Craig Manning: Mastering the Mind
Did you know research has shown that people who can control their minds have the greatest success in life? In fact, mental strength is a stronger indicator of success than IQ or the economic status of the family one grows up in. So how do we develop mental strength and what does it have to do with faith? Today, we talk with Latter-day Saint Dr. Craig Manning, who has helped some of the greatest athletes in the world answer these questions.
If you are willing to do the mental work, you can really do a lot with what you’ve been given.
The Fearless Mind Video Series Intro:
Book: Lectures on Faith by Joseph Smith
3:33- Always Comes Back to the Mind
8:10- Mental Traits of Champions
12:05- Roadblocks to Reaching Potential
13:24- The Danger of Doubt
17:33- Can Faith and Fear Co-Exist?
23:24- Who Are We At Our Core?
25:32- Take No Thought For The Morrow
30:40- Truth Is In The Middle
40:52- Faith Begins With How You Talk To Yourself
43:14- Mental Skills and Rapid Progression in Life
44:33- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones 0:00
If you're like me, you're currently suffering from withdrawals at the conclusion of the NBA Finals and the Olympics. It is my hope that this week's episode and next week's episode–as well as a bonus episode in between–will fill that void for you.
In a talk he gave at BYU in 2017, Craig Manning quoted the Lectures on Faith which said, "If men were duly to consider themselves and turn their thoughts and reflections to the operations of their own minds, they would readily discover that it is faith and faith only which is the moving cause of all action in them. That without it, both mind and body would be in a state of inactivity, and all their exertions would cease, both physical and mental."
Dr. Manning then said, "My personal interpretation of this passage is that we don't do anything without first putting in the mental effort. If we are not mentally engaged, we do nothing. Or at best, we do very little."
Dr. Craig Manning's experience as a professional tennis player led him to become naturally curious about the effect of the mind on performance. He earned a PhD in sports psychology from the University of Utah and has since worked with the US ski and snowboarding teams, multiple NBA teams–including the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, as well as many companies worldwide. He is the author of The Fearless Mind: 5 Essential Steps to Higher Performance.
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Jones, and I am so honored to have Dr. Craig Manning on the line with me today, Dr. Manning welcome.
Dr. Craig Manning 1:54
Thanks, Morgan. Appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
Morgan Jones 1:56
Well, this is such a treat for me. I told Dr. Manning before we got started that I listened to a bunch of things that he has done this week in preparation, and just every single thing I was like, "Man, this guy is so good." So I'm really looking forward to this conversation. And I just want to start with–you grew up in a home where your mother was a Catholic and your father was a member of the Church of England. How did you come in contact with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Dr. Craig Manning 2:29
Yeah, I think going back to those days, I was always–well, as I got older, I was always looking for truth and trying to find answers to some questions. I'd actually turned pro, back then tennis was a big part of my family growing up. And so I turned pro and got out on a tour, I think, and that was the, you know, everything in life, and found it quite empty traveling around the world and seeing some of the things going on out there on the pro tour. I'm like there's got to be more to life than this, and came back and started asking questions with my dad and uncle and different things. And before I knew it, I feel like the Lord just came and kind of picked me up and showed me this BYU thing I knew nothing about, and before I knew it I was here in BYU, and kind of getting a lot of answers to the questions I've been asking for a couple years. So yeah, I really feel like I was blessed.
Morgan Jones 3:17
And what year were you at BYU when you joined the Church?
Dr. Craig Manning 3:21
Uh, 1991. Yeah.
Morgan Jones 3:23
Dr. Craig Manning 3:25
Got here in 1990, joined the Church six months later. So, yeah.
Morgan Jones 3:29
Pretty quick. That's amazing. So anybody that is familiar with you and the work that you've done knows that you are very passionate about the mind and the power of mindset in helping us live our best lives. And so how did you become so passionate about the mind and mental performance? I would assume that it stems from your career as a tennis player.
Dr. Craig Manning 3:57
Yeah, I just grew up playing tennis and that was my identity–you know, mistakenly– now I realize identity needs to be separate then things like that. But yeah, that was my identity. And then I turned pro at 17, turning 18 after graduating from college and high school–we call it college back there, but high school here. And it just didn't–I wasn't getting where I wanted to go, and I just felt like there was some gaps there.
And I thought I had potential and I was seeing some of my friends do well, you know, and I had a friend of mine that I grew up playing with for years that I always used to beat, and he beat me 7-6, 7-6, 7-6, one day. So we're very, very close. But then as time was going on, he was doing great. And I was struggling and I just couldn't understand what it was. I end up coming to BYU, six years later, that guy ends up being number one tennis player in the world.
