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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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Fill a Need and you will always be NEEDED.

This post is not an advertisement to shop at Target.
I felt like that needed to be the first line of today’s Community of Competitors Newsletter because this is not about Target making a decision to serve a specific type of customer that enters their doors.  This Community of Competitors Newsletter is about listening to those around you, even the lowest people on the lowest rung of the ladder of your organization.

Caroline’s Cart is a shopping cart that is designed for the parents of children with special needs.  The cart is designed so there is no need for these parents to push a wheelchair and a shopping cart through the store.  Drew Ann Long created the design, when she knew her daughter would outgrow the traditional shopping cart.  Target became aware of Caroline’s Cart when a local Target store employee brought it to the attention of the local store operations team.  Thus it was implemented at the local level and in the month of March 2016, Target expects to have Caroline’s Cart in each of their stores. Story on upworthy.com

I write about this in the Community of Competitors Newsletter because this idea was NOT hatched in some huge corporate boardroom by a bunch of high-level executives, those in the trenches launched it, those with their boots on the ground.  Caroline’s Cart was created by a mother who had a need.  Caroline’s Cart was then introduced to Target by an employee who had a need.

Fill a NEED and you will always be NEEDED.

This is true on every team and in every organization.  See what needs to be completed, what needs to be done and serve an important role.  In my coaching experience, there were countless times that our bench players were able to pick up the signs of the other team.  These players were not starters, but they saw a NEED, filled the NEED, and they were NEEDED.  These players were an essential part of the success of the organization.

In the life of the Competitor, there will be needs there will be problems.  Individuals with the Heart of a Competitor look at the problems as opportunities to find solutions, while those that are losers are stuck in the problem identification stage, refusing to identify a solution.  Great teams find solutions and great individuals fill a need.

Fill a NEED and you will always be NEEDED.

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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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Built for Excellence

“To me, defeat in anything is merely temporary, and its punishment is but an urge for me to greater effort to achieve my goal. Defeat simply tells me that something is wrong in my doing; it is a path leading to success and truth.”

– Bruce Lee, Author, Philosopher, and Actor

Having the Heart of the Competitor means you are called to view competition and defeat differently than society would push upon us. Society and even the quote from Bruce Lee above pushes our thoughts toward defeat as losing against an external opponent. The competition is not against the external opponent; the competition is with yourself and the obstacles the external opponent presents. The Heart of the Competitor desires to compete with the best opponents they can because of the increased challenges and obstacles these opponents represent. As a result of being pushed to these increased obstacles, the Heart of the Competitor finds out more about themselves and their skills.

The goal of competition is to learn about ourselves, our skills, and areas we are strong in, and ways we can improve. We are limitless, we were born into this world without limits and as we grow and develop, we begin to place limits on ourselves. The Heart of the Competitor unlearns these limits. The Heart of the Competitor pushes the limits they have placed upon themselves over time and breaks through to accomplish great things.

If we are “defeated” or we lose an external competition, review the competition and the obstacles that were presented during this competition. What obstacles or skills held you back? What strengths can you use to overcome these obstacles? Utilize the learning gained from this competition to push forward and leap over the hurdles that you have placed in your life.

Question of the Day:

What is one “hurdle” or limit you have placed in your life? How are you going to leap over this hurdle?

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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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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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Saying “NO” = Saying “Yes”

“The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones.”

 – Brandon Sanderson, Author

The March to achieving the Heart of the Competitor is a consistent process of development. This March will not be completed at break-neck speed; it should be a daily devotion to improving or pushing yourself in an area of your life. The March is meant to simplify your development as having the Heart of a Competitor.

 

Simplifying the process is essential to a leader’s life. Often times, leadership is interpreted as being out in front of the pack, needing to make all the decisions and commit to being a part of every operation the team or organization undertakes. It is not possible for a team or an organization to be successful by relying on one individual to head up every single endeavor. Leaders will increase the team and organizations strength and influence by stepping back and not just delegating tasks out to others, but flatly saying, “No.” When you are saying, “No,” you are also saying “Yes” to something else. For the athlete, when faced with the decision to say “No” to hanging out with your friends after school, they are saying, “Yes” to working out and improving their skills.

 

Understanding it is acceptable to say, “No” is also a skill to be learned. Since most high school students are given the message that colleges look at not only their transcript, but also their involvement in the entire student body, the highest achieving students attempt to be involved in as many activities as humanly possible, stretching themselves to no end. They are involved in as many clubs, activities and sports’ teams as possible and end up dividing their time without doing any of them to the maximum of their capabilities. This is an extremely impressionable time to teach the skills of saying, “No.” This is not an advocacy for sport specialization or limiting yourself to one club or activity, it is the understanding that when you say, “No,” you are emphatically saying, “Yes” to another commitment.

In order to write the One Year March to the Heart of the Competitor, I said, “No” to sleeping in, and “Yes” to writing this March by setting my alarm to 4:45 every day.

Check out a great podcast by Michael Hyatt on Saying No using the following link:

http://michaelhyatt.com/027-how-to-say-no-without-feeling-guilty-podcast.html

Question of the Day:

What has been or will be one thing that you will say “No” to? When you say “No,” what are you saying “Yes” to?

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Community of Competitors: Find Your Purpose

Merriam-Webster defines the noun version of PURPOSE as the aim or goal of a person: what a person is trying to do, become.

Through the Heart of a Competitor, a purpose is being defined as a never-ending quest in what you are trying to become.  A purpose is not an end point, it is development rooted inside you.  Goals are set to provide a target; however, accomplishment of goals should never be an ending point.  All great competitors reach beyond their current capabilities and you are a great COMPETITOR, so push yourself beyond your current comfort level.  The progression is easy to be observed.  The first goal is to make the team, which progresses to pursuing a starting spot, leading to a desire to be recognized as an all-star, to being a perennial all-star, to pursuing Hall of Fame status.

While much of these accomplishments noted above are outcome-based accomplishments, out of a person’s control, it demonstrates the competitor’s focus on achieving at the highest level possible.

True purpose is about becoming the best person you can become.  Along the way, recognition and accomplishments will occur; however, they come from the world, where true purpose comes from within.

Choose to maintain your purpose at the center of your life and development.