Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What Do You Want?

Ten years ago, Liane and I were sitting in Coffee Bean enjoying a beautiful Saturday in Santa Barbara, when she decided to ruin the day by asking about our future. Don't women understand that men don't care about the future? We only want to watch our favorite football teams on t.v., drink our favorite beer (actually, any beer will do), and let our facial hair grow to a disgusting length.

She asked me what I wanted, and what I saw for us for in 5 years. We decided (yeah... you're right - SHE decided) that we would write what we wanted on a napkin, and then read them to each other. She was literally finished in 10 minutes, while I took my sweet little time. By, "sweet little time," I mean over an hour! I couldn't commit to writing a single thing on that stupid, little brown napkin. I hated that napkin!!


Why was it so difficult for me to answer the question, "what do I want?" What was I afraid of? Was I even afraid? What was holding me back? Come to find out, I was in the majority when it came to answering this simple question. Why do so many of us stumble when attempting to visualize our future wants and needs? 

When we do finally come up with an answer, why is it often so safe and predictable? Here's an example from a past session I had with a man who wanted to start his own business: After talking with him for 15 minutes, I asked him to answer the dreaded question, "What do you want from your business, and how much do you want to make in the first year?" I was simply trying to gauge his mindset and attitude towards, not only his business, but of himself. He listed a few basic wants for his potential clients, but when it came to his yearly income, I almost fell out of my chair... remember, he could make whatever he wanted - there wasn't a ceiling on his potential. He said he wished to make $65,000 the first year. WHAT??? I gave him the green light to make any amount, and he only chose $65,000? Now, many of you may argue that's a good first year for a new business, and is probably more than he was currently making, which is a valid argument, but...


Why did he choose such a small number when he didn't have any restrictions on his answer? He told me he wanted to be "realistic..." There's that freakin' word again. Let me translate what he really meant when he said realistic:

"I was scared out of my mind to reach for a higher salary, in case I failed and didn't get my business off the ground. I didn't want others to laugh at me for wanting to make hundreds of thousands, or god-forbid... millions. What if I would've said I wanted to make $3 million my first year? Everyone would think I was crazy, and setting unrealistic goals for myself! I'm too afraid of stepping out of my comfortable, safe zone, so I'll give you a small salary for the first year and see what happens." 

After weeks of careful coaxing, I got him to agree to "want" $165,000 in his first year. He made $159,000!!! Great Job, Jason.

Think bigger, believe bigger, EXPECT bigger!

*On a side note: I did finish my wants ten yrs. ago, and have reached 8-10 goals! That "stupid brown napkin" is taped to my wall.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Death By Inches

Yesterday on sports talk radio, a former NFL quarterback was describing how the New England Patriots have consistently dominated their opponents the last few years. He said they've concentrated on "Death by inches," meaning they move the ball down the field and pressure teams one inch at a time. The Patriots have been the most successful NFL team over the last 8 years, primarily due to this concept... they keep it simple, and believe that patience will eventually break down their opponents. 

This way of thinking will work in every part of our lives:

In business, it should be about one client at a time - making him happy now, focusing on meeting his needs at this moment, which will create a strong relationship in the future. When we're taking important exams in the classroom, we should be mentally locked on answering this question, and only this question, rather than getting wrapped up in the entire test. In sports, our concentration should always be on this point, shot, pass, etc., and staying in the present at all times. There isn't a past or future... only right now!

The Patriots have mastered slow and steady... Death By Inches consistently wins the race. Those who would rather be the hare will have their exhilarating moments, but will never feel the regular success the tortoise experiences.  

     "The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."  

                                                          -Chinese Proverb

Thursday, June 25, 2009

To Specialize Or Not To Specialize?

For every Agassi, Jordan, and Woods, there are millions of kids who never make it to the professional level. For as many college scholarships that are given each year, there are hundreds of thousands who never receive that offer. My question, therefore, is when do we have our kids / athletes specialize in one sport, rather than continuing with the others? 

I recently had a conversation with a mom of an 11 year old, who was emphatic  that her boy was going to play soccer, and ONLY soccer because she believed, "he had enough talent to get a college scholarship, and eventually turn pro..." AT 11 YEARS OLD, SHE KNOWS THIS???

