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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 Year in Review

During this final month of the year, it is commonplace for people to take stock in their year and prepare for a new year.  Just this past week, Facebook released their Year in Review of the news stories that made connections on social media, while YouTube released their #YouTubeRewind Video that celebrates the videos, people, music and movies that made 2015.

Living a life of purpose, a life that celebrates the value of the 1% improvement everyday, includes taking stock in your progress over time.  The end of the calendar year is a great time for the competitor to recognize their growth over time.  Look back over the year of 2015 and take stock of your daily 1% improvements that when compounded together has created huge growth in your life.  You see, these small little improvements are what make up the big stories that fill our world.

These videos and Year in Review pieces that will inhabit our world during December will trumpet the large headlines and impactful events that have occurred throughout the year, however, we will forget these over time.  What we will not forget is the struggle, sweat, and energy that we put into our lives of progress and competition to become more and be more every single day.  This is true competition, competing with ourselves to become more, pushing to achieve at a higher level every single day.  You set the bar at a higher level, maintaining your routine and believing in progress; this is what makes your year not just good, but GREAT.  Those with the Heart of a Competitor do not settle for mediocrity, to just be average, they STRIVE to become more, surrounding themselves with people that have the same purpose.

Recently wrote a feature story about athletes and teams that have taken on the focus of continual development and being a competitor that is full of heart.  These are stories of athletes and teams that made a conscious decision to enjoy the journey and commit to becoming more.  During their journey, and their development, they achieved results, and it is these results that will be shouted from the mountaintop and will be remembered in their Year in Review.  However, the true celebration is in the growth that each of them has attained.  Click here to read about those Competitors that are able to Conquer the Mind.

This week, Review Your Year and celebrate the daily journey to become more.

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Enthusiasm is a State of “BE”ing

“If you just hang around, do things with uninterest, griping for everything what is there, your life will be bitterest.  Laziness, tiredness will follow, your life will be pure agony, constantly griping about job, family, friends will have disharmony.  However, if you perk up, doing everything from the heart, with pure interest, go about like a dart.  I do not mean ambition, when you step on others, but do everything happily, not like losers.  Your life will turn into lights and happiness, when you make yourself enthusiastic with cheerfulness.  Specially when you stop opposing everything, sliding thru the days with happy glowing.  It is up to you what you choose.”

– LaSoaphia QuXazs

In today’s society we are pulled in many different directions, being called to multi-task at every possible moment.  Our minds love this because rarely does the mind desire to be still, it must have something to focus on, a problem to be solved.  However, this is not an effective strategy to be an effective present moment Competitor.  The Competitor must engage on the task at hand, they must “be where their feet are” and do things with interest.

Review the quote above and LaSoaphia provides strong words to BE engaged by “doing everything from the heart, with pure interest.”  This is true for the person with the Heart of a Competitor.  When you are doing homework, BE doing the homework and BE doing it with enthusiasm.  When you are calling a client, talk with the client, BE in the conversation and put your heart into the conversation.  When you are at practice, working on your skills, BE at practice and BE working on your skills.

Enthusiasm is a state of BEING.  Once we start engaging in enthusiasm, it permeates through our being and as written above, “Your life will turn into lights and happiness, when you make yourself enthusiastic with cheerfulness.”  The Competitor chooses to BE enthusiastic; this choice brings happiness and light into their lives.

For me, this is the basis of all that Heart of a Competitor is about.  The Heart of the Competitor lives with ENTHUSIASM and ENERGY in everything they do and everything they engage in.  This enthusiasm and energy will spread to those around you creating a network of energy that is unbeatable.

Questions of the Day:

Observe your attitude and comments today.  Are they comments of compliments and happiness?  Are they comments of complaints and bitterness?

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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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Effort is Essential to Excellence

“It is impossible to attain perfection, but that should be the goal.  Less than 100 percent of your effort in every respect toward attaining your objective is not success, regardless of individual honors received or the number of games won or lost.” 

