What the N.F.L.’s Best Punter Can Teach Us About Making Great Decisions


A recent NYT article on Los Angeles Ram’s punter, Johnny Hekker, explains how he embraces the Zen concept of mushin to achieve a level of precision and performance previously unheard of in the N.F.L. 

Mushin is a Japanese word that means “no mind”.  I like to define it as “no distractions” or “clarity”.  Clarity that leads to better leadership decisions — especially when the pace is fast, the stakes are high, and the outcome unclear.  Just like on any given Sunday when 350 pound men are trying to crush and dominate other 350 pound men in a mere seconds.  Or when your boss is breathing down your neck to hit 150% of quota, or to ensure you don’t go over budget, or to have that super important memo done by tomorrow morning.

As a keynote speaker to business audiences of high-achievers and elite C-Suite executives, I often talk about the decision-making trap of “Clogged Arteries”.  That is, our decision making “arteries” are clogged with distractions:  Smart phones, smart watches, smart cars, smart TVs, smart appliances, smart homes, ahh!   We live in a hyper-connected, hyper-distracted world that impedes are ability to be “clear and present”.  And if we are not clear and present, we will make bad decisions.  

One way to avoid making bad decisions and conquer the decision-making trap of “Clogged Arteries” is to apply my mushin way solution called “The Double 5-Count”.  It will take about 20-seconds to do, and I recommend you do it each morning before starting work, after lunch, or before any big meeting (I do this every single time before walking on stage to deliver a keynote speech):

Step 1:  Close your eyes (or if in a meeting just glance down or look away) and take five-deep belly breaths to refresh and refocus. 

Step 2:  Take an additional five deep breaths and visualize your "3rd Place”.  After home and work, the third place is where you spend most of your time.  For some people it’s the fitness studio, or the golf course, or simply taking a walk in nature.

Step 3:  There is no step three.  Steps 1 and 2 will take 20 seconds or less.  Give it a try and I guarantee you’ll start to unclog your decision-making arteries, start to gain more and more mushin, and start to discover better decisions you never knew existed.



Because if you don’t conquer this decision-making trap, you’re going to have the business equivalent of a 350 pound defensive end rushing in to pile-drive you, your career, and your company.

For more mushin ideas on how to make better decisions that lead to precision, peak performance, and motivation check out my nationwide bestselling book on the subject, The Mushin Way to Peak Performance:  The Path to Productivity, Balance, and Success.  And if you have any questions, leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @mpveltri.  I’ll be sure to get back to you right away!