Monday, June 21, 2010


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 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!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


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.


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.