Monday, October 25, 2010

MAKING HUSTLE FAMOUS

"I'm the basketball version of a gravedigger."

Dennis Rodman is my all-time favorite NBA player (yes, even over Michael Jordan).

Rodman inspired me. I began falling in love with his game during his run with the Bulls.

He played the game with a menacing beauty. He was hated by his opponents, but loved by his team. He was a winner, a champion, and became the most famous role player to ever play the game.

Rodman was a genius.

He made rebounding, diving into whatever for loose balls, tenacious defense, and irritating the other team with his tactics an art.

I guess I took to him because that was the type of player I was. Not everyone understands how you can get such fulfillment from having no stats in the line. Like Rodman, all I cared about was the most important stat, how many times my team scored more points than the other team.

But Rodman's inspired me the most because was he had the courage to be himself. Because of this, he made "HUSTLE FAMOUS."

Many fans did not see Rodman's obsession and dedication to his job. He was in better shape than most players. He worked hard in the off-season and during the season to build and maintain his strength and endurance. He studied game film on individual players watching how their ball came off the rim so he be in a better position to rebound.

I often say, "Defense and Rebounding is Attitude." Rodman perfected the skill of rebounding and had more attitude about it than any other player to ever play the game. He worked on his touch around the rim. He perfected tipping balls in from crazy angles, in-between, and over taller oppenents. He was quoted saying, "I want to do for rebounds what Michael Jordan did for dunks."

His game was revolutionary. An eccentric personality, the first guy to cover himself in tattoo's. The NBA front office loved and hated him all at the same time. He was different. His differences created critics. But his differences also made him one of the greatest players of all time.

People fear different. And different is often punished.

But in his difference was his greatness. Imagine if we all had the courage to accept who we are, deliver our unique greatness, accept others criticism, and do what our heart tells us we were created to do.

That is the moral of this Monday Morning Motivation. It's about questioning something you are probably struggling with right now. It's about how you will make your HUSTLE FAMOUS.

Most of us are poor versions of someone else.

Since birth, we have been influenced to conform. To accept the status quo, to be controlled by systems, society, religion, and government.

It is not you.

We are quick to discount who we are.

We make excuses for not pursuing our strengths, passions, and interests.

"I would love to do that but that is not going to support a family, give me a fulfilling career...blah blah blah."

"I'll only be accepted if I have a masters degree....blah blah blah."

"I couldn't make a career out of that...blah blah blah."

Instead we become well rounded.

Well rounded means you are extremely good at being mediocre.

Rodman made hustle famous not because he was NOT well-rounded. He made hustle famous because he made the not so popular stats in basketball, rebounding, hustle, and toughness an art.

If you are a student, get A's because you like to compete. Get A's because you understand good grades "may" get your foot in the door.

But while working on your GPA, find a subject to fall in love with. Pursue it early. The earlier you decide to be an individual the greater chance you have of making your hustle famous.

What do most of us do?

We make mental trade-offs.

We accept what we "think" we should do. This is our greatest mistake.

Go to school, get good grades, play sports, join a bunch of clubs, get accepted to college, get good grades, get involved in sports, groups, clubs, get a job, get married, have kids, retire, die.

Who made this up?

And why do we all seem to think this is the "path of life." All of these things are wonderful and beautiful parts of our existence, but the system seems to have snipers along the way who take us out. Our heart that is.

How much of our own greatness do we sacrifice in the process?

We end up attempting what is impossible.

Put a :) on. Fit in. Compare. Be like them. Do what you are "supposed" to do.

But then we realize something. We forget who we are. In panic, we do anything and everything to re-discover ourselves. We search frantically for inspiration. Something that can ignite a spark that may free our buried passions.

Where we look is sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Either way, we feel we have no choice but to search.

Funny thing is, we can exist and even perform well going through the motions.

Society has set up systems to make sure that we are safe, secure, and "successful" as a poser. It is called the American Dream.

We live, we exist, but we know something isn't right. But our mind feeds our heart the lie, "Don't worry Heart, it's the right thing to do."

And as each minute, hour, and day passes...it builds, it inevitably takes it's toll.

It becomes more difficult to wake up. Motivation declines or sometimes completely walks out on you.

Confidence follows. You can't line up your heart with your actions. You struggle with getting anything done. The end of the day feels like the beginning...insignificant.

You disinterest in life and work begins to affect how you make people feel. You no longer attract people to you. At least not the ones who make your life productive and significant.

Then people begin to lose interest in you...your reputation loses its attractiveness.

The root word of interesting is "interest." It is impossible to be interesting and enthusiastic unless you know and pursue what interests you.

Interested people have interesting energy.

Interested people have interesting confidence.

Interested people create interesting results

Interested people create interesting differences

Interested people create interesting lives

And why do we love interesting people?

Interesting people inspire us. They give us a glimpse that what we know is true is possible in us to. They give us courage. Courage to be ourselves.

Question...?

When will you, like the cross-dressing, make-up wearing, tattooed, nose-ring having, rebounding machine, the Worm, Dennis Rodman, make your HUSTLE FAMOUS?


DENNIS RODMAN HIGHLIGHTS

Monday, August 2, 2010

UNLEASHING THE DRAGON


I made an interesting observation. Some of the greatest martial artists who have performed their craft at the highest levels are counter-culture to the "give it all you got," culture of western society.

These individuals are tenacious in their arena, yet they seem to have more compassion. They are far surpassed in their skill and ability, yet they walk in humility and honor. They could destroy you in seconds, but they are always calm, cool, collected, and poised.

Young athletes, young men especially, strive to continuously be the Dragon: fierce, competitive, aggressive and strong. Our society has taught them that this is the way to achieve success.

But on the contrary, I have observed that the consistently dominate athletes, businessmen, martial artists, musicians, etc all maintain a certain inner strength derived through an inner peace that differs from others.

They are sometimes said to be the "nicest guy you'll ever meet," off the field. But on the field, they change. They morph. The fire out of their mouth is so much more powerful and controlled, they almost effortlessly torch their field of play.

I'd like to share with you what one Dragonhas taught me through his books. He teaches that the garbage you allow into your mind is what distracts you from letting your body and mind connect as an athlete. His name is Bruce Lee, and he calls it Wu Wei.

Wu means "non" and wei means "action, doing, striving." In the The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, their is a part where Cruise is getting messed up in a training exercise by two or three Samurai. During the fight, he looks haphazard, fighting out of raw emotion, swinging his weapon with no intent, just hoping to connect. Though Cruise is a trained military soldier and warrior, his aggression and training does not give him what he needs to take on his opponents successfully. One of the Samurai yells out to Cruise, "too much mind."

Wu Wei does not invoke taking no action. It is the art of letting your mind go and trusting it to do the work you've taught it to do. As an athlete, you train your skills daily. The more hours of deliberate practice you put in, the more refined you skills become.

But why, sometimes, can we not get past a certain stage. Why can't we transfer this practice to a field of play and dominate our opponents. Because we never truly trust ourselves. We get in our own way. Instead of acting in harmony with what is in front of us, we try to force the issue; control.

Attaining Wu Wei means to attain what Lee calls "spontaneous action," or "spirit action." This means that you have allowed the mind to become the governing force and have let your senses go.

To do this you must master the principle of Wuhsinor "no-mindedness." Allan Watts describes no mindedness as, "a state of wholeness in which the mind functions freely and easily, without the sensation of a second mind or ego standing over it with a club."

To all my young athletes and parents. This second mind or "club" that beats all your hard work into mediocrity is the ego. The ego is what makes us worry about what people think of our performance. It is what causes fear, anxiety, jealousy, envy, pride, vanity, covetous, and even hatred. This "club" keeps our performance on the practice field stellar, but once the lights are on, this "club" does everything that it can to tell us "we're not good enough," or "people are judging me," and so forth.

Take a lesson from one of the greatest masters of his craft. Learn the Unleash The Dragon, by trusting all the work you have put into your skill. When performing, only focus on the skill, focus on improving your ability to use what you have practiced. And do not worry about the outcome. Only by practicing and attaining, Wu Wei will you ever become a true master.

Check out this clip of Bruce Lee teaching a young student Wu Wei. He didn't mess around:)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roY9SaqM0mo

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MY LIBERATION TOUR STORY


My last 100 days of existence has been anything but fun. But sticking with one of my favorite motto's, "if it doesn't suck, don't do it," I endured the Liberation Tour and completed it right on the deadline.

This is a quick story of my Liberation Tour experience and a few things I took from it.

Pictured to the left is me, bent over a sledge hammer, in a puddle over my own sweat. I just swung that thing for twenty minutes straight. That was after I had the bright idea of running the 4 mile run challenge in my garage at 4pm. Bad idea. Not only because it was the longest running challenge (4 miles) but also because it was 324 degrees inside my garage.

Train in the worst conditions possible...that's what I always say right? Well the only thing that was missing that day was Lucifer himself poking me with his flaming devil Triton.

