes.
The idea is when you have a client, there’s a whole person in front of you. Can we just relate to them and deal with what’s there? By not trying to make the sale, we’ll make the sale because we’re serving, but just creating a space for them to be at ease so that they’ll be relaxed, and they’ll be able to do things because it doesn’t matter where you are, but our emotions are contagious.
It’s just really understanding that you’re serving the person. It’s just like you calm yourself down, and then it’s easy for you to relate to them, and that energy is going to affect their ability to calm down and just do the next thing. Ask them questions, get them to focus on the here and now and what they’re focused on. Not denying and say, “Oh, don’t worry about–” whatever. Just say you need a minute and you breathe.
These folks already know how to do it. I think once you come out of that eye of the hurricane, you know what to do. There’s an intuition, there’s a wisdom. These folks have to– some of them might even just be new. Being new, if you just be still in the deep listening, listening is not just what the person is saying, it’s their energy, the nonverbal communication. You see they’re at ease or not at ease, or there’s some distress there or whatever.
You just make space for it, and they know how to do that. It’s just like if you met a young kid or a little child that was lost, and even though you have a meeting or sell a house or something, or you got to be at a recital, your main thing is to be there with that child and to make sure that they’re safe and that they feel cared for. It’s the same thing.
Erin: George Mumford is author of Unlocked: Embrace Your Greatness, Find the Flow, Discover Success as well as The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance. We’ll be back with George in a sec. First, a reminder. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned veteran, there’s always information to add to your professional toolbox at CREA.ca. From legal matters to navigating technology, it’s all there simply by clicking CREACafe.ca.
Now, if you’re like me, the lines are blurred between work you and real-life you. I think that’s okay. When we are our work, how do you make space in your life just for you, for rest, for peace? George Mumford has some answers that we hope will help on REAL TIME.
You’ve used a beautiful phrase, fight, flight, and freeze, but you got to rest and digest. Before we let you rest, and we digest all of this wisdom, George, I do have to ask you that because working in real estate can be high stress and REALTORS® or entrepreneurs with a lot resting on their ability to actively build their business, it’s not a job where, say, you can leave the stadium, or you can leave the office, and when you come home, and you close the front door, you are in a different space. Your work is with you. You are your work in a lot of cases, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
How do you keep that lava flow from coming in your front door? What can you recommend as a takeaway tip for us, George? Just to have that space, make that space. For some of us, it has to be a physical thing, whether it’s a candle or incense or just a certain mood. What do you recommend?
George: If you have a place in your house or a place where you can be alone, I was one of 13 children and my refuge was in the morning. I get up early before anybody else, and I could just be with myself. Just be there, be quiet, and be with myself. Joseph Campbell talked about that as well. He said you have to have a room or a place, a sacred space, where you could just be in a room and be alone and not be around anybody else. You could be with yourself and torture yourself, but be with yourself and just be kind and just be at ease.
Prayer, meditation, maybe you read Scripture or you read something that reminds you that you are a masterpiece and that you’re going to go through struggles, you’re going to go through difficulties, but it’s those difficulties that allow your latent abilities to manifest if you are willing to say yes to it and willing to know that you need your me time. You just have to do it.
You have to have some time when you can– maybe it’s in the morning or at night, or maybe you just go for a walk, but you have to have time where you can recover and just be aware of how you’re feeling, but just really having the me time. Some of us, like I used to like to run, I’d go on a run or something, but it’s really more about just sitting and breathing and knowing it.
Even now, if people are not driving and I’m talking and sitting, I can just be aware of just being in my body and breathing in, breathing out. Some people do different kinds of breathing, but just stopping and smelling the roses, or like you said, you might have a room or you might have a place. I like to walk along the beach, the ocean, but you have to have a time, what Joseph Campbell called creative incubation. That’s where your thoughts and everything come.
You just be with yourself and you’re just relaxing and just being there and just breathing and being in the moment and there’s a lot of different things to do. Some of us have spaces that allow us to do that, but we can create this ability to do that, where we just spend time every moment– I talk about– well, actually, Maria Popova, she has a thing called the Marginalian. It used to be Brain Pickings. She talked about what she’s done over the 10 years.
