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Book Recommendation: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

21 May

If you have not yet heard of – or read – the book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth, I highly recommend it.

Grit is a must-read book for anyone striving to succeed – parents, students, educators, athletes, and businesspeople.  Ms. Duckworth shows readers that the “secret” to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

In the first part of the book (the first five chapters), Ms. Duckworth discusses what grit is and why it matters.

The second part of the book (chapters six through nine) reveals how to grow grit from the inside out – how we can develop grit.

The third, and final, part of the book (the last four chapters) focuses on how to grow grit from the outside in – how we can help (parent, coach, and teach) others to develop grit.

My favorite part of the book (and it’s all terrific) is chapter 3, which is titled, “Effort Counts Twice.”  In this chapter, the author discusses the relationship between talent and achievement, and why any effort we make ultimately counts twice toward our goal.

talent x effort = skill

skill x effort = achievement

It’s unlikely that talent, alone, can help people achieve success.  However, when we apply effort to talent, it can become skill.  Likewise, when effort is applied to skill, it can result in achievement – success.  I love this!

Also among Grit‘s valuable insights are:

  • How grit can be learned, regardless of IQ or circumstances
  • How lifelong interest is triggered
  • How much of optimal practice is suffering and how much is ecstasy
  • Which is better for our children – a warm embrace or high standards
  • The magic of the Hard Thing Rule

Grit is a book about what goes through our heads when we fall down, and how that – not talent or luck – makes all the difference.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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Slow Progress Is Better Than No Progress

14 May

We all have aspirations, dreams, and goals.  And sometimes it can be frustrating when our progress toward those goals moves more slowly than is consistent with our expectations.  How do you handle those situations?

As it relates to exercise, I occasionally have clients and friends tell me that they simply don’t have time to workout.  Given the choice between a short but effective workout and doing nothing, they would choose the latter.  If they can’t set aside 45-60 minutes for exercise, they’d rather not do it at all.  That kind of convoluted logic makes me crazy.

Ultimately, everything is a process — fitness, sports, school, work… life.  Slow and steady is the way to go.  In the long run, consistency wins the prize.

Quantum change usually does not reflect reality.  Incremental change, over time, can make winners of us all.

A while ago, I published a blog post titled, The One-Percent Rule.  The 1% rule is all about self-improvement.  It means you should try to be 1% better today than you were yesterday — in the gym, at practice, as a competitor, at work, at home, and in life.

Do something — anything — today that moves you closer toward one of your goals.  Don’t get caught up in how much or how little you are able to do.  If you’re willing to do something, you’re halfway there.

Keep moving forward.

Carpe diem!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Your Failures are Behind You — Move on

16 Apr

“What to do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.” – Dean Smith

At some point, we’ve all experienced failure.  None of us succeed at everything we do, all the time.

And one of the major obstacles to success — one of our biggest fears in life — is fear of failure. It’s the main reason that prevents us from realizing our full potential and achieving our goals. Fear of failure paralyzes us, limits us to our comfort zones, prevents us from moving forward in life, and hinders our chances of success.

Face it… defeat is a bitter pill.  There aren’t too many things that make us feel worse than facing failure. Failure often leaves us feeling bitter, miserable, and depressed.

It’s easy to see why most people are afraid of failing. We prefer to play it safe by remaining in our comfort zones and avoiding any risks. But playing it safe can also be detrimental. It takes us out of the game. When we choose to forgo potential opportunities and push ourselves into mediocrity, we restrict ourselves, preventing us from realizing our full potential.

Failure is a matter of perspective. We tend to think of failure as the opposite of success. But failures are actually the stepping-stones of success. Nothing worthwhile in life has ever been achieved without a series of failures.

We learn by trial and error.  Experience — the rewards and consequences of our actions — is the ultimate teacher, and our mistakes are a considerable part of that equation.

Successful people make mistakes… they fail.  But they don’t give up. Instead they stay the course. They overcome their fear of failure and are quick to learn from their mistakes.

There’s an endless list of examples of people who, despite facing defeat, did not give up on their dreams. They succeeded in overcoming their fear of failure.  Failure did not keep people like Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, and Abraham Lincoln from achieving their goals and becoming extraordinarily successful.

Overcoming our fear of failure is a necessary step toward the achievement of our goals. Successful people are not the most intelligent, most talented, or blessed.  They are just ordinary people who view failures as temporary setbacks on the road to success. They are successful because they have developed the ability and willingness to learn from their mistakes, move out of their comfort zones, and take calculated risks.

Don’t allow fear of failure to prevent you from working toward your goals. The “secret” to success is not avoiding failure, it’s having the persistence and perseverance to overcome failure, learn from your failures, and use that learning to improve yourself.

“Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.” – Mia Hamm

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Habits are Created at Practice

9 Apr

“Habits are created every day in practice, and they carry over to the game.” – Chuck Noll

Do you want to make the big play in the big game?  Ace the math exam?  Nail the business presentation?  Then you had better practice.

Even with lots of practice, there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed when the “test” is administered, but that’s where to place your chips.  Because, without purposeful practice, consistent achievement is out of your reach.

In order to excel on an exam, you need to attend class.  But that’s not enough.  You can’t just do classwork and disregard the need to do additional preparation in the form of homework.  It’s the homework that reinforces the knowledge, skills, and problem-solving techniques.

Sports work in much the same way.  Games are like exams, or tests, and your team’s practices are like the classes you attend.  But what if that was the only skills practice you got?  What if you never did any additional ball-handling or shooting drills away from your team’s practices.  That’s where the sport-specific skills “homework” comes in.  You just can’t build the kind of muscle memory that leads to success without lots and lots of technically correct repetitions.

Additionally, it’s important to make sure your practice is situational.  As much as possible, your preparation should reflect the same conditions and demands as your game, test, business presentation, etc.

“Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” – Unknown

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi

 Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Your Beliefs Can Limit You or Empower You

2 Apr

“Whether you believe you can, or you can’t, you are right.” – Henry Ford

We’ve all heard stories about people who accomplished or achieved great things just because they believed they could or didn’t realize they couldn’t.

What we don’t often hear about is the process — the path they traveled on the road to success.  Along the way, their journeys were invariably characterized by their work ethic, persistence, perseverance, and a strong belief in themselves.

What do you believe? Are you aware of how your beliefs are affecting your achievement and success?

Limiting beliefs can cause problems in every area of our lives.  These beliefs are rooted in self-doubt and the “I’m not good enough” mentality.  If you don’t feel good enough, you won’t apply yourself and do what it takes to excel.  You will settle for less than your are capable of and less than you deserve.

Negative self-talk reinforces limiting beliefs.  You may ask yourself, “What if I fail?”  Who cares if you fail?  Failure is a part of life.  Learn from it.  Try again.  Come back better, smarter, and stronger next time.  In any endeavor, failure is a stepping stone on the path to success.

Empowering beliefs keep you going when life throws you a curve ball.  These beliefs help you set powerful goals and stick to them, even when the going gets tough.  When you feel good about yourself — when you are at peace with you — you can focus on the process and know that the end result doesn’t necessarily define you.

Positive self-talk is a powerful tool.  It can inspire and motivate you.  It can help keep you going — working through adversity — when things aren’t going as well as you may like or expect.

Believe in you!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Challenge Yourself

19 Mar

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” – Unknown

What will you do differently today?  What’s your plan of action?  Will you purposefully try to improve upon yesterday, or just go through the motions?  What will you do to make you better?

Do something differently today or, chances are, it will be the same as yesterday.

Wake up 5 minutes earlier than usual.  Extend your day.

Add a few pounds to your usual weight, for each exercise you perform.

Do an additional repetition, for each set.

Reduce your rest interval, between sets, by a few seconds.

Try a new exercise or drill.

Run one more sprint at the end of your workout.

Do one more repetition of your agility drill.

Do another minute on the treadmill or elliptical.

Shoot one more layup. Or free-throw. Or jump shot.

Do one more set of ball-handling drills with your “off” hand.

Read something that will help you take a step toward your goal(s).

Consult with someone who has experience and expertise in an area in which you want to improve.

Go online and find an informational article, blog, or webinar.

Learn something new today.

And, when you wake up tomorrow, do it all again.

Carpe Diem!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Chase Your Dream

15 Jan

What’s your dream?

Dream BIG.

Aim high.

Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits.

Aspire.

Push yourself.

Make it happen.

Improve you.

Strive to be the best version of you.

Believe in you.

Carpe Diem.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Continue Learning, Continue Improving

2 Jan

“Drink deeply from good books…” – John Wooden

Recently,  I attended the Ohio State Strength Clinic, sponsored by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).  As you might expect, there were several educational and informational presentations delivered by some of the pioneers and leaders in the field of strength and conditioning. I learned a lot.

One of the presentations, Things They Don’t Teach You in School: What You Really Need to Know as a Strength Coach, included a slide about continuous learning that resonated with me.  I especially like it because it applies to everyone, regardless of the field in which one works, studies, etc.

Here are some of the key points:

  • Develop a deep and broad curiosity.  Strive to understand the “hows” and “whys,” and you’ll come away with a much greater sense of understanding.
  • Schedule time.  Don’t wait until you have time.  You need to make time for reading, studying, observing, and learning.
  • Study unrelated fields.  There are lots of parallels among and between school, sports, work, and life.  Be open-minded and you can apply some of those lessons to your situation.
  • Listen.  You can learn a lot more by listening than you can by talking.
  • Find a career coach, mentor, buddy.  Avoid the “I already know enough” trap.  Put aside your ego and learn from others with experience and expertise in your field.
  • Read, read, and read.  Enough said.
  • Put yourself in situations that force you to learn.  Enroll is a class, register for a webinar, or sign up for a workshop.  Commit to it and get it on your calendar.

“Knowledge is power,” according to Sir Francis Bacon.  Continuous learning leads to continuous improvement.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

A Visit from St. Nicholas

24 Dec

‘Twas the night before Christmas

When all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with  care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their  beds,

While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

And Mamma in her kerchief and I in my cap

Had just settled down for a long winter‘s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave a luster of midday to objects below.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick;

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came.

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by  name:

“Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!

On Comet! On Cupid! On Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall!

Now, dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane  fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the  sky,

So up to the housetop the coursers they flew

With a sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas,  too.

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his  foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his  pack.

His eyes how they twinkled! His dimples how  merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a  cherry.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin was as white as the  snow.

The stump of his pipe he held tight in his  teeth,

And the smoke, it encircled his head like a  wreath.

He had a broad face and a little round belly

That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of  jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of  myself.

A wink of the eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his  work,

And filled all the stockings, then turned with a  jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a  whistle,

And away they all flew, like a down of a  thistle.

But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of  sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good  night.”

— Clement Clarke Moore, December 1823

The “Next Big Thing” is Today

18 Dec

This morning, some of my basketball buddies and I were lamenting about the fact that another year has passed, and that 2017 was a “blur.”  You know… the “time flies” conversation.  We all have kids in various stages of school (and beyond) and, somewhere along the way, one of the guys remarked about how we all sometimes wish our lives away by yearning for the “next big thing.”  I’ve been thinking about that conversation all day.

Let me explain the “next big thing.”  When people address it, they often preface it by saying, “I can’t wait for (or to)…”  For a young child, it may be starting school.  For a teenager, it may be turning 16 and getting a driver’s license.  It may be turning 18 and becoming an “adult.”  It could be graduating from high school and heading off to college.  Or, perhaps, turning 21 and reaching (legal) drinking age.  Eventually, it may be graduating from college,  landing a “real” job, and joining the work force.  Toss in few more of life’s milestones like moving out of the home in which one grew up, getting married, starting a family, and retirement.

Even as parents, we look forward with eager anticipation to our children walking, talking, starting school, getting involved in sports and other activities, and lots of the same “accomplishments” mentioned above.

As an old (and hopefully wise) guy who has experienced most of the aforementioned milestones, here’s my advice: Don’t spend too much time wishing for the “next big thing” because the “next big thing” is today.  Everything that lies ahead will get here, whether you want it to or not.  And, believe me, it’s going to get here quickly.  Invest in today and make it as good and as much as it can be — for yourself and the people around you.  If you do that, you’ll find that most of the “tomorrows” will take care of themselves.

I’m not discouraging anyone from keeping an eye on tomorrow, and planning and preparing, accordingly… just not at the expense of today.

Focus on today.  Invest in today.  Make it great.  As soon as today becomes yesterday, it’s gone… lost to you forever.

Carpe Diem!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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