I understand both sides of the argument:  
  • It's important to play all kinds of sports, as it makes our kids well-rounded, but also can help improve their play in the others. Basketball, for example, is a great way to improve a tennis player's footwork, speed, and jumping ability. 
  • Specializing allows the athlete to have a single focus, rather than splitting his time in other skill sets. It also puts him in front of those college scouts more often, giving him a bigger edge over his competition who are also trying for scholarships. 
When I was competing as a kid, I played tennis and basketball, both good enough for college scholarships, but I couldn't imagine giving one up for the other. I went to Dos Pueblos H.S. instead of Santa Barbara because the SB tennis coach wanted me to quit basketball. Attending SB would've landed me on the best high school tennis team in Southern California, and would've placed me in front of many college scouts... but would it have been worth quitting a sport I loved?

When do we REALLY know that our athlete has the "it" factor, and how old is old enough to specialize? I constantly preach to my students to focus what you want, and attack it with maximum passion, but there must be a balancing act. At 11, his interests most likely will change, but if miss mommy thinks he has that special quality that separates him from the rest, is it o.k. to wear blinders?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Keep It To Yourself!

There are many ways to practice our mental toughness, other than on the playing field. Take today, for example: I'm sitting in Starbucks this afternoon on a break from teaching, relaxing from the heat, when I hear him, her, and another her. I notice, though, that they're alone. So why the heck are they so loud?! Ahhh... BLUETOOTH. I despise Bluetooth in public areas! It took every ounce of my mental and emotional control to stay calm, and not yank that small device out of their ears.

Why do people think I want to listen to their conversations? Does Joe Schmoe really think I care about his girl problems, and how he plans on punishing her for cheating on him? Does miss fake-tan college girl believe I enjoy listening to, "for sure... like omg... like no way... like Jason's sooo hot!" Then there's my favorite: 60 year old woman who's had every type of facial surgery possible, making yet ANOTHER appointment for Botox work and an eye lift! It wasn't only that she was loud that bothered me so much, but her voice was that New York, high, whiney type that can make dogs howl.

Bluetooth is great for the car... but please, please, please go back to the old school days where you'd actually put the phone up to your ear and talk at a mild volume. 

Oh, and don't even get me started on the loud cell phone talkers...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why Would You Ever Ignore Your Mental Game?


What separates Bryant and Marbury? It sure isn't athletic ability! They both can jump out of the building, run fast, and are phenomenal shooters. They're both ripped, and can dunk every way possible. Marbury used to be considered one of the best natural scorers in the NBA, yet he will never be talked about in the same sentence as Kobe! Hmmm...

How about Brady and McNabb? These are both great quarterbacks, with impressive statistics on paper. They both have strong arms and incredible accuracy (well... McNabb does during the regular season). What makes Brady one of the best of all time, where some say Donovan should be traded out of Philly?

These two players are very interesting to me... Blake brings insane athletic ability and power to every match, yet there always seems to be something missing. I regularly use these two as examples in my private lessons when comparing the "very good" athletes to the superstars. Blake's faster, stronger, has more power, jumps higher, but will NEVER have a chance against Federer in a Grand Slam. It must just be luck that separates the two...   


Other than Phil's man-boobs, his flabby arms, and his 49" waist, what's the biggest difference between these two guys? Seriously, Phil... you should be embarrassed! Many "experts" have actually said Mickelson may have the most natural talent on the PGA Tour, but when it comes to the number of tournament wins, he's not even close! Look closely at the pictures above... see any difference in their demeanor? 

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My First Father's Day Weekend!

Being a daddy "aint no easy job," but it's the best thing I've ever experienced (along with watching my beautiful bride, Liane walk down the aisle). It's also the toughest thing I've ever done physically, mentally, and emotionally... yet every morning I run into Logan's room to witness the most gorgeous smile ever created! 

Logan was born January 21, 2009, weighing 9 lbs, 4 ounces. After the tears of joy and phone calls to the family, my mind started to play tricks on me - it tried to take me to that place of PURE PANIC! Now that she was finally born, how in the heck was I possibly going to raise her? What do I do when she cries? How do I change diapers, and how often? How often?? Did I really think that?! How will I sleep? WHEN will I sleep? My brain went into crazy, scared overdrive.

The first night we brought her home, I got 20 minutes of sleep, and thought I was going to die. I just couldn't wrap my head around how this was going to be possible. "There must be a secret," I remember thinking. I called all my male friends who recently had babies to ask how they did it. Without exception, each of them said, "you just do." 

YOU JUST DO??? YOU JUST DO??? What kind of advice was that?! 

The process of learning to be a daddy has been a beautiful ride, and will only get better (until she brings her first boyfriend home- the shotgun is already loaded). I've competed under mass amounts of pressure in tennis, basketball, and golf... I've spoken in front of thousands of people in person, and on the radio... yet nothing compares to this Daddy thing. There hasn't ever been a bigger challenge in my life, but also has never been a larger reward. 

