BC 130. Lonni Alameda, FSU Softball - Growing The Game & Running A Championship Program

April 19, 2017

One of the best college softball coaches in the country, Florida State's Lonni Alameda, sits down with Brian on this episode of the Peak Performance Podcast...



  • The impact that the late, great Harvey Dorfman had on Lonni.
  • Florida State's core values and how they came up with them.
  • The idea of a "One More Board."
  • Coach Alameda's unique answer to The Million Dollar Question.
  • and more...

BC 129. What Is Automobile University?

April 12, 2017

Brian answers the often asked queston, "what is Automobile University?" in this Podcast episode...


He goes in depth on:

  • The book that has been a game changer in his life
  • Valuable podcasts that Brian listens to (besides the Peak Performance Podcast)
  • Tangible action steps to turn your vehicle into Automobile University

BC 128. Ken Ravizza - Why The Mental Game Is So Important

April 5, 2017

Brian takes you back to an interview with his mentor, Dr. Ken Ravizza on the importance of the mental game.


You will learn:

  • Ken's answer to the question, "why is the mental game so important?"
  • An important question to ask your players to understand their mental state
  • How to maintain to confidence when you aren't seeing results
  • The importance of teaching the WHY

BC 127. ABCA CFTC Podcast

March 29, 2017

The script is flipped once again in this podcast as Brian is interviewed by Jeremy Sheetinger of the ABCA's Calls From The Clubhouse Podcast...


You will learn...

  • The tipping point that lead to Brian's journey into the Mental Game.
  • The expensive experience Brian learned while playing college baseball.
  • The 3 P's of Championship Baseball that he learned from George Horton.
  • How to stay prepared for your opportunity to play.
  • The emotions Brian experiences when teams he works with square off with one another.

Subscribe to the Calls From The Clubhouse Podcast

Follow the ABCA on Twitter @ABCA1945


BC 126. Brian Cain On Rutten and Renallo - Cain Talks MMA Mindset WIth The UFC Hall of Famer

March 22, 2017

In this episode, Brian flips the script as he features the episode of the Rutten & Ranallo Podcast he was a guest on.  Brian shares great stories about his life growing up and the moment that changed Georges St. Pierre's life.

Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianCainPeak

Follow Rutten & Ranallo on Twitter @Rutten_Ranallo

Subscribe to Brian's Monday Message here

You will learn about...

  • Brian's background growing up and what he planned to do with his life before becoming a Peak Performance Coach
  • How Georges St. Pierre overcame the worst thing that ever happened to him while working with Brian
  • The Big ABC's and how they lead to him finishing an IronMan
  • The 2 Tips that any person can do to maximize each day



Cain: He gets done about five minutes later and I hand him the brick. I go “Georges I want you to hold this brick out in front of you for like five seconds, can you do that?” He’s like “right here in front of this restaurant in front of all these people you want me to hold the brick?” I said “yeah hold it five seconds.” So he holds it up. I go “put your arm down, now hold it up for like 50 seconds.” He holds it up no problem.

I go “how about five minutes?” He goes “I could do that but I don’t want to hold that up here I’m embarrassed.” I said “well how about you hold that thing for five weeks, what do you think would happen?” He goes “shit that’s impossible.” I go “Georges that’s exactly what you’re doing, Matt Serra beat you five weeks ago and you’ve been carrying this mental brick ever since. You can’t see it but you can feel it and it’s wearing you down.”

Rutten: The person we have as our guest today is a guy who was a standout pitcher at the University of Vermont where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and Exercise Science that later earned a Masters in Applied Sports Psychology and Kinesiology from California State Fullerton.

He is a motivation speaker, a brain repairman or Mental Coach as you guys all call it (I just came up with a funnier name), he is a bestselling author whose specialization is working with different athletes from around the world and in any sport. Yes, even in Mixed Martial Arts. He works with our beloved Georges St. Pierre and he’s just an all around good guy who likes to help people overcome their problems. Boys and girls here we are, Brian Cain.

Brian I know I probably didn’t mention many more thing you have achieve and do like your Iron Man but welcome to the show my friend. How are things over there in Richmond, Vermont if I’m not mistaken?

Cain: Well you are mistaken my friend. I’m actually in Southlake, Texas. I moved out of Vermont when I got tired of the cold. I moved down here to Southlake which is about 15 minutes from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport so that I could travel to the left and right coasts of this great country and be able to get around and spread the message of Peak Performance and help athletes and people to achieve their best.

A little bit hard getting out of the great state of Vermont - I miss that place - but as they say if you want to win you’ve got to focus on what is important now which is being where my feet are here in Southlake, Texas, ready to Dominate the Day and fire it up the B on this podcast with you my friend.

Rutten: Boom. I love it. That’s the same thing with the weather, for me it was. I am from Holland and of course business opportunities, that is why I moved here - California. You can’t beat the weather. That’s the one thing here.

Cain: I actually had a stint in Holland. I coached there for eight weeks in a place called Appledorn. Are you familiar with that?

Rutten: Absolutely not.

Cain: It’s about an hour outside of Amsterdam which I’m sure you’re familiar with.

Rutten: Oh you mean Holland? Oh I thought Apple -  yeah Appledorn of course I know. In Holland. I thought you meant California. But how did you like Holland?

Cain: One of the greatest places on planet Earth. I absolutely loved it. The people were fantastic, the food was off the charts, and man I can’t wait to go back. It was unbelievable.

Rutten: Nice. Alright. Listen let’s start at the beginning. I always want to know what kind of person you were when you were 12 years old in high school. did you want to be a fireman? Police officer? Astronaut? What were you like as a kid?

Cain: Well those are two different questions. As a kid I was kind of a shithead. I wasn’t actually the most honest kid, I wasn’t the greatest kid. I got by probably athletically on talent.

But what did I want to do? I wanted to be a Major League Baseball player. I think here in the States everybody who grows up whether their sport is football, basketball, or baseball, and now even in MMA that is what they want to do. They want to be a professional athlete. So growing up all my eggs were in that basket of being a baseball player.

I got a scholarship (as you mentioned earlier) to go the University of Vermont. I actually got my number retired there recently, Bas, but only got my number retired because they cut the freaking program. There is no more baseball at the university. So me and all my teammates got our numbers retired.

The best part about going to Vermont was experiencing the worst thing that happened to me and to my life at that point. My junior year I had a shoulder surgery. As a pitcher that basically means your career is over. At that time I read the writing on the wall, you’re not going to play pro sports, and I had to take that motivation and drive that I had for baseball and put it into something else.

Luckily for me I’ve had tremendous mentors along the way from my high school football coach to my academic advisor, Declan Connolly, one of the top exercise physiologists in the world at the University of Vermont. He said “Brian I know you’ve got to put that somewhere, how about sports psychology, it’s something that you’re into.”

So that put me on a path out to Cal State Fullerton where I studied under a guy by the name of Ken Ravizza and Ken Ravizza was a professor at Fullerton and he’s actually right now in the dugout with the Chicago Cubs  working with that team. I got to be a grad assistant baseball coach at Cal State Fullerton.

In that year of 2002-2003, that two year period, I learned the system and the process that I teach now in the mental game whether it’s with (as you mentioned earlier) GSP or with top college football programs or other sports to help people to play their best when it means the most and live in that present moment. So that was kind of my path.

I never wanted to get into sports psychology. I wanted to be a baseball player and then a baseball coach. But when I got into it what I realized was what really to me going wasn’t necessarily teaching somebody how to throw a curveball or hit the ball the other way but how to be more consistent and how to handle adversity and how to have more confidence and have better routines so that when they step on the mound or they step in the cage all that training that they go through really comes to fruition and they get to go out there and perform at their best.

Rutten: So it was something that you thought maybe if you look back on it did you think “hey that could have helped me personally as well when I was pitching?”

Cain: Oh there is no question. It’s that age old question - and I’d like to ask you this at some point - what do you know now you wish you knew then? I go around - and the majority of the teams I work with are college baseball teams. It’s just the way it worked. I like working with everybody. My passion is helping people not necessarily baseball players in specific but that just happens to be where my target market is right now. That and probably MMA. With those baseball players I always say man if I could go back and speak to the 18, 17, 22 year old Brian Cain I would say control what you can control, let go of the things that you can’t, and don’t count the days make the days count. Focus on what you need to do today because today + today + today = your career.

Rutten: That’s a big thing with you. You truly want to live in the now. That’s the real power. I hear it from so many different people. They all say you have to live right now in the moment. Like you said to 200 yards. Every time you just add 200 yards. Baby steps.

Cain: It’s like if you’re driving down the road and you’re leaving Los Angeles in complete dark tonight at midnight and you’re driving to Dallas, Texas, and all of a sudden BAM all the lights go out in the country you can still drive to Dallas in the complete darkness because your headlights let you see the next 200 feet. And if you just focus on the next 200 feet eventually you’ll get to where you want to guy.

I’ll use GSP. He’s been vocal and talked about this. When he beat Matt Hughes to win the UFC title he lost his focus a little bit and then went out and lost to Matt Serra in his next fight. What we learned is that the best fighter never wins. It’s the guy who fights the best. That separation is in preparation. If you ask Georges he will tell you that the best thing that ever happened to him in his career was getting knocked out by Matt Serra in the first round at UFC 67 because what that did is that put him on a path to become a master of preparation. That’s where (I think) champions are made. It’s what Muhammad Ali said “there are a lot of hours and a lot of training that goes in to allow me to dance under those lights when everyone sees.”

Rutten: Yeah. Speaking of GSP when did you meet him? Were you already interested in Mixed Martial Arts? Was it a sport that you liked or did he come to you? He contacted you? You contacted him? You saw maybe something about him?

Cain: Well it’s funny. I go all the way back to the first UFCs when Royce Gracie was tapping people out with his gi and there was no gloves and all that. I was probably 10-12 years old. We were at my buddy’s house and there were like 10 of us packed into the basement and he’s got the cable converter, the black box, that allows you to get pay-per-view channels for free because none of us could afford it in a small town. We’re watching the UFC and we’re like “who is this guy.” At a young age I was like wow that is awesome.

As I got into high school and college I lost track a little bit of the UFC and what was going on. Then what really turned me back on to UFC was I was an athletic director and one of our high school football coaches came in and said “dude you’ve got to see this, did you see this fight between Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg II?” UFC 52 (I think it was) where he gets the knee in the groin and comes back and Hughes wins the fight. I watched that and said “man that can be so useful to so many teams because of the response to adversity.” We use an acronym that I’m sure you’ll love, Bas. It’s E + R (which stands for event plus response) = outcome.

When I met Georges was fast-forward probably eight years later after seeing that fight for the first time between Hughes and Trigg. I’m teaching a sports psychology class at the University of Vermont. I showed that video. We were talking about response to adversity and one of the ladies in the class goes “I’m a strength coach and I train a UFC fighter.” I’m like we’re in Vermont, you’re lying, there are no UFC fighters in Vermont. It’s too small of a state. She goes “this guy Tom Murphy, he was an All-American wrestler in college and he is on the Ultimate Fighter 2 reality show.” So Tom Murphy and I end up connecting. Tom was a Masters in Psychology and very educated and very driven. Burlington, Vermont is only an hour and a half south of Montreal. So I started working with Tom.

Right at about that time I got connected somehow (I think through MySpace) with David “The Crow” Loiseau. I started going to Montreal with Tom to watch him train. I hooked up with Loiseau and he came back after he lost to Rich Franklin and then Mike Swick and he came back and won a fight outside of the UFC after that so we had some good chemistry going. Right about then is when Georges lost to Matt Serra. I remember we were going up there to go to breakfast and Tom and Loiseau have been saying “man you’ve got to get with Georges” even before he lost.

We went up there to breakfast one day and sat down and I was asking Georges amongst thousands of people coming to get his autograph, always trying to eat his eggs, and we were talking about his loss to Matt Serra. I’m like “hey man how has that affected you since, is that all you’ve been thinking about or are you over it, what’s going on.” He’s like “man it’s the worst thing that ever happened to me for my career I can’t believe that I let this guy who won a reality fight, won a reality TV show, get in the octagon with me, I let down all my fans, I can’t wait to get back there and kick his ass,” all this stuff.

Rutten: Great impression by the way.

Cain: Thank you. As he’s saying all this stuff I took out a black brick. I had taken a brick that you see in a house, painted it black, and I’m writing down on it with a silver Sharpie all the stuff that he is saying. He gets done about five minutes later and I hand him the brick. I go “Georges I want you to hold this brick out in front of you for like five seconds, can you do that?” He’s like “right here in front of this restaurant in front of all these people you want me to hold the brick?” I said “yeah hold it five seconds.” So he holds it up.

I go “put your arm down, now hold it up for like 50 seconds.” He holds it up no problem. I go “how about five minutes?” He goes “I could do that but I don’t want to hold that up here I’m embarrassed.” I said “well how about you hold that thing for five weeks, what do you think would happen?” He goes “shit that’s impossible.” I go “Georges that’s exactly what you’re doing, Matt Serra beat you five weeks ago and you’ve been carrying this mental brick ever since. You can’t see it but you can feel it and it’s wearing you down.”

What you have to do is you have to go from being frustrated to being fascinated. You have to make this not the worst thing to ever happen to you but the best thing that ever happened to you and you have to do that by being like a scientist who is on an airplane. When the airplane crashes they go looking for what? They go looking for the black box to find out why the plane crashed.

As we sat there 90 minutes, two hours later, we’re still talking about why he lost that fight. It went all the way back through some of the things that he has never talked about, just a lot of the things like preparation and focus and some of the things that he had done in other fights. But his goal was to win a World Championship and he did. And he forgot to reset the bar. That day he said “my goal is not to be a UFC Champion but to be the greatest Mixed Martial Arts fighter of all time. Then moving forward from there he just went on a tear and was dominating.

The thing that was awesome about Georges was he was such a great student. He surrounded himself with the right people and he was never defending a title. He was always going to win a title. Everybody talks about Georges being mentally weak - his opponents say that. I can tell you what, that is the furthest thing from the truth. That guy is a learner, that guy is committed to excellence, he is probably the most committed human being and athlete I have ever been around. As you know he is just one of the most genuine and polite/nice guys you’ll ever meet in your life.

Rutten: He started being way more calculated after the Matt Serra fight. That is why a lot of people complained. They say “yeah but he doesn’t stop people anymore before he did that.” I say listen he fights the best guys on the planet. You’re seeing it the wrong way. Once you fight the top guys on the planet all the time, yeah, you try to knock people out. There is a lot of room for mistakes in Mixed Martial Arts. Any little thing can happen. Since there are so many different techniques in all areas one little mistake is all it takes. But his focus is insane.

What I like about him also is that he’s like Oscar de la Hoya. He would come and every fight he has something new that he worked on. With the Koscheck fight I always said he does what he normally does, but then he has a few techniques that he uses like spinning back into the body. He established a jab which just beat the crap out of him with that jab in that fight and he never did that before. After that you will see it back here and there but then there are 2-3 other things that he worked on. Every time he is evolving. That is the great thing about Georges.

Cain: No question. Constantly evolving and surrounding himself with the greatest.

Everybody asks me, I get that question all the time. “Hey you worked with St. Pierre, what does he do?” Whether it’s MMA fighters going “what does he do that I need to be doing” or athletes in every sport wants to know what Georges done because he’s one of the greatest of all time in any sport. The thing I say to them is it’s like when he would go to boxing he’d do it with Olympic boxers in Montreal or he’d go out to LA and work with Freddie Roach (he is one of the greatest). He would train with Olympic wrestlers. He would train with Olympic judokai. He’d go train with Olympic gymnasts. He’d run with Olympic sprinters. Everywhere he went he was on the short end of the stick. He was always on the learning end.

We talk about in life there are winners and learners. A lot of guys’ egos are too big to be able to put them in an environment because they don’t want to lose. He would go in there and he would learn, he would learn, he would learn. When he got in the MMA world and put it all together he became unstoppable.

Rutten: That is what I really enjoy about him. I used to do the same and put myself in the worst position in the ground fighting. That was it with me. I was lying on my back, I let anybody take a position over me, whatever they wanted, then I was going to go for a submission because that is where you have to work on it.

Exactly like you said. People like to do what they are comfortable with to do, what their first choice is. That’s why I don’t like it when you see strikers going great at Mixed Martial Arts knocking people out but once they go to the ground they lose by submission. I go dude you can’t see a pattern here? You can’t say “okay let’s work on the ground game?” Strike and you’re going to win already. Let’s work on the ground game. Let’s become Mixed Martial Arts (because Mixed Martial Arts, that’s what they call it).

Is there a difference? That brick thing, that would catch my attention right away. If you would talk to me like that you would go like “oh okay yeah I know that’s 100% right” but then Georges also has a completely different mindset than others. So every person you have to treat different I assume right? It has to be.

Cain: Yeah. There are some certain principles that apply to any sport and any athletes such as stay in the present moment, control what you can control, think about confidence as a choice and confidence as something that you do with your body language focus and self talk instead of something that you feel or something that you get.

The majority of fighters that I’ve worked with - and I’ve had a privileged to be with six guys that have won the UFC Gold - to see them all in the locker room before a fight they all handle it differently. They’ll all have a little bit of nervous energy, they’ll all have a little bit of self doubt, but what they’ve learned is that they have to fake it until they find it.

What you have to do to be successful in my opinion (and I can only speak from my experience) in this field of Peak Performance and sports psychology is you have to invest time with the athletes, step into their world, and get to know who they are.

That was the beauty about working with Georges is I would buzz up to Montreal on a weekend and I would stay in his house and I would watch him train. I’d be with him in the presence of him for like 10 hours and I might not even talk to him once. I’m just watching and seeing how he interacts with people and listening to how he does interviews and trying to kind of gauge where his mindset is at. Then we’d go grab some sushi or something and I would unload on him and be like “hey man here is what I am hearing you say, is that where your focus really is at or what is going on?”

He was so much of a learner and so much of a student. You have to work with an individual. You’re not working with a damn textbook. I think that is what people who spend all their time in academia who then come in and try to work in Peak Performance or sports psychology with athletes, they come in and they’re trying to do a diagnosis and trying to use some freaking protocol or a textbook instead of getting to know the person and helping the person close the gap from where they are to where they want to be.