– John Wooden, Hall of Fame College Basketball Coach

Even though perfection is unattainable, Coach Wooden references maintaining 100% of our effort to achieving perfection in everything the competitor does.  Maintaining the goal of perfection forces our focus on the ability to continually develop and push our self toward our goals and perform at our best, knowing that each competition is a checkpoint in our progress to observe our development.  The competition should in no way have the feeling as a need to prove what our skills are.  If we take on the mindset of needing to prove how good we are, this is a recipe for second-guessing and NOT feeling skilled enough to belong, the epitome of the Fixed Mindset.  The Growth Mindset values the effort, understanding that effort is the path to improvement, and eventually achievement.  (For more on the Growth vs. Fixed Mindset, check out the book Mindset by Carol Dweck.)

The effort to be successful permeates through every opportunity to improve.  The effort to improve your physical skills in every opportunity, combined with the effort to improve your mental skills every single day, with an intense effort to maintain and improve your emotional well being.  This is perfection as a competitor; this is the establishment of the Heart of a Competitor.

Developing a team to have the Heart of a Competitor is also essential and the effort to dominate every possible aspect of the game is the goal.  This is the focus of Coach Wooden’s quote, 100% of your effort in every aspect of the game.  For his basketball teams, there was an attention to detail offensively, defensively, and every aspect of preparation.  The expectation was that you would provide 100% effort in each of these phases.  The Heart of the Competitor maintains this focus and commits to 100% effort because they understand the difference and the impact that last 1% has on achieving greatness.

Question of the Day:

How have you chosen to provide 100% effort to your physical, mental, and emotional skills?

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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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Big Thinking Leads to Big Doing

In his book The Magic of Thinking Big, Dr. David Schwartz provides twelve statements that contrast a “petty thinker’s” approach with a “big thinker’s” approach. His 4th statement focuses on the future and is as follows:

Petty Thinker:          Views the future as limited.

Big Thinker:             Sees the future as very promising.

The Heart of the Competitor sees the future, understands the promise of the future and pursues this promising future every single day. The promising future pushes the limits of what is currently and while doing this, achieves unbelievable and unimaginable dreams.


You are this person, you are the BIG THINKER and because you see the future as promising, you act to make it happen. You have the Heart of the Competitor and you consistently and persistently march forward to make your future a reality. In those moments when doubt creeps into your mind, your faith kicks it out with vengeance. You choose to live and compete with faith, stomping out any fear like a whack-a-mole.


The promising future that you envision must be followed with the work and attention to detail to accomplish this future, pushing yourself to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile everyday. In pushing to achieve a difficult and worthwhile objective you are developing the promising future your Heart of a Competitor desires.




Question of the Day:


What reminders will you place in your life to remind yourself and remember the future is promising?

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Life is a Clumsy Balance


“A career path is rarely a path at all. A more interesting life is usually a more crooked, winding path of missteps, luck and vigorous work. It is almost always a clumsy balance between the things you try to make happen and the things that happen to you.”

– Tom Freston, Entertainment Industry Executive


Albert Einstein reminded us that in order to maintain balance in life, we needed to keep moving forward, to keep pedaling our bike. The Yin and Yang introduced us to the understanding that what we view as opposites are actually complementary and are interdependent of each other. Gandhi taught us to live in harmony by matching what we think, with what we say, and what we do. These individuals and concepts have existed for an extensive period of time. Tom Freston, on the other hand is a 21st century entrainment industry executive, having been one of the team members that founded Music Television, known as MTV.


Mr. Freston’s quote above is a short, yet powerful lesson on the balance that is required in life to progress on our journey of developing the Heart of a Competitor. While he begins with a reference to a career path, he is truly relating balancing adversity and experiences in life, and this is true for the competitor within us. Our journey to the Heart of a Competitor is fraught with winding missteps, luck and vigorous work. Through the adversity, the learning opportunities that many people refer to as mistakes, the competitor embarks on the winding road, not a path, which is life.


The Heart of the Competitor is always searching and pushing to make things happen, searching for opportunities to make their mark, improve their skills. There are times, when it is more about utilizing the things that have happened to you and not what you have made happen. Balance is essential to being open and prepared for things to happen to you and being able to respond. Dynamic balance is utilized when moving in athletics and dynamic balance is needed in our competitive and mental well-being. The dynamic balance to keep moving forward and enjoying the journey as events and things happen to you.


