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Embracing Diversity

Over the last two weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak to the competitors at the Adidas Future 500 Soccer ID Camp; the top rated College ID Camp in the USA.  The three different camp sessions have included over 1,200 players from around the world.  The picture above is of Jed, Gaincarlo, and Gabe with Camp Director, Mark Wagner.  These three players traveled from Hong Kong to attend this camp.  During the girls session, we met a competitor whose father is in the Marine Corps and is stationed in Germany.  She traveled with her mother just to come to this camp.  We had competitors at this camp that could speak French, Arabic, Italian, to name a few of the many languages.

The competitors that attended these camps were a diverse group.  They were a diverse group based on ethnicity, language, ability, and many other traits.  We could learn a lot from those that attended the Adidas Future 500 Camp that could be used in our society today.  During one of the most contentious times in the history of the United States, these campers looked past any differences and enjoyed the opportunity to connect and compete at this great event.  This is why athletics is an integral part of the development of our young competitors, to come together and look past differences in skin color, nationality, languages, and occupations.  Even if this only occurs for a short four days at a soccer camp, we are learning the importance of making connections with other human beings and appreciating life and the endless opportunities it provides.

This is what we can learn from these young competitors, we are all human beings enjoying this life experience.  Those with the Heart of a Competitor are called to share these great opportunities in our life, regardless of our differences because when we do, we make connections that open new doors for us.  This is what the campers at the Adidas Future 500 Soccer ID Camp were doing, opening new doors for themselves.  They opened the door to new friendships to those from around the world, all while opening the door to possible collegiate recruitment.

The challenge for you this week is to open doors.  Literally stop and open the door for someone that is different than you, make eye contact with them, and greet them.  While you are stepping out and opening this door, you are figuratively connecting with them, creating richness in the human connection.  We do not need more friends or followings in a social media world; we need more connections in a human world.  Step out of your comfort zone and connect with someone that is different, embrace the diversity that surrounds us.

 

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3 Ways to Bloom Where You Are Planted

“Bloom where you are planted.” –Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva (1567-1622)

 

As a competitor, we are “planted” in every situation to experience every challenge we are given, so we can bloom where we are planted. In a day and age where many people are looking for the next great opportunity or the new fad that will push them ahead, many times we fail to realize the beauty of where we are in the present moment.

In writing the Community of Competitors Newsletter, I am here to tell you that when you bloom where you are planted, you will live a full life, one that makes an impact on others and one that will be recognized by others.

This was truly evident while I was attending my uncle Frank “Gus” Robins memorial service this past week. Gus was not like many of the people that read this weekly newsletter, he was NOT a businessman, he was NOT a coach, he was NOT a straight A student. Uncle Gus was a genuine human being, utilizing all of his God-given ability to impact others and give to others. As a vocation, he was a custodian in a local school district for over 30 years, not a glamorous position, but one that he utilized to “bloom” where he was planted. He bloomed where he was planted to the point that his memorial service was forced to start 20 minutes late as a result of the number of people who wanted to pay their respects to his family.

The message in this newsletter is that you do not have to be a person in a leadership position, a Division I athlete, a head coach, or a high-ranking corporate warrior to have an impact. We read blogs and stories all the time of high and mighty coaches, business people, or high-level athletes that trumpet their ability to handle adversity and rise to the top; these are great stories, but it is the daily warrior that impacts the most people and creates a lasting legacy. When you “bloom where you are planted,” you impact those around you.

Here are three simple ways to “bloom” where you are planted:

  1. Use what you currently have, not what you wish you had.
  2. Be a giver. Share more than you take.
  3. Do the little things that do not seem to matter.

You are called to accept the challenge of blooming where you are planted. You are called to have an impact and leave a legacy in all of your endeavors. As a member of this Community of Competitors, you are committed to blooming where you are planted. This analogy by Saint Francis de Sales was not chosen or used by accident, where one flower blooms, there are many other flowers that follow. The same is true for people, where one competitor blooms, other competitors will grow and bloom. This is a Commandment of the Competitor, bloom where you are planted and others around you will bloom.

This week, look around; enjoy your current challenges and opportunities to bloom where you are planted.

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Responding with GRIT = Winning

Our focus in the month of January for Community of Competitors Newsletter is to set up 2016 for success by focus on our response.  As many of you that have heard me speak know, my first mantra of success is as follows: We have no control over what goes on around us, and we have total control over how we respond.

When the Seahawks took on the Panthers on Sunday, you saw a perfect example of responding.  The first half of the game was plagued with errors and mistakes by the Seahawks that resulted in a half time score of 31-0.  Many people stepped away from this game because they felt the game was over and the score was lopsided.  I decided to continue to watch for one reason, to see how the Seahawks responded.  You see, the Seattle Seahawks and Coach Pete Carroll are one of the most open organizations about their inner workings and approach to player and team sports psychology.  In turn, they are one of the most studied organizations.

