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Even Will Ferrell Trusts “The Process”

TRIBE of Competitors,

“Win Forever means to aspire to be the best you can be, or to “maximize your potential.” But Winning Forever is not about the final score; it’s about competing and striving to be your best. Competition is the central theme of Carroll’s football program and life, and the day-to-day thinking is driven by one thought: to do things better than they have ever been done before. If you want to win forever, you must always compete.”

– From Pete Carroll’s story behind his winforever.com web site.

Focusing on the process to achieve greatness is at the center of the Heart of a Competitor. Achieving greatness and competing is about taking every single opportunity to improve, to find a better way to do something, and knowing that achieving at a high level is about consistently adhering to the process of finding methods to advance ourselves.

The central theme of Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll’s Win Forever philosophy is written above.This philosophy is a true testament to maintaining a focus on the process. Coach Carroll began to develop his Win Forever philosophy after his first head coaching position in the National Football League ended in his being fired. While he was out of work, he took a long hard look at his philosophies and decided that if he got another opportunity to coach he would focus his day-to-day thinking on doing things better. Ironically, when Coach Carroll began to implement his Win Forever philosophy, which focused on competing and continually improving, his teams achieved more success on the field of competition against their opponents.

The Heart of the Competitor maintains laser-like focus on the process of maximizing their skills to the highest-level possible, to always compete. While the competitor is competing, they understand that true competition is with themselves to get better, to improve their skills to a higher level than they were at the beginning of the day. When continued improvement is the goal, the process is front and center in our minds and achievement will be higher than even expected.

Will Ferrell was the 2017 Commencement address speaker at the University of Southern California (USC).  You can watch the full commencement address here:
Will Ferrell USC Commencement Address

During this address, the Actor/Comedian talks about enjoying the process and near the end of his address he says, “Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result.”  Today, and this week, enjoy the process of living each day in your search to become and develop a Competitor’s Heart, without succumbing to the pressure that can be placed on you related to the results.

QUESTION OF THE DAY:

Pick out one thing that you are going to focus on today and find a way to do it better. Write the one thing down and a plan to make it better.

Every day is a competition and it is yours to win.
Yours in Competition,

Coach Swarr

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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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Perfection Does Not Win, Competing Does

“Challenges are the doors to success and failure is only part of the journey.”

 – Eric Wong

Perfectionism is a huge roadblock to development.

Each challenge that presents itself is an opportunity to test your development and is not meant to be a demand for perfection. Perfection is never the goal. Pitching a perfect game in baseball has only been accomplished 21 times in the modern day game of baseball began being played in 1900.

Perfection is never the goal, competition is. The journey that we enjoy as competitors is filled with successes and accompanied by failures. The true Heart of a Competitor learns more from the failures than from success. We are not seeking failure however, we are pulling lessons from these failures and progressing to become the best version of ourselves we can become.

The cure for perfectionism is to seek out challenges. Push yourself to edge of your limits, enjoying the challenge and providing the best opportunity to test your ability. You are meant to be experiencing the challenges you are currently experiencing. You are meant to be pushing yourself to find out what you are capable of accomplishing. This is the journey, the doors that are opened when you are focused and open to every possible experience that is presented to you.

Knock each roadblock, remind yourself that you are developing the Heart of the Competitor and you are on the journey to being the greatest competitor you are capable of becoming.

Question of the Day:

 What has been holding you back on your Journey? What have you been avoiding? Seek out the challenge and attack it.

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Feeling Pressure?…You are in the RIGHT Place.

“I like pressure. If I am not on the edge of failure, I’m not being sufficiently challenged.”

– Jewel, singer

“The struggle and frustration you feel at the edges of your abilities—that uncomfortable burn of “almost, almost”—is the sensation of constructing new neural connections, a phenomenon that the UCLA psychologist Robert Bjork calls “desirable difficulty.” Your brain works just like your muscles: no pain, no gain.”

– Daniel Coyle, in The Little Book of Talent

A true competitor desires to be pushed to the edge of their abilities.  At the edge of our abilities is where development occurs, where true improvement takes place, and where greatness is achieved.  The edge of our abilities is also where the largest amount of discomfort lies.  The Heart of the Competitor enjoys and seeks out this discomfort; they enjoy the pressure.  The Heart of the Competitor turns the pressure into pleasure.

The pressure that comes from teetering on the edge of failure is the proper challenge.  We can identify this because it has been researched and is known that this uncomfortable feeling that arises within us is our brain working to make new connections, to establish new programs.  While we are working physically to learn a new skill, our brain is also working physically to make new connections and establish new neural pathways.

The Heart of the Competitor believes in the following mantras, “Turn Pressure into Pleasure” and “Desire Difficulty.”  When using these two mantras, the competitor seeks out difficulties because true learning and growth occurs there.  While desiring the difficulties, the competitor enjoys the pressure that comes with performing.

Question of the Day:
Today, seek out a learning experience at the edge of your abilities.  During this experience, how did this help you turn pressure into pleasure?

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3 Traits of Great Coaches and Teachers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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?