And I'm like, I know I was better than him physically, so what was missing? And I was always looking for the answers and to me it always came back to the mind. And then I started coaching at BYU, always just trying to find the edge. You know, trying to–like you said–to help people fulfill their potential. And to me, it just always came back to the mind. If the mind wasn't in a good place, people just seem to either choke or not fulfill on all of the hard work they put in and not get the most out of their talents that they have. And it just always came back to the mind to me. And when I worked on it, the results were just shocking to me at first, I couldn't believe it, so.
Morgan Jones 5:24
Well, I want to talk today about some of those things, the results that you saw and those things that you've learned, just to kind of like, set the stage and give people a taste of–you have worked with some of the biggest names in sports. I believe you worked with the Cavaliers the year they won the NBA championship, is that right?
Dr. Craig Manning 5:44
Yes. Yeah, for a year and a half worked with them. And yeah, we were lucky to win that title that year, yeah.
Morgan Jones 5:50
And then this year you've been working with the Milwaukee Bucks who also just won the NBA championship. And that's just in the NBA, you've also worked with Olympians and obviously college athletes. I think people tend to focus a lot, Dr. Manning, on athleticism and physical build. But I wonder in your experience, is that really what sets champions apart?
Dr. Craig Manning 6:16
Yeah, so some individuals I've been working with here for a little while they–you would say that they are physical specimens for sure. This one individual, I've been with the Bucks for a while now, and it was after the Cavaliers I started working with them on the side.
And I'll never forget the first day in practice. I'm standing there in the court in Milwaukee and they're running drills and this particular individual who's–he's a large individual and he had to come around the corner, like an R shape around the corner right towards me. And I've been involved in sports since I was six years of age. And he came around the corner with such athleticism, I literally stepped back I was like, "Oh my goodness, this guy is definitely amazing athlete."
But the thing that people don't realize is how much these people are working on the mental stuff behind the scenes. And this particular individual has said to me multiple, multiple times, "There's so many people in the NBA that are built like me, but they don't see the other things I'm working on." And he openly talks about it all the time.
It's . . . yeah, the physical is one thing, and I do think taking our physical ability and getting ourselves in the right position in the first place is the key. But going back to Erickson, in his research, he said "How we're born, our innate abilities, is an indication, what we will not do." Meaning what I get from that is, I do think we need to position ourselves around our strengths, which I love the parable of the talent, because I think the Lord teaches us that we're given certain talents. And if we can position ourselves well, but then you've got to develop that. That's just the beginning point.
And I think it's like marriage, you do your best to find somebody you're in love with, and then you got to work hard at it. It's not just a free pass after that. And I've seen that over and over and over again. If you are willing to do the mental work, you can really do a lot with what you've been given.
Morgan Jones 8:05
I love that. You have done a lot of research, and I actually am so curious about the research that you've done and what you've found. But one thing that you've found is that all champions have common psychological traits and habits. What would you say some of those things are, the things that are consistent across all those that you see being successful?
Dr. Craig Manning 8:30
Yeah, we've definitely seen–I speak for myself–patterns. You see patterns, you see a pattern, you can't unsee it. So there's definitely a correlation of pattern of people. And one of the biggest things that's like, everyone's unique, but that is one of the biggest things. The best, the highest functioning people really figure out what works best for them. There's no system approach to it, there's not one system, everyone is so different in figuring out what works best for them.
I'll give you an example. About four years ago, I was actually working for both the Jazz and the Bucks at the time. And I was doing the draft for both teams. And this one, I felt like I had to pick one or the other because it was a bit of a conflict of interest.
But the data that we have to be able to do this, it was one guy I was like, this guy's the most authentic. I like calling it, "Confident, but humble." So confident humility. So authentic, meaning really knew who they were, and was humble enough to keep learning. I think those two there's so much more to it, but two big things there: confident in who you are and having the humility to keep trying to learn and get better.
And so I told both organizations, you got to draft this guy because this guy has that authenticity and the growth and yeah, the Jazz end up sneaking ahead of us. We traded up to get him, the Jazz sneaked ahead of us and got him and yeah, so that guy's killing it right now.
But then every draft, they're always like, "Well, who's the next such and such that we can draft?" And I'm like "No, no, there is not the same person." There's the same pattern, but it's finding the person that is the most self-aware of who they are and what their strengths are. And that's working hard to maximize their quality.
So there is a pattern, the best of very authentic, they know who they are, and they know where they want to go. But yet they're so different. So their mindset is very organized and directed in maximizing who they are and becoming the best they can be. If that makes sense at all. It's hard to break it down because we're so dynamic.
Morgan Jones 10:36
Yeah, well it does make sense, and I guess my follow up question to that would be, how do you think that confident humility is developed?
Dr. Craig Manning 10:45
Yeah, so there's a journey, and I've been trying to constantly figure out the patterns and break it down in a roadmap so that we can teach others and we can develop others. That's my passion is I love helping others maximize who they are not trying to change them. I just don't believe in trying to force them into something that they aren't. I believe in taking them who they are, which is where that starts to the parable of the talents.
