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Believing in You

Optimism is a way of life in everything we do as a competitor. We must believe that our goals and dreams will be reached; it is what motivates us on a daily basis. The belief and open-minded alertness that we will have numerous opportunities to do something that will help us achieve at our highest level.

Your beliefs and hope will move you forward each and every single day. Optimism is the drive to believe in the positive outcome of your process, your daily routines and habits. Developing optimism is the building block of accomplishing the large hair-brained ideas, goals, and dreams that we visualize.

This Far Side comic is the epitome of the large hair brained ideas, goals and dreams the competitor visualizes. There is always the “If.” The competitor allows this “If” to be present, but the Heart of the Competitor utilizes the optimism to know that when the hair-brained ideas come to fruition and they are accomplished, the rewards of accomplishment will be reaped. For what the competitor “sows, they also shall reap.” Sowing our thoughts, words, and actions with optimism, we will reap more than proceeding with a passive and negative approach.

Optimism and positive energy is a way of life. In order to begin thinking in an optimistic, the competitor must observe their way of thinking and the words they use. Are we using the self-talk of encouragement? Are we using the self-talk of persistent pursuit of our goals and dreams? As a first step in the optimist walk is recognizing what is said within our own head. Observe these words and when a negative thought enters your head, replace those with the optimistic, positive words.

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Learning From a Mess

This is a great time in the year.  It is the first full week of a new year and everyone is excited to start anew on their New Year’s resolutions, goals, or live out their word for the year.  Building on last week, when we mapped out the importance of our routine of self-development and reading 15 minutes a day, I wanted to let you know about the first book that I read in 2015, The Hinge by Dr. Rob Bell.  I loved the way Dr. Bell set-up the book and provided numerous stories of people demonstrating mental toughness and the aspects that make-up mental toughness.  There is one specific piece of this book that hit home for me and it is the following quote:

“Our mess becomes our message.”

As I reflect on my life as a competitor, a coach, the work I am doing now, my mess has definitely become my message.  As a young player, I did not have the mental toughness, self-control, and faith in my abilities to perform at my peak.  There was always a doubt in my mind that I could compete with those that I was against.

This mindset carried over into coaching, always looking at what other coaches were doing and comparing myself to them.  This created the feeling that I needed to win each game because that would prove that I was better.  This is a true definition of a fixed mindset.  This did not mean that I was less than successful, just always pushing.  In December of 2005, I was fortunate enough to be named the Head Baseball Coach at Millersville University, achieving a goal, to be a Head College Baseball Coach.  This was the beginning of my mess, but is now an integral part of my message.  I ended up spending two LONG years at Millersville, with many factors that led to us losing 37 games in 2007.  Experiencing these 37 losses was the toughest thing to endure, but has been the biggest blessing, focusing my mindset on development and improvement rather than the worldly pursuit of wins and losses.

This mess has led me to the message of the Heart of the Competitor, a 1 Year Daily reader that will be completed in the near future to impact the lives of all the competitors out there.  In the next couple of newsletters, I will be providing a glimpse into the Heart of the Competitor.

You are signed up for this weekly Community of Competitors newsletter because you are a part of a group of people that want to get better.  As we approach the first full week of 2015, enjoy the day and grow in any way possible, knowing that your mess, even a mess of a number of losses, can become your message.

Yours in the fight,

Jeff Swarr

I would love to come share my message (mess) with your team in the New Year and my calendar is filling up for 2015.  Email me or give me a call at 717-917-8409.

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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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Winning the Growth War in 2015

Read the list at the bottom first!!
In last week’s message, we focused on choosing a word to live out during the year 2015. I chose the word “Growth”. By making this public declaration of my word, I expect each of you as members of this community of competitors to hold me accountable to growing.  In addition to this accountability from sharing our word, our minds will be open and aware to every opportunity to live out our word.Since writing last week’s message sharing my word as Growth, my life has been enriched by the growth of the athletes and young people that I am given the opportunity to work with. On Wednesday, we wrapped up six weeks with the ladies that are part of the Spooky Nook Softball Academy. The coaches and competitors that are part of this program demonstrated growth in their ability to focus on the task at hand, do the little things that are easy to do, and think and act confidently.  They are prepared to direct and produce each day of 2015, like it is their own television show.

