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Excellence Requires a Little Extra Effort

Sir Walter Raleigh learned the lesson of giving an extra effort. When he was younger, he attended an elite boarding school. He was a competitor and desired to be first in his class. He was consistently second to another student at the school. One night when Raleigh was preparing for bed, he looked across the school and observed that his competitor’s candle was still lit. After a period of time, Raleigh noticed that his competitor spent an extra 15 minutes studying each night. At this point in time, Sir Walter Raleigh committed to studying an extra 20 minutes a night. He did this every night and by the end of the school year, he was the Number one student in his class.

You are competing with yourself every single day to improve and become the best that you can be. The Heart of a Competitor commits to an extra 20 minutes a day to improve their skills.   They find a way to make this commitment and be better than they were the day before.

Sir Walter Raleigh had a goal to be the best, so he took it upon himself to focus on what he controlled and commit to doing the little extra. What is it that you will do a little extra of? Will you commit to visualizing for 20 minutes a day? Will you commit to practicing your skills and conditioning for an extra 20 minutes a day? Will you commit to focusing on your schoolwork for an extra 20 minutes a day?

Set a goal. Commit to a plan of daily effort and then add 20 minutes to your plan. The Heart of the Competitor commits this extra time not as a badge of honor, but with the knowledge that greatness requires commitment to do more than the ordinary.

I have committed to getting up between 4:30 AM and 5:00 AM every single day and this has allowed me to continually move forward on completing a book and audio program that is going to impact the lives of thousands of young competitors.

Question of the Day:

 What will you commit to doing for an extra 20 minutes?

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Your Year in Review

During this final month of the year, it is commonplace for people to take stock in their year and prepare for a new year.  Just this past week, Facebook released their Year in Review of the news stories that made connections on social media, while YouTube released their #YouTubeRewind Video that celebrates the videos, people, music and movies that made 2015.

Living a life of purpose, a life that celebrates the value of the 1% improvement everyday, includes taking stock in your progress over time.  The end of the calendar year is a great time for the competitor to recognize their growth over time.  Look back over the year of 2015 and take stock of your daily 1% improvements that when compounded together has created huge growth in your life.  You see, these small little improvements are what make up the big stories that fill our world.

These videos and Year in Review pieces that will inhabit our world during December will trumpet the large headlines and impactful events that have occurred throughout the year, however, we will forget these over time.  What we will not forget is the struggle, sweat, and energy that we put into our lives of progress and competition to become more and be more every single day.  This is true competition, competing with ourselves to become more, pushing to achieve at a higher level every single day.  You set the bar at a higher level, maintaining your routine and believing in progress; this is what makes your year not just good, but GREAT.  Those with the Heart of a Competitor do not settle for mediocrity, to just be average, they STRIVE to become more, surrounding themselves with people that have the same purpose.

Recently LancasterOnline.com wrote a feature story about athletes and teams that have taken on the focus of continual development and being a competitor that is full of heart.  These are stories of athletes and teams that made a conscious decision to enjoy the journey and commit to becoming more.  During their journey, and their development, they achieved results, and it is these results that will be shouted from the mountaintop and will be remembered in their Year in Review.  However, the true celebration is in the growth that each of them has attained.  Click here to read about those Competitors that are able to Conquer the Mind.

This week, Review Your Year and celebrate the daily journey to become more.

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Enthusiasm is a State of “BE”ing

“If you just hang around, do things with uninterest, griping for everything what is there, your life will be bitterest.  Laziness, tiredness will follow, your life will be pure agony, constantly griping about job, family, friends will have disharmony.  However, if you perk up, doing everything from the heart, with pure interest, go about like a dart.  I do not mean ambition, when you step on others, but do everything happily, not like losers.  Your life will turn into lights and happiness, when you make yourself enthusiastic with cheerfulness.  Specially when you stop opposing everything, sliding thru the days with happy glowing.  It is up to you what you choose.”

– LaSoaphia QuXazs

In today’s society we are pulled in many different directions, being called to multi-task at every possible moment.  Our minds love this because rarely does the mind desire to be still, it must have something to focus on, a problem to be solved.  However, this is not an effective strategy to be an effective present moment Competitor.  The Competitor must engage on the task at hand, they must “be where their feet are” and do things with interest.

Review the quote above and LaSoaphia provides strong words to BE engaged by “doing everything from the heart, with pure interest.”  This is true for the person with the Heart of a Competitor.  When you are doing homework, BE doing the homework and BE doing it with enthusiasm.  When you are calling a client, talk with the client, BE in the conversation and put your heart into the conversation.  When you are at practice, working on your skills, BE at practice and BE working on your skills.

Enthusiasm is a state of BEING.  Once we start engaging in enthusiasm, it permeates through our being and as written above, “Your life will turn into lights and happiness, when you make yourself enthusiastic with cheerfulness.”  The Competitor chooses to BE enthusiastic; this choice brings happiness and light into their lives.

