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Consistent Success

The worst part of becoming successful is developing consistency. This step is so painfully frustrating because in order to reach it you first have to work hard in many areas. You have put in a great deal of time and effort. You have to learn how to be humble enough to listen to the people trying to point you the right direction. You have to become wise enough to learn who to listen to and who to ignore. This is tougher than you think because we often only want to listen to those who tell us what we want to hear. You have to push yourself hard enough to discover and address weaknesses in your character. You have to work hard time and again to improve. You do all that and then, you get someone telling you it’s not enough. It’s like scaling a mountain only to find there is more mountain to scale above the clouds.
It’s a hard lesson to learn that anyone can succeed some of the time. Especially if you hang out with people who do not succeed very often. To people like that, a good game or a good test is satisfying enough. But anyone can have one good game, or really study for one test and get an “A.” Doing these things is important of course. Everyone needs a taste of success. But in order to be truly successful you have to win most of the games. You have to beat the toughest opponents. In order to get an “A” in the class you have get “A’s” on most of the tests.
Learning to succeed over and over again is what consistency is all about.
Developing consistency takes mental toughness. The toughness to stay focused on your goal over a long period of time. Especially after you first succeed and want to relax. The toughness to put the necessary work in towards your goal over and over again. The toughness to be patient when you encounter a set back. The toughness to not let anyone or anything get in your way of winning that next game, or doing well on that next test.
I would say, by definition most of us are average. We win big then we lose big. We do just enough to get by. If you want to be above average, if you want to be excellent, then it will take consistency. The better you want to be, the more consistent you must become ,as a person, as a team, and even as a community.

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Gratituders & Gripers

Over the past couple of weeks I have heard from former and current players and their parents. One way or another they expressed appreciation. I am fortunate to have coached a lot of kids who get it and whose parent’s get it.

But it made me think of those who have not been so lucky.

Gripes are public and gratitudes are private. I say this because I have seen many fine coaches dragged across hot coals or even permanently fall to the public gripe. These same coaches have received thank you’s from appreciative players and families on countless occasions. The overwheliming majority of those positive expressions happen quietly and discreetely. 

Whereas the gripers bring their complaints to an audience, the gratituders thank the coach directly. The gripes are filed and the gratitudes are never witnessed.

Remember that the next time someone tries to belittle or run off the coach.

One’s lack of understanding of where the true preponderance of evidence lies is a reflection of you…not the coach.

As a coach I have always been appreciative of those who were aware of this.

Consider sending your coach or your kid’s coach an email. It will be appreciated. Unfortunatley, these days it will also be of use the next time the boistorous griper meets the decision maker who is oblivious of how gratitude works.

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Becoming a Winner

The first moment when you see yourself becoming a winner comes when you are doing the right things so consistently that you begin to see where the competition is falling short. It is increasingly clear to you that others just won’t do what you’re willing to do. You watch as they let things break them and then justify it to themselves and others. You see them fall in traps you had the character to avoid. You quietly begin to pass more talented people by because they are just not tough enough to do the job right over and over again.  You have begun to master what very few bothered to take the time to learn. You watched and  listened and applied what you learned. You now know that when nobody gives you a chance, you can win anyway.  There is no gap between what you can do and what you will do. With that comes a certain peace that only the true winners know.

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Character & Mental Toughness – Blind Spots

One lesson we all learn when we first start driving is that there are blind spots.  The drivers education programs make new drivers aware that they really are not seeing everything when behind the wheel.   In short, there is more to see than you think.   You have to make the extra effort to check your blind spots before you make a move.  You have to make the extra effort in order to be aware of what is going on.  Fail to do so and the consequences can be grave for yourself and others.

People have blind spots too.

Weaknesses we fail to see in ourselves.

We must make an extra effort to find our blind spots in order to see areas we need to develop.   It helps if we have someone who can point out these blind spots and teach us where we need to grow.

If we make the effort, like taking the time to read this page, then those blind spots become small and inconsequential.  If we ignore our blind spots, eventually we make the wrong move and they catch up with us.  We end up in a bit of a wreck because we didn’t listen, or were too lazy, or too distracted, or thought it wouldn’t matter.  Taking some time now to learn and minimize your blind spots can help you to avert disaster later.

Tonight I took my two oldest boys bowling.  I’m a terrible bowler.  This is because I didn’t spend any time developing my bowling skills.  Kinda of like a football player who never lifts won’t be very good.

As soon as we got to our lane my soon to be twelve year old wanted to put up the bumper guards.  These guards prevent the ball from entering the gutter, and they make sure the person bowling knocks pins down everytime.

I refused.

”Absolutely not, you are too old, we are going to play this game the right way,” I said.

He pointed to the older teenagers in the next lane to our right who were playing with the bumpers up, and said “they have the bumpers up.”

I said in a lower tone, “you are lucky you have a father who expects more from you than that, anyone can be goofy, I’m not wasting 50 dollars on paying for us to bowl so you can be goofy.  You don’t get to bowl much, make the most of this chance to improve.  Someday it might matter.”  As I said this one of the teenagers was turned around and hiking the ball between her legs and down the lane.

The first game my soon to be twelve year old was terrible.  Gutter ball after gutter ball.  He had a very frustrated and dejected face.  The twelve year old’s soon to be fourteen year old brother then asked me to put the bumper guards up.  He felt bad for his younger brother.

I told him “Absolutely not. We can raise the baby bumpers or we can raise our game.  We can learn how to play this sport the right way.  Stop wishing for it to be easier and start working on getting better.”

I was happy to see that both of my sons improved vastly over the next couple games.  Near the end of our second game a group of soon to be twelve year olds started bowling in the lane to our left.  They had the bumpers up.  By then my twelve year old son was knocking down pins everytime he was up.  I could see he was proud of himself because he was doing something these other kids his age couldn’t or wouldn’t be mature enough to do.

I had won the first couple of games, but in the final game my fourteen year old was 1st, my twelve year old was 2nd,  and I had won.  My sons had just minimized a blind spot.

Continue to work on minimizing your blindspots.  Eventually that work allows you to begin to see the blindspots in others.  You begin to see when people make excuses instead of progress.    You begin to see things like people who tell their teammates what to do, but haven’t earned that right by sweating alongside them.  You begin to see when people fail because they can’t get through adversity.  You begin to see people who think they need breaks, but haven’t even started working yet.  You get what I call Neo vision.  I don’t mean hip-hop star glasses.  I mean you begin to see things that others are blind to.  Like Neo in The Matrix.

You begin to see why people, and teams, and towns win.  You begin to see how they lose.

I just want you to know what is possible.

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