On Thursday I was fortunate to work with three young athletes that have lofty goals. Not only have they set these lofty goals, now they are matching their daily effort to improve and reach their goals. These young people are growing right before their parents’ and their coaches’ eyes.

Friday provided an opportunity to grow in my life. I had the pleasure of attending my first ever indoor track meet.  This meet was held at Franklin and Marshall College with numerous teams attending. It was a pleasure to watch hundreds of athletes compete against themselves using the tape measure or a stopwatch. The specific athlete that I was there to watch competed with confidence in her thoughts and actions.

Why do I tell these stories? I tell them because the growth these young people are experiencing in their approach to competition with a confident growth oriented mindset will not only increase their ability to be successful now, but also in every endeavor they will pursue later in life.

These athletes evidenced 3 skills essential for success:

1. They set lofty goals that push their limits.
2.  They commit to working on a daily basis to improve their skills and progress toward their lofty goals.
3.  They understand that confidence comes from within.  They think and act confident.

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1 Surefire Way to Grow in 2015

one-word-poster.php

As we enter the last couple weeks of 2014 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, I 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 2015.  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 2015, choose a word that will provide clarity and direction to your life for the entire year.  My word for 2014 is “Enjoy.”  Throughout this entire year, I have been called to enjoy every moment in my life.  Choosing “Enjoy” as my word provided the direction for me to enjoy the building of this weekly message to reach numerous people in building a Community of Competitors.  It is and continues to be a labor love to receive the feedback from you on a weekly basis.  (This process is outlined in the book One Word the Will Change your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page)

Maintaining the word enjoy throughout the year has allowed focused time together and tremendous growth in the life of our family as we treasure each moment we have together to watch our family progress and our boys to develop.  Enjoy was also in the front of my mind when coaching and working with the young people I have the opportunity to come in contact with on a daily basis.  I have enjoyed seeing these young people accomplish great things and not just endure, but overcome adversity.

This leads to the choice of my word for 2015, “GROWTH.”  I have chosen growth as my word because of the need to use my strengths and grow in every way possible.  I want to view every opportunity as an area of growth.  In my family life, we can see how much growth we can have to make progress together as a unit, enjoying life and improving every single day.  As a performance enhancement coach and grower of young people, I look forward to growth they can achieve through every opportunity to learn.

I am looking for you as a member of the Community of Competitors to help me grow in 2015.  Pass this message on to someone and grow the Community of Competitors.

This brings us to you.  What do you want out of 2015?  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

For more information on choosing your word, check out the following resource:

The Official web site of the book: One Word the Will Change your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page http://getoneword.com

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Pride: The 1 Secret to Alabama’s Success

Pride permeates through every aspect of the competitor’s life. Pride in every effort and every endeavor the competitor undertakes, no matter how small it may seem at the time. Pride is doing the best that you can do to become the best that you can become. Imagine placing a sign on the front of your jersey that says the Heart of a Competitor is behind this jersey. That is what you are doing everyday.  (Watch this Nick Saban Press Conference and you will understand the Jersey reference.)

“There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. ‘Good pride’ represents dignity and self-respect. ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.”

 – John Maxwell, Writer and Leadership Consultant

 

To accomplish a goal and to demonstrate excellence in any field a competitor must have pride in their work and pride in their heart. For a competitor, pride can take on many forms, but best-selling author and speaker, John Maxwell, mentions the most important part of pride above there must be dignity and self-respect. The Heart of the Competitor has the dignity and self-respect inwardly that forces them to pay attention to every small and seemingly inconsequential detail. Pride is the reason the baseball team hustles on and off the field. Pride is the reason the football team hands the ball back to the official, so preparation for the next play can occur. Pride is the reason the team walks together in lines of two coming off the bus to the field.

