LifeJournal™ Newsletter – October 2003

LifeJournal: A Place Where You Can Hear Yourself Think
To bring you new perspectives in journal writing, this month’s newsletter includes an interview with David O’Meara, a professional sports coach and motivational speaker, who discusses journal writing from the point of view of his new athletic coaching style.

I recently read a newspaper article about “text mining” software. While LifeJournal is not “text mining” software, there are some interesting parallels, as described in the second article. You may begin to see LifeJournal in a new light: as a tool for information archaeology–to quickly find and organize data and then go one step further–to see connections among the data.

As we are approaching the holiday season, why not get an early start and buy LifeJournal CDs for friends, colleagues or family? It’s a unique gift that will please not only journal writers, but also aspiring writers, professional writers, high school and college students, memoir writers and more.

Ruth Folit
Chronicles Software Company

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An Interview with David O’Meara, tennis coach and inspirational speaker
“Nuggets of Wisdom”
Tip: Annotations for a filing system
End Quotes 
How to Purchase LifeJournal 

An interview with David O’Meara, tennis coach/inspirational speaker 
David O’Meara started his career as a tennis coach. During the past 17 years, by training a wide variety of players throughout the world, O’Meara discovered some essential principles of coaching that apply to a wider audience than athletes. His coaching philosophy moves the locus of control from outside the athlete to within. O’Meara’s beliefs mirror those of many journal writers, who use their inner thoughts as a guide for living. It may offer a new perspective to see the parallels of personal growth from the point of view of an innovative sports coach, even if you are not athletic. What follows is an interview with David O’Meara, who is also an avid LifeJournal writer.

Q. You have recently written a book called Play Better, Live Better. What are some of the premises of the book?

A. . The first premise of Play Better, Live Better is that it is not what we coach, buthow we coach that has a lasting impact on players. The book outlines a 10-step process that can be used to coach any sport. This process can also be used in our daily lives, as a tool to make anything we want better.

The second premise of Play Better, Live Better is that the current coaching model, what I call the “command-control” model, is doing real damage to our youth. I call it the command-control model of coaching because it is based upon the theory that the coach knows and the players do not. We have all seen coaches yelling, humiliating, or embarrassing a player in a game or practice. Coaches do this because their way of coaching is based on fear. Fear works and it is easy, but the temporary gains in obedience and discipline are short-lived. Unfortunately, some of the negative effects of this coaching method are permanent. Play Better, Live Better is the first book on coaching sports that describes a clear alternative to the typical fear-based model

Q. Beyond the sports world, the parallels of “command control” coaching can be seen in “command control” parenting, or “command control” teaching. Most people, I think, have incorporated the “command control” model in their thinking, unconsciously incorporating conversations of parents, teachers, and other authority figures into their inner dialog, rather than thinking through their own perceptions and reaching their own conclusions of how to live their lives. How does journal writing intersect with your ideas about coaching and/or sports performance?

A. . I began journal writing back on my first professional assignment coaching the National Tennis Team for India in 1986. Since there was so much happening on and off the court in India, I needed to find a way to sort out all of my experiences in order to see clearly and learn from each one.

I think journal writing plays an important role in our personal growth. Journal writing intersects with two of my central ideas in sports performance and coaching: observation and perception. Journal writing helps us observe the entire scene. Observation provides information, which we continually need for improvement. Journal writing helps us see patterns of our thoughts, feelings, and actions so that we can coach ourselves.

Perceptions are how we see events, others, and ourselves. Journal writing allows us the opportunity to record our thoughts and feelings about the last second shot that we took in last night’s basketball game. Was it terrifying or exciting? Journal writing helps us uncover the current perception that is operating. Then we can choose whether that current perception is limiting or inspiring.

Q. How can keeping a journal improve one’s biking or running, or tennis or golf game?

A. . Keeping a journal is like having a great coach. By sharing our innermost thoughts, feelings, and actions with the journal, we create a relationship for improvement that is void of judgment and conditions.

By reviewing patterns of our thoughts, feelings, and actions in any sport, we begin to see the effectiveness of keeping a journal as we easily notice repetitive successes or repetitive errors. As we look over a six-month period in our journal writing, we gain confidence, inspiration, and knowledge from our experiences that we recaptured in our journals. We can see the improvement in, for example, the last mile of 5K races, the higher percentage of first serves in tennis, the ease in biking longer distances, or the ability to hit more greens in golf.