But I thought this picture would give you a good idea of the way I felt after enduring through 30 of the worst physical challenges someone could volunteer to do...dripping sweat, utterly exhausted, relieved that I was finally done, and ultimately quite accomplished.

If you are not familiar with the Liberation Tour it is simply a battery of physical and mental challenges I created that provide you with "30 ways to make you quit." The goal is to check off each of these challenges in 100 days or less.

A better explanation is given below. I use this in the blog site.

"You are about to embark on a truly unique experience of '30 ways to make you quit.'

Your mission...conquer all thirty ways to quit in 100 days or less.

'30 ways to quit,' will challenge your mental and physical capacities.

To complete this tour is a great feat.

To complete this tour is to prove your ability to withstand constant adversity for 100 days. It will force you to keep going when you want to give up. It will force yourself to push yourself farther than you want to go.

In the end, you will be Liberated. Liberated by knowing that the person you once were no longer exists, You, my friend, will see a whole new meaning to your potential."

I created this tour understanding most of you fail to realize how much you have already inside of you. That everything you want to accomplish, you already posses. It's just waiting to be liberated.

But you settle. You choose to take the path of least resistance. You let fear, insecurity, doubt, selfishness, and flat out laziness steal the greatness from inside of you. You let others direct your paths and set barriers on you.

Every now and then you need to do something to see what you're made of. This tour gives you that. It challenges you by providing a set time of consistent mental and physical adversity. It's done in a controlled manner. All challenges are based on you as an individual.

Finding what you're made of can't happen if someone else is forcing you to do it. You'll cop out. Finding what you're made of is a voluntary activity.

Voluntary...You don't have a schedule or time to show up to do these exercises. You don't have anything motivating you but your own will and competitiveness against yourself. You have no one coaching you. Each one of these is done on your own merit. Your own will.

The toughest thing about this challenge was not listening to myself. Those words that spoke to my not so great personality characteristics of laziness, doubt, and fear. And many times telling myself, "I don't really need to finish this. It doesn't matter."

But it did...my dad taught me to never quit. When it starts to hurt that's when it gets fun...that's where you separate yourself from everyone else. That's where you put a smile on your face and shift into that other gear.

My biggest fear: Running...I despise it for some reason. I believe when I was putting together the challenges for this tour put the 1, 2, 3, and 4 mile run challenge in for myself. If it was going to liberate me, I had to get over the fear I had of running for more than 94 feet at a time.

A ex-navy seal once said, "running is the best exercise because it build's character." It does. It's easy to stop. Your body has given you a great muscular system that brakes quite easily. The key is forgetting you have breaks and just keep going. That saying always made sense to me, but now, after doing it, I really understand that statement.

When I began the tour, I was ready to conquer these runs, and the first thing I did was the 1 mile run. It had been two years since I ran one mile, without stopping. I ran it in 6:45. I later wrote on a facebook post, "When I got off the treadmill it felt like a Gnome was repeatedly hitting the back of my hamstrings with a 2 x 4." It was tough, but not as tough as I thought.

I had the pleasure and was motivated by watching two Liberated Warriors crush this tour in 40 and 41 days.

Jimmy Powers, a young fire fighter, absolutely ran through the Liberation Tour in 41 days. He'd show up on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and kick the crap out of these challenges (you can read more of Jimmy's story on the Liberation Tour blog). Jimmy would talk a lot of noise to me, "are you gonna finish?" "Come on old man?" "Step your game up." Jimmy didn't know but he was a large part of my motivation.

Then we had a second person finish. Picture a mother of four, 40 years of age, knocking out 150 squat jumps and 20 minutes of sledge hammer swings in one single day to make sure that she completed the tour in 40 days...completing it a day faster than Jimmy the fit fire fighter man. It was amazing. She will probably hold that record until she decides to break it herself.

So far three people have finished. That leaves quite a few in what I call the "Liberation Tour Graveyard." Some got close, some tried one challenge and then thought, "what the heck am I doing," and, some never even started.

What I realized is that most of us fall short in accomplishing what we want in life when things start to get hard. When things start to get uncomfortable. That's when it's easy to start making excuses and justify another route.

It's also easy to quit once the newness and excitement wears off. We are all fired up the first couple of weeks, but then when things start to get repetitive, boring, or especially more difficult, we get that voice in our head that starts to talk us out of completing what we started.

Sunday, the day after I completed my tour, I got more things done around my house than I'd done in months. I said to myself, "I just finished the Liberation Tour, why they heck can I not get these little things done around my house. I just ran 8 miles in one week, I can do anything." My wife was probably wondering if someone broke into the house, knocked me unconscious, and got all these things done.

TO WRAP THIS UP, HERE ARE 5 QUICK LESSONS I LEARNED FROM THE LIBERATION TOUR.

1. YOU CAN'T REALLY KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE INSIDE YOU UNTIL YOU FACE WHAT SCARES YOU TO DEATH: Over the last 100 days, I've heard a lot of people talk about how they could complete the Liberation Tour in 1 week, 2 weeks, 30 days, etc. I giggled. It's easy to talk trash to an enemy when they're behind a brick wall you won't climb over.

2. EXCUSES RULE OUR LIVES AND STEAL OUR GREATNESS: Excuses are easy. Get rid of things in your life that are easy. An excuse is nothing more then validation of weakness.

3. IF YOU WRITE OUT SPECIFICALLY WHAT YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH, WORK ON IT A LITTLE BIT AT A TIME, IT'S AMAZING WHAT YOU CAN ACHIEVE: Only set goals you can measure numerically. Set thirty today for the next year. Then go liberate yourself.

4. WE GET OUT OF LIFE ONLY WHAT WE COMMIT TO FINISH: You can never give what you don't have. And you will never have what you do not finish.

5. IT'S STILL NOT FOR EVERYONE: No matter what, some will, some won't, and some just choose to defer. I think I would rather be the one that does. What about you?

If you would like more information on the Liberation Tour, you can reply to this email or go to the Liberation Tour blog.

HAVE A GREAT WEEK

Monday, July 19, 2010

CONFLICT THERAPY


Author Robert Green in his book, The 33 Strategies of War writes, "Child psychologist Jean Piaget saw conflict as a critical part of mental development. Through battles with peers and then parents, children learn to adapt to the world and develop strategies for dealing with problems."

The author continues on reiterating the importance of not backing away from battles throughout adolescence and adulthood:
"it is through your battles that you learn what works, what doesn't, and how to protect yourself."

The Quick Conclusion: No matter your age, learn to embrace your battles. The younger the better.

Unfortunately our day and age has taught us to do everything possible to protect us from going into battle:

We want to be secured a position on the team, instead of giving them no choice to put you in the starting lineup.

We travel around the country attempting to expose talent to scouts, instead of spending that time becoming a master at our skills.

We settle for jobs we hate instead of actually doing what we want to do.

We choose to be mediocre because we are afraid of being exposed for who we really are.

We don't stand up for something we really believe in because we are afraid of not being liked.

We keep ourselves busy with meaningless tasks instead of actually focusing on the one or two things that could really change our lives.

We let others decide what's best for us, and thus, have no passion, power, or meaning in what we do.

We spend hours on the Internet, checking our email, seeing what our "friends" are doing on facebook, instead of using that time to work on something that could change our's and others lives.

And in the end...we make make far more excuses than we make progress.

John Maxwell recently gave a talk called, Why John Wooden's Teams Won. Maxwell observed...

"He (Coach Wooden) achieved personal victories before he lead his team to victory. He won the battle of self. He has disciplined his own life, and has won his main victory. This allowed him to also show other people how to be victorious."

To win the battle over yourself should be number one on the agenda. To do this, show up to your sessions of CONFLICT THERAPY.

In these sessions you can see what we are made of. In these sessions is you'll gain perspective you need to let your gifts, talents, and passions come to life.

It is never a good idea to go into battle with someone who has never been tested. Or as I like to paraphrase, "never trust an un-broken man." Only the tested and broken man can truly lead others into victory over themselves. Anyone else is a poser...a fake.

Who would want to go to battle with you?

This Week...Decide to do something significant with your life. Try for one entire day not to make one excuse. I think you'll be surprised on how many you actually drum up.

This Week...Go get some CONFLICT THERAPY. Then GO passionately share your stories of struggle and triumph with others. You're life and the lives of those you touch will begin to change.

As Thomas Jefferson was quoted, "When the heart is right, the feet are swift."

Below is a clip of one of my all-time favorite movies. It is all about conflict therapy. It is about discovering who you are through a seemingly impossible fight. It's about knowing what your fighting for. It's about what happens inside you when you're backed into a corner. It's about knowing what you stand for. And most of all, it's about continually winning the victory over yourself.

HAVE A GREAT WEEK MY FRIENDS!!

