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Fear is a Passenger on our Journey

Over the last four years as I have had the opportunity to work with numerous teams, individuals, and businesses it’s evident to me that those that are most successful compete with courage. Courage is one of the five fundamentals of building a TRIBE.  Courage is not an absence/lack of fear, or not acknowledging fear. Courage is looking that fear in face and utilizing that fear as a passenger on our journey.

Many people say that we should live without fear and I take a little issue with this because we will experience fear or that little doubt that creeps into our mind.  Fear might pop up in the form of things that we do not like to do or things that really do scare us. When we compete from the heart and build our Competitor’s heart we are taking those small things that we might struggle with and might place doubt in our mind and we are using them to propel us to great things.  We have the ability to create the competitive life that we desire and quite frankly we deserve.

As we work with teams to move to a TRIBE and become something bigger than just a team, we must demonstrate and live out a competitive life of courage. This courage we are referencing does not mean that we will be saving someone’s life by the way we compete and play in a competition, but great competitors put their self on the line in every competitive situation we encounter. When I say competitive situation I do not mean every game, you see everyday is a competitive situation and it takes courage to go out and embark on the unexpected.  

Being a great competitor means utilizing the fear that comes with the uniqueness and unexpectedness of every day as a welcomed passenger on your journey to excellence.

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Changing the Question

What if we take a risk and it does not work out?

This was the question I was asked by one of the competitors this past week when I spoke at the Adidas Future 500 Soccer ID Camp at Eastern University.

This question is a common question that young competitors have floating around in their mind. What if we take a risk and it does not work out?

This question is focused on the failure or lack of success that are possible in any risk that is taken and the mindset that is pervasive throughout society that gets pushed into our young competitors’ minds. It is the goal of the Heart of the Competitor to change this mindset and ask a different question, “What if we never take the risk, what would we miss out on?”

This is a striking change in perspective.

The original question is focused on the failure and lack of success, as measured by society and it is the narrative that many competitors, young and old have floating around in their mind, the fear of failure and at the same time, the fear of success. The original question is focused specifically on fear. The challenge is to move from fearing to enjoying the experience that is our life, our competition. Our life is a competition with our self to get the most out of it. We are blessed with the opportunities that are presented to us and we are blessed to take action on these opportunities. The actions we take allow us to learn and then apply this learning in future opportunities. Taking action creates an abundance of opportunities for us to increase the experiences available to us.

So ask yourself the question: “What if we never take the risk, what would we miss out on?”

Then, go and do the thing you have been holding back on. When competitors young and old look back on their lives, they will regret more of what they did NOT do, than more of what they did do.

If you are a coach reading this, allow your competitors to take risks and be there to provide the learning context from their action.

If you are a parent, support your child’s coach in taking risks to build a great program AND support your child in their risk taking.

If you are a player, go out and perform, freely, enjoying the experience and learning from each opportunity, in other words, go out and COMPETE.

Enjoy the experience that is your Competition.

 

 

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Filling Your Fuel Tank of Faith

“Faith is believing in something that sometimes doesn’t always seem logical.”

– Anonymous

Faith must overcome the naysayers, the nonbelievers, and the recently termed “negaholics”, those people addicted to negative thoughts.

These non-competitors are quick to point out all of the reasons why an idea or venture will not work. While these non-competitors, the losers, are sitting on the sidelines of life, the person with the Heart of a Competitor is engrossed in their dream and making it a reality.   The non-competitors are working for other people, making others’ dreams come true.

The Competitor’s faith will be tested as a result of the words of others, the questions the non-competitors will ask, placing doubt in your mind. However, it is the faith, the choice to believe in your dream, the confidence to continue to move on and make daily progress toward a goal that appears unachievable that drive the Heart of the Competitor.

