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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?

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Lesson in Leadership: Self-Leadership

Our focus on Leadership in the month of November continues.  In our first week, we focused on Leaders being eagles, soaring high with courage, being present and prepared when adversity arises.  (Eagles as Leaders Message.)  Last week, we learned about Nelson Mandela’s message on leadership and his view as true leaders being shepherds and facilitating the movement forward of the flock, supporting others in the process of becoming a leader.  (Mandela on Leadership.)  This week, we turn our focus to leading yourself.

Many times Leadership is focused on what we are doing outwardly and leading others, but true leadership begins with leading ourselves.  This is not a selfish leadership it is about preparing ourselves to be leaders.  Leaders are always learning, trying to make the great even better and it begins with leading themselves.  Personally, when I have lost this focus, I have been a poor leader.  If you lead yourself and what is close to you, you will lead others to allow them to perform at a higher level than they currently are.  (This is Leadership!)

Self-Leadership must include a plan for growth and learning.  True leaders are developing themselves.  This development does not need to be a great epiphany, but a commitment to becoming and may include reading on a consistent basis, some form of professional development, and a close, small knit group of people who will provide honest (positive and negative) feedback on your journey.

In the area of reading, committing to read for 10 minutes a day or 10 pages a day will allow you to read a minimum of a book a month.  You can learn a lot from 12 books in a year.  A book that I just completed is a newly released piece by John Brubaker entitled, Seeds of Success.  It took me a mere five days to read Seeds of Success.  Once I picked it up, I could not put it down.  The small “seeds” that are included in this book are genuine and great reminders to appreciate the relationships we enjoy in our lives.  It is important to let you know that I appreciate and enjoy the relationship we have through the Community of Competitors weekly newsletter.  Seeds of Success is the perfect blend of lessons woven into a story.  Check out Seeds of Success by clicking here: Seeds of Success Book.

Engaging in professional development opens the doors to hearing how other successful people are learning and growing.  You will also hear of the mistakes they made, what they learned from them, and implement the lessons they learned into your life.  One great form of professional development for coaches is to attend a coaches clinic or convention.  For the Baseball and Softball Coaches out there, we would love to have you join us at the Be the Best Coaches Convention in Atlantic City, NJ.  Check out the speakers’ page and other information using the following link: Be the Best Coaches Convention.  This event includes a first class line-up of speakers and I am honored to be playing a small part in serving the coaches that come to this event.

Continue to lead yourself to new and great opportunities that are all around us.

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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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Selflessness = Your Mission

“Extreme teamwork developed when they transitioned from depending on plays for confidence to depending on one another.”

– John Eliot in his book, Help the Helper

The Heart of the Competitor realizes the importance of selflessness and understands that selflessness is truly self-sacrifice, the giving up of things for others.

For a team of individuals to reach the pinnacle of performance as a unit, there must be self-sacrifice. When the words sacrifice is brought into the equation, it conjures up images of losing something. The true competitor realizes that selflessness and teamwork are actually giving everything that we have to developing into a better person on a daily basis. This giving is a total commitment to the team’s goals, a confidence in teammates, and a realization that a team will accomplish exponentially more than individual.

This is the basis for Mr. Eliot’s quote from his book Help the Helper. This quote was found in his book when he was describing a basketball team. With a change in ownership, the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA began to focus their mindset on giving to others rather always taking. Each NBA team has sound plays they believe will allow them to be successful with their athletic ability. In the Trailblazers case, their extreme and unbeatable teamwork developed when they depended on each other, rather than depending on the play that was designed.

This is the compounding of energy. Relating this to basketball, the feeling that five are stronger than one, when five play as one. This is true of our hand, each finger plays an important role, however individually they are weak. When these fingers are placed together and work together, they become an important piece of a tool that accomplish great things.

Question of the Day:

Knowing that giving develops confidence and extreme teamwork, what can you do today to serve and give to one of your teammates?

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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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Recognizing Memorial Day

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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Maintaining Your Mission

“Protect your enthusiasm from the negativity and fear of others. Never decide to do nothing just because you can only do little. Do what you can. You would be surprised at what “little” acts have done for our world.” 

― Dr. Steve Maraboli, Author of Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

 

The Heart of the Competitor’s mission is to create amazing and tough-minded individuals to pursue their own personal mission with energy and enjoyment of the journey. Maximum positive energy and relentless enthusiasm is needed to methodically move forward on the journey to fulfill your mission. Your mission will provide countless opportunities and experiences if you are willing to maintain positive energy and relentless enthusiasm.

