March 18, 2021

George Mumford’s Comeback Story - Seeking Truth and Wisdom Despite the Pain

George Mumford’s Comeback Story - Seeking Truth and Wisdom Despite the Pain

George Mumford shares the wisdom he has learned during his life as a coach to some of the highest performing athletes in history, and what he learned from his personal struggle with addiction and pain that nearly cost him everything.   Michael...


George Mumford shares the wisdom he has learned during his life as a coach to some of the highest performing athletes in history, and what he learned from his personal struggle with addiction and pain that nearly cost him everything.  

  • Michael Jordan credits George Mumford with the transformation of on-court leadership of the Chicago Bulls that led to 11 NBA National Championships. He has worked with a number of world-class athletes and helped them achieve at some of the highest levels of their sport.
  • His coaching method is focused on the whole being approach and treating athletes as people instead of a performer.
  • Principles are universal and timeless. They allow you to make choices that are aligned with the feedback that you get and let you live in recovery.
  • George was one child of thirteen and remembers the theme of his childhood being “be seen, not heard”. He learned how to cope by living in his own personal world and holding his sensitivity within. He was injury-prone in school while playing sports because of the stress placed on his life.
  • He found himself in a strange place where he had to mature quickly and know a lot about life, but without knowing what to do with them.
  • In college, George realized that he could be more social when he was taking pain medication which led to an addiction to painkillers. That developed into alcoholism and drug abuse until his spiritual rock bottom.
  • He went into a 21-day detox program and realized that the person that comes out of the program has to be different than the person that went in or nothing was going to change.
  • One of George’s memories of pain involves his father humiliating him before his sister’s wedding. This experience made George feel like he couldn’t ever ask for what he needed and led to him becoming self-reliant. Trauma can take many subtle forms and understanding that is the only way to heal. In many ways, George’s father was just acting in the way that he was taught.
  • People are doing the best they can with what they have. Seek to understand rather than be understood, and the best way to help yourself is to help others.
  • George’s first real teacher was his grandmother. She would give him a card on his birthday and call him Master George, rather than simply George. At the time George didn’t understand what she meant she was trying to impart that he was equal to other people and beneath others.
  • He also found a number of mentors growing up in the athletes he knew like Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown.
  • In terms of comeback stories, George admires Frederick Douglas, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, and Harriet Tubman.  
  • We all have a masterpiece. Our job is to break through our shell and share our divinity with the world. 
  • The spirit is the life, the mind is the builder, and the physical is the result. George allowed the world to be his teacher because great men are open to new experiences and continued learning and growing.
  • George encountered a number of struggles growing up, especially being injury prone and getting injured enough to lose his place on his sports team. It was a real challenge to be in school and not be an athlete because he didn’t know who he was at that point. He struggled considerably once his addiction got to the point where he realized that no matter how many drugs he was too much and not enough at the same time.
  • After getting clean, George’s doctor explained to him that his nervous system never dealt with the world on the world’s terms. Once George was off the drugs he had to find an alternative solution to dealing with his pain which led him to meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and taichi. 
  • Instead of a curse, it was an opportunity to learn how to be with himself.
  • George began listening to that small sensitive voice within himself while meditating and he realised that one of the things he was missing was being intellectually stimulated. For the past 36 years, George has read a book a week and began sharing the wisdom he’s learned. He wanted to learn as much as he could to help people see things as stepping stones instead of roadblocks. 
  • There are four steps to self-knowledge. The first is you are your own best teacher. The second is to be responsible with no excuses. The third is you can learn anything you want to learn. The fourth is that true understanding comes from reflecting on experience. Understanding and living this gives George more joy and purpose than he’s ever felt before.
  • No matter who you are or how good you are, at some point your athletic career will end. When it does you will need to know who you are.
  • George is committed to living now and enjoying the journey. He’s grateful for the opportunity to share what he’s learned and to continue to grow and evolve.
  • What you develop spiritually is the only thing that will stick with you for your whole life. Winning isn’t about winning championships, it’s about knowing that you got better today.
  • Pain comes from identifying what we do with who we are, so when we can’t play sports or lose our ability to perform we become lost.
  • If George could send a message back to his younger self it would be “you can be anything you want to be” and “no struggle, no sweat.” Embrace whatever comes and believe it can be overcome.
  • You need to integrate your darker self, but also choose to embrace the positive aspects of your mind. You can create a space between stimulus and response and control your habits. 90% of our long-term happiness is predicated on how our nervous system interprets our experience. You can choose to interpret things in a way that empowers you.
  • If George had to shout out someone he would choose the avatars like Jesus Christ, the Buddha, Muhammed, and others. George focuses more on the wisdom of the teachings and the archetypes rather than individuals in particular.
  • Any experience is an opportunity to learn profound teachings if the student is ready to learn.

George Mumford

Mindfulness and Performance Expert

George T. Mumford a.k.a. The Mindfulness Performance Whisperer, is a highly acclaimed and leading expert in sports psychology & performance. Phil Jackson’s ‘Secret Weapon’ to winning eight NBA Championships. George’s passion is teaching mindfulness to high profile sports, business and academic teams alike; from the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, to senior global executives and systems. He is the author of The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance.