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Lean In to the Resistance

Every person has some form of self-talk they engage in.  A conversation in your mind that will drive you to achieve success and pushing forward or will find reason why you cannot be successful, causing inaction and passiveness.  These reasons that can be created in our mind as to why we should stop and not move forward with a project or an idea are resistance.  Resistance can come in many different shapes and forms.  The resistance or pushback may come from outside of you in the naysayers that drag you down and say it cannot be done.  The pushback may come in events that are “perceived” as a reason why we should not push forward.  The pushback may come from within your mind, reasons developed without basis as to why you should stop.

The Heart of the Competitor welcomes this resistance as a challenge to grow and become more.  This pushback is essential to discovering the limitless resources that are located within the Heart of the Competitor.  The Heart of the Competitor engages in positive self-talk and pushes their mind to the reasons why they will be successful in their endeavors, destroying any push-back they may experience.  Average people in the world will talk not only their own mind out of doing anything and being anything, but they will also attempt to drag others down from doing anything and being anything.  The Heart of the Competitor destroys those people, destroys that pushback and uses it as momentum to accomplish great things.

The negativity that others and even your own self-talk will provide is akin to the stretching of a rubber band.  A rubber band is only useful when it is stretched to its’ maximum length.  The rubber band is performing to its’ full capabilities when it is stretched and at this full-length, it is experiencing maximum resistance.  When it is let go at this maximum resistance, it does its’ greatest work.

Question of the Day:

What is the greatest resistance or push back you have experienced?  How have you found a way to overcome it?

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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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Changing the Question

What if we take a risk and it does not work out?

This was the question I was asked by one of the competitors this past week when I spoke at the Adidas Future 500 Soccer ID Camp at Eastern University.

This question is a common question that young competitors have floating around in their mind. What if we take a risk and it does not work out?

This question is focused on the failure or lack of success that are possible in any risk that is taken and the mindset that is pervasive throughout society that gets pushed into our young competitors’ minds. It is the goal of the Heart of the Competitor to change this mindset and ask a different question, “What if we never take the risk, what would we miss out on?”

This is a striking change in perspective.

The original question is focused on the failure and lack of success, as measured by society and it is the narrative that many competitors, young and old have floating around in their mind, the fear of failure and at the same time, the fear of success. The original question is focused specifically on fear. The challenge is to move from fearing to enjoying the experience that is our life, our competition. Our life is a competition with our self to get the most out of it. We are blessed with the opportunities that are presented to us and we are blessed to take action on these opportunities. The actions we take allow us to learn and then apply this learning in future opportunities. Taking action creates an abundance of opportunities for us to increase the experiences available to us.

So ask yourself the question: “What if we never take the risk, what would we miss out on?”

Then, go and do the thing you have been holding back on. When competitors young and old look back on their lives, they will regret more of what they did NOT do, than more of what they did do.

If you are a coach reading this, allow your competitors to take risks and be there to provide the learning context from their action.

If you are a parent, support your child’s coach in taking risks to build a great program AND support your child in their risk taking.

If you are a player, go out and perform, freely, enjoying the experience and learning from each opportunity, in other words, go out and COMPETE.

Enjoy the experience that is your Competition.

 

 

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What does total Commitment look like?

“If you don’t make a total commitment to whatever you’re doing, then you start looking to bail out the first time the boat starts leaking. It’s tough enough getting that boat to shore with everybody rowing, let alone when a guy stands up and starts putting his life jacket on.”

– Lou Holtz, Hall of Fame College Football Coach

Commitment to the process of progress over a long period of time allows achievement and accomplishment to occur. Total commitment is made of mind, body, and soul to the task at hand in the pursuit of the dreams that have been made into goals. When a total commitment is made teammates, coaches, and everyone they come in contact with recognize the commitment in the competitor’s life.

Just as commitment is recognizable and easily followed, lack of commitment is easily identified. Are you looking to go whichever way the wind blows? Are you lacking or always changing your morning or evening routines? Do you have trouble being motivated to complete your training? Are you always looking for an easy way out? Like Hall of Fame College Football Coach, Lou Holtz is saying in today’s quote, total commitment to a goal, total commitment to a team is difficult. Total commitment becomes more difficult when in the face of adversity one of the individuals is looking to “jump ship.” Instead of looking for an opportunity to “jump ship,” look for an opportunity to row harder and push your mind and body to stay focused on the next step.

Commitment must be the strongest in the face of adversity. The Heart of the Competitor expects and embraces adversity as an opportunity, an opportunity to develop and display their commitment. The true Heart of the Competitor appreciates the adversity as a way to grow.

Look for the adversity; look for the challenges as your way to grow your commitment.

Question of the Day:

What challenges have you encountered in the last day, week, or month that have allowed you to develop and display your commitment?

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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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Pressure Builds Resiliency

“All of us get knocked down, but it’s resiliency that matters. All of us do well when things are going well, but the thing that distinguishes athletes is the ability to do well in times of great stress, urgency, and pressure.”

 – Roger Staubach, Heisman Trophy Winner, Member Pro Football Hall of Fame

Great accomplishments and great moments are a result of adversity and the struggles competitors face. A true competitor relishes in the opportunity to face the adversity and perform in crucial situations. It is easy to perform when things are going well and there is little perceived pressure, however, little to no growth occurs in these situations.

