The Scoop: Good Bad Days

“You know what it’s like when you don’t have your swing? It’s like losing your wallet, and every room you go in, you’re looking for it. But there’s a certain point, where you’ve gotta go throughout your day without your wallet, and you’ve gotta perform.” – Mark Trumbo

Ken Ravizza, who works as a Sport Psychology Consultant for Cal State Fullerton and the Anaheim Angels, relayed this quote to the ABCA coaches on Friday from a conversation that he had with Mark Trumbo (now with the Arizona Diamondbacks) one day.

We all have those days where we would rather stay in bed and not face the world. This morning could have in fact been one of those days for many people that I know. Why?

1. It was a Monday.
2. It was really cold outside.
3. The Buckeyes lost in the Orange Bowl on Friday.
4. The Bengals lost another playoff game yesterday.
5. You could have been sick, tired, or had a stack of work piled on your desk.
6. (Insert your own personal reason here.)

But, here is the deal. Someone is counting on you. Someone is expecting you to perform. Someone wants you at your best.

Your best does not mean 100%. Your best means 100% of what you have. If that number is 45%, 50%, 80%, etc., then give 100% of that number. Every day!

So, it may have been Monday, but that is a chance to start the week off with some positive momentum. It may be super cold outside, but at least you are alive to feel it. Your teams may have lost this weekend, but we need to keep things in perspective and remember that it is in fact only a game. (If worrying about your sports team winning and losing is the least of your issues, then you, in fact, probably have a really great life. Others are not that fortunate. Besides, and this is coming from a sports guy, winning isn’t everything.)

We all want to feel needed and important. Well, the truth of the matter is that people need you. The world needs you. But, we need you at your best. We need you filling this world with positive energy. We need you to perform. We need 100% of what you have.

My challenge to you today is this: Stop with the excuses. Stop with the feeling sorry for yourself. Get after it, put your nose to the grind, and perform. With 100% of what you have to give, compete.

Ken Ravizza said that he asks the players he works with all the time one simple question. So, I will propose that to you:

Are we really that bad at our jobs or our craft that we have to feel perfect in order to perform?

I would venture to guess none of us are.

Give 100%. Have a good bad day.

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah

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The Scoop: Be Indispensable

I was watching the TV show, The Good Wife, a few months ago. In the show, some of the attorneys from the major law firm branch away from the firm to start their own practice. Because the new firm is a start up, the funds are not exactly rolling in at the start. In this particular episode, a few of the members are discussing the potential need to make some cuts. They decided that one of the places that the person to be cut would be the private investigator because she was essentially the lowest on the totem poll. The two discussing this option did not know that the person whose job they had essentially just axed was on the other side of the wall listening to everything. In a fit of desperation, the girl went back to the major firm and asked their private investigator, Kalinda, if she could have her job back or at least put in a good word for her since she was destined to lose hers. Kalinda told her that she wouldn’t be able to get her old job back, but offered her the following advice to help her keep her job:

“Make yourself indispensable.” – Kalinda, The Good Wife

And you know what…she did. She went above and beyond to solve the case of the new firm, and proved her worth. She did the work that no one else was willing to do, and she made herself indispensable.

What are you willing to do to set yourself apart? Are you willing to do the things that no else is doing? How can you make yourself indispensable?

There are always jobs that no one wants to do. There are always ways to get noticed and to become invaluable to your team. The way to do that is to make yourself available. Do the work dirty work. Do not be afraid to get your hands dirty.

As a teammate, think about it this way:

What can you do on your team that no one else can do? What are you willing to do that no one else will do? Find those jobs. Keep charts, chase foul balls, carry equipment, take care of the field, be the first to arrive and set up shop, be the last to leave and clean up, go at every drill 110%, always be the first to volunteer (FOR ANYTHING!!!), do the extra work, ask and do it all with a smile and while hustling. Don’t be lazy.

These are the things that other players will laugh at you for because they are not the ones willing to do them. But these are also the things that coaches love that can help set you apart. Not to mention, it makes you a great teammate.