CINDERELLA MAN

Monday, June 21, 2010

HOW NOT TO BECOME THE "USED TOO GUY"


This MMM came to me when an athlete of mine asked how much I bench. My immediate response was... "Well, I used to...."

Instead of telling this kid the standard, "how much you bench doesn't matter," I went with a possibly inflated number that I did in the 90's:))

What's funny is I said this with no hesitation. Not a thought entered my mind about telling him how much I currently may bench press. I would love to blame it on the fact that I haven't done a bench press max in a few years, but when it comes down to it, it's because I became the "used too" guy.

Here are a couple of facts about the mythical "used too" guy:

1. As the years pass, your "used too" numbers continue to improve. For example: If you actually bench pressed 250 lbs in high school. Buy the time you are 30, it marginally increases to 275-300lbs. And by the time you are 40, you may be looking in the 325-350 area. It's amazing how your "used too" guy gets stronger as you struggle to put up 135.

2. The "used too" guy always comes through: He always comes through when you cannot meet a challenge, you get your butt kicked by a kid, or you are watching any sport. The "used too" guy always finds a way to whip up a "good ole days" story to let people know that you didn't used to suck this bad.

3. If not for the "used too" guy most of us would be in trouble. You see, the reason we call the "used Too" guy off the bench every now and then is for validation. Validation that we actually were athlete's, or strong, or even smart. GPA is another on of those numbers that probably magically increases with age.

When you call the "Used too" guy up from the bench....no one cares. You generally get a blank stare just like Napoleon and Kip as they watch Uncle Rico's self-recorded VHS tapes of him throwing a football.

No one who lives in the present really cares about or likes the "used too" guy. Their are two ways you know this. The person your are introducing the "used too" guy too will either A) roll their eyes, or B) Just change the conversation.

What we need to understand is keeping this guy around doesn't help anyone, especially you. I am particularly talking to coach's and leaders in this one.

Someone once told me that in order to become a coach (or leader), you first have to let go of the fact that you are not longer a player. Why? Because if you are a player, you compete. If you are competing against your team, than it is impossible to be an effective coach.

A great leader thinks only about one thing...everyone else.

One of the most virtuous qualities of a leader is humility. Humility is impossible if you think about validating your worth more than you think about improving your team.

Another problem is the "used too" guy can stop your from progressing. At some point you probably stopped working out as hard. At some point you stopped practicing your sport for 2 hours a day. The natural law says that if you stop doing something that used to consume your life, over time, that skill will eventually become diminished.

So this week, as a coach or leader, take this advice on getting rid of the "used too" guy for not just your good, but also everyone else too:

1. Put your team first: Quit telling them how great you used to be and start showing them how great they still can be. As their leader you must continue to improve with the intention of giving what you learn.

2. Use past stories only to teach lessons: Do not waste your time telling stories to validate your worthiness or let them know how magnificent you used to be. Stories of when you failed, overcame, or had to fight through particular situations are much more effective as a leader. Teach your team through stories that help them take wisdom you've gained from the past.

4. Don't compete: Not with your team. Most leaders have a competitive streak that can change relationships. You never want to make competition personal with people you lead. You can play hard, you can go hard, but never take it to a level where it becomes personal.

I love to play one on one with my kids. And I love to beat them. Unfortunately, as the years have gone by they have improved and grown. I have not. I hate losing, I don't care if they are in the NBA, I still hate losing. But when I changed my mindset to using that time to help develop them and our relationship instead of trying to get a W for my own ego, everything changed. Now I can compete hard, lose, and the only thing I am worried about is if I gave them a chance to get better.

5. Worry about being the best at who you are right now: You can't be the best at who you are right now if you are still holding on to what you once were. Fight even thinking about what you did yesterday. It's over. The best continually strive to get better daily.

Life's greatest gift is the ability to change with every moment. Each moment gives you a new opportunity to be something better than you were. This is created by nothing by the decisions you make to change, to learn, to do what is right. To me this is more than just a gift, this is a responsibility.

Watch Uncle Rico in this video as he shows you what the "Used Too" guy is all about! It is outstanding. Have a great week!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gducgTcJMMU

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A DAY I'LL NEVER FORGET


There are certain days you will have in you life life that are just a little more special than others. One of mine happened to come on March 27th, 2007 at the 2007 McDonald's All-American Game.

I am quite fortunate to have great friends like John and Sue Calathes. They entrusted me to work with their two boys, Pat and Nick, who turned out to be some pretty talented players.

My visit to Louisville that year was to watch the younger of the two, Nick. Nick was a two time Florida Player of the Year and was on his was in the fall to play for Coach Donavan and the Florida Gators. My wife and I were able to share this tremendous experience with Nick and his family.

We had the opportunity to be apart of what I consider to be the greatest talent pool of McDonald's All-American's ever to come out in a single year.

Here are some of the players who played in that game. If you know basketball, while you read these names, you will understand why this game was so unique and special: Nick Calathes, Johnny Flinn, Austin Freeman, Donte Green, J.J. Hickson, Kosta Koufas, O.J. Mayo, Patrick Patterson, Nolan Smith, Chris Wright, Jerryd Bayless, Michael Beasley, Eric Gorden, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Jai Lucas, Derrick Rose, Kyle Singler.

Apart from the game we attended a formal event on March 27th, 2007. The event featured two legendary basketball icons. Speaking first, Bill Walton. Second, only reading a poem from memory, John Wooden.

I am writing this on Sunday June 6th, 2010. Today I am thirty-three years old and it is a bitter sweet day for me. My birthday, but mourning my hero, John Wooden. I know he is with God. I know that he is now with his wife, who he loved and adored so much, Nelly and I am so happy for him. But, man will I, and this world, ever miss a man like Coach.

Yesterday, Coach Wooden passed away at ninety-nine years old. Coach may be one of the only men in the existence of humanity whom lived his live to the fullest. A man of genuine character and integrity to the highest degree. A person we can all model our life after. Not because of his success as a coach, but because of who he was as a person.

Back in Louisville.....

As we took our seats at the banquet, in the middle of our table sat a silent auction item, an autographed John Wooden basketball. I told my wife I would spend every penny we had in our bank account to get that ball.

But once again, my hosts who I shared their table with, decided they would let me win the action and keep the ball. What friends. And for me, what a gift. In the end, I walked out with my favorite piece of autographed memorabilia that I will ever have.

But that's not the greatest part about this story...

Nick came back to our table and asked me if I wanted to meet Coach Wooden.

Uhhhhhh....yes.

Nick, who had just had about a 10 minute conversation with Coach, escorted me through a crowd of people and lead me to being in front of living legend, my hero, a person who I want to be, the man who has lived his life as example of what a "coach" should be. Nick introduced me as his coach, and Coach Wooden shook my hand, covering our hand shake with his left hand, and said, "You've done a great job."

Holy Crap!!...he may not have known that I wasn't Nick's basketball coach (even though I've done my fair share of schooling Nick on the court:)). But to hear John Wooden affirm to me that I've done a great job!! I will hold onto that for the rest of my life!

This MMM is about opportunity. It is about how to set yourself up to realize these special opportunities that you may have only dreamed about.

If you want to create for yourself unbelievable opportunities, start putting these things into action this week.

1) Surround yourself with greatness: Surround yourself with great people, great organizations, great teams, great books, great quotes, anything that will continue to feed your mind with greatness. If you do this, you will continue to find yourself with great opportunities.

2) Understanding what a great opportunity is: If you don't know what a great opportunity looks like, it will pass you up. I am sure there were hundred's of people that day who did not make the effort to meet Coach Wooden that day in Louisville. I am sure most people knew who he was. But I do not know if most of them had read every single book that Wooden has ever wrote or been apart of. I have. I felt like I knew Coach Wooden from all of the books I have read about him. I knew this was a one and a million opportunity.

3) Loving what you do: Bottom line, without passion for what I do, for my love of the game of basketball, for my love of developing and coaching young men and women, I would have never been invited by Nick and his family to be at this event.

4) Get to Work: Let your passion lead to work. My philosophy on work has always been to find out who is the best at what I do, find out what they are committed to everyday, and try to go at it ten times harder than they do. The harder you work, the more opportunities you get.

5) Have a passion for giving others great opportunities: I think this is something that is not said as much in "motivational writing." The greatest rewards I get in life are the rewards of knowing I have personally been a part of giving someone a great opportunity.

What fuels my passion and work ethic in what I do is all about that. It's not about the money, it's not about the status, it's about nothing but giving people opportunity. I love it. That is what I do.

I realized a long time ago that the level of opportunities that I could give to others was based on the level of greatness I achieved for myself. As I continue to work hard, I see that I continue to raise the level opportunities I give to others.

Wooden said, "Ability is a poor man's wealth." He helped me realize it is of much greater value to go to work on who I am than what I do. He helped me to realize that to give opportunities to others, this was the most important part of my growth.

He summed this up when he said, "What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player." Or a basketball coach, or a strength coach, or a lawyer, or a sales person, or a student, or any other label we tend to put on ourselves.

