"80% of life is just showing up" - Woody Allen. Or "Half of life is just showing up" - Everyone seems to say that. These statements are mostly true in the context of comparing our relative success to others. For example, if I am competing with a group of people, sometimes all I need to do is show up because others most likely won't. But if they do show up with their bodies, it doesn't necessarily mean that they show up with their minds. That is why it is essential that if we desire to not only "beat" others, but to "be our best", we need to do a lot more than merely show up. We need to be present in both mind and body, and we must put aside any distractions that take our minds off of the task at hand. We need to give our complete effort and full attention. And then at the end, when the activity is complete, we need to identify at least one thing (if not many things) that we learned from the experience that we can apply next time. We may show up and have success in that moment, but we must learn from that experience in order to repeat that success and improve upon it in the future.
Being a "pacifist" (believing that war and violence are unjustifiable) is a philosophy that some embrace. Being a "pacifist" is a real thing but being a "passivist" isn't. Passivist is not a word. However, there are many people who believe that being passive is a philosophy and thus have become "passivists". Being passive may be fine in certain aspects of life but not in athletics. I have never found myself or another coach instruct an athlete to "be more passive". Sure, patience, or calm, or deliberate, or trusting, but not passive. In fact, the opposite is the case. One of the big problems is that most feel that the solution to passivity is aggression. Cheerleaders even have cheers which encourage athletes to "B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E". However, aggression isn't the answer either (as aggression involves the intent to harm someone). And that is why most athletes struggle with giving the correct amount of intensity in their sport and erring on being too passive. When a coach tells an athlete to "Be more aggressive", the athlete doesn't know what is being asked of them, nor do they know what to do to remedy the problem. We don't need to be angry/mad/upset or "fired up". We simply need to be intense. We merely need to understand that passivity doesn't have a place in most sports but intensity does. Calm has a place but passivity does not. Being "assertive" is what we must be pursuing. Being assertive refers to being intentional and intense at the right moments. I don't know an athlete who wants to be referred to as a "soft" athlete. Soft is the result of not being intense when intensity is a requirement in athletics. The goal today is to find ways in our training/life that being more intense is beneficial. "You can't be so damn passive" Daniel LaRusso - Karate Kid III.
This may be the first Mental Tip you actually read, simply based on the title. Coaches spend a lot of time telling athletes to "Focus". The problem is that coaches are telling and not teaching focus and most athletes don't know what that focusing actually means. Focusing refers to "attending to the task at hand". Instead of talking about focus, coaches and athletes should spend more time discussing the elimination of distractions. I repeatedly warn students to not study in their dorm rooms. There are too many distractions. Besides the normal college fun that can get in the way, even tasks like laundry are more attractive and tempting when confronted with the chore of studying. I encourage students to go to the library ... alone ... and find a quiet floor/room/corner where no one else will see them and then only bring with them the one or two books that they need to read or the notes they need to study. Eliminating distractions is the first step to focusing. The same advice can be used for many areas in our life, including training. Only bring to practice those things that will allow you to be successful at practice (positive attitude, excitement to improve, coachability, the desire to be uncomfortable, work ethic, mental toughness, etc) and leave all of the other things (school, worries, social life, lack of confidence, distress, laziness, comfort, financial issues, etc) behind in your dorm/apartment/house. There is enough work to be done at practice that we don't need to bring extra distractions. And you can spend the other 22 hours of your day on those other things that you left in your living space if you want. They will be there later if you still want them.
I was raised in a household that was structured around rational thought, critical thinking, problem solving and cost/benefit analysis. My dad was a chemist and my mom was a business woman. I have three older brothers (and no sisters). "Emotions" were not something that were welcomed in our home. I used to think that humans were created as rational beings that occasionally experienced emotions and those emotions distracted us from reaching our full potential. Emotions were bad. I have now come to the realization that we are the exact opposite. We have all been created to be completely emotional beings, that occasionally think rationally. Emotions are not all bad. However, emotions can get in the way and cloud our judgement. Having control over our emotions and not merely allowing our emotions to run rough shot and control us will allow us to make more thoughtful decisions. Controlling emotions takes patience (trust), self-observation and awareness, which then allows us to use intentional actions and effort to behave and think appropriately.
A natural question for someone to ask before undertaking a task would be "How much time will this take?". For those who manage their time and also value their time, this type of information is extremely beneficial and helpful. Unfortunately, this question tends to leak into other aspects of our life and may take many forms. "How long will this last?". "How much should I give?". "How much effort should I expend?". These are the questions that leak into areas such as practice. "How long with the hard workout last". "How many hills are we going to run". "I hope I survive". If our goal in life is to truly reach our full potential, then both the answer to this question and the motivation to ask the question itself, become a limiting factor and/or a demotivating factor. For example, what happens when we reach the deadline and we aren't "there yet"? What happens if the effort required to complete the task is less than our full effort and we therefore under-perform? What happens when we are able to give more and thus accomplish more? So what is the right answer to the "How much" question? If the goal is to truly reach our full potential, then the answer should not be "just enough" but it should be "all ... until the goal has been completed".