No matter who it is, a young kid, a pro athlete, or a business executive, or a musician–anyone. I don't know anything about music, but the mind is still at the root of music. And so I've worked with musicians a lot. So help them identify what their strengths are and where they begin, and take them down this journey in developing these skills.
But ultimately, we want to get to the eighth skill is assertiveness, where they're really unlocking who they are, but you have to develop the skills first. And so that assertiveness piece is massive, so you're not competing with somebody else, which is what aggressive and passive people do, you're competing with who you used to be. So really developing that assertiveness is . . . it takes a lot of work and time, but it's amazing if you do the work what happens to people.
Morgan Jones 11:51
I watched one of the videos that you have on YouTube where you talked about the difference between aggressiveness and assertiveness and I had never thought of it that way. So we'll have to link that in our show notes. But what would you say are the greatest roadblocks you found that keep people from reaching their full potential?
Dr. Craig Manning 12:10
I'd say the two biggest are fear and then ignorance–I know that's a harsh word, we'd probably call that word "blind spots" now, but fear and ignorance. Which, fear is ultimately subtractive. So this subtractive thought patterns. Subtractive means talking to yourself in a way of what you can't do," I can't do this," "I can't do that," "I stink at this." I'd also call that self-doubt. When you start talking to yourself in a subtractive way, "I can't do that"–everything shuts down.
Now I think about it even with your own kids, when somebody wakes up in the morning and they tell themselves, "I can't do this." Nothing happens from that point on. There's no more mental effort and the mind just stops. And so there's no more growth at that point. So self-doubt, to me, is the biggest killer. And self-doubt–being specific–self-doubt is subtractive, "I can't do this." So the origin of that thought is with a human being. So when the person has subtractive thought patterns they don't even try, there's no mental effort to actually figure it out. So there's no . . . nothing happens from that point on.
Morgan Jones 13:21
Okay, so I hope that you're up for this. But one thing as I was listening to all of the stuff that you've done–not all the stuff that you've done, but the stuff that I was able to listen to–I kept thinking, I wonder how all of this applies to faith and a person's journey of faith. And you said of doubt, of self-doubt, once it takes over, action is halted. I believe doubt to be one, if not the greatest of the adversaries tools. It is the antithesis of faith. How would you define doubt? And why do you think that it's impossible for faith and fear to coexist?
Dr. Craig Manning 14:04
Yeah, cause . . . so I'll answer the first part of that question. So yeah, I actually had the opportunity and the blessing to be called as a YSA bishop down around the BYU area for three years, which I absolutely loved. And what I saw with these young men and young women during these critical ages, people struggling, just had so much doubt, and they just weren't going anywhere in their life because of the doubt.
And they were spiraling in these subtractive thoughts. And it just blew me away how the adversary–if he can get people to doubt, he wins. They don't even try at that point. They're not trying to maximize the potentials, the talents they've been given, they're not trying in life, they're just coasting, just drifting through life aimlessly waiting for something to happen.
And it just broke my heart when I saw that. So I started doing my own research on this and I was blown away. I started meeting with people and I had two great counselors that just took care of a lot of the other things. And I just started ministering like crazy, Sundays and Tuesdays and they would just fill up my schedule. And I just was working hard to try and pull them out of those patterns.
And we just found–I found doing the research, 50% of our Ward did not have any clear objective of what they wanted. So that to me is a sign the mind doesn't have direction, the mind's just spiraling.
Of that 50%, only 2% had a clear plan to achieve that objective, which just was–blew me away. So I just spent so much time trying to pull them out of those subtractive, back into proactive, the opposite of subtractive is additive. So again, the opposite of subtract is addition. Right?
Morgan Jones 15:41
Dr. Craig Manning 15:41
So it frames their mind to what do you want to do? And what can you do, the "Can do" mindset, and really getting them in a proactive mindset moving in a direction of what they wanted to achieve. So helping them figure out what they wanted, and then coming up with the skill of teaching them to have a proactive mindset, always focused on what to do, not what not to do.
And it just blew me away what happened once we did that. Just get them in a good mindset. That, to me is what faith is. Faith is not just positivity. I think positivity is a little too vague at times. We need to have positive energy, but I saw that with all these people I worked with, some of them are trying to be positive, but it doesn't lead to anything, so then they lose it. And they fall back into those subtractive thought patterns. They're like, "I tried, it didn't work." So they're back in that subtractive thought patterns again.
I'm like, no, no, faith is way more than positive. Positive energy is great. Faith is proactive. It's a belief plus action. Well, there's no action without productivity. So I can look out the window today and go, "Man, it's a beautiful day"–great. That's a positive statement. All of those words are positive. And that makes me feel good. But I'm still sitting here. There's no action. There's no action that comes from positivity.