My challenge to you today is this: Do the dirty work. Do the things no one else is willing to do. Take pride in those things. Make yourself indispensable.

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah

Daily Short-hOPT: Stop Being So Perfect

“Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough–that we should try it again.” – Julia Cameron

As recently as a few years ago, I used to proudly declare myself to be a perfectionist. Of course, I was of the belief that if we were constantly striving to be perfect that we are setting ourselves up for success. Until recently, I never realized how detrimental this thinking could be.

As coaches, this may be or of our worst traits. Generally, we not only expect perfection, but also demand it. We run plays or coverages over and over and over again. More often than not, we do not take the time to praise the times our players get it right or show signs of improvement. Instead, we choose to highlight the flaws and imperfections in how it was run then demand we run it again. It is almost like clockwork that we see sideline, dugout, or halftime reporters talking with coaches who are never pleased.

What message is this sending our children, our players?

When I was in high school, I remember bringing a report card home one day during either the second or third quarter. When my dad returned home, I proudly went to show him my straight A report card. (For those of you that do not know my dad, he is a man of few words, but loves us unconditionally, is exceptionally hilarious when he does speak, and enjoys joking around with us in a good natured way.) As he looked over my report card, he paused at my math grades, and his smile turned a bit serious, and he proceeded to tell me that I need to work on getting my math grade up because it had dropped (from a 103 to a 101!!!). Then, he looked at me, smiled, and told me that he was joking and was proud of me.

I only tell this story because there are people who hold themselves or their children to this standard of perfectionism. No matter how great they do something, it is never enough. They always find a flaw to make them feel stupid, inadequate, or not good enough.

The very nature of being a perfectionist means we are a failure before we even start. It is something that is unattainable and unachievable. No matter how much we want to be or try to be, we can never be perfect.

Yes, we can still have high expectations. Yes, we can still demand a lot from ourselves and our players. Yes, we can still hold them accountable.

However, we would be better served in promoting from our players, our kids, and ourselves to bring our best daily. We should encourage them to make today better than yesterday. Just last night, I was watching the University of Oregon play in the Holiday Bowl versus Texas. On the inside collar of Oregon’s uniforms read You V. Yesterday. It is such a simple way of exhibiting a powerful message…be better than yesterday.

So, my challenge from a former perfectionist to all of you current perfectionists is this: Stop trying to be perfect. Perfection is a results-based mindset. Striving to be the best we can be is attainable; it is process-based. Start there and work at it every day. Be better than yesterday.

I think you will be more than happy where you end up.

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah

The Scoop: Find Your Pond

“You were a big fish in a small pond, but this here is the ocean and you’re drowning’.” – Big Fish

I am currently reading the book, David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell. I am only about 70 pages in, but it tells a powerful story about perspective and how we tackle giants in life. The section I read today discussed the emergence of the Impressionist movement in art history.

Apparently, some of the world’s greatest painters (names like Manet, Monet, Cezanne, Pissario, Renoir, etc.) used to meet together regularly to discuss art, life, and politics among other things. One of those things was the Salon, which happened to be the most renowned art exhibition in all of France. It also was one of the most important for all of these painters.

These painters (approximately 3000-4000 painters) were able to submit three paintings for the jury of the Salon. Approximately, a third of those paintings were selected for display in the Salon’s large barn. The paintings were displayed in four tiers, and the best of the best were placed “on the line,” or at eye level. These were the paintings the millions of spectators were guaranteed to see, love, and demand, thus increasing the popularity of the artist.

The Impressionists, however, had struggled to have their paintings received by the Salon. Even when they were successful in having one approved, it was stuck in the ceiling, or displayed in the back room, where no one would really see it. This was almost as bad as not being selected for the Salon.

The paintings of the Impressionists were against the grain, and not the traditional concepts that the juries typically voted for display in the Salon. The Impressionists could have chosen to believe that they were not talented enough to be successful French painters, but we all know that is not what happened.