Rutten: Is there also a pattern that comes back in any profession? Even public speaking. Are the things that you do with Georges (for instance, because we all know Georges here at Mixed Martial Arts) that you use the same techniques on a guy who is afraid of public speaking and he has to overcome that?

Cain: For sure. Some of which would be mental imagery. I believe everything happens twice. People call it mental imagery or visualization or mental rehearsal but essentially what it is is it’s in your mind playing a highlight video of you going out and performing the way you want to perform because everything happens twice - first in your mind then in reality. Neurons that wire together or neurons that fire together that we use when we’re doing mental imagery are going to wire together so that when you walk out there you’re like “I’ve been here before.”

The other thing we do is we practice body language. I’ve got a split screen video I wish I could show you of Georges walking to the cage against Matt Serra. That’s UFC 67. Maybe it was 69. I don’t remember which one it was when he lost to Serra. Then at 74 when he fought Koscheck the first time. You see a remarkable difference in body language. His head is down. He’s looking side to side in the first one. In the second one you see him just kind of laser focused on the octagon.

Here is one of the coolest things that we did that morning. I’d like to know if you ever did this, Bas. As a UFC fighter - I equate it to baseball players. Imagine going through spring training eight weeks for one at-bat. That is what MMA is. You go through an entire spring training of eight week training camp for one fight. If you don’t practice walking to the octagon and you go down there and try to do it the first time - remind me to tell you a story about Brandon Thatch and his UFC debut - you’re going to shit your pants when you walk down there.

So many guys walk into the cage and the music is blaring and their lights are flashing and the crowd is there and the camera is in your face and if you’ve never done that or practiced that it can be overwhelming. Then you go in there and all of a sudden you’re fighting not to lose instead of just going out there and letting it rip and fighting to win.

What we did at UFC 74 that morning was like 10:00 in the morning we go down to the locker room and take Georges through a quick little mental imagery and visualize yourself having the fight tonight then we practiced walking to the cage. He put his headphones in and listened to his walk out song and he would go down to the cage, get up in the cage, and simulate if he was going to circle left or circle right. We’d basically do everything up until the stare down. Then when Herb Dean or whoever would say “let’s get it on” then at that point just instinct and training takes over. But you can lose the fight before that. You can’t win it before that but you can definitely lose it before that.

So I think that role play and mental imagery and what I would call “mental rehearsal” in the walk through, it’s like a pitcher throwing a bullpen with no ball, a UFC fighter walking to the cage is huge in terms of building their confidence and giving them a routine of something to go to that when they go to do it they’ve done it before.

Rutten: Exactly. I’m a firm believer in that as well. Body language is everything. I say to help the women on the street “walk powerful” not scared/looking around because if there is a bad guy he is going to know if he sees the body language speaking, okay, it’s going to be a fight, they’re going to go to the next victim who is weaker so to say.

Cain: Totally. I mean I have worked with a candidate (woman) in the Miss America pageant and it’s the same thing. When you walk out there you’ve got to walk out there and own that stage and you’ve got to have that edge even though you’re nervous. You’re like the duck whose feet underneath the water are going 100 miles an hour but up above you are calm, cool, and collected. Fake it till you find it.

Rutten: Also a thing is that I call it a poker face in my classes. If I start flinching then you’re telling your brain there is something wrong. Not that there is something wrong but your brain identifies it with something is wrong. If you don’t walk strong you’re kind of telling your brain already “hey you’re not strong.” If you just project and get stronger, first of all it’s great for intimidation, but also for yourself because now you’ve trained your own brain that you’re the man. That’s how you have to walk around. You’re going to have to go to that fight.

I always tell people when they say to me “oh if you were to fight this 300 pound guy who knows this and this” I say “I’ll win.” They go “why would you say that?” “Every fight I should say that.” If I go to a fight and there is a little percent of a chance that I think I might lose this fight that’s going to haunt me. I’m going to get in trouble. That little voice, that 1%, is going to start talking to me. You want to be 100% committed and knowing that you’re going to win. You start there with that with body language.

Cain: No doubt. I talked about confidence is state, so is depression. I’ll talk about confidence as a state of doing BFS - body language, focus, and self talk. How do we train body language? You practice walking big. How do we train focus? I give every athlete signs to put up around their house. Just pieces of paper in the bathroom, on their driver’s steering wheel, and their bedroom, and when they see it they have to tell themselves that. Something like “act differently than how you feel” or “confidence is a choice” or “trust your training,” these different little triggers and mindsets I want them to have that direct the focus.

The other thing I would do a lot, Bas (and Rich Franklin used to use this a lot when he was fighting), was I would take like a - if he says “hey I’m going to do 20 minutes of roadwork four days a week where I’m just going to go out and run” I would make a 20 minute audio over music that he likes with positive suggestions of things that I wanted him to be reminded of. Things like when you’re carrying yourself always walk with big body language (like we’re talking about). Or know that confidence is a choice. Or know that your focus determines your future so focus on what you want versus what you want to avoid and on the things that you can control. So it was all those little things.

Then there would be a lot of technical MMA things that he would tell me that I would say as well over that besides just the mental game stuff. It was kind of like that constant repetition that he would hear when he was running. Georges would listen to it when he was driving or flying all over the country training in New York or Albuquerque or Montreal wherever it was. That is kind of that consistent training of the self talk but also the focus.

Rutten: And you talked about Rich Franklin and you had six more fighters you said. All these fighters do you train - because this is a question I always get crazy from. With me everything is calmness. Calmness is the key to success is tell everybody. If you had for instance one of those six guys (and we don’t need to know names because some of them of course want to stay incognito so to say) is there a way for these guys if they need to really get angry for a fight that you keep that or able to able to flip that and let them see that once they’re calm and relaxed it’s way more effective and they become way more effective?

Cain: Yeah I would agree with the statement that the more calm and relaxed you are - I say the more in control you are. In control is closer probably to the common relaxed than it is to the fired up and jacked up ready to go fucking murder somebody. That is what drunk fans think that you need to get into that type of state to compete. When you talk to Dan Severn and Dan would talk about how he would be asleep in the locker room or Couture in a similar type of state where it would be really chill and relaxed and visualize - and those are some of the best.

So one of the things that I’ve done is in interviews with some of those guys the UFC champions and top ranked fighters like yourself - which is awesome that I hear you say this, you’re a former UFC Champion yourself - is to then take that and go share what you’re saying with some of the young fighters and go “look man success leaves clues, look at what the best guys have done.” Every guy is not that way. There are some others guys that want to fight more out of hatred. But sometimes that’s hard to get into. Sometimes you can’t get yourself there.

My statement to them always, Bas, is you’ve got to be in control of yourself before you can control your performance and you’re going out there and your toughest opponent is yourself. Your goal is go out, fight your fight, perform at your best whether you’re fighting your number one enemy or you’re fighting a guy who is in a black ninja spirit suit and you can’t tell who it is. You’re out there fighting your fight and let everything else take care of itself. Strip away the emotion because emotion hurts you more than it helps you in a fight.

Rutten: 100% I love it. I need to know before I forget this question. The first guy you treated ever, once you did this as a job, was it sports? Was he a lawyer? What kind of person was that? I just want to know that.

Cain: I would call it coaching more than - I would never refer to it as “treating.” I call it coaching. You’ve got a strength coach, you’ve got a striking coach, you’ve got a strength and conditioning coach, you’ve got a Muay Thai coach, well who is your mental coach? As you know (as Georges would say) training for a fight is 90% physical 10% mental. Once the plane lands in Vegas it becomes 90% mental 10% physical. Who is helping you with that mental side of the game?

The first guy I worked with. Let me think about that. It’s been so long, since like 2003. I would say I think it was the UC Irvine baseball team maybe back in like 2004 and their head coach Dave Serrano. They went to the College World Series in 2007. He is now out at the University of Tennessee. The first guy in MMA was David Loiseau I believe.

Rutten: Okay. Yeah David is a great guy.

Cain: Phenomenal.

Rutten: And you’re an author as well. I go on your website. How many books did you do? Like 14-15? And really well books. You’re roofing all the top charts.

Cain: Yeah I lost count I think around 33. I think we’re somewhere between 36 and 40. It’s funny because I always wanted to write a book. When my mother passed away on August 2, 2010 I said “man I kind of let mom down, she didn’t get a chance to read my first book.” I remember I got the phone call at 4:00 AM. She had passed away. I couldn’t go back to sleep obviously so I rolled out, I took out my laptop, and I wrote the dedication to her.

Then I got a phone call two days later. You talk about a sense of urgency. I got a phone call two days later from the National Softball Coaches Convention and they said “hey Brian would you be our keynote speaker” and I said “I’d love to is there any chance we could do a book signing after.” They go “oh we didn’t know you had a book.” I go “I will by then.”

So I gave myself two months to write the book, one month to get it printed. Had the book there, sold it, it became a number one bestseller. It’s called Toilets, Bricks, Fish Hooks and Pride: The Peak Performance Toolbox Exposed. I’ll give you a dollar if you can spit that one back.

Rutten: Wow.

Cain: It’s like anything else. It’s like once you write the first one it becomes addicting and you just keep going because people give you great feedback. You have a positive impact on the lives of others and that has always been my mission is to educate, empower, and energize others to a lifestyle of excellence and fulfillment. Books are a way to do that. Podcasts are a way to do that. I’m just trying to execute my mission today so thanks for giving me the opportunity.

Rutten: Yeah. I do exactly the same thing. For me it stems from my asthma disease and just going to the restroom that would be a nightmare for me but now also. And I do baby steps. Now I have programs. I say I’m going to be kicking a head one and a half minutes with 30 seconds break. There is no way I can do this right now. But I start with baby steps. I start one minute, one minute rest. One minute, one minute rest. I do this for 15 runs (so half an hour) then I go to one minute and five seconds and I take a 55 second break. Slowly but surely I go to that one minute. Now I told myself I’m going to do it and I said I’ll give it three months.

Once you do that - what you said, you commit yourself. You say “you know what I want to do a book signing.” They go “do you have a book?” “No I don’t.” But at that time you’ll have it because now you’ve committed to it. I think that is a really important habit to have as any person, any profession for that matter.

Cain: No question. I like to try and share as many nuggets with your listeners as I can. One of them is called the Big ABCs. The Big ABCs are act big, breathe big, and commit big. Act big - we’ve talked a lot about body language here already. Breathe big - when you bring oxygen into your system it helps you to slow down and get back in control. Commit big - set big goals. That’s why I signed up to do the Iron Man, Bas. Six or seven weeks ago I didn’t own a bike, I didn’t know how to swim, I had to get a swimming lesson, I had to go buy a bike.

Rutten: So when did you start the swimming?

Cain: I started swimming August 1st which is when I had my first lesson in swimming. I wasn’t getting drowned. I would get in the pool but I wouldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t breathe with my head in the water. I just was kind of there. Then I got a coach.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned through this Iron Man training one of which is surround yourself with the right people and get a coach. What does every MMA fighter have? A coach. What does every Olympic athlete that was in Rio have? A coach. So I went and got a swimming coach, I went and got a bike coach (it happens to be the same guy), then I got a nutrition coach. It’s the best thing I think I’ve done for myself in a long time. I’m in the best shape of my life. The more energy I get.

I worked out for six hours today already. It was a 90 minute swim, 3 hour bike, and then a 90 minute run, so that, and then when we get done tonight I’ve got to go get another 90 minute swim in because I missed it yesterday. It’s a lot. It’s been a lot. My wife has been phenomenal in terms of support. She gets it. She was a hockey player. But it’s setting a big goal that scares the hell out of you and going to get it.

Rutten: It’s crazy. Three months. That’s pretty much three months you gave yourself to swim well and swim for 90 minutes. That’s kind of insane if you really think about it.

Cain: And bike for 112 miles which is the biggest challenge.

Rutten: Oh just 112?

Cain: And go run a marathon which I have done marathons before so it’s - but to put them all together in a row is going to be a fun challenge so I’m looking forward to it.

Rutten: Okay. So now you’re talking about that and physical activity yourself as well. Food - this is also not only important for the body but very important for the brain. Of course we hear about sardines, berries, walnuts, all these things are really good for the mental health, is that something you focus on with the fighters or with any athlete for that matter?

Cain: Most of the fighters I’ve worked with have whether they’re working with Dolce or working with someone in the field of nutrition, so when they are I don’t like to cross pollinate. I let them do their job and I try to do mine. When I’m working with a fighter who maybe is a guy who is just kind of getting going and doesn’t have access to a nutritionalist I’ll work with them on a program. Often these guys have come from wrestling so they know their bodies really well and weight management and all that.

But the thing that I lean on is macro nutrition. I was 240 pounds five years ago with a 44 inch freaking waist and a slob. Someone said to me “Brian if you want to be a Peak Performance coach you’ve got to live it, leaders are not fat.” I said “fuck that’s straight on man, you’ve got it.” So I started getting it going again. I started working out again. I started eating right. I was single. My meal was a large pizza and a six pack of beer. So I turned that around. Right now I’m getting 225 grams of protein, 180 grams of carbs, and 48 grams of fat, then on top of that I’ll fuel myself with a little bit of food based on each hour. I’m trying to get into a fat cutting program and trying to get down to 180. I was 183.5 this morning so it’s working.

The article I go by (if people want to find it) is if they Google “to build a beast” by Jordan Feigenbaum. It gives a chart in there where they can calculate their macro nutrition. All macro nutrition is is understanding your fat, carb, and protein. Anything more than that and it’s going to become too difficult. I basically make myself a menu. I eat the same thing every day at the same time. I eliminate the guesswork and I save time, I save money from doing it that way, and I feel fantastic.

Rutten: Thinking about your own training there is this method that you use adding the word “yet” to it. I cannot be a champion yet. I cannot throw a 90 mile per hour fastball yet. Did you say to yourself I cannot swim 90 minutes yet? Did you use those kinds of tricks on your own brain as well?

Cain: I don’t call it “tricks” I call it “conditioning.” It’s like anything else. You don’t rise to the occasion you sink to your levels of training and habits. Habitually I have intentionally trained myself to when adversity happens think that it’s good, that adversity is to my advantage, to when I can’t do something to say “yet” because anything is possible it just hasn’t happened yet. I think that is the mentality to have. But that mentality needs to be trained. It’s like anything else. It’s not tricks. I know you introduced me -

Rutten: It’s like tricking the brain. It’s what I do myself all the time.

Cain: It’s conditioning and it’s in a game with yourself. You introduced me as a motivational speaker which kind of drives me nuts because it’s not - I don’t think motivational speaking works. I think what it is is it’s conditioning. There is a three step process to maximum growth and here is how the three step process would go for people who want to make a change in their life.

Number one is have a total immersion learning experience. Go to a seminar. Go to a training camp. Find a coach. After the total immersion learning experience - we’ve all been to these seminars. You run seminars. I run seminars. People come and then a year later we get with them like “what are you doing?” “Well I kind of fell off.” Well the reason why they fall off is they don’t do step number two which is spaced repetition.

You have to do a little a lot. They go to a seminar then they have to do a little a lot whether it’s read a chapter a week, whether it’s watch my Monday Message video that they can sign up and enjoy and get the same Monday Message video that I send to Georges St. Pierre, the same Monday Message video that goes to all the athletes I work with at www.BrianCain.com/Monday. Or listen to a podcast once a week. That is spaced repetition.

Then they’ve got to have an accountability partner and a plan to continue to grow. They can’t just get the learning experience. They need to have the spaced repetition after and the plan to grow.

Rutten: Wow. It’s like almost what Bruce Lee said, “I’m not afraid of the guy who knows 1000 kicks I’m afraid of the guy who knows one kick but practices it 1000 times.”

Cain: Amen.

Rutten: You just said it but what would be one thing that you say okay this is for any person? Would that be living in the moment? Would that be the best thing that any person can do?

Cain: I would say it would be two things. It would be control what you can control - let go of the things you can’t control, focus on what you can. The second one would be exactly what you said. I would word it as don’t count the days, make the days count. It’s amazing what you can get done in one day when you have a focus. It’s amazing what you can get done in one day when you map out every minute of your day from the time you wake up until you go to bed. I call it your 168 hour a week plan.

There are 168 hours in a week. Show me when you’re going to wake up, when you’re going to go to bed every day, and what you’re going to do in between and you’re going to have a hell of a week. A hell of a week leads to a hell of a month which leads to a hell of a year which leads to a hell of a career.

Rutten: Nice. And the speaking of hell and you said week, I just want to say - because that 200 yard line thing from you is going to come back. I joined the Special Forces, the Navy SEALS, all these guys, and I asked them about the Hell Week. I said “what goes on in your mind, do you just decide to make it to the next day?” He said “no it’s the next meal.” You just focus on the next meal. You say “before this next meal is going to come I’m not going to quit.” So they’re using it everywhere.

Cain: I spent a lot of time researching in the Special Forces and the SEALS and you’re absolutely right. They just say the next evolution. What am I trying to do right now? I’m trying to run up this sand hill. What am I trying to do right now? I’m trying to run down this sand hill. I’m not thinking about the whole mountain of get through Hell Week and I’m not thinking about winning a UFC world title. That’s exactly what happened to Georges when he lost to Serra. He was like “man I can’t wait to get back and win my title.” I go “Georges your next fight is not a title fight, you’re not going to win the title in your next fight so focusing on the title right now is only hurting you.”

Rutten: Nice. I love it. Don’t look past the fight that you have coming up. That’s what I say. Actually I hear Georges St. Pierre saying it as well in interviews. They say “oh if you win this you are going to be set up for a title” and the first thing he says is “no we’re focusing on this fight right now.” I’m pretty sure he said it because he’s working with you.

Brian, I enjoyed it very much my friend. We’ve got to call it quits. We cannot go too long on this one. We would love to have you back. I would love to have you back one time with Renallo even here because he is the master at digging into the mind and asking questions. Plus you would be very interested to dig in is crazy mind because he is something. I already told you in an email.

Cain: I might be afraid of what I find but I would be fired up to do that.

Rutten: Everybody, I see it every week. It’s a very scary thing.

Cain: That’s awesome.

