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Engaging the TRIBE of Competitors

As we enter the first week of 2017 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 2017.  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 2017, 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 three 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.  While my word for 2015 “Growth,” I have been blessed with immense growth throughout the year.  Here was my post for the beginning of 2015 post on the word “Growth.”

For 2016, the word “Respond” chose me.  This word chose me because our lives are made of our responses to what is occurring around us and as I reflect on 2016, my responses were focused and the awesome piece is that I enjoyed personal and professional growth throughout the year.  You see the process of living out a word that has chosen you does not end with the change of a calendar year, the words stick with you.  Here was my post for the beginning of 2016 post on the word “Respond.”

So for 2017, the word that has chosen me is, “Engage.”  As competitors and agents of change, we are called to engage with every person or experience that comes into our lives.  In writing this weekly newsletter, my goal is to engage with the TRIBE of Competitors.

We are looking for you as a member of the Community of Competitors to help all of us RESPOND in 2017 and ENGAGE in the process of choosing a word that you will live out for the calendar year.

This brings us to you.  What do you want out of 2017?  Over the next week, as you mindfully progress through your work on a daily basis, observe what is occurring and what you want for this year.  Forget the easily broken new year’s resolution and 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.

Check out the book that outlines the process of choosing one word: One Word the Will Change your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page

If you would like to receive this newsletter 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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Living on the EDGE

Writing and completing A Competitor’s Heart has been an exercise in creating a totally unknown path.

This is the great part of inventing our life, we are on a totally new path every single day, and with every single step we take. For many people the new way and the new path create anxiety and they make a decision to fall back to the comfortable and known way. This is why we have so few high performers in our world; we fall back into the comfortable and easy way of life. This is why building your personal Heart of a Competitor is essential to being the person and Competitor you desire. Building your personal Heart of a Competitor is NOT about making radical changes and overhauling what we do, it is about making a small step in the right direction at just the right time. When we live a life that is on the edge, willing to experience this anxiety, our personal Heart of a Competitor is open to these small moments in time where we can take that small step that will eventually lead to an enormous impact.

Another reason many people stop building a Competitor’s Heart is because it is a deeply personal journey that NEVER ends. If you are reading this piece, you believe in the following words: There is NO limit to self-improvement. The continual path of improvement is a road that is traveled by few; however, those that do travel this road live a fulfilling life. They are living on the edge of their capabilities and are inspired by those they connect with on the journey to Competing from the heart.

A Competitor’s Heart is your guide on this journey. This book is your textbook to developing A Competitor’s Heart over 369 Days. The first question people ask is, “Why 369 Days?”

My answer is always the same, “Why stop at 365?” However, it goes deeper than this. This book is made up of 41 concepts we would love to establish with our lives. These concepts include confidence, optimism, quietness and habits. Each of these 41 concepts has nine days/lessons/thoughts associated with them. These nine days are the guide, the PROCESS to self-exploration and establishing your personal Competitor’s Heart.

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Excellence Requires a Little Extra Effort

Sir Walter Raleigh learned the lesson of giving an extra effort. When he was younger, he attended an elite boarding school. He was a competitor and desired to be first in his class. He was consistently second to another student at the school. One night when Raleigh was preparing for bed, he looked across the school and observed that his competitor’s candle was still lit. After a period of time, Raleigh noticed that his competitor spent an extra 15 minutes studying each night. At this point in time, Sir Walter Raleigh committed to studying an extra 20 minutes a night. He did this every night and by the end of the school year, he was the Number one student in his class.

You are competing with yourself every single day to improve and become the best that you can be. The Heart of a Competitor commits to an extra 20 minutes a day to improve their skills.   They find a way to make this commitment and be better than they were the day before.

Sir Walter Raleigh had a goal to be the best, so he took it upon himself to focus on what he controlled and commit to doing the little extra. What is it that you will do a little extra of? Will you commit to visualizing for 20 minutes a day? Will you commit to practicing your skills and conditioning for an extra 20 minutes a day? Will you commit to focusing on your schoolwork for an extra 20 minutes a day?

Set a goal. Commit to a plan of daily effort and then add 20 minutes to your plan. The Heart of the Competitor commits this extra time not as a badge of honor, but with the knowledge that greatness requires commitment to do more than the ordinary.

I have committed to getting up between 4:30 AM and 5:00 AM every single day and this has allowed me to continually move forward on completing a book and audio program that is going to impact the lives of thousands of young competitors.

Question of the Day:

 What will you commit to doing for an extra 20 minutes?

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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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The World Needs More FINISHERS

The Heart of a Competitor is based on being a FINISHER.