Instead, they banded together to form one of the most important and inspirational movements in art history. They elected to hold their own version of the Salon to display their art. Judging by some of the names I listed, which you have probably heard of before, I will let you guess how successful they were.

In essence, the Impressionists chose not to be a little fish in a big pond. They chose the opposite–to stand as a big fish in a little pond and be noticed.

We all cannot be big fish in the big pond. Certainly that is what we strive to be–the best of the best. However, the odds are not always in our favor. The timing may not be right, the fit may be wrong, or we may not be dealt the right cards.

That was the case for the Impressionists. Yet, they chose not to look at themselves as failures. They chose not to drown in the ocean. They recognized the odds were stacked against them, and they decided to do something about it. They showed some initiative and figured out their own way to stand out. They created their own legacy. They built their own pond, and became the big fish, perhaps even the biggest fish.

At the very outset of this blog, I shared the quote, “Sometimes you gotta create what you want to be part of.” (Geri Weitzman) The Impressionists knew this, and knew that if they wanted people to appreciate their style and their vision of art, and if they wanted to be renowned French painters, they had to create a movement all on their own.

It is perfectly acceptable to choose to swim in the big pond. That style suits many people. However, that big pond can also be overwhelming. It can make us feel inadequate, unsuccessful, unintelligent because we start to compare ourselves to others in that pond, or do not have the proper perspective on how we are being evaluated.

When/If you find yourself drowning in the ocean, remember the story of the Impressionists. Those feelings do not have to define you. Those feelings do not make you a failure. We all have heard of Monet, Manet, Renoir, and Cezanne because they were brave enough to stand alone. They were confident enough in themselves to know that the opinion of one group is only that. They chose their own pond, and now their work and movement are legendary.

My challenge to you is this: Be your own person. Remember everyone’s opinion is only that, an opinion. Find your pond and keep swimming. Big or small, it will not define you…unless you let it.

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah

The Scoop: True Competition

“Be grateful for your competitors for they force you to become the person you are capable of being.” – Stacey Alcorn

I love competition. However, I dislike what the definition of competition has become to many. The element of going against each other in a battle for victory still exists, but the new element of hatred for an opponent is an added dimension.

Competition is supposed to bring out the best in each other. It is two opponents who raise the level of ability that it takes for one of those opponents to emerge victorious. Without true competitors, we are unable to reach our true potential. That competitor could be an opponent, a teammate, or another individual who raises the bar for us physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.

Most competition today has become a contest to determine whether one is better than the other. Fans use it to say I hate this team, this conference or this individual. Media does its best to compare teams or players or coaches, and pit them against one another. We have created a culture where someone has to be declared a winner, but more than that, someone has to be deemed better.

True competition demands more from us. It demands that we become the best we can be. But, because others are competing to defeat us, it requires us to bring out our best. It demands that we rise to the occasion, step up to the plate, and bring our best. True competition makes us better, and makes those around us better.

Then, at the end of the day, true competitors shake hands and congratulate one another for a job well done. They offer a thank you for causing them to bring their best or raise the bar on their level of play. Win or lose, a true competitor is grateful to the opponent for the opportunity to make him better. There are no insults, no jokes, no ill-spirited words, only compliments, praise, and gratitude.

I remember the pitchers who made it hard for me. They made me work for each ounce of success that I may have received from them. They made me think harder, prepare better, and be better. While they may have gotten my number more than I got theirs, I am grateful for them. They helped formulate my approaches and dictate my at-bats against all other pitchers. The effort I put in to have success against the tough competitive pitchers only made me more successful against the others.

I get so frustrated when fans make competition something beyond what it should be. It becomes negative, hateful, and nasty. That is not competition. Certainly, between teams in the heat of the moment, tempers will flair. However, after the game, the players share a mutual respect. Sure, someone is upset that they lost, but respect and admiration is shown for the competition from each team.

We all have competitors. It could be work, it could be family, it could be sports. These people force you to be creative, to be smarter, to be better. It is time we stop begrudging them, and start thanking them. Without them, we could never possibly rise to the level of our best each day.