For me, this is the basis of all that Heart of a Competitor is about.  The Heart of the Competitor lives with ENTHUSIASM and ENERGY in everything they do and everything they engage in.  This enthusiasm and energy will spread to those around you creating a network of energy that is unbeatable.

Questions of the Day:

Observe your attitude and comments today.  Are they comments of compliments and happiness?  Are they comments of complaints and bitterness?

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The Core of the Heart of a Competitor

Living with the Heart of a Competitor is not based on a set of mental skills or a specific strategy, living with the Heart of a Competitor is the understanding that everything we do comes from our Heart. The Heart is the center of a physical, intellectual, and most importantly spiritual life.

It is easy to understand the Heart as the center of the physical body. We can understand how it pumps blood throughout our body, delivering oxygen to our working muscles, while at the same time pulling wastes, by-products of pushing ourselves to the limit away from our body.

The heart is also the center for intellectual and spiritual life. Our heart is connected to our thinking, our intellectual center, and the Holy Bible connects these functions of the mind with the Heart in numerous verses, including Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” This Heart is at the center of everything we do and are. Our competitive lives are the result of our Heart of a Competitor, “As the water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” (Proverbs 27:19) Thus, if we are to BE competitors, it must come from our heart to give all that is possible to yourself and your passion.

Look outside these biblical references and review the links with Heart in our language. The word “courage” has roots that connect it with the Heart. Courage comes from same root as French word couer, which means Heart. Our courage in competition comes from our Heart.

We then add the Competition with the Heart to form the Heart of a Competitor. Let’s delve a little deeper into the word “Competition.” Everything in life is a competition, however, competitors typically look to compete against others, rather than with others. True competition rests squarely with ourselves. The Latin Root of COMPETE, com petire means “to seek together.” While many people view competition as a struggle, a push and pull with an opponent, at its’ heart, competition is not a struggle it is a dance. In this dance, we are working together with our opponent to seek together a performance that allows both of us to perform at our best.

This is the Heart of a Competitor and when we live with the Heart of a Competitor, our life will reflect this. We will openly seek opportunities to work together to become better than we were the day before.

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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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Big Thinking Leads to Big Doing

In his book The Magic of Thinking Big, Dr. David Schwartz provides twelve statements that contrast a “petty thinker’s” approach with a “big thinker’s” approach. His 4th statement focuses on the future and is as follows:

Petty Thinker:          Views the future as limited.

Big Thinker:             Sees the future as very promising.

The Heart of the Competitor sees the future, understands the promise of the future and pursues this promising future every single day. The promising future pushes the limits of what is currently and while doing this, achieves unbelievable and unimaginable dreams.

 

You are this person, you are the BIG THINKER and because you see the future as promising, you act to make it happen. You have the Heart of the Competitor and you consistently and persistently march forward to make your future a reality. In those moments when doubt creeps into your mind, your faith kicks it out with vengeance. You choose to live and compete with faith, stomping out any fear like a whack-a-mole.

 

The promising future that you envision must be followed with the work and attention to detail to accomplish this future, pushing yourself to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile everyday. In pushing to achieve a difficult and worthwhile objective you are developing the promising future your Heart of a Competitor desires.

 

Be a BIG THINKER.

 

Question of the Day:

 

What reminders will you place in your life to remind yourself and remember the future is promising?

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Ensuring Your Message Sent AND is Received

 

About three years ago, my oldest son, Simon decided he wanted to play catch with me. Needless to say, I was ecstatic and attempted to enjoy our first catch. After about 10-15 throws back and forth, watching him use his left hand to throw, my mind jumped ahead to the possibility of having a left-handed pitcher in the family. As he threw with his left hand, he also stepped with his left foot. I could only bite my tongue so long. I proceeded to provide high quality coaching and feedback to him. As I returned the ball to him for another throw, my high quality feedback to him was as follows, “Simon, use the other foot.” As attentive as a three year-old can be, he took the ball in his left hand, looked at it and decided to drop the ball and kick it to me with his right foot. He did exactly as his coach had said he used his other foot.

 

Coaching and pushing people forward to achieve at their highest level is all about sending and receiving messages. Whether you are a coach, a parent, or a player, you are sending a message, and it is important to ensure the message you are intending to send is the one that is received.

 

As a coach, involve the player in allowing them to provide feedback on the message they receive. Do not be afraid to ask the player, “What did you hear me say?” or “What does that look like to you?”

 

As a player, do not be afraid to ask a coach, “Is this what you are asking me to do?” or “Is this the adjustment you want me to make.”

 

As a parent, ask your son or daughter the messages they received during practice or a game. This can easily be incorporated into the Daily Register that was discussed in last week’s message. (Click here to read last week’s post on the Daily Register.)

 

The more I work with teams and individuals, the more I am convinced that success is based on the connection of the individuals in a network of energy. This energy is contagious and will spread creating a larger network of energy. The connection begins with messages being exchanged in support of the development of the athlete.

