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Ep. 409: Thomas Sterner Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Tom Sterner

Tom Sterner

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Today on Trend Following Radio Michael Covel interviews Thomas Sterner, author of “The Practicing Mind.” Tom was in the same career for over 30 years when he decided to make a switch. He self published the first edition of “The Practicing Mind,” and as it snowballed into a phenomenon, publishers started knocking at his door for wider distribution.

This is about practicing focus and learning to calm your mind. Not an easy task in today’s world with media constantly telling us we are incomplete in what we are doing. People incessantly crave closure, but closure is not always the answer. Tom says that immersing yourself in something that is ongoing puts you in a place of “being.” People are always trying to complete the next level, but being in a state of constant expansion is the best state to be in. He says that even the process of writing books does not have a beginning and an end. He looks at it as an ongoing process. When one book ends, then you can move on from saying what you needed to say and move onto the next phase of what you want to be said. Tom shares a personal story about becoming a musician. For years he had felt inadequate as a musician. It took some time but eventually he figured out that he had accomplished many milestones throughout his career but because he had a limitless ability to expand and grow as a musician, he would never reach the state of perfection he envisioned. Almost in an instant, his frustration and negative thoughts about his accomplishments washed away.

The importance of repetition is Michael and Tom’s next topic. Your brain responds to repeated action best. This can vary from swinging a golf club over and over again, to how you meet people and interact with them. Tom says, “Attention combined with intention is the goal.” Your process and repeated practice is what makes achieving a goal feel so good. Anything you can snap your fingers and have doesn’t feel nearly as rewarding. He says that “Your perception of what good is and how good you can get is ever changing.”

Lastly, Michael and Tom discuss multitasking and living in the moment of now. Tom says that the way we envision multitasking doesn’t exist. When you think you are doing a bunch of different things simultaneously, you are not. The brain is operating at higher speeds but we are not letting our brains concentrate in one area for a long amount of time so in consequence, our brain is atrophying. We are losing that part of our mental game. Slowing your mind down brings clarity and thought. Secondly it connects your mind to what you are doing. If you are just reacting to whatever your mind is creating than you have no control over what you are doing. Mindfulness is not something that can be mastered. You have to constantly work at it just like you would never say “I have mastered fitness so I don’t need to work out anymore.” It is a constant practice. The moment you catch your mind running off is when you start training your brain. If you can recognize yourself chasing your mind then that is being aware of where it is going. Mike says, “It is like an organized treadmill that everyone is on. There is this lack of awareness among people that they are not in control.”

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Attention combined with intention
  • Non-judgment
  • Perils of multitasking
  • Controlling your mind
  • Constant media chatter

“If your not in control of your thoughts, then you are not in control of yourself.” – Thomas Sterner

“All of life is practice in one form or another. Actively practicing something is very different from passively learning. You will never reach a level of performance that feels complete so learn to love the art of practicing your skill.” – Thomas Sterner

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Posted in Interviews, Podcasts, Psychology, Trend Following
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