Work hard. Compete for the right reasons. Say thanks, and be grateful. You will find you will learn something from everyone.

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah

The Scoop: I Was Wrong

“A man should never be ashamed to say he has been wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” – Alexander Pope

People love being right. Better yet, people love being told they are right. And oftentimes, people will stubbornly defend their position and ideas in an effort to prove just how correct they think they are.

We would be naive to think that we are always right. There is just no possible way that every decision we make, word we say, or answer we give is the correct one. Yet, somehow it is really hard for us to let go of this. We refuse to admit that we may not have all the answers. It may somehow, someway make us weaker, less intelligent, and/or more vulnerable.

Well, let me be the first person to tell you the quickest way I was able to earn respect and trust from others. I started using the words I was wrong when I actually was.

People make mistakes. Leaders make the wrong decisions. It happens. We do not want it to, but it does. However, a true leader is not afraid to admit his shortcomings. He will readily admit when he is wrong. By doing so, respect is earned from everyone under his leadership.

True leaders do not want to be surrounded by a bunch of yes men. By constantly being fed a yes to every idea, the leader is not challenged. Yes men are the worst people a leader can be surrounded by if he wants to progress and succeed. A leader needs his thoughts and ideas to be challenged and critiqued.

Being willing to challenge a leader and a leader’s willingness to be challenged creates the ideal environment for any team and/or organization. This promotes a team environment. The leader makes the ultimate decisions, but receives valuable input from those around him. The leader then provides praise to his teammates for a job well done, and admits he is wrong when things do not go according to plan.

We all remember the terrible friend, boss, coach or captain who knew it all. We could tell stories for days about their relentless pursuit of being right. These are the people and companies we advise people not to be like and to avoid.

If you want to really be remembered, be that coach or person who uses those three words that will floor your players or others. They are not used to hearing them, except for us constantly reminding them how wrong they are. But, admitting that you were wrong and owning it builds trust. If you are trying to teach accountability, this is the easiest way to do it.

So you messed up? No big deal. Be accountable to yourself. Do not make excuses. Avoid taking the easy way out or hiding behind someone else. Own it. Admit it. Learn and grow from it.

I was wrong. These words do not make you weak. In fact, when used appropriately, they may be the most powerful words you can say as a leader.

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah

The Scoop: First Follower

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

Culture changes are forward thinking. There is a recognition that where we are is not quite where we would like to be, followed by a dedicated shift to taking everyone where we want to go.

Too often, when someone comes around promoting a change in culture, people start to panic. There is uncertainty, confusion, readjustment, and maybe even a little fear. These people are the ones caught fighting the old. They have a way that they have always done it, and that is being disrupted. So, they fight to hang on.

The culture begins to change when people start to buy in. The first person has the idea, or the vision, so to speak, but the real courage takes place when one person bravely decides to join in. This simple yet dynamic move allows the visionary to know that he is no longer alone, and tells everyone else that they no longer need be afraid to join alone. (This video really captures the essence of how a culture change takes place.)

The point is that often times we see these movements taking place, but we are scared to join. We recognize it as a good thing, but we become comfortable with the status quo. Once the crowd joins in, maybe we will then join in, but we hesitate to be the trend setter or the first follower.

It starts with having a vision — one that you believe in and encompasses those values that you believe are important. When you see another person or idea or company that aligns with those ideals, be brave, seek them out, and join them. You have laid the groundwork, and aligning yourself with people of similar visions is really all about having enough confidence in your own vision to be a first follower for them.

Change may start alone, but it cannot be accomplished without the help of others. We all need those people to help us build our culture, promote our vision, create our strategy. Look for those opportunities to be around those whose visions are your visions.

Don’t wait to be a part of the larger crowd. Don’t get caught holding onto the old ways. Be a forward thinker. Be bold and brave. If you truly do believe in it, become a first follower. Help build the vision and become a part of the process of the change, instead of simply waiting to benefit from the results.

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah