Monday, November 30, 2009

Hello... Who Is This?

I had an interesting phone call on my cell the other day, and wanted to share it with you. The call showed up on my phone as "restricted," meaning it wasn't anyone in my phone book... which means I don't answer. I sent it right to voice mail, but he didn't leave a message. Instead, he decided to call back immediately, I guess hoping I'd pick up this time. Nope! If you're not in my book, I don't answer. Once again, no voice mail. This just made it clear that it wasn't anyone I knew, because friends and clients will always leave a message.

Three minutes later, he called back AGAIN! This time I had to answer...

The guy on the other end of the phone was someone I've talked to many times, but haven't heard from in quite awhile. He isn't big on small talk, but rather loves to cut right to the facts. He said he had an offer for me that would be difficult to turn away from. When he told me what that offer was, I must admit, I almost took the deal... but decided that I couldn't. Unfortunately, that wasn't good enough for him. He asked again, but this time he sweetened the pot a little ~ he added something that he knew I loved, but also knew contradicted my specific choice of mindset. I thought about it again for a couple of minutes, but still couldn't give in. I wouldn't allow his offer to cloud what I knew what right, and what I worked so hard to improve.

I've only known this dude by his last name, maybe because he's never told me, but mostly because I've never asked. I call him Mr. Temptation. He's a scary old guy, because he comes in so many shapes and sizes. The day of this call, he was disguised as Sabotage... Self Sabotage, specifically. He wanted me to walk away from a specific personal challenge, in order to hide from some potential disaster he said may occur. He offered me a few really tempting "prizes" to make sure I wouldn't move forward, which he understood wholeheartedly would result in a stronger, braver me! He hates when we grow power, learn strength, and realize that those "potential disasters" are usually just a figment of our imagination.

When I declined his initial offer, he added a couple more beautiful, yet illusionary gifts~ gifts that looked sweet to the scared eye, but would always turn sour after the self sabotage was realized. Sorry, Mr. Temptation... not today! I wouldn't accept your offer, as I often did in the past. I will go forward, walk the scary path in the dark, and expect to succeed when I reach the other side of that path.

I won't sabotage myself, I won't agree to take your hand, and will never answer your phone call again!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Award Goes To...

At this time of thanks, I want to take a minute to recognize a couple women who deserve to have their wonderful blogs read... and read by lots! Of course, if you ask them, they'd both probably say awards aren't important to them ~ they just simply want to write. But they're human, which means they instinctively like to be liked, so... too bad girls... I'm giving you an award!!

I stumbled on Midnight Whisperer when I first started blogging, and instantly got hooked! Her writing is deep, sometimes dark, but always enlightening. It's incredibly emotional, reaching the core of her readers. She has a way of telling you everything about what's she's living through, but leaves you wondering and asking questions ~ not only about her, but also about yourself. She's a very talented writer, and you'll be mezmorized by what you read. Don't waste another second... go now... now, I say!

I also want to acknowledge Melody at This Is Me. I swear she HAS to be my twin, lost at birth, because she has a knack for talking about what I was just thinking. Everytime I read her posts, I wish I would've come up with such brilliance. I routinely tell her I was just going to write on that subject, but thank goodness I didn't, as I'd never be able to explain it better. She's also an excellent writer, making her words come to life, allowing her readers to "feel" her life as she does~ hence the title, This Is Me. She's incredible at explaining how beneficial self awareness can be, and the next level that can be attained. Go now... now!

I love these two wonderful blogs, and know you will too. Thank you both for always making me think, question, and read over and over!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Don't Be Fooled... Like I Was!

Very often, I'll have a conversation with a student that either touches a nerve, or simply makes me unable to think about anything else for a week. I was lucky enough to experience this last week.

Trying to explain to me why there wasn't any way she'd be able to win...

"The other girl is just way too talented. She was born like that!"

Is talent enough, or is there more to achieving? I've had this discussion/debate with many students and other coaches over the years, all of which come to a similar conclusion: "Who knows?"

I KNOW!! I know the answer, because I've lived it first hand.

I've listened to a countless number of "experts" talk on this topic, many of them saying that talent will always be the determining factor in one's success. To put it bluntly... BULLCRAP!!!! Most of these so-called experts haven't ever been in the trenches of competition, and never will, making it impossible for them to ever know this answer. They'll never understand what it feels like to either be such an underdog, that extreme hard work is the only way to overcome the odds... or conversely, be such a favorite, that you feel such hard work isn't necessary. I can talk on this subject with such confidence because I was the latter!

I'm the same age as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, two of the best tennis players of all time. When we were each 10 years old, I was easily as talented (if not more, actually) than both of them. My hand-eye coordination, athletic ability, and concentration levels were off the charts. I was hitting the ball over the net with my dad when I was 2 1/2 years old. To put that into context, look at your 3 year old son, daughter, or grandchild, and picture him doing that... not easy!

