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2 Ways to Prepare for Pressure

Our family spent the last week on a much anticipated and well-deserved vacation.  We spent the week in Avalon, New Jersey, a beautiful little town on the Jersey Shore.  We have been to portions of the Jersey Shore before at various times during past summers.  This past week was NOT the peak of summer tourism, as a matter of fact, many Jersey schools had just finished their school year, so the summer buzz was starting, but overall it was quiet compared to previous visits we took during the months of July and August.

While the number of visitors like myself was lower, the intensity of the lifeguards on the beach was higher than I have ever seen.  In other words, they were preparing for the busy times that lie ahead.  On our second day there, right as the lifeguards came on the beach at 10 AM, there were many whistles being blown and a number of lifeguards running up and down the beach.  The first thing that popped into my mind was the concern for those they had to rescue at other locations, when in reality they were training themselves to work as a team and prepare to save a person life.  There was a lead lifeguard right in front of us that would blow his whistle at random times and the neighboring guards would jump out of their chairs, grab their buoy and run down the beach to the next station.  It was impressive to watch.  They were always on watch, expecting the unexpected.  Thus, when something out of the ordinary occurred, they hopped into motion without hesitation.

Then an amazing challenge occurred, right in front of us, a “rescue.”  The lifeguard whistles blew and they hopped into action swimming out to save a “person” that had gotten caught about 50 yards out from the shore line.  As the crowd gathered, the lifeguards swam out to the person in distress, and quickly brought them back to shore.  While the other lifeguards cleared an area, the practice dummy was brought to shore and given CPR.  These lifeguards were practicing experiencing pressure.

These lifeguards were building habits, so that at some point this summer, when they are called upon to save a life, they have prepared by expecting the unexpected and practicing under pressure.  The challenge to the Community of Competitors is to in our lives, expect the unexpected and practice experiencing pressure.  We learn these from great performers in athletic events to the daily jobs that many of us engage in every single day.

 

Following the completion of this challenge and practicing saving the life of the “practice swimmer,” the lifeguards debriefed on the beach.  This was just another example that we are all COMPETITORS in life.

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Love the Present (It’s a Gift!!)

“Anxiety is the space between the ‘Now’ and the ‘Then.'”

 -Richard Abell

Competing in the present moment requires focus and concentration. Focus and concentration must be practiced and rehearsed. It is the training of the mind and body to work together in a way that demonstrates thought and movement connection. This connection begins with the thoughts.

The largest inhibitor of a thought and movement connection are the thoughts that come into our mind that drag us away from the present moment, the here and now. Our mind is made up of thousand and depending on our age, millions of experiences and images related to the event or activity the competitor is currently engaged in. When facing competitive situations, our mind replays the previous experiences that were had in similar situations. Our minds do this to maintain some semblance of calm for the mind, since the mind relies on the status quo, resisting change. This creates a gap between the present moment, the “Now,” and the past, the “Then.” As quoted above, this creates anxiety.

The Heart of the Competitor removes these past images and engages in the present moment to create a new script, one that has not been written. The first step to engaging in the present moment is a deep breath to push out the past images and experiences, thus placing your mind where your feet are. The deep breath brings the competitor into the “Here and Now.” This leaves the “Then,” knowing it has occurred and cannot be changed, the “Here and Now” is wholly controllable and it is the Heart of the Competitor that engages in the present moment, where true memories are made.

The second step to engaging in the present moment is utilizing a focus word or saying that will prompt you to be in the “Here and Now.” Choosing a focus word or saying allows you to bring yourself a calm and laser-like concentration to the present. The focus word or saying is effective because the competitor believes in it and engages their mind in the word or saying.

Question of the Day:

Choose your focus word or saying? Why did you choose this word or say? What does it mean to you?

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10 Ways to Have the “Luck of the Irish”

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, this weekly newsletter contains 10 Irish Proverbs or Blessings that Championship Competitors can use to mold the Heart of a Competitor.

