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2 Year Anniversary

Thank you for all of the interest and positive feedback of A Competitor’s Heart.  The messages I have received regarding this book reinforce the message of living and competing from the heart that is being carried throughout the TRIBE of Competitors.

This is the first issue in the 3rd year of the Community of Competitors Newsletter.  In this week’s video we focus on the TRIBE that has been built over the last two years.

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Amazing Opportunities

Look around your life. Seriously, take a look around your life and deeply evaluate the opportunities that abound in your life. There are many opportunities, yet the question remains, will you take the step forward and take advantage of these opportunities?

This thought struck me during our family vacation this past week. We rented a condominium in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. When we arrived on Saturday and got settled in to the rental, another family arrived in the condominium right beside us with children that were perfect matches as play partners for the week for our two boys, Simon and Spencer.

As the week progressed, this struck me as an amazing opportunity. Imagine what had to happen for this to occur, I mean my wife, Emily, took countless hours and days to find a rental that matched what was best for our family, while at the same time a family in Pittsburgh was renting the exact same condominium right beside us.

What are the chances?

It does not matter what the chances or the odds are on this happening, but it provided an opportunity for two families to become friends and develop a relationship. It was up to us to take the step and make the connection and take advantage of this opportunity. This is true for us in our lives. Take a look around and look at the amazing opportunities around you, but it is up to you to take the first step. Take advantage of the opportunities that are there, take the next step, make the connection, seize the opportunity, and live a life with no regrets. This is a true competitor, seeking to become the best and create the best competitive life for yourself.

Book Update

 As many of you know, I have been working on a book that can be utilized as a daily reader. This past week, I received the first proof of the book. This marks another step forward in this process, another opportunity for me and the coaches and athletes I am blessed to serve. Additionally, I recently completed an audio program that is made up of 3-5 minute tracks that should be listened to on a daily basis, placed into your daily routine. Since this audio program has been completed and is available, we have a special opportunity happening for the month of June, when you order the Competitor’s Heart Audio Program, we will reserve a book and send it to you FREE when it is completed. Check out the Competitor’s Heart Audio Program Here.

Keep taking advantage of the amazing opportunities in your life.

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You weren’t put here to SUCK

You weren’t put on this earth to SUCK, you were put here to be SUCCESSFUL.

We are built to be great. We are given the tools to develop the Heart of a Competitor and achieve greatness. If you are reading this message, you believe that you have the ability to live with greatness. Having this ability to achieve greatness and be successful, you also have to believe that at any point, you can just plain out suck and be a failure. It is the struggle that we place in our minds in every endeavor we undertake. This is a battle every single day. Are we going to SUCK or are we going to move toward SUCCESS?

Throughout our experiences there have definitely been times where we have sucked. It is our job to take this SUCK and turn it into SUCCESS. We are one move away from success. This is the fight; this is the fire that burns within, to push forward to be successful. The Heart of a Competitor takes this SUCK and COMPETES with all of their focus on fighting to achieve their success. This might be your physical fight to get into shape or accomplish a physical goal or the mental and emotional fight to push through any resistance that is in place. The resistance can occur outside or inside of you. Any resistance that you experience is the filling of the fuel tank.

We must experience the SUCK to fill your fuel tank for SUCCESS. Successful people recycle the SUCK into a biofuel that fills their fuel tank. Greatness requires a fuel tank that is burning deep within our soul and propelling us forward. Your SUCK is fuel for your SUCCESS. Success is not a one-day effort; it is a continual process of pushing and pursuing. This is why you need a large fuel tank and those that are the best in the world have huge fuel tanks. Novak Djokovic’s fuel tank was filled with the SUCK of being forced to practice on a makeshift tennis court in an old swimming pool. (ESPN.com article) This SUCK was his fuel for SUCCESS.

You have not been put on this Earth to SUCK, but this SUCK is FUEL for your SUCCESS.

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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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3 Traits of Great Coaches and Teachers

Last week, thanks to our Community of Competitors member, Pete Cunningham and Lancaster Country Day School, I had the great fortune of listening to and chatting with Daniel Coyle.  Coyle is the author of a number of books, with his most well known work being The Talent Code.  If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it or its’ companion, The Little Book of Talent.

In his talk, Coyle detailed the development of talent that has occurred in a variety of places around globe, including a Russian Tennis “Academy,” the development of Brazil as a global soccer power, and musical talent that was grown at a conservatory in New York.  During this talk, Coyle focused on what great coaching, and teaching looked like and in this week’s Community of Competitors Newsletter, I am sharing 3 Characteristics of Great Coaches and Teachers.