And that's why I think so many people get lost, they try to be positive and they think that leads to something. Positivity does not lead to action. I don't believe it actually can. It creates good feelings, which we all want people to be happy, but there's no action connected to it, where proactive is–it leads to action. Proactive is, "I'm going to do this." And that's what faith is to me. And so once we got them in a proactive mindset, it just really moved people forward. And I was blown away by that. So what was the second part of your question again? Sorry I forgot.
Morgan Jones 17:28
So the second part, and I think maybe I'm starting to catch on, but it’s why do you think it's impossible for faith and fear to coexist? My guess is Dr. Manning–and tell me if I'm completely off base on this–but it feels like fear keeps people stagnant.
Dr. Craig Manning 17:47
Yep. Yeah. And because the mind, the conscious mind, cognition, the mind, thoughts–first–thoughts are your self-talk. And your self-talk is your choice of words. So how the mind works, it's a reverberating nerve. Everyone likes to say it's a muscle, well, it's probably more like an electrical circuit. And so a neuron fires, sending a message through our self-talk. The neuron can't fire two messages at the same time. You can't say two things at the same time, they both can't occupy your conscious mind at the same time.
So you can't be subtractive and proactive at the same time. The neuron can't fire both of them. Hence, you can only actually be proactive or reactive at the same time. You can't be either or. And that's why proactive and reactive can't occupy the space. You can play to win or you play not to lose, they can't go together. So one has to occupy the space or the other.
So if you occupy the space with proactive thoughts, if you occupy the space with, "I can do this," which is additive, "I can do this," they say that's the most strongest words we can say–"I can." "I can do this." The origin is with the human being, and they're occupying their mind with proactive thoughts around what they can do, the doubt can't occupy the mind at the same space. So if we have a "Can do" mindset, and the research has proven we can only occupy the space of two to three thoughts, so if we're firing neurons up, "I can do this," every morning, the fear can occupy the space at the same time. And that to me is what faith is.
Morgan Jones 19:23
I love that.
Dr. Craig Manning 19:24
Faith cannot occupy the space. Sorry, go for it.
Morgan Jones 19:27
No, no, I love that. I think it's so interesting to think about how these things relate not only to our lives and our productivity and being able to move forward in life, but also our ability to believe and to be disciples of Jesus Christ. I wondered, you made a statement where you said that you could see the same mental trends in members of your ward as a bishop that you see in athletes that you work with professionally. I know you mentioned, you know, not being able to progress but were there things as it relates to belief and belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that you saw also being affected by mental skills?
Dr. Craig Manning 20:17
Yeah, I just found so many people had these subtractive doubts, "I can't do this." And when they didn't believe in themselves, they'd start then start taking that belief into other areas, and they start questioning the gospel and other factors there because they don't have that belief in themselves.
And so what I found is what was really important, and I think that's what the first article of faith is, the first article of faith is, "We believe in the Lord, the Savior, and the Holy Ghost." The Holy Ghost is a part of us, because I love that scripture where it talks about, that's what the Comforter does. The Comforter there is to comfort us and help us, where I still believe this whole gospels are out building people. The whole reason we're here is to help–we need the gospel to help people. We need faith to help us get through this life.
And the Holy Ghost is a part of us with us that we need. And the more you turn and listen to the comforter and the Holy Ghost, the more you're trusting yourself that you can do this. And when you believe in yourself, and believe what you're able to do, then you're not questioning everything else as much and you're able to move forward in life.
So I found it so important to help people to believe in themselves first. "I can do this," and it would turn the mind on, and to me, that was the beginning of faith there. Once they believed they could do stuff. They would stop doubting everything else.
I had this one gentleman, I did a training camp once, and this one gentleman came in and had some addiction issues, particularly around alcohol. And he was mature, he was 60 years of age, and he struggled with alcoholism his whole life. And he came in just really negative, his Bishop had sent him in. And he just had this mentality, "I've tried everything. Why would this work?"
He says, "Why is your stuff going to work?" I said, "We first need to start with belief," he's like, "No, no, no, why is this going to work?" And I said, "But there's the root of your problem. You're trying to get faith and belief from somebody else instead of yourself. The faith needs to begin with you. If you want to believe in me that's always going to fail, because I'm not perfect."
And so he was trying to–and I knew if I said anything, he would just want to tear down anything I said, because that's how–once we don't have belief, faith, that's how we often do it, is we tear everyone else down, because we don't believe in ourselves.
And I'm like, "No, you've got to believe in yourself first. I want you to work on this skill. Every morning, when you wake up in the morning, I want you to tell yourself three times, 'I can do this,' really, really, strong three times. And you got to do that first." And then once you have that belief in yourself, your mind's going to open up to other people, because you're not dependent on that coming from other now, it's coming from the Lord, not from somebody else.