Here's a question that you can think about this week:

"How many people would say that you've given them an opportunity for greatness that they would have never had without you?"

As you go forward, realize the more people you can get to say this, the greater your life will be.

PLEASE WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO ON COACH WOODEN CALLED, "WOODEN'S LOVE LETTER." IT'S UNBELIEVABLE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFbZckxrTTQ

Monday, May 24, 2010

THE PROBLEM WITH "I'LL DO MY BEST."


I am always curious to see what the NBA comes up in each years television ads for the playoffs.

Last year it was using the song "Amazing," by Kanye West. This year they didn't stray far off Kanye by auto-tuning players using their famous press conference and interview cliches' and making it into an auto-tuned song. There's nothing like hearing an auto-tuned Stan Van Gundy mixed with a little Kobe and Magic.

One of the most famous cliches in sports is wrapped in the idea of "doing my best." You here it all the time, "I'm doing the best I can to...", or "all I can do is my best." But there is one problem in this feel good, I'm a team player, statement:

"Doing your best" is a cop-out. It's an excuse. It is a failure to commit to excellence. It shows lack of courage to commit to a real challenge.

Harsh...yes, but if you really think about every time you've said, "I'm just doing my best," it's usually because you are sugar-coating a poor performance in some area of your life.

Uhhhggg....There's nothing like being convicted by your own writing. But I know that I do this. I know that I say, "I'm doing my best in different areas of my life." But the truth of the matter is; I'm lying to myself and the people I'm telling it too.

Here's a startling revelation: If you're doing your best, you don't have to say that you're doing your best.

Telling people you're doing your best is a lot like telling people about how much you hustled during a game. How many times have you seen a guy sit in front of the cameras and say: "I dove out of bounds twice into the crowd, to save a loose ball. I jumped on every loose ball, I got 20 rebounds, I'm just doing my best out there."

Never....

Because when you give you're best, It's obvious. You may not be the highest scorer, and no one may even talk about your effort, but your effort is obvious. It is your effort in the little things. Those things that only a certain percentage of the people in this world actually will do, that end up paying high dividend in the big things.

The other problem with, "I'll do my best," is that it lacks responsibility. Instead of personally committing to what you can do better as a person to develop yourself to enhance your team, this pretty lyric is used to deem you a good team player and kick all responsibility to the side.

However, the first thing that each of us need to do is figure out what we must do to help ourselves. A winning team is never full of team members who do not take personal responsibility for winning. A winning team is full of individuals who know their role well, and work continuously on improving their specific individual skills to enhance the performance of the team.

Each member of a team needs to have their own individual goals that make them better at who they are and what they do. As each team member strives to become better at these particular things, as they continually set high goals and achieve them, the team will become better and winning will become less of a "did our best" effort, to just consistently finding "W's" in the win column.

Here are a couple of suggestions for this week to help you to stop "doing your best," and to start getting things done:

1) Plan, Reflect, and Record Your Insights: In the book, Discover Your Genius, by Michael L. Gelb, he writes, "In a classic study of mental traits of genius, Catherine Cox examined 300 of history's greatest minds. She found that geniuses in every field--from painting, literature, and music, to science, the military, and politics, tended to have certain common characteristics. Most notably, she discovered that geniuses enjoy recording their insights, observations, feelings, and poems and questions in personal notebooks or through letters to friends and family."

This is taking, "writing your goals down," a step farther. We all have heard that you should write down your goals, but we also need to reflect on them. We need to think about what worked and what didn't. As an athlete in the development of your skills, you can write down what worked and what didn't in practice, the insights you took from it, and how you can continually fine tune and improve your game.

2) 5 Things a Day: You may or may not have heard of the old five swings a day idea. This says that if you have a tree and an axe and you swing the axe five times per day, eventually the tree is going to fall. There are generally three to five things that if you do them each day, will eventually pay you great dividends. For example, I understand that if I spend time each day, thinking "outside the box," reading, writing, watching, or giving inspirational material, and working on my creative ideas, I reap big dividends. Because I am an "outside of the box" thinker, have the heart of a coach, and love to create, doing these three things on a daily basis pay off for me more than anything else I do. You may notice I only have three. But surely you can have up to, but probably not more than five.

3) Get a Coach: Whatever you want to be great at you need someone who A) has been to the place or at least knows how to get to the place you want to go and B) will hold you accountable to the highest degree. Both A and B are much more difficult to make happen on your own, if not impossible. If you look at most people who are successful at what they do, it is because they have been mentored, coached, and taken their by the hands of someone else, a great coach.

Let's stop "doing our best," and start getting things done. Have a great week!

Monday, May 10, 2010

THE PARADOX OF COURAGE

Tell me if you ever feel like this....."Bored?"

Tell me if you ever feel like this...."Behind?"

Tell me if you ever feel like this..."Insignificant?"

Tell me if you ever feel like this..."Fearful things aren't going to work out how you want them to?"

I came across a piece of writing this morning by G. K. Chesterton. Chesterton was an English writer who wrote diverse books, essays, poetry, philosophy, publicly lectured, debated, wrote of Christian apologetics, and even dabbled in fantasy and fiction. The particular piece I read was the paradoxical clash of "courage." After reading, I strongly felt I needed to share it with all you.

"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.

'He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,' is not a piece of mysticism for saints and hero's. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers.

It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. The paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage...

He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch from it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying.

He must not merely cling to live, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape death.

He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape.

He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine."

Remember the questions I asked at the beginning? How often do you feel like those things I asked, bored, behind, insignificant, and fearful?

If often, I believe there is reason, maybe one you've never thought of. We have been taught to seek comfort in our lives. To attain wealth that we can do whatever we please. To gain status so that others will take care of our menial chores of life. To bask in all of life's most exotic pleasures. To build monuments to show our accomplishments, to show the world, "Look at me! Look what I have done!" I heard a story of an Asian man who was asked, "When will you know you have achieved success?" He replied, "When I have an Anglo gardener." I thought that was funny.

I'm not saying their is anything wrong with the pursuit of wealth and respect for what you do. And we do these things mostly because this is what we are taught is the "American" thing to do. We are taught that these things are "living the life," when in fact these things are the farthest thing from "living" at all. America is the richest and most depressed nation in the world. How does that work? Interesting.

The pursuit of comfort is the pursuit of detaching your heart from what it really wants. Have you ever noticed that the more you "chase success," the more miserable you are.

Your heart doesn't want to be bored chasing after comfort. You're heart wants something to believe in, something to fight for, a reason to get your butt up in the morning with some enthusiasm.

King David of Israel was the youngest of eight brothers. When Samuel was sent by God to anoint the new King of Israel, David's father Jesse, went through each brother thinking surely that they would be God's choice. Jesse's oldest sons were strong, good-looking, and were all very skilled. Because of their great looks and "king potential" (in their eyes anyway), Jesse thought the next King of Israel would definitely be one of his eldest sons.

But God says something interesting to Samuel. He says, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as a man sees; for a man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

The Hebrew concept of heart (used in this verse) embodies emotions, will, intellect, and desires. Heart, in this context, means that the life of a person will reflect his "heart."

Where are your emotions, will, intellect and desires leading your life? Do you even know? If you are feeling bored, behind, insignificant, and fearful of the future. If so you may need a heart check.

But remember the paradox, in-order to gain something you must be willing to lose something. Remember the soldier in Chesterton's writing. The soldier surrounded by enemies, in order to survive, he must have a strong desire for living and a strange carelessness for dying.

Nothing is ever mentioned in courage about a strong desire for comfort. That's not courage...to me that seems like fear. Constantly striving each day to make sure that you are fat and happy. Or in the writing is explains it as, "merely clinging to live." This soldier, as he says, "is a coward, and will not escape death."

I hope this MMM stirs something in you today. I hope for a moment, maybe you realize that you have been choosing this path of comfort now for too long. That it's time to find some courage and really follow your heart. That you will find where your emotions, will, intellect, and desires have been desperately yelling for your attention. That you will realize that you've been the soldier merely clinging to live your life, afraid to pursue your true desire and calling, and it's time to get up and fight your way out.

"He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine."

LETS GOOO...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"YOU DESERVE IT."


Pinocchio's nose is about to go through your computer screen after telling you the following, "You deserve it."

This week's MMM is short and sweet but has a strong point all of us need to understand.
Our society has taught us that life is supposed to be easy. It's given us a false perception of prosperity. That we, because we are citizens of the United States of America, are entitled to having the things in life we want.

We are lied to on a daily basis. From the fat loss pill, to the get rich quick scheme, to the lottery. We are consistently lied to. We consistently told that life is supposed to be easy.

Don't ever, ever, ever, let that lie poison your mind. Life is hard...if you do not believe it, just give it some time. The affliction of life will eventually find you, there's no escaping it. Your unprepared mind will leave you blind-sided wondering why life is so unfair.