The true competitor seeks out opportunities to feel the pressure, to be accustomed to the struggle, the stress of a situation and the urgency of the moment. As Roger Staubach points out, this is what distinguishes athletes; their ability to handle the pressure sets them apart. Perspective allows the competitor to understand the ability to handle and perform under stress and pressure is always developing and evolving. This ability, which is ultimately a skill, cannot be turned on with a switch.

Developing the ability to perform under pressure can be practiced in a variety of situations, not just in the athletic arena. If you want to be the player to get the big hit in the last inning, establish that mindset when giving a speech in class. If you want to be able to sink the game winning free throws, study and prepare for the test in the same way. If you want to be in the boardroom making the million-dollar sale, rehearse the presentation and closing in the bathroom mirror. Competitors find ways to prepare for pressure; large accomplishments are made of small steps. Seek out the small pressure-packed situations to develop the poise required in the pressure-cooker.

Question of the Day: 

What small pressure-filled situations can you seek out today to be come comfortable with pressure?

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Responding with GRIT = Winning

Our focus in the month of January for Community of Competitors Newsletter is to set up 2016 for success by focus on our response.  As many of you that have heard me speak know, my first mantra of success is as follows: We have no control over what goes on around us, and we have total control over how we respond.

When the Seahawks took on the Panthers on Sunday, you saw a perfect example of responding.  The first half of the game was plagued with errors and mistakes by the Seahawks that resulted in a half time score of 31-0.  Many people stepped away from this game because they felt the game was over and the score was lopsided.  I decided to continue to watch for one reason, to see how the Seahawks responded.  You see, the Seattle Seahawks and Coach Pete Carroll are one of the most open organizations about their inner workings and approach to player and team sports psychology.  In turn, they are one of the most studied organizations.

It is fascinating to boil down to the deepest levels of sports psychology that Pete Carroll is able to implement within his team.  This past week, there was an article published by ESPN.com outlining the Seahawks “culture of grit.”  (Culture of Grit Article.)  Grit is a term coined and subsequently studied by professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and MacArthur Fellow, Dr. Angela Duckworth.  (You can see her TED Talk here The Key to Success? Grit .)  Basically, “grit” is our ability to pursue long-term goals and is broken down into passion and perseverance.

The Seahawks select players that have passion, not just in the draft, but also in their undrafted free agent signings.  At one point in the 2015-16 season, the Seahawks had more undrafted free agents on their roster (24) than any other team in the NFL.  Sure, everyone wants to hear about Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman, but the Seahawks are engineered to have and develop passion and perseverance within their players and throughout their organization.

Here is a quote from Pete Carroll that outlines why they trend toward those players that were not as highly touted as others, “They know they’ve got something to prove. This game isn’t all about talent. So much of it is about your heart and how hard you’re willing to work and how you fight through all of it and the passion that your bring. Those guys, we really appreciate those kind of guys.”

For you, the members of the Community of Competitors, I feel the same way.  You have something to prove.  Your success in life is not always about the talent that you have in your chosen area, but how you choose to respond with perseverance and compete with passion.  In this Community of Competitors, we have business people, teachers, athletes, and coaches and members of all ages and our execution of excellence will determine our success.  The challenge for you is to live everyday with passion and perseverance.  Passion and Perseverance are part of your RESPONSE to what is occurring around you.  As a member of the Community of Competitors you are expected to RESPOND with the Heart of a Competitor.  This is the reason you open this message on a weekly basis and the reason you are being challenged this week to share this message with five people.  (Next week’s message will detail why we focus on five people.)

Let me finish by saying this, developing grit, RESPONDING with the Heart of a Competitor does not mean that you are guaranteed to “win” on the scoreboard.  The Seahawks did not win their game yesterday and they did not win in the Super Bowl last year, however in the Seahawks world these experiences are all based on developing the perseverance and passion that will allow them to pursue improvement over a long-term.  If you do not believe me, just check out how Russell Wilson handles his post-game press conference. (Russell Wilson post-game press conference on NFL.com.)

Live this week with the Heart of a Competitor.

Check out previous posts on RESPONDING:
January 10th – Learning from Dabo Swinney’s Response
January 3rd – Your Response = Your Success 

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Enjoy the Journey

“The only journey is the one within.”

 – Rainer Maria Rilke, Poet and Novelist

 “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

 – Lao-Tzu, Philosopher and Poet

The journey each of us engages in to develop our Heart of a Competitor has the ability to be the most rewarding movement in our lives. Our journey is designed to be the individual development into the best competitor that we can become. This journey has no limits. It has no limits because there is no limit to self-improvement. This is the journey that is within the Heart of the Competitor, a journey to reach beyond the current limitations. It is as Rainer Rilke references above, the journey within.

The Heart of the Competitor’s journey is made up of action and risk-taking. This is not haphazard, reckless abandon, but it is pushing the limits and taking action. On our journey it is better to have taken action and failed than to have done nothing. When we take action, we are provided feedback and shown ways we can improve. However, when we take no action, we learn nothing and maintain the status quo. The Heart of the Competitor’s journey is meant to be more than the status quo.

As you read and engage in the march to the Heart of a Competitor, take action. The journey that you are engaging in is one of action. It is the journey of your life, and Lao Tzu writes in the quote above, your thousand miles and it begins with one step. Your one step was picking up this book. Now continue on and take your next step. After this step, you will take another step. You are building a journey of self-improvement that is never-ending, yet continuously rewarding.

Question of the Day:

What is your next step on your journey to the Heart of a Competitor?