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Time is a Precious Resource

Every so often, we experience events in our lives that are reminders that can steer us in the right direction.  For me, that reminder occurred over the last two weeks, while my family was on vacation…Time is our most precious resource that we have and that we can give to our self and others.

When my wife started talking about taking our usual summer beach trip and extending it to two weeks instead of our usual one-week, I was a hesitant to agree.  However, about the time we were discussing this, I read a little piece by my good friend, speaker, best-selling author, and Executive Coach, John Brubaker about the importance of using time off and the number of unused vacation days within our country.  As a teacher, speaker and author, the temptation is there to use the summer months as a time to work on writing and connecting with various programs that I am blessed to work with, and when I read Coach Bru’s piece, I thought, “Let’s invest the time and go away for two weeks.”

The two weeks away was the best thing that ever happened for our family.  As a father of two young boys, I had dedicated time to take them to the playground and basketball courts every single day.  We also had quality time in the ocean jumping waves and riding waves.  Since we were away during the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals, we had excuses to stay up late into the night and watch these events.  All of the time we were together is an investment in the building of our family.  Of course I still woke up in early in the morning and did some work, but everything that was done, was an investment of time.

Time is our most precious resource; we can either invest the time or spend the time.  Early on in my coaching career, I would have considered vacation an expense of time, something that I avoided; now time away with the family is an investment.  So the challenge for every Competitor is to look at their time and recognize the investment of this precious resource, time.

Every day is a competition and it is yours to win.

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What are you willing to Sacrifice?

“He who wants to succeed should learn how to fight, to strive, and to suffer. You can acquire a lot in life, if you are prepared to give up a lot to get it.”

– Bruce Lee, Actor and Philosopher

The Heart of the Competitor understands a key to performing and competing at their peak is the commitment to preparation. The commitment to preparation requires sacrifices. In hearing the word sacrifice, the human mind typically attempts to convince itself that it would prefer the most pleasurable experience. The true trait of a competitor and a champion is to be able to delay the cheap and instant thrill for the expensive long-term investment that is worth much more. Th is is what is occurring during preparation; the competitor is pushing the cheap easy mind-calming experience and choosing the expensive, mind-building preparation that allows for the distinguished experience of goal achievement down the road.

In Bruce Lee’s words above, the competitor must learn “to fight, to strive, and to suffer.” Preparation encompasses each one of these. True preparation forces the competitor to fight off the voices of quitting, telling yourself that you can accomplish a goal, when the first thought in your mind is that you should just quit. Preparation provides a longing and striving to meet a standard of competition that is just beyond your current level of performance. Suffering occurs during preparation as a result of the fighting and striving to push the body and mind as far as it can and then to go further. However, the suffering is replaced with exhilaration upon the accomplishment of that small step forward.

To continually build the Heart of a Competitor, be prepared to make sacrifices that will pay off in tremendous experiences of accomplishment.

QUESTION OF THE Week:

What are you sacrificing today? As a result of this sacrifice, what will you earn in the future?

 

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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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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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Are you an Inventor or an Imitator?

I enjoy sending out these messages on a weekly basis. It has become a true passion over the last two years to provide the Community of Competitors with a message to ponder each week.

 

I am writing this week’s message from a Lake House in Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania. It is a Chautauqua based assembly in a rural part of Lebanon County. The Chautauqua movement was based on education and looking inward to grow. The first couple of days here have provided me the opportunity to ponder this question: Are you an imitator or an inventor?

 

In our society, there is abundance of information sharing, including the sharing of great leadership skills or the secrets of success. (If you have read my past messages, I have shared some of these tips and strategies.) Many people take these pieces and imitate these steps or strategies, while this is not a bad idea; we end up living a life that others have designed for us. This is true in athletics as well, many athletes look to imitate those that compete at the professional level or we imitate those that coach at the professional level.

 

We must stop looking to imitate others and prepare to INVENT. Inventing our life of a competitor consists of taking all of the information that is available to us and making a conscious determination as to how we will incorporate the advice that is available into our daily life. Invention is lacking because of the amount of information that is available, competitors will blindly follow the new way of doing things. Invention is what has led me to this Community of Competitors newsletter that you are reading. Invention has led me to complete my first book, A Competitor’s Heart: 369 Days of Development. (More news to come on this over the next couple of weeks.)

 

Invention is there for you in your life. The great thing about invention is that occurs inward and we control invention. Live consciously, in the present moment, and you can invent a life that cannot be imitated.

 

 

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Memorial Day: No Man Left Behind

For many the Memorial Day weekend signifies the beginning of summer. The community swimming pools open, school year’s wind down, and family gatherings abound. Memorial Day is steeped in the tradition of recognizing the sacrifices that so many people have given to provide the freedoms that we enjoy in America today. The traditions and rituals of honoring and caring for those that have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty is a powerful reminder of the teamwork and commitment to each other that is a part of a soldier’s service to the American people.

