Wednesday’s Book Review: “Stillpower”

stillpower-kramer-garret-9781608321858Stillpower: The Inner Source of Athletic Excellence. By Garret Kramer. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2011.

I am not much into self-help books, and I would probably not have picked this up except for several positive comments about it that I read on-line. I am, however, deeply interested in the study of the history of sports and the manner in which it permeates society. Accordingly, philosophy in sport is a topic of great importance to me. This book, while not intended specifically as a study of sports philosophy, serves that role very well. Garret Kramer is a writer, speaker, athlete, and coach with a unique perspective on the power of the inner self to overcome obstacles.

He asserts that athletes are taught “willpower” from the time they begin competing and it becomes second nature to them. They play through pain, impossible situations, etc. They are taught to “grind it out” and to “force it” regardless of what takes place around them or what they need or want. The mantra of the athlete is “no pain, no gain” and it means much more than physical conditioning. Kramer believes that this “willpower” should be replaced with “stillpower,” hence the name of this book. I am reminded of the biblical injunction in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” It emphasizes an inner peace regardless of the circumstances of one’s life. That is a conception that I believe Kramer would accept as one way of gaining peace and assurance.

Kramer’s philosophy is simple to state, even if it is difficult to implement. He believes that success in athletics may be most readily attained through clarity and creativity, judgment and quality of life, insight and mindfulness, and peace and perspective. Fundamentally, this book is about creating a clear and quiet peace of mind. It takes its example from sports, and it is focused on enhancing performance through better understanding and mental condition, but it is applicable to many settings far beyond the court, field, or park.

There is little here that I have not heard before, but the manner in which these ideas are assembled and presented in Stillpower, as well as the persuasive reminder that its offers, makes this is a useful book to read and ponder. Additionally, it is an entertaining, accessible, and insightful reading experience. Enjoy.

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