Making the commitment to read this program on a daily basis is a part of the process of developing faith in a goal or dream that may not seem logical. As you complete these writings and answer the Question of the Day, you are filling your tank of faith. It is imperative to fill your tank of faith because things will occur during the day that will drain a little fuel from your tank. By filling your faith tank on a daily basis, the Heart of the Competitor will never experience an empty tank.

Question of the Day:

In addition to reading today’s post, what else will you do to fill your Tank of Faith?

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On Leap Day, Take a Leap of Faith

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”

– Norman Vincent Peale, Author of The Power of Positive Thinking

The strength that is needed to develop the Heart of the Competitor comes from within.  In competition, the only faith that matters is the faith in your own abilities.  A coach, a teammate, a boss, or a supervisor might show faith in you by giving you a high-profile assignment, but true accomplishment and achievement is rooted in the faith that you have in your abilities to be able to accomplish the objective.

Faith and confidence are used synonymously by many different people, including well-known author and preacher of positive thinking, Norman Vincent Peale.  In the quote above, Mr. Peale references this faith as belief.  He also adds a layer to faith, confidence, and belief, when he places a label of these three being humble.  Confidence and faith does not need to be boastful, however, many competitors interpret humble as passive and shrinking.  When used as an adjective, humble can also mean lowly.

True humbled faith for the competitor is rooted in the depth of the Heart of the Competitor that is respectful of all that can be accomplished in our lives.  In choosing humble to be respectful, the competitor is respecting of the power of their faith and confidence.  In giving this respect, we know that great things can be accomplished when there is faith that comes from the Heart.  Faith is aggressive, knowing that a continued pursuit of excellence will yield unbelievable results.

Question of the Day:

What did you do today that resembled humble, yet aggressive faith in your or another person’s abilities?

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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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Turning Lemons into Lemonade

“One of the major keys to success is to keep moving forward on the journey, making the best of the detours and interruptions, turning adversity into advantage.”

– John C. Maxwell, Author and Leadership Expert

Successful people, groups, and teams move forward, continually focusing on what can be done better. On the journey, the Heart of the Competitor is reminded that within every challenge is an opportunity and it is the job of the Heart of a Competitor to find this opportunity.

In today’s quote, noted author John Maxwell has termed this, turning adversity into an advantage. Mentally tough individuals are prepared to turn the adversity they have faced into an advantage. This advantage may be the mental toughness that is developed from the experience or a lesson learned from a situation that is now applied to be successful in the next game, presentation, or sales pitch. The experiences for the Heart of the Competitor are now the advantage for the Heart of the Competitor.

On the journey to developing the Heart of a Competitor there will be successes and there will be failures. The successes that have been and will be experienced are enjoyable and create great memories, however, the failures and adversity that we experience are the greatest teachers and lead the Heart of a Competitor to the greatest successes.

This perspective on adversity is essential to being able to move forward on the journey to developing and continually building your Heart of a Competitor. Keeping in mind the following quote from author, Robert Updegraff, “Happiness is to be found along the way, not at the end of the road, for then the journey is over and it is too late.” Continue your journey to the Heart of a Competitor.

Question of the Day: 

How have you turned the adversity you have experienced into an advantage?

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2 Ways to Prepare for Pressure

Our family spent the last week on a much anticipated and well-deserved vacation.  We spent the week in Avalon, New Jersey, a beautiful little town on the Jersey Shore.  We have been to portions of the Jersey Shore before at various times during past summers.  This past week was NOT the peak of summer tourism, as a matter of fact, many Jersey schools had just finished their school year, so the summer buzz was starting, but overall it was quiet compared to previous visits we took during the months of July and August.

While the number of visitors like myself was lower, the intensity of the lifeguards on the beach was higher than I have ever seen.  In other words, they were preparing for the busy times that lie ahead.  On our second day there, right as the lifeguards came on the beach at 10 AM, there were many whistles being blown and a number of lifeguards running up and down the beach.  The first thing that popped into my mind was the concern for those they had to rescue at other locations, when in reality they were training themselves to work as a team and prepare to save a person life.  There was a lead lifeguard right in front of us that would blow his whistle at random times and the neighboring guards would jump out of their chairs, grab their buoy and run down the beach to the next station.  It was impressive to watch.  They were always on watch, expecting the unexpected.  Thus, when something out of the ordinary occurred, they hopped into motion without hesitation.

