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THANKFUL for Challenges and Failures

On this Thanksgiving, many will take the time to recognize and name that for which they are thankful.  If you are like most people this will begin with family, health, and the list will go on.  I am thankful for the immediate family of my wife, Emily, our two sons, Simon, 7, and Spencer, 4, the extended family of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I am also thankful for the blessing of health that my immediate and extended family enjoys.  Moving from there, I would be remiss if I did not mention that I am thankful for a steady career as a teacher and the colleagues that I am blessed to work with, many of whom I call friends.

I could continue to list the things that I am thankful for, but there is one thought of thankfulness that continues to build a space in my brain and that is to be thankful for challenges and failures.  Challenges and failures have led me to enjoy the successes that have blessed my life.

I am thankful for the failures of previous relationships prior to meeting my wife, Emily.  These failures forced me to become a better person, knowing that relationships and ultimately marriage takes work and commitment.

I am thankful for the challenges and failures as a coach.  The many losses that I endured as a Collegiate Head Baseball Coach forced me to evaluate myself and my Core Values.  This failure challenged me to become more and focus on the connections with others and how I can serve others, rather than having them serve me.  These challenges led me to the Core Values, of Learning, Teaching, and Serving.

I am thankful for the times as a young coach that I lost control, breaking a clipboard, throwing a fungo bat, or going into a general tirade.  These situations have demonstrated to me the need for control and have allowed me to become a better father when responding to Simon and Spencer, a better teacher when working with a lethargic student, and have increased my ability to respond using logic and training rather than emotion.

I am thankful for the challenges and failures of positions I applied for and did not get.  I once found out I did not get a head coaching position from the person who got the job.  (That was awkward.)  I went to an interview in a neighboring school district with no portfolio or examples, totally unprepared.  I interviewed for an Athletic Director position, as a finalist and received no communication, not an email, or phone call from them for 3+ months, until I received a form email saying they had filled the position.  I also interviewed for another Athletic Director position and was told in front of another candidate that neither of us would get the position.  I am thankful for all of these failures and challenges because they fill my life with appreciation for the teaching position that I have at Lampeter-Strasburg High School because I am part of a staff that landed itself in the Top 1% of schools in Pennsylvania for improving the performance of their students in Algebra.

So when we sit down and list the things we are thankful for today, your challenge is to list a couple of failures and challenges you have experienced.  Look at how they have been a blessing or how they can be turned into a blessing because right around the corner from that challenge is the blessing.

Thanks for being a part of the TRIBE of Competitors.  Check out our launch of the Competitor’s Heart TRIBE Membership that is 50% for a LIMITED TIME.  It makes a great gift for the ELITE Competitor in your life.

YES, I WANT 50% OFF COMPETITOR’S HEART TRIBE MEMBERSHIP

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Fueling Your Heart of a Competitor

The last edition of the Community of Competitors Newsletter for January will focus on building a mindset that allows us to RESPOND.  Our responses are programmed into us based on what we have placed into our mind.  Our bodies are fueled by the food we take in, our minds are nourished by what we process.  If you want to be a positive, confident, competitive, and trusting teammate, you must associate with positive, confident, competitive, and trusting people.  The Heart of a Competitor is built around creating associations and having inputs in our lives that build up the traits we want to express and live out.

This is based on pieces from the best-selling book The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, and a quote that originally came from Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” 

So, look around at whom or what are you associating with and look at the impact these associations are having on you.  Whether you are a coach, a parent, an athlete, or businessperson reading this post, your associations are impacting your performance.

As a leader, if you desire to be a person who is continually motivating your players, maintaining a positive attitude toward developing your players, look at what you are bringing into your life.

What are you reading?
How are you developing the positive mindset that will translate to your players and program?
What podcasts are you listening to?

Personally, I do not watch or listen to the news, 99% of the news has no bearing on the goals that we are pursuing or those that are around me are pursuing.  There are two podcasts that nourish my mind and I wanted to share them with the Community of Competitors, so you can fill your emotional and spiritual tank:

Dr. Michael Gervais – Finding Mastery Podcast
Dr. Bhrett McCabe – The Mindside Podcast

These two podcasts provide constant reinforcement and connection to the mindset of continuous improvement and high performance.  The format for each of these podcasts is conversational and allows for you to connect to Dr. Gervais and Dr. McCabe. This connection creates a link into these experts as one of the five people that you spend time with.

In this day and age of technology, with increased information and idea sharing, we are able to create a circle of five associations that can dramatically impact our lives and those that we come in contact with or those that we mentor.  The associations the Heart of the Competitor creates in their life impacts the way we the RESPOND.

Players, the same is true for you.  Look around at those that you spend the most time with.  Your attitude is the average of your five closest friends.  Evaluate these influences and determine which are healthy and building you up to achieve your goals.  If they are not healthy, find a way to change it.

As you attack this week with energy and enthusiasm, look around at your associations and what is put into your Heart of a Competitor.  Be aware of these influences and the impact they have on your RESPONSE.  Nourish your mind with that which will build your masterpiece.

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Learning from Dabo Swinney’s Response

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.

Our lives are built around how we respond.  Last week, we provided an example of a back-up quarterback, Bram Kohlhausen, responding when he was given the one opportunity to start a game in his last collegiate game, after five years as a back-up quarterback.

