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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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It’s not the How, it’s the Why!

Last week, we noted a small change that could make a big difference and allowing that small change to be present and impactful when utilized over an extended period of time.  Our society has evolved into a fast-food, immediate results driven world, however anything that is worth building requires persistence over an extended period of time.  So when making our small changes, we must commit to sticking with these small changes to allow them to have an impact in our lives.

For me, the small change for me was the planning and preparation that goes into selecting clothes that I will wear for school.  Last year, I committed to planning the clothes I would wear for the week and my closet looked like this:

Every Saturday, I would plan out my outfits for the week.  This simple step would save me time throughout the week, so I never needed to make a decision in the morning and waste time figuring out what I would wear.  This small change saved me time each morning for the entire school year.  This was a small change that led to big results over a long period of time.

Which leads me to this school year.  My closet now looks like this:

Instead of spending time each Saturday planning out the clothes for the week, I have created 16 sets of outfits that can be rotated throughout the first month of the school year.  This will allow me to be even more efficient and move down through these combinations and eliminate the weekly decision-making that was previously required.  This is yet another small change when implemented over the long period of time will save time and allow for big results.

What goals do you have that you could use a little more time to accomplish?

Commit to making the small change over a long period of time and you will achieve big results.

The Community of Competitors Newsletter is not about telling you how to go about living your life, but it is about the WHY in your life.  Those with the Heart of a Competitor have a WHY.  The WHY for me in adapting my closet is to provide the time for me to have an impact on your life, so I can share the energy and enthusiasm with you.  This Community of Competitors will only grow when I share the energy and enthusiasm with you, so I am asking this week that you make one small change and share this email with one person that think can benefit from the Heart of a Competitor’s message.

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Small Changes Get Big Results

As we near the end of the summer and many parents, athletes, and coaches are preparing for a new school year we can evaluate our goals and determine what changes we would like to make to achieve at our highest level. Many people see the word CHANGE and cringe; they lack the foresight and mental toughness to know that change is continuous and leads to improvement.

Do you know what is great about the changes that occur in our life?

The smallest changes can make the biggest difference. About 15 months ago, I made a small change to my before bed routine, this small change added on average 34 seconds to my bedtime routine.

What was this one small change?

I began flossing. That’s right, I started to floss each evening and it takes about 34 seconds for me to do this. There was very little change in the dentist appointment that I had six months after starting to floss, however, the big change that occurred was this past week at my usual nine month teeth cleaning, the entire appointment from the time I walked in the door until the time I left, lasted a whopping 34 minutes and my dentist informed me that I had a great set of teeth.

Why is it important that you care about my dental hygiene?

The truth is, you should not care about my dental hygiene, but you should care about the small things you can do that will make a big difference for you. It is the small things that we do over and over, that do not seem to matter when we are doing them, that lead to the big results and payoffs in our life.

The truth is most people will not do the small things that are seemingly insignificant but will lead to success.

How do we know this? According to the American Dental Association, 50% of Americans DO NOT floss daily. That means that 50% of the people refuse to do a little thing that leads to greater health.

Those that perform at their best on a daily basis, the Champions of Competition, commit to do the small things that do not seem to matter, and they commit to doing them with uncommon focus and energy.

What is a small thing that you can change, add, or adapt in your life as we prepare for a new school year?

Share your one small change with me, by simply commenting on this post.

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Our Minds are NOT Machines

This past week, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of an awesome team. It was a team of volunteers and workers that were tasked with getting the Golf course at Lancaster Country Club prepared each day for the United States Women’s Open. Preparing the course each day is a major undertaking, which consists of basically mowing every single blade of grass in the playing area on an over 6,400 yard golf course. Our team included over 100 volunteers and workers and countless pieces of equipment, including over 10 fairway mowers, and numerous mowers designated to mow the greens, tees, and the treacherous rough. The entire process is nothing short of amazing.

 

Fortunately, I was assigned to work with a team of individuals that would mow greens. The greens mowers were set to cut the grass on the greens to 1/10 of an inch; these are finely tuned machines, calibrated each day and night. If we got to a green and the mower was not cutting properly, it was returned to the maintenance building and a new mower was brought out to use. On Friday morning, on the greens mowing crew I was with, we changed our greens mower three times because it was not cutting the grass properly.

 

These machines were not performing to the proper expectations and were discarded at that time for a new machine. This sounds a lot like our mindset at times. When we face adversity, we want to discard our current approach and look for a new one. We however, are not machines and cannot just go out and find something that is supposed to function better. We are humans and we must develop our mental toughness to endure any situation and perform to the best of our abilities. Performing our best includes developing the confidence we have in ourselves, with an optimistic mindset with positive energy to mindfully live in the present moment.

