Get Out Of The Way

In working with many athletes over the years, I often hear them say the phrases “I just need to get out of my own way,” or “I can’t get out of my own way.” In this moment, they are acknowledging the reality that their current choice of thoughts is preventing them from performing at the level that they know they can perform. They are essentially getting in the way of unleashing their potential, and it all begins in their mind.

Pessimism Street Sign

I often use the following axiom with the athletes I coach:

Every Action Begins With A Thought

When you stand over a golf shot, you are thinking about where you want to hit the ball. When you are on the mound, you are thinking about pitching the baseball into the catcher’s target. When you are at the free throw line, you are thinking about bending your knees and following through on the shot. At least, this is what you should be thinking about in order to put your mind in a position to have success.

It all begins in the mind, and the words you choose to feed yourself affect your performance. If you are thinking negative thoughts or words that are fearful, you significantly minimize your chance to be successful. You are in essence “getting in the way” of unleashing your talent! If, however, you focus on positive thoughts and words that lead you to belief and trust, you put yourself in the best position to perform at your best.

It sometimes takes a careful evaluation and rewiring of our vocabulary and the words we use in order to develop the best words and, ultimately, thoughts to focus on. For example, I have had some athletes meet with me the day before a game or competition and say the following: “Tomorrow, I just want to worry about hitting my shots.“ Now, I understand what they are saying, but in that moment, they are using the negative word of worry.

Instead, the best approach is to use the right words and rewire your thoughts about the game. A better phrase in this instance is: “Tomorrow, I want to focus on being athletic and playing with energy and effort.” This phrase changes the key word to focus and centers around process-oriented things that you can control vs. outcome-oriented things that can be influenced but not controlled.

frustrated young business man

These sports performance concepts also apply to other areas of life. Consider the following questions:

  • As a business leader, do I sometimes let negative thoughts or doubt affect my actions?
  • Do I hinder myself from truly maximizing my potential and achieving my goals based on a limited view of my talent and strengths?
  • Do I let doubt affect my ability to trust the people I lead and influence with more responsibility?
  • Do I try to control outcomes instead of focusing on process-oriented things that I can control and influence?
  • What negative words do I need to throw out of my head and replace with positive ones that can put me in a position to have success and the correct focus?
  • Do I begin each day with a possibility and growth mindset, or do I limit the trajectory of my day and week due to a pessimistic and stagnant point of view?

They key is not to get out of the way, but to show up and be present with a mindset that is determined, not debilitating. You must realize that your thoughts affect your actions. The reality is that you do have a choice regarding your thoughts, which can have a positive effect on your performance in sports, business, and life. Moreover, your choice to speak from a positive mindset and vocabulary will in turn help others maximize their potential and opportunities as well. Choose today to live from a place of possibility and growth!

 

This blog post was adapted from my upcoming sports performance workbook, Be Present: Showing Up When It Matters Most, which will be available this summer.

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Questions Every Great Leader Should Ask

Speaking is an essential skill for transformational leaders, but every great leader also needs to be able to listen. I often see leaders who focus more on telling without gathering the proper context, which always begins with asking the right questions. When you engage the people you lead with great questions it builds rapport, allows you to collaborate with them, and provides the necessary context for you to pour into them and provide the right advice, guidance, and encouragement.

Leader standing with colleagues

In working with leaders and helping our clients to develop their leadership culture, we have found the following questions to be especially helpful and effective if you want to be a transformational leader:

  • How are you doing? – Notice that this question is not “How’s it going?” which demands a response of a status report. This question focuses on them and how they are personally doing. It can be a conversation starter and allows you to understand what has been going on in their lives. It also gives them a chance to voice their level of engagement in life and expand on personal activities that they are passionate about or have brought meaning to their life. It facilitates a connection.
  • What are you most proud of over the last few months? – This is a different way to ask “How’s it going?” When you ask this question, it gives them a chance to passionately talk about the work they have been doing and the impact it has had on others including team members, clients and customers, and the community. It also gives you a lens into what they are passionate about, which can be helpful as you assign them to future roles. This question reveals what brings them the most contentment.
  • What opportunities have you leveraged? – This question allows you to gauge their initiative and creativity. Many times when I have asked this of the people I have led, their eyes begin to light up as they talk about new ideas and the process of discovery. The best leaders help others discover possibilities and leverage opportunities. This question facilitates curiosity.
  • What successes have you had? – Great leaders catch people doing the right things and celebrate their successes. Asking this question allows them to articulate the wins and breakthrough moments and gives you insight into their strengths. This question strengthens commitment.
  • What challenges, if any, do you have in front of you? – Some leaders fear asking this question, because there may be a response that requires them to do something. Moreover, these very same leaders don’t want challenges, they want things handled and solved. While it is true that responsibility and authority should be given to others along with the permission to solve challenges, the best leaders ask this question to gather context and stay engaged in the process. They also ask this question to gauge the intuition and discernment of the people they lead. Finally, great leaders ask this question, because they must. It is their opportunity as a leader to invest in and show concern for their team and to collaboratively engage with them. This questions serves as a catalyst for courage.
  • How can I help? – A lot of leaders fail to ask this question, especially after asking the question about challenges, because they know this question demands an answer that will require their time, commitment, and effort. They seem to disappear from the conversation almost in a “Good luck with that one” kind of way. Truly engaged leaders consistently ask this question after gathering the proper context in order to leverage their power and influence to pave and prepare the way for the people they lead to be successful. Asking this question promotes collaboration.

