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How can you LIVE and COMPETE from the Heart?

“The heart is the first feature of working minds.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect, Writer, Educator
Building the Heart of the Competitor is an incremental process of continually building every skill needed to be mentally tough, having an enduring spirit, and constantly moving forward regardless of the struggle or adversity.

Nobody other than yourself can know what is in your heart.  However, others will be aware of what is in your heart by your everyday actions.   Your everyday actions to do your job and do it to the best of your ability will be the outward representation of what is in your heart.

Are you being the best teammate, coworker, husband, friend, mother, child, etc. that you can be?

Are you focusing on every moment, drill, and interaction to the fullest?

Approach everyday with this spirit and focus in your heart and you will live a life that exemplifies what is in your heart.  The heart is the living muscle that pushes the competitor to new heights and provides passion to continually be moving forward.

The Heart of the Competitor is mentally tough because their heart is fully immersed in pursuing the mission and enjoying the journey.  The heart is essential to maintaining life and the heart is essential to engaging our minds and enjoying the present moment.

Frank Lloyd Wright created numerous historically creative buildings.  Creating unique buildings that shared a message was in his heart.  His passion and mental toughness to handle adversity and challenges were evident in the buildings he designed and the projects that he was involved with.  Frank Lloyd Wright had the Heart of a Competitor, which allowed his mind to work wonders in creating buildings that have stood for hundreds of years.

You can have the Heart of the Competitor to allow your work to create a legacy that will stand for hundreds of years.

Question of the Day:
How do you do your job and build the Heart of a Competitor legacy that will stand for hundreds of years?

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THANKFUL for Challenges and Failures

On this Thanksgiving, many will take the time to recognize and name that for which they are thankful.  If you are like most people this will begin with family, health, and the list will go on.  I am thankful for the immediate family of my wife, Emily, our two sons, Simon, 7, and Spencer, 4, the extended family of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I am also thankful for the blessing of health that my immediate and extended family enjoys.  Moving from there, I would be remiss if I did not mention that I am thankful for a steady career as a teacher and the colleagues that I am blessed to work with, many of whom I call friends.

I could continue to list the things that I am thankful for, but there is one thought of thankfulness that continues to build a space in my brain and that is to be thankful for challenges and failures.  Challenges and failures have led me to enjoy the successes that have blessed my life.

I am thankful for the failures of previous relationships prior to meeting my wife, Emily.  These failures forced me to become a better person, knowing that relationships and ultimately marriage takes work and commitment.

I am thankful for the challenges and failures as a coach.  The many losses that I endured as a Collegiate Head Baseball Coach forced me to evaluate myself and my Core Values.  This failure challenged me to become more and focus on the connections with others and how I can serve others, rather than having them serve me.  These challenges led me to the Core Values, of Learning, Teaching, and Serving.

I am thankful for the times as a young coach that I lost control, breaking a clipboard, throwing a fungo bat, or going into a general tirade.  These situations have demonstrated to me the need for control and have allowed me to become a better father when responding to Simon and Spencer, a better teacher when working with a lethargic student, and have increased my ability to respond using logic and training rather than emotion.

I am thankful for the challenges and failures of positions I applied for and did not get.  I once found out I did not get a head coaching position from the person who got the job.  (That was awkward.)  I went to an interview in a neighboring school district with no portfolio or examples, totally unprepared.  I interviewed for an Athletic Director position, as a finalist and received no communication, not an email, or phone call from them for 3+ months, until I received a form email saying they had filled the position.  I also interviewed for another Athletic Director position and was told in front of another candidate that neither of us would get the position.  I am thankful for all of these failures and challenges because they fill my life with appreciation for the teaching position that I have at Lampeter-Strasburg High School because I am part of a staff that landed itself in the Top 1% of schools in Pennsylvania for improving the performance of their students in Algebra.

So when we sit down and list the things we are thankful for today, your challenge is to list a couple of failures and challenges you have experienced.  Look at how they have been a blessing or how they can be turned into a blessing because right around the corner from that challenge is the blessing.

Thanks for being a part of the TRIBE of Competitors.  Check out our launch of the Competitor’s Heart TRIBE Membership that is 50% for a LIMITED TIME.  It makes a great gift for the ELITE Competitor in your life.