So anyway, it was just a really good story because he did it and it worked. And he came back. And he said, "I think the biggest mistake I made is I've been trying to get my faith from others. It has to come from the Lord," I'm like, "That's what I've learned." It's got to come from the Lord. It can't come from others, because we're not perfect, right? We're just human beings.
Morgan Jones 23:17
Right. That makes complete sense. Dr. Manning in your research and having studied the mind at such great lengths, why would you say that the adversary seeks to wreak havoc on our minds? And why are our minds such a vulnerable space for Satan to get to us?
Dr. Craig Manning 23:38
It's such a good question. I'm going to–I actually have this unbelievable human being in our Ward where I live who is actually being the Dean of Religion down at the university. And now he's moved to some other position that he's just amazing. He taught Sunday school once, he teaches Sunday school a time in our ward because he's incredible.
One day, he said, "The mind and the soul are the same." I'm like, "Whoa, wait, did I just hear what I think you said?" and I stuck my hand up, I'm like, "Did I just hear what you said?" And he's like, "Yes." And then after I went up and talked to him, and I said, "I just want to hear this from you again, because I believe that to be true. But if it comes from you, I believe it even more." And I said to, "Did you say that right? The mind and the soul are the same?"
He's like said, “Yes. That's what I've learned to be true.” I'm like, "Okay, great, because I believe that too.” I think the soul of who we are, who we are at the core is our subconscious, because that's where all of our habits are. All of our habits around who we are and what we've learned are all stored in our subconscious. That makes sense to me that that's our soul of who we are.
And so that's the mind.
I was just at a golf lesson last night with my son and I don't know too much about golf other than the mental side. And the golf coach turns to me and says, "The muscle memory is not in your muscle in your arms, is it?" To my son and then he turns to me and he's like, he called me coach, he's like, "Coach, is the muscle memory in the arms?" I'm like, "No, the muscle memories in the brain. That's where the soul is."
And so that to me is where the gospel and the mind are so connected, why the adversary attacks the brain, he attacks our thought processes. Because when the minds in bondage, then we're in bondage, then he owns us in a way. We're giving up our agency, I just don't see how we can have free agency if we're not in control of our own mind.
Morgan Jones 25:26
And then how would you say on the flip side, that we can access the Atonement to help us have control over our minds and kind of conquer the adversary in that way?
Dr. Craig Manning 25:40
Yeah, I think the Atonement, because I think some people, some of us, unfortunately, are born with some chemical imbalances that we don't have control over. And so I think there's some of the Atonement needs to help us to atone for some of the things we don't have control over.
I think there's certain parts of the mind we do have control over, there’s certain things that we don't, that's the clinical side. I don't work on the clinical side, I have people I trust that will get people in for clinical issues. But to me, it's . . . the more we can learn to control the mind, the more agency we have.
I have a child that was born with dyslexia, she didn't–that's not generated or created. And it's something that we have to work hard to overcome. And so she worked hard on mental skills to overcome some of those, while she sees somebody and works on the clinical side as well there. So there's some things that we just don't have control over. But there's a lot of things we do.
So the Atonement for me is, it comes back to that at-one-ment, right. That's what Atonement really is, at-one-moment. I feel like the fear of the future–this is my own interpretation of it, though. The things from the past, the mistakes from the past I've made, I've got to learn from those and try to be better. So I've got to repent from my mistakes and try to improve to be better.
And I feel like repentance is, I'm working hard to change and be a different person. So and then the fear of the future, the unknown. I don't have direct control over the future. That's the unknown. And I've got to have faith in the Lord if I do everything I do in the present, that I'm going to–He's going to help me atone for things and learn from my mistakes, and then he's going to help me have direction and help me to know what I need to do to deal with the uncertainty of the future.
And so to me, that's where the–I love that scripture, one of my favorite scriptures is Third Nephi 13:34 that says, "Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof." I've have always been blown away that the Lord use the word "evil thereof." What I love what He's saying is that we're going to learn to focus on the present and do our absolute best in the present.
And let the Lord help us know which path we're going to go and help us learn from our mistakes and get better. And so he helps us a ton for our mistakes, by helping us to be able to progress and learn from it and keep moving forward. And then if we have the faith to stay in the present, the Lord will take care of those things that we're afraid of in the future and help us to navigate that future. And I like that other scripture that talks about, He does that little by little, He helps us to move forward and navigate the uncertainty of the future. And I don't know, to me, that's how I try to apply the atonement for me.
Morgan Jones 28:17
I think that is so good. I actually just had a conversation last night about the uncertainty of the future. And I think how we sometimes become caught up in trying to analyze how things are going to go in the future, rather than taking the data that we have in the present and trusting in God. And I think that's such an easy thing to get caught up in.
Dr. Craig Manning 28:42
It is so hard to trust that the future will take care of itself if you do everything you can here. So hard. You know, just for the Milwaukee Bucks, that was one of the biggest things we did throughout the playoffs just constantly try to focus on one possession at a time, and the guys on the team, so playing to our strengths was a big theme throughout the playoffs for us, which I use the parable of the talents with the guys.