Rutten: Alright my friend. Thank you so much. Very informative. I hope a lot of fighters are going to listen to this because it’s all in the mind. I’m telling you, everybody. People say oh it’s 50% physical 50% mental. I say it’s all 100% in the mind. In order to make the decision to go to your gym that already happens in your mind. To get out of bed happens in the mind. It’s all the mind because that controls the body. I hope you say the same.

Cain: No question. I say mind control leads to body control leads to skill control. If you want to execute inside of the octagon with your skills you’ve got to take care of your body but in order to take care of your body you’ve first got to get your mind in the right place. If anyone is looking to help get their mind right send them over to www.BrianCain.com and have them join other great MMA fighters and the world champions with the Monday Message that they can join right there. They can contact me through the website.

I have a lot of respect for Mixed Martial Artists. I think what they do is for me the most pure sport that there is. I love working with MMA fighters of all levels because it’s such an amazing sport that I’ve never had a chance to do and I’m not sure I could do. But I love working with those guys because of the effort that it takes and the life lessons that are there and what they can get out of that. It’s awesome.

Rutten: People at home should really check out everything you do. I was going over the videos and I actually gave that video to my daughter - the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 breathing technique. I said “this is going to help you a lot” because she is one of those people who shoots right away into a wrong decision. I said “just calm down and listen to this” and she said “wow that sounds really good.” And that was just one video and there is a lot of them out there.

Cain: What sport does she play?

Rutten: None. She doesn’t do any sports. Right now they started softball actually with a bunch of friends. They are doing it among two teams but they are all friends doing it so not under a guide or a coach.

Cain: Fantastic. Well I’ll drop something in the mail for you also so you can get a little bit more of the mental game. I think you’ll like it.

Rutten: I would love that. Thank you so much my friend.


BC 125. Bas Rutten - UFC Hall of Fame & World Champion

March 15, 2017

In this episode, Brian talks with former UFC World Champion and Hall of Famer Bas Rutten.  Bas has great knowledge of the mind from a fighter's point of view and shares many applicable traits that translate from fighting to life.

Follow Bas on Twitter @BasRuttenMMA

Visit Bas' Website BasRutten.com

Listen to the Rutten & Ranallo Podcast

You will learn about...

  • The #1 factor to be successful in a fight
  • The importance of thinking you are not as good as you really are
  • Tricking your brain into enjoying something you normally hate
  • The #1 trait that all the best fighters have in common
  • Bas' answer to "The Million Dollar Question"



Rutten: So then I started tricking my brain. Constantly every time when I was really tired I’d go “oh yeah I love it!” I love it. I would tell myself the whole time “I love it” and, boom, suddenly I started catching on. Then I started enjoying getting tired. Now I needed to get tired. It got me a high getting really extremely tired. So I just forced myself. I always tell people I’m really good at telling myself what to do. Apparently I believe myself as well because it works, it works all the time.

Cain: Hey how are you doing? Brian Cain your Peak Performance Coach here and this week we’re honored to have as our guest on the Peak Performance Podcast an MMA legend, UFC World Champion, and UFC Hall of Famer, Bas Rutten.

Bas is a retired Dutch MMA fighter, a taekwondo black belt, Muay Thai kick boxer, and former professional wrestler. He was a UFC Heavyweight Champion and a three time King of Pancrase World Champion and finished his career with an unthinkable 22 fight unbeaten streak. Fight Metrics, the official statistics provider for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, ran numbers on Rutten’s career. Check this out; they statistically proved that he belongs not only in the UFC Hall of Fame but near or on top of the list of the greatest fighters of all time.

In the 4 hours 27 minutes and 8 seconds he spent as a professional fighter Rutten scored 13 knockdowns without getting dropped himself. His significant strike accuracy was 70.6, the highest fight metric ever recorded. He attempted a record 53 submissions and successfully swept his opponents a record 46 times.

He is currently a co-host of Inside MMA and is known for his charisma, good looks, great dance moves, and devastating liver kicks. He has capitalized on his celebrity status since retiring from fighting in 1999, working as an MMA commentator and appearing in numerous television shows, movies, and video games. A living legend.


Please welcome to the Peak Performance fighting out of Tilburg, Netherlands, the former UFC Heavyweight Champion, former three time King of Pancrase, and UFC Hall of Famer, Bas “El Guapo” Rutten. Bas, thanks for joining us on the podcast man.

Rutten: That was crazy! I love those statistics. You know that was the first time I actually found out things about myself when I heard those statistics. I went “man that’s actually pretty cool.” Very nice. Thank you very much Mr. Buffer.

Cain: Fantastic. Well Bas thanks for joining us here. For all of our listeners that are mostly coaches and athletes they all watch the UFC, they all watch Mixed Martial Arts fighting, and they all want to know how much of that is a mindset, how much  of that is a mental game? What do you think?

Rutten: It’s all about the mind. Everything is created in the mind. I always tell the fighters we’re just talking about it everyone says “oh it’s a 50/50, 50% physical, 50% mental.” I say it’s not. I say everything happens in the mind. The decision for you to get out of bed in the morning to get your breakfast is made up in the mind. Once you can control that then it’s going to be perfect because then you can be calm.

I talk about this many times. Calmness beats everything. When I see fighters getting beat up by the coaches and they’re hitting themselves in the faces I think it’s maybe for them to realize that they’re in the moment at this moment but it doesn’t work for me. You start over committing to punches. The mind is the master in everything in life. That is what I always say.

Cain: When did you learn that? Si that something you had a coach ingrain in you or did you always kind of have that sort of ice in your veins cool mentality?

Rutten: That is the weirdest thing. I was a super aggressive fighter in Holland when I was Thai boxing. Literally I would come out very technical, I would play my game, I would get hit once and I would destroy the guy. It worked really well in the first 12 fights because I knocked them out all in the first round except for one. So that worked really well. But once you start fighting really tough competition that’s going to be a problem.

Then at one time - it was I also had a reason. I was partying, I didn’t train for three years, and apparently I accepted a fight because I was drunk and didn’t know I accepted it. Two and a half weeks before the fight this promoter calls me “hey where do I send the posters to?” I said “what do you mean, what posters?” He said “from the fight.” I said “which fight.” He says “your fight.” I said “am I fighting?” So then we went over that and I realized oh yeah I kind of said that so I’m going to have to do this fight. When is the fight? In two and a half weeks. I shouldn’t have done that fight.

Anyway I lost. That pretty much changed everything. I didn’t want to fight in Holland anymore because the throwback I had from one loss was insane. Everybody said suddenly I was the worst fighter. They forgot about the first 12 fights.

Then when Mixed Martial Arts came along I started fighting in Japan. I think it’s maybe something with the audience. It was totally calm. While I was fighting I would realize this is the craziest thing ever, I was so focused I heard everybody talking.

There is this moment where I drop him with an eight count, he goes down, and your inner body wants to say run to the corner because there in Japan there were eight counts. If you run to your corner as soon as you hit the corner that is when they start counting eight. So eight counts. That means every fighter most of the time they run to their corner in order to give the guy on the floor the least amount of time to recoup. But for some reason I was thinking “no I’m going to throw it the other way” so I stepped over him, I gave him this look, I made eye contact, and then I walked really slowly back to my corner. I thought that will intimidate this guy way more than when I run to the corner.

When I came out of the fight - which I stopped in 43 seconds - and later on saw the magazines two months later they sent me the magazines from the fight and I saw my facial expressions and I had no facial expressions. Every Thai boxing match that I had in the past I look like a complete animal. My face is screaming when I knock people out. Then there suddenly in Japan it was total calmness. There was no facial expression.

That is why I always come up with that name the poker face. I truly believe that was when I really started putting things together. I was in complete control. It was really weird.

Cain: Fighters that you’ve trained and fighters that you work with how do you get them to learn that? how do you get them to understand that you’ve got to be in control of yourself because you can control your performance and then learn how to control themselves?

Rutten: It’s a hard thing. Again the poker face comes. There are a lot of times where if they hit back and they have to go really hard on the back they’re not allowed to make grimaces in their faces. It needs to stay calm. Everything needs to be calm. You need to tell your brain that you’re okay. Once you start squeezing your face muscles you’re telling your brain it’s not okay. But the more calm you are, the more relaxed you are, the faster your reflexes are working for you.

The things is - and you especially know this with mental coaching as well of course - that a fighter can be really good in the gym. I can tell him all the tricks and everything works perfectly in the gym and sometimes you think “oh man this guy is going to go far.” But then the first fight comes along. The first fight is very understandable. Everybody has that. But once you go to the second and third fight and you cannot control those emotions then it’s going to be very hard for a fighter to fight out later on.

What I’m saying is that you see these guys who you think they’re going to be world champions but they can’t perform under pressure. What I do then to the fighter - because most of the time they’re so proud that they’re going to fight they tell everybody they’re going to fight. “This is my first fight, I’m going to rip his head, I’m going to do this and that.” I always tell them don’t say that. All of these words you’re going to have to eat up at the moment you’re going to walk into the cage. Now all these people that you’re talking to they’re going to be in the audience there. Guess what? Now you can’t lose because you said you were going to hit his head up, you’re going to do this, you’re going to do that. I said all that pressure you are going to carry to the cage. Most of the time that is exactly what happens and then they lose.

So then I tell them okay the next fight you won’t tell anybody that you’re going to fight and we’re going to take a fight out of state where nobody knows you. if you win when you come back you can say “hey I just won a fight.” IF you lose you don’t even have to tell anybody. Most of the time that trick works really well because then there is no pressure. People don’t fight for themselves. People fight for the audience.

My biggest trick, what I always said is that I fight for me. It sounds very egomaniacal but it’s not because - they say “but you have to fight for your family because they need money.” No. Once I start being bothered by those kinds of problems I don’t perform at my best. But once I fight for myself and I don’t care what people say - because I learned that in all the Thai boxing, I stepped away from it - then that’s it. Then you’re much calmer and then you can compete at your very best.

Cain: I think that is such a great point too that you make that you’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to fight for yourself because you are the only one who is in there. I hear fighters a lot of times will say that “my toughest opponent is me and my focus is on there, going out there, and executing what I need to execute in my game plan.”

When you would fight did you have a game plan that you went out there to try to implement specifically for your opponent or was your game plan kind of the “I’m going to become the best Mixed Martial Artist I can be and go out there and just trust my training and let it happen?”

Rutten: Trust my training, especially when I started learning the ground game. I had this thing - and I still do it. I always think that I’m not as good as I really am. I think it’s a very important thing because I think people in general always think they’re way better than they are. For me that was a way of always pushing the limits, always going harder and harder.

I think it's very important to train your brain like that and make sure you know everything. Once I start doing the ground then everything started coming together and I got obsessed with the ground fighting. That is when I really started getting confident and that is where the real me was born.

I always say it’s not about that, it’s about loving something. For instance in school what were the subjects you sucked at? They were always subjects that you had no interest for. All the ones that you excelled in were the ones that you thought were fun to do. It’s the same as fighting. If you’re only doing striking because you feel great at striking but you neglected the ground fighting - what I did in the beginning, I didn’t really like the ground fighting - but then I have all these ways to force myself. I start tricking my brain (so to say) and I say “wait a minute I’m going to see if I can force myself to like it.”

For instance I did this with getting tired. I did not like getting tired. Since I had severe asthma as a kid that’s probably where it comes from. But in fighting that is not a good thing. you’re going to get really tired. So then I started tricking my brain. Constantly every time when I was really tired I’d go “oh yeah I love it!” I love it. I would tell myself the whole time “I love it” and, boom, suddenly I started catching on. Then I started enjoying getting tired. Now I needed to get tired. It got me a high getting really extremely tired. So I just forced myself. I always tell people I’m really good at telling myself what to do. Apparently I believe myself as well because it works, it works all the time.

Cain: Are there ways that you actually train that self talk? Are there things that you do to help you with that or is that something that you just kind of figured out over the course of your career?

Rutten: It’s been always there. I think it all comes from - with the asthma attacks for instance. I would lay in bed just sitting up. I needed to recoup from that. For like a minute I needed to catch my breath. That is how bad my asthma was. I couldn’t eat. It was very hard for me to drink. Most of the time you dip a sponge in water and you hope that you can get it in because you’re breathing 24/7. But I was always telling my mind “listen this is just for a week or for eight days, there are people out there that have it all year long.” I had eczema (horrible skin disease) everywhere on my face, my hands, I had to wear gloves, I got bullied a lot because of it because they thought I was a leper. That’s what they called me. I always thought people have it worse. There are people who have it worse.

I think my brain training started there. I told myself “no, don’t go down.” Some people who say I had asthma when I was a kid and that’s why it doesn’t go very well for me in life, that’s BS. You’ve got to step away from it. The glass has always been half full with me and I’ve been always that guy. It’s just tricking the brain. Maybe it’s not even tricking. You just talk to yourself and if you just lay it out then it’s not really that bad.

If you really go over a fight - this is what I tell my students. I say “what is the worst thing that can happen?” “I’m going to get knocked out.” “Well apparently you’re not going to feel that.” That is what people say. So what is the next thing? Tapping? Is that really so bad? If you let your arm be broken that is a really bad thing but for the rest that’s it. you can lose these two ways. You know what really is bad? When somebody completely dominates you. he knocks you down, he steps back, he tells you get back up because he just wants to beat you up. That would be really bad. But with great matchmaking that will never happen. most of the time that little talk will do something to them and that little talk I just had to myself before a fight. In the beginning when you’re nervous I would just say “what is the worst thing that could happen, there is a referee.”

That is why I didn’t want to fight in the first UFC because the referee couldn’t step in. People go “oh I think it’s cool, I think it’s tough when you do that.” I think it’s stupid when you do that. we saw many occasions somebody gets knocked out and when he’s out he’s getting drilled in the face 6-7 more times. Well that could be permanent and I have a family that I love very much. I’m not one of those guys who says “I’ll die in the cage.” Not me dude. I would like to be with my family. If there is a way I can get out of it I’m going to be out of it. It’s going to be tough because I’m not going to let you finish me. But that I thought was very dangerous. Once they had a referee what is the worst thing that can happen? The referees are going to jump in and that’s about it.

It’s your ego. Once you can step away from your ego - and again this is people outside, this is your family, friends, everybody who knows it better but has never been in a gym they’re complaining about you. Once you realize that those people don’t know anything, they don’t know, they never did it, so why would you be bothered by what they’re saying? When you let that go that is freedom.

Cain: I love that. that is fantastic. Bas, talk a little bit about the maturity of the athlete and learning to just simply control what you can control and let go of what you can’t.

Rutten: It’s just getting better all the time. I always mention Oscar de la Hoya, Georges St. Pierre, there’s all these bunch of fighters that always learn new things. Evolving. It’s all about that. They all know it. They all say it in interviews - other guys - but they don’t do it. That I don’t like.

You have a guy - oh hit him in the belly because if you hit that guy he went five times down with a liver shot so chance are you can drop him with a liver shot again. Can you imagine if you would be that person that they’re talking about? If somebody says “oh if you fight Bas Rutten hit him in the liver and he is going to go down?” I would make sure 100% that you could never hit me in the liver. But for some reason that person every time they can drop him to his liver. This is a real person as well.

I go work on your weaknesses. It’s so in your face but people don’t do it. Once you do it, truly do what you’re preaching - well everybody can be good. I’m just a guy like anybody else. It’s just hard work and dedication.

Cain: You run a podcast that is one of the best out there. On your podcast you’ve had guests like UFC fighter and champion Dan Severn. You’ve had Royce Gracie on there. You’ve had WWE Ike on and creator of the yes chant Daniel Bryan. You’ve interviewed Dan Henderson who just had a great fight with Michael Bisping. What are some of the things that you have learned that have stuck with you from interviewing some of these icons in the world of Mixed Martial Arts and wrestling?

Rutten: We all have the same mindset. Especially if you talk to the good guys. If you talk to beginner fighters they will have completely different answers than once they start maturing as well. They realize that talking can put a lot of pressure on you. If you talk like that to Dan Severn, Dan Henderson, all these guys, Frank Shamrock - Frank is a good friend of us as well - they’re all calm, they’re all relaxed. It’s simply just looking at other people. I’ve been doing that my entire life.

In an interview if you hear somebody - any artist. It doesn’t matter what artist we’re talking about. It can be a musician, an actor, whatever. They always say “don’t give up.” They all say that. There is always that moment of I wanted to quit but then I pushed a little further and, boom, suddenly there was the success. Once you start listening you realize that hundreds of great stars are saying all the same thing - don’t give up. So you put it in your mind - don’t give up. If you talk to a Dan Henderson, yeah, that’s calmness. Dan Severn, calm. You already touched Renico too. We didn’t have him on our show. But also everything is about calmness.

Automatically if you go - I did it a long time back but I’m pretty sure that every other athlete that is coming up right now (Mixed Martial Artist) they should listen to that because they all pick out that similarity thing which is being calm and just pushing. We’re nothing special. Just put a lot of hard work in. That’s the trick.

Cain: Bas I always like to ask my guests what is the book that you would gift the most to other people? Or what are the books that have had the biggest impact in your life?

Rutten: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I really took that to heart. And another book is The Greatest Salesman In the World, I really like that as well. It takes ten months to read for the fact that every chapter (and there are ten chapters) you are going to have to read three times a day. It takes about five minutes to read. You have to do it when you wake up, and then you have to do it during the day, then before you go to sleep. Matthew McConaughey was in The Actor’s Studio and he was talking about that book and I go “hey I would love to have that book.” These are all things that I already did. But what you’re doing is you’re just training your brain because once you read it three times a day, in like 12-13 days you’ve memorized it. You can literally just say it without the book. Then you’re telling yourself. It always helps to revisit moments, things that you already knew but you forgot.

It’s like when I teach seminars I tell people “bring a notepad because I’m going to be here, I’m going to give you your money’s worth, if I really want to teach you’re going to get five techniques in the next five hours and you guys are not going to like it so let’s write down what we’re doing, let’s give you 30 techniques so you’re going to get your money’s worth.” But if you don’t have a notepad you’re going to forge the first ten techniques. You’re going to forget because it’s going to be an overload.

That’s what it is with this book. You know it. but once you read it you go “oh man yeah I used to do that but why don’t I do this anymore?” You’re training your brain. So those two books I always tell people to get them.

