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You weren’t put here to SUCK

You weren’t put on this earth to SUCK, you were put here to be SUCCESSFUL.

We are built to be great. We are given the tools to develop the Heart of a Competitor and achieve greatness. If you are reading this message, you believe that you have the ability to live with greatness. Having this ability to achieve greatness and be successful, you also have to believe that at any point, you can just plain out suck and be a failure. It is the struggle that we place in our minds in every endeavor we undertake. This is a battle every single day. Are we going to SUCK or are we going to move toward SUCCESS?

Throughout our experiences there have definitely been times where we have sucked. It is our job to take this SUCK and turn it into SUCCESS. We are one move away from success. This is the fight; this is the fire that burns within, to push forward to be successful. The Heart of a Competitor takes this SUCK and COMPETES with all of their focus on fighting to achieve their success. This might be your physical fight to get into shape or accomplish a physical goal or the mental and emotional fight to push through any resistance that is in place. The resistance can occur outside or inside of you. Any resistance that you experience is the filling of the fuel tank.

We must experience the SUCK to fill your fuel tank for SUCCESS. Successful people recycle the SUCK into a biofuel that fills their fuel tank. Greatness requires a fuel tank that is burning deep within our soul and propelling us forward. Your SUCK is fuel for your SUCCESS. Success is not a one-day effort; it is a continual process of pushing and pursuing. This is why you need a large fuel tank and those that are the best in the world have huge fuel tanks. Novak Djokovic’s fuel tank was filled with the SUCK of being forced to practice on a makeshift tennis court in an old swimming pool. (ESPN.com article) This SUCK was his fuel for SUCCESS.

You have not been put on this Earth to SUCK, but this SUCK is FUEL for your SUCCESS.

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Fueling Your Heart of a Competitor

The last edition of the Community of Competitors Newsletter for January will focus on building a mindset that allows us to RESPOND.  Our responses are programmed into us based on what we have placed into our mind.  Our bodies are fueled by the food we take in, our minds are nourished by what we process.  If you want to be a positive, confident, competitive, and trusting teammate, you must associate with positive, confident, competitive, and trusting people.  The Heart of a Competitor is built around creating associations and having inputs in our lives that build up the traits we want to express and live out.

This is based on pieces from the best-selling book The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, and a quote that originally came from Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” 

So, look around at whom or what are you associating with and look at the impact these associations are having on you.  Whether you are a coach, a parent, an athlete, or businessperson reading this post, your associations are impacting your performance.

As a leader, if you desire to be a person who is continually motivating your players, maintaining a positive attitude toward developing your players, look at what you are bringing into your life.

What are you reading?
How are you developing the positive mindset that will translate to your players and program?
What podcasts are you listening to?

Personally, I do not watch or listen to the news, 99% of the news has no bearing on the goals that we are pursuing or those that are around me are pursuing.  There are two podcasts that nourish my mind and I wanted to share them with the Community of Competitors, so you can fill your emotional and spiritual tank:

Dr. Michael Gervais – Finding Mastery Podcast
Dr. Bhrett McCabe – The Mindside Podcast

These two podcasts provide constant reinforcement and connection to the mindset of continuous improvement and high performance.  The format for each of these podcasts is conversational and allows for you to connect to Dr. Gervais and Dr. McCabe. This connection creates a link into these experts as one of the five people that you spend time with.

In this day and age of technology, with increased information and idea sharing, we are able to create a circle of five associations that can dramatically impact our lives and those that we come in contact with or those that we mentor.  The associations the Heart of the Competitor creates in their life impacts the way we the RESPOND.

Players, the same is true for you.  Look around at those that you spend the most time with.  Your attitude is the average of your five closest friends.  Evaluate these influences and determine which are healthy and building you up to achieve your goals.  If they are not healthy, find a way to change it.

As you attack this week with energy and enthusiasm, look around at your associations and what is put into your Heart of a Competitor.  Be aware of these influences and the impact they have on your RESPONSE.  Nourish your mind with that which will build your masterpiece.

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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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Learning from Dabo Swinney’s Response

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.

Our lives are built around how we respond.  Last week, we provided an example of a back-up quarterback, Bram Kohlhausen, responding when he was given the one opportunity to start a game in his last collegiate game, after five years as a back-up quarterback.

In honor of Monday’s National Championship game, our focus on responding comes from Clemson Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney.  Coach Swinney’s career path has been made up of RESPONSES and it has landed his program in the National Championship game.  Coach Swinney has made the progression from walk-on player, to Graduate Assistant, to Assistant Coach, to Commercial Real Estate Agent, to Assistant Coach, to Interim Head Coach, to his current position at the Head Football Coach at Clemson University.  In November, the Washington Post released an article outlining Coach Sweeney’s career path.  (Washington Post Article: Dabo Swinney was the best shopping center leasing agent in Alabama)

An individual with the Heart of a Competitor is the sum of their RESPONSES and when we respond with authenticity and enthusiasm, we will be successful.  When a competitor that lacks heart RESPONDS with negativity and a lack of self-control, they will spiral downward and fail.  The Cincinnati Bengals performance and subsequent loss on Saturday were an example of this lack of control.

