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2 Ways to Prepare for Pressure

Our family spent the last week on a much anticipated and well-deserved vacation.  We spent the week in Avalon, New Jersey, a beautiful little town on the Jersey Shore.  We have been to portions of the Jersey Shore before at various times during past summers.  This past week was NOT the peak of summer tourism, as a matter of fact, many Jersey schools had just finished their school year, so the summer buzz was starting, but overall it was quiet compared to previous visits we took during the months of July and August.

While the number of visitors like myself was lower, the intensity of the lifeguards on the beach was higher than I have ever seen.  In other words, they were preparing for the busy times that lie ahead.  On our second day there, right as the lifeguards came on the beach at 10 AM, there were many whistles being blown and a number of lifeguards running up and down the beach.  The first thing that popped into my mind was the concern for those they had to rescue at other locations, when in reality they were training themselves to work as a team and prepare to save a person life.  There was a lead lifeguard right in front of us that would blow his whistle at random times and the neighboring guards would jump out of their chairs, grab their buoy and run down the beach to the next station.  It was impressive to watch.  They were always on watch, expecting the unexpected.  Thus, when something out of the ordinary occurred, they hopped into motion without hesitation.

Then an amazing challenge occurred, right in front of us, a “rescue.”  The lifeguard whistles blew and they hopped into action swimming out to save a “person” that had gotten caught about 50 yards out from the shore line.  As the crowd gathered, the lifeguards swam out to the person in distress, and quickly brought them back to shore.  While the other lifeguards cleared an area, the practice dummy was brought to shore and given CPR.  These lifeguards were practicing experiencing pressure.

These lifeguards were building habits, so that at some point this summer, when they are called upon to save a life, they have prepared by expecting the unexpected and practicing under pressure.  The challenge to the Community of Competitors is to in our lives, expect the unexpected and practice experiencing pressure.  We learn these from great performers in athletic events to the daily jobs that many of us engage in every single day.

 

Following the completion of this challenge and practicing saving the life of the “practice swimmer,” the lifeguards debriefed on the beach.  This was just another example that we are all COMPETITORS in life.

LifeGuard_Debrief

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Love the Present (It’s a Gift!!)

“Anxiety is the space between the ‘Now’ and the ‘Then.'”

 -Richard Abell

Competing in the present moment requires focus and concentration. Focus and concentration must be practiced and rehearsed. It is the training of the mind and body to work together in a way that demonstrates thought and movement connection. This connection begins with the thoughts.

The largest inhibitor of a thought and movement connection are the thoughts that come into our mind that drag us away from the present moment, the here and now. Our mind is made up of thousand and depending on our age, millions of experiences and images related to the event or activity the competitor is currently engaged in. When facing competitive situations, our mind replays the previous experiences that were had in similar situations. Our minds do this to maintain some semblance of calm for the mind, since the mind relies on the status quo, resisting change. This creates a gap between the present moment, the “Now,” and the past, the “Then.” As quoted above, this creates anxiety.

The Heart of the Competitor removes these past images and engages in the present moment to create a new script, one that has not been written. The first step to engaging in the present moment is a deep breath to push out the past images and experiences, thus placing your mind where your feet are. The deep breath brings the competitor into the “Here and Now.” This leaves the “Then,” knowing it has occurred and cannot be changed, the “Here and Now” is wholly controllable and it is the Heart of the Competitor that engages in the present moment, where true memories are made.

The second step to engaging in the present moment is utilizing a focus word or saying that will prompt you to be in the “Here and Now.” Choosing a focus word or saying allows you to bring yourself a calm and laser-like concentration to the present. The focus word or saying is effective because the competitor believes in it and engages their mind in the word or saying.

Question of the Day:

Choose your focus word or saying? Why did you choose this word or say? What does it mean to you?

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5 Books for Your Summer Reading

5 Books for Your Summer Reading List

 

Summer School is in. It is a time to focus on continually developing ourselves and those that we come in contact with. Here are five books to add to your summer reading list.