 

On the other side of the pride coin is the bad pride that seemingly seeps into some competitor’s lives. This is the “bad pride” that is evident when certain competitors walk like they have never done anything wrong. It is not the confident or successful strut, it is the “arrogant” and “I am too good for that” attitude that radiates from their body. The arrogant individual that never helps pick-up equipment or the individual that jogs to the next station. This has no part in the Heart of the Competitor, for the Heart of the Competitor is always asking what else they can do to help themselves and help the team.

 

Coaches and players that have experienced success at a young age must fight the “bad pride.” Those that experience success in the form of wins and losses at a young age have a tendency to develop the “show up and win” attitude that reeks of conceit and arrogance. The players that have to work at the craft develop the Heart of the Competitor because they have always had to fight and prove their will can defeat an opponent’s skill.

 

How have you evidenced “good pride”? How will you evidence “good pride”? (What have you done to show self-respect and dignity toward your craft?)

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Set Yourself on Fire

“Success isn’t the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.”

 – Arnold H. Glasow

Goals that are written down are worth nothing more than the paper they are inscribed upon. They are like many corporate or organizational mission statements, window dressing.

Having the Heart of the Competitor allows for the goals to become passions that ignite accomplishment and achievement. The focus on the process and incremental daily progress toward goals must be the mindset of the competitor. The danger in goals is that they are set and forgotten about, with no action taken toward them. Goals will not be achieved without action; achievement is preceded by action.

Action must be taken on a daily basis to move forward. Search each day for an opportunity to move forward. This movement can be incrementally small or exponentially large, it does not matter. Ironically, an incrementally small step forward repeated over a long period of time allows for exponential growth to occur.

“Between the great things we cannot do and the small things we will not do, the danger is that we shall do nothing.”

– Adolphe Monod

Each day provides a danger that we will do nothing because we fear that we will not be successful or the actions that can be taken are too small. Choose to take action, to do the small things that will allow you to achieve and develop the Heart of the Competitor.

Question of the Day:

 What action have you taken today to advance toward your goals?

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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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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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Did you sync your iPhone or Back it up?

This past week, my iPhone began to struggle to keep the proper time. Throughout the week it would need turned off and turned back on to get the correct time. After turning it back on it would have the correct time and then inevitably it would stay at that time. This was frustrating and at the same time, it allowed for me to disengage with my smartphone for a couple of days, which was liberating.

On Friday night, I made sure to sync my iPhone and I made an appointment at the local Apple store to have my phone checked to solve this issue. The Apple store service was exceptional; they tried a couple of solutions, which did not work. Thankfully, I was still within the 1-year warranty window by 4 days, so they decided a good option was to swap out my old phone for a new version of the same model. The person helping me asked if I had backed up my phone. In my mind, I had done this the night before, and I learned a lesson on the difference between syncing your phone and backing up your phone. By syncing my iPhone, I was only transferring data and making it available in different places, through different applications on different devices.   Backing up your iPhone is needed to create an exact copy, to store data AND settings that are on your device that are individual to you.

This made me think about how in our lives, we think we are doing something, using certain language, like syncing, but really we should be backing up our thoughts with actions. Syncing is merely making a copy of our data and making it available across a number of different devices. How many times are we going through the motions and just doing things? When we are asked to do something, we sync up with our usual way of doing business, the way we have done it before and we are in sync, but are we backed up?

Backed up is making sure our settings are in line, ensuring they are consistent, so they can be restored at any time. Backing up is being filled with confidence on a daily basis. Backing up is knowing that you have a philosophy that can handle change and a daily routine that places you in the proper frame of mind to attack any adversity that comes your way.

This week, focus on backing yourself up with confidence.