Cain: Fantastic. Both of them are in my collection for sure and I would echo the same message. Both fantastic books. Bas, I also like to ask our guests what are some of the habits that you have in your life or maybe you had when you were still fighting, what are some of the habits that have helped you to be the best in the world?

Rutten: Everything with me is about habits. I think that habits are the most important thing there is. It’s creating good habits.

I have this speech that I do for these kids when they go from high school. I talk to these kids from high school to college and it’s like 500-600 kids that I’m talking to. I open with this one. I say “by show of hands who woke up this morning, hit the snooze button, then ten minutes later hit it again, then ten minutes later hit it again, then maybe after the third or fourth time you get up” and, boom, 90% of the hands went up. I said “that is a bad habit and you can change that habit, in a week it will be gone.” Before you go to sleep now tonight you’re going to tell yourself “tomorrow when I hit the alarm button I’m going to sit up in bed and I’m going to walk out.” The first time is a little hard. The second day it’s easier. The third day is a lot easier, and in seven days you’ve created a new habit.

The great thing is you can do this with anything in life. It’s just switching bad habits into great habits. That’s what I did my whole life. I just find my routine. Like my stretching routine. Many people always ask “what is it because you’re always talking about this.” My stretching routine has always been the same from the first day I started competing professionally till now I do the same thing. They say “why, you have to do all these others stretches.” I say “this stretching routine (it’s a short one, it’s a ten minute stretch) never gave me any injuries, why would I change a winning thing?” That is what I do with everything. I’m always pushing the habits.

I tell myself tonight or today, this morning, I’m going to do twelve rounds on the back as hard as I can; Because I trained my brain to do whatever I tell myself to do I have to do it. I’m so bad that if I would not do it, if I would stop at eleven, I can literally not look at myself in the mirror that night because I am ashamed of myself. That is how much I have trained myself to do what I tell me to do. Being on time. Those are things that everybody should do. Why would you be late? I’m on time for you. You be there on time for me. That is why they invented time by the way. It’s things like that.

Once you do that for a week - I have guys from Brazil who never did that but (trust me) a week or two weeks with me - Marco Ruas, he showed up every single time on time. This is very hard for a guy who had been 40 years living in Brazil and who don’t do that because it’s just not in their culture. They don’t do it. But once you do it - once I am training at 3:00 and he comes in at 3:45 and I’m almost out now, I’m almost done with my workout. “Yeah but I just arrived here.” Yeah, I said 3:00. Now on the second day suddenly they are there at 3:00 because otherwise they’re not going to have a workout. That is the way I do it.

To me they say “Bas I’ll be there at 11:00 but wait 5-10 minutes.” No, you said you were going to be there at 11:00. I’ll be there at 11:00 and you be there at 11:00 and if you’re not I’m leaving. “Yeah but can you wait till I’m there?” No, you be there at 11:00. Those things you can train with everything in life. I truly believe if you do that with your training methods you just become a great guy in whatever sport you do.

Cain: You talked about the importance of being on time, the importance of hitting your alarm clock, getting your feet on the ground, going out and attacking the day, you talked about the importance of habits. What are some of the other fundamentals that have helped you to be so successful? What are some of the other fundamentals that you’ve seen that if our listeners would apply in their life (maybe it’s journaling, maybe it’s having a coach, any of those things that you’ve seen) that would help them to close the gap from where they are to where they want to be?

Rutten: With me it’s really weird. I taught everything myself. I taught the ground fighting myself. I had a coach in Holland and Amsterdam but I went there twelve times in my entire life.

It was just watching things. Don’t be afraid of seeing something and thinking “that’s it.” Just because somebody does it or somebody writes it that doesn’t mean it’s true. “I read on the internet” yeah, okay, never mind. I need some proof. That is what I’m doing. What I did with ground fighting for instance is I would simply see at technique and then I would say to a friend of mine “do it on me, I can do this and I can escape.” Then okay “how can I prevent this?” Then I start working with it. I think that is the most important thing.

Now the good thing was that I didn’t have a teacher so that means I wasn’t offending anybody. I understand if you have a big name fighter to look up to you have to do it his way or the highway. A great coach would say - like I say, I teach only twice a week but I tell my students “go anywhere you want, any gym, go anywhere you want, don’t worry that I’m going to be angry” because I know deep down inside I know they’re not going to get anywhere else what they’re going to get with me. If I’m invested in something I’m invested. If I commit it commit. There you go. That’s the habits. Since I didn’t have that coach I couldn’t offend anybody. I would say “I can make this better.” “Oh that’s an ego thing.” No it’s not an ego thing. This is just from a long time ago and I think I can make it better. Once you start working with it you start understanding it better.

You know the thing that I always say to people as well is everything has a reason. A submission works a certain way. You have to understand a submission. And 90%-100% of the fighters will say “no I understand.” No you don’t understand. You know what it looks like and you know - because if you know it more people would get tapped with a simple figure four arm bar. But they do it wrong. The head should be in the line or lower than your shoulders. If the head is higher people escape.

You watch UFC, Bellator, big organizations; once they go for submission they do it wrong. This is a white belt move. They don’t understand how it works. If they would understand what would happen if they bring that hand down, wow, now you can lift the elbow two inches. If you bring the hand up you can lift the elbow all the way elbow and they roll out. I mean once you understand that then it’s easier to absorb the techniques.

Because I taught everything myself I was understanding it because I’d say “okay it hurts there, it hurts there, okay I can do this to escape, try to stop me now, okay, yeah that’s a good one but still I can escape.” Then I would go for an escape and right into a counter technique. Okay now he knows this. Let’s see if I can do another counter technique. Wait a minute, a straight arm bar. Okay. I roll with my guy. I do it three times on him. Suddenly he knows (of course) what I am going to do because I have a certain path to that straight arm bar. Okay so now he can stop me. Wait a minute, let’s create a different way to do that same arm bar. Okay. I get creative. Find another way. Now I tap him again also 3-4 times (because my guy was a good guy as well). Okay now I’ve got two ways. Let’s create another way. Once you start throwing those 1, 2, 3, sometimes even four different set ups for the same technique, once you start mixing those up then you’re going to be successful because then you’re spinning the head of your opponent.

If there is just one way to do it well everybody knows that way. How many times do you see a guy getting submitted by a certain technique that nobody did before then for two weeks straight everybody is getting submitted with that technique and then everybody is gone again because everybody knows the defense. That is what I’m saying.

In the beginning (all the way at the beginning) I made the mistake of learning to escape the arm bar. Thankfully once I started committing and I got obsessed with ground fighting - oh man I love it. It’s the worst thing that I cannot do it anymore because of my neck. Once I got obsessed with it I realized it’s better to learn the arm bar because if you understand the mechanics of an arm bar you automatically know how to stay out of it or how to escape it.

Cain: I love how much of a learner you were coming up and being self taught and teaching yourself how to use all those different ground fighting techniques. Bas now that you’re retired from MMA - I believe it was in 1999, is that right?

Rutten: Yes. Then I made one more fight in 2006. I thought I was injury free but all the injuries came back. It was good. I stopped him in the first round. But it was really god telling me okay it’s done, you’ve got to stop.

Cain: You can see that fight if you go to YouTube. You see he finishes it with a leg kick I believe it was wasn’t it?

Rutten: That’s it. That’s the one.

Cain: Love it. It’s fantastic. How do you, now that you’re retired from MMA - I think a lot of fighters I’ve worked with their only definition of success for their life is if they get to wear a gold belt around their waist. Then for some of them that happens and for some of them it doesn’t. How do you define success for yourself now with where you’re at in life?

Rutten: That’s a big one. How do you define success. Whatever you love to do if you can make that your profession I would say that is it. Reaching your goal of what you really want to do in life, what makes you happy. If you can make that into - there is this saying that if you - how does it say? If you make your hobby your profession you never go a day to work. That’s it. That’s what people say. But I think you have to choose it for the right reason. When you want to do something because money or fame is attached to it that’s great but if you don’t love it you’re not really going to commit.

That’s what I always tell the people in school. You excel at the things that you like and you don’t excel at the things that you don’t like so pick something that you love to do. It’s not all about fame and money. it’s about being a good person to others and just doing what you need to do because that you can take to your grave. That is fame for me.

People say “Bas Rutten? Oh he was a nice guy, helped everybody, was always on top of his things,” after they do a whole list about my persona and how I helped people and what I tried to do and then at the end they might say “oh you know what he could kick some ass too.” The most important to me is to be there for other people and to help. If you find something that you really love to do and you can excel at that that is the definition of success to me.

Cain: Love that. That’s fantastic. Thanks for that. I’ve only got two more questions here for you Bas. The next question is what is the difference between you had a chance to fight in the UFC and fight in Pancrase and you also had a professional wrestling career. Like Brock Lesnar you both held the UFC Heavyweight Championship. What is the difference as an athlete in MMA and also in going into pro wrestling?

Rutten: Thankfully I did it in Japan and in Japan they call it “strong style” and that means they use real submission moves. You know beforehand of course who is going to win. I could never do this here in America. It’s a different style. I don’t know this style because it’s not close to being real for me. In Japan - well it’s all real moves that everybody uses so then it’s great.

What I did realize though is that I had way more injuries in pro wrestling than I did in real fighting. The reason is very simple, you let yourself get hit - something that I did not do in fighting. If you don’t treat it as a real fight it’s like - how do I say that? If you don’t show respect to a small weight - all the problems in the gym always happen with small weights. Why? Because people don’t respect it. If it’s a heavy weight now you watch your posture and you watch everything perfect. But if you pick up a little five pound weight and you do it a little wrong by you don’t squat your legs and bop something suddenly happens.

That’s the same in pro wrestling. If you don’t respect it - let me tell you these guys here and over there in Japan also, the falls they make are real falls, trust me. People break their leg all the time, they have injuries all the time, because they do it 200-220 times a year. They just travel to the next show on a daily basis. Oh now my knee is hurt from the fight. Well guess what you’re going to have to do ten more in these next two weeks then you’re going to have a five day break then you’re going to start again. Injury prone, very injury prone.

That’s what happened with me. The first one I broke a disc in my back. without surgery they healed it. Then I ruptured an eyeball. Somebody had his finger in my eye because I didn’t block it because it was in the script (so to say) that he was going to hit me in the face. The third one was I ruptured my eardrum. The same thing, an open hand strike to my ear which I didn’t block and my ear drum was broken for 6-7 years. I could not fix it because I was travelling so much and flying so much that they can’t fix it because every time you go up and you put a patch on it (so to say) it will explode again (or have the chance to explode, to open up again) so it was useless. Those were just my first three pro wrestling matches.

My wife actually told me “why don’t you go back to real fighting, you have more injuries now than you’ve ever had in real fighting.” That I would say is the biggest difference. But then again real fighting you have to really commit and you didn’t have to do it in pro wrestling. You can get by with just your basic shape, something that you cannot do in real fighting. You always have to push. My big rule is you can never have enough stamina in Mixed Martial Arts or any fighting for that matter.

Cain: Awesome. Bas, I just realized that you are also a culinary chef. Is that something that you go to to kind of help you escape the pressure and the competitiveness of MMA? Where did you get turned on to culinary chef?

Rutten: That was my thing when I was a kid. I wanted to become a culinary chef. It was from like 6-10 then it went away and suddenly it came back around 17 and I went to culinary school. Then I started working at 20-21. I started working in kitchens. One thing led to another. I had a fall out with one of the cooks who was also the owner who I helped for like two years I worked there.


I was a really good person to him because whatever I commit myself to I really try to do well so I was a good cook. I could do - literally my record was 42 people in one night that I did by myself. This is appetizers, main courses, and I would get them. Not at the same time of course. A table of three there. Four there. Three. I would take pride in that to see how many people I could do by myself.

Then there was one day that - on a Tuesday for instance never were there more than eight people that came in. So I would prepare for 25 people just to make sure. Put the mise en place, that’s how they call it in French, that is the preparation for all the sauces that you have at the ready - the basic sauces because from a basic sauce you can make all these other sauces. There are a whole bunch of things that you have to prepare. For some reason that day like 30 people can in so I ran out of the preparation that I had.

I ran inside the house which is where the head cook lived (the chef cook and he was a boss as well) and he started yelling at me in the kitchen. I said “listen let’s stop yelling, let’s take care of these people first, and once we take care of these people you can start yelling at me and tell me what I did wrong.” “NO!” and he kept screaming at me. I said “dude we’ve got to do business here” and he kept on going. He said “you do whatever I tell you to do” and I said “that is actually not the case.” He grabbed a big bowl of butter and he said “if I throw this on the ground and I tell you to clean it up you’re going to clean it up.”  So I walked over to him, I hit the bowl of butter out of his hand, and I said “ask me.” That was the last day I worked. It was already the time also that I found martial arts so then I went away.

I was heartbroken because of it. I did so much for that person and for them to treat me like that - he was paging me (there were pagers at the time) but I didn’t react anymore. I said “no that was not cool.” I tried to save it but that was it. I don’t even know why this story came up. It’s probably fresh in my head and still aggravating me.

But yes, at home I like to cook. I like to do little things. I like to have friends over sometimes and then surprise them with a nice little appetizer, a nice bouillon that I made for three days. I made it very strong, a very nice one, and a good appetizer. Then the main course and I wrap it up with a great dessert homemade by Bas. That’s kind of cool. Most of them don’t know - well all my good friends know but if you have friends who don’t know it that’s kind of cool because they go “you did this” and then they realize that was actually my profession.

Cain: That’s unbelievable. I never knew that. unbelievable. A friend of mine who is one of the top coaches in the country, Joe Amplo at Marquette University, he is also a certified chef, certified culinary expert. I’ll tell you what being able to sit down and have some food that he has prepared is unbelievable.

Bas, thank you for taking the time. Our last question here my friend is that if you could remove the skull cap of everybody listening to this - again out audience is coaches, athletes, people that you are. You’re talking to yourself. If you could plant one seed inside of their head about something that you know now with the life experience that you’ve had that you wish you knew when you were younger, that if that seed would germinate and they would do it and it would improve their life what would that seed be?

Rutten: This is a thing I use. I have no clue who said it. It’s one line and I tell everybody it and that should straighten everybody out. Just say “how do you want to be remembered.” Just tell that person “how do you want to be remembered.” If you catch the person at the time that he is drunk and crazy then go “do you want to be remembered like that.” If you’re a fighter or an athlete (let’s say a fighter) do you want to be remembered as the guy who was cheating? Who had a lot of talent but never really trained hard so that’s why you lost? Or do you want to be remembered as a good fighter? Even when you don’t become a champion that guy that every champion is afraid of even because they know that if they go to step in with you they’re going to have a hard time. This guy is always on.

That is a big question in everything you do. How do you want to be remembered when you’re dead and people are talking about you? Then you can make your decision. if you decide to stay partying well that’s how they’re going to remember you. If you think that’s cool - “that guy had a great brain but he threw his life away at partying,” I think that’s a stupid thing to write on a tombstone. So hopefully most of the time that straightens people out.

Cain: So I have to ask you how do you want to be remembered?

Rutten: I kind of mentioned on that. I want to be remembered as the guy who was a good guy, who would hold doors open for people. If an older person comes on the bus and there’s no space I will be the guy who stands up right away. I’ve been shouting to youngsters saying “get up there is a whole group of old people coming, your parents didn’t tell you anything?” I’m the guy who always tries to save everybody.

If people do something stupid in traffic and they start flipping me off and then suddenly they challenge me I go out and I always put my hands up and say “guys” - because once I step out they realize they made a mistake - but I go “no I just want to talk to you” and then I explain to them what was going on. I say “why on earth would you be so angry?” I always explain it to them and all of them 100% always go “yeah that was kind of stupid.” I say “I know, next time just think about you don’t know situations from people.”


People cutting off on the right, the left, and they’re flying through traffic. Yeah 90% of the time it’s just an A-hole, it’s just a bad person, I don’t like it. but I guarantee you there is that 10% chance that maybe somebody in a car there has a delivery, the baby is almost coming. That could be the reason he is speeding up. Until you don’t know exactly what goes on you shouldn’t judge. Once you start living like that I think you’re a good person. That is how I want to be remembered.

People say “yeah he was a good dude, he helped people.” The emails I get from people who have kids or the kids who are emailing me who have the skin disease, who have the asthma, it’s an insane amount but I always make time and I always make sure that I answer them because it’s going to help them. If you can do that and then at the end like I said before they’ll say “you know what he was actually a pretty good fighter as well.” I think the most important thing is being a decent person to humanity. Do your part in humanity (I always say) then do the rest.

Cain: I love it. Bas Rutten, you’re off the hot seat my friend. Thank you so much for taking the time to be a guest on the Peak Performance Podcast. So much good stuff that you just gave to our listeners. I love that question of how do you want to be remembered. As you’re saying that I’m sitting here just taking notes and that is a question that I think our listeners have to go ask themselves.


With every podcast I try to summarize with what I think the number one take home was and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do it with this podcast because there was so much great stuff. I would encourage our listeners to start with how do you want to be remembered. And make sure you go over to www.BasRutten.com, check out his podcast, also follow him on Twitter @BasRuttenMMA. Bas, thank you so much. I can’t thank you enough.

Rutten: Godspeed Brian. I appreciate it. I loved it. Thank you very much.


BC 124. Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman - Driven, The MMA Fighters Mindset

March 8, 2017

In this episode, Brian talks with Mixed Martial Arts fighter Charlie "The Spaniard" Brenneman and his remarkable story going from working his dream job as a Spanish teacher, to winning UFC fights in the Octagon.

Follow Charlie on Twitter @SpaniardMMA

Follow Charlie on Instagram @MMASpaniard

Check out his website Charlie-Brenneman.com

You will learn about...

  • Charlie's journey going from Spanish teacher to UFC fighter
  • Charlie's 5 Elements of Excellence that have lead him to great success
  • Charlie's AM and PM routines
  • Charlie's daily video posted on Facebook and YouTube where he shares knowledge from the book he is reading that day
  • How you can have Charlie come speak to your team or school



Brenneman: That result is there. We want it, we want it, we want it. But just above that - slightly more important than that - is the process, is the pursuit of that goal not the attainment of that goal.