It is fascinating to boil down to the deepest levels of sports psychology that Pete Carroll is able to implement within his team.  This past week, there was an article published by ESPN.com outlining the Seahawks “culture of grit.”  (Culture of Grit Article.)  Grit is a term coined and subsequently studied by professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and MacArthur Fellow, Dr. Angela Duckworth.  (You can see her TED Talk here The Key to Success? Grit .)  Basically, “grit” is our ability to pursue long-term goals and is broken down into passion and perseverance.

The Seahawks select players that have passion, not just in the draft, but also in their undrafted free agent signings.  At one point in the 2015-16 season, the Seahawks had more undrafted free agents on their roster (24) than any other team in the NFL.  Sure, everyone wants to hear about Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman, but the Seahawks are engineered to have and develop passion and perseverance within their players and throughout their organization.

Here is a quote from Pete Carroll that outlines why they trend toward those players that were not as highly touted as others, “They know they’ve got something to prove. This game isn’t all about talent. So much of it is about your heart and how hard you’re willing to work and how you fight through all of it and the passion that your bring. Those guys, we really appreciate those kind of guys.”

For you, the members of the Community of Competitors, I feel the same way.  You have something to prove.  Your success in life is not always about the talent that you have in your chosen area, but how you choose to respond with perseverance and compete with passion.  In this Community of Competitors, we have business people, teachers, athletes, and coaches and members of all ages and our execution of excellence will determine our success.  The challenge for you is to live everyday with passion and perseverance.  Passion and Perseverance are part of your RESPONSE to what is occurring around you.  As a member of the Community of Competitors you are expected to RESPOND with the Heart of a Competitor.  This is the reason you open this message on a weekly basis and the reason you are being challenged this week to share this message with five people.  (Next week’s message will detail why we focus on five people.)

Let me finish by saying this, developing grit, RESPONDING with the Heart of a Competitor does not mean that you are guaranteed to “win” on the scoreboard.  The Seahawks did not win their game yesterday and they did not win in the Super Bowl last year, however in the Seahawks world these experiences are all based on developing the perseverance and passion that will allow them to pursue improvement over a long-term.  If you do not believe me, just check out how Russell Wilson handles his post-game press conference. (Russell Wilson post-game press conference on NFL.com.)

Live this week with the Heart of a Competitor.

Check out previous posts on RESPONDING:
January 10th – Learning from Dabo Swinney’s Response
January 3rd – Your Response = Your Success 

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November is Leadership Month: Nelson Mandela’s Message

“A leader… is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

– Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa (1994-1999)

Leadership can take on many different forms. Does the situation require an in your face leader motivating them to work harder and push further? Does the situation require the leader to be in front, making individual decisions for the group? Does the situation require facilitation by the leader so a group decision can be made?

As a leader, the Heart of the Competitor must have a pulse on the situation and of those the competitor has been called to lead.

Leadership may look like an eagle, soaring above, out in front all alone with the courage to handle the situation for those that fall under their stead. This view of leadership is probably the first one to come to the mind when asked to describe what leadership looks like.

Nelson Mandela provides another view of leadership. His view of leadership is based around a shepherd. His description of the shepherd, staying behind the flock is perfect to focus on the need to develop the strengths within the group you lead. Leadership develops those strengths and does not just allow, but encourages and facilitates the growth of those strengths. The support and encouragement the Heart of the Competitor provides to others allows them to forge ahead and accomplish great things, while leading from behind. Mandela uses this description of a shepherd because a shepherd is merely facilitating the movement and control of the flock and if he moves to fast, he will lose his flock and need to use time hunting and bringing them back into the fold.

The Heart of the Competitor evaluates each situation and places systems in place for success to be a byproduct of the process. Leadership can be like an eagle soaring above, with courage to forge ahead or it can look like a shepherd encouraging and facilitating others to achieve with support and direction from behind.

Question of the Day:

How will you lead like shepherd, facilitating and pushing the flock ahead while supporting others from behind?

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Discipline Breeds Excellence

“Discipline is based on pride, on meticulous attention to details, and on mutual respect and confidence.  Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger than the excitement of the goal or the fear of failure.”

– Gary Ryan Blair, author and motivational speaker

Why has discipline been described as such a wicked or even, unhealthy part in life?

Discipline is hated and viewed as something to fight because early in our lives discipline comes from outside of us, our parents, our teachers, and even our coaches.  Discipline is viewed as a correction to our behavior or an adherence to a set of behaviors or expectations.  This pushes the competitor to conform to the norms of others.  This is the exact opposite of a true competitor.  A true competitor believes in a goal that many would consider far-fetched and unachievable.  The Heart of the Competitor matches this belief with a discipline to achieve the goal that maintains a meticulous attention to every detail and execute these details with extreme confidence.