  1. May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor ever remember what is best forgetting. -Irish Blessing

Playing in the present moment is about letting go of any past performances that keep us from performing at our potential. Learn the lessons from the past and focus on the present moment. You are meant to be in this present moment.

  1. Praise the young and they will blossom. – Irish Proverb

Be positive with our kids and they will grow to have the Heart of a Competitor, focused on what they can control, giving all out effort, and doing the little things that are needed to be successful.

  1. There is no luck except where there is discipline. – Irish Proverb

Habits and routines build a discipline that allows the Championship Competitor to “be in the right place at the right time.” Create championship habits and routines in your daily life.

  1. If you do not sow in the spring, you will not reap in the autumn. – Irish Proverb

We must place priorities in our lives and work towards accomplishing these priorities. Accomplishment is rooted in working hard on the priorities that you have established. True achievement occurs over a long period of time.

  1. It is a long road that has no turning. -Irish Proverb on Life

Success is a journey and becoming a championship competitor is about enjoying the long road of life.

  1. You will never plow a field by turning it over in your mind. – Irish Proverb

Championship Competitors create plans in their mind AND take action. Nothing gets accomplished in our mind, those with the Heart of a Competitor take action.

  1. An old broom knows the dirty corners best. – Irish Proverb

Experience is a great teacher. Championship Competitors learn from their experiences and tap into the experiences of others.

  1. Count your joys instead of your woes. Count your friends instead of your foes. – Irish Proverb

Focus on the positive relationships in your life and be rid of those that bring you down.

  1. May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live. – Irish Blessing

The Heart of a Competitor is competing to become the best they can become. The Heart of a Competitor is focused on competition and not comparing, not wanting what others have, but living a life that is full of what is best for them.

  1. “Old Irish Blessing”

Always remember to forget the things that made you sad.

But never forget to remember the things that made you glad.

Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue.

But never forget to remember those that have stuck by you.

Always remember to forget the troubles that passed away.

But never forget to remember the blessing that come each day.

This week, may you be blessed with the good fortune of the Irish. The good fortune that comes from remembering what has made you glad, those competitors that are in the fight with you, and the blessings that are in your life.

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A Coach’s Super Bowl

A mess can become a message. A few weeks ago, I wrote about my mess as a coach becoming my message. I had gone through a difficult coaching experience, wherein I was focused on comparing myself and the program I was running to everyone else; when true competition is competing against yourself to do the best that you can. This experience has led me to the message that is the Heart of a Competitor and the program that is nearing completion.

Over the past year and a half I have had the opportunity to work with athletes and coaches in a variety of sports and it has taken me to a number of different athletic contests. In these athletic contests, the competitive arena, I love to watch the relationship between competitor and coach. The title of coach comes with great responsibility, a responsibility to connect with an athlete and translate your knowledge to their performance. There are a variety of ways to do this, but there is only one time to do it, in practice.

Practice is the coach’s Super Bowl, while the competition should be the competitor’s Super Bowl. The young competitor’s we work with always feel they are being evaluated because they are being recorded and evaluated in competitive situations. Great coaches do record and evaluate game situations, but they use it to teach in practice, not in the middle of a competition.

Using this video in the middle of a competition is a recipe for “Paralysis by Analysis.” Competitive greatness for an athlete is a mind and body connection to perform during competition, leaving the analyzing and judging for a later time. Competitive greatness is not enhanced by being shown where your feet or hands are located at during a movement; competitive greatness is about being connected and focused on performing at your peak.

For all of the competitors that read this message, continue to focus on competing and giving your best effort in the present moment during competitions. Then during practice be focused and connected to your coach and the lessons each of you have learned from competition.

For the coaches that read this message, treat practice like your Super Bowl and connect with and teach your athletes then, allow them to demonstrate their progress and COMPETE in the competition.

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Q: What does 2015 hold? A: Nobody knows.

“There is no limit to self-improvement.”

