Look Inward

In Leave Better Than Found, I talk a little bit about goals and how I believe that people need to relieve themselves of setting a ton of goals each year. I am not completely opposed to goals and I do believe every person needs to have a direction of where they want to go- but I think it’s more important to have an understanding of WHO you want to be. What are the core values that make you who you are? Chances are, if you have strong core values and you commit to those values day in and day out- the results in your life (the outcomes) will take care of themselves.

So many people are so focused on achieving their long list of goals and whether they achieve them or not then determines their value as an individual (how they see themselves) and how they act towards other people. The person that they are changes whether they win or lose a game; whether they finish a deal or not. I can hear people arguing in their head right now, “Well, results matter” – believe me I totally get that. I am as competitive as any person around, but what I’m saying is who you are as an individual (what’s on the inside- your effort, your attitude, and how you treat others) can’t constantly be in eb and flow with your outside circumstances and results. If it does, you are going to constantly feel unsatisfied, unhappy, and never at peace. It’s important to be competitive, and feeling upset is a natural reaction, but a result shouldn’t define who you are- good or bad.

If you are looking for more in your life, it doesn’t start with setting bigger goals and focusing on results and outside circumstances, it starts with understanding who you are on the inside and striving to become the best version of you each and every day. This isn’t soft, and it’s not letting you or the people you lead off the hook- it’s actually holding them to a higher daily standard of accountability. When you only focus on your goals, it’s easy to take a few days off and let yourself off the hook, but when you focus on a daily standard- daily commitments- on becoming the best version of yourself each and every day you have the opportunity to take yourself to levels higher than any goal.

More Than a Fighter

Talented. Outspoken. Legend. Arrogant. Controversial.

I’ve heard all of these terms used to describe who most would agree is the best boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali. I never was able to witness Ali fight, but I’ve seen several clips of him in the ring, have read stories, and have seen quotes and phrases he used. I knew him as a boxer. Last week, before his death, I planned on going to his museum in his hometown of Louisville while on vacation. I wanted to learn more about his greatness in the ring, but ended up learning more about his life out of the ring.

Through many experiences as a child, Ali became an advocate for human equality. In his early years, he converted to the Islam faith despite being raised in a Christian household- it wasn’t a betrayal of his parents or a disrespect to Christianity, he simply found connection with that faith. Ali frequently pointed out that at the basis of all faith and religion is respect, love, and equality for humanity. He advocated for a world that didn’t see one religion, culture, or class as superior to another, but rather a world filled with people that respected each other’s differences and demonstrated compassion and love for one another. He was one of the first people to speak out against the 9/11 attacks on America and urged others to note that it was a radical group of Muslims who demonstrated this behavior, and that those people, like any radical group have no place in our world.

Ali was surrounded by controversy during his career and some of it was decisions he made based on his faith- while I’m not here to tell you to agree or disagree with his faith or any of his actions- I would urge you to look into the underlying messages of love, equality, and respect for humanity that he conveyed.

Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984. For anyone not familiar with the disease, it causes involuntary, debilitating movements. In the 32 years with the disease, Ali raised awareness, and helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for research and assistance for others with the disease. While Ali never spoke much of where his money was donated, many go on record talking about the numerous charitable acts that he participated in. It was always an intention of his to help others in need. A quote I saw in the museum that he used to lead his life was this, “If I don’t wake up tomorrow, would I be happy with how I lived today?” Pretty powerful question to ask yourself.

Always under scrutiny scrutinized and often criticized by the media, each move Ali made was printed in the local papers. He never shied away from that spotlight, in fact he strategically used his image as a platform to reach people who needed hope. While you could easily argue that he was over the top with his phrases, quotes, and remarks- one thing I came to respect was that regardless of how hard anyone tried, they couldn’t break his spirit or his confidence. Deep inside of him he knew what he believed to be true and always followed that intuition. In a world that can be full of criticism, animosity, and hate, it’s easy to succumb to what everyone else wants you to be. It’s easy to be taken off course and to have your spirit broken. Muhammad Ali not only remained convicted to his dreams, but gave hope, inspiration, and positively left a legacy for years to come. Despite being criticized, condemned, and looked down upon in many instances, his mind and spirit never wavered.