Cain: This is Brian Cain with the Peak Performance Podcast. Today our guest, Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman, has not only fought the who’s-who in the Mixed Martial Arts world as a UFC veteran but he is also a former high school teacher. Charlie has a fascinating story that has come out with his book Driven: My Unlikely Journey from Classroom To Cage. Charlie, I’m just fired up to have you on. Thanks for making the time to be a part of the Peak Performance Podcast.

Brenneman: It’s my pleasure to be here. I love talking to likeminded people and you’re one of them so I’m happy to be here.

Cain: Well Charlie if you would for our listeners they probably have seen you in the cage. They’ve seen you with the who’s-who in the UFC from Johny Hendricks and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. What they probably don’t know is your story up until that point in the UFC. Could you give kind of a quick snapshot of your career as a high school/college athlete, into teaching, and then what kind of got you into MMA?

Brenneman: I’m from central Pennsylvania. I grew up in a small town. I’m a wrestler. Even today when I speak one of my lines is “I’m a wrestler who learned to fight.” That is basically what I did. The sport of wrestling taught me mental toughness, it taught me mindset, it taught me discipline, sacrifice. Those are the things that I carried up with me through high school. I would always come close to achieving my goals but I would fall short. I started to keep track and understand that the reason I was falling short was because I ultimately lacked the self confidence at the highest level.

I ended up losing a state title two years in a row in high school. I took my athletic career into wrestling and for my first four years of my collegiate wrestling I red shirted a year. I completely underperformed. The last year it was like I had a mental breakthrough that really changed my last year, it changed the trajectory of my future. I ended up capping off my college career in a great way. I still felt short of my goal but I finished in a round of twelve at Division One Nationals. Then I thought it was all done. I thought all that discipline and sacrifice was over. I was ready to go home. I was ready to get fat and sit on the couch.

After about a year of doing that I realized that I needed something. I needed to compete again. Around that time the sport of Mixed Martial Arts was starting to come to the forefront and started to kind of make a little bit of progress in the mainstream. Then literally one day I decided I’m going to leave my Spanish teaching position and I’m going to be a UFC fighter.

Up until two years ago it’ll be my last fight but I spent the last decade training with, competing against, fighting, beating, losing to, the biggest baddest toughest fighters in the world. I came from a small town, became a teacher, then fighting, and now I’m on the other side of it where I’m kind of taking everything I learned, condensing it, and delivering it through speaking and mentoring.

Cain: I know we just kind of got off of a good discussion before we got onto the podcast. What are some of the key principles that when you’re going in to speak to a school or you’re going in to work with a team what are some of the key principles - basically your framework, Charlie, that you share with them that made you successful that you know if they would adopt and they’ll heed to you teachings you know that they’ll be more successful. What are some of those key principles or key concepts within your framework?

Brenneman: So what I did when I had my last fight and I thought “what am I going to do,” the first thing I did was I sat down and I literally wrote a book. I had had so many questions about I left my job, I got called crazy, I got called stupid, I got called all kinds of things because it was against the norm. So I sat down and I wrote a book about it. I’m a note taker and I’m a writer so I condensed all of the notes, the principles, the things that I’ve recorded over the years and I boiled them down into five what I call “elements of excellence.” Those things together create a fighter’s mindset.

When you’re talking about a fighter’s mindset you think of the best fighters in the world. There is this resilience and perseverance and mental toughness and discipline - all these things. But the five things that I really focus on is the idea of a vision, knowing where you want to go, always having that North Star.

The next thing is your core values whether it’s in your personal life, whether it’s in your athletic life, your professional life. I read a lot of books and so many of them focus on this idea of core values, knowing who you truly are and being that person in competition.

The next one is defining success. To me that took me a lifetime of winning and losing. That took me a lifetime of competing to really truly appreciate the process versus the outcome.

The fourth one is living with accountability. To me accountability - when I decided to leave my teaching position and I decided to literally drive into the unknown, this unknown world, it was all on me. It was on my shoulders. I had no paycheck. I had no leads. I had to create it. So that idea of accountability, (as Jocko Willink in Extreme Ownership says) assuming extreme ownership in everything you do and say.

Then the last part - I don’t want to say the most powerful, but - is the idea of surrounding yourself with the best every day. Even today in my life connecting with you, connecting with other speakers and mentors and podcasters, I’m obsessed with surrounding myself with the best. Looking at the best in the world then literally trying to talk to them. The first two guys I communicated with in Mixed Martial Arts were Eddie Alvarez and Frankie Edgar. Eddie is the current UFC Champion. Frankie is one of the best in history. So I believe in the power of influence.

Those five elements are kind of my keys to living with a fighter’s mindset.

Cain: I love that. I think you hit the nail right on the head and as it ties back with what a lot of our listeners have gone through and are familiar with some of the work that I’ve done with the 12 Pillars of Peak Performance and in talking about vision and values (that’s Pillar #2) and kind of defining your success is that process. The process over the outcome. Then surrounding yourself with the best. As we say you become the average of the five people that you hang out with most.

In one of the books that you mentioned from Jocko Willink about extreme ownership, one of the top reads (I think) from people in our Inner Circle and people that are going to be listening to this podcast. I’m assuming you’ve seen his video where he talks about good and making adversity your advantage. What are some of the other best books that you’ve read that have had the biggest impact on your mindset?

Brenneman: I literally read every morning. It’s one of the things I started doing 42 days ago. I read every morning. I’ve been reading for years and years and one of the things I’ve been doing is making a daily video summarizing and applying what I have read that day to everyday life. There are 100 books I could say.


Some of the coolest recent ones that I’ve read, The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday. It talks about using adversity to your advantage. Certainly The Obstacle Is The Way. Start With Why by Simon Sinek which just really gets back to kind of along the lines of your values. Figure out what’s your purpose. Why do I get up every morning at 4:30? Why do I still do treadmill sprint workouts when I have no fight? Really getting to the core of that.


I’ll give you a third one. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson talks about small consistent actions repeated over a long period of time resulting in giant results. Those are three of the top ones. Reading is a habit that I would encourage everyone to get into.

Cain: Those are definitely four books that are in my library and four books that I think many of our listeners have gone through. It’s funny, The Slight Edge is a book that was given to SMU’s athletic director, Rick Hart, gave that book to all of their coaches. Then The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday, he’s got another book The Ego Is The Enemy that the TCU athletic director gave to all of their coaches. So you’re reading books, Charlie, that are right up there with our audience.

The videos that you make, is that something that you put out on social media and  something that our listeners could follow along as well so they could kind of learn through what they’re learning?

Brenneman: Absolutely. I’m glad that you mentioned that. I do Facebook Live. I tested it out a little with Periscope, a little with Facebook Live, and I seem to get the most views on Facebook Live. From there I upload them to YouTube so you can subscribe to me on YouTube to get them on a daily basis or you can follow me on my personal page, Charlie Brenneman, or my business page, Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman.

Every morning 5:30 I’m there with a smile on my face kind of reciting. I feel kind of weird because I’ve been an athlete, I’ve been a fighter, that’s what I do, but I get so amped up about reading and learning and just pushing it out. So yeah I put them out every day on my social media.

Cain: I love it. So your social media. The best place for people to follow you. What is your Twitter handle?

Brenneman: @SpaniardMMA. My website www.Charlie-Brenneman.com has all of my links in the upper right-hand corner. I’m SpaniardMMA across the board. Instagram I’m MMASpaniard because I can’t get SpaniardMMA so that is the only hiccup.

Cain: Then your YouTube channel is SpaniardMMA?

Brenneman: Yep. If you just search Charlie Brenneman or SpaniardMMA on YouTube it will come up.

Cain: Awesome. I think that would be something that our listeners definitely will want to follow. I didn’t realize you did that so that is going to be something I go and get on for sure and check those out in the morning. You talk about getting up every morning and doing a video at 5:30. You sound like you’re a machine of routine. Tell us about your morning routine and kind of what you do on a daily basis.

Brenneman: This is something for the listeners out there. I’m a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk who - you can call him an internet marketer, entrepreneur, he’s a lot of things. One of the things that I learned from him - actually I didn’t learn it from him. I felt comfortable because I heard him reaffirm it, this idea of trying a bunch of different things.

The very first person who turned me on to this idea of a morning routine is Hal Elrod in The Miracle Morning. Since then I’ve tried maybe 10-20 different routines in the morning. For me basically it’s simple. My alarm is set for 4:30 every morning. I get up early every morning. On Sundays I sleep in till a whopping 6:00 or 6:30. There is really only two things: I drink 32 ounces of water basically right out of the gate and I read for at least 30 minutes a day. Those two things when it’s completely quiet, when the bids aren’t even chirping, it’s dark, I’m sitting here with water, a coffee, and my book. If I can get that in my day then that puts me up in the right direction.

Cain: Hal Elrod, one of my favorite books The Miracle Morning where he talks about the acronym SAVERS. The first S is silence, the A if affirmation (so positive), the V is visualization, the E is exercise, the R is that you read, and the last S is that you scribe and you write and you actually do that without knowing and putting it to the SAVERS acronym that Hal talks about in The Miracle Morning. You’re actually doing that on a daily basis. Maybe instead of writing you’re speaking into your video and putting it out there for others which is probably a more easier digestible way for people to learn these days. But I love that morning routine.

What about your PM routine? Do you have a shutdown routine at the end of the day to help you kind of log off and get more dialed in with your family?

Brenneman: We just had a son three weeks ago and I have a daughter that is three years old. Where I’m at in this phase of my life I’m probably done fighting for several different reasons. I realize it’s like the work is there, the tasks are there, and I could literally work every hour of every day. This is a transition period for me and my wife. We’ve seen in the last decade when it went from teaching to fighting and fighting now into speaking and mentoring that these different transition phases - and they’re tough. For any goal driven person in a relationship who has a family it’s tough. It’s not easy.

What we’ve done is develop - that’s partially the reason I get up at 4:30 in the morning, so I have the time to do the things I need to do. But I really - we’re recording now in the PM and this is an anomaly. I normally shut off by - I’m done with my workout by 5:30 and then it’s all family. Just because if I didn’t draw that hard line it would go on forever. Mixing that business and family time is just not a winner in our home.

Cain: That one hit me pretty hard as I’m sitting here on a cruise and I’m looking at my wife who is sitting out on the balcony waiting for me to get done doing work so that I can take her to dinner. I think you hit the nail on the head.

For the coaches that are listening to this you’ve got to have that hard shutdown routine. You’ve got to have that time in your day where you said “hey what’s done is done and what’s not done can be put off until tomorrow” because if you don’t draw that hard line you’re right, you could literally work 24 hours in a day when you’re uber motivated and a guy who is excited to go out there and make a difference which our listeners are. So I think I they can start to learn about that shutdown routine as well. That’s going to be important.

Now when you shut down at 5:30 after that workout are you done with technology and you’re turning off the computer and the email and the cell phone and all that so you can engage? Or do you still have that digital distraction sometimes?

Brenneman: Yeah I’m not going to sit here and say I’m perfect by any means. But no, my objective is to - I actually am up in my office right now (it’s on the third floor of my house) and I leave my computer up here because what I’ve found is that when I would bring my computer downstairs I would be tempted. If my wife went in to get something to eat or to fix something to eat I’d be tempted to hop on my computer and check my email real quick. So by leaving it up here in the attic it’s kind of the idea of if you don’t want to eat junk food don’t keep it in your cupboards. It’s that same idea. If I don’t want to be on my computer I should leave it upstairs. So I do that.

My cell phone, I’ve flirted with some different strategies here and there but it’s in my pocket but I’ve done a good enough job - and I know this from my wife saying “you know what you’ve done a really great job in the last couple months of staying off your cell phone after hours.” The computer is the hard up in the attic. The cell phone is just in awareness that I’m aware of how much I’m on it.

Cain: Love it. That’s awesome. That’s great advice for everybody. Charlie, if we can let’s go back to your I think you call them your five “elements of excellence?” Is that right?

Brenneman: Yep.

Cain: And with the five elements of excellence - vision, core values, defining success, living with accountability, and surrounding yourself with the best - how do you define success for yourself?

Brenneman: Whenever you’re explaining it you kind of mention the process. What happened to me is from a young age, honestly from the earliest I can remember I was dead set on getting straight As and I was dead set on winning a state championship in wrestling. Those were my goals. I would achieve those goals often but I would fall short of those goals almost as often. One of the things I tell coaches and parents as often as I can is expose your kids - both your real kids and your athletes - expose them to winning and losing as often as possible. That builds resilience and that builds mental fortitude.

What I learned - honestly the heartbreak of losing two state titles, especially the second one, in high school. I was an 18 year old kid and you would think as a 35 year old man who experienced all this other stuff in the last 15 years those two nights I can’t think of a more painful athletic night than those two nights. I still kept going. I still kept moving forward, keeping my values, having that vision clear of who and what I wanted to be. But it wasn’t until I was fighting.

You see in UFC you fight but every 3-5 months. So what would happen is I would win a fight, I would come home and I would feel like a million bucks. That was great, I had money, this and that. But then if I lost I would come home and just feel like absolute garbage. Like absolute terrible garbage. Everything was terrible. Then after that happening 3, 4, 5 times I started to - honestly it was like I just got fed up with it and I thought “there has to be another way to do this because this is not worth it, this up and down is not worth being a professional fighter.” Then it was like one day it clicked and it was like “wait a minute that’s silly” to judge my self worth, to judge my feeling, to judge my mental state on the winning and the losing is wrong. I truly believe it’s wrong.

That’s where it goes back to the process that you mentioned and Nick Saban mentions it. The idea of defining success to me - and whether you want to quote John Wooden also - is the process. Putting in the work on a daily, on an hourly, on a minute basis to produce that result in the end. That result is there. We want it, we want it, we want it. But just above that - slightly more important than that - is the process, is the pursuit of that goal not the attainment of that goal.

Cain: I love that. You just mentioned two of the greatest coaches of all time (I think) in Saban and Wooden. Wooden, since we mentioned books and I’m keeping a list of your books that you mentioned here which we’ll put out in the notes with this episode, is one of John Wooden’s books A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On And Off the Court. It’s a little blue book. it’s fantastic.

Brenneman: Yep. Blue and yellow.

Cain: Yeah you got it. Then Nick Saban’s book How Good Do You Want to Be I think is one of the best that I’ve ever read as well. The one I have has this cover of him at LSU on it. I know the new one has him in Alabama. So he talked about the process and I think you’re so spot on with that. What about your core values?

Brenneman: I was going to say another just little caveat I wanted to throw in there is this idea of excellence. Honestly when I started this pursuit (speaking and mentoring etc.) the term “excellence,” (“elements of excellence” hence the Elements of Excellence) that word really stuck to me. That stuck with me. As a kid my parents taught me, one, do the best you can in everything you do, and two, inspire other people to do the same. It was like those were kind f the two things that I thought were normal. I thought “oh yes every person does their best and every person inspires other people.” I just thought that was normal. This standard of excellence I’ve carried with me in my life.

None of us are perfect. I’ve done less than perfect things and haven’t maintained that standard. But I believe in operating with a mindset of excellence on a daily basis. It’s like you know the cliché you shoot for the stars, you miss, you still land hot. If your objective, if your mission is excellence you’re going to be good across the board no matter what. I really want to stress and emphasize the importance of setting your bar at excellence.

Cain: I love that. Skip Bertman, who was the baseball coach at LSU for a number of years, I had a dream come true and got a chance to do a book with him within the last year. One of the things that Skip talked about is he says there are three doors you can go through. You can go through the door of win, you can go through the door of loss, or you can go through the door of excellence. Excellence is bigger than winning. Sometimes you can give an excellent performance and not win. I’m sure in the octagon you’ve had those fights where you’ve gone out there and fought great and fought the way you wanted to and because of the judges or because the other guy was just a little bit better that night it didn’t go the way you wanted it to.

But I think that happens in athletics all the time is that the process doesn’t always lead to the result but the process does give you the best chance to get the result. I think if you’re committed to excellence and being the best that you possibly can be and have that growth mindset you’re going to be able to achieve a lot more over the marathon than the person who is focused on win-loss. Would you agree?

Brenneman: Absolutely. 100%. The process versus the achievement or the process versus the outcome, yeah, it’s - and I’m not saying this to make myself feel better because I lost three fights in a row to end my career. I’m not saying this to make the listeners feel good about themselves because they lost and they need a pat on the back. I’m saying this because it’s tried and true from experience. This is what I learned. This is what the most successful people in the world have learned. If you’re not going to take it from me take it from Saban, take it from Wooden, take it from all of these other people who say the same thing.

Cain: No question. We use a term a lot that says “success leaves clues.” You’ve reaffirmed and (I think) brought to the table a lot of the same concludes that we try to teach and that coaches try to teach. But coaches that are listening to this and myself, I’ve never stepped in the octagon. I’ve been on either side of the octagon - fence, corner, and some guys - but you’ve been in there with the who’s-who of MMA.

For the coaches or the teachers or the athletic directors listening to this if they wanted to bring you in to deliver your message on the five elements of excellence and talk about the importance of vision, talk about core values and knowing who you are, redefining success as it relates to the process and the pursuit of excellence, being more accountable (which I know every coach has issues with trying to grow accountability in their program), and then talking about that surrounding yourself with the best and you becoming one of those people that those coaches associate with, what is the best way for people to get a hold of you and do you go in and speak to schools and do you go in and work with athletes and programs? Talk a little bit more about that process and how they can get you and what you do when you go in there.

Brenneman: I appreciate that. absolutely that is what I do. If you go to my website www.Charlie-Brenneman.com it’s very simple to navigate. There is a contact tab up top. Contact me. Speaking events, workshops, mentoring, it’s right there for you to clearly define why you’re making contact.

Honestly one of the more enjoyable things I do is these workshops, these fighter’s mindset workshops. There are six one hour sessions. I take them through the elements of excellence. I cap it off with a leadership session. It works great with coaches and it works great with athletes.

One of the things I’ve learned from experience and I’ve heard said across the board is these success principles, these fighter mindset principles, they’re going to work for you in high school athletics, they’re going to work for you in college athletics, they’re going to work for you in a coaching position, in a professional position, they’re success principles that don’t falter. They work across the board.

