Saturday, March 24, 2018

"Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds".

Franklin Delanor Roosevelt

2018. New year, new blog. A lot needs to be done to make it look pretty, but while I'm pondering color patterns, I wanted to get a post up. I've wanted to make a change with respect to my blog; the topics, the purpose, the, well, everything. I just finished listening to "The Up and Comers" podcast where my coach was its most recent guest. That interview was the spark, the catalyst for this change.

I know many of you are thinking, "Why would hearing your coach give an interview suddenly inspire such change? Don't you talk about all the topics he covered on the show? What could have possibly come to light that motivated this?" Here's the answer - you may be friends with someone for years, talk daily, cover a wide range of topics day in and out, share the smallest of details of your day with this person, pour over data, discuss commonalities and differences, and yet, you may never have asked the question that gives you a fresh, and insightful perspective as to the soul, the heart, or the breadth of knowledge of that person. And so, that's what happened just a few short days ago. His words have been echoing in my brain, as if on some sort of loop, demanding some action on my part. This is that action.

I'll start simple - something we have been experimenting with is the equation N=1. I'll explain that in more detail in a later post, but for now, its main premise is, take nothing at face value, to find out the efficacy of something means you must experiment with it. This can be a bit, uncomfortable, but very rewarding. Even if the results aren't what you expected, there is still a positive result, experience. Its very easy to dismiss something because it didn't yield what you want. This applies to everything, including life. I start with the premise - life isn't easy. I'm not trying to make life easier, I'm trying to make myself better. If I'm improving myself, then I am prepared for the unforeseen things life is going to throw at you. I want the same for my athletes. My family, my friends. I'd be doing a disservice if I made their lives easier, they would learn nothing. I believe the objective is to give people tools to become better. Now, "better" is a fairly broad term, but for our purposes, let's say better means more prepared to handle what is thrown at them. If you strip coaching down to its barest essence, that's really what its about; giving someone the information, the skills and the tools to get better at the unknown. This includes, handling discomfort. Or at least accepting the fact that discomfort exists, meaningful change occurs in that space, that everyday is not going to be a success, and that riding the emotional roller coaster of highs and lows based on how you view discomfort, on how you view failure, is actually stunting your growth.

Let me stop playing hide the ball. I've witnessed, over the last 6-9 months, a number of people with whom I engage regularly, missing an opportunity for real growth because they bemoan failure, and are desperate to immediately replace a bad performance, a bad moment, a bad day, with something good, no matter how trivial. However, that is no longer enough, and they have started to do something I feel even more dangerous, avoid any and all difficult situations, including the creation of a false narrative. The thought of not being viewed as the best, or being exposed as not being as great as they like to advertise, or, having their flaws on display, scares the living shit out of them. To the point that they are not only paralyzed by that fear, but they have created a story as to why they fail. It becomes the fault of everyone and anyone else, real or imagined. You see where this is going? Its not just selfish, its not just weak, its detrimental to self.

Its foolish to believe that you will be a smashing success at everything you do. That's not to say you can't. It means you must be willing to practice, toil, work, or as Cody Burkhardt said, "suffer better". That's only if it matters enough to you. No coach, no mentor, no parent, friend, spiritual guide, can get you do to that. If it matters enough, you will understand why you can't ride the daily highs and lows, why you can't keep pretending like you know everything, you have to accept that you don't know everything and that means you may have a few sleepless nights ahead of you if you really care about improving.

Example - I suck at golf. Embarrassingly so. I play as if I have 2 broken arms And the fact that I'm not good at golf bugs me, but not to the point that I'm going to spend time getting better. So I don't lose any sleep over this fact. Now, there was a point in my training early on with Cody, where I spent a lot of time wondering why I was so terrible at so many things, and lost more than a little sleep making list after list at what needed improvement. Not to mention my lack of patience that added stress to the equation. Did that get me better any faster? No. But the ability to accept failure, to become comfortable with the knowledge that I was going to suck at certain things for a while, that I was going to have to put in a LOT more work, and that it would take time to get better, brought a sense of calm. I was able to sleep again. I had to. Because in the hours I was awake, I had to make the most of each moment. Almost 3 years later, am I awesome at all the things on my list? Dear Lord no. I have so much work to do. But the comfort of knowing how much that remains means I give a shit. It means I'm alive. It means I care. It means I care what happens to those with whom I come in contact. But I can't make them care. I can't make you care. I'd like to think that if you are taking the time to read this that there is something that really matters to you, and that you are trying to figure out how to improve, or handle things, etc. If that's the case, then know there is hope, there is opportunity. But it starts and ends with you.

No one can make you do anything. No one. The idea that "fate" determines your next move is a cop out. Not everything happens for a reason. Things happen because we do or don't do things to put us in the position we're in. There isn't some secret force working against you. The world is not conspiring against you. If you allow yourself to believe you're a victim long enough, then that's your reality. But it doesn't mean that's what's really happening. Its simply what you are allowing yourself to believe. Whether you want to believe it or not, you put yourself in that position. Stop blaming everyone else for your inability to accept that you may not be as great as you think. Once you do that, you can actually get better. If you stop the constant "yay! Good day!", "Oh no, bad day!" crazy train, you will improve, by leaps and bounds. I know this. I was my own experiment for this very thing. I did all the things listed above. And my coach called me out on it, in a very simple way - prove it. I had to prove what I was, and what I wasn't, I had to prove what I believed and what I didn't, and how far I would go. How much would I endure. I honestly didn't know until Cody put me through those paces. It started with Brain some 8 years ago, but shit got really real 3 years ago.

I don't know who will read this, but I hope those I see regularly do. I hope it makes them think, and ask questions. And if not, well, that's life, right?

Stay strong.