Instead of buying into the "easy" life style, invite the trying times in your life. Don't shy away. Move towards the path of least resistance. In trying times, search for the catalyst within. Search within the trial that which builds your character.

This is why I created the Liberation Tour. This tour has everything to do with how you will deal with physical adversity, or the "30 Ways to Make You Quit." It chooses 30 challenges that most people will look at and walk the other way. But for those people who choose to challenge themselves, if they are able to push themselves through it, they will walk out of the other side of that 100 days a new person.

And this new person will then understand just how much they have been holding themselves back. How much they have been buying into this lie that life is easy. That life is about attaining comfort.

No, my friends. Life is about the story. And there was never a good story written about someone who lived 'fat and happy,' comfortable, and adversity free. These are usually the villains in the story. Their greed and arrogance usually gets them killed.

It's time to stop buying into the lie. It's time to start making things happen. It's time we start showing up at adversities door step instead of hoping it doesn't show up on ours.

To paraphrase a favorite quote of mine. Fear not those who challenge, fear only those who dodge.

You don't deserve it. You have to go and get it.

Lets go...

Friday, April 16, 2010

A TOUCHING REALITY


I have had some serious writers block for the past two weeks. Monday Morning Motivation has been non-existent because of it.

Fortunately, my friend, Coach Hunter Wood, helped crack the block when he asked me if I have seen an article written in the New York Times named Evidence That Little Touches Do Mean So Much.

I found this article to be one of the most intriguing pieces of writing I have read on teamwork in a long time. Spending a lot of my personal growth time on studying high level teams and organizations, I have yet to run across a concept quite so simple, true, and powerful regarding teamwork and success.

The basis of this article states this:
"....in recent years some researchers have begun to focus on a different, often more subtle kinds of wordless communication: physical contact. Momentary touches, they say...can communicate an even wider range of emotion than gestures or expressions, and sometimes do so more quickly and accurately than words."

The author gives these research examples of evidence that supports this theory:

-"Students who received a supportive touch on the back or arm from a teacher were nearly twice as likely to volunteer in class as those who did not.

-"A sympathetic touch from a doctor leaves people with the impression that the visit lasted twice as long, compared with estimates from people who were untouched."

-"A massage from a loved one can not only ease pain but also soothe depression and strengthen a relationship."

Taking this thought in context makes perfect sense. If you think about it, different degrees of touching mean different degrees of comfort. Different degrees in comfort will show the degree of how much you, like, trust, and care for someone. There is a big difference in comfort from greeting someone with a firm hand shake and greeting someone with a big hug. And wouldn't it make sense that the best teams and organizations are the most comfortable around each other? Wouldn't it make sense that the best teams and organizations like, trust, and care for one another?

The article went on to say, the observations and thoughts of this concept led researchers to do a study on, what is said to be, "one of the most physically expressive arenas on earth: professional basketball."

During the study, researches recorded every single, touch, hi-five, butt-slap, chest bump, fist bump, every bit of expressed physical contact that teams had with one another. The most interesting thing was that while the study was being conducted the two teams who were at the top, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, were the two teams who accumulated the most touches. At the bottom of the touching scale were two teams who were, at the time, the bottom of the NBA, the Sacramento Kings and Charolette Bob Cats.

The study concluded, "Players who made contact with teammates most consistently and longest tended to rate highest on measures of performance, and the teams with those players seemed to get the most out of their talent."

Think about what a "pat on the back" from a parent, friend, coach, boss, or coworker has meant to you before. It's a supportive touch, one that says, "You've done well." One that says "Your gonna be o.k." This is an expression that I am sure you appreciate from time to time. Many people can go for months with an assured pat on the back from someone whom they respect and trust.

Think about what the good ole "back side slap" has meant to you or what you've meant in giving one to a teammate. It says, "Let's Go." It say's, "I've got you." It says, "Your good," or "don't worry about it." It also an "atta boy" or "great job," or "you're the man," or "thanks for coming through." Similar to it's vertical cousin the "pat on the back," the "back side slap" shows even a higher level of comfort. Often used by sports teams, I am not sure why the "gluooty" is such coveted target. But it seems as though there's an innate fancy, especially for athletes, to slap the back side of a teammate when your showing them some love.

Think about the people you are closest too outside of your family. I would bet that the one's who you engage in the most physical contact with from hand-shakes to high-fives, to bumps, to hugs, to chest-bumps, are the ones you feel best about. These are the ones who you more than likely have the best relationships with.

THIS WEEK:

1. Think about your team. Think about your company. Think about your family. How good are you as a group at showing support, appreciation, encouragement, gratitude, or affirmation in general? I can probably bet that most of you and the groups your are involved in can become better at doing these things. Start simple. Start with words, telling someone you appreciate them. Start with writing. Write something encouraging to a friend or teammate who needs it. Start with some praise. Praise a teammate in front of the entire team.

2. Think about showing your comfort at a higher level. How can you begin to take responsibility for getting your team to get involved with more touches. More hi-fives, more back side slaps, shoulder pats, hugs, bumps? And how can you do it without making it extremely uncomfortable? Obviously, it's not a good idea if you're in a big organization to give your boss a huge back-side slap after a good meeting, but there is not a problem in using the vertical cousin, giving a pat on the back, and telling him, "thanks for supporting us."

3. Understand that touching involves comfort. That's why you normally don't hug someone the first time you meet them. After you get to know them you may give them a hand shake to hug, or just go right in for the hug. But it does take time to develop this closeness. Trying to go in to soon usually creates the awkward hug dance. You know what I'm talking about.

If you are a coach or leader, here are my suggestions in creating a tighter team through a team who willingly appreciates, encourages, thanks, and affirms through not just words, but touch.

First, you must spend more time together. It's hard to become close if you don't spend anytime together. If you are the coach or the leader, you have to schedule times that bring your team together in an informal setting. A place where people can learn more about each other. A place where people can let their guard down a little and show who they are.

Second, you must create an environment that accepts failure: Scared people never give all they can. It's unfortunate but many coaches and businesses run their teams like a dictatorship, my way or the highway. All this does is create an environment of fear and eventually their followers become cautious, resentful, and secretive because they are afraid of expressing what they really think. In order for relationships to truly mature, team members cannot fear expressing who they are or what they believe.

Third, you must create a Challenge Up Environment: This along the lines of #2, says that anyone on the team, no matter who they are, has the right to express disagreements in opinions, in a respectful way, to anyone else, including you as the leader. The key is that it is done in a respectful, more-than-likely, private face to face expression. To grow together as a team, all members must believe their opinion is respected and will not be criticized for challenging the leader.

Fourth, you must lead the team in touches. If you are the leader or not, you can apply this. Obviously if the leader expresses a lot through touching the team will as well. But sometimes, you as the team member, has to be the one who leads in touches. Shake more hands, give more bumps, give more hugs, pat-more backs, grab more shoulders, chest-bump more. If this is not happening, someone has to start. Someone has to lead.

Finally, you must win! A team who wins is a back side slapping happy team. Though losing and failure can bring a team closer together, it's a lot more fun to be high-five, make up NBA style hand shakes, slap people in the back of the head, upper back, or gluooty, when you're kicking other teams butts.

PLEASE check out this hilarious clip as Michael Scott from the office being to implement this weeks MMM.

MICHAEL SCOTT'S BUTT SLAP THEORY

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

LEADING THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW....

Psalms 23:4 reads, "Even though I walk into the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

This is a bible scripture often used in sports and in life as encouraging words when facing adverse times. This scripture profiles the writings of King David around 979 BC, where he speaks of the comforts of God in the difficulties of life he faced.

Similar to the times of adversity King David faced, there are a handful of individuals who experience leadership in a way that many of us never will, or would never sign up for. These leaders and situations are called, "in extremis," or "at the point of death."

Today's MMM simply profiles the characteristics of in extremis Leaders. There is an entire chapter dedicated to in extremis leadership in a book I am currently reading, Leadership Lessons from West Point.

This chapter was particularly interesting because a lot of leadership characteristics and qualities we think important in our world fly right out the window when leading others in life or death situations. The book says, "Behind the veneer lies a rich array of insights about leadership, forged in the face of fear, and paid for with the blood of heroes."

In extremis leaders give us a picture of authentic leadership. Leadership stripped to it's core. Leadership found only when then highest stakes are at play. This is pure leadership. Understand the core of something and you can build on it. If you consider yourself a leader, developing this leadership core is a great place start, or start over.

In extremis Leadership defined: "Giving purpose, motivation, and direction to people when there is imminent physical danger and where followers believe that leader behavior will influence their physical well being or survival. Out comes in in extremis leadership mean more than mere success or failure, pride, or embarrassment. Outcomes are characterized in terms of hurt or healthy, dead or alive."

"I am a leader." How many times have you heard someone tell you this (especially if you have ever been in a position to interview someone for a job or position). The next time someone labels themselves "leader," my next question may be, "How many people have you lead in terms of hurt or healthy, dead or alive?"