 

Positive energy and relentless enthusiasm will allow you to drive past the negativity and fear of those that are stuck on the sidelines unwilling to take a step into the arena. Those that are stuck on the sidelines, waiting to shoot you down and point out each small mistake lack the Heart of the Competitor. Their heart is used to merely pump blood throughout their body, while the Heart of the Competitor is pumping competitive blood throughout your body. The blood that drives your positive energy and relentless enthusiasm to pursue your mission, doing as little or as much as you can to trudge through adversity and ride the wave of prosperity.

 

Today may be a day that “slow and steady wins the race” or “fast and furious finishes with authority.” Focus on doing what is needed, whether this is a small step or huge leap, either will lead you to moving forward on your journey in your mission to have the Heart of a Competitor.

 

Question of the Day: 

What can you do to visualize the competitive blood pumping energy and enthusiasm throughout your body?

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Trusting Relationships = Winning

This past weekend, I shared a short time with members of the 2005 Franklin and Marshall Baseball team as they celebrated the 10-year anniversary of our conference championship. I have had a number of opportunities to be on coaching staffs of teams that have been successful, but the group of players on this team always sticks out as an example of what it takes to function as a unit. The members of this team have moved on to successful careers in medicine, law, investments, and real estate, to name a few. This close-knit group had success on the baseball field and enjoyed many memories off the field as well and I asked them to reflect on their experience ten years later, by pondering this question:

Did the winning lead to the relationships or did the relationships lead to winning?

The discussion around these questions ended up being a circular argument, with no definitive answer. However there was agreement from the players that their relationships were strong and the success they achieved as a group provided relationships that have lasted.

Strong relationships of trust among a team are essential because so many things happen over the course of a game, a season, and a career that are out of our control and the strength of a team’s relationships provides the needed support system to achieve the wins and championships. In sports and life, there are many factors that influence winning, which leaves much of it out of our control. The one thing we control is our self and our relationships on a team. Building the relationships on the team will produce a strong environment for individuals and the team to thrive.

The discussions that took place this weekend among the members of the 2005 Franklin and Marshall College Baseball Team were all focused on their experiences as a member of a team. Their memories were based on the experiences they shared and the relationships they built, rarely mentioning single wins or achievements of an individual. If this is what is remembered 10 years later, then as a coach, we called to create an environment where these relationships are paramount.

For those players reading this, build relationships based on trust throughout your team and great memories will be made.

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An Inconvenience = An Opportunity

When a forecast of a measureable snowstorm is broadcast over the local news stations, there is typically a rush to the grocery store.  People fear they will be stuck inside for an extended period of time and run out the needed supplies.  People generally complain about the winter weather and the inconvenience of snow.

Snow provides the perfect metaphor for our lives as competitors because in every inconvenience is an opportunity.

Many times we will wait for the conditions to be right to remove the snow.  We think that we need to wait until the snow is over or it is warmer and the snow will melt.  We rely on the weather or the conditions to become perfect.  This is our mind delaying and avoiding the work that needs to be done.

If the conditions never become “right,” we will never act, so another approach is to look around and see if there are other people that will clear the snow.  We take this mindset into competition, looking around to see if other people will step up and do what needs to be done.

The third option to clearing snow is TAKING ACTION.  Get to work and start shoveling.

The Heart of the Competitor is called to get to work and start shoveling in their competitive lives.  The Heart of the Competitor does not sit around and wait for the “conditions to be right.”  The Heart of the Competitor takes action and knows the conditions will never be perfect.  The Heart of the Competitor is taking the lead and moving forward, blazing the trail.  Have the Heart of a Competitor and take the first step.

This week, TAKE ACTION.

Is there something that you have been waiting to do?  Go for it, take a first step, then the second, then the third, and enjoy every inconvenience that occurs in your steps because within the inconvenience is the opportunity.

Is there something that you have been looking at others to do for you?  Take ownership back and TAKE ACTION.

As a competitor, the conditions will never be perfect; TAKE ACTION and you will create the optimum conditions for your best performances.

Create action and share this action on Facebook, Tweet about your action, or simply respond to this email.  I love to hear about COMPETITORS taking action and creating their best performances.