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Effort is Essential to Excellence

“It is impossible to attain perfection, but that should be the goal.  Less than 100 percent of your effort in every respect toward attaining your objective is not success, regardless of individual honors received or the number of games won or lost.” 

– John Wooden, Hall of Fame College Basketball Coach

Even though perfection is unattainable, Coach Wooden references maintaining 100% of our effort to achieving perfection in everything the competitor does.  Maintaining the goal of perfection forces our focus on the ability to continually develop and push our self toward our goals and perform at our best, knowing that each competition is a checkpoint in our progress to observe our development.  The competition should in no way have the feeling as a need to prove what our skills are.  If we take on the mindset of needing to prove how good we are, this is a recipe for second-guessing and NOT feeling skilled enough to belong, the epitome of the Fixed Mindset.  The Growth Mindset values the effort, understanding that effort is the path to improvement, and eventually achievement.  (For more on the Growth vs. Fixed Mindset, check out the book Mindset by Carol Dweck.)

The effort to be successful permeates through every opportunity to improve.  The effort to improve your physical skills in every opportunity, combined with the effort to improve your mental skills every single day, with an intense effort to maintain and improve your emotional well being.  This is perfection as a competitor; this is the establishment of the Heart of a Competitor.

Developing a team to have the Heart of a Competitor is also essential and the effort to dominate every possible aspect of the game is the goal.  This is the focus of Coach Wooden’s quote, 100% of your effort in every aspect of the game.  For his basketball teams, there was an attention to detail offensively, defensively, and every aspect of preparation.  The expectation was that you would provide 100% effort in each of these phases.  The Heart of the Competitor maintains this focus and commits to 100% effort because they understand the difference and the impact that last 1% has on achieving greatness.

Question of the Day:

How have you chosen to provide 100% effort to your physical, mental, and emotional skills?

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Perfection is NOT the Goal

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Diamonds are a precious resource and are a great example of what it means to be a competitor.

  1. Diamonds are formed about 100 miles deep within the earth, where it’s hot and there is a lot of pressure. This is true for us as individuals and as a part of a team, we are forming and preparing in the heat and under pressure of competition.
  2. Diamonds are brought to the surface of the Earth as a result of a violent explosion that propels them quickly through the earth, cementing the Carbon bonds in place. (A 1 Karat diamond has billions and billions of bonds.) When you are experiencing adversity, you are being propelled through the heat and pressure and you are cementing the bonds of a team or the strength in your competitive mindset in place.
  3. Lastly, Diamonds are used as a sign of commitment and strength. It is a commitment based on bonds, and it is a strength that is so strong, it is used on blades to cut through bricks or pavement or in life to signify the commitment of one person to another.

Diamonds are seen as these valuable resources and gems, signifying commitment and strength, however it is important to note that diamonds are rarely ever perfect. Approximately 26,000 kilograms of diamonds are mined annually and a fraction of these are considered “perfect” when they are pulled from the ground. Even after they are mined, they go through many processes and cuttings to be built into the fine jewelry that is sold around the world.

This is true for all of us in the Community of Competitors; we are being formed through heat and pressure and are far from perfection. We are undergoing change on a daily basis to be chiseled into a fine competitor. Just like the strength of a diamond, we have the strength and the beauty to be chiseled away into a valuable competitor. This chiseling and process that we undergo does not lead us to perfection, but enhances our growth and allows us to become more than we ever could have imagined.

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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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Small Changes Get Big Results

As we near the end of the summer and many parents, athletes, and coaches are preparing for a new school year we can evaluate our goals and determine what changes we would like to make to achieve at our highest level. Many people see the word CHANGE and cringe; they lack the foresight and mental toughness to know that change is continuous and leads to improvement.

Do you know what is great about the changes that occur in our life?

The smallest changes can make the biggest difference. About 15 months ago, I made a small change to my before bed routine, this small change added on average 34 seconds to my bedtime routine.

What was this one small change?

I began flossing. That’s right, I started to floss each evening and it takes about 34 seconds for me to do this. There was very little change in the dentist appointment that I had six months after starting to floss, however, the big change that occurred was this past week at my usual nine month teeth cleaning, the entire appointment from the time I walked in the door until the time I left, lasted a whopping 34 minutes and my dentist informed me that I had a great set of teeth.

Why is it important that you care about my dental hygiene?

The truth is, you should not care about my dental hygiene, but you should care about the small things you can do that will make a big difference for you. It is the small things that we do over and over, that do not seem to matter when we are doing them, that lead to the big results and payoffs in our life.

The truth is most people will not do the small things that are seemingly insignificant but will lead to success.

How do we know this? According to the American Dental Association, 50% of Americans DO NOT floss daily. That means that 50% of the people refuse to do a little thing that leads to greater health.

Those that perform at their best on a daily basis, the Champions of Competition, commit to do the small things that do not seem to matter, and they commit to doing them with uncommon focus and energy.

What is a small thing that you can change, add, or adapt in your life as we prepare for a new school year?

Share your one small change with me, by simply commenting on this post.