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10 Lessons for a Talk with Best-Selling Author Jon Gordon

Thanks to Columbia University Head Baseball Coach and good friend, Brett Boretti, this past week, I had an amazing opportunity to hear best-selling author Jon Gordon speak to the Columbia University Baseball and Women’s Lacrosse teams.  Jon Gordon’s book The Energy Bus jumpstarted my thoughts and beliefs in building the Community of Competitors as a goal in my life.

The following are ten pieces from Jon’s talk:

  1. Culture drives a team to achieve.

Teams achieve great things as a result of the culture they build.  A culture of teamwork and positivity will drive the habits that produce daily energy and progress.

  1. Goals do not take you anywhere.

Goals are great to have and we all need them, however a commitment to the process of improving is what moves us and takes us to great experiences and achievement.

  1. Optimism is a competitive advantage.

Teams and individuals that maintain a positive outlook work harder and achieve more.  Optimists believe their hard work will pay off.

  1. We are being refined, not defined.

Optimists are not defined by their failures; they are refined by their failures.  They take the lessons learned from a failure and refine their thought process or actions improve.

  1. Visualize the outcome and focus on the Process.

Champions love to visualize and feel the dog pile of a championship, however true competitive champions know the process is what drives the progress and allows championships to be achieved.

  1. Distractions are the enemy of greatness.

Like the great scientists who have made discoveries with Microscopes, great teams can zoom focus on the task at hand and what is needed to get 1% better everyday.

  1. You do not have to be great to serve, but you have to serve to be great.

Great competitors and leaders are always serving and looking for what they can do for others.

  1. When you know your why, you know your way.

When you have a purpose in life, you will find a way to make things happen.

  1. I am not who I am.  I am who I am becoming.

We are always learning, always gaining experience.  We are being molded into the great competitors we can become.

  1. We cannot choose the events in our life, but we can choose our response.

We are born to be great.  Greatness is achieved because we are able to respond in a positive way to every setback and success in our life.

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Peace through Ignoring


What has come into your life and distracted you from achieving a goal?

What can you IGNORE?

When everything in my life pointed me to the word GROWTH for 2015, I was not sure what to expect, but I knew that I was being called to grow. After two plus weeks of 2015, I am realizing why the word GROWTH was chosen for me. GROWTH was chosen for me because in order to grow we must do less; and doing less for me meant doing less in the area of those things that I felt have pulled me away from my purpose in life.

As I shared two weeks ago, my mess is now my message. The goal for the Heart of a Competitor is to develop deep within our soul and inner being a desire to continually work to become better, that we can compete against our self. The first competition I have had this year with myself was to remove the Facebook and Twitter Apps from my iPhone, a sort of “Digital Detox.” This has been mightily successful and increased my efficiency ten-fold. Having these apps at my fingertips had created a dependency that I did not like and was not conducive to achieving the goal of completing the 1 Year March to the Heart of a Competitor.

Have I eliminated using the social media and social networking tools from my toolbox?

No. However, I have become extremely efficient at using Facebook and Twitter. I am now allotted 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening to check these various social networks. I am still able to maintain a social presence and respond as needed to the conversations that continue in these areas.  In fact, the number of likes, favorites, comments, and retweets related to my social media presence has increased since I instituted this into my routine.

My “Digital Detox” was inspired while reading Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek. In this book is the following quote from Robert Sawyer:

Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace.”

Ignoring the notifications, distractions, and constant communication society insists we maintain is difficult, however, is totally necessary in developing and maintaining the Heart of a Competitor.

What is in your life that you can begin to ignore?

Ignorance is bliss.

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Start with the Heart

You have probably wondered why are we told to listen to our heart?

You listen to your heart because it is consistent and hard working. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, with a well-trained endurance athlete being an outlier with about 40 beats per minute. (Upon reading this, I immediately took my resting heart rate by keeping my pulse for 15 seconds and multiplying that number by 4. My resting heart rate was 72 beats per minute.)

Follow me on some general math. There are 1440 minutes in a day and if we assume an average resting heart rate at 70 beats per minute, that is 100,800 beats of your heart per day. That’s 100,800 opportunities to push blood, with competitive oxygen throughout our body per day.

The Heart of a Competitor is always at work, always pursuing improvement because it is always beating. We listen to our heart, the center of our being that dictates our survival and function. This is our physical heart.

The soul of the Heart of the Competitor is the filling of our mental and emotional tank to continually make the heart and soul of our bodies stronger. According to John C. Norcross, a professor at the University of Scranton, 33% of people will make a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and 15% of people will make starting a fitness program their resolution. These resolutions usually fail because people are not committing to it with their heart and soul.

Our physical being makes these resolutions, when the commitment needs to begin with our heart and soul.  (It is also why I focus on choosing one word.)

To be successful in competition, we must nourish our heart and soul. This is the goal of the Heart of a Competitor: Nourish and Build the Competitor’s heart and soul every single day.

The Heart of the Competitor is built on the developing the competitive fire to learn, grow, and develop into the best competitor you can be, so that when your heart is beating, it is competing. During those over 100,000 beats per day, the competitive blood to become better than you were the day before is being propelled throughout our body and soul.

Enjoy the week and grow to become more.


P.S.  If you are looking for an opportunity for your son to grow in the game of baseball, check out the Be UnCommon Baseball Boot Camp.

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Learning From a Mess

This is a great time in the year.  It is the first full week of a new year and everyone is excited to start anew on their New Year’s resolutions, goals, or live out their word for the year.  Building on last week, when we mapped out the importance of our routine of self-development and reading 15 minutes a day, I wanted to let you know about the first book that I read in 2015, The Hinge by Dr. Rob Bell.  I loved the way Dr. Bell set-up the book and provided numerous stories of people demonstrating mental toughness and the aspects that make-up mental toughness.  There is one specific piece of this book that hit home for me and it is the following quote:

“Our mess becomes our message.”

As I reflect on my life as a competitor, a coach, the work I am doing now, my mess has definitely become my message.  As a young player, I did not have the mental toughness, self-control, and faith in my abilities to perform at my peak.  There was always a doubt in my mind that I could compete with those that I was against.

This mindset carried over into coaching, always looking at what other coaches were doing and comparing myself to them.  This created the feeling that I needed to win each game because that would prove that I was better.  This is a true definition of a fixed mindset.  This did not mean that I was less than successful, just always pushing.  In December of 2005, I was fortunate enough to be named the Head Baseball Coach at Millersville University, achieving a goal, to be a Head College Baseball Coach.  This was the beginning of my mess, but is now an integral part of my message.  I ended up spending two LONG years at Millersville, with many factors that led to us losing 37 games in 2007.  Experiencing these 37 losses was the toughest thing to endure, but has been the biggest blessing, focusing my mindset on development and improvement rather than the worldly pursuit of wins and losses.

This mess has led me to the message of the Heart of the Competitor, a 1 Year Daily reader that will be completed in the near future to impact the lives of all the competitors out there.  In the next couple of newsletters, I will be providing a glimpse into the Heart of the Competitor.

You are signed up for this weekly Community of Competitors newsletter because you are a part of a group of people that want to get better.  As we approach the first full week of 2015, enjoy the day and grow in any way possible, knowing that your mess, even a mess of a number of losses, can become your message.

Yours in the fight,

Jeff Swarr

I would love to come share my message (mess) with your team in the New Year and my calendar is filling up for 2015.  Email me or give me a call at 717-917-8409.