Monday, August 31, 2009


The biggest detriment to your "potential" in who you are and what you do is lack of focus.

These days our focus is pulled in millions of directions. If you do not refocus daily you will undoubtedly find yourself in a rut, unmotivated, and attention overload.

My father-in-law, a successful entrepreneur, loves the saying, "success leaves clues." This means that success is not a mystery, it's a process.

The first step is easy. Know what you want. The second requires a little more effort. Go find the resources that give the processes of success in what you want. Third is where most people stop. Go and start doing it. In the fourth step, you find out if this is what your "really" want. This requires focusing and committing to your goal, purpose, or mission everyday. And it requires doing it when you don't feel like it, when all your friends are doing something fun, and even when you fail and fail and fail again.

In the book the Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren writes about the power of focus and how it relates to light:

"The power of focusing can be seen in light. Diffused light has little power or impact, but you can concentrate its energy by focusing it. With a magnifying glass, the rays of sun can be focused to set grass or paper on fire. When light is focused even more as a laser beam, it can cut through steel. There is nothing quite like a potent and focused life, one lived on purpose. the men and women who have made the greatest difference in history were the most focused."

Refocus this week. I have found this to be the most powerful question I can ask myself all the time, "What is the most productive thing I can be doing with my time right now?

Now put some freakin laser beams on your head and Get After It!

And also....If you need a Monday morning laugh, Click on this the link below for a classic You Tube clip.

Monday, August 24, 2009


One of the hardest things to do is keep showing up. It is hard when you feel like you are not getting anything out of it. It is hard when you feel like nobody notices you are there. It is hard when you feel unappreciated when all you want is a chance to show what you're made of.

There is a story of an unnamed man who was an armor bearer to the son of one of the ancient Kings of Israel. Jonathan was the name of the King's son. And Jonathan was not opposed to picking fights and making stuff happen. In wore ridden times, King Saul, who was ordered by God to attack their arch rivals, the Philistines, chose not to take action. On the other hand, Jonathan, who was what we would call today a "go getter," came up with this what I would have probably considered, really stupid idea:

"Now it happend one day that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who bore his armor, "Come, let us go over to the Philistines camp that is on the other side. But he did not tell his father."

Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, 'Come let us go over there to the camp of these Philistines; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.'

So his armor bearer said to him, 'Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.'

'Very well, let us cross over to these man, and we will show ourselves to them.'

So both of them showed themselves to the camp of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, 'Look the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden.' Then the men of the camp called to Jonathan and his armor bearer, and said, 'Come up to us, and we will show you something.'"

So here you have it, Jonathan and his armor bearer called down to get in a fight with about 20 Philistine warriors. Not good odds, especially since the armor bearer is not even a warrior!

However, the story finishes with the Philistine's being delivered into the hands of the Isrealites as God had promised King Saul. Jonathan and his armor bearer (and a lot of divine intervention) wiped out about 20 Philistines in the camp.

The point of this story is about the will to keep showing up as the armor bearer did. He was a last guy on the totem pole, not a warrior, not an officer, just the guy who carried Jonathan's shield and sword. Kind of like a gold caddy for a soldier. The unnammed nobody, who just kept showing up to follow and serve his leader, became a warrior that day.

So many of us never reach our "potential" because we are unwilling to keep knocking on the door and showing up. We may knock for a while, but when it starts getting hard, boring, something else comes up, when we start feeling sorry for ourselves, and we start thinking we deserve something, we stop.

In the end, those who are not reaching their potential is because of their lack of investment. Investing is doing what you may not want to do now, knowing that this unrewarded effort now will provide exponential rewards sometime in the future.

This week keep knocking, keep showing up, keep serving, keep investing...

Monday, August 17, 2009


Bad coach, bad team, bad teammates, bad family, bad economy, bad gym, sick, tired, burnt-out, no sleep, no food, too-much food, "just don't have it," or "just don't feel like it today."

All reasons not to compete or go at it with your greatest ability, intentions, focus, and concentration.

But...the great one's thrive in the bad. This is why when I hear these things from my athletes, I make it a point for them to concentrate harder, go harder, reach down and go get something they didn't know they had. Why? I tell them, "You just got tougher."

This world, your opponents, your teammates, don't care about all the bad things that you can excuse as a reason not to practice, workout, or compete. That's what makes the great ones, the greatest. When it was the worst they were the best.

Below is what I believe to be the "acid test of a true competitor," written by H.A. Dorfman:

"One of the true measures of an athletes competitive tendency is how he performs when he's not at his physical best. Ineffective or poor competitors panic, try to do too much (overkill), or give in by declaring, 'It's gonna be one of those days' (surrender). A true competitor recognizes the need to compensate with intelligence, intense concentration, and persistence. Courage. It's a legitimate competitor's instinct to stick to the battle plan, rather than succumbing to disorientation or losing his spirit (heart and soul).