After I read this chapter, my thoughts of the depth of myself as a leader, dropped off harder than a Vanilla Ice single.

The authors of this book learned about in extremis leadership by watching, living in, as well as conducting 120 in depth interviews of a range of leaders and followers who have participated in in exteremis situations. Through this research and experience the top characteristics of this type of leadership where revealed.

1 and 2. INHERENT MOTIVATION AND THE LEARNING ORIENTATION: In extremis situations are inherently motivating. The dangers that people face brings energy to the leader and the followers who are involved. The potential hostility means that leaders must be able to scan and learn their environment quickly, having confidence and competence to read the situation, make decisions under fire, and make them quickly.

3. SHARED RISK: Here is one of the characteristics I found to be much different than many leaders in the sports and/or corporate world. Shared risk means that the leader is willing to share the same risk, and even risk more than the followers. This is one of the most profound leadership characteristics any authentic leader must take on. This creates deep respect and admiration from followers. This is a "I'll go first leader." That is the way it should be. That is why you are called, "leader."

4. ELEMENTS OF COMMON LIFESTYLE: Another characteristic that is quite different from that of what common leadership is in extremis leaders do not focus on materialism and/or "what they look like." They instead, focus on values.

In their research they found that in extremis leaders earn an average but sufficient wage. The author made a great point stating "people who live and work in dangerous environments learn to love life. They seem to live in a world where value is only loosely attached to material wealth." Most of us as leaders in free world, have a hard time understanding this concept. Because our life is never really threatened, we tend to place less value on the important things in life and more on materialist crap.

In extremis
leaders seem to accept and embrace the lifestyle that is common to their followers. Think about it in your own experience. Is it easy to follow someone who looks completely different than you? Is it easy to follow someone whose expression of who they are (through their appearance to their material possessions) tips the other side of the scale from you? Or do you look for a leader who embraces the same values, lives like you, understands what is important to you, and is willing to do the same things as you do? Too many leaders think that leader means "better." Not so much.

5. COMPETENCE: No one wants to follow an incompetent leader into a place where they might get killed. There is absolutely no amount of positional or legal authority that is likely to command the respect or obedience in a setting where life is at stake.

Leaders in these extreme situations are placed in an incredible amount of pressure. They must see all the outcomes of the decisions that they make, and sometimes they have to make decisions where they know the outcomes will not be good.

This is truly the building block for trust in a relationship between the leader and their followers. The book says, "Organizations run by appointed leaders without legitimate competence can muddle through mundane events, but will predictably crumble when pushed in a crisis that poses genuine threat."

If you want to find out who the real leader is in your organization, take your group or team into your "valley of the shadow of death." See who has the competence to win the trust and heart of the team. I believe most of the people on the team will already know who it will be. The only person or person's who might be surprised about their new position are the "leaders" who sit in the corner office with the gold name plate and fancy title.

6. TRUST: Authenticity is the foundation, competence is the bricks, and trust is the house. The combination of authenticity and competence is what builds followers to trust their leaders, especially when it comes to life and death. There is nothing that is harder to gain and easier to lose than the trust of your followers. This is why in extremis leaders have to be the most authentic, trusted, and honest individuals that someone can find.

7. LOYALTY: Loyalty is eminent in in extremis leadership. And it is also a two way street. In extremis leaders see it as their absolute duty to take care of their followers. They put the men first, the mission second, and themselves third. Because of their loyalty to their men, they gain the same type of loyalty back.

Once again, this is not common in "leadership" in our world. Coaches and executives might do well in looking at their loyalty towards their team or employees. When they truly see how much they do or do not care about the well-being of their followers, they will then understand the degree of loyalty or dis-loyalty towards them.

The section in this book ends with a great statement. It says, "As leaders, our most enduring legacy exists in people we have led. We can build corporations, we can make loads of money, we can write books, we can name buildings after ourselves. In the end, for leaders, the only lasting effect is in the people we develop by giving them motivation, direction, and purpose. Competence, trust, and loyalty are all key in establishing the legacy of any leader, regardless of the nature of their organization."

This Week:

LEAD...LEAD BECAUSE YOU CARE ABOUT THE PEOPLE YOU'RE LEADING....LEAD BECAUSE IT'S BIGGER THAN YOU...LEAD BECAUSE PEOPLE NEED HELP....LEAD BECAUSE PEOPLE NEED TO BE INSPIRED...LEAD BECAUSE SOMEONE NEEDS YOU TO WALK WITH THEM IN THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH...LEAD BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE WILL NOT...BUT IF YOU DO LEAD, LEAD BOLDLY, AUTHENTICALLY, AND CHARISMATICALLY, AND IN FRONT.

Have a Great Week!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

THE MAN WHO TALKED TO HIMSELF

This is by far the most difficult MMM I have written to this date. I have been putting it off for weeks, because of the difficulty I knew I would have writing it. But as I learned this weekend in a random audio lesson, when your mind gives you resistance (tells you to put something off, or not to do something), the best thing you can do is the exact opposite.

I have been telling myself, "I'll write this later," or "I don't need to write about this." It is resistance. And, on this subject, I decided not to listen to it anymore.

This story about "The Man Who Talked to Himself." It's true story. It's a story that I hope will help you appreciate, embrace, and cherish the differences in others around you. I also hope will motivate you to change your perspective on the preciousness of life and understand the importance taking the initiative to develop friendships with those around you.

THE MAN WHO TALKED TO HIMSELF

"Let's go. You can do this. Come On. One more set."
This motivational talk was not coming from the personal trainer positioned above Mr. Lee Strickland preparing to spot him on a dumbbell chest press. It came from the client. Mr. Lee Strickland, with his eyes down and shoulders rolled forward continued to motivate himself, out loud, with enough volume as if he was trying to pump someone up across the room.

His trainer was looking at me through the mirror, with a smile that says, "It's just his thing," I'm smiling back at him with a smile that says, "this dude is weird."

And it wasn't just me, or his trainer that Mr. Lee Strickland would catch the attention of. It was the young lady I was training at the time. A college student who, every time Mr. Lee Strickland would start self encouraging, would look at me and try to hold in her laughter.

We would poke fun of Lee. Asking, "Is this guy really talking to himself?" It happened on multiple occasions. When you are the only adult training in the room with a bunch of teenagers, and just happen to be motivating yourself out loud, it was more than one time I got the question, "Is this guy serious?"

And yes, Mr. Lee Strickland was serious. He was a man who was very hard on himself. Like many type A personalities, he worried about things that probably didn't matter too much. But he took many things seriously and was a contributor in all of them. From being and avid exerciser to a Sunday school teacher, to serving on multiple community boards, to his professional accomplishments as an engineer, as a die hard fan of the Florida Gators, and as a husband and father, Mr. Lee Strickland was serious about whatever he did in his life.

I knew Mr. Lee Strickland for years. Or, at least, he worked out next to my clients and I for years. I just thought he was a weird dude who did too much bench press. It wasn't until about one year ago that I began to get to know Mr. Lee Strickland, and over that year I felt I got to know a great person, a great husband and father, and I always looked forward to seeing him come in. Always walking in like the gym was the last place he wanted to be, tired, just getting off of work, but always got it done. My greatest regret is that I let Mr. Lee Strickland's differences stop me from getting to know him sooner.

Lee and I began our first conversations about the Florida Gators. I have become what I like to call, "an adopted Gator fan." Simply, because a lot of kids I train have went on to play there. My friend Hunter would say it's because I am nothing but a "front runner." I can't help it the Gators have won multiple championships in multiple sports since I was adopted.

Mr. Lee Strickland was a UF graduate who loved the Florida Gators and Gator football. I would say that the majority of our conversations centered around the Gators, especially the football team.

For a year, a couple times a week, Mr. Lee Strickland would train in our facility while all of us would engage in conversations about football, the Gators, and argue pointlessly about sporting events and other random subjects. Mr. Lee Strickland's sarcasm and funny comments made my afternoon many times as he would say things to his trainer trying to get out of another set or more weight. He was funny as hell. But when it came down it, he was back at it, pumping himself up, out loud, for everyone to here. He was completely focused on the task ahead of him, "You can do it." "One more set." "Come on Lee, nothing to it."

On January 11th, Mr. Lee Strickland made a phone call into his trainer saying he would not be able to make his training session on the following day because of a meeting that just came up. A meeting he had to travel for. This "just came up" meeting had an unfortunate destination. A destination that we, to this day, continue to watch the devastation unfold. Haiti.

January 12th, 2010. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hits Haiti and destroys the infrastructure of the country. I saw on my Facebook page that my friend and Mr. Lee Strickland's trainer posted:

"Please add my dear friend and client Lee Strickland to your thoughts and prayers. Lee checked into this hotel on the afternoon of the quake and is yet to be heard from."