In honor of Monday’s National Championship game, our focus on responding comes from Clemson Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney.  Coach Swinney’s career path has been made up of RESPONSES and it has landed his program in the National Championship game.  Coach Swinney has made the progression from walk-on player, to Graduate Assistant, to Assistant Coach, to Commercial Real Estate Agent, to Assistant Coach, to Interim Head Coach, to his current position at the Head Football Coach at Clemson University.  In November, the Washington Post released an article outlining Coach Sweeney’s career path.  (Washington Post Article: Dabo Swinney was the best shopping center leasing agent in Alabama)

An individual with the Heart of a Competitor is the sum of their RESPONSES and when we respond with authenticity and enthusiasm, we will be successful.  When a competitor that lacks heart RESPONDS with negativity and a lack of self-control, they will spiral downward and fail.  The Cincinnati Bengals performance and subsequent loss on Saturday were an example of this lack of control.

Continue to RESPOND with the Heart of a Competitor in 2016.

Check out last week’s post on RESPONDING:
Your Response = Your Success 

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Your Response Will Determine Your Success

My goal during the month of January is to share stories and examples of great competitors RESPONDING to adversity.  This week’s example about RESPONDING comes from the Texas Christian University Football team.  You can list a number of pieces of adversity the TCU Football team encountered at the Alamo Bowl, from their start starting quarterback getting suspended for the game to falling behind 31-0 in the second half, the Horned Frogs RESPONDED.

The RESPONSE to the adversity experienced was evident and put on display in the 2016 Alamo Bowl, but it was built and engrained in the Horned Frog Culture over the last 10 years.  In 2006, almost 10 years ago, Ivan Maisel, an ESPN Senior Writer, wrote a piece on the TCU Football program’s “Enthusiasm Station.” (Check out the ESPN.com article by clicking here.)  The “Enthusiasm Station” is built into a conditioning circuit the Horned Frogs complete early in the morning one day a week.  This “Enthusiasm Station” dictates how long they continue in their conditioning circuit.  Their RESPONSE in the “Enthusiasm Station” is based solely on their desire to push through and use the adversity in the conditioning circuit as an advantage.  Their enthusiasm was practiced, never left to chance, built for 10 years and displayed at the Alamo Bowl.

The enthusiastic RESPONSE was also evident in Quarterback Bram Kohlhausen.  Kohlhausen is a fifth-year senior who has been backing up the starter, a sophomore, the entire season.  He responded when given the opportunity, in what ends up being Kohlhausen’s only start in his entire college football career.  This only start occurred a little under two months after his father passed away in early November.  Kohlhausen RESPONDED by competing with the Heart of a Competitor engaging in the present moment with confidence.

This is just one example of a person and a team RESPONDING, however there are examples all around us of people and programs RESPONDING to adversity.  We do not control what is happening around us, but and this is a big BUT, we control our RESPONSE.  In 2016, I encourage you to RESPOND, build your masterpiece, and compete with the Heart of a Competitor.  Like Bram Kohlhausen, you may only get one opportunity and your RESPONSE will determine what is made of this one opportunity.

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Enjoy Your Growth as You Respond

Respond

As we enter the last week of 2015 take the time to pause and reflect on the year.  As you reflect, try to do this impartially, allowing your mind to observe what occurred.  These events and your progress will eventually be labeled as successful or not however, we challenge you to truly reflect on the progress that has been made in your life.  If you do not see progress, make a commitment to use your strengths in 2016.  Notice I said, use your strengths, not improve on your weaknesses.  It is commonplace for people to choose a New Year’s resolution in an area of their life they are dissatisfied with, an area of weakness.  This approach is a set-up for failure.

This week, I challenge you to a new way of thinking for the year 2016, choose a word that will provide clarity and direction to your life for the entire year.  (This process is outlined in the book One Word the Will Change your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page)

Over the last two years, I have utilized the process of choosing a word that you will live out and engage in for the year.  This process has provided clarity and direction.  My word for 2014 was “Enjoy.”  Throughout 2014, my focus was enjoying every moment that was gifted to me.  As 2015 comes to a close and I reflect on my word of “Growth,” I have been blessed with immense growth throughout the year.  Here is last year’s post on the word “Growth.”

If you look back at last year’s message on the word “Growth,” my goal was to use every opportunity as an area of growth, utilizing my strengths to continually grow and in turn see those that we have been blessed to work with will grow.  As I review 2015, I can emphatically say that I have been blessed with GROWTH throughout my life.

For 2016, I have chosen the word “Respond.”  In going through the process of having a word choose me for the year, I kept coming back to our lives as Competitors being built NOT on what is happening around us, but how we RESPOND to what is occurring around us.  If we look around at the Competitors that have been successful and achieved their goals, they respond with a focus and determination that is unmatched.

We are looking for you as a member of the Community of Competitors to help all of us RESPOND in 2016.  Pass this message on to someone and grow the Community of Competitors.

This brings us to you.  What do you want out of 2016?  Over the next week, as you mindfully progress through your work on a daily basis, observe what is occurring and what you want for next year.  Choose a word that provides clarity and direction for your life.  When you have decided on a word, email it to me, share it on social media with a message to me, or comment below with your word.

If you would like to se receive this as an email directly to your inbox, use the following link to join the Community of Competitors:

Community of Competitors Weekly Newsletter

Enjoy and grow throughout this week.

Yours in Competition,

Jeff Swarr

Chief Competition Officer