Tag Archives: communication

Communication, Confidence, Leadership, and Passion

26 Oct

9-27_sports_volleyball_julianawacklawski_14-792x5281This past weekend, I had the pleasure of watching a local volleyball standout, now playing for a successful, East coast DI program.

I actually saw her play for the first time as a high school senior – by accident.  I was at a match watching a few athletes I train, and she was a teammate of one of “my” athletes.  I quickly recognized that she was the best player on the floor and have followed her career since.

This young lady has obviously spent countless hours on the court, practicing her volleyball skills.  And, although she is clearly a very talented volleyball player, she has something more.  I recognized four “intangible” characteristics that set her – and, I believe all great athletes – apart from her teammates and competitors:


Great communicator.  Always talking with her teammates (and, occasionally, coaches) – positioning, strategy, encouragement.


Great aptitude for the game.  High volleyball IQ.  Has a “short memory” and doesn’t beat herself up when she makes mistakes.  Trusts her abilities and skills.


Along with communication, like having another coach on the floor.  Takes charge, provides guidance and direction to teammates.  Never comes off the court.


Obviously loves the game.  Plays with energy and enthusiasm.  Always hustles.  Never concedes a point or takes a play off.


Your thoughts?

Learn to Communicate Effectively

27 Jul

isOne of the most important aspects of my job involves communication.  Every day, I communicate — verbally and in writing — with customers (and prospective customers), colleagues, subordinates, and interns, among others.

At the risk of sounding somewhat critical and condescending, I am disappointed with the state of verbal and written communication.  I don’t want to get on my “soapbox” and rail against electronic communication and social media, but I do feel that interpersonal and professional communication have steadily deteriorated and eroded over the past few decades.

The ability to effectively, concisely, and compellingly articulate thoughts, feelings, and ideas to others is important for all of us.  Fortunately, effective communication is a skill that can be learned, developed, and improved.  People recognize the value of a truly effective and efficient communicator.

Here are some thoughts for improving your verbal and written communication:

  • Be organized.  This should be done before you attempt to communicate your thoughts.
  • Be focused.  Choose no more than 2-3 key points, and focus on those.
  • Be clear.  Set expectations, from the beginning, about what you want to communicate.
  • Stay on topic.  Don’t stray off course.
  • Be articulate.  Deliver your message clearly and unambiguously.
  • Enunciate clearly, when speaking.  Speak at an appropriate volume and enunciate key points.
  • Be attentive, when listening.  Effective communication is a two-way activity.  You can’t learn and understand when you’re talking.
  • Maintain eye contact, when communicating in-person.  Eye contact builds rapport and displays interest.
  • Practice.  Speak more, write more, and read (yes, read) more.
  • Educate yourself.  Build and develop familiarity, comfort, and expertise with your subject matter.
  • Model others.  Read, listen to, and emulate others you consider effective and compelling communicators.


Your thoughts?

How Playing Sports Prepares You for Life

11 Oct

DSCN0424I don’t want to suggest that playing sports is necessary to prepare you for, or succeed in, life.  But if you’re willing to absorb and learn from the life-lessons that participating in sports teaches us, you will realize that there are a lot of parallels between what you do — and learn — on the court or field, and what you do at home, school, work… and life.


Competition is a given in sports.  Athletes compete against other athletes, teams, and the clock.  You will be competing for the rest of your life, internally (with yourself) or externally (with others)… get used to it.  The competition may involve your grades, class rank, a position (or starting spot) on the team, a scholarship, a job interview, a promotion, or even a diet.  Developing a healthy attitude and perspective toward competition can make life’s challenges less overwhelming.


Even most individual sports, such as tennis, golf, and gymnastics, exist as teams.  Learning to function and succeed as part of a group is vital (unless you plan to spend your life in a cave, by yourself, in some remote part of the world).  Communication, collaboration, and delegation are skills that teachers, coaches, and employers value.  You don’t have to give up your identity or talents to work effectively as part of a group, but you may need to learn to compromise.

Winning With Grace

Sometimes you will win.  There’s nothing worse than seeing someone gloat after winning.  Humility demonstrates both class and respect for your competition.  My Dad used to tell me to act as if I had won before, and expected to win again (Fred was not big on victory celebrations; definitely a life lesson I passed along to my own children).