"What, Lee...." I thought as I scrambled to grab my phone to get a hold of his trainer to see what was going on. And yes, it was true. Lee had not been heard from. Mr. Lee Strickland had checked into the Hotel Montana (pictured above) and just spoken with his wife at 4:45 pm. He was on his his way back to his hotel room. Eight minutes later, at 4:53pm, the earthquake struck and Lee was never heard from again.

Thirty four days later, it was finally confirmed. Mr. Lee Strickland was found in the rubble of the Hotel Montana. Through this time, I followed his Facebook page and the Hotel Montana Facebook page spoke to both of the trainers who worked with him often, and did my best to pray for the comfort of his beautiful family, his wife, and eleven year old daughter.

During this time, I reflected a lot on what I learned from Mr. Lee Strickland and just how much I enjoyed that year I got to know him a little better.

Mr. Lee Strickland was different, at first, kind of weird to everyone, but it was his differences that I really began to enjoy. I really looked forward to seeing him 1 or 2 afternoon's a week. He was always pleasant, funny, and made me laugh.

This time of reflection has helped to me realize it is our idiosyncrasies, that make us masterpieces of God's work. And, no matter who you are or what you do, you are an unbelievable gift.

I sit here and think about his daughter and his wife. I am blessed to have three beautiful women in my life, my wife and my two little girls. I cannot imagine leaving them without me. I cannot imagine if my little girls were at the comprehending age of eleven and the pain, the confusion, the heart-ache, the hopelessness, that they would experience in the event of losing their daddy. It pains and saddens my heart to end just thinking about it.

Please take a moment today and pray for my friend Mr. Lee Strickland's family.

I hope this story, "The Man Who Talked to Himself," helps motivate you too..

Embrace others differences. No matter who are what they are (looks, color, religion, quirks, idiosyncrasies, etc.). Make them feel as if there differences are gifts, not curses or annoyances. There is probably someone you interact with every day who you have purposefully chosen not to get to know. Either because you are too busy, just do not care too, or worst of all and what has been my biggest problem too prideful. This is a mistake my friends. I want to encourage you to go to that person this week, get to know them, ask them and become interested in their differences, and make a new friend.

At this point, it may have been easier not to know Mr. Lee Strickland,
"The Man Who Talked To Himself." This pain of losing someone I truly enjoyed getting to know is difficult. However, I would not trade this pain for a second of my time interacting with Mr. Lee Strickland. Our times of laughing, him and I backing the Gators while we were getting bombarded by Gator haters, listening to Garrett tell him why he needs to stop just doing bench press because his shoulders were going to collapse forward, seeing him and Josh get through a Friday afternoon workout, and of course always enjoying his motivational speeches to himself.

I believe Jesus Christ summed it up when a Sadducee, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him saying, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law." Jesus replied, "You shall love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments, hang all the Law and the Prophets."

Loving your neighbor as yourself is all about embracing differences and taking the initiative in getting to know who they are, cherishing them; becoming their friend. The success of your life will never be measured by how much money or professional gain you've made for yourself. Rather, life's greatest measure of success is determined by the number and quality of great friendships you have.

May God bless, watch over, and continue to comfort the Strickland family.

MR. LEE STRICKLAND'S FUNERAL NOTICE

Monday, February 22, 2010

ME, TIGER, CHAZ, AND YOU

I wrote an article a couple months ago called Me, Tiger, and Peach Cobbler. The point of the article was to profile Tigers work ethic and explain the theory that talent is created by the diligent, focused, and hard work put into a particular sport or skill.

Well a lot has happened since that article. If you would have told me a month ago that Tiger would have been sitting in a sex rehabilitation clinic next to Chaz Michael Michaels, I would had laughed and said that would be a great parody scene with a Will Ferrell return to Saturday Night Live.

Friday morning, Tiger Woods went in front of the world and apologized for his actions. I am one of those people who wants to believe that Tiger is sincere. I am one of those people finds it in my heart to believe in him again. Why? Because just like me....Tiger, Chaz, and You, we all have made mistakes when it comes to our temptations, Tiger, just like everything else he does, took it to another level.

Tiger was a victim. A victim of himself. Tiger mentioned that because he had worked so hard all his life he was entitled to these temptations. I do not believe this to be true. Tiger's fall from grace came because of two reasons a) his inability to know his personality and how it could crossover to everything in his life b) he did not see the need to put up barriers in his life because of that.

Tiger takes things to the next level. Tiger does this because of his ability to obsess, focus, and get done what he needs to get done. This is why he has been able to become the greatest golfer of all time. No one does what he does in practice or on the course. Tiger was the one who really brought fitness to golf. Tiger, in the golf world, is jacked (I've stood right next to him, that's why I say "in the golf world"). There's Tiger again, taking it to another level.

If Tiger did not have this ability to focus and obsess, he may not be as good. The only problem is that this personality trait sits on a dangerous fence. And if you fall off on the side of the fence, watch out!

The way you do things in the areas of your life that are important transfer over to everything else. It is kind of like a blue print you've created in your mind to get things done. The problem does not come from ambition, it comes from selfish ambition.

In Tiger's case, his selfish ambition led to taking relationships outside of his marriage to another level. Because Tiger failed to understand his personality, and what could happen if he voluntarily started something like this, it got out of control fast. He did not put up barriers that would protect is obsessive personality from the temptations of this world. By a barrier I mean, "I will not put myself in a situation where I am alone with a woman besides my wife," or "I will not travel anywhere without my wife and kids."

Ambition, hard-work, competitiveness, and the desire to be your best are all great qualities. It is what has made Tiger the greatest golfer of all time. I just wish he would have been able to sit down one day and make a commitment to some barrier rules for himself.

This morning I'd like to motivate you to think about the areas of your personality that could become lethal addictions, have already started moving in that direction, or are already there.

Remember additions are not something we have because we love the source. They are something we use to replace pain or hurt somewhere in our life. Addictions come from having an ever-increasing desire for something that has an ever decreasing ability to satisfy. So the more you become involved the more it takes hold of your life and in the mean time satisfy you less and less.


These usually start with a voluntary attempt to experience something that is desirable. But in the end they usually ends up as a compulsion. They grow stronger and stronger and eventually get out of control. I don't care who you are, you are not strong enough to control the grips of these types of addictions.

That is why the best thing to do is to first understand who you are, what your greatest temptations are, and stay the hell away from them! The worst advice you could get is to put yourself in those situation to make you stronger. NO! This is the only case where adversity does not work to build character. It's safe to say that Tiger is a mentally tough individual. Probably tougher than most of us. Obviously mental toughness is no match against self-centered desires.

The best advice I can give you comes from my friend Paul who says, "Whatever is true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things."

My desire is to help you find the greatness in your life. All the great qualities of success are going to help you get there, but your success insurance is your character. Erwin McManus says, "The shape of your character is the shape of your future."

Here is a interview of the great Chaz Michael Michaels. If this doesn't sum it up, I don't know what will:) Have a great week!


CHAZ MICHAEL MICHAELS INTERVIEW

Monday, February 15, 2010

THE TALENT MONSTER

I once saw a story of a young man who was not really the popular guy in school.

He was one of the worst basketball players (probably ever) and could not get the attention of a young lady he had a crush on because he's such a dweeb. (And before I get your email reply, Calathes; no...this is not me).

He then finds out that he is a generational werewolf. This at first seemed to be devastating blow to his already awful social life. However the side effect of being a werewolf is that he becomes a high flying, basketball playing machine. I don't think he actually missed a shot in the entire story, dunking on everyone, breaking the backboard, and hitting shots from all over the court.

The problem happens when this kid starts taking the werewolf on as his sole identity. He decides to be there werewolf 24/7, not just when the moon comes out. With this new arrogant persona he loses his friends, the girl that has always been there for him, and he creates him to be more of a side show annoyance than the popular athlete that he longed to be.

You may recognize this story from the popular 1985 movie "Teen Wolf," starring Michael J. Fox. But though this is a fictional story, I've seen plenty of real life "Teen Wolfs," in my day as an athlete and a coach.

Let's call them "Talent Monsters."

There is nothing wrong with talent, I am absolutely intrigued with people who have the God given ability to do things that none of us would ever dream of being able to do. Talent is a God given gift. Those who work hard to develop their talent have the capacity to do what they do at much higher levels then others around them.

But with every great gift their comes a curse....

Here's where the problem lies. Because our society has become obsessed with talent, we are starting this glorification process much too early. I cannot help but mention the 13 year old kid who verbally committed to playing quarterback at the University of Southern California. I have personally been involved with kids who have verbally committed to major Division I Universities before they could even get their drivers permit. I hope it works out for the kid, but you can best bet that his childhood years have been cut short.

And with all this comes a local celebrity status to a young developing mind. These pre-teen and teenage years are critical years in developing social skills such as teamwork, leadership, sacrifice, and other characteristics that makes them an upstanding citizen. This is also the age where these teens already think the world evolves around them. And when our society makes them believe it even more, this can create major problems.