Then an amazing challenge occurred, right in front of us, a “rescue.”  The lifeguard whistles blew and they hopped into action swimming out to save a “person” that had gotten caught about 50 yards out from the shore line.  As the crowd gathered, the lifeguards swam out to the person in distress, and quickly brought them back to shore.  While the other lifeguards cleared an area, the practice dummy was brought to shore and given CPR.  These lifeguards were practicing experiencing pressure.

These lifeguards were building habits, so that at some point this summer, when they are called upon to save a life, they have prepared by expecting the unexpected and practicing under pressure.  The challenge to the Community of Competitors is to in our lives, expect the unexpected and practice experiencing pressure.  We learn these from great performers in athletic events to the daily jobs that many of us engage in every single day.

 

Following the completion of this challenge and practicing saving the life of the “practice swimmer,” the lifeguards debriefed on the beach.  This was just another example that we are all COMPETITORS in life.

LifeGuard_Debrief

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Enjoying the Journey

“Success is a journey not a destination. The doing is usually more important than the outcome. Not everyone can be number one.”

– Arthur Ashe, Hall of Fame Tennis Player

Society will tell us that we are only successful if we have achieved a championship outcome. We will be glorified for reaching the pinnacle of our chosen pursuit, whether it is the “A” in the classroom, the state championship, or winning the Super Bowl. We become inundated with this focus on the outcome because it is plastered all over social media, filling our timelines and eventually our mind. We eventually become ill with “Disease of Destination.” Fortunately there is a cure for the Disease of Destination and it is called the Journey.

Our journey is our progress and development over time. Having developed the Heart of a Competitor, we understand that given the time to focus our development we will see progress. In addition to this progress over time, the time allows us to enjoy the experiences that result from our development and progress this is the journey.

The journey is built of the friendships that are forged as result of our commitment to the doing. The journey is the places that we experience and see because of our opportunities. The journey is made of our reflection and pride in a job well done and in the work that lies ahead. The journey is not about being number one; it is about being the best you, having your best Heart of a Competitor.

Focusing on enjoying the journey allows a great journey to be made because our minds are open to the opportunities. We are pushed, pulled, and prodded to experiences that we can barely imagine, but fully experience. The journey to the Heart of a Competitor is calling you.

Question of the Day:

What experience or experiences have you been given the opportunity to have through this journey to the Heart of a Competitor?

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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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Determined to Create a Masterpiece

 

“An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men.”

 – Thomas Fuller, Author and Historian

Determination is not based on one action or one situation. Determination does not occur for an instant and fade into the background. Determination extends over a long period of time and pushes the competitor to accomplish great things. These great accomplishments are works of art that take focus and attention to create. According to legend, it took Leonardo Da Vinci four years to create and complete the Mona Lisa.

 

Determination is the commitment to the process over a long period of time. Da Vinci was determined to create a masterpiece and he did. He created a masterpiece that has been around for over 500 years. This invincible determination allowed Da Vinci to be an exceptional artist.

 

The Heart of the Competitor maintains their determination over a long period of time. They expect there to be bumps in the road that will require persistence and action. Any fear that is experienced is a bump in the road; any failure that is experienced is a turn on the road that is the journey. The true Heart of the Competitor keeps the gas pedal pushed down and consistently keeps the car moving forward. This is determination.

 

Today, choose to be determined that one action, one situation will not define you as a competitor, realizing that it is a daily occurrence over a long period of time, that demonstrates the invincible determination that allows great things to occur and be accomplished.

 

Question of the Day:

 What are you doing on a daily basis that will allow you to accomplish something great four or more years from now?