Losing With Dignity

Sometimes you will lose.  A sore loser is no better than an arrogant winner.  Sure, losing hurts, but nobody wants to see you pout or sulk, or hear you complain or make excuses.  Learn from, and be willing to use, past failures as stepping-stones to future successes.

Dealing With/Overcoming Adversity

In sports, as in life, there are times when you will have to “play from behind.”  It’s great when things go smoothly, but it’s not realistic to expect that things won’t sometimes take a turn for the worse.  Maybe you’ll have to deal with an injury.  Or maybe, for whatever reason, your team will have to play at less than full strength.  In those situations, you’ll need to learn to adapt if you want to succeed.  It’s imperative to keep working hard and maintain a positive attitude.

Challenges and Obstacles

Hard-throwing pitchers; strong, speedy running backs; basketball players that jump out of the gym.  When they’re on your team, it’s fun.  When they’re not, you and your teammates may have your work cut out for you.  In life, you will undoubtedly encounter obstacles, every day.  Sometimes, they will be minor nuisances, like bad weather or household appliance that need repair.  Other times (hopefully they will be few and far between), the magnitude of these challenges — for example, dealing with a family member’s serious illness — will test your resolve.

Value Of Practice/Preparation

If you want to be good at — succeed at — anything, you need to work at it.  No basketball player becomes a good ball-handler or free throw shooter without a lot of practice.  Same rules apply for life — school, work, parenthood, etc.  The more you dedicate yourself to practice and preparation, the better your odds of success.


Failure and rejection are part of life.  We all learn this at a relatively young age.  In sports, you will not win every time.  To borrow a card-playing analogy, you can’t allow yourself to fold every time you’re dealt a hand you don’t like.  Certainly there will be times to “cut your losses,” but character is built by dealing with less-than-ideal situations to the best of your ability, and making them as positive as they can be.


In sports, your responsibilities may include your studies (academic eligibility); practice and game schedule punctuality; uniform maintenance; game film study; and demonstrating leadership (team captain).  In life, responsibilities become magnified — mortgage payments, bills, and parenthood.  The sooner you learn to hold yourself accountable, and avoid making excuses and blaming others, the better-off you’ll be.

Respect For Others

You don’t necessarily have to like or agree with your competition (or maybe even your own coach or teammate).  Develop a healthy respect for others.  Respect your competition, but don’t fear them.  Respect your friends, teammates, and co-workers, but don’t worship them.  Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but don’t judge anyone.  You don’t deal with others’ issues, and they don’t deal with yours.  Be patient and tolerant.  Learn to live and let live.  Coexist.


Your thoughts?

Everyone Wants to Win, But Not Everyone Wants to Prepare

19 Nov

“Winning is not everything, but the effort to win is.” – Zig Ziglar

Winning is not an accident.  Neither, for that matter, is success.  Look at a winner and you see the surface, the “tip of the iceberg.”  What you don’t usually see is the effort that was responsible for, and contributed to, the end result.

Winning, at every level, is the result of preparation.  Work ethic, achievement drive, innovation, communication, and teamwork are essential components of the process.  Preparation is the key to success – winning – in sports, school, in business, and in life.  Success typically comes to those who are best prepared.

Physical Preparation is training the body for successful performance.  “Today’s preparation determines tomorrow’s achievement.” – Unknown

  • Sport-specific skill development – blocking and tackling (football); ball-handling and shooting (basketball); hitting and fielding (baseball); etc.
  • Strength and conditioning – improve performance by developing strength, speed, agility, and athleticism.
  • Nutrition – fuel your body for optimum performance.
  • Sleep – proper rest is essential to the recovery process.

Mental Preparation is training the mind for successful performance.  “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill

  • Goal setting – motivate yourself with realistic, challenging goals.
  • Visualization – use your imagination to train by creating a mental image of success.
  • Focus on execution and practice to eliminate distractions.
  • Have Confidence in your skills and prepare to cope with adversity.
  • Commit yourself to your game plan or strategy.


Your thoughts?

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