"I can't" really means "I choose not to". "I can't get up at 3 am and take you to the airport" really means "I choose not to take you to the airport because I value my sleep more than helping you". We truly know when we value something when we choose to do it. We value sleeping or eating or hanging out with friends or money. We will give up doing homework and working out or helping others in order to sleep or eat or hang out with friends because we place different value on certain things. If someone pays you money, most people would do more homework or workout more or help others more. The money puts more value on less valuable activities. Our problem with motivation is that we don't place enough value on the things that truly have value. We tend to value easy and fun and recent. We fail to place value in hard or difficult or meaningful or long term beneficial things. Entitled people are not lazy. Entitled people simply do not see the value in long term, difficult or meaningful endeavors. In order to reach our goals and our full potential, we need to add value to those things in our life that should have more value in our lives. Putting money in an investment doesn't sound fun but when that investment doubles or triples or quadruples over time without you doing anything but making the initial investment and waiting, then investing money is both valuable and fun. When we sacrifice time and FOMO and peer pressure and selfish desires and comfort in order to reach our goals and full potential, that investment also pays off. What will you add value to today so that you will be motivated more to do what you should be doing?
Power can be a loaded term. It can be seen as negative if you are on the receiving end of abusive power. Power is obviously positive when in our own hands and used for noble purposes. Power is something that can be awarded but is also something that we all can obtain. Everyone! Referent Power (respect/amiability) and Expert Power (knowledge/talent) are not easily acquired sources of power but they are obtainable with effort. Someone may appoint you to a position of leadership and thus grant you power by position, but they can't give you the effort that is required to earn respect or knowledge that will allow you to lead effectively in that position. Effort is not a birthright or a genetic trait. Effort is a choice. Effort allows us to move closer to our full potential, including our potential to acquire power and effect change in our own lives and the lives of others, but also the effort required to reach our athletic goals. Your parents helped to determine you athletic ability. YOU determine whether that athletic ability is realized to its full potential by choosing to put in the maximum effort possible.
Self-Worth is different than Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem. They are connected but not synonymous. Self-Worth refers to "ones sense or opinion of their value or worth". Those with high self-worth feel that they have value and worth to the world. Those with low self-worth do not feel that they have much value or worth. Unfortunately, low self-worth impacts our self-esteem and self-confidence, which can then impact our daily lives. Therefore, self-worth is important. Furthermore, unfortunately, many people rely on others to determine their self-worth. Too many people are waiting for someone to validate them and determine their worth. My suggestion is to go earn your worth. Do something for someone else. Make your life about others and you will soon find that you are invaluable because others are counting on you. When we wait around for others to "like" us, in order to build our value, we may be waiting for a long time. Make someone smile, encourage them, help them with something small, or even take a burden from them and you will be making yourself worth something to others.
Gold medals are awarded to the athlete, only. In fact, all three of the medals (gold, silver and bronze) are only awarded to the athletes. Coaches do not receive medals at the Olympics. Neither do athletic trainers, or doctors or parents or training partners. The reason is that the athlete is the one who earns the medal. The athlete is the one who trains all of those hours and pushes themselves beyond limits to execute their plan. Coaches are crucial in the success of an athlete. Most athletes would not reach their potential without a coach, or athletic trainers or supportive parents or teammates. However, the coach is an aid or assistance to the athlete. It is the athlete who is responsible for executing the plan. Often times, athletes expect the coach to "make them into" an athlete. However, the athlete must realize that they are the ones who are responsible for their ultimate success and they are responsible to utilize their resources. You can lead a horse to water, and you can even take the horses head and shove it into the water and hold it there. However, this will not insure that the horse will drink and you will either end up with a dead horse or a hoof print in your face.
Groundhog Day is Saturday!
Anger is an emotion. Anger is not a sin and is not something we can eliminate from our lives. Anger, like any emotion that we may experience, should be properly controlled and managed so that those emotions and feelings do not result in improper behavior and actions. Being angry for a long period of time will not only eat at our own character and attitude, but it pours out into our behavior. Unfortunately, justifying our anger is a natural human response. It is very easy to find a reason that our anger is "right". Sure, there are times when we are angry and soon after we quickly identify that we were impatient or "hangry" and then feel bad about that anger. Unfortunately, more time's than not, we find a reason that our anger is the right way to react to something or someone. And then, that anger leads to incorrect behavior and actions. Identifying our anger and then taking time and putting in effort to understand why we are angry will help us to then address the anger and not allow it to lead to improper actions.