 

This week, stick to your process, not discarding it. Focus on your process of development, not discarding it for a new machine quickly when adversity hits.

 

Enjoy the week and grow every day.

 

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Your Actions = Your Signature

As we wrap up the Independence Day weekend and embark on a new week, I wanted to let you in on a little tidbit of information I learned this past weekend.  On July 4th, I decided to read the Declaration of Independence with my family.  (It was longer than I expected, and with the ages of my children, after about 1 minute I was the only one listening.)  As I neared the end of the Declaration of Independence, I noticed the names of the individuals that signed this document were listed.  There are a total of 56 signatures on the Declaration of Independence.  Not surprisingly, the list of individuals that signed the Declaration of Independence is a Who’s Who’s of names engrained in our country’s lineage:

Benjamin Franklin
Thomas Jefferson
John Adams

The one name that is glaringly omitted from the signatures…George Washington.  

This struck me, here is George Washington, noted as a great leader, the man responsible for winning a number of battles in the Revolutionary War, the first President of the United States of America and his signature is not on the document that established this country’s independence.

This is yet another reminder that we do not have to be the first to be recognized as an integral part of a revolution.  George Washington is known for being a great leader as the first President of the United States, however there were many things that led to this first and it was based on his body of work, and established ability to lead, not a signature he placed on a document.  George Washington’s actions were his signature, and while his actions were not perfect, they were carried out with conviction, belief.

This week, focus on your actions, and forget the notion of perfection, and focus on conviction, for your actions are your signature.

Click on this link to check out Doug Conant’s Blog Post on 3 Leadership Lessons Learned from George Washington

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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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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.

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Go With Your Heart

As you give more of your heart, you get more in return.

As you give more of your heart, your influence expands.

As you give more of your heart, you are called to give more.

As you give more of your heart, you develop strength.

As you give more of your heart, you have the courage to COMPETE.

 

Competing takes courage. The courage to test your limits. The courage to step outside of your comfort zone and place your abilities to the test. The courage to fight the societal pressure of wins and losses. The courage to compete with yourself instead of comparing yourself to others.

 

The Heart of the Competitor is a courageously driven machine to become the best it can become. You have the Heart of a Competitor and are driven to create and use every possible situation as a learning opportunity.

 

In his book Choke, Sian Beilock details the need to prepare for performance in stressful moments by training with stressful situations. Police officers that are trained to be able to shoot and hit a target while being fired upon are much more successful than those that have only ever practiced without return fire. This is a must for the Heart of a Competitor, training in mentally and physically stressful situations. For the Heart of a Competitor, the number one way to create stressful situations in practice is to keep track of your progress in an area and that is done by keeping score. If you want to get better at something in a competitive situation, keep score of it in a practice situation and hold yourself accountable.

 

As you give more of your heart and focus in practice, you will get more of your heart and focus in a competition.

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Trusting Relationships = Winning

This past weekend, I shared a short time with members of the 2005 Franklin and Marshall Baseball team as they celebrated the 10-year anniversary of our conference championship. I have had a number of opportunities to be on coaching staffs of teams that have been successful, but the group of players on this team always sticks out as an example of what it takes to function as a unit. The members of this team have moved on to successful careers in medicine, law, investments, and real estate, to name a few. This close-knit group had success on the baseball field and enjoyed many memories off the field as well and I asked them to reflect on their experience ten years later, by pondering this question:

Did the winning lead to the relationships or did the relationships lead to winning?

The discussion around these questions ended up being a circular argument, with no definitive answer. However there was agreement from the players that their relationships were strong and the success they achieved as a group provided relationships that have lasted.

Strong relationships of trust among a team are essential because so many things happen over the course of a game, a season, and a career that are out of our control and the strength of a team’s relationships provides the needed support system to achieve the wins and championships. In sports and life, there are many factors that influence winning, which leaves much of it out of our control. The one thing we control is our self and our relationships on a team. Building the relationships on the team will produce a strong environment for individuals and the team to thrive.

The discussions that took place this weekend among the members of the 2005 Franklin and Marshall College Baseball Team were all focused on their experiences as a member of a team. Their memories were based on the experiences they shared and the relationships they built, rarely mentioning single wins or achievements of an individual. If this is what is remembered 10 years later, then as a coach, we called to create an environment where these relationships are paramount.

For those players reading this, build relationships based on trust throughout your team and great memories will be made.