Sep 26, 2018
After a ten-year career in the
NFL playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, Jon McGraw realized he had
become so achievement-oriented that it kept him from being truly
present. This led to his study of mindfulness. Today, his
core mission is to help others take back control of their life
experience and relieve suffering. He talks with Jim and Jan about
lessons in leadership he learned while in the NFL, and the mental
skills necessary for peak performance.
[4:41] Our society and culture
doesn’t teach mindfulness and attention training in our early
years, so it is expected that we would shift to a mindset based on
achievement, ruminating about the past and anticipating the
[10:30] Jon defines mindfulness
as the practice of paying attention to the experience of the moment
without judgement or expectation.
[11:44] Mindfulness helps us
clearly define the vision, then create processes and daily tasks to
keep us in alignment that everyone from management down can follow.
This builds trust in the mission and the individuals behind
[12:40] One of the biggest
challenges in leadership roles currently is the inability to have
difficult conversations. Candid and constructive conversations are
necessary for gathering feedback and putting it into context
with organizational goals.
[13:40] The mindfulness skill
allows a leader to be present with their employees, to be a deep
listener and a way to meet someone where they are at.
[15:28] The primary role of a
leader is to protect and connect the team, set expectations and
connect with their team.
[16:48] Mindfulness takes the
“me” thinking out of the individual, and instead focuses on the
needs of the organization.
[21:39] Jon is proud of the
results that participants get from his training program when they
apply his methods consistently and diligently. Even when nothing
external or situational changes, the way their brain processes the
life situation is completely different. The training of mindfulness
can be applied to those at different levels of career experience
[22:13] Most of us think the
life experience we desire happens when our external world matches
what we want. However, this is not the case, and when we start from
where we are realistically and apply ourselves from there, big
shifts can happen.
[33:35] Leadership is someone’s
capacity to step outside themselves and connect with others to put
the team first. You still honor your personal ambition and goals,
but they come second to the needs of the team.
[35:03] A good team captain
models consistent character and performance.
[38:03] One of the core
principles that changed Jon’s experience was performance
psychology, and he is very passionate on using mental skills
training to help as many people as he can with their inner and
- Anticipating the future comes at the expense of
- “Judgement and expectation can cloud our
leaders are too transactional.
- “Mindfulness is the opposite of me
- “Commit fully to wherever you’re
we can train ourselves to develop the mental skills to create the
life we want right now, we become a very powerful
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