Continue to RESPOND with the Heart of a Competitor in 2016.

Check out last week’s post on RESPONDING:
Your Response = Your Success 

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Your Response Will Determine Your Success

My goal during the month of January is to share stories and examples of great competitors RESPONDING to adversity.  This week’s example about RESPONDING comes from the Texas Christian University Football team.  You can list a number of pieces of adversity the TCU Football team encountered at the Alamo Bowl, from their start starting quarterback getting suspended for the game to falling behind 31-0 in the second half, the Horned Frogs RESPONDED.

The RESPONSE to the adversity experienced was evident and put on display in the 2016 Alamo Bowl, but it was built and engrained in the Horned Frog Culture over the last 10 years.  In 2006, almost 10 years ago, Ivan Maisel, an ESPN Senior Writer, wrote a piece on the TCU Football program’s “Enthusiasm Station.” (Check out the ESPN.com article by clicking here.)  The “Enthusiasm Station” is built into a conditioning circuit the Horned Frogs complete early in the morning one day a week.  This “Enthusiasm Station” dictates how long they continue in their conditioning circuit.  Their RESPONSE in the “Enthusiasm Station” is based solely on their desire to push through and use the adversity in the conditioning circuit as an advantage.  Their enthusiasm was practiced, never left to chance, built for 10 years and displayed at the Alamo Bowl.

The enthusiastic RESPONSE was also evident in Quarterback Bram Kohlhausen.  Kohlhausen is a fifth-year senior who has been backing up the starter, a sophomore, the entire season.  He responded when given the opportunity, in what ends up being Kohlhausen’s only start in his entire college football career.  This only start occurred a little under two months after his father passed away in early November.  Kohlhausen RESPONDED by competing with the Heart of a Competitor engaging in the present moment with confidence.

This is just one example of a person and a team RESPONDING, however there are examples all around us of people and programs RESPONDING to adversity.  We do not control what is happening around us, but and this is a big BUT, we control our RESPONSE.  In 2016, I encourage you to RESPOND, build your masterpiece, and compete with the Heart of a Competitor.  Like Bram Kohlhausen, you may only get one opportunity and your RESPONSE will determine what is made of this one opportunity.

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Enjoy Your Growth as You Respond

Respond

As we enter the last week of 2015 take the time to pause and reflect on the year.  As you reflect, try to do this impartially, allowing your mind to observe what occurred.  These events and your progress will eventually be labeled as successful or not however, we challenge you to truly reflect on the progress that has been made in your life.  If you do not see progress, make a commitment to use your strengths in 2016.  Notice I said, use your strengths, not improve on your weaknesses.  It is commonplace for people to choose a New Year’s resolution in an area of their life they are dissatisfied with, an area of weakness.  This approach is a set-up for failure.

This week, I challenge you to a new way of thinking for the year 2016, choose a word that will provide clarity and direction to your life for the entire year.  (This process is outlined in the book One Word the Will Change your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page)

Over the last two years, I have utilized the process of choosing a word that you will live out and engage in for the year.  This process has provided clarity and direction.  My word for 2014 was “Enjoy.”  Throughout 2014, my focus was enjoying every moment that was gifted to me.  As 2015 comes to a close and I reflect on my word of “Growth,” I have been blessed with immense growth throughout the year.  Here is last year’s post on the word “Growth.”

If you look back at last year’s message on the word “Growth,” my goal was to use every opportunity as an area of growth, utilizing my strengths to continually grow and in turn see those that we have been blessed to work with will grow.  As I review 2015, I can emphatically say that I have been blessed with GROWTH throughout my life.

For 2016, I have chosen the word “Respond.”  In going through the process of having a word choose me for the year, I kept coming back to our lives as Competitors being built NOT on what is happening around us, but how we RESPOND to what is occurring around us.  If we look around at the Competitors that have been successful and achieved their goals, they respond with a focus and determination that is unmatched.

We are looking for you as a member of the Community of Competitors to help all of us RESPOND in 2016.  Pass this message on to someone and grow the Community of Competitors.

This brings us to you.  What do you want out of 2016?  Over the next week, as you mindfully progress through your work on a daily basis, observe what is occurring and what you want for next year.  Choose a word that provides clarity and direction for your life.  When you have decided on a word, email it to me, share it on social media with a message to me, or comment below with your word.

