Sunday, 26 June 2016

Giving Out Tic Tacs

I love reading!  There is a common thing said about books “sometimes you find a good book and sometimes a good book finds you".  This is a prime example of that right now I am reading “You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero.  Don’t get me wrong most days I think my life is awesome and I certainly don’t need to be told I am a badass that is for sure!   However, we all have our moments where multiple events can start piling up in life and pretty soon it can feel like an avalanche is on top of you.  In those times life can become incredibly painful.  It’s not always easy to bounce back from challenging circumstances.  Great leaders, athletes and people learn how to bounce back instinctively but even the best of us need help getting back on track sometimes depending on what is going on. 

I wanted to share an excerpt from this “You are a Badass” book. This story hit me at the perfect time: 

“It is one of the beautiful compensations in this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson  

One day while driving somewhere with my family, we stopped off at a store along the way and told my niece, then five years old, that she could get herself a little sumthin’. She came up to the register with a six-pack of orange Tic Tacs and charmed her way into getting the whole thing, instead of being told to put it back and just buy one.  

So we get back in the car and I ask her if I can have a pack, my only intent to teach the greedy little piglet a thing or two about sharing. “Of course,” she says and hands it over. She then asks in her itty-bitty five-year-old voice, if my brother and my mom want one too, and hands them over.  My niece then takes the remaining three packs and places them on the seat next to her in a pile saying, “And when we get home, this one’s for my brother, this one’s for my sister, this one’s for my mom.” Then she sits there with none left for herself, and smiles, more excited to give them away than when she was told she could buy them for herself.  

As my niece so clearly understood, giving is one of our greatest joys.  It’s also one of the most fearless and powerful gestures there is.  When we trust that we live in an abundant universe and allow ourselves to give freely, we raise our frequency, strengthen our faith and feel awesome, thereby putting ourselves in flow and the position to receive abundant amounts in return.

When we’re in fear, we hold on to what we’ve got because we don’t trust that there’s more.  We pinch off the energy, we’re scared to share, and we focus on, and create more of, the very thing we are hoping to avoid, which is lack.  

We live in a universe of give and receive, breathe and exhale, live and die, suck and awesome.  Each side depends on the other, and each is relative to the other - every action has an equal and opposite reaction - so the more you give the more you receive. And vice versa. 

Thank you Jen Sincero!  I loved that message.  

I would even like take it one step further and say that when you are open to living a challenging life you open yourself up to the full spectrum of what there is to offer. This means the good comes with the bad.  When the bad comes and you are not feeling at your best sometimes the very best thing that can be done is to give to someone else even if its in a small way like the Tic Tacs mentioned in the story.   This perspective can really make a big difference.  It is important to realize that life isn’t all about you giving and sharing are some of the best ways to shift the negative to the positive.  It is also important to be where you are and live the experience so you can fully take the lesson in that you are learning.  Don’t avoid it or shy away just take it in and feel it fully that way when the good comes to counterbalance the negative you have gone through that can be enjoyed to the fullest as well.   

The biggest lessons are usually the most painful and the best memories are usually the most brilliant.  Courageously live your life to the fullest!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

A Message for Dads

Today I want to write a quick blog today to honour dads.  

In the movie Jordan to the Max it talked about how when Michael Jordan was signing autographs he would sometimes see a father and son in the crowd surrounding him and would be envious of them. It’s easy to see he would feel that way because of how famous he was it was hard for him to have similar experiences with his own kids.  This got me thinking about a few things: 

Dads and Their Sons 
The father-son relationship is a special one to observe.  Fathers and sons seem to connect on such a powerful level especially when it comes to the realm of sports.  Their bond can be so strong.  It is such an amazing thing to see when fathers show their sons how to play the game or support them in continuously improving.  Over time it is really something to cherish.  Fathers often teach their son’s honour, courage and strength.

Dads and Their Daughters 
The father-daughter relationship is so unique.  It is amazing to witness powerful men showing a vulnerable side of themselves when it comes to their daughters.  Dad’s often teach their daughters how to be independent, resilient and strong.  It is so incredible to see the dad’s that takes time to support his daughter in the things that she takes a interest in.  Providing the right atmosphere for her to grow, learn and improve.  