We got a lot of religious guys on the team, a lot of very religious guys. And so we talk openly about it, they love it because they love that I'll bring up the science. I'm like, "Here's what the science is, but here's also a scripture to support it." There's at least five guys on the team that love that. Because it's coming from the scriptures–coming from God. It's not just coming from science.
And one of the biggest things is play to our strengths, which was the parable of the talents. So I talked about that with many of the players, then the next biggest one, this scripture, staying in the present, they love. And it was just constantly "Staying in the present, don't get ahead of ourselves, don't focus on–just stay focused on what we're doing."
They actually took that idea of playing to our strengths and then staying in the present, and they created this. And so I'm really revealing a bit of a secret here, but I don't care because it's for the Church. But one of the biggest things that we did is the guys on the team actually evolved it to our biggest strength as a team was our defense and we needed to– it was one stop at a time, that became our mantra. That became their mantra. The guys on the team took the science and the application of it, and it became our mantra, one defensive stop at a time. That's how we felt like, we could beat the Nets and in particular, the Suns, is that the only way we could beat them if we could shut them down.
I just, I mean, there's just seeing the gospel work, we won an NBA championship. And that was a big thing. Play to our strengths, one defensive stop at a time, just those two things just helped us so much throughout that, so.
Morgan Jones 30:32
Yeah. Well, and tying in–that ties in perfectly to something that I wanted to ask you about. You have said of your research, "No matter how well the scientific method is applied to human behavior, if I cannot find the parallelism within the gospel of Jesus Christ, I'm very cautious about its usage." And so that's a perfect example of taking those principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ and applying them to human behavior and seeing how the two things line up. But my question for you is, how often do you see where scientific method has been applied to human behavior, and maybe it doesn't line up with the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is that fairly common?
Dr. Craig Manning 31:19
I would assume so . . . I think sometimes in science–we have to remember science is the pursuit of truth. That's what it's about. It's not–science shouldn't be used to prove that you're right, we've got to try and find truth. So to answer your question, I would say, yes, that definitely happens where people just want to use it. And that's called confirmation bias, and I have that somewhere . . . and yeah, I've got it actually right here, I think, yeah, "Confirmation bias is the tendency to confirm what you already believe to be true while discarding any evidence that contradicts your beliefs."
I think we're struggling with this in the world right now. There's a lot of misinformation disinformation, and that leads to this extremism and divides people because we're so opposite with our opinions. But truth is truth. And how you build truth is what's real. Reality is where truth is–what's real is what equals truth.
Now, there's maybe different interpretations of truth, but truth is truth. And if you do your research with precision and accuracy, you're really going to find more truths, and get rid of the vagueness. That's one of the biggest problems we see in science. And I have that research here somewhere, too. And I'm just quoting it here, "Vagueness is cognitive avoidance. We would rather not face precise thoughts, emotions and memories, because they can be painful."
People want to stay safe, and vagueness gives them that space. And so therefore, I think people are afraid of truth. Because truth gives them room to maneuver and kind of avoid hard, difficult things. And I just think we need to get back to reality, it's so important to live in reality. Because if you don't build off reality, you're not building off the rock, you're building off the sandy foundation.
So, Morgan, if I can say it this way, if we misdiagnose the reality of your life and where you're at, how can I really help you come up with solutions to move forward and get better? So if I'm a medical doctor, and you come in, and you've got a medical illness, and I misdiagnose it, and I give you prescriptions that aren't accurate, what can possibly happen?
Morgan Jones 33:22
Could end up wildly off.
Dr. Craig Manning 33:24
Yeah, you could die. I mean, that's pretty dramatic, but you could die. But at the very least, the meds won't do anything to help you get better. That's the problem with vagueness. Whereas precision and accuracy is what we need.
So two things that we always break down in science to find truth is, it's got to be valid, which means real and it's got to be reliable, meaning the standard test of time. Meaning, precision and accuracy. Precision and accuracy leads to honesty, truth. And when we find truth, that's the rock. Now, we can solve almost every problem if we live in reality. And what I'm saying is, if we're honest, and we do our research, and we seek truth, we can solve any problem if we seek truth. Well we've got to work hard at it because we have a lot of biases and protect ourselves from biases.
So to answer your question, again, I think some people are just trying to be right. Aggressive people just try to be right. A smart people just always want to be the smartest. Wise people are trying to get where they want to go, and to do that truth is critical to be able to get where you want to go. And I think we need a heavy dose of reality and truth in this world, so that–by the way, see, truth is in the middle. Reality is in the middle. And the more we bring people back to reality, the more we're not so divided as a culture and as a human race. We can get rid of some of the anger that we see out there.