I love you, Logan. You are my hero, my angel, my teacher!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I was listening to my favorite sports talk show today, where they were talking about the crazed parents and coaches involved in youth sports nowadays. A heated debate erupted, with many callers weighing in with their opinions. I got upset listening to this particular show because being a coach myself, and now a brand new daddy, this subject hits me square in the face. Most parents and coaches are wonderful, but there are some who have lost their minds.

What's the big deal with teaching our kids that if you don't win every time, you should feel like a total loser, and shouldn't smile until you've won again? Who cares that coaches are grabbing our children by the jersey, and swearing at them on the way to the bench? What's the problem with parents fighting other parents from opposing teams? Isn't all about showing our kids what's really important? Of course it is... parents beating the crap out of each other because their child's team has somehow been cheated, is what we should be teaching! 

Listening to this show made me want to jump through my car radio... callers were actually saying they thought it was a travesty that so many parents are "going too far" with their competitiveness. What?? Too far?? No way! It's absolutely fine to grab your son after he loses a game, and yell at him in front of the other parents and kids. Doesn't little Johnny understand that he totally disgraced his family's name? What's so difficult about having a killer instinct at 7 years old? Don't forget Johnny... there's only 11 years left before you'll be offered a college scholarship! We expect you to be bench pressing 220 lbs. before you turn 9, and dunking a basketball by age 12. 

C'mon parents and coaches... anything less than perfection and an undefeated record is disgusting. Keep up the good work!

Monday, June 15, 2009

One Moment CAN Change Your Future!

I'll never forget Thursday night, somewhere between 7p-12a, 1989... I was listening to this crazy, flame-throwing d.j. on my local radio station, where out of nowhere I picked up the phone and asked him if there were any job openings. Maybe to most, this doesn't sound like that big of deal, but it couldn't be further out of my character. A radio disc jockey? Me?? I was as insecure and afraid of public speaking as they came, plus my future was already set: I was going to attend school somewhere, play professional tennis, and probably marry a beautiful blonde groupie (or at least date a bunch of them). 

The d.j., "Dynamite" Daaron Stone said he may have something for me, but I would have to call him back tomorrow night. The rest of Thursday night was spent in my room with a piece of crap recorder, cheap microphone, pretending I was a hotshot disc jockey. I remember catching myself looking in the mirror, with my eyebrows close together, trying to be super sexy while I talked into the microphone (did I just seriously admit that to you?!).

Friday night at exactly 7:00, I called "Dynomite" to ask about that job he might have for me. He acted a bit surprised, admitting that he didn't expect to hear back from me, but that I could come to the station right then if I wanted. 

I remember thinking, "What? Now? What am I thinking? I'm not a freakin' d.j., I'm a scared kid who hides his eyes from the teacher, in fear of getting called on!"

I don't remember how, but I managed to get my skinny little butt in the car and drive to the station, listening to Daaron on the radio the whole time. Again, this was so far from anything I'd ever done before, and actually felt as if I wasn't even in control. I was the guy who always played it safe, and who never did anything unless I knew I was going to be successful. I wasn't the, "let's take a chance of making a fool out of myself, in order to learn and grow" kind of guy. 

I finally reached the radio station, rang the buzzer that called studio he was in, and waited for him to answer. It was probably only 30 seconds before he came to the door, but if felt like 30 minutes. My hands were soaking wet, and freezing cold... so much so that he laughed when he shook my hand. Great, I just got laughed at, and I haven't even stepped in the station yet. How's my ego feeling right about now?

When we walked in the on-air studio, he told me to be quiet, as he popped open his microphone in the beginning of whatever song was playing and went into some caffeine-filled, disc jockey talk:

"97-5 KHTY. You're in the middle of 50 minutes nonstop jams. This is Dynamite Daaron Stone, and I'm outta here, outta beer, adios, I'm a toast, I'm a ghost, I'm a hot-rockin', flame-throwin' memory!" 
When he turned his microphone off, I asked why he just signed off- his shift wasn't over yet. He didn't answer me, but did tell me to wait in the studio while he went to the bathroom. He also told me that if he wasn't back when the song ended, I should put on his headphones, turn on the microphone, start the next song, and read what was written on his playlist. I didn't understand what he was asking me to do at first, but soon realized that if he wasn't back from bathroom in time , HE WANTED ME TO GO ON THE RADIO... LIVE!!! 

I stared intently at the clock that counted down from the beginning of the song to the end. It quickly went from 4:10 to 2:10, and still no Daaron. When the clock reached :59, I ran out in the hall and yelled for him. 

