So have Mexico's.
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So rapidly have fortunes turned that Brazil is being hailed by some analysts as an unlikely bellwether for fighting poverty policies worldwide. Once again the sages are asking why. Boilerplate economics deserves part of the credit. While the Latin American Street may grumble over "neoliberals," it was free-market reforms that helped break down a long-encrusted social order that grated especially against the poor. Greater fiscal responsibility curbed compulsive government borrowing, bringing down interest rates and encouraging lenders to spread credit to even low-income consumers, long written off as unbankable.
Chronic high inflation was practically eliminated by the mid-'90s, ending one of the more pernicious taxes on the poor; while governments could be refinanced through bonds that paid just a bit more than the inflation rate, workers watched helplessly while their cash wages melted in their pockets.
Policymakers also did their part through massive campaigns in the s to get children out of the workplace and into the classroom. Brazil, for example, had 97 percent of school-age kids in the classroom as early as a decade ago; those students are now being rewarded with better jobs. But one of the most celebrated government initiatives is a new brand of grant to the extremely poor known in policy argot as conditional cash transfers CCTs.
The most rigorous of the CCT schemes is the decade-old Chile Solidario, which awards small two-year grants to families who must not only keep their children in school but also report to social workers and look for jobs. Mexico's Oportunidades, begun in , tracks the progress of some 5 million families on a sophisticated computer database, which has caught the attention of officials from Ankara to New York.
Officials are still debating a cutoff point. Economists generally applaud targeted cash transfers on the ground that paying the poor to improve their own lot is far more efficient than throwing money at top-heavy poverty-relief bureaucracies. It is also far cheaper. Not everyone agrees, of course. In the wrong hands, aid can easily turn into an old-fashioned populist handout. The totally bizarre thing is their shots always manage to find our net. Can athletic teams actually be cursed? When a team gets mired in a losing streak, what causes the bad times to just keep on rolling?
Was there anything real to the Curse of the Bambino?
After all, it did last 86 years and those Red Sox always did seem to find creative and heart breaking ways to lose! They are always a figment of your frustrated and discouraged imagination and, as a consequence, they are self-maintained. I know that coaches, athletes and their fans are very superstitious individuals.
However, when it comes right down to it, these imaginary afflictions play absolutely no direct role in the outcome of athletic contests. Rest easy. There are no curses, jinxes or haunted teams in sports. The ghost of Babe Ruth was not following the Red Sox around for 86 years.
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In sports you are always going to see teams with winning and losing streaks as well as individual athletes mired in slumps. We never really know for sure what will happen. Sometimes the difference between a game winning or momentum killing play is decided by mere inches or split seconds. It is flat-out, blind luck.
Nothing more. Nothing less. Is there any rhyme or reason to how this luck operates? She may decide to look down upon you and smile sweetly or, depending upon her mood, break wind or worse in your direction. While you can increase the chances that things will go your way by your preparation, beyond that there is very little that you can actually do to tip the scales of chance in your favor. However, what does have a significant affect on the performance outcome is what you believe.
In a funny way, if you still insist on believing in jinxes and curses, then you can inadvertently end up creating one for yourself. Let me explain:. When we talk about your beliefs as a causative factor in slumps, we must first look at what else actually feeds these slumps and losing streaks. Like it or not, losing is part of the fabric of sport.
There are always winners and losers. Close games sometimes get decided in very cruel and sudden ways by chance.
In fact, some of those losses can represent brilliant performance on your part. A slump is more a state of mind than a specific number of failures. In sum, what really causes a slump are your perceptions and beliefs about the consecutive losses. Since one of the primary secrets to peak performance at every level is being loose and relaxed, tight muscles will prevent you and your team from executing to your potential.
More specifically, tight muscles will wreck your timing, slow down your reflexes and reaction time and completely ruin your mechanics. The wrong kinds of thoughts and attitude going into a game will consistently set you up to fail. Once you do fail, you end up reinforcing the limiting beliefs that you or your team are cursed or somehow doomed to fail over and over again. In fact, the current failure gives you more ammunition to support that already negative belief.
We always lose! Furthermore, when things start to go badly for you, because you still believe in your ability to persevere you will not give up so easily. Instead you will keep on keeping on. When you are successful, your victory tends to reinforce your already positive beliefs.
So with all slumps and losing streaks you need to be careful about what you believe going into and during your performances. Furthermore, if you want to really break the stranglehold that a slump may have on you, you must learn to do a better job of controlling your pre and during game focus of concentration. For example, first they may remember what happened in past games. They recall the failure, disappointment, bad breaks, nervousness and tentativeness.
What if I choke again?
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What if we lose? What if she beats me? I know of no better strategy for sending your anxiety level through the roof than focusing on the future and everything that could possibly go wrong. When your concentration jumps from past to future in this way, you will cause three things to happen: First, as I just mentioned, your anxiety or stress level will spike. Second, your confidence will crack and then crumble. Finally, being uptight and having low self-confidence are a deadly one-two punch that will KO your performance every time.
To avoid falling into that slump, jinxed or cursed trap you need to learn to discipline yourself to mentally stay in the NOW of the performance.
You need to focus on this game, this half, this quarter and this play, one play at a time. Hanging onto the past or worrying about the future will mentally take you out of the performance and undermine your play. As a coach this means that you do NOT want to remind your team or specific athletes of how badly they blew it last time. This will NOT help them avoid making the same mistake in this game. This will NOT help them believe in themselves. This will NOT keep them calm. This will NOT motivate them to play at a higher level.
What this kind of a reminder will do is negatively distract them from the task at hand in the NOW and make them too nervous to perform to their potential. This may seem like a pretty basic concept, which it is. Trust me on this one. This is the focus that will help you break the back of that slump and more often lead you to peak performance.
For the latest in Mental Toughness Training aids and services Dr. Alan Goldberg S with no fillers, additives or preservatives and absolutely no artificial ingredients! So what am I really talking about here? They will generally write wonderful things about you as long as you or your team are performing well. They were shameful. My great grandmother can throw the ball better than that. In almost no other profession or endeavor are you under more of a microscope than in sports. The higher the level that you compete at, the higher the power is turned up on that microscope.
What this means is that everyone from sports fan, to beat writer to talk show host and guest wants to weigh in on you, your game, your mouthwash, your self-worth and value to society. Imagine going to work or school on a daily basis and having everyone around you continuously watching and evaluating your every move.