Morgan Jones 34:50
Right. I love what you were saying about you know, looking for truth and seeking truth. I recently had the chance to interview a lady who was an engineer for NASA. And she was like, "Morgan, don't waste your time on things that you can't find in the scriptures." And she was like, "You'll find, you'll find Christ everywhere that you look for Him." And she started giving examples of ways that she had seen Christ in her work. And I think, you know, sometimes we think of these things, whether it be mental skills or being an engineer for NASA is like, very separate from the Gospel. But I love the idea that you have to have backup from the gospel of Jesus Christ and from the scriptures to feel like you're getting somewhere in finding the truth.
Dr. Craig Manning 35:43
I love how you said backup. To me, that's–again, we're human beings. As a scientist, we're human beings doing the best we can to be as objective as we can to find truth. So we can help people move forward. We're human beings. We're going to have our biases. Hence, I love the backup. I love going to the gospel to find the parallelism in the Gospel because then I'm like, "Okay, this now, the Gospel says it, the sign says it, I feel like this is safe," because the last thing in the world I want to do is mislead people. The last thing in the world is not being able to help somebody move forward. So can I share one of my favorite ones? Is that okay? Sorry.
Morgan Jones 36:19
Please! Yeah, no, please.
Dr. Craig Manning 36:21
So one of the guys on the Milwaukee Bucks, just overwhelmed with the load. I mean, just social media and the amount of stuff. There's–I know, some people will be listening going "Yeah, but they make tons of money." Yeah, but they're still human beings, and the load is heavy.
And we have such an amazing team with such really high functioning human beings. These guys don't self-medicate. They don't go partying and doing crazy things. They're just really good people. And one day, this particular athlete was just like, he's like, "Doc, I'm just so overwhelmed. It's so much. It's just, it's taken the fun out for me."
And I went through metacognition, which is really common in my field. Metacognition is really self-awareness, you know, I was talking about metacognition, and he was trying to understand it and I said, "Okay, I've got a scripture for you instead." And this, he loves scriptures. So I say, "I got a scripture." I said, "I've actually got two scriptures." I'm like, "It's Mosiah 4:29." And I got a piece here, it says, "And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby you may commit sin. For there are divers ways and means, even so many I cannot number them."
Meaning when we get reactive, we're just spiraling. It's just there's no end of how far our mind can go of what not to do. It's like ANTS, automatic negative thoughts. That's what ANTS are: Automatic Negative Thoughts. Our mind spirals on all the things of how not to do things. And there's no end to that. There's no end to that when we're in that mindset.
Then Mosiah 4:30 says, "But this much I can tell you. If you do not watch yourself, and your thoughts and your words and your deeds"–I love that. I said to the athlete, I'm like, "Can you see what that's saying? That's saying what comes first is self-awareness." Control the controllable we call it. Self-awareness, control what you have control over first, then that will bring awareness because there's no change without awareness.
Then second, be aware of your thoughts. Then third, be aware of your words as you communicate to others. And then fourth, be aware of your deeds, in that order. To get the mind directed, so we're not jumping all over the place in all these diverse ways, which is what fragmented attention or ADHD is. It's getting the mind directed. This athletes like, "Doc, doc, doc, are you telling me self-awareness comes first?"
I'm like, "No, I'm not. God is." I'm like, "The Lord is telling you that. I'm not. The Lord's telling you that. Self-awareness first, then your self-talk, then how you choose your words, then your behavior, fourth." Man, that was just the best thing ever. Because he just so much on him all the time. It just helped his mind to have direction so that we can handle the load of all the information that's coming at us all day every day. I just love that. Don't you love that, Morgan?
Morgan Jones 39:14
Yeah, it's so good. My follow up question based on that, and this is, I'm getting off on a tangent. But how do you create that self-awareness?
Dr. Craig Manning 39:25
Self-awareness, so that to me, this skill: control the controllable. And the only thing we have direct control over in this planet is ourselves. So learning to be self-aware. Aware of your thoughts, aware of your behavior and working on cues to be self-aware. And as we're self-aware, because . . . this goes back to quantum physics, quantum physics talks about the observer effect, which observer is awareness. And it says, "The subatomic particles"–which means our subconscious, our habits in the subconscious, it says "Subatomic particles change their behavior when under observation."
What that mean–and it says, "And the closer the observation, the greater the change," What does that mean? That means without awareness, nothing changes. You can't change something you're not aware of, that's the ignorant piece that we talked about earlier.
Morgan Jones 40:10
Dr. Craig Manning 40:10
Where we're moved from fear to ignorance. With blind spots–we'll call it blind spots, because it's not such a harsh language–but with those blind spots, if you're not aware of something, you can't change something you're not aware of. So the more aware you are of yourself, the more control you have to change your habits and to become who you want to become, which is what metacognition is. And that's what the scripture says. And so to me, the skill I work on with so many people is control the controllable which means be self-aware. As you're self-aware, now you can create change, if you work on that skill. Work on that with every single human being, we have to. There's no growth without self-awareness.