 

Players, coaches, and parents I would love to hear your feedback on methods you have used to ensure your message is being heard and interpreted in the way you envisioned.

 

Click below to complete a one-question survey and I will share the responses with our Community of Competitors. Remember our goal is to help everyone in this community become the best they can become.

 

How do you ensure the message you intended to send is interpreted properly?

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Our Minds are NOT Machines

This past week, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of an awesome team. It was a team of volunteers and workers that were tasked with getting the Golf course at Lancaster Country Club prepared each day for the United States Women’s Open. Preparing the course each day is a major undertaking, which consists of basically mowing every single blade of grass in the playing area on an over 6,400 yard golf course. Our team included over 100 volunteers and workers and countless pieces of equipment, including over 10 fairway mowers, and numerous mowers designated to mow the greens, tees, and the treacherous rough. The entire process is nothing short of amazing.

 

Fortunately, I was assigned to work with a team of individuals that would mow greens. The greens mowers were set to cut the grass on the greens to 1/10 of an inch; these are finely tuned machines, calibrated each day and night. If we got to a green and the mower was not cutting properly, it was returned to the maintenance building and a new mower was brought out to use. On Friday morning, on the greens mowing crew I was with, we changed our greens mower three times because it was not cutting the grass properly.

 

These machines were not performing to the proper expectations and were discarded at that time for a new machine. This sounds a lot like our mindset at times. When we face adversity, we want to discard our current approach and look for a new one. We however, are not machines and cannot just go out and find something that is supposed to function better. We are humans and we must develop our mental toughness to endure any situation and perform to the best of our abilities. Performing our best includes developing the confidence we have in ourselves, with an optimistic mindset with positive energy to mindfully live in the present moment.

 

This week, stick to your process, not discarding it. Focus on your process of development, not discarding it for a new machine quickly when adversity hits.

 

Enjoy the week and grow every day.

 

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5 Books for Your Summer Reading

5 Books for Your Summer Reading List

 

Summer School is in. It is a time to focus on continually developing ourselves and those that we come in contact with. Here are five books to add to your summer reading list.

 

  1. The Hard Hat by Jon Gordon

 

Jon tells the story of George Boiardi, a Cornell Lacrosse player that died on the field during the season of 2004. Over time, many stories have been told of how George was a great teammate. After telling George’s story, Mr. Gordon outlines 21 ways to be a great teammate and how George exemplified each and every single one of them. This book is a powerful and compact read.

 

  1. Performing Under Pressure by Hendrie Weisinger and J.P. Pawliw-Fry

 

The first quote I noted from this book is as follows: “Pressure is the enemy of success: It undermines performance and helps us fail.” This piece goes on to outline how our performance suffers during pressure packed events, however, we can learn to manage pressure and that the strategies to live and perform under pressure can allow us to “unleash our creative and intellectual potential.”

 

This book contains countless simple to implement strategies for handling pressure. These strategies are broken down into quick fixes and long-term strategies by developing our COTE of Armor.

 

  1. How to Think Like A Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

 

The authors of this book are well known for their work in economics and searching for different ways to approach economical questions. This piece is a fascinating read that discusses how they have approached the problems they have been asked to consult on. The first two quotes that I captured from this book are as follows:

 

  1. Until you can admit what you don’t yet know, it’s virtually impossible to learn what you need to.
  2. The key to learning is feedback. It is nearly impossible to learn anything without it.

 

Key Point: There is an endless supply of fascinating questions to be answered.

 

  1. The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

 

This powerful piece written by two women focuses on the development of confidence in females. The authors outline the history and DNA behind a female’s confidence, and most importantly, the reader is provided with a number of strategies to develop confidence. If you are a female, coach females, teach females, or have a daughter, this is a must read for you. An essential quote from the beginning of this book is:

“Success correlates more closely with confidence than it does with competence.”

 

  1. The Legacy Builder by Rod Olson

 

This book provides five key points to leadership in a fable format, rather than merely outlining them in a dry leadership book. These five key leadership “secrets” are “taught” to a struggling CEO from his high school football coach. It is a great way to be reminded of the impact that a coach has on the players they are entrusted with to coach. A key reminder in this work is as follows:

 

“Remember things that are built to last are not built fast.”

 

The Community of Competitors is being built to last. The group of people receiving this newsletter is growing on a weekly basis. This is a result of the sharing that you, the Competitors have done. Please continue to share these weekly messages with everyone you feel is competing to become the best they can become. This Community of Competitors is growing and is built to last. If you can think of one person that may enjoy this newsletter, please forward it to them and encourage them to sign-up.

 

Sign-Up for the Community of Competitors Newsletter

 

Bonus Book:

Specifically for baseball and softball coaches and players, check out the programs from Mental Game VIP.  This is a great resource for those serious about learning form some of the best minds related to baseball and softball peak performance.

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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.