On the surface, Ali might have seemed arrogant, outspoken, and controversial.  When you dig a little deeper, however, you find out just how committed he was to the service of others. You realize how strong not only his physical body was, but also his mind and spirit as well. His legacy lives on today and will continue to live on for years to come. RIP.

Earned- Not Given

This a blurb written to athletes, but can easily be applied to any situation in our lives.

One of the most important things you can tell yourself is, “I’m not owed anything from anyone.” You don’t get anywhere in this world by believing that you are owed something. We must have a mindset to receive anything worthwhile, we must earn it.

Want to play more? Earn it!

Want your teammates to respect you? Earn it!

Want more responsibility within your role? Earn it!

Signing up to play on a team is great, showing up for practice is a step in the right direction, but signing up and showing up doesn’t mean you automatically will be granted special privileges from anyone. What you give is what you get. If you give lackluster effort, disrespect your teammates and pout when things don’t go your way- why should you play more? Why should your teammates respect you? Why would your coaches want to give you more responsibility? Why would they trust you with a bigger role?

Take ownership in your daily attitude and actions. Stop believing that you are owed something from someone. When you put your destiny in your own hands, rather than waiting for a coach, parent, or teammate to give you something, you have the opportunity to flourish and excel in any role.

“Fall in Love with the Process”

Everyone loves the end result. They love winning championships, receiving the accolades, or getting the big contract. Is it possible, however, to enjoy or love the work (the process) that precedes the end result? An often used phrase in sports is, “fall in love with the process.” I think so many coaches and leaders throw around these terms because they hear a successful pro athlete or coach toss the phrase out- but what does “fall in love with the process” actually mean and is it actually possible?

The process can be defined as the steps (work) that lead to an end result. A couple examples could include:

-The exercise and diet program (process) to lose 30 pounds (result)
-The 2-hour practices, film study, and weight room sessions (process) to win the championship (result)
-The 50 follow-up emails, calls, and meetings (process) to get the business deal (result)
-The late nights and early mornings of writing 1000 words a day (process) to publish a book (result)

Results are preceded with a commitment to the process. In that process, there are struggles, challenges, failures, and setbacks.

Some people will tell you that you’re not going to love the work that goes into the end result, but you have to crave the end result so badly that you’re willing to do anything to get there. That the commitments and challenge that goes into achieving a result isn’t something you look forward to, but you’ll do anything to get to that end result. I think this a fair statement and many people can and are successful with this way of thinking- but do we really have to go through life dreading the work just to get to a specific end point or destination? I don’t think so- I think we can fall in love with the process but that starts with the way we experience it.

Here are three ways to help you “fall in love with the process” to an end result or goal you have at the moment.

1.) Detach from fear. So many people fear challenges because they look at it as an opportunity to fail. They don’t want to look bad or be embarrassed, but when you detach from these worries and learn to embrace challenges as opportunities to grow and improve- the process becomes much more enjoyable.

2.) Practice gratitude. When we shift our perspective from “have to” to “get to” we begin to look at our work differently. We become grateful for things around us- that we are fortunate to be working toward something, to be a part of a team, and have resources around us to help us get to an end goal.

3.) Track your commitments. When you remind yourself of the daily commitments you are making, you have a visual reminder that each day you are moving forward- we all love seeing our progress (note- it has to be mindful, purposeful commitments- going through the motions does no one any good!).

Persistence

One of my favorite words in the English language is persistence. Most people have a natural bias towards believing that the top performers in any sport or the most successful people in their professions got there with a smooth, obstacle-free path. The truth of the matter is, however, that top performers in most cases got to where they are through persistence. They faced challenges, obstacles, and many times could’ve very easily given up on their dreams or chose a different direction, but in the face of their struggles, they chose to persist.

Nothing worthwhile in our lives comes without a degree of challenge and obstacle. You will experience defeat at different times in your life and you will likely fail in other times, but when you are faced with the choice to give in or keep going; keep going, be persistent. When you learn to persist in the face of your struggles you will undoubtedly come out better for having had them.

Instant Gratification

Humans are naturally wired to want things immediately. We want results without waiting and without struggle. I call this the urge to be instantly gratified. Regardless of what the dieting industry or any other company will tell you, there are no overnight successes. Things don’t just happen, and most things worthwhile don’t come without a certain degree of challenge, struggle, frustration, or disappointment. True success is found in our ability to delay gratification and remain committed to the process!