Morgan Jones 40:50
Right. Okay, so then shifting from the self-awareness to then the self-talk, you've said, "Faith begins with how you talk to yourself." What does that mean, and how does one cultivate a habit of positive self-talk?
Dr. Craig Manning 41:05
Yes. And that goes with what we just talked about that, to me, the biggest skill set on work with people is self-belief, but how do you do it, so you break that down to a "Can do" mindset. So I mentioned earlier, like three "Can do's" every morning.
"I can do this," or "I can close this deal," or "I can, you know, do well at this event." So three can-do's every morning.
Then proactive self-talk is another cue we use to try and keep it on people's minds to work on these skills. And then one more I like is, I really encourage people to have a power statement when it's like when the adversary sends these fiery darts, meaning when all of the doubts are coming at us, there's those days where it just seems like everything's lining up to distract us and get us in a bad mindset, right? Sometimes you wake up and you hit your head on the door, your spoon breaks and flips yogurt all over you. And it's like, and your mad, it's an inanimate object, right, you're frustrated, because it's like all the Gremlins in life are trying to get you off your game.
I feel like every now and then when the doubt already gets in your mind, you need a power statement to counteract that doubt. And so I do it with all the athletes, they're like, "I'm a beast, I'm a baller. I got this" and just something that when the moment comes, you can counteract the doubt that's trying to get in your mind.
And for me, when I speak in public, which I haven't done for a couple of years with the pandemic. But when you're walking on stage, which I'm assuming you probably do this, Morgan, but when I'm walking on stage, the doubts are trying to get in your head, I just tell myself in my head really loud, "I got this." And I just keep saying it slow and loud. "I got this." That's my power statement so I have good energy. And I don't let the fear get in the moment. You know, I just . . . I like everyone to have a power statement. So when the adversary is really getting in your head, you can counteract it in the moment and bring good energy in the moment.
Morgan Jones 43:01
I loved when you gave your BYU devotional and at the very beginning, you were like, "I worked with mental skills. So I'm hoping to use some of those to not be nervous." Dr. Manning before we wrap up, I just–is there anything that we haven't touched on that you think would be important to get to, anything that I have missed? I know I had a couple of questions, but I feel like we've maybe covered those.
Dr. Craig Manning 43:28
I don't know, nothing's coming to mind. I just love how you asked me the question around the parallelism with the gospel. There's just so much. When I keep going through all of these I have all these scriptures here that are just . . . Here's one more, and maybe it's–I just love how it talked about with the Savior it was line upon line, precept upon precept. What we call it on the science side is called "Coherent layered." I just love that to build people. It's one layer at a time, one skill at a time, there's no shortcuts, you build one skill at a time, you work on it until that skill’s down, then you work on the next skill.
So that to me is what line upon line, precept upon precept is. You just build it one layer at a time. There's no shortcuts. There's no trying to find some trick to this. It's just the people that will work hard on the mental skills, they progress rapidly in life. And I'm just saying that over and over again, hence they're confident in themselves but yet humble, the people that will work hard on mental skills, they progress.
Morgan Jones 44:32
I love that so much. Dr. Manning, my last question for you is, what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Dr. Craig Manning 44:41
Yeah, for me, everything I've ever learned in my professional comes from the Gospel. So I don't know how I cannot be all in with this. I absolutely–it's changed my life and I study it all the time and always just . . . it impacts everything I do. So yeah, I'm super blessed that the Lord took this Australian guy that was lost and brought him over here and showed me the truth. I will forever be devoted to doing what I can to help people because He took me out of some doubts and fears and not going down a path that wasn't really a good path, and–not that I was doing anything bad, I was just lost.
And I just was asking questions, asking questions, and how did he even know I was there? It was just a random thing where a guy turns up and he–I still, to this day, don't even know where he was from. And he connects me with a tennis coach at BYU, and I end up at BYU. Man, if the Lord–how does that happen if there's no Lord and somebody's aware of all the people that are working hard to try and find truth, so yeah, thank you. Appreciate the opportunity.
Morgan Jones 45:45
Thank you so much. It's been such a treat to talk to you. I really appreciate it.
Dr. Craig Manning 45:49
Morgan Jones 45:52
We're so grateful to Dr. Craig Manning for joining us on today's episode. Also a huge thanks to Derek Campbell of Mix at Six studios for his help with this episode.
Just a reminder that the All In book is now in stores. And if you've read it, I wondered if you would be willing to do me a huge favor and leave a review of the book on either Deseret Book.com or on Amazon. If you could do that, that would be wonderful.
Thank you so much for listening. Be sure to keep an eye out for a special bonus episode coming on Friday, and we'll be with you again for another great sports episode next Wednesday.