  1. Great coaches and teachers are experienced.
Great coaches and teachers have been around the block and have learned from a number of failures.  This is a huge point, the greatest coaches are NOT those that played or competed at the highest level, they are the ones that failed to play at the highest level and were forced to learn, forced to develop their skills, and forced to develop their craft to survive.  Their experience teaches them they need to continue to learn and this is the fuel in their tank, their passion.

  1. Great coaches and teachers are connectors.
These experienced coaches and teachers are able to connect with their players, spiritually, emotionally, and even physically.  Dr. Bhrett McCabe, a renowned Sports Psychologist and founder of the Mindside relayed to me one time about his Hall of Fame College Baseball Coach, Skip Bertman, and his practice of placing his hand on the pitchers shoulder or chest when he came out for a mound visit.  Dr. McCabe noted this physical touch was focused on creating the connection between the coach and the player during this mound visit.  This increased connection and focus also increased retention of what was being discussed.

  1. Great coaches and teachers have the right instruction at the right time.

In this day and age, our focus and attention can be taken in a million different directions and everyone wants immediate results, but this is not what true success is built on.  True success is painstakingly slow and great coaches and teachers provide the right words and encouragement to reinforce this process.  Great coaches and teachers are focused on the praising of effort and progress, not a student or athlete’s ability.  A great coach or teacher provides this praise only when it is EARNED.  This creates an environment where development is valued and each person’s threshold of skill is pushed forward incrementally.

If you are an athlete reading this, you might ask what does this have to do with me?  These pieces have everything to do with you.  While you may not choose your teachers or coaches, you can look for those around you that are experienced and learn from them.  You can look at your coaches and connect with them.  Then, in your own experience with a teacher or coach, pick up on what they are saying each time so you can pull out the instruction they are providing at just the right time, so as a competitor, you can take ownership of your development.

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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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Enjoy the Journey

“The only journey is the one within.”

 – Rainer Maria Rilke, Poet and Novelist

 “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

 – Lao-Tzu, Philosopher and Poet

The journey each of us engages in to develop our Heart of a Competitor has the ability to be the most rewarding movement in our lives. Our journey is designed to be the individual development into the best competitor that we can become. This journey has no limits. It has no limits because there is no limit to self-improvement. This is the journey that is within the Heart of the Competitor, a journey to reach beyond the current limitations. It is as Rainer Rilke references above, the journey within.

The Heart of the Competitor’s journey is made up of action and risk-taking. This is not haphazard, reckless abandon, but it is pushing the limits and taking action. On our journey it is better to have taken action and failed than to have done nothing. When we take action, we are provided feedback and shown ways we can improve. However, when we take no action, we learn nothing and maintain the status quo. The Heart of the Competitor’s journey is meant to be more than the status quo.

As you read and engage in the march to the Heart of a Competitor, take action. The journey that you are engaging in is one of action. It is the journey of your life, and Lao Tzu writes in the quote above, your thousand miles and it begins with one step. Your one step was picking up this book. Now continue on and take your next step. After this step, you will take another step. You are building a journey of self-improvement that is never-ending, yet continuously rewarding.

Question of the Day:

What is your next step on your journey to the Heart of a Competitor?

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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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Core Values Produce Balance

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” 

– Mahatma Gandhi

The Google definition of balance is as follows: a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.  In reviewing the life of the competitor, it must be asked if the different elements that make up the Heart of the Competitor are in balance.

What does balance look like?
Is it an even distribution of time committed to the various passions in our life? (Family, Work, School, Sports, etc.)

Determining what is the proper balance, when life is in equilibrium is the difficult task for every competitor.  However, when it is achieved and a sense of calm comes over the competitor, then will it be known that this is the correct balance.

Balance is also defined as emotional stability and Gandhi alludes to this in the quote above.  The competitor will know and understand balance, harmony, when what you think, is what you say, and what you say is what you do.  When this occurs, there is balance in your life.  The individual with the Heart of the Competitor wholly controls developing this balance.  Each choice is a determination of matching what you think, say, and do.

Everyday is an evaluation of matching thoughts with words, and actions.  If during this evaluation a mismatch occurs, condemnation should not follow, but a repositioning.

Question of the Day:

Evaluate yourself today; did your thoughts, words, and actions match each other?  Did they move you forward toward your goals?