The United States military branches are well known for “never leaving an American behind.” This is true for the fallen American Soldier as well. A fallen soldier is accompanied by another soldier on the flight home to Dover Air Force base and remains with them until they are returned to the family. We must continue to recognize those that have given their lives to support our freedoms. It is what Memorial Day is built on.

(Yochi Dreazen and Gary Fields wrote a powerful piece on the returning home of the American Soldier. The article entitled, “How We Bury the War Dead” appeared in the Wall Street Journal on May 29, 2010.)

Creating teams with the Heart of a Competitor can learn two lessons from the way United States Soldiers are treated:

  1. Each member of the team is valued.

Regardless of race, ethnicity, or rank, each soldier is treated with dignity and respect. Their service to the country is honored and recognized.

  1. The struggle within your own team can change the way you treat each other.

The Civil War was a major reason the treatment of the fallen soldier was changed. Congress decided that those soldiers that fought for the country deserved to be recognized for their sacrifice and set up the national cemeteries that we have today.

Know that the struggles you face as an individual, a team, or an organization will change you. These changes we undergo are essential to becoming the people, team, or organization we are destined to become.

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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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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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3 Ways to Bloom Where You Are Planted

“Bloom where you are planted.” –Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva (1567-1622)

 

As a competitor, we are “planted” in every situation to experience every challenge we are given, so we can bloom where we are planted. In a day and age where many people are looking for the next great opportunity or the new fad that will push them ahead, many times we fail to realize the beauty of where we are in the present moment.

In writing the Community of Competitors Newsletter, I am here to tell you that when you bloom where you are planted, you will live a full life, one that makes an impact on others and one that will be recognized by others.

This was truly evident while I was attending my uncle Frank “Gus” Robins memorial service this past week. Gus was not like many of the people that read this weekly newsletter, he was NOT a businessman, he was NOT a coach, he was NOT a straight A student. Uncle Gus was a genuine human being, utilizing all of his God-given ability to impact others and give to others. As a vocation, he was a custodian in a local school district for over 30 years, not a glamorous position, but one that he utilized to “bloom” where he was planted. He bloomed where he was planted to the point that his memorial service was forced to start 20 minutes late as a result of the number of people who wanted to pay their respects to his family.

The message in this newsletter is that you do not have to be a person in a leadership position, a Division I athlete, a head coach, or a high-ranking corporate warrior to have an impact. We read blogs and stories all the time of high and mighty coaches, business people, or high-level athletes that trumpet their ability to handle adversity and rise to the top; these are great stories, but it is the daily warrior that impacts the most people and creates a lasting legacy. When you “bloom where you are planted,” you impact those around you.

Here are three simple ways to “bloom” where you are planted:

  1. Use what you currently have, not what you wish you had.
  2. Be a giver. Share more than you take.
  3. Do the little things that do not seem to matter.

You are called to accept the challenge of blooming where you are planted. You are called to have an impact and leave a legacy in all of your endeavors. As a member of this Community of Competitors, you are committed to blooming where you are planted. This analogy by Saint Francis de Sales was not chosen or used by accident, where one flower blooms, there are many other flowers that follow. The same is true for people, where one competitor blooms, other competitors will grow and bloom. This is a Commandment of the Competitor, bloom where you are planted and others around you will bloom.

This week, look around; enjoy your current challenges and opportunities to bloom where you are planted.

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Leadership Lessons from Winston Churchill

“I am certainly not one of those who need to be prodded. In fact, if anything, I am the prod.”

– Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister 1940-1945 and 1951-1955

Leadership requires evaluation to determine what approach is best for a given situation; genuine leaders do not require motivation or prompting to move into action.

Leaders have learned that leadership is based on action and a continual movement forward. The continual movement forward is controlled, allowing for awareness and response to any situation that may occur. This was true of Winston Churchill during his time as Prime Minister of Great Britain. As time has passed since his two stints as Prime Minister of Great Britain, his legend grows, but it grows for good reason, he was one of the great leaders of the 20th century.   The leadership that Churchill displayed during World War II was based on his staunch belief that Great Britain would never surrender. His repetition of this belief in a variety of sayings continually marched the British people forward to soldier on through the fight of World War II.

For this belief and leadership, Churchill did have to endure his share of detractors and critics, with some claiming that he could convince himself of anything. This might be a downfall for some, but it was the basis for belief and confidence in Churchill’s mind that became his actions. These thoughts and action led Britain to be the first group to stand-up to the opposition in World War II. This leadership created the fight to endure and eventually defeat the largest attempt at extermination and oppression the world has ever seen.

In the life of a competitor, we will never face an opposition as large as Churchill and Great Britain faced in World War II, however, with the Heart of a Competitor, the leadership that Churchill demonstrated with motivation to keep moving forward with belief and confidence can be a model.

Question of the Day:

What will you do to maintain your motivation to be leading you, your team, and your organization forward?