The public has always been in awe of the video of Agassi rallying with an adult on the tennis court when he was 7 or 8 years old. I was doing this at age 4! To say the least, the talent that I was born with was more than enough to launch me to the top of the tennis world~ easily, not even a question.

I say all of this, not to brag or seem arrogant... but instead, to prove to you that talent is only a tiny piece of the "success puzzle." There must be something else that we must include, on a daily basis: Blue collar, hard work! The kind of work that we wake up craving, and go to bed wishing we had more time to continue. This work ethic must come first over everything if we wish to get to that next level... that level that others are unwilling to "work" for. This level, with all my natural talent, was never going to be for me. Why? Because I wasn't willing to put in the time to reach that high. I wasn't willing to sacrifice my childhood, as Sampras and Agassi did, in order to become top 10 in the tennis world. This same sacrifice is what Agassi now blames for his incredible unhappiness growing up... but that's for another conversation.

Talent, alone will never take us to the top, whether that's athletic, business, or our personal challenges we face everyday. If we want to become the best, become the highest paid at work, or lose that extra weight, we must put in the time... EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Having that kind of commitment means we must love what we're doing, otherwise we won't continue when the pain comes... and you know the pain's coming! If we have a passion for what we're doing, we'll be willing to put in the extra time necessary to reach the levels we strive for.

Yep, I was born with an incredible amount of natural talent... but the passion needed to make that talent shine wasn't there (sorry, dad -- I know you wished I had that love). If you're the most talented at what you do, work harder than the next guy. If you're that "next guy," without the natural talent, make sure you're grinding harder and longer than the one with that talent... because if you do, you'll go farther -- guaran-freakin-teed!

Let me finish with the most obvious example I can come up with:

Look at Tiger's body compared to Phil's. Are you kidding me??!! Phil was actually thought of to be more naturally talented than tiger growing up. There were stories about Mickelson, and the unimaginable things he could do with the golf ball... but as you can see, he isn't willing to put in the same hard work as tiger, resulting in what some would say, an underachieved career.

Who would you rather be?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's That-A-Way

"I learned to walk towards the good, rather than away from the bad."

-Andre Agassi
(Talking about his escape from Crystal Meth.)

Very often, we attempt to quit something by focusing on "stopping" what we're doing, instead of concentrating on the future replacement. It's instinct to think we must "try to lose weight," or "stop smoking," rather than saying "I want to become healthier..." When we focus our minds on what we don't want, we make ourselves think more about what we don't want... perpetuating the negative cycle. What do we want?

Agassi has recently admitted to being incredibly unhappy throughout most of his life, resulting in drug use and divorce. When asked how he overcame this Meth. habit, he said it was all about focusing on what he wanted, rather than the things that were making him unhappy. He eventually learned to "walk towards something," rather than fighting the negatives that were making him miserable.

How often do we concentrate on all the things we don't want or don't have, instead of those goals we need? Again, it's totally natural and instinctive to try and change what's holding us back... but we must begin to look at what we want, and make that our 100% focus. I'm as guilty as anyone, when it comes to allowing the negative to creep into my life, but I'm improving every day.

Are you?

If not, will you?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Denial... Living Strong!

Dear Friend (you know who you are):

Denial is a blinder. Yes, A blinder ~ singular. It makes you feel like you're seeing it all, yet in actuality, you're only seeing a tiny piece through the cracks in your fingers. Take both hands away from your face, open your eyes, and see what you're missing...

Because you're missing a lot!!



Friday, November 13, 2009

Courage... Got Any?

"Those who don't have the courage will always find a way to justify that fact..."


Who are we? Do we make excuses for why we won't try something new, or go on a limb to experiment with that thing 'they' say is impossible? Are we hiding behind the wall of fear, claiming "lack of knowledge?" The latter used to me ~ it actually brings a smile to my face whenever I think of how many times I used that excuse...

"I can't do that. I don't have enough experience to succeed, or know enough to make it happen."


Do we want change, but crawl under that blanket of self doubt? You know the one ~ it soooo soft and cuddly... so comfortable, isn't it? It looks likes our baby's blankie, but we know how ADULT it really is!

Do we long for new, yet look in the mirror and wish we weren't "stuck" in the present? Stuck is in quotes because I believe that word is an illusion, masking our potential. We justify why not all day to friends and family, but when we're alone, we know the truth... we know what we're lacking.

How about no more justifying?! Why not now? My mentor preached daily:

"If not you, then who? If not now, then when?"

So true! When are we going to stop living in fear and making excuses for what we truly desire? When are we going to become courageous enough to take that next step, whatever that means for us at this moment? It doesn't have to be an earth shattering step... it just has to be forward, and with maximum courage (or at least more than we had yesterday).

What are our kids going to say about us when we're gone? What are we going to teach them while we're still here? They'll take our lead, stepping where and how we step. They'll be staring directly in our eyes, looking for that strength they long for, hoping we can give it to them!

