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WORKSHOP #20: "Going Mental"

Now that I'm older and I've become more organized and more disciplined, I still find that there's only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. Because I'm only awake for part of that time and I can only become so efficient using the time and opportunities at my disposal, I recently came to the realization that the only way for me to get more done was to go mental.

My first stop was the Internet with a search on "mental discipline." Many of the search results were links about martial arts and the one I liked the most was Aikido:
Aikido teaches you how to defeat your opponents by redirecting their energy back at them. I'd like to visit a Dojo and observe a class but otherwise I don't have time for the kind of commitment a martial art requires. I need quick fixes.

Another large chunk of the search results had to do with sports. This shouldn't have come as a surprise since sports professionals are all about state of mind. They may do plenty of physical and technical training but in the end, success for them comes down to staying in the moment, focusing, and concentrating. Hey, just like organists.

So, to succeed, you have to be pro-active about your mental state. Not only that but if you let it bounce around aimlessly like a pinball, you could unintentionally do some damage to yourself -- physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually. Imagine trying to drive a car without a steering wheel -- not only is it dangerous but it makes getting anywhere a bit difficult. No, for safety's sake, you really want to be in the driver's seat with your hands firmly on the steering wheel.

There are a lot of ways you can take the wheel but here's something I learned that really improved my day-to-day. Before I go to bed at night, I take one minute and decide what kind of day I'm going to have tomorrow and what I'm going to get done. I just say to myself, Tomorrow is going to be a great day and these are the things I'm going to get done. Then, when I wake up, I take a minute, just one minute, and reaffirm what I said the night before. I tell myself that it's going to be a great day, go over the things I'm going to get done and how they are going to go really well. That's it. If you try it, I guarantee it will make all the difference in how your day proceeds.

When I went mental and started relying on it more, areas in which I needed some work were revealed. The biggest area was concentration. I can do amazing things but the question is how long I can sustain them. So I've been looking around for things to improve my concentration. A colleague of mine introduced me to Sudoku, which is all the rage in England and was featured recently in The Economist magazine.
Sudoku is like a crossword puzzle but uses numbers instead of words. It is deceptively simple and highly addictive.

Here's an easy one I created using the letters in Bach's name:

If you need the solution, click here:

Given his love for numbers, I think Bach would have enjoyed Sudoku. Give it a try and the next time you play the Toccata in D Minor you'll be sharp --- mentally, that is! Have fun!

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Related Links
Sudoku Fun - A New Puzzle Every Day:

Physical and Mental Strategies:

Extreme Focus: The development of concentration:

Strategies for Improving Concentration and Memory:

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