As Mr. Blair writes above, this discipline is so ingrained in the Heart of a Competitor, that it is stronger than the accomplishment of the goal of the fear of failing and not accomplishing the goal.  The competitors that achieve their goals maintain the discipline in their lives from within as a result of the pride they have in their life, the masterpiece they are crafting.  This discipline and attention to detail borders on extreme.  So extreme, when it is described to others it is viewed as different.  (Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals pre-game routine is so meticulous that he carries a stopwatch around to ensure he is at the same point in his preparation before each game at the same time.  Check out mlb.com’s story on his routine from last postseason by clicking here: Alex Gordon’s Routine)

Develop a discipline within the Heart of the Competitor that is so uncommon, so exceptional that others envy and marvel at the ability to maintain such a meticulous attention to detail.

Question of the Day:

So you can be meticulous and establish discipline, what is one detail you will establish as a signature for your daily routine?

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The 1 Training You Never Want to Use

Imagine for a second that your training over your entire career was for one event, or one competition. Many may train for a marathon or a Triathlon, to say they have completed one of these in their lifetime. Now imagine this training for the one event or one competition was training you hoped you never had to use, such is the training of a Secret Service Agent. Their training consists of preparing to protect the life of the President of the United States. They train for an event, an assassination attempt on the President, however they hope they never have to use this training.

 

In the current environment of technology, most of the work of the Secret Service can be done through leads and securing areas ahead of time. This was not the case in 1981, when President Ronald Reagan was leaving the Washington Hilton and shots were fired. Immediately upon hearing these shots, Secret Service Agent Jerry Parr pushed President Reagan into the waiting limousine and jumped on top of President Reagan. Mr. Parr was performing and acting for the one event he had trained his entire career for. Mr. Parr passed away this week at the age of 85. The New York Times in an article announcing his passing used this quote from him, “I sort of knew what they (gunshots) were, and I’d been waiting for them all of my career, in a way. That’s what every agent waits for, is that.”

 

The Heart of the Competitor trains their skills everyday for events and competitions where they will use their skills, where they will compete. You are part of that community, part of that group who will perform at their peak. Just as Mr. Parr performed in a life and death scenario that he had trained for, you as a competitor have trained for every situation that you encounter. You have prepared your heart to compete.

 

When you perform and compete in such a way, you build your legacy and that is what Agent Parr did in 1981, he built his legacy and it is summed up in Nancy Reagan’s quote about him, “Jerry was not only one of the finest Secret Service agents to ever serve this country, but one of the most decent human beings I’ve ever known. He was humble but strong, reserved but confident, and blessed with a great sense of humor.

 

Live your life to be a humble and strong competitor, exhibiting the confidence to perform when called upon.

 

Enjoy the week and build your Heart of a Competitor.

 

P.S. Look for our next video in building your Heart of a Competitor and the 4 Heartsets that will come later this week.

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Selflessness = Your Mission

“Extreme teamwork developed when they transitioned from depending on plays for confidence to depending on one another.”

– John Eliot in his book, Help the Helper

The Heart of the Competitor realizes the importance of selflessness and understands that selflessness is truly self-sacrifice, the giving up of things for others.

For a team of individuals to reach the pinnacle of performance as a unit, there must be self-sacrifice. When the words sacrifice is brought into the equation, it conjures up images of losing something. The true competitor realizes that selflessness and teamwork are actually giving everything that we have to developing into a better person on a daily basis. This giving is a total commitment to the team’s goals, a confidence in teammates, and a realization that a team will accomplish exponentially more than individual.

This is the basis for Mr. Eliot’s quote from his book Help the Helper. This quote was found in his book when he was describing a basketball team. With a change in ownership, the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA began to focus their mindset on giving to others rather always taking. Each NBA team has sound plays they believe will allow them to be successful with their athletic ability. In the Trailblazers case, their extreme and unbeatable teamwork developed when they depended on each other, rather than depending on the play that was designed.

This is the compounding of energy. Relating this to basketball, the feeling that five are stronger than one, when five play as one. This is true of our hand, each finger plays an important role, however individually they are weak. When these fingers are placed together and work together, they become an important piece of a tool that accomplish great things.

Question of the Day:

Knowing that giving develops confidence and extreme teamwork, what can you do today to serve and give to one of your teammates?

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Recognizing Memorial Day

For many the Memorial Day weekend signifies the beginning of summer. The community swimming pools open, school year’s wind down, and family gatherings abound. Memorial Day is steeped in the tradition of recognizing the sacrifices that so many people have given to provide the freedoms that we enjoy in America today. The traditions and rituals of honoring and caring for those that have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty is a powerful reminder of the teamwork and commitment to each other that is a part of a soldier’s service to the American people.