– Jeff Swarr

 We have no idea how good we can be. Because we have no idea how good we can be, we must soldier onward and work to push our limits every single day. When we drive our limits forward every day we will see improvement and growth. The Heart of the Competitor realizes this growth will be incremental and even microscopic. Competitors must develop their hearts and minds. What are you doing to develop yourself? What are you doing on a daily basis to push your limits? This must be part of our routine as competitors.

As you wake, spend 15 minutes each day on development of your mindset, your inner being. Your inner being is not connected to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, your inner being is about the development of your mind. If you are reading this piece, you are committed to being an elite competitor. This commitment is a daily commitment; you must sell yourself to yourself everyday. When you commit 15 minutes to your mindset everyday, you are developing a mental toughness that will seep throughout your world. Choose a book and commit to reading it for 15 minutes every morning. If you are having trouble doing it for 15 minutes, start with 5, then progress to 10, and eventually you will reach 15 minutes. By choosing to read for 15 minutes a day, you are committing to read about a book a month, thus in a year you would have read at least 12 books. Imagine the improvement and lessons your Heart of a Competitor will gain from reading 12 books in a year.

This is the beginning of your self-improvement that has no limits. In order to be an elite competitor, an elite teammate, you must be an elite you, an elite individual. Self-improvement is not about being elite when you start, for each elite competitor was once a beginner, must you must start in order to become elite.

In November of 2013, I decided that I would read The Holy Bible. I had researched the one-year readers and decided that was too much and did not allow for digestion of what was read. Since November of 2013, reading an average of 2 Chapters a day, I have completed the New Testament and am through Isaiah Chapter 10. The Holy Bible is the best performance enhancement/mental toughness book around. There is a verse in Ecclesiastes that reminds us to focus on the present moment: Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come? Ecclesiastes 8:7 NIV We do not know how good we can be, we do not know the future, nor does anyone else, so we can commit to becoming our best and pushing forward with our development.

Focus on your present moment, engaging in developing yourself in 2015.

Question of the Day:

What is the first book you will commit to reading?

In addition to the Holy Bible, I am currently reading The Hinge by Dr. Rob Bell.

Comment below with your first read of 2015.

 

 

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3 Reasons to take the Leap of Faith

An amazing story of taking risks early in life was aired on the BBC in October. It is the story of the Barnacle gosling.  Check out the 2 Minute Video  on the BBC Page.

 Barnacle Gosling’s Leap of Faith 

Barnacle geese need to nest their eggs high up on a cliff, so they are protected from predators, specifically the Arctic Fox. Shortly after birth, hatching form the comfort of the eggshell, these newly hatched goslings are called upon to take a nearly 4oo foot plunge.

 

Their parents, specifically the mother, urge these newborn goslings on to take the “Leap of Faith.”

 

These young goslings inherit a trait to follow their mother anywhere, but they are still reluctant to jump of this cliff.   The filmmakers noted the goslings may take 30 minutes to half a day to muster up the courage to take their Leap of Faith.

 

What can we learn from the Barnacle Geese?

  1. Encourage our offspring to take the Leap of Faith.

As a parent of two young boys, we are always concerned about their safety and this is warranted, however, they need to be pushed to take the Leap of Faith and jump at opportunity when it arises. The Leap of Faith is where the great experiences occur in our lives.

  1. When you take the Leap of Faith, how you land decides your fate.

The Barnacle gosling is unable to fly, but they can glide. This gliding allows them to land on their bellies and absorb the impact. The courage to take a Leap of Faith allows new experiences, new learning for all of us. When taking the Leap of Faith, like the Barnacle gosling, we will fall, but is how we land that will decide our fate.

  1. Staying put allows your predators will gobble you up.

Arctic foxes will eat the Barnacle goslings that do not take a Leap of Faith. Waiting around to do something allows others to get ahead, to surpass you. Someday is not a deadline for accomplishing or doing something, someday is not a date on the calendar.

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Are you Focusing on the Process?

“There is nothing either good or bad except that thinking makes it so.”