Courage... you got any?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Strong Enough Incentives?

I was talking with John, a new student of mine, when he told me he wanted to make some changes in his life. He said he wanted to start a new business, and get in better shape at the same time.

"Sounds great," I thought. "Now answer me this... why? What's your incentive? What's your driving force behind these potential life changes?"

His answer left me speechless:

"Ummm... I don't know."

John's in big trouble, and quite honestly, probably doesn't have a chance to reach his goals. His incentive to achieve is, well... not there.

We can do anything we want in life, but we must truly want, and have very strong incentives. If we have a strong driving force behind our wants, nothing can stop us when we hit those inevitable "walls" that we all run into. When our incentives are weak, or in John's case, nonexistent... we'll quit at the first sign of trouble.

Do we want to lose weight? Why? For our health? Or for others' ideas of what healthy looks like? If the latter is our answer, we most likely won't reach our personal goal. Our incentive must touch our core... must drive us emotionally and personally. It must be strong enough to keep pushing when negativity comes knockin'... and as we know ~ negativity will come knockin!'

Do we want to become more serious with that special someone? Is it time to finally commit? Why? Because our friends and family keep saying that if we don't go to that next level, we'll lose him/her? Or because we're truly in love, and want to take a deeper, more genuine step? Do we feel real trust and happiness for their future? Can we put our feelings on the line, risking rejection that's held us back in the past? Simply... do we want this bad enough?

What's your incentive? Does it drive your decisions, or are you settling for less... just because? Are you making decisions based only on "maybe," or you looking in the mirror and seeing true passion?

Friday, November 6, 2009

I See You, But You Don't Exist!

I'm in the midst of a huge battle within, and need your help.

My main enemy is Mr. Illusion. He keeps urging me... no, pleading with me... to hold on tight, to squeeze and not let go.

"If you allow yourself to let go of the tight grip you have on your life, you'll lose everything you've built," he shouts! "Don't let go. Squeeze those fists together. Don't let go."

This instinctively goes against what my brain, eyes and heart are telling me. I want more. I need more for happiness to continue growing, but this Illusion character is strong. He whispers fear in my ear daily... so much, that I find myself doubting why I want more.

("More" doesn't have to be anything physical or monetary. It simply means better).

I know that in order to give and receive, I must first open my fists. My palms must be clearly visible for all to see. The tension in my grip has to disappear, but more importantly, the tension that's vibrating through my family, due to this Illusion dude, must be released. I can't continue living in a state-of-squeeze, dammit!

When I think of allowing this strong grip over my life to fade away, I naturally feel the fear of all the "what-ifs" drawing near. I've grown accustom to holding on tight ~ it feels good to be in control. Mr. Illusion laughs! He knows there's no real control when I squeeze. Sure, I don't allow anything to leave, but I also don't let anything new to enter. That's not being in control... that's being controlled!

Hey, Illusion! It's you and me from now on. You won't win. You can't win. I see right through you... you don't exist!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mount Rushmore Of Inspiration...

If you were to rebuild Mount Rushmore, based on four people that have truly inspired you, who would they be? Who changed, or is still changing your life? Who knows the challenges you've been through, and the personal battles you've fought, and was there to help? Who's still lending their hand, seeing you through these times? Who's that special?

My Rushmore would look like this:

Liane and Logan
They inspire and teach me every day. I wouldn't be who I am without the love, support and tutelage of my gorgeous wife. She amazes me with her ability to always look through selfless lenses, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. She loves, trusts, and gives more than anyone I've ever met. My goal is to become more like her. Logan is, well... simply, my guardian angel. Her addition is a blessing beyond words. I never knew looking into my daughter's eyes would make me feel that miracles are for "realies."

Dad, stepmom, mom, stepdad
They've all inspired me in many different ways, and I have taken each of their strengths and tried to incorporate them in my life and the lives of those I teach. Their inspiration, very often goes unsaid, but is always there... and is very real. Thank you!

Rudy Ruettiger (#45)
Rudy was undersized, semi-athletic, and insanely courageous! Without any college coaches wanting him out of high school, he decided that he was going to play football at Notre Dame... one of the most prestigious programs of all time. After many, many failures and rejections, he finally made the team, was put in one game his senior year, and made a heroic play in front of thousands of screaming fans. His ability to never quit, when everyone ~ and I mean EVERYONE said he would never make the team, has been an inspiration to all who's known his story. If you haven't already, watch Rudy~ the movie made about his incredible life.

All my students, both past and present
As I've said many times before... I've learned as much, if not more, from you than you ever did from me. You are why I continue teaching, and why I strive to always improve as a person. You don't allow me to slack, and always remind me to stay discipline and focused. I've been incredibly blessed to have you all in my life, and look forward to watching your continued growth.

What's your Mount Rushmore Of Inspiration?