Dads Who Coach
There are so many sacrifices that are made to be a coach.  Many coaches that are dad’s often sacrifice the time they have with their own families to help their players to continue to flourish.  Over the years I have been surrounded by men that provide athletes with all the tools they need to take their game to the next level.  Taking the time to coach someone that isn’t your blood relation is such a powerful expression of love. It is a selfless act especially when considering what is often at stake.  

It is especially hard for coaches to work with their own children.  Sometimes the expectations they have for their own children can be incredibly high.  Providing the right mix of support and drive is perhaps the most challenging part.  Not to mention that many times the expectations from outsiders fall on the shoulders of the kids as well.  There can be judgement passed on a player just because of that relationship.  These dad’s often have to be resourceful to navigate such a challenging path in order to have their family come through it in tact.  

For all the little things you provide makes such a big difference. Happy Fathers Day!

Sunday, 12 June 2016

10,000 Hours

In the book the Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell he talks about the importance of getting 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” in order to achieve mastery. Recently, due to a Princeton study where they analyzed 88 studies on deliberate practice it was found that practice wasn’t as effective in terms of predicting success.  Chess and music are the highest percentage where practice can be linked directly with mastery.  However, when it comes to sports, education and business it becomes much less predictable. 

Some athletes are naturally incredibly gifted or have physical attributes that set them apart from others. Perhaps the truth is that there isn’t a set number of hours for every individual to log in order to achieve personal greatness.  In the book Sports Gene by David Epstein the author sites particular instances in studies that indicate to be a master violin player the range of hours needed to practice are within the 11,000 to 11,053 range which is incredibly specific.  However, in netball there was a player by the name of Vicki Wilson who was arguably the best player in the world and only logged 600 hours of training.  It is possible in this case that some players can be “Limited Editions” in that they are the exception to the rule rather than the rule itself.  It is very well possible that these athletes that fall into this category were focusing on other sports prior to finding a niche where they could really stand out or they have special attributes that set them apart. This has to do with preparation meeting opportunity at the right moment.  

I think Epstein put it very well we he said “In fact, in absolutely every single study of sports expertise, there is a tremendous range of hours of practice logged by athletes who reach the same level and very rarely do elite performers log 10,000 hours of sport-specific practice prior to reaching the top competitive plane, often competing in a number of other sports and acquiring a range of other athletic skills before zeroing in on one.”  

With teams sports this becomes increasingly difficult to measure due to the nature of having many players to analyze with varying natural abilities, learning styles, injuries as well as interactions with one another.  The team in essence can become its own entity entirely.  Athletes who are a part of a team cannot rely solely on the the development of the team to be successful they need to chart their own route to achieve personal mastery as an individual.   

What we have most likely found through this dialogue is that there is a range of deliberate practice hours that happen over time.  It may not be as easy as saying it is only 10,000 hours to become a master.  For some people it may be less and for others it may be significantly more.  Through Gladwell’s own admissions we may be in fact looking for a range from 4,000 hours to up to 40,000 as it isn’t an exact science.  The important thing to note is that no one is going to roll off their couch and emerge as an olympic athlete.  There are certain skills sets that need to be acquired over time.  

It is the individual and their circumstance that will indicate the levels that are reached. No amount of training in the world will change someone who is naturally 5 foot 2 into a towering 7  footer.  It is a matter of owning your particular skill set, perfecting it and pushing the boundaries to what is possible through getting better.  The quality of the practice and the desire to push to improve are critical.  There is also an element of luck involved especially in highly competitive environments.  In these environments the differences between athletes can be very small and it can be subjective in terms of decisions being made about who makes the team and who doesn’t.  Some players are natural and obvious choices whereas others may not be as clear.  

An important point to raise during this dialogue is to highlight that enjoying journey rather than focussing on the destination is important.  If the hours are being logged just to get them done then the passion, desire and enjoyment are lost.  Self mastery is a unique process that isn’t always dictated in a easy to follow fashion.  It is the lessons in those hours that are critical for development and growth.  It is very well possible that all these hours can be logged and completely lost due to a career ending injury, another person gets selected instead or various other reasons it doesn’t work out. Enjoying the process and seeing what happens next such an important process when undertaking mastery.  