It’s awesome. For much of my life I was the guy in the fire. I was the guy in the octagon. I was the guy on TV. And I loved it, trust me. It was awesome. I loved every second of it. But now that I’m able to kind of 10x, 20x, 1,000x, 1,000,000x that into affecting people around me - I don’t want to say it’s more enjoyable but it’s just slowly becoming more enjoyable.

Cain: I think they say that the true measure of a man’s life is the positive impact that he’s had on others. You have a positive impact through inspiration. When you’re in the cage and you’re fighting it’s entertaining but I think you being able to take your experience, Charlie, of what you’ve done and what you’ve learned through that journey of being an elite MMA warrior and a guy who has fought the best of the best. You are in there with a UFC World Champion and Johny Hendricks. You are in there with Anthony Johnson who I think was a World Champion as well?

Brenneman: He was almost. He still might be. Well first of all I fought him at 170 lbs. Now he’s at 205 lbs. So he’s the number one contender at 205.

Cain: I remember the days of him and his weight class changing. He’s probably at his natural weight now of 205. I can only imagine how much of a beast he was at 170.

But being able to have gone through and done that and now being able to take what you’ve learned from all the punches and the trials and tribulations and now being able to decipher that into the five elements of excellence and share that with young people who are in the pursuit of excellence (and for coaches who are trying to support their young people in pursuit of excellence) I think is fantastic. The beauty of just getting to know you a little bit here on the podcast today and in our time before is you were also a high school teacher and you are able to communicate that and you can communicate it in Spanish. It’s something that I think is very unique.

I will say having spent a lot of time in MMA there is not a lot of UFC fighters that I’d be comfortable with having been a former athletic director rolling them out in front of my coaches or rolling them out in front of my students because some of them - the full student body that would be non athletes - and having you go out there to talk about the five elements of excellence, that fits across the board. And the fact that you have been in a classroom and are comfortable in that setting and know what is appropriate to do with high school student athletes and high school students I think makes you at least at the top of my list of people that I would bring in to speak to my student athletes and coaches if I were still a high school athletic director.

So Charlie, I’m fired up to have had the opportunity to get to know you. I appreciate you making time. I apologize for keeping you past 5:30 so please apologize to your wife for me.

Brenneman: No worries.

Cain: For all of our listeners again you want to follow him at @SpaniardMMA on YouTube, SpaniardMMA, and go to www.Charlie-Brenneman.com. Looking forward to getting you back on here as a repeat guest. This is one of my favorite podcasts we’ve done and it’s exciting for me personally having watched you fight and compete in the cage as much as I have to be able to get you on a podcast here. It’s very impressive to get to meet the guy who was inside of the cage. Pretty cool.

Brenneman: I appreciate it. One more thing I don’t think I mentioned at all is my podcast The Fighter’s Mindset: The Spaniard Podcast. What I do is I dive deep into - it’s called A Fighter’s Mindset and to be honest I was debating whether to call it that because it’s not about fighting. It’s about applying the mindset, a fighter’s mindset, to everyday life whether it’s competition in sports, competition in life, being a better father, you name it. It’s those ideas - self confidence, perseverance, resilience - all those things that make us successful inside the octagon, translating that into sports and other areas of life. You can also find that on the podcast page on my website or check us out on iTunes at A Fighter’s Mindset: The Spaniard Podcast.

Cain: Fantastic. I’m fired up. I’m going to get on the bike tomorrow morning and pound it out as I’m training for an Iron Man coming up here and I’m going to listen to episodes on there.

Brenneman: Nice.

Cain: Yeah I don’t know how nice it is. It’s a pain in the ass really.

Brenneman: I hear you.

Cain: But it’s just something you set a goal and you want to go do it and it’s something I’m not sure I can finish so we’re going to find out here. But I’m going to work the process and give myself the best chance for success and that’s all I can ask. I believe that if I do that I’ll cross the finish line. I think if you keep sticking to the process and doing what you’re doing you’re going to have a tremendous impact and influence on a lot of people’s lives out there.

Charlie, thanks for your humility, thanks for your commitment to excellence, and thanks for being a guest on the Peak Performance Podcast.

Brenneman: My pleasure. I want to throw this last thing out there. I am not okay with having fought the best guys in the world. I wanted to beat them. I wanted to win a world championship but I didn’t. That fire and that passion is coming out of me and I’m instilling it in other people. That is what’s driving me every morning to get up at 4:30 and to keep doing these sprint workouts is to share that with the up and coming group of kids and coaches that still have that opportunity.

Cain: Wow I hate to say this but I guess I’m thankful for the fact that you never got the chance to put the UFC Gold around your waist because if you weren’t on the mission that you’re on right now I don’t think you would have impacted as many people’s lives as you’re going to. So maybe the best thing that never happened to you was winning a UFC title because you are going to influence and impact a hell of a lot more people by what you’re doing now (I think) than you would if you were still in the cage my friend.

Brenneman: The obstacle is the way. Let’s end it with that.


BC123. Dr. Chris Friesen, Ph.D. - What Separates High Achievers From Average

March 1, 2017

In this episode, Brian speaks with one of the leading professionals in all of peak performance and sport psychology as well as #1 Best-Selling Author, Dr. Chris Friesen. He is the author of The High Achievement Handbook Series and gives you great insight into the mind and how to control it.

Follow Dr. Friesen on Twitter @FriesenPerform

Check out his website FriesenPerformance.com

You will learn about...

  • Dr. Friesen's unique, guided, brain training and meditation technique
  • Dr. Friesen's advanced knowledge on sports psychology and how to maximize your mental potential
  • "The Funeral Exercise" to help you establish core values
  • The incredible story of boxer Danny Williams overcoming a dislocated shoulder mid-fight
  • Dr. Friesen even explains why having some self-doubt is actually a good thing



Friesen: Most of us mere mortals like you and I and most people would say “look at this pain, how am I going to win a boxing match with one arm?” It’s impossible. It’s basically impossible. And he just kept pushing forward and pushing forward. Like I said in the book Stallone couldn’t have written a better ending. Danny Williams basically wins.

Cain: Hey this is Brian Cain with the Peak Performance Podcast. Today our guest is one of the leading professionals in all of Peak Performance and sports psychology and he is a number one bestselling author. Dr. Chris Friesen is a licensed psychologist in Ontario, Canada, practicing in the areas of clinical psychology, clinical neuropsychology, forensic correctional psychology, and high achievement sports psychology and performance psychology.

Dr. Friesen has training and experience that crosses a broad spectrum of psychological difficulties including working with individuals who have anxiety or performance anxiety, depression, personality disorders, brain injuries often occurring from sports concussion, to severe traumatic brain injuries happening in military or in combat scenarios, and those involved with the criminal justice system - offenders of all types. Primarily though Dr. Friesen and the reason why I’m so intrigued and honored to have him as a guest on the show this week is that he focuses on helping athletes and other individuals who are performing at the highest levels continuously improve and achieve and smash their goals.

As we said earlier he is the number one bestselling author of The High Achievement Handbook series and in this podcast we’re going to focus on book one of the series. It’s called ACHIEVE: Find Out Who You Are, What You Really Want, And How To Make It Happen.

Dr. Chris Friesen, thanks for being on the Peak Performance Podcast.

Friesen: Brian thanks for having me. I’m super pumped to be here.

Cain: Your background I think is tremendous in that is has a lot of the hardcore psychological science but you also have the application and are doing it in the real world. I think often what you find is you get people who are doing it that are unlicensed and don’t have a background in training or they have all the clinical background and psychological training but they just can’t seem to make the human connection with the high achiever because they haven’t been as I would refer to you as is a “blue collar psychologist.” You mentioned that term earlier when we were off the air and I thought that was fantastic.

Could you talk a little bit about kind of your unique background and experience both from the training and the academic side but then also with how you go about applying it and what the - sometimes I think there is that gap between the science and the application. Could you talk a little bit about your experience in both and kind of closing that gap?

Friesen: Definitely. Like you said I’m a licensed psychologist with various areas of expertise. I’ve always been really fascinated by high achievement and success since I was a teenager and I played hockey as a goalie actually. I went into my training and psychology in Canada. In the clinical psychology graduate programs there is no specific sports psychology training so all that training was sort of done after the fact.

One of the issues I’ve always had was there is some really amazing research coming out from cognitive neuroscience, sports psychology, just general personality psychology, that often doesn’t get percolated down to the everyday person or even high achieving athletes or other high achievers.

I’ve always been the type of guy that applies all the stuff I learned to myself. I’m a big self experimenter. I can tell you lots of things. I’ve tried various supplements. I’ve tried various meditation techniques. Almost everything I talk about - like in the book for example - I’ve done it on myself and I’ve used it with athletes and other high achievers.

So I really felt that one of the things I noticed with a lot of self help books is either they are written by academics, PhD like myself (although I am not a researcher per se anymore), and it’s full of studies with very little application or like you said it’s written by someone like a Peak Performance sort of self help book with someone who has zero experience or credentials in that area.

So I realized that maybe this is useful to a lot of people so I really wrote the book in a way that is ultra user friendly. It takes sort of complicated scientific ideas or research findings and puts them into very easy to learn and apply strategies. So that is sort of where I see myself is the type of psychologist that really tries to bring this information to people to help them really achieve the goals that are really important to them.

Cain: I love how you mentioned taking everything you had used with an athlete or with someone who you’re working with and doing it on yourself - something that I also try. Any technique or any strategy that I’m going to share with the team or with an athlete why wouldn’t I use that myself if it’s something that I think is going to help them to achieve at a higher level? So I really think that that is a lot of the missing link. It’s like going to a fat doctor or to a poor financial planner. It just often doesn’t add up. You’ve got to be doing that stuff yourself.

You sound kind of like Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body who is kind of that human science experiment. One of the things that you mentioned that I want to kind of dovetail off into was meditation techniques. It’s something that I talk often with athletes about and I think that athletes and coaches have the stigma that you have to shave your head, put on an orange robe, burn some incense, cross your legs, and hike to the top of the Himalayas if you’re going to do meditation. What is your experience with mediation and what is the best practice that you’ve found?

Friesen: That is a great question. The way I describe meditation is it’s just a form of brain training. Especially with my neuroscience and neuropsychology background I often try and use connect the two. I look at the research in those areas. So for example the way I describe it to people - and this is how I describe it to myself when I use it on myself, this is the strategy I use. For example what you’re doing is you’re brain training. You’re training the ability to stay focused. You’re training your brain’s ability to not get caught up or hooked by negative thoughts.

The way I say it is there’s three reps, basically you sit down and you focus on your breathing. You don’t control your breathing. The first step is just to focus on your breathing. The next rep is basically to be aware of or notice when your mind is no longer focused on your breathing which is inevitable. It happens to everyone. The goal is not to have a perfectly Zen mind where your thoughts never stray. It’s basically never going to happen. It’s an impossible goal. The idea is you notice when your thoughts wander away from your breathing. Acknowledge what your thoughts are doing.

So you say for example “I’m having the thought that this is boring” or “I’m having the feeling of anxiety because I have to go buy milk” or something like that and you basically describe what’s happening, what your mind is doing. What that does is it trains you to defuse or not get hooked by your thoughts. We are not our thoughts - especially our negative thoughts. We want to be able to pick and choose which thoughts we allow to take hold of us.

So you basically acknowledge what is going on because if you don’t acknowledge it, if you just try to squash it, research shows - and I tie this back to obsessive compulsive order and PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder. One of the hallmarks of those disorders is you have thoughts or flashbacks that are very disturbing that you don’t want to have and the natural reaction is to squash those thoughts or pretend you’re not having them and do everything in your power to avoid having them. But the problem is we know the way the brain works. As soon as you try to squash a thought it continually comes back. It will continually pop back into your mind. So you want to acknowledge it, allow the thoughts to be there, then the next rep is to turn your attention back to your breathing.

Basically it is hardcore brain training. It is not a relaxation technique. I tell people relaxation may be a side effect but that’s not the point. We’re training our brains to be able to basically increase our ability to stay focused and also to not get hooked by negative thoughts. It does a whole bunch of other things, it improves executive functioning and that kind of things, but that’s really the way I describe it to people. It’s again not relaxation, it’s not religious, it’s basically a form of brain training that takes zero dollars and zero equipment. So that is my take on it.

Cain: Would it be possible time wise for you to take us through a very short version of mediation so that our listeners would know exactly “hey this is an example of a meditation that I learned from Dr. Chris Friesen that I want to share with my team.” Maybe like a 2-3 minute exercise they might be able to take and use?

Friesen: Yeah I can sort of give you a quick walk through.

Cain: Perfect.

Friesen: You want me to do it right now?

Cain: That would be fantastic. If anyone is listening to this podcast while they are driving skip this section or pull yourself over so that you make sure you’re doing it safely.

Friesen: The way I do it is I’m actually usually generally against using any tapes for mediation because it’s like a cheat in a way. It’s helping you focus. The idea is when you are basically in a quiet environment - just imagine when you lie down and go to sleep and you’re not tired and you realize how much your mind is racing and thinking of random thoughts. That’s actually where you want to be. You don’t want to fall asleep so you don’t want to lie down. You don’t want a tape telling you to do something, but of course the first time to learn the strategy you do, or you want to hear me talking now.

So what you do is you sit down. You don’t slouch back, you don’t slouch forward. You sit in an erect position not so much that it’s painful but enough that it’s not going to make you fall asleep. Remember this is not a relaxation exercise - it’s a brain training exercise.

The first thing you do now is you basically focus your attention on your breathing. Notice for example how the air is a bit cooler when it goes in through your nose and warmer when it comes out. You’re not controlling your breathing, you are simply focusing on your breathing.

Inevitably your mind is going to wander. You’re going to have a thought about something. You’re going to judge yourself. You’re going to think of something in the future. You may worry about something. Even if you have a positive thought, in this exercise you want to what we call “diffuse” from those thoughts. What that really means is notice when your thoughts have wandered and describe what is happening. Say “I’m having the thought that X or Y” or “having the feeling that X or Y.” That is going to put some space between you and your thoughts and you want to train this because you do not want to be your thoughts, especially your negative thoughts.

So once your thoughts wander describe what is happening really briefly. Allow them to be there. Don’t get upset. Having thoughts is what your brain does. It’s programmed to generate thoughts when there is nothing going on. You’re going to notice them, acknowledge them, and very gently return your attention back to your breathing. You’re just going to do this again and again. You’re not going to go very long before your thoughts wander and that is actually good.

The trick is to notice when your thoughts wander, acknowledge them, and return your attention back. That is all you’re trying to do. That is the only goal. A lot of people come to me and say “look it was so bad, the meditation, my thoughts we all over the place.” I say “listen that’s actually good.” It’s like working out with a weight pack. The more your thoughts are wandering the better. You’re getting a better brain workout.

That is basically it in a nutshell. It’s really a series of steps and just knowing what you’re doing. You may feel relaxed at the end. You may not. That’s not the goal. There are a lot of other ways you could relax. Take a hot bath. This is not training to relax.

The side effect though from this type of training is that you are going to be more relaxed generally. Not because of a physiological response or training but because you’re no longer getting hooked by negative thoughts or feelings and you’re basically able to stay focused in the present moment which is the key to the zone when it comes to playing sports (for example).

So this is the other thing I tell everyone. By doing this you are training your ability to stay in the present moment which is where you want to be to perform at your peak. When you are in the present moment that is when you are in the zone and it’s going to make it more likely you’re going to get in the zone and you can control now whether you go into the zone better than you did before.

Cain: That is one of the most simple and clear definitions I think I’ve ever heard someone say about meditation is that step one is you’re focusing on your breathing - in through your nose, out through your nose. Step two, acknowledge when your mind drifts to anything other than your breath. Step three, bring it back to your breathing. It’s not a relaxation exercise. I’ve never heard it said this way. It’s not a relaxation exercise, it’s an exercise in developing a present moment focus and the result of that will be a feeling of relaxation which is much more close to that flow state or to the zone where you’re in the present moment and you’re where your feet are and that is when you perform your best. That was fantastic.

Chris, if we can jump into your book here. One of the things with your subtitle is it says Find Out Who You Are, What You Really Want, And How To Make It Happen. Let’s get right into it.

What are some strategies that you use? I love how you talk about strategy because I think you often get two types of people who come from two types of the spectrum in the world of Peak Performance. You get those who talk about principle and just concept like “be positive,” well no shit. Okay well how do you do that? Focus on what you can control. No shit. The sun rises. Great. Well how do I actually get back to that when the bullets start flying?

I think it’s important that people know themselves but I love that you’re going to share with us some strategies that people can use about how to better get to know themselves. What are some of the ways that - if you would, first, why is it important that people know themselves? Secondly, how is it that people listening to this podcast can better get to know themselves? What is something they can go and do?

Friesen: Great question. Throughout my career I’ve seen a lot of people who have gone very far - including in athletics and just in their lives. Basically barking up the wrong tree is maybe not the right word but you’re basically focusing on the wrong things for them. This often leads to a lot of psychological problems - some subtle, some clinical level, a lot of anxiety, depression, and dissatisfaction in today’s society. I think a lot of the over-prescription of antidepressants is partially due to the fact that people are not living a life congruent with who they are and what is really important to them.

What I mean by that is at the most basic level we all differ on five general personality dimensions. I call them “the basic personality tendencies.” This has been replicated in scientific research across it’s probably been 70 years now. It hasn’t really percolated well into the general public’s awareness. I can go over them but they’re basically five global dimensions.

We all differ. It’s our personality so we all differ on these. They are partially genetic, about 50%. So 50% percent is due to genes. We have twin studies where twins have been separated at birth and reared in different countries and different parts of countries and that sort of thing and this is how we figured these stats out. The other half of our personality is determined by our experiences, particularly experiences earlier on in life. I don’t mean in the first two years of life I mean in the first 20 years of life because our brains are much more malleable - something called neuroplasticity is big - and our brains are still forming and molding. When we get older it’s much more difficult to change that.