 

  1. The Hard Hat by Jon Gordon

 

Jon tells the story of George Boiardi, a Cornell Lacrosse player that died on the field during the season of 2004. Over time, many stories have been told of how George was a great teammate. After telling George’s story, Mr. Gordon outlines 21 ways to be a great teammate and how George exemplified each and every single one of them. This book is a powerful and compact read.

 

  1. Performing Under Pressure by Hendrie Weisinger and J.P. Pawliw-Fry

 

The first quote I noted from this book is as follows: “Pressure is the enemy of success: It undermines performance and helps us fail.” This piece goes on to outline how our performance suffers during pressure packed events, however, we can learn to manage pressure and that the strategies to live and perform under pressure can allow us to “unleash our creative and intellectual potential.”

 

This book contains countless simple to implement strategies for handling pressure. These strategies are broken down into quick fixes and long-term strategies by developing our COTE of Armor.

 

  1. How to Think Like A Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

 

The authors of this book are well known for their work in economics and searching for different ways to approach economical questions. This piece is a fascinating read that discusses how they have approached the problems they have been asked to consult on. The first two quotes that I captured from this book are as follows:

 

  1. Until you can admit what you don’t yet know, it’s virtually impossible to learn what you need to.
  2. The key to learning is feedback. It is nearly impossible to learn anything without it.

 

Key Point: There is an endless supply of fascinating questions to be answered.

 

  1. The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

 

This powerful piece written by two women focuses on the development of confidence in females. The authors outline the history and DNA behind a female’s confidence, and most importantly, the reader is provided with a number of strategies to develop confidence. If you are a female, coach females, teach females, or have a daughter, this is a must read for you. An essential quote from the beginning of this book is:

“Success correlates more closely with confidence than it does with competence.”

 

  1. The Legacy Builder by Rod Olson

 

This book provides five key points to leadership in a fable format, rather than merely outlining them in a dry leadership book. These five key leadership “secrets” are “taught” to a struggling CEO from his high school football coach. It is a great way to be reminded of the impact that a coach has on the players they are entrusted with to coach. A key reminder in this work is as follows:

 

“Remember things that are built to last are not built fast.”

 

The Community of Competitors is being built to last. The group of people receiving this newsletter is growing on a weekly basis. This is a result of the sharing that you, the Competitors have done. Please continue to share these weekly messages with everyone you feel is competing to become the best they can become. This Community of Competitors is growing and is built to last. If you can think of one person that may enjoy this newsletter, please forward it to them and encourage them to sign-up.

 

Sign-Up for the Community of Competitors Newsletter

 

Bonus Book:

Specifically for baseball and softball coaches and players, check out the programs from Mental Game VIP.  This is a great resource for those serious about learning form some of the best minds related to baseball and softball peak performance.

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The Value in Being Alone

“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.” 

― Rollo May, Author of Love and Will

The Heart of the Competitor beats on its own, engaged in the current activity, driven to be successful with an awareness of what is occurring around them in every action that is taken.

Creating quietness is essential to the process of development.  Quietness occurs when we are engaged in our activity with an intense focus and awareness of every action, sensation, and feeling associated with our work.  When we begin this process of creating quietness in our life, of being mindful of our actions, it can appear to be immensely lonely.  However, the Heart of the Competitor develops an understanding that the focus and engagement that results from our mindful actions is best for our performance and ultimately the team’s performance.

In today’s quote, author Rollo May noted that in order to be creative, in order for him to write, he had to “overcome the fear of being alone.”  This is true for the greatest of competitors, to create the performance that is desired, the Heart of the Competitor must overcome the fear of being in the arena of competition alone.

Establishing mindfulness of our actions in every activity creates the comfort level in what can be the silent pursuit of success.  This moves the Heart of the Competitor from fearing being alone and focusing on the task at hand, to enjoying being alone and focusing on the task at hand, whether that is rehearsing a skill or competing in a game situation.

Question of the Day:

Find one activity that you typically do alone and engage in this activity.  Enjoy the engagement and solitude.  Send me an email sharing your experience.