"Where in the hell are you? How long does it possibly take for one human being to pee?! You better get back in here... I'm not doing this... I'm not going to read anything."

I sprinted back in the studio, not knowing what I was going to do, as the clock hit :10 and counting. I was in a total panic, but when it hit :00, I quickly put on his headphones, turned on the microphone, hit the next song, and read the artist intro. The second I finished, he slammed open the studio door and yelled, "YOU'RE HIRED! YOU START TOMORROW MORNING!"

I didn't know it at the time, but that single moment changed my whole life, and began shaping my future. If it wasn't for that one, unexpected phone call to some strange disc jockey, I wouldn't be the person I am today. Most likely, I'd still be that scared little kid, afraid of his own shadow. Pay attention to those moments... you just never know. 

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The End To A Perfect Day

Thought I was done with the Logan day with daddy, but no.........

We had our special bath time, which went perfectly, put her in her favorite pink pj's, and got her to bed without any crying. I am such an incredible father. 

Errrrr... as I was patting myself on the back for such perfection, I REALIZED I FORGOT TO PUT HER DIAPER ON BEFORE PUTTING HER INTO HER PJ'S!!!!!

Nighty-night, sweetheart. Make sure you don't peeeeee.

Daddy With Baby Logan

Today I woke up at 5:45 to my 4 month old, Logan, crying for everything 4 month olds cry for. No problem... I'll excitedly get out of bed, jog to her room, and put her binky back in her mouth, and she'll be fine. Don't all first-time dads run to their baby's room with excitement at 5:45 am??

Hahaha- "That'll be the day, daddy!" I swear I heard her whisper (yes, MY 4 month old speaks). Logan spoke the truth: Not gonna be that easy! No worries... that's what first-time mommies are for  ;-). 

After a wonderful morning spent with my daughter, my wife, and our two cats, I suggested that Liane take an afternoon for herself. She deserves to do whatever she wants for as long as she wants (ok, maybe she suggested it- but I was GOING to). That means that Logan and I get to spend the whole afternoon with each other, by ourselves... no help from mommy... no help from mommy... CRAP, NO HELP FROM MOMMY! 

We began by taking a long walk to Longs for her teething tablets, which they were out of. No problem - Logan doesn't really need those little things that help her gums feel better while she's teething. She can do without for an afternoon. The soothing comfort she feels is probably all in her head anyway. As we walked home, she let me know that teething ISN'T fun... IS painful... and that we're NOT going to have a fun afternoon without those tablets. 

"Just breath, Dayne! In, out, in, out."

By the time we got home, she was fast asleep, so I decided there wasn't any possible way we were going inside the house (by the way, there's nothing more beautiful than watching your tiny baby sleeping- sooo gorgeous).  If we walk long enough, she won't know that her gums hurt, and that daddy failed to get the tablets that would help.

45 minutes later we arrived home, and on cue, she woke up. I immediately noticed she had this strange look on her face... her eyes were red, her brow was furrowed, and she was making this grunting noise. Oh noooooo, she hadn't pooped for two days! I think that streak was about to end. Then it happened: The loudest, stinkiest, explosion in the history of first-time-daddy-taking-care-of-baby. After a split second of panic, I got it together, put her on the changing table, opened her diaper... and almost passed out! It was everywhere - her legs, feet, hands, back, arms, my hands, the neighbor's hands. I actually think the explosion got all over a woman walking her dog on our sidewalk.

30 minutes later, and after a hosing down...

We were both calm again. Actually, I was always calm - I'm a mental giant. Believe me when I say there wasn't one millisecond of terror. Or don't believe me, your choice. 

10 seconds later...

SHE WAS STARVING, AND CRYING (NO, SCREAMING!). Again, not a problem. There's breast milk in the refrigerator. Oops, nope - it's in the freezer. That's ok, it'll just take a couple more minutes to warm up. Let me try to put into words how long those extra couple of minutes lasted while Logan was in one arm, and I was trying to heat the bottle: Panic, fear, sweat pouring, and shaking.  

What seemed like 5 hours later... she sucked that bottle down, and all was right in the world again! I'm such a cool customer - such a emotional wizard. Today was sooo easy. I can't believe mommy's complain of the difficulty. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fishing For Another Title!

With 4 seconds left in the game, and being 0-5 from the 3 point line, Derek Fisher found the courage and focus needed to sink a huge 3 point field goal to tie the game last night for the Lakers against the Magic. First of all, how did he summons the courage to even attempt the shot, after missing 5 in a row? Secondly, how did the ball possibly go in, after not being able to hit the side of a barn all night? Then, if that wasn't enough, he did it again in overtime to give L.A. the win. 