Question of the Day:

Evaluate yourself today; did your thoughts, words, and actions match each other? Did they move you forward toward your goals?

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Ensuring Your Message Sent AND is Received


About three years ago, my oldest son, Simon decided he wanted to play catch with me. Needless to say, I was ecstatic and attempted to enjoy our first catch. After about 10-15 throws back and forth, watching him use his left hand to throw, my mind jumped ahead to the possibility of having a left-handed pitcher in the family. As he threw with his left hand, he also stepped with his left foot. I could only bite my tongue so long. I proceeded to provide high quality coaching and feedback to him. As I returned the ball to him for another throw, my high quality feedback to him was as follows, “Simon, use the other foot.” As attentive as a three year-old can be, he took the ball in his left hand, looked at it and decided to drop the ball and kick it to me with his right foot. He did exactly as his coach had said he used his other foot.


Coaching and pushing people forward to achieve at their highest level is all about sending and receiving messages. Whether you are a coach, a parent, or a player, you are sending a message, and it is important to ensure the message you are intending to send is the one that is received.


As a coach, involve the player in allowing them to provide feedback on the message they receive. Do not be afraid to ask the player, “What did you hear me say?” or “What does that look like to you?”


As a player, do not be afraid to ask a coach, “Is this what you are asking me to do?” or “Is this the adjustment you want me to make.”


As a parent, ask your son or daughter the messages they received during practice or a game. This can easily be incorporated into the Daily Register that was discussed in last week’s message. (Click here to read last week’s post on the Daily Register.)


The more I work with teams and individuals, the more I am convinced that success is based on the connection of the individuals in a network of energy. This energy is contagious and will spread creating a larger network of energy. The connection begins with messages being exchanged in support of the development of the athlete.


Players, coaches, and parents I would love to hear your feedback on methods you have used to ensure your message is being heard and interpreted in the way you envisioned.


Click below to complete a one-question survey and I will share the responses with our Community of Competitors. Remember our goal is to help everyone in this community become the best they can become.


How do you ensure the message you intended to send is interpreted properly?

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1 Simple Tool to Jumpstart Your Day

The conclusion of June marked the end of the second quarter of 2015 and the halfway point of the year. At this point, we should take an inventory of the first half of the year and evaluate what adjustments we need to make.

Based on the feedback from previous weekly messages, many of you have chosen a word for the year. My word for the year is GROWTH. For me this word was chosen to represent the challenge to take risks and push to grow. As I reflected, there were times during the year that my focus on growth had led to trying to do too many things. I forget where I heard it, but a saying that creeps into my mind describes what can happen in our society is that we wear “busyness as a badge of honor.” Busyness is not a badge of honor and she should be able to slow down and live our life, enjoying it to the fullest extent.

Since July 5th, I have been using something called a “Daily Register.” It is a combination of a Mission and Goal-focused, Attitude of Gratitude, and Success Journal al wrapped up in one


Click here to download and use the FREE template of the “Daily Register.”


Each morning, take the time to create 3 goals for the day. This may be a to-do list for you, or simply a mindset that you would like to maintain. (One day last week, my goal was as follows: Say Yes whenever the boys ask me to do something with them.)

The next portion of the daily register is to write down the daily quote that is posted on Twitter. These quotes are delivered at 6 AM everyday and they are a service to you to help focus your mind for the day. (One recipient of the newsletter told me these quotes are his alarm.) Click here to see today’s quote on Twitter.

The next portion of the Daily Register is the 3 X 5 strategy from Jon Gordon and it is labeled the Attitude of Gratitude portion of the Daily Register. By the end of the day, you should be able to come up with 3 things you are grateful for by 5 PM. (I must admit, I cheat on this strategy; I usually complete this just before I head to bed, which is usually after 5 PM.)

Lastly, complete the portion that includes the one success or one lesson learned. The lesson or success that is reported can be as big or small as you want it to be.

Imagine if you completed this Daily Register for the last two weeks of July, what a powerful momentum builder that would be the reminder of 2015. Now is the time to get started.


Click here to download and use the FREE template of the “Daily Register.”