If you would like to se receive this as an email directly to your inbox, use the following link to join the Community of Competitors:

Community of Competitors Weekly Newsletter

Enjoy and grow throughout this week.

Yours in Competition,

Jeff Swarr

Chief Competition Officer

 

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Enjoy the Journey

“The only journey is the one within.”

 – Rainer Maria Rilke, Poet and Novelist

 “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

 – Lao-Tzu, Philosopher and Poet

The journey each of us engages in to develop our Heart of a Competitor has the ability to be the most rewarding movement in our lives. Our journey is designed to be the individual development into the best competitor that we can become. This journey has no limits. It has no limits because there is no limit to self-improvement. This is the journey that is within the Heart of the Competitor, a journey to reach beyond the current limitations. It is as Rainer Rilke references above, the journey within.

The Heart of the Competitor’s journey is made up of action and risk-taking. This is not haphazard, reckless abandon, but it is pushing the limits and taking action. On our journey it is better to have taken action and failed than to have done nothing. When we take action, we are provided feedback and shown ways we can improve. However, when we take no action, we learn nothing and maintain the status quo. The Heart of the Competitor’s journey is meant to be more than the status quo.

As you read and engage in the march to the Heart of a Competitor, take action. The journey that you are engaging in is one of action. It is the journey of your life, and Lao Tzu writes in the quote above, your thousand miles and it begins with one step. Your one step was picking up this book. Now continue on and take your next step. After this step, you will take another step. You are building a journey of self-improvement that is never-ending, yet continuously rewarding.

Question of the Day:

What is your next step on your journey to the Heart of a Competitor?

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The Core of the Heart of a Competitor

Living with the Heart of a Competitor is not based on a set of mental skills or a specific strategy, living with the Heart of a Competitor is the understanding that everything we do comes from our Heart. The Heart is the center of a physical, intellectual, and most importantly spiritual life.

It is easy to understand the Heart as the center of the physical body. We can understand how it pumps blood throughout our body, delivering oxygen to our working muscles, while at the same time pulling wastes, by-products of pushing ourselves to the limit away from our body.

The heart is also the center for intellectual and spiritual life. Our heart is connected to our thinking, our intellectual center, and the Holy Bible connects these functions of the mind with the Heart in numerous verses, including Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” This Heart is at the center of everything we do and are. Our competitive lives are the result of our Heart of a Competitor, “As the water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” (Proverbs 27:19) Thus, if we are to BE competitors, it must come from our heart to give all that is possible to yourself and your passion.

Look outside these biblical references and review the links with Heart in our language. The word “courage” has roots that connect it with the Heart. Courage comes from same root as French word couer, which means Heart. Our courage in competition comes from our Heart.

We then add the Competition with the Heart to form the Heart of a Competitor. Let’s delve a little deeper into the word “Competition.” Everything in life is a competition, however, competitors typically look to compete against others, rather than with others. True competition rests squarely with ourselves. The Latin Root of COMPETE, com petire means “to seek together.” While many people view competition as a struggle, a push and pull with an opponent, at its’ heart, competition is not a struggle it is a dance. In this dance, we are working together with our opponent to seek together a performance that allows both of us to perform at our best.

This is the Heart of a Competitor and when we live with the Heart of a Competitor, our life will reflect this. We will openly seek opportunities to work together to become better than we were the day before.

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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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Turning Lemons into Lemonade

“One of the major keys to success is to keep moving forward on the journey, making the best of the detours and interruptions, turning adversity into advantage.”

– John C. Maxwell, Author and Leadership Expert

Successful people, groups, and teams move forward, continually focusing on what can be done better. On the journey, the Heart of the Competitor is reminded that within every challenge is an opportunity and it is the job of the Heart of a Competitor to find this opportunity.

In today’s quote, noted author John Maxwell has termed this, turning adversity into an advantage. Mentally tough individuals are prepared to turn the adversity they have faced into an advantage. This advantage may be the mental toughness that is developed from the experience or a lesson learned from a situation that is now applied to be successful in the next game, presentation, or sales pitch. The experiences for the Heart of the Competitor are now the advantage for the Heart of the Competitor.

On the journey to developing the Heart of a Competitor there will be successes and there will be failures. The successes that have been and will be experienced are enjoyable and create great memories, however, the failures and adversity that we experience are the greatest teachers and lead the Heart of a Competitor to the greatest successes.

This perspective on adversity is essential to being able to move forward on the journey to developing and continually building your Heart of a Competitor. Keeping in mind the following quote from author, Robert Updegraff, “Happiness is to be found along the way, not at the end of the road, for then the journey is over and it is too late.” Continue your journey to the Heart of a Competitor.

Question of the Day: 

How have you turned the adversity you have experienced into an advantage?