Let me repeat: He was 0-5 for the night from 3 point land! 

My intention isn't to brag about the Lakers (although it IS fun to laugh at the Laker-haters), but instead to bring up a debate I regularly have with my students: Which is a bigger factor in playing your best under intense pressure moments? Mechanics or mental toughness? I've always contested that I'd much rather have someone on my team who loves pressure, wants the ball in the last second, or loves serving for the match, even if his mechanics weren't the best. The opposite side of the coin is the beautiful looking player, who doesn't ever miss a shot in warm-up, but can't ever make that same shot under pressure. I believe, without question, that proper mechanics are important, but without the ability to take your game to the next level under pressure, they mean very little. 

Athletes often train backwards: They focus most of their attention on the mechanics of their sport, while spending very little time on their mental and emotional games. The brain controls everything in the body, so why would it be any different on the playing field? Your mechanics don't control your game under pressure... your MIND does. If your mind is strong, your mechanics will stay strong.  I'm not advocating the lack of mechanics, but without the love for the moment, and the need to "have the ball" in the last second,  your mechanics will only take you so far.

Fisher's stat line: 2-7 from 3 point territory... pretty horrible percentage, yeah? 

What size ring do you wear, Derek?!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Give Me More Pain

I love pain! Actually, the more the better. I don't mean the physical kind... that hurts too much, and takes too long to recover from, now that I'm old. I'm talking about the mental and emotional pain that comes from improving. I'm finally learning that pain equals growth, which is counter intuitive, but so important to taking our mental game to the next level.

I was teaching a high school senior today with his serve (we'll call him Aston), and noticed how his excitement for learning a new stroke quickly turned into frustration. He wanted to master this new serve right then. Even though he knew this was an impossible task, he still fell into the trap of wanting immediate results, which instinctively made him mad... he was in quite a bit of mental pain... and I loved it! I loved it because I knew that the result he was striving for would ultimately come from that pain. The aggravation he was feeling will never be the problem, it's how he chooses to react to that aggravation in the future that will determine his results. Will he continue to practice this new serve, even though it causes him so much pain, or will he give in to the trap, and go back to his comfort zone?


Wake Up

So, I'm laying in bed this morning listening to my text go off on my phone, one after another. The damn thing must've beeped at least 25 times. What's going on? Who needs to get in touch with me this early? I don't care who it is, they can wait... I have a 4 month old... I'm freakin' tired!

Whoever was texting obviously didn't care about my sleep issues- they wouldn't stop! I finally broke down, and checked my phone. You've got to be kidding me... 19 messages from friends and students, all who felt the need to make sure I woke up to a ribbing about starting a blog: 

"Make sure you start your morning with a fearful thought."

"Have a scared day."

"Play it safe, bro."

"Whatever you do, make it realistic!"

Thanks, guys and girls! I'm going back to sleep...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Be Unrealistic

What does "realistic" mean? Why does everyone tell us to be realistic? Realistic is whatever we say... not what others tell us it is. Realistic is just another way of saying safe, it creates fear, and eliminates risk-taking. Those who tell us to be realistic are afraid of dreaming big, thinking big, and becoming more than average. 

"You want to attend what college? Cmon, be realistic."
"You want to make how much money? Cmon, be realistic."
" You're going to start what kind of business? If it was a good idea, someone else would've thought of it first. Cmon, be realistic."

Crap, pure crap! 

Don't ever be realistic, be UNREALISTIC! Be that type of person who shocks others, who makes them think you're a fool for trying, who looks for the impossible... the unrealistic. I was recently working with a high school student of mine who was trying to convince me that being realistic is the way we should live, because it keeps us from failing, and from feeling the pain that's attached to failing. Ohhhhh baby, did we have words!!! Failing is the key to success. The more you fail, the closer you get to your desired outcome. How you handle failure is what will ultimately separate you from the pack. Do you quit, or do you look for another, better way to achieve your goal? 

She wanted me to believe that safety equals success, because playing it safe will make us risk the minimum, and guarantee our goal will be reached. As I wrote that last sentence, I vomited in my mouth just a little! That type of thinking drives me crazy because it ultimately leads to mediocrity. Our youth has been brought up to believe that risk taking is dangerous, and should be avoided as much as possible. "Be realistic..." "Have a backup plan..."  

NOOO! Be unrealistic, be a risk-taker, and don't make a backup plan. Have the guts to attempt what others will never attempt. 

Realistic?? What the hell does that mean?!