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.

Posted in character and mental toughness

Nothing Stronger…

There is nothing stronger than a parent standing by their child’s hospital bed.

There is nothing stronger than an addict trying to make it through another hour sober.

There is nothing stronger than someone who shares a little with someone who has none.

There is nothing stronger than someone standing between evil and the ungrateful meek.

There is nothing stronger than the falsely accused who refuses to yield until the day the rest discover the truth.

There is nothing stronger than the child who parents the younger sibling while the parent acts like a child.

There is nothing stronger than a will empowered by love.

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You can do better

What messages are you choosing to receive? Your social media feed (who you follow, what you read, the images you take in, the videos you watch, etc.) will have an effect on you. Billions of dollars are spent on tv, radio and social media ads because they work. They penetrate your mind and influence your thought process. So what messages are you feeding yourself? Are you taking in a lot of frivolous crap or are you taking in things that will motivate you and educate you so you can make better decisions? It’s called a feed for a reason. You become what you choose to eat. The things that will not make you better are easy to find as you will be bombarded by them. As it is easy to passively take these in, average people will succumb to them. But if you refuse to settle for mediocrity, you can be pro-active and find just as many resources that will help you raise your game and become the person you know you can be. As with anything else, a relatively small amount of initial effort can make a huge amount of difference. –@CoachBillMoore

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An Accountable Team Wins to Their Potential 

Football isn’t like all of the other sports. It requires relentless orchestrated physical contact. Players must be smart, strong, fast, quick, relentless, powerful, quick thinking, cooperative, responsible, disciplined, tough, etc. Those traits have to be constantly developed, and developed to a very high level, in order to succeed. In football there are endless things to be held accountable for, but these are also endless things to take pride in. Successful football is accountability dependent and pride producing. While football is the example here, pursuing any great team endeavor is much the same.

One must also understand that successful football requires a whole bunch of players who are willing to be held accountable and take pride in their efforts and performance.

When things are not being done as instructed, on or off the field, then changes in individual behavior need to be made. When those changes are not executed, confrontation must occur. Otherwise, the unsuccessful behavior will continue. 

In a successful football program players are perpetually on guard for mediocrity and complacency. A winning team has a roster full of players who can recognize and confront their average human behaviors before they can blossom and spread. Because humans naturally seek ease, convenience and comfort, intervention is required when mediocrity and complacency inevitably become apparent in any team related endeavor. 

That intervention is more or less a confrontation. It can take many forms. It can be a look, a gesture, a friendly reminder, or a sternly delivered comment when required. As a rule, it is best to enter the confrontation at the lowest level necessary to change the negative or unproductive behavior. Teammates have to speak up and keep confronting until the behavior is changed. A lack of confrontation, in one form or the other, is at the very least a tacit acceptance of a lower standard. 

The reality of successfully competing is that confrontation is sometimes needed to create growth. Players on winning teams experience great growth because through these confrontations they see that they can do better, change their behavior, and ultimately improve how they go about their lives. Accountability keeps players constantly working to their potential. If they can be assured that one of their teammates is going to call them out when they are giving less than their best, they are far more likely to consistently give their best.

Sometimes drastic changes occur as those mired in mediocrity suddenly find themselves surrounded by those who will confront them for giving less then their best. For the first time this player will start making the sacrifices necessary to progress on a path of rapid achievement. 

Once such players recognize all that they are now achieving, they come to appreciate all those confrontations they initially despised. A powerful force is created once everyone on the team is on the same page regarding the minimal levels of acceptable behavior; expect to be called out if you are not doing what is expected.

There is no fear of under performing if teammates don’t have the intellect to recognize the fruits of confrontation. Accountability creates a fear of failure and therefore avoidance of failure as the player works hard to increase his level of performance. 

If someone doesn’t define failure and hold themselves and others accountable, then that individual will never develop the safety net of intrinsic pride which establishes a minimal acceptable level for self achievement. In short, that someone never learns to do better and accept personal responsibility for his own failure.

Accountability, and the pride it leads to, requires courage; the courage of players to to hold themselves to a very high standard. They must speak up when they see someone else not doing the same. If players lack the courage, the will, and the intellect to understand accountability, then there can’t be accountability. The result is any hope for a consistently high level of performance is crushed.

The norm in some organizations is that it’s members will hold each other accountable. This leads to consistent success.

The norm in other organizations is that it’s members will not be held accountable. Members are only solely responsible for themselves and lack the benefit of having teammates who call them out when they give into human nature and fall short of their best effort. This leads to consistent failure.

There is of course a third norm. One where the level of accountability fluctuates year to year, instance to instance. This leads to inconsistent achievement.

What does all of this mean?

Some of players skip parts of workouts or at times fail to work to their physical and mental potential. Will enough players on the team have the courage, the will, and the intellect to call out their teammates and hold them accountable? Will enough of players be willing to be held accountable by their teammates to start doing things the right way? Will players quit or make excuses rather than face being held accountable for doing what needs to be done, the way it needs to be done, when it needs to be done (completing workouts, watching extra practice and game film, practicing harder when asked to, showing up for games ready to play, fighting through pain and disappointment when things get tough etc.) ?

I believe most team leaders have it in them to both speak up when someone needs to be held accountable, and to listen when someone holds them accountable. They have the courage, the will, and the intellect. I just don’t know if they will consistently act, or will too often look the other way when it’s time for someone to be held accountable.

At some point, a coach is always asked how his or her team is going to be next year.
A great many factors go into whether a team will have a winning or losing season. 

Talent is a factor of course, but talent in most programs is always pretty much the same. Likewise most teams will always face some opponents that have more talent. Administrative support is important, but that is usually consistent; as is the coaching.

Teams will win if the players have some fear that their complacency or divergence from the winning standards will be noticed by their peers. They will win if they have some pride and realize losing is unacceptable. They will win if they have the courage, will and intellect to call each other out and listen when called out. They will win if enough of their teammates allow themselves to be held accountable so they can get the work done and develop some pride.

They will lose more than they should if the staff solely has to hold players accountable for doing every little thing (showing up to lifting, getting all their sets in, squatting to the appropriate depth, stretching with effort, completing the paperwork, representing the team, bringing out the equipment, cleaning up the field etc.).

It is important that players better understand why different programs with the same talent level consistently win, while others with similar talent consistently lose, and still others are forever vascillating between the two. I write this so teams that are for real when it comes to their desire to win can accept that in order to be able to win, players will be accountable for having the character and mental toughness to consistently get the work done this off-season, in practices, and during games.

In order to do that, a whole bunch of them need to have the courage, the will and the intellect to buy in. If they do, then not only will they succeed to their potential, but they will learn the character and mental toughness skills necessary to succeed in any competitive team endeavor th rest of their lives.    @CoachBillMoore

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