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Alan Stein's Rules for Basketball Parents

Alan Stein is a performance coach that is very reputable in the basketball world. He works with many high performance athletes and teams.  He is very knowledgeable in the parent/coach relationship. I have had the opportunity to listen to him speak in the past and I have been very impressed with his materials. I came across these rules a few weeks ago and thought I would share them. I really like all the points he makes here. These should be shared with the parents on you team as a point of reference. It helps to pre-emptively get everyone on the same page.  I have also included a link to the video below as well.
Parents… it is highly unlikely that your child will play professionally. In fact, statistically, only a very small percentage of you will have children that play in college. So let them enjoy the journey. Their playing days will be over before you know it. Use basketball as a vehicle to teach the life lessons they will need when they grow up.

Parents… you must embrace the fact that this is your child’s journey – not yours. Do not live vicariously through them. Put your focus on being a supportive and encouraging parent.

Parents… it’s true. Coaches do play favourites. They favour players who give the team the best chance to win, who have great attitudes, who work hard every day, who embrace their role (regardless of what that role is) and who support the program’s culture. If you think a coach doesn’t ‘like’ your child; your child is more than likely deficient in one (or more) of these areas.

Parents… more often than not, your child’s coach is in a better position to evaluate and determine appropriate playing time because they see everything. They see workouts, practices, meetings, film breakdown and games (where as most parents get an incomplete picture because they only see games).

Parents… as far as playing time goes, coaches want to win. They want to win badly. If your child will help them win… they will play. If not… they won’t. Period.

Parents… you should never push to discuss playing time, strategy or another player with your child’s coach. Ever. Those 3 domains are sacred ground.

Parents… you should encourage your child to communicate any issues, questions or concerns they have (or you have) directly with their coach by having them schedule a meeting. It is my belief, as a parent, you have the right to attend that meeting, simply as an observant, but the discussion should be between your child and the coach.

Parents… do not undermine your child’s coach in the car ride home or at the dinner table. Subtle, passive aggressive comments like ‘Your coach doesn’t know what he’s doing’ or ‘I can’t believe you don’t play more’ do not comfort your child (although I am sure that is your intention) – it enables them to have a bad attitude and to make excuses… both of which are unacceptable.

Parents… if your child isn’t getting the playing time they feel they deserve or if they lose a tough game… use that experience as a powerful teaching tool. Teach them how to own it. Teach them what they can do in the future to possibly get a different outcome.

Parents… more often than not, through both experience and professional development, coaches usually have a better basketball IQ and general understanding of the game then parents do (so questioning a coach’s X’s & O’s or their ability to judge talent is inappropriate).

Parents… stop coaching your child from the sideline. The only ‘voice’ a player should receive instructions from is the ‘voice’ of their coaching staff. Cheer for them all you want, but do not coach them. That isn’t your job.

Parents… you love your child more than anything in the world. You always want what is best for them (which is understandable and respectable). However, a coach’s obligation is to do what is best for the team. In many instances, what you want for your child and what is best of the team is not congruent.

Parents… politicking will never get your child more playing time. I promise you, this statement has never been said by a coach in the history of high school basketball, “I really need to start playing Jeffrey more because his mom thinks he isn’t playing enough.”

Parents… stop berating the referees. It sets a bad example and it makes you look foolish. The referees are doing they best they can. More often than not, a referee has a better position and a much better understanding of the rules to make the correct call then a parent does. And I promise you this statement has never been said either, “Can we stop the game? I’m sorry everyone. The loud-mouth mom in the stands is right, her son did get fouled on that last play.”

Parents… don’t push your child too hard. It’s OK to encourage. It’s OK to suggest. It’s OK to hold your child to a very high standard of excellence… but don’t force them to ‘get up extra shots’ or get in extra workouts. That has to come from them, not you. If they choose to do those things on their own, be supportive. If they choose not to, if they choose to only do the bare minimum, they will eventually learn a potent life lesson (not make the team, not get much playing time, etc.).