So long story short the first dimension, I call it in my book “the susceptibility to negative emotions and stress.” It’s simply like it sounds. Basically some of us are very easily stressed, easily get nervous, they have a lot of pessimistic thoughts. Some of us are more in the middle, and some of us are more the opposite where we don’t experience a lot of stress. This is very important to know about yourself because especially the people trying to achieve big goals if you’re average to high on this (in other words you do experience a lot of negative mentions and thoughts) you are at risk for failure unless you train yourself and do a number of strategies to make sure you can keep that in check.

Also all these things are strengths as well. People who are artists, people who are high performers, sports as well, are often high on this but they capitalize on this. I’m sure you’ve talked a lot about this. One simple example is reinterpreting your physiological response to let’s say right before a big event like anxiety as “I’m pumped, I’m amped, I’m ready, let’s rock” as opposed to “oh shit I’m scared, my legs are feeling wobbly, this means I’m going to totally choke.” So that is just a quick example.

The next one is extroversion versus introversion. We all know about that. People who are extroverted obviously like to be around people. This has more to do though with our brain’s ability to handle external stimulation. Extroverts - a very simplified way of looking at this (and there are some EEG studies that confirm this) is basically their brains are revving a little bit too low so they need to get a lot of external stimulation whether it’s social, whether it’s being in a high paced, fast and exciting environment, to feel normal. Versus people who are introverted their brains are kind of revving too fast and too much external stimulation puts them into overload and they start to feel overwhelmed and they can burn out easily. This is extremely important in terms of knowing what you can handle in your sports career or in your career in general. You have to match your job to your personality or you have to work around it.

Another one is called agreeableness. This is really our attitudes towards others. People who are really agreeable tend to be really honest, straightforward, very trusting, not very interpersonally competitive. People who are low on this (what we call slightly disagreeable) they’re more skeptical, they’re less open with others, they are more interpersonally competitive. It’s extremely important to know this about yourself.

The fourth one is openness to experience. This is big when you’re working with athletes to know where they stand on this. People who are really open to experiences are just open to different ways of looking at things. They’re interested in and open to people from different cultures, different values, different ideas. People who are low on this are obviously the opposite. They’re really closed to those things. If you’re working with someone who - let’s say you Brian. You’re working with someone who is an athlete and you have a new technique (let’s say it’s a new meditation technique) and the person is really closed to the experience you probably want to emphasize it being more as a traditional thing - they’ve been using this for years and years and all the big guys are using this. Whereas someone who is really open to experiences will be open to trying almost anything (they’ll use magnets) because they’re so open to different things and that sort of thing. That is really important to know.

The last one, literature calls it “conscientiousness,” I call it “motivation and self control” because I think that describes it better. It’s exactly how it sounds. People who are high on this are highly motivated, highly organized, highly achievement oriented. People who are low on this are the opposite. People who are high on this have a gigantic advantage when it comes to success. People who are low have a big disadvantage in multiple areas of life (and research supports this) whether it’s income, whether it’s health outcomes, whatever it may be.

So long story short the very first step in knowing yourself is knowing your core basic personality. These have neurological correlates in our brains so these are very difficult to change. For the most part people need to accept their personality and work with what they’ve got.

Of course next we need to know what is important to us. I call it “knowing your values.” Living a life incongruent with your values and also your personality is a recipe for disaster. You need to know what is really important to you. In the book I go through different exercises to help you really get in touch with your values because like I said you have to live a life congruent with your values, with what is important to you, or you’re going to be basically constantly going against your own grain.

Knowing your strengths, knowing your interests, knowing your passions is extremely important. Only if you get all this information then can you really figure out what your mission - I say “missions” because I don’t think everyone has one single mission but you have multiple purposes or missions in life and only by knowing yourself really well can you get to know that part.

In the last two sections of the book is really about now you’re ready to set goals. It’s all these earlier steps to know yourself before you should be really setting goals. Most people and a lot of books go right into goal setting but without the ground work - because what will happen is you may be focusing on goals for years (for example) that aren’t really right for you. That is a huge mistake.

Cain: That is fantastic in terms of talking about knowing your basic personality tendencies, knowing your core values, knowing your strengths, and then kind of getting clear on your why. Let’s talk about that concept of identifying your values.

For the person that is listening to this - which I believe most of our listeners are going to be listening to this as they’re driving in their car - is there a way that you can ask them the certain couple questions or an exercise that they can do to kind of come up with what their core values are or is it ultimately just them kind of sitting down? I think often people think that they need to go get away from life for three weeks and climb a mountain, go to a lakeside retreat, and all of a sudden what their core values are and their mission in life is going to hit them. Whereas I’m much more of the school of thought in like you decide on what your core values are, you decide on what your mission is. Or your missions. I love the way you said that is that people have more than one mission in life. I think that’s genius. You decide on what they [your core values] are and then kind of evolve over time. What is your take on how you go about creating a set of core values and identifying with what your mission is?

Friesen: That is great. One of the differences between personality and values is that personality you don’t choose your personality but you choose your values. Often we’re not even aware of where our values came from.

What I usually do (one of the best exercises is really existential) is do what I call a “funeral exercise.” I didn’t invent this. The one I put in the book is more specific to what I think are the best strategies within that exercise. It’s simply this: you imagine your funeral. You imagine (for example) it’s five years from today (or whatever time frame you really want) and you imagine your funeral and you imagine the different people that are really important to you in your life getting up there and talking about you. You want to think of what you want them to say about you, not necessarily what you think they would say about you. Hopefully that makes sense.

Ideally what would you like people to say about you? Would they say “this guy was a total jerk he was just focused on himself,” that kind of thing? No. You’re going to have thoughts of “this guy really went out of his way to help people and his family was super important, he was also about excellence, he was always trying to be as best as he could be so he could help others be their best.” You want to think ideally what do you want people to say about you.

Of course when you do this you want to start the exercise really using all your sense for imagery to imagine yourself being at the funeral, looking at the people, looking at the people crying. It can be an emotional situation. You want to really put yourself in that position in your mind. You want to really pretend it’s happening. You should write this out or at least say it out loud or say it in your head. What do you want an important coach or an important teammate or your wife or your children, what do you want them to say about you? What do you want them to say? That will tell you what your values are. Are they going to say “this guy worked so hard he got sick, he spent so much time at the office, he didn’t give a shit about the family.” Is that what you want people to think? Is that what you really want? You’ll get in touch with what is really important to you.

Also there is another exercise to where in the book it’s simply a list of values. Readers can download that as well. It just goes through a bunch of values and you basically read through them and you kind of rank order the top 5-10 that are really important to you. You’ve got to make sure that - and this is the biggest key to success in my opinion. The most successful people don’t may their day-to-day minute-to-minute decisions about what to do with their time or what to buy, who to spend time with, they don’t make it based on their immediate moods, their urges, their energy levels, that sort of thing. They make these decisions based on their values and what is really important to them.

If you just take one thing away from this podcast it’s that you want to make your day-to-day decisions based on what is important to you. A simple example is personally I wake up at 6:00 AM to get up and workout before my four year old is up. When that alarm goes off my immediate moods, energy levels, and everything is telling me “press snooze and just sleep in” but my values - one of my values is to be really healthy and also to have longevity. I want to be there when my daughter gets married. I want to be there when she has kids. And being healthy makes me feel good. It builds my self efficacy, my self esteem, it maintains it. So regardless of how I feel I make the decision based on my values and my bigger goals, not based on how I feel in the moment. That is just a quick example.

Cain: I love that exercise. I remember that is one of the first things when I went to graduate school at Cal State Fullerton Dr. Ken Ravizza had us do. It comes right out of his book Heads-Up Baseball where he talks about imagine you’re in a banquet, you’re retiring from your career as a coach, what do you want all the people who are at that banquet to say about you. That kind of helps to formulate your vision statement or your core values in terms of who you are.

One of the things that you said that I love is that the most successful people don’t make minute-to-minute decisions based on moods. They make them based on their values. I know you’re a big MMA fan (as am I). One of my friends, Vitor Belfort, who is a former UFC World Champion says that the difference between a man and a boy is that a man lives a life based off of principle and a boy lives a life based off of preference. I thought that was very similar to what you are saying.

Friesen: Yes.

Cain: The person who makes minute-to-minute decisions based off of preference, of what feels good in the moment, “what do I want right now,” instead of the person who makes the principle based decision that says “okay what do I do right now that aligns with my values and the best vision of who I want to be?” I think that’s what makes a champion and that’s what makes a man. I love how you said that.

Friesen: Yes. He said it very eloquently. That is exactly right. This is what champions know. This is what successful people [know]. It doesn’t mean how much money you make. People who are living the right life for them, they’re satisfied with their life, this is what they know.

Also this is another things that comes up (especially in today’s day and age) is that people think that they want to take the easy route. They want to be happy all the time because media feeds this idea that ideally you’re going through life always being happy and doing everything that is pleasurable. The reality is anything that is important or anything that’s big, any goals, it’s going to take pain. I think it’s the Buddha or the Dalai Lama that said this: “there is a difference between pain and suffering, pain is inevitable.” We go through pain. When you’re trying to do things that are important you’re going to feel pain but whether you suffer really depends on whether you’re going through pain to achieve something that is really important to you and that is part of your mission, part of your values, or whether you’re going against that. To achieve anything big there is a lot of pain.

Speaking of UFC, you see these training videos and it’s not like they’re just sitting around getting massages and drinking beers. You see these guys sweating their butts off going through ten times more intense training than they actually go through in the octagon. They go through hell on earth. They fight like 20 fresh guys in a row as opposed to one guy for 15-25 minutes. It’s because you’ve got to go through this pain and you’re not going to be a champion unless you go through this pain and you accept the pain and you say “look this pain is actually good because it’s bringing me closer to something that is really important to me, it’s part of my values, it’s part of my goal.” It’s no longer really suffering. It is painful but it’s not suffering. I think that’s huge.

Cain: Let’s talk about riding the pain train for a minute here. One of your first stories in chapter one about taking stock of who you are you shared a story I had never heard before about Britain’s Danny Williams, one of their boxers of all time. As I read that story - I mean I’ve underlined it. I’ve shared that story multiple times since reading that. I thought it was one of the best stories I have ever come across. Could you talk a little bit about that story of Danny Williams and the toughness that he had to have with that but understanding how the pain is inevitable and if he was going after what he really wanted he would be able to deal with the suffering.

Friesen: That’s right. Danny Williams is an amazing story. He was boxing a guy named Mark Potter. Mark Potter is actually in MMA now I believe and he is a monster. So Danny Williams is in a boxing match with Mark Potter and Danny Williams’ arm (I believe it’s his right shoulder) basically pops out of the socket. It gets dislocated. Essentially everyone watching (the announcers, everyone) is saying “this is over, why isn’t the ref stopping the fight, this is ridiculous.” It keeps popping in and out.

But Danny Williams basically had an overarching goal. Most of us mere mortals like you and I and most people would say “look at this pain, how am I going to win a boxing match with one arm?” It’s impossible. It’s basically impossible. A lot of times when you’re drilling you don’t really feel the pain but of course between rounds - and it wasn’t just like a two minute thing. It was going on for a long time within the match. This guy obviously had pain and he just kept pushing forward and kept pushing forward.

Like I said in the book Stallone couldn’t have written a better ending. Danny Williams basically wins. He ends up knocking Mark Potter down repeatedly just because he wouldn’t give up. Even Mark Potter is punching his shoulder - listeners, you’ve got to YouTube this. It’s real. You can watch it. It’s totally real. It’s about heart. It’s about knowing what is important.

They say “is Danny Williams crazy, who would do this?” He is not crazy. He is a guy who had an overarching mission, a purpose, a goal, and he had certain values and he was going to push through no matter what. In the circumstance it paid off. It’s really inspiring. You see guys like that and you’re thinking “I want to give up because of X Y or Z” and look at this guy. He was boxing at the top level and his arm was out of the socket (his shoulder came out of the socket) and he still won. It’s unreal.

Cain: I’ve used that story multiple times with college football teams already this season just talking about that it’s not what you’re going through it’s what you’re going to. You’re going to quit if what you’re going to isn’t big enough for you to withstand anything that you’re going to have to go through to get there. I think that video of Danny Williams - you see it where Potter is just attacking. He’s not even trying to hit him in the head he’s just attacking his right shoulder. Eventually in the last round it looks like something right out of Rocky. The guy can barely move his arm and he ends up knocking out this guy who had been wearing him out for the entire fight. It was unbelievable watching that video. I had no idea that that story even existed.

I remembered him beating Mike Tyson at one point in his career but never knew about that fight with Potter that I think is probably one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen when it comes down to just toughness and sheer will and not being somebody who is going to quit.

I was doing my homework earlier on the treadmill this morning on a boat somewhere out here in the middle of the Caribbean listening to one of your podcasts. You talked about something that I hear a lot of people in the field of sports psychology or Peak Performance or positive psychology or whatever the hell you want to call it. They will say that “you’ve got to have great belief before you go into a competition.” In your podcast (the episode I listened to earlier) you talked about how that is not necessarily true.

I’ve worked with a lot of high level MMA fighters - Georges St. Pierre from Canada - and one of the things that GSP used to say a lot about was that he didn’t even really talk about belief. For him it was about preparation and when he stepped into the octagon it was 50/50. There was one guy and him and one was going to win and one was going to lose and if he had done what he needed to do to prepare then he should be able to go out there and execute and win the fight. But we never even really talked about confidence or belief. It was about how are you going to act and how are you going to handle the adversity that is going to come your way. Never before the fight do you believe because frankly I’m not sure that really even matters. What is your take on all that, coach?

Friesen: That is a great point. A lot of athletes come to me and say “look I see this athlete or this person, they don’t look like they’re nervous, it looks like they have unwavering belief in themselves, I want to be like that.” They say “I want no anxiety, I want pure confidence.” I say “first of all that is impossible.” That is basically impossible because our human brains are wired to feel anxious and to not feel confident all the time and that is a good thing.

I say “listen think of it this way, imagine you had unlimited confidence. The Olympic Games are coming up and it’s four months out and you’re convinced you’re the absolute best and you’re going to basically slaughter the competition.” I worked with one of the wrestlers so let’s say it’s wrestling. “What do you think that is going to do for your training? Do you think you’re going to get up at 6:00 AM or 5:00 AM and push yourself that extra mile or do you think you’re going to kind of take it back a notch because you’ve already got this?” Obviously we know the answer. The answer is if you’re overly confident you are likely going to under-prepare.

That is just the preparation. What happens when you actually get to the competition and you’re convinced that you’re the best and you’re going to destroy this person? What is going to happen? Your arousal level may actually come down too low because we know the Yerkes-Dodson Law where you have to have a moderate level of arousal, activation, or anxiety to perform at your best. It can’t be too high, it can’t be too low.

So if you go into a competition convinced that you’re just going to basically walk over this person, you’re going to kick ass, you’re going to probably get your ass kicked because you are underestimating your opponent because your opponent is coming in there to basically (let’s say it’s MMA or wrestling) destroy you. You need to have that self doubt because it’s going to prevent you from making mistakes.

Of course you can’t go the opposite where you’re all self doubt, you don’t think you can do it, “I don’t deserve to be there.” Those are pretty normal thoughts. We have them all the time. But you don’t want them to be dominating. You want what I call a realistic but slightly positive mindset. Realistic in a sense that “I can beat this guy.” It’s positive in a sense that you think you can beat them if you do the right things, “if I maintain my game plan.”

Like GSP is saying “if I focus on what I can control” - which is when he goes for a takedown this is what I’m going to do and as soon as I see an opening I’m going to take him down etc. - really focused on the present moment and focusing on what he has to do as opposed to trying to focus on “I’m just going to shit kick and walk through these people.” You need self doubt. You need anxiety. Thinking that these are bad is the problem, not the anxiety and the self doubt. You need them to improve. You need them to not underestimate your opponents.

This is big. This is big. It’s uncomfortable but again remember like I said to achieve anything big you’ve got to feel discomfort. You’ve got to feel discomfort in training. You’ve got to feel discomfort when you’re going to go to the Olympics. It’s totally normal to feel anxious. It’s totally normal to have thoughts that “maybe I don’t deserve to be here” but when you do that meditation that we talked about earlier you are training your brain to be able to diffuse or not get hooked by negative thoughts. You say “hey there goes my brain, it does what it does, it’s telling me that I don’t deserve to be here.” So let’s motivate. I’m going to use that to motivate myself to “I’m going to watch a bit more tape of this next opponent” or “I’m going to train a bit harder” or I’m going to whatever. That’s my take on it.

Cain: I thought that was awesome. Very well said. Georges used to talk about it being a humble confidence. It’s the humility knowing that every day when the alarm goes off (like you say) at 5:00 in the morning that someone is coming to take what is mine and someone is coming to rip my head off, but it’s the confidence that when you walk and you step inside of the cage it’s the confidence knowing there is nothing else I could have done to prepare and I am ready to compete at a high level. Not “I’m ready to go in there and destroy this guy” because he would never say that. It’s always “I’m ready to go in there and compete at a high level and do what I’ve done in training and I believe what I’ve done in training has prepared me for victory.”

Friesen: Yes. You see guys like - this comes up a lot with the Yerkes-Dodson Law. Diego Sanchez, you see him getting pumped up before the fight. I think he is saying “yes” or something like that. He’s got this scowl on his face. It kind of depends on where you fall in that first personality dimension of negative emotions.

GSP - I don’t know GSP but he could be a bit on the higher side and he knows that about himself (I would assume) and so he knows what he needs to do to keep that in check. But there are other people that are really low on the negative emotions. They don’t really get nervous in these big competitions. They get very little anxiety. But we know with the Yerkes-Dodson Law you need a moderate level of anxiety.

Someone like Diego Sanchez may need to get slapped in the face a few times right before he goes into the octagon to get himself - hopefully Diego is not listening to this but I feel like with Diego what is happening is that he’s so pumped, he is so pumping himself up that is activation or anxiety level or arousal level is going too high and you see it the first round usually he looks like he is very stiff. He looks very stiff because as you now when you’re overly activated your muscles contract and when your muscles contract you can’t move fluidly. You become stiff. Joe Rogan talks about that all the time, “this guy looks like it’s his first UFC fight, I can see he’s got a lot of nerves, he seems very stiff, his muscles are stiff.”