YES, I WANT 50% OFF COMPETITOR’S HEART TRIBE MEMBERSHIP

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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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Embracing Diversity

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

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

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

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

 

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Powerful Body Language = Powerful Competitors

“Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our actions are the bedrock of demonstrating our philosophies, attitudes, and beliefs. Included in our actions are the body language we portray in stressful and pressure packed situations. When working with young athletes and discussing their body language the typical discussion centers on the way we handles ourselves in competition and the effect our body language has those outside of us, when the real focus of our body language and our actions should be on the messages we are sending to ourselves with our body language.

This is a small, yet monumental shift in the view of how the Heart of a Competitor looks at the way they “speak” to our spirit and soul. It is a change in looking at competing from the inside to the environment outside of them, rather than the outside to the inside. Amy Cuddy reinforces the importance of our actions influencing our mindset in her book, Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self in your Biggest Challenges. (I was challenged by Coach Bru to summarize this book in one tweet and it read like this: “Presence reinforces the effect we can have on ourselves, using Power Poses to change our thinking and engaging in being Present.”)

Amy Cuddy utilizes countless pieces of research and experiments that demonstrate how the use of Power Poses just before big presentations, pressure packed interviews, or anxiety producing environments we are prepared and unfazed by the environment, demonstrating confidence and performing at the top of our abilities. I encourage you to add this book to your library, however if you cannot, here are a couple ways Cuddy notes that expanding our body affects our mindset:

  • Expanding your body language –through posture, movement, and speech – makes you feel more confident and powerful, less anxious and self-absorbed, and generally more positive.
  • Expanding your body causes you to think about yourself in a positive light and to trust in that self-concept. It also clears your head, making space for creativity, cognitive persistence, and abstract thinking.
  • Expanding your body frees you to approach, act, and persist.

Amy Cuddy is a Professor at the Harvard Business School and gave a TED Talk in 2012 that has over 33 Million views. You can find the TED Talk here:

Amy Cuddy – Your body language shapes who you are.

Stay tuned to the Community of Competitors Newsletter over the next couple of weeks for an exciting announcement of an upcoming event open to youth athletes where they can learn how to develop their Heart of a Competitor, including the body language and Power Poses Amy Cuddy outlines in her work.

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Destroying Your Glass Ceiling (Part 1)

Community of Competitors member, Mike Hershberger, shared a great story on Facebook this past week about his daughter Lexi. Lexi took it upon herself to live a life with no regrets and build her Heart of a Competitor by breaking through a proverbial Glass Ceiling. Last year about this time, Lexi and her father discussed with me the possibility of her moving from playing Softball to playing on her school’s baseball team. Lexi mapped out a plan to prepare for this challenge, playing on a baseball team last summer and then in a winter indoor league. She is now a contributing member on her school’s Junior Varsity Baseball team, with the goal of improving every single day. Lexi is breaking a Glass Ceiling, a barrier that is in place, but nobody acknowledges.

Each and every member of the Community of Competitors is faced with their own glass ceiling and it is our job to break through these glass ceilings. The great thing is when we open our eyes; there are a number of people and programs breaking through glass ceilings or limitations that we all place on ourselves.

Millersville Softball is example of a program breaking through a glass ceiling. First year Head Coach, Jen Propst, has guided the program to a first-ever Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Tournament berth. They have been playing softball at Millersville since 1979 and have only had ten seasons where they finished with a record of .500 or better. This group of competitors recently swept a doubleheader from a Top 15 program. There is no precedent for this success, it is based on the individuals breaking through from where they are to where they desire to be.

The York College of Pennsylvania Spartan Softball program is also busting through a glass ceiling. In a program with no seniors on the roster, they are entering the Capital Athletic Conference Softball Tournament as the #4 seed. As of the writing this post, the YCP Spartans have already amassed 24 wins, their highest since 2010. In her 4th season, Head Coach Jen Petteys is steadily guiding this program to be a consistent challenger for the Conference Championship based on building the hearts of the competitors in the York College Softball Family.