Intention

Our minds operate in two distinct spaces; unconscious and conscious or unaware and aware.

Our unconscious minds are extremely powerful. As humans, we are processing approximately 11 million bits of information at one time. Of that information, the unconscious mind is processing well over 99% of that information. Your unconscious mind is constantly at work and it is doing more than we could ever possibly imagine. It pulls information from your current environment, as well as previously held beliefs, emotions, and behaviors all on top of helping the body perform its basic survival needs.

Some of this information reaches our conscious mind, or our awareness. We don’t necessarily control what information reaches our conscious mind, but we do control what to do with that information. The conscious mind has the ability to be intentional. If we are not intentional, or don’t use the power of our conscious mind, we will essentially shift into auto-pilot mode, and think, speak, and act in accordance to previously held beliefs, habits, and behaviors that we have stored in our unconscious mind.

Do you revert back to what’s easy, comfortable, and what you have always done or do you live with intention and strive to be the best version of yourself? It’s a choice you make each day and will go a long way in determining the direction in which your life takes!

 

Beliefs

Albert Einstein, a famous scientist and philosopher once said this,

“I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’”

Basically, do you believe life is good or bad?

If you believe that life is hard, people are bad, and that you have bad luck, you will begin to advocate your energy to those beliefs. If you believe that life is full of opportunity, people are good, and that there is a message in our experiences, you will advocate your energy to those beliefs.

Your beliefs are not simply shaped at birth, but rather formed by your environment, your experiences, and interactions. Through time, many individuals have formed deep-rooted beliefs that they have little to no awareness of. Without even realizing it, they have been acting in accordance to or advocating their energy based on these beliefs which are often times in opposition to the person in which they would like to be.

To change your beliefs, you must first become aware of them through reflection. Then you must focus on changing them in alignment with the person you would like to become. Changing your beliefs starts with being intentional about the way in which you see the world you live in.

When you seek the good, you find the good.

Handling Criticism

All of us are critiqued at some point in our lives. Criticism can either anger us, inflict self-doubt, or it can be used as an opportunity for growth. Certain types of criticism can be extremely beneficial, other types are simply not worthy of our attention. Deciphering what is beneficial and what is not is vital in handling the critiques that we all receive.

Important things to consider when facing criticism or being critiqued are:

-How the criticism is being given and who it is coming from.

-Is it from an attacking, vicious vantage point or is there a good intention behind it?

-Is the person who is critiquing someone whom you respect or knowledgable on the matter?

-Is there a message you can take away from the criticism?

Handling any type of criticism is difficult, but when we as individuals have the ability to decipher constructive criticism and take it at face value, we open up more pathways for continued growth in all areas of our lives.

A Tribute to Roy Blood

I was introduced to Roy numerous years ago through a mutual friend at a high school basketball game. From what I was told, Roy was a great player who had a passion for the game. He and I shared that mutual love for the game, but a few years after I first met Roy our paths crossed due to something outside of basketball. I had my first extended conversation with Roy at Froedert Hospital in the waiting room of the Cancer Center. As we waited to be called back by the nurses to receive our chemotherapy, we talked about several topics. I learned immediately that he was a man of faith and conviction to his core values. Unfortunately, Roy passed away recently after a seven year battle with cancer at the age of 58.

There were many days throughout my treatment schedule that the waiting room was filled with negative energy and people who had given up hope, but Roy was never one of them. Every time he came for treatment he had a smile and was filled with generosity. While we had numerous conversations during my time in the hospital, Roy never forced his beliefs on me and never told me how to handle the situation I was in. What he modeled for me, however, was stronger than anything he could’ve advised me to do. Roy had an unwavering optimism despite the circumstances he was up against. While I didn’t know Roy to the extent of many others in his life, he had a positive influence on me in a time period of my life that could have been filled with pessimism and doubt.

A message I got from Roy was regardless of the circumstances you are facing, you can always smile, be generous, and have an optimistic outlook. Roy’s example is one that has value for all of us in any situation. He certainly left an impact on me as well as many others in his lifetime. Thanks Roy, rest in peace.