It kind of depends where you land or at least how you react under big stressful situations. It could be that you need a coach to basically start screaming in your face because your arousal level is so low. But that is actually pretty rare. I think most of the time it’s the opposite. You don’t need a coach screaming in your face especially if your arousal is already high because then you are going to go over the edge and you’re going to be even more nervous. Your activation will be too high. It’s knowing that sweet spot and knowing what to do.

I see this a lot with high levels like the Olympic coaches and things like that. They treat all the athletes the same sometimes and they’ll start screaming and trying to get them pumped up. If the person is already anxious you’re actually doing them a disservice. They are going to underperform now. They need to be calmed down. But there may be some athletes you work with who are basically not activated enough and they need that slap in the face. They need that screaming in the face to get themselves to the moderate level of arousal/activation/anxiety to perform at their peak.

Cain: I think that is really what the fundamental purpose of a routine is too is the athlete comes back to - so in your first part we talked about knowing yourself and having a routine to help you get into that performance state of I don’t need to be dialed up, I don’t need to be calmed down because my routine gets me right where I need to be and I have the awareness and I have the strategy that if I need to pick myself up I might do some tuck-jumps or some more of like breath like I would do if I was getting ready to rip a power clean or slap myself around a little bit or even go to the mirror and talk to myself in a certain way to get me a little bit more dialed in or I used the right music where if I need to calm myself down I might slide more into a meditation technique.

I think it all comes down to the athlete being able to recognize where they’re at and then have the right strategy to either dial themselves up or dial themselves down to be in that optimal performance state. Is that accurate?

Friesen: That is exactly accurate. That is totally it. We’re all a little bit different. We all have brains and the same lobes in our brains but our personalities are different. Obviously our physiques are different. We have differences. Knowing this about yourself is the key to success in athletics and in life in general.

Cain: Love that. In the end of your book you talk about the story of Viktor Frankl which I think is maybe the story that can summarize what really mental toughness is. It’s the inability to give away that response to no matter what comes your way. Would you talk a little bit about Viktor Frankl and that story that is in the back of your book that I think is so powerful.

Friesen: So Viktor Frankl is a neurologist and psychiatrist by trade. He is passed away now. He was an older individual. His story is unbelievable. He is Jewish and was living in I believe Germany or Austria (I forget) when the Nazis took power. He is actually a big - well a lot of his work is - he is a big fan of existential psychotherapy. His is called “logotherapy” which means “meaning therapy” which is very similar to what I am talking about is knowing your why. That is really important.

So he basically had to make a choice. He had an option to leave Austria or Germany to go to (I believe) England to flee the Nazis because he started to see what was happening with people that were Jewish, people who had disabilities, and people who had various illnesses, that they were obviously exterminating these people. He basically decided - I’m sure emotionally he was scared and he wanted to leave but he wanted to live a principled life and he wanted his life to have some meaning so he actually stayed.

Of course he went to the concentration camps. He did a number of things before he left. Because he was working as a physician he falsified some documents (I believe) to allow certain individuals to basically skip the gas chambers who were disabled (for example, I believe). So he had risked his life for this. Of course he goes to the concentration camps. I forget the exact number. I know his wife was killed in the concentration camps. Pretty much his whole family were gassed and killed.

He noticed when he was in the concentration camps that people who were there who had an overall “why” to live or to survive tended to do better despite being in the same circumstances of being starving, having various disease, and basically your life being in danger. He had experiments done to him that were just disgusting. One of his books is called Man’s Search For Meaning. It describes some of this. It’s not an easy read in this sense. It’s an emotional read. But it’s an important read.

So long story short he really found that he discovered that people who had this meaning or reason to go through the suffering tended to survive. That seemed to predict survival better than other variables. So when he got out obviously he wanted to see his family and things like that. Of course they had died and that put him through obviously depression when he first got out. But his mission and goal was to write about this and write about the importance of having meaning, having a purpose, having a “why” in terms of living a good life and living a life worth living. So he wrote a number of books and became very famous.

I’m not saying it as elegantly as I wrote it in the book but he is very inspirational. He is a very inspirational person. He really helped us to see the importance of knowing your “why.” Again just reading the story it helps put things into perspective. We think we have problems, just think about what this guy went through and how he turned out and how he still - I’m sure he felt pain throughout his life from the memories of what happened to is family but he pushed forward and had a bigger mission to complete.

His work has been applied. He has done a lot of work (he did a lot of work) with people who were suicidal. People who want to kill themselves. Basically people who end up killing themselves often do not have a purpose, do not have a mission, life seems meaningless, and it’s those - if you can help them develop a sense of meaning, a sense of purpose, this usually will reverse any tendencies to want to kill yourself. He is a really important person in the history of Peak Performance (I believe) and just life in general.

Cain: Hands down one of my favorite books of all time, Man’s Search For Meaning, and it was one of the first books that Dr. Ken Ravizza had us read in our grad program at Cal State Fullerton. If you ever get a chance - I don’t know if you’ve been down to Washington DC and gone to the Holocaust Museum but t go through that and having read Man’s Search For Meaning it is an emotional experience when you go through there just to see the hell on earth that those people went through. And the fact that he was able to go then write about that and kind of share his story that is impacting so many people in such a positive way goes to show that even out of the deepest and darkest most hellacious times in the history of man there is still some good that comes out of that even with his book and the power of choosing your response in every situation. It’s amazing what that whole experience was. Unbelievable.

Friesen: Yes.

Cain: Chris, talking about you said identifying your mission statement. We now Frankl had a mission and Danny Williams had a mission. I’d like to know what is your mission? As someone who is leading the field of performance psychology and has the clinical background and the academic background and is now getting after it with the in the trenches, the blue collar psychologist (I love that term), what is your reason why or what is your mission?

Friesen: Missions I think take development. I’ve always been trying to figure out my mission. I do know my mission now but my mission really is I really want to help as many people as I can. I really want to - like we said earlier I want to be able to first of all because of my background read the research and really figure out what here is useful for people to use to basically live a better life, to perform at their peak in sports - and whether they’re entrepreneurs or executives because I work with a lot of those individuals as well - and really take that research and apply it to myself to make sure I can buy into it. I can read research but until I try things myself - I have to experience it to really buy into it. Just really translate that to help other people.

I really think that people are living below their potential. I knew it sounds almost cliché but we are. I’m a perfect example. When I was a teenager when I was in school I was probably one of the bottom 1%-2% of the students in terms of my academic performance. I was more interested in sports of course, that was part of the issue. My self esteem or my self efficacy or my belief in my academic abilities was really low. It’s kind of a running joke within my family that I went so far, I got my PhD and I did all these things. I worked for the highest graduating average, how I turned that around and how it seems almost impossible. Even sometimes I think of it myself I’m like “that does seem impossible” when I look back.

I remember what I thought about my capabilities academically but it was only until I really figured out what was important to me. I thought I really love the idea - I love human psychology. I love the idea of you can take information from people who do research or who are wiser than me and that can better my life. I did that.

Actually when I was 15 or 16 I read Tony Robbins’ Awaken The Giant Within and Unlimited Power and also The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. That was the biggest eye opener for me. I’ was using that and I read some autobiographies and that really changed things around for me. I discovered a reason. I didn’t realize it. I just thought it was stupid. The reality is I now had a reason to do well in school - because I wanted to learn this stuff. It’s so fascinating. Anyone who is willing to listen or is willing to accept my help that is just the best thing ever for me and I can give that to people. I’ve sort of learned that about myself and that is my mission is really to translate really useful information about Peak Performance, about high achievement, and just about how to live a happy life and really give it to people in any way I can.

That is where the motivation came from to write this book and this series of books is because I can only affect so many people one-on-one or in small groups. I really feel like I want to get this information out to the masses.

Cain: Well you’re doing it my friend. I hope that this podcast is able to expose you more to the people that have been following us here. For the people that are listening to this please go get more of Dr. Chris Friesen at www.FriesenPerformance.com and on Twitter at @FriesenPerform. Chris, is there any way that our listeners can connect with you via maybe an email? Do you have maybe a newsletter on your website or something where they can hear from you on a consistent basis? What you’re putting out is not only very applicable it’s also all backed with hardcore science and to find that combination my friend is very rare and very valuable so thank you for making time for our listeners on the Peak Performance Podcast.

Friesen: Thank you. Thanks for having me. On www.FriesenPerformance.com there is a sign up newsletter. Every couple of weeks I’ll send articles that I’ve written. I’ve written a couple for success magazine, www.Success.com. I’ve been interviewed for a couple of things like the Washington Post, Exercise In Personality, that kind of thing, and the various podcasts I’ve been on and some of the blogs I’ve written. What I do is every couple of weeks I send an email that basically talks about - one of them is about this exact thing (confidence) that we talked about today. One of the www.Success.com articles is about how to write your personal missions statement. So that is the best way is to get on that mailing list and you’ll get access.

You also get news in terms of when the second book - it’s not completed yet, the second book in The High Achievement Handbook - when that is going to come out and that sort of thing. So definitely sign up for the newsletter. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook for example but that I mostly repost what I think are really interesting articles about Peak Performance and neuroscience (that kind of thing) but to really get the more personal stuff, the stuff that I’m talking about, is really my newsletter that you get on my website. That is the best way.

Cain: And to pick up a copy of book one in The High Achievement Handbook series, ACHIEVE: Find Out Who You Are, What You Really Want, How To Make It Happen, is the best place for them to go to Amazon and search your name or go to your website?

Friesen: You can go either place. It’s all sold through Amazon so on Amazon there is the paperback, there is the Kindle version, and I relatively recently got the Audible version. I have a really good narrator named Chris A. Bell. I had about 70 people apply to be the narrator (to audition for it) and it was a really cool process. I love Chris A. Bell’s voice and style. You can listen to a quick clip.

So it’s in every format now. You can get it on iTunes as well of course and www.Audible.com of course and Amazon. On my website I have links to those as well. So that is the place. Just search “achieve” and “Friesen” and it should be the first one that pops up on Amazon.

Cain: Awesome. Chris, thanks for making the time to sit down and join us on the Peak Performance Podcast. One of my favorite episodes that we’ve done. It was truly an honor to have you and I can’t wait for book two to come out. Hopefully we can get a copy and go through and get another episode.

Friesen: Definitely. I really appreciate you having me on the show. You have an awesome show and like I was saying earlier you are definitely kicking a lot of ass. I’m proud of you man. This is awesome. You are doing an excellent job. You are really making a difference. Keep it up.


BC122. Separation is in Preparation (George Washington’s Birthday)

February 22, 2017

In this episode, Brian goes solo to talk about how preparation is the greatest separator from those who are elite and those who are average.  He tells the story of George Washington and how he chopped down a tree in just 10 minutes.

 You will learn about...

  • George Washington and the fascinating story of how he had an hour to chop down a tree, yet finished in 10 minutes
  • How separation in preparation is displayed in the NFL and UFC
  • A tremendous story about TCU pitcher Brian Howard and how his preparation prepared him for one of the biggest moments of his career
  • How Matt Cassel became the only Quarterback to start in the NFL without ever starting in College



Cain: Matt Cassel in a Sports Illustrated article talks about wearing a helmet on the sidelines, hearing the play being called, calling the play out loud on the sideline as if he was in the huddle. Then guys giving him a hard time and making fun of him, but no one is making fun of him when he is the only guy ever in the history of the game who didn’t start a game in college and started in the NFL. Why? Because Matt Cassel knew the value of preparation.

February 22nd - George Washington’s birthday, the first President of the United States of America. See George Washington knew something about preparation. George Washington once said that if he had an hour to cut down a tree he would spend 50 minutes sharpening the axe and 10 minutes chopping the tree.

Sharpening the axe for me personally is my unwavering commitment to exercise first thing when I get out of bed in the morning. Moving around first thing when I wake up whether I feel like it or not helps me increase my energy, increase my focus, and be more productive that day. I know that preparation is simply about execution of the day. Great days lead to great weeks lead to great months lead to great years lead to a great career.

George Washington talked about spending 50 minutes sharpening the axe and 10 minutes in execution. You see that separation is in preparation that Seattle Seahawks quarterback, one of the best guys in the NFL, Russell Wilson, always talks about. That separation is in preparation. Let’s look at football for a minute. You see the NFL is going to play the majority of their games on Sunday - let’s say they take Monday off. They’re going to prepare Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Five days for execution on Sunday.

Maybe George Washington was talking about the NFL. Maybe he was talking about five days of preparation and one day of execution. What George Washington probably didn’t know was the world of Mixed Martial Arts fighting.

Having had the chance to work with six guys that have worn the UFC Gold around their waist I can tell you that a UFC fighter when he has an event is going to prepare anywhere 6-8 weeks in a camp - disciplined, detailed, quality decisions. He’s not making sacrifices. A great champion like yourself, you don’t make sacrifices you make decisions to be great. That UFC fighter is going to make great decisions 6 weeks, 8 weeks, for a 15 or 25 minute fight - 15 minute fight if it’s nontitle fight, 25 minute fight if it’s a main event or a title fight.

What these UFC fighters know and what I want you to know about preparation is a term that we don’t often hear that much but it’s very simple - it’s called “reverse engineering.” What is reverse engineering? Reverse engineering is basically, as Stephen Covey would say in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, it’s begin with the end in mind.

For one fighter I worked with we would take eight weeks from the time of his fight and we would work backwards to the state of camp. In that eight week window we would basically map out each of his 168 hours each week and when he was going to do wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, sprint work, weight work, cardio, massage, chiropractor, interviews, other media, public appearances, sleep, eat, social time, see his family, and map all of that stuff out so that nothing was left to chance. Remember, separation is in preparation and what does it mean to prepare at a high level? It means you map out a game plan and then execute your game plan.

All reverse engineering is simply beginning with the end in mind and then working backwards. Let me share a story with you here about an athlete in a baseball program that reverse engineered and won a game that was one of the most intense environments that I’ve ever been in. It was a game between TCU baseball and Sam Houston State. The game happened on May 31, 2014. It was the 2014 NCAA Fort Worth Regional where the number nine seed, TCU, was the visiting team and number 25, Sam Houston State, was the home team. In a game that was the second longest game in NCAA history the game went 22 innings with TCU winning 3-2.

There was a pitcher at TCU by the name of Brian Howard. Brian Howard that year, 2014, was in his freshman season. On that night Brian Howard came out of the bullpen. He came in in the 16th inning and pitched the 16th until the 20th so every inning was a pressure situation - probably the most pressure packed situation you can imagine being in. Brian Howard pitched the 16th through the 20th inning. That entire year he had thrown five innings up till that point and that night he goes out and throws four, almost half of what he had thrown the entire season.

When asked about how he was able to stay prepared and how he could handle that much pressure in that situation I remember head coach Jim Schlossnagle (I was actually in the dugout with the Frogs for that game) coming back in the dugout and it was almost like he had the look on his face of “we’re giving this guy the ball, he’s got nine innings all year.” In the 16th inning when he went out to the mound Howard just said “I got this coach” with all the confidence and huge body language and the demeanor of a guy who had thrown 90 innings not nine.

But see, Brian Howard had really thrown more than nine innings because the TCU baseball pitching coach - a guy by the name of Kirk Saarloos who had thrown a no-hitter in the major leagues. He was an All-American and goes down as one of the greatest pitchers in college baseball history from Cal State Fullerton. Kirk Saarloos is a master of the mental game. One of the things that the TCU Hornfrog pitchers do is every day in the bullpen they do what they call “shadow bullpens.” They throw an inning with no ball working on five things - working on their body language, their breath and their routine, their release, if they get a red light, their tempo and their visualization of that pitch. So even though Brian Howard had physically only thrown nine innings, mentally he had thrown maybe 90 so when he got out there in the game he could take the ball from Coach Schlossnagle with total confidence and say “Coach I got this.”

His line that day? Four innings pitched, one hit, two walks, six strikeouts. Brian Howard, you could say, was the unsung hero of that game. There were so many guys that played a huge role in that game but no one had a bigger role than Brian Howard that day.

Separation is in preparation. Drew Brees, the great quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, talks a lot about mental reps. If he is playing in a game where maybe he is injured and he is not playing that game, they showed it on Fox Sports, a game against the Carolina Panthers during the 2015 season I think it was Week 3 or 4 where Drew Brees was on the sideline with a little headset in listening to the play call, clapping his hands on the sideline as the huddle was being broken on the field and immediately looking into the secondary to see what his keys would be as if we was actually in the game playing the game out in his mind.

Matt Cassel, a quarterback who never started a game in college, he was a University of Southern California Trojan, he backed up two Heisman Trophy winners in Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. Matt Cassel then went on to be a starter in the NFL.

Matt Cassel in a Sports Illustrated article talks about wearing a helmet on the sidelines, hearing the play being called, calling the play out loud on the sideline as if he was in the huddle. Then guys giving him a hard time and making fun of him, but no one is making fun of him when he is the only guy ever in the history of the game who didn’t start a game in college and started in the NFL. Why? Because Matt Cassel knew the value of preparation.

So your opportunity is going to come. When it does and the bell rings will you answer it? Will you be prepared? A mistake that I see a lot of people make is that they wait until their opportunity is on the calendar for them to prepare, for the young student athlete or the coach who is an assistant coach they wait to develop their leadership skills until their leadership is needed because they are a head coach or because they are a senior or a captain on the team.

Leadership and mental toughness, those are things that you want to be developing all the time because they’re always needed. There is going to come a time when the bell rings and when that bell rings are you going to be ready? When that bell rings are you going to be prepared? Remember if you’ve got one hour to cut down a tree let’s take the advice of our first President of the United States and spend 50 minutes sharpening your axe, making yourself better, and then 10 minutes in execution. Dominate the Day.


BC 121. Geno Pierce - Peak Performance Course

February 15, 2017

Brian is joined by one of the TOP strength and conditioning coaches and founder of The Performance Course, Geno Pierce.  The Performance Course's mission is to enhance athletic performance and build strength of character in individuals and teams while preparing them for success in life...


Learn about...

  • The core principles of The Performance Course and how Geno came up with them.
  • Characteristics that it takes to be the best in any field.
  • Geno gives insight into the traits he's seen among the best coaches.
  • The #1 Seed of Success he would plant in all young athletes mind.