 – Dr. David Schwartz in his book, The Magic of Thinking Big

Understanding that life is a process is a huge step in the development of the Heart of the Competitor. A competitor is accustomed to keeping score. Keeping score begins early in life. Parents compare their children in their timing of reaching developmental milestones, like walking, talking, potty-training, and the list can go on. Since true competition is with yourself, the Heart of the Competitor understands true development is consistent improvement. Instead of comparing milestones, to see if something is wrong, even the parent with the Heart of a Competitor enjoys the process that is getting their child to be potty-trained, to walk, to talk, and reach the other important developmental milestones in its’ life.

 

The viewpoint of daily development is a battle that must be fought against the world’s view of competition. The world views competition as a defined outcome or result, for if we have a defined outcome or result, either you met the outcome or result and you are a WINNER, or you are a loser because you failed to achieve the desired outcome or result.

 

Review Dr. Schwartz’s quote above. There is no good or bad, just the thought process and thinking that makes an experience good or bad. The world has trained people to think they need to view something as good or bad. The Heart of the Competitor refuses to be drawn into this limited view and understands that nothing is good or bad, it just is. This view allows the Competitor to accept their current state, observe what has occurred, and focus on the process of improvement.

 

Question of the Day:

What can you do to remind yourself the process of developing and improving is the ultimate goal and that an event in your life just “is”?

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Be like Siri and Pretend You Did NOT Hear That

Do you ever feel yourself being drawn into negativity? Does your attention get pulled in a number of different directions? Are you annoyed by the notifications popping up on your screen or buzzing in your pocket?

Pretend that you do not hear them and are not distracted. (Read below to understand what I mean.)

This past week, my wife relayed an incident that occurred at home while I was at work.

Our oldest son, Simon, was playing with our iPad. By chance, he had accessed Siri. Siri was prepared to answer any question or provide any information that was requested. While Simon was occupied with Siri, our youngest son, Spencer was running around the house and like any normal two year-old, he was being loud and enjoying himself.   Simon proceeded to yell at Spencer by saying, “Stop it. Do not do that.” Simon said this without realizing Siri was still active on the iPad. Siri responded by saying, “I am going to pretend I did not hear that.”

After chuckling at this anecdote, I was reminded that in order to compete at the top of our game, we should be more like Siri. When there are crazy things going on around us and others are pulling at our attention, you must continue to focus on the present moment and say, “I am going to pretend I did not hear that.”

When your teammates or coworkers proceed down the road of negativity, be like Siri and say to them, “I am going to pretend I did not hear that.”

When working on a project and your phone buzzes, say to yourself, “I am going to pretend I did not hear that.”

This week, focus on the present moment by being like Siri and pretend you did not hear that.

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One Way to COMPETE in the Present

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Competing in the present moment is about being where your feet are. If your feet are in the batter’s box getting ready to hit, your mind needs to be there ready to hit. If your feet are in the shotgun position, your mind needs to be there as well, progressing through your reads of the defense. If your feet are at the foul line shooting a free throw in the waning seconds of a tight game, your mind needs to be there, where your feet are.

In the Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown always takes a beating from Lucy for his deficiencies. The shortcomings Lucy attacks are usually related to his preparation and commitment to being a confident competitor. In this edition of Peanuts, Lucy belittles Charlie Brown for striking out to the end the last game of the year and attempts to provide feedback on his inability to play in the present moment. Lucy’s words are “insightful” however; Charlie Brown’s response demonstrates his lack of ability to play in the present moment, admitting that he was thinking about his new girlfriend.

When the Competitor enters the arena of competition, all other factors must be pushed away and left outside the field.   When you tie your shoes to dress for practice, you are like the race car driver strapping in for the race, or the fighter pilot preparing for takeoff, there are no other thoughts than the mission you are embarking on. Leave these thoughts and concerns in your locker, your gym bag, or at home and be where your feet are.

Question of the Day:

When preparing for competition, where will you leave your concerns?