We think that we are doing them a favor by praising them, throwing stuff at them, making them feel like they are celebrities, but then...

..the moon comes out one night and they turn into the "Talent Monster," eating up and destroying entire teams with their ego and self-satisfying desire to be the top of the food chain where ever they are. They seek to only help themselves, they expect others and even adults to come when they call. Their teammates are never good enough, and the Monster is happy to let them know just how bad he thinks they are. It is their world, and everyone else around is nothing but a step in their direction to feed this Monster that has been created by me and you.

But the writing on the wall shows what happens when the Talent Monster runs into the Silver Bullet.

This silver bullet comes in the form of adversity that they cannot deal with. And when they meet this silver bullet, all that glamorous life of a young sports star, does nothing to prepare them for it. This is how the Talent Monster is often destroyed. It's greatest opponent, it's greatest weakness is adversity.

But there is another way. The Monster must be tamed. When you tame the Monster you are still left with Talent. But you are left with Talent that is used for what it should be used for....others. In order get the most out of a talent you must...

1. Keep Talent Around Those Who Tell Them the Truth: I read a quote from a coach who said, "I never gave em' hell. I just told them the truth and they though it was hell." Talented people attract cling-on's and coat tail riders who love to tell them how great and wonderful they are. This gives them a false perception. The truth is, there are way more people who are willing to tell you everything you want to here, instead of telling you the truth.

2. Keep Talent Around Those Who Are Better Than Them At What They Do: One of the keys to humility is getting your butt kicked on a consistent basis. Especially if you are good and you know it. Most super-talents are not used to losing (or in other words: "getting their way). When they do lose, you can tell they do not handle it well. It's usually shown in a temper tantrum. Super-Talents, more than anyone else, need to learn the value of failing. They need to learn that failure is a part of success, that it is what builds character and perseverance to fight through difficult situations and times they are sure to eventually face.

3. Teach Talent Leadership: One of the best things that you can do is teach talented individuals how to be great leaders. Being a leader teaches them to be an outstanding teammate, one who sacrifices for the team, one who helps develop and help the players around them. A great leader is also the standard for work ethic. They set the standard for the toughness and the attitude of the team. They set the standard in the locker room. If the leaders soft, the team is soft. Most super-talents are given the leader role only because they are talented, and this is especially true at the high school, college level. Because of their talent, they are usually the most popular student, thus they are the leader. At this age you don't want to be on the outs with the popular guy. Teach them to be leaders.

4. Put Talent Around Great Role Models: One of the best things that can possibly happen to a young talent is to put them around people who they respect as great people and great role models. This usually comes in the form of a coach, trainer, or some other type of mentor that they have. These role models help these talents put things into perspective, through their example help them realize what's really important, and will be the first person to tell them if they are acting like a fool. Role models are great leaders themselves, they care first about the person, then the development of their talent. They understand the these talents are going to make stupid mistakes, probably over and over. They empathize with them, but are sure to instruct and tell them they did wrong. The greatest role models are like the greatest parents. The talents will be more worried about disappointing their role model in doing something stupid, then they will the consequences of the action itself.

Here is the clip that is probably would have had it's own Sport Center top 10 dedicated to it. This is Teen Wolf's first game as a Werewolf. You'll notice the patented behind the back move and his D Howard like dunks. He was legit:)

TEEN WOLF HIGHLIGHT REEL

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

HOW TO BECOME INDISPENSABLE

Three years ago I read this poem and it stuck with me as a great reminder how each of us are a dispensable asset. The poem is by Saxon N. White Kissinger and is called, There is No Indispensable Man;

"Sometime when you're feeling important;
Sometime when your ego's in bloom
Sometime when you take it for granted
You're the best qualified in the room,

Sometime when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul;

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that's remaining
Is a measure of how you will be missed.

You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop and you'll find that in no time
It looks quite the same as before.

The moral of this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There's no indispensable man."

This poem lead me to believe that no matter who you were, what you did, no matter how talented you were, or how hard you worked, you were replaceable, a dispensable asset.

This is true. There will always be someone coming up right behind you ready to take your position on your team, in your job, in your market, or in just about anything else.

But I have learned that this is thought process, a perspective without a full spectrum of understanding. Our dispensability is a truth in life we all must accept because eventually no one cares how good you are or what you've brought to the table.

We see it all the time in sports. Look at what the Green Bay Packers did to Brett Farve after all he had been to that organization and that community. Look at what the Philadelphia Eagles did to the heart and soul of their franchise over the past 10 years, Brian Dawkins.

As the world changes around us, we are continual victims of change and upgrade. It may not be fair, but it is true.....

....Unless you can make yourself indispensable.

I came across this sentence in a book, "But the truth is that the only way to make yourself indispensable is to make yourself dispensable."

I was a little confused by the paradox, so I continued to read on;"In other words, if you are able to continually empower others and help them develop so that they become capable of taking over your job, you will become so valuable to the organization that you become indispensable."

At this point I am thinking to myself, "This is telling me to help develop others enough so that they could take my job?? How does that work out?"

But as I began to apply this principle, I began to understand. That by doing this, by empowering others, by giving yourself to others, by developing others, by basically showing others that you care more about their well-being than even your own own, you will eventually become so important to your organization you could be considered indispensable.

!!!HOLD THAT THOUGHT!!!!!

Before I make this sound too easy, you need to know something.....

....Becoming indispensable does not mean that you will not get kicked out of your job. There are many teams and organizations out there who would rather control you than develop you. Be prepared that if you start to look like you are becoming indispensable you may strike fear in the hearts of your team or organization, and they may get rid of you.

Maybe now it is easier to see why most people will choose to become dispensable rather than making the choice to do the ladder. The product or indispensability does not really seem like something that is so great to sign up for. Let see...If I become indispensable I may, A) Train and develop someone to be so good that they take my job, and/or, B) I may get fired or kicked off my team.

This is when you must be able to see a little bit farther down the road than everyone else. Most people are blinded by the "what can I get right now," who can get more, who has more status, who is the most popular. They are very occupied and live their life based on what others think about them. This "drive" or "fear" of lack of crap accumulation puts blinders on them and they keep just smashing their heads into this great wall of "success."

There are a few reasons why people choose dispensability over indispensability:

1) It is the path of least resistance: And if you know anything about the 80/20 principle, you know that this is dominated by 80% of the people around you anywhere you go in anything they do.

2) It is safe: Not many people want to put their own job in jeopardy. No one wants to to be persecuted for trying to make others around them better right??

2) Lack of Self-Worth: Many people do not believe that they have that much to offer or what they have to offer is anything special or good.

4) They're Happy Being Part of the Crowd: Most people settle for just doing their job and being a part of the crowd. They don't ever take a stand, try to change anything, and have no passion for helping develop other people. As long as they have a spot or a job, they don't want to do anything to ruffle the feathers.

So what's so great about becoming indispensable?

1) You are in the purest form, A Leader: All great leaders are indispensable. Because when you have decided to develop others and become a change agent, you create passionate, and loyal followers. And if you go, your loyal followers are not sitting around making a pro's and con's list rather to go with you or not. They just say, "lets go."

2) You Own the Greatest Assets: That asset is your relationships. The greatest asset that you can acquire is not skills or material gain, the greatest asset you can acquire is people who are loyal to you, people who believe in you, and people that will do anything for you. You can only acquire that through giving yourself to someone else, by showing them that they come first.

3) You Live Your Life without Fear: Churchill said, "Courage, is the first of all human qualities, because it is the quality which guarantees all the others." When you are able to understand and apply the paradox of dispensability ("But the truth is that the only way to make yourself indispensable is to make yourself dispensable."), you have the capacity live on a different level. You live your life without fear because while everyone else if fighting for status, promotions, and trying to convince people to like them, you could care less about any of those things. All you care about is getting better at who you are everyday, and helping others to do the same. I always say, "The absolute greatest day of your life is the day you do not care what anyone thinks about you."


I was watching a show on the NBA channel about New Orleans Hornets rookie point guard, Darin Collison. As a first round draft pick he wants to be out on the floor. Unfortunately for him, he's behind one of the best players in the league, Chris Paul. But though he has had to wait his turn, he has been blessed to have not just a bigger than life superstar, but a humble leader like Paul in front of him. He explained how Paul has taken him under his wing and showed him how to do things and how to handle himself on and off the court. Chris Paul has become a developer of this young talent. In his interview, Collison simply put it, "That's why he is who he is." This rookie looked at Chris Paul's greatness not because of his super talent, but because of his willingness to give to him. Chris Paul may get traded or kicked off of his team one day. But because Paul has decided to become bigger than a NBA superstar. Because he's decided to be a humble leader, an empowerer, a developer of others. No matter what happens, if he continues to lead and develop others, Chris Paul will always be indispensable.

Who can you choose to start your path to indispensability? Start today.