 

The United States military branches are well known for “never leaving an American behind.” This is true for the fallen American Soldier as well. A fallen soldier is accompanied by another soldier on the flight home to Dover Air Force base and remains with them until they are returned to the family. We must continue to recognize those that have given their lives to support our freedoms. It is what Memorial Day is built on.

 

(Yochi Dreazen and Gary Fields wrote a powerful piece on the returning home of the American Soldier. The article entitled, “How We Bury the War Dead” appeared in the Wall Street Journal on May 29, 2010.)

 

Creating teams with the Heart of a Competitor can learn two lessons from the way United States Soldiers are treated:

 

  1. Each member of the team is valued.

Regardless of race, ethnicity, or rank, each soldier is treated with dignity and respect. Their service to the country is honored and recognized.

 

  1. The struggle within your own team can change the way you treat each other.

The Civil War was a major reason the treatment of the fallen soldier was changed. Congress decided that those soldiers that fought for the country deserved to be recognized for their sacrifice and set up the national cemeteries that we have today.

 

Know that the struggles you face as an individual, a team, or an organization will change you. These changes we undergo are essential to becoming the people, team, or organization we are destined to become.

 

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The MOST Important Japanese Word

Creating an environment where everyone can grow, develop and ultimately achieve is the goal of every, parent, teacher, coach, and leader. An environment that promotes performing outside of our comfort zone is essential to growth and development. This is difficult in the American Society that is based solely on winners and losers, rather than development.

 

The development mindset is commonplace in Asian culture. The cultures of the Far East value pushing each other to take risks and improve weaknesses. In the Far East, there is a focus on improving a weakness and persisting through the agony with patience and dignity.   The word that is used in the Japanese language for this concept is “gaman.”

 

Many people outside of the Japanese culture view this as introverted, reserved and showing no emotion, however in the Japanese society it is considered a show of strength in the way they attack a weakness or endure the suffering that comes with this in their development.

 

In their book, The Confidence Code, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman reported the term, gaman, when it is loosely translated means, “keep trying.” In Far Eastern cultures, it is expected that you keep trying and learning as you endure and persist through any agony with patience and dignity.

 

Build on a weakness this week. Keep trying, endure, and persist through your struggles, for those that win are likely those that continue on the longest.

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10 Ways to Have the “Luck of the Irish”

Four_Leaf_Clover_03

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, this weekly newsletter contains 10 Irish Proverbs or Blessings that Championship Competitors can use to mold the Heart of a Competitor.

  1. May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor ever remember what is best forgetting. -Irish Blessing

Playing in the present moment is about letting go of any past performances that keep us from performing at our potential. Learn the lessons from the past and focus on the present moment. You are meant to be in this present moment.

  1. Praise the young and they will blossom. – Irish Proverb

Be positive with our kids and they will grow to have the Heart of a Competitor, focused on what they can control, giving all out effort, and doing the little things that are needed to be successful.

  1. There is no luck except where there is discipline. – Irish Proverb

Habits and routines build a discipline that allows the Championship Competitor to “be in the right place at the right time.” Create championship habits and routines in your daily life.

  1. If you do not sow in the spring, you will not reap in the autumn. – Irish Proverb

We must place priorities in our lives and work towards accomplishing these priorities. Accomplishment is rooted in working hard on the priorities that you have established. True achievement occurs over a long period of time.

  1. It is a long road that has no turning. -Irish Proverb on Life

Success is a journey and becoming a championship competitor is about enjoying the long road of life.

  1. You will never plow a field by turning it over in your mind. – Irish Proverb

Championship Competitors create plans in their mind AND take action. Nothing gets accomplished in our mind, those with the Heart of a Competitor take action.

  1. An old broom knows the dirty corners best. – Irish Proverb

Experience is a great teacher. Championship Competitors learn from their experiences and tap into the experiences of others.

  1. Count your joys instead of your woes. Count your friends instead of your foes. – Irish Proverb

Focus on the positive relationships in your life and be rid of those that bring you down.

  1. May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live. – Irish Blessing

The Heart of a Competitor is competing to become the best they can become. The Heart of a Competitor is focused on competition and not comparing, not wanting what others have, but living a life that is full of what is best for them.

  1. “Old Irish Blessing”

Always remember to forget the things that made you sad.

But never forget to remember the things that made you glad.

Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue.

But never forget to remember those that have stuck by you.

Always remember to forget the troubles that passed away.

But never forget to remember the blessing that come each day.

This week, may you be blessed with the good fortune of the Irish. The good fortune that comes from remembering what has made you glad, those competitors that are in the fight with you, and the blessings that are in your life.