While the last two Community of Competitors Newsletters have focused on Pressure and the understanding that pressure situations and stressful situations build us into the competitors that we need to be, this week is focused on FINSIHING.

The competitive world needs more FINISHERS. They need more competitors like old-school boxer Rocky Marciano who finished his opponents. Marciano had 49 total professional fights and finished with an unblemished record of 49 wins and 0 losses from 1948 until he retired in 1956. Even more impressive than his unblemished record was the fact that he won 43 of these fight by knockout. He FINISHED his opponents.

The need for being a FINISHER was also evident during the opening weekend of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Those teams seeking upsets were able to finish their opponent with plays down the stretch, making foul shots, and executing quality possessions at the end of the game. They were FINISHERS, while those games that were won in the final seconds on a tip-in (Notre Dame over Stephen F. Austin) or an inbounds play (Providence over USC) were based on the team that lost not being a FINISHER. These teams had opportunities to throw the knockout punch and finish off their opponent, but they were not able to do FINISH.

Look around in your life and ask yourself, “What do I need to finish?”

For the business people that are reading this, we are ending the first quarter of 2016, be a FINISHER in this last full week March.

For those athletes beginning the Spring Season, during these first competitions, finish each play, each at-bat, each throw; be the FINISHER that you need to be.

In our lives, we are rewarded for FINISHING, not starting. Real champions, real competitors are FINSIHERS.

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Fill a Need and you will always be NEEDED.

This post is not an advertisement to shop at Target.
I felt like that needed to be the first line of today’s Community of Competitors Newsletter because this is not about Target making a decision to serve a specific type of customer that enters their doors.  This Community of Competitors Newsletter is about listening to those around you, even the lowest people on the lowest rung of the ladder of your organization.

Caroline’s Cart is a shopping cart that is designed for the parents of children with special needs.  The cart is designed so there is no need for these parents to push a wheelchair and a shopping cart through the store.  Drew Ann Long created the design, when she knew her daughter would outgrow the traditional shopping cart.  Target became aware of Caroline’s Cart when a local Target store employee brought it to the attention of the local store operations team.  Thus it was implemented at the local level and in the month of March 2016, Target expects to have Caroline’s Cart in each of their stores. Story on upworthy.com

I write about this in the Community of Competitors Newsletter because this idea was NOT hatched in some huge corporate boardroom by a bunch of high-level executives, those in the trenches launched it, those with their boots on the ground.  Caroline’s Cart was created by a mother who had a need.  Caroline’s Cart was then introduced to Target by an employee who had a need.

Fill a NEED and you will always be NEEDED.

This is true on every team and in every organization.  See what needs to be completed, what needs to be done and serve an important role.  In my coaching experience, there were countless times that our bench players were able to pick up the signs of the other team.  These players were not starters, but they saw a NEED, filled the NEED, and they were NEEDED.  These players were an essential part of the success of the organization.

In the life of the Competitor, there will be needs there will be problems.  Individuals with the Heart of a Competitor look at the problems as opportunities to find solutions, while those that are losers are stuck in the problem identification stage, refusing to identify a solution.  Great teams find solutions and great individuals fill a need.

Fill a NEED and you will always be NEEDED.

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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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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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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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Perfection is NOT the Goal

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Diamonds are a precious resource and are a great example of what it means to be a competitor.

  1. Diamonds are formed about 100 miles deep within the earth, where it’s hot and there is a lot of pressure. This is true for us as individuals and as a part of a team, we are forming and preparing in the heat and under pressure of competition.
  2. Diamonds are brought to the surface of the Earth as a result of a violent explosion that propels them quickly through the earth, cementing the Carbon bonds in place. (A 1 Karat diamond has billions and billions of bonds.) When you are experiencing adversity, you are being propelled through the heat and pressure and you are cementing the bonds of a team or the strength in your competitive mindset in place.
  3. Lastly, Diamonds are used as a sign of commitment and strength. It is a commitment based on bonds, and it is a strength that is so strong, it is used on blades to cut through bricks or pavement or in life to signify the commitment of one person to another.

Diamonds are seen as these valuable resources and gems, signifying commitment and strength, however it is important to note that diamonds are rarely ever perfect. Approximately 26,000 kilograms of diamonds are mined annually and a fraction of these are considered “perfect” when they are pulled from the ground. Even after they are mined, they go through many processes and cuttings to be built into the fine jewelry that is sold around the world.

This is true for all of us in the Community of Competitors; we are being formed through heat and pressure and are far from perfection. We are undergoing change on a daily basis to be chiseled into a fine competitor. Just like the strength of a diamond, we have the strength and the beauty to be chiseled away into a valuable competitor. This chiseling and process that we undergo does not lead us to perfection, but enhances our growth and allows us to become more than we ever could have imagined.