Q. How could you use journal writing to play better and live better?

A.Keeping a journal promotes themes that I travel around the country speaking about to audiences. The difference between discipline and self-discipline is one of my themes. Discipline is the coach telling the player what to do without any involvement from the player. This creates dependence and a lack of creativity on the player’s part. When a player is self-disciplined, the player decides what and how to. Journaling helps promote self-discipline because it allows us to see the value in what we do. Once players see the value in what they do on a daily basis, no coach needs to tell them what to do.

Journaling helps an individual discover what I like to call his/her “unique spark,” the essence of someone. It is what makes each person one-of-a-kind. It is my responsibility as a coach to fan that spark into a flame. In journaling the same process can occur

David O’Meara has made a career inspiring students of all ages–from aspiring athletes to professional athletes. He has also trained coaches in Asia and Africa and has been a guest speaker for the last five years at international conferences for the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) where he shares his ground-breaking teaching methods. Learn more about David O’Meara at his To purchase a copy of his book, Play Better, Live Better, call toll free 1-866-OMEARA1..

“Nuggets of Wisdom”A recent article in New York Times entitled “Digging for Nuggets of Wisdom” caught my eye. The article was a about software that is being developed to “read” through huge volumes of documents to find “the nuggets of wisdom.” The Times article reports, for example, that Medline, a database that contains more than 10 million abstracts for medically related literature, adds seven to eight thousand articles per week. The software is designed to “read” the articles and not only find related information among the thousands of documents, but to help synthesize the information, by categorizing it and making links between ostensibly unrelated documents.

Although LifeJournal is by no means an automated “text mining” software, there are certainly parallels between the two programs. LifeJournal allows you to manually categorize your text (either categorizing the entire journal entry using a “bookmark” or categorizing a passage using a “highligh.”) and then, by performing a search, to find similar content in disparate and perhaps seemingly unrelated documents. One of LifeJournal’s strengths is that it allows you to easily extract related information from your journals rather than re-reading journal entry after journal entry chronologically to find what you want. You can then bring together this extracted text and juxtapose two entries that you might not have otherwise considered analyzing side-by-side. The brains behind analyzing and understanding the text and gaining insight is you, of course, not the computer. Often, the trick to finding the “nuggets of wisdom” is asking the right questions. Here are some suggestions that may get you started in performing particular searches and looking at your journal entries from new and creative viewpoints:

Perform a search for a three month range of dates. What is the common thread in this set of journal entries? Does a theme, issue, or belief appear and repeat itself?

Perform a search for a date range that includes a milestone event or turning point in your life. What have the main issues been for the months before the event compared to the issues after the event?

Perform a search for Log>Victory and check the “retrieve highlight passages only” to see just the highlighted topics. (If you don’t have a victory log, you may search for such words as “finally” “success” “victorious” “hurray” “congratulations” or some other language you might use to denote successes.) See ways that you are successful. Is there a thread that helps you see what your strengths are? Can you apply those strengths to new and different situations?

Do a search for all feelings using the choice, “entries containing any selected topic.” What emotions do you write about most often? Do you go through cycles of different emotions and write about them? Do you think that the emotions that you write about accurately reflect your daily life, or do you tend to write more when you have a certain set of emotions?

Perform a search for daily pulse stress levels between 1 and 3. To what are your higher stress levels most closely related? Perform a search for daily pulse stress levels between 8 and 10 and ask what you are doing when you stress levels are low.

Once you have gained an insight, you may want to either save it into a particular journal entry, or assign the topic “Insight” to it. That way you can perform a search on “Insight” to remember what you have learned from your journal writing.TIP: Annotations for a filing system. 
I have a fairly large paper filing system, with several huge drawers filled with well-labeled folders. However, there are times when I know that I have filed an important paper document, but in which folder?

A LifeJournal writer and I discussed how we could use LifeJournal to help solve this problem. She suggested creating a topic called “Filed Documents.” Then when you file a paper document, open a journal entry and write the name of the file and the name of the document, and perhaps a few words describing the document. Assign the topic “Filed Documents” and another appropriate topic for cross-reference –like Work>Writing Class, or Garden>Flowers.

Then, months later when you are searching for the document and can’t find it or cannot remember the name of the document or file, you can perform a quick search. Select “Filed Documents” and “Work>Writing Class,” for example, and the highlighted passages that appear will tell you exactly what folder the document is in.
End Quotes:

“To exist is to change; to change is to mature; to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”
~Henri Bergson
.We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.”
~ Marcel Proust
We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.” 

~ Galileo Galilei

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