The true competitor holds himself even more accountable to employ all his mental resources on those days when his physical skills seem to be unavailable. Seem to be. His sympathetic nervous system will help, if he gives it a chance, providing adrenal rushes as needed. Many players have said--without being aware of that physiological backup system--Funny, I've had my best performances when I've felt my worst."

This week, every time you feel you don't want to do out...practice...put in that extra hour of work...DO IT. And when you do it reach for that good stuff you have deep inside, concentrate harder, will that burst of energy you need, and get it done. Do this consistently, and you will be called a true competitor.

Monday, August 10, 2009


When Bobby Knight was coaching basketball at the University of Indiana he would often have successful people come and talk to his teams.

Here is a speech from the man who Coach Knight wrote was, "one of my smartest invitations." The man's name was Janos Starker, who is acclaimed world wide as the "king of cellists" and was a professor at the Indian School of Music.

This speech encompasses everything that anyone who wants to be great at something needs to know and understand.  After reading this ask yourself, "Where am I choosing not to strive for excellence in my sport or my profession and am I happy with being a dilettante? 

      "I started playing cello when I was six. At that time, I didn't choose it.  My mother did. Eventually, three years later, I realized, first of all, it was something that I loved.  I realized that I couldn't go through a day without thinking, doing, making music.  This is one of the basic principles that I state:  that anyone who can go through a day without wanting to be with music or hear music or make music is not supposed to be a musician.

    I believe that to be valid for every single profession.  If you can go through a day without wanting it or thinking it or living with professionalism in the profession that you are in,
you are not supposed to be in it.

    It wasn't important to me as a boy, nor did it ever become important to me, to be recognized as No. 1 or No. 2, because it is a nonsensical listing.  Always, I tried to do the maximum with what nature gave me.  What is necessary in my profession is no different from yours. 
    I forgot everything else in the world.   There was no music, no parents, no girlfriends, nothing but concentrating on the game. 

  This seems to be the problem, looking at all my students, in the studying process: 
to have the willpower, the ability to concentrate.  When I go on stage nothing exists but that piece of music that I'm playing or that objective which I set for myself. 

  Discipline means concentration, and concentration means discipline. 
Discipline means that you have a routine that you follow with total conviction of priority.  Is the priority to win alone, or to do the best one can do?  We must have total conviction that we want to do it, not just when the chips are down but at all possible times.  The practice is just as important as the moment when you are in front of everybody.

    The only difference in our professions is that when the game is over, the score sort of unquestionably shows whether you succeeded or not.  That's a little bit different for us.

    But the self-respect is no different.  Whether the audience cheers or not, it does not mean anything.  If i know that I have done well, whether they like it or not is not important.  Did I do the best I could under the circumstances, with total concentration and dedication to the cause of the moment? 

    Discipline means to learn everything that helps to the maximum performance.

  Where is the parallel, the musical parallel to basketball?

   For a lifetime, we develop skills, so as to find the proper note.  That's why you train for a lifetime, to find the basket. 

    As a cellist, when you are six years of age, eight, twelve, you have to practice three to four hours a day just to obtain the basic skills and the strength in your hand and your arms and muscles, because you need considerable muscle power.  We are hitting strings with the fingers sometimes at the speed of two thousand notes per minute. 

    There are people who can shoot successfully eight times out of ten in practice.  To improve on the percentage, you must consciously know what part of the body functions how.  This requires the thinking process. 
It doesn't mean just that you are following instructions of the coach.  Eventually you must use your own brain:  Why does it work?  Why is the coach right?

Until the individual discovers it for himself, it is never going to result in consistency.

   The word consistency is the key.  You have to do everything that we mean when we speak of professionalism.  I'm not talking about being paid for something when we speak of professionalism. 
The professional is the one who is consistent at a higher level than anybody else.  And anybody else is called a dilettante.  Dilettantes can sometimes succeed in doing things marvelously well.  Sometimes.  But they are not consistent.

  I spent a lifetime trying to understand the underlying basic principles that make it possible for someone to use the body, arms, and then the head.  I find that the underlying principles are the same.  When I watch you guys, sometimes I notice that artistry and grace are involved, and the fluency of motions that we are doing in music.  How to improve it and to make it consistent is what we are all trying to do in every field. 
That's where the brain process, analysis, and the total dedication, total priority for the game, in preparation as well as while it is in progress, and the discipline that is required.