Millersville University Baseball is another program destroying a glass ceiling. Head Coach and close friend, Jon Shehan has this program on the verge of shattering a number of single season records. With two conference weekends left, they are sitting at a hefty 35-3 overall and 18-2 in conference, currently ranked as high as #2 in the NCAA Division II Poll. While these numbers are impressive, the most impressive part of their work is the program’s commitment to focusing on a present and process-focused approach. They have allowed their process to be a guide to the current and future successes. This includes various breathing and visualization exercises combined with a selfless and relentless culture that not only expects, but allows their members to perform.

These are the college programs that are destroying any glass ceilings that are around them, from Millersville Softball that has never had a post-season tournament berth, to York College with no Senior on their roster, to Millersville Baseball that is enjoying continued success to focus on breaking through and winning a regional to earn a trip to the NCAA Division II World Series. (Next week I will detail the high school programs that are breaking through glass ceilings.)

These examples beg the questions:

What are the glass ceilings that you are preparing to break through?

 What are the limitations that you have placed on yourself, or your program?

You have the Heart of a Competitor and can break through these glass ceilings, and you just need to reach within and pull the pieces needed to show your Heart of a Competitor. This is where the Heart of a Competitor Programs come into play in working with coaches and athletes to build the mindset of competing from the heart. At the Heart of a Competitor, we have been very fortunate to establish a relationship with individuals like Lexi, to the Millersville and York College Softball teams, and the Millersville Baseball team to name a few. Just like it was for these individuals and programs, the challenge is to take the next step and see yourself breaking through the glass ceilings that are in your life.

The Heart of a Competitor is here to develop you and destroy glass ceilings.

 

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Give and Compete from the 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.

Question of the Day: 

What are you going to measure in practice that will increase your competitive performance?

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3 Traits of Great Coaches and Teachers

Last week, thanks to our Community of Competitors member, Pete Cunningham and Lancaster Country Day School, I had the great fortune of listening to and chatting with Daniel Coyle.  Coyle is the author of a number of books, with his most well known work being The Talent Code.  If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it or its’ companion, The Little Book of Talent.

In his talk, Coyle detailed the development of talent that has occurred in a variety of places around globe, including a Russian Tennis “Academy,” the development of Brazil as a global soccer power, and musical talent that was grown at a conservatory in New York.  During this talk, Coyle focused on what great coaching, and teaching looked like and in this week’s Community of Competitors Newsletter, I am sharing 3 Characteristics of Great Coaches and Teachers.

  1. Great coaches and teachers are experienced.
Great coaches and teachers have been around the block and have learned from a number of failures.  This is a huge point, the greatest coaches are NOT those that played or competed at the highest level, they are the ones that failed to play at the highest level and were forced to learn, forced to develop their skills, and forced to develop their craft to survive.  Their experience teaches them they need to continue to learn and this is the fuel in their tank, their passion.

  1. Great coaches and teachers are connectors.
These experienced coaches and teachers are able to connect with their players, spiritually, emotionally, and even physically.  Dr. Bhrett McCabe, a renowned Sports Psychologist and founder of the Mindside relayed to me one time about his Hall of Fame College Baseball Coach, Skip Bertman, and his practice of placing his hand on the pitchers shoulder or chest when he came out for a mound visit.  Dr. McCabe noted this physical touch was focused on creating the connection between the coach and the player during this mound visit.  This increased connection and focus also increased retention of what was being discussed.

  1. Great coaches and teachers have the right instruction at the right time.

In this day and age, our focus and attention can be taken in a million different directions and everyone wants immediate results, but this is not what true success is built on.  True success is painstakingly slow and great coaches and teachers provide the right words and encouragement to reinforce this process.  Great coaches and teachers are focused on the praising of effort and progress, not a student or athlete’s ability.  A great coach or teacher provides this praise only when it is EARNED.  This creates an environment where development is valued and each person’s threshold of skill is pushed forward incrementally.

If you are an athlete reading this, you might ask what does this have to do with me?  These pieces have everything to do with you.  While you may not choose your teachers or coaches, you can look for those around you that are experienced and learn from them.  You can look at your coaches and connect with them.  Then, in your own experience with a teacher or coach, pick up on what they are saying each time so you can pull out the instruction they are providing at just the right time, so as a competitor, you can take ownership of your development.

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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.