She talks about having these pockets of stillness where there’s times when you just pause and you just stop, and you see it in a commercial where they’re selling a certain car. I used to work in a stress reduction clinic in the medical center. Before you go in the house, you just sit there instead of just running right in the house. You just sit there and you just breathe and you just relax and calm yourself and say, “Okay, you’re about to do your most important work of the day.” You have to be able to let go of what went on before and what’s going to go on before it, so you can just be in the moment just being it now.
Even though we feel like we got so much to do, we have to think about it all the time, well, that’s how we get burnt out, or that’s how we get to a place of diminishing returns, I like to call it. We have to exercise, it’s called the relaxation response is what Dr. Herbert Benson framed it, is that we have this ability, when we focus on one thing, it could be a mantra of prayer, or just sitting and watching our breath. We allow ourselves to get into that rest and digest, where actually, we’re able to just recover the spent energy, especially the psychic energy.
There’s a lot we can do, but having a practice where we’re praying and meditating, or even having a gratitude practice or a loving-kindness practice or a compassion practice, any of these things where we focus on these emotions and we can feel them is ways we can train ourselves to be in the moment. Shawn Achor has a whole thing. He wrote The Happiness Advantage. He has these five research habits that one could do. For instance, saying out loud or writing down three new things every 24 hours each day. Three things we can be grateful for, just writing somebody a supportive note or something, or we live in a experience we really liked. Three conscious smiles, just smiling.
It’s interesting, it takes 13 muscles to smile and 72 to frown. Just smiling, it changes your whole physiology. Just looking at it in a way where, “Oh, okay, this is an opportunity. This is a stepping stone. This is not a roadblock.” That’s what we have this ability to do. Is the glass half empty or half full? Both are right, but if it’s half empty, you’re coming from scarcity. Your ability to access your mental capacity is diminished by 40%. You got to be able to stay open.
How do I do it? How do I need to recover? How do I know when I’m stressed out? I have self-observable signs. For me, when I was in recovery, and I had this, “I’m too cool, I don’t get stressed out.” My body would say, “Yo, man, this is stressing here because your shoulders are up around your ears, and you got a migraine headache.” When the migraine started coming on, I know I was trying too hard. We have these self-observable signs of distress. For some of us, it’s eating too much, not sleeping enough. Just really being worried about things, awfulizing. That’s what I learned. Awfulizing, focusing on all the things that go wrong or focusing on what you’re not doing instead of catching yourself doing something right or catching somebody else doing something right, and trying to balance that equation of that negative self-talk and changing it into positive, supportive, or directed thought.
There’s many, many things we could do to what I would call having self-awareness, this ability to have mirror mind, and then just generate thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are in alignment with us regulating ourselves, so we can be in the moment, be at ease, and still be serious about what we’re doing, but have this compassion, this likeness, this confidence that we can generate from that by just noticing that it’s better to be in a growth mindset and see things as challenges versus seeing them as curses or things that shouldn’t be happening.
Erin: Amazing. Simply amazing. Thank you. You say we are all masterpieces, but boy, you sir are. We are so grateful to have had this talk with you today, and who knows how many people will be taking in your message as we rest and digest. Thanks to you, George, for making time to be with us here today on REAL TIME.
George: Well, thank you. Let me just point out something-
George: -that what you can see is what you are. If you can see it in me, that’s because it’s in you.
Erin: Thank you. It’s been such a pleasure.
George: You’re welcome.
Erin: I’m Erin Davis. We invite you to like and share this podcast with everyone among your REALTOR® community and elsewhere, anyone you think that might also gain some wisdom from the words of George Mumford. Thanks for that. REAL TIME is brought to you by the Canadian Real Estate Association and is a production of Alphabet Creative®. Sound Tech by Rob Whitehead. Thanks so much for joining us, and we’ll talk to you again soon on REAL TIME.