Transformational leaders are purposeful and passionate about engaging with their team. They listen well and ask the appropriate questions in order to provide the right support. As you consider the roles that you play in life and the leadership opportunities and influence that you have, I encourage you to ask these questions. They will help you effectively connect with the people you lead and help you make a positive impact that extends beyond your reach.

Question: What questions have you used to effectively connect with your team? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

6 Principles For Making Your Moments Count For What Matters Most – Podcast: S01E007

In today’s podcast, I share 6 principles for making your moments count for what matters most. I also share some practical strategies for how to apply these principles and make this happen on a daily and weekly basis. The principles are based on my book Moments: Making Your Life Count For What Matters Most as well as the work that we do developing leaders in sports, business, and life.

Episode Outline:

6 Principles for Making Your Moments Count:

  • Focus on the Moment
  • Enjoy the Moment
  • Engage in the Moment
  • Perform in the Moment
  • Pray in the Moment

What Happens When You Focus on Goliath

The real life story of David vs. Goliath in the Bible has been told many times! In fact, it is often used as a metaphor for sports, business, and life when a team or company faces a giant and takes him down. Coaches and leaders frequently use a “David vs. Goliath” reference to motivate the team or organization to conquer the odds, win the impossible championship, or suddenly emerge as a new entrant into a mature market.

Small and giant businessmen

While we are inspired by David and his faith, it is easy to get discouraged and disillusioned by the “giants” in our own lives. I have seen this as an athlete and coach when players or a team worries more about the size of their opponent than their own talents, opportunities, and resources. I have often seen it in the faces of people who are not just battling some opponent on the field but a fierce and unforgiving giant in their lives. When we focus and worry about the Goliaths in our lives, we forget and forsake the keys to persevering in those moments. Specifically, here are some pitfalls that occur when you focus on the giant:

  • You magnify the size of the giant – If we are facing a giant in our lives, it is already big by the definition of the word giant. We don’t need to increase the size of our giant by constantly thinking and worrying about it. As I tell the athletes that I coach: What you choose to focus on magnifies in size. If you choose to focus on the giant, he will get bigger. If you choose to focus on your goal and target and the process to get there, your goal will get bigger, clearer, and more possible.
  • You do unnatural things and forget what you do best – When you are facing a giant, you tend to do things that you have never done before. I once saw this with one of the basketball teams that I coached. We were facing some giants – literally – on the court, and we began to shoot long quick shots and try to play one-on-five basketball, which was not our natural tendency as a team. We got away from what made us successful all because we were facing a giant – or a whole team of giants! It is easy to go solo when the giant appears, because we fear that we have to face it alone. Just like David, we must remember the things that got us here and rely on those things to get us through this moment. David refused the armor that was offered to him, because he knew that it was his skills as a shepherd and his faith that were going to sustain him in facing Goliath.
  • You worry about the other team’s strengths – When you focus on the giant in front of you, you tend to worry about all of the qualities and strengths of the giant before you. You become defeated before you even take the “field,” because the giant seems menacing and insurmountable. Making a detailed list of all of the strengths of your giant and articulating all of the reasons why you will never get through it are not helpful habits.
  • You don’t trust yourself or your teammates – As a leader, trust is essential to competing in sports, completing a successful project or product launch in business, and/or building and growing a great family. Giants can step in and overshadow your ability to trust what you know to be true about yourself and others affecting your ability to perform well in important moments. Fear and trust cannot coexist, and one usually dominates the other based on which one we feed. In order to be fearless, we need to fear less and trust more.
  • You don’t play to your strengths – Giants try to kill, steal, and destroy the things that make you successful and impactful with your life. By nature, a giant is destructive, not subtle. A giant has one mission and that is to tear apart things and people. When you are facing a giant in any arena of life, you have to play to your strengths, not the giant’s strengths. For me, it always begins with my faith and the people I have in my life to remind me of this. My faith in Jesus is my strength and the foundation of my life. Jesus is the one person I can count on whenever I am facing a giant in my life, and I have already faced several in my life so far that He has helped me conquer. Realizing that He is my strength and leveraging systems and processes and character traits that ground me in this truth are the way I play to my strengths.
  • You allow probability thinking to overshadow possibility thinking – The probability of you conquering a giant is not always good unless you are a giant yourself. The mere mention of a giant means that the person, thing, or problem that you are facing is bigger probability-wise than you. If you focus on the math, it doesn’t compute to success, a win, or a breakthrough moment. The probability of success in this moment far surpasses the possibility of surviving it. Yet, it is possibility thinking that defines truly resilient people. In all of the research and work we have done in helping and coaching leaders and elite athletes to maximize their potential and accomplish their goals, we have found that resilient people get into possibility thinking really quickly when they face a problem of gigantic proportions. They are realistic about the giant, but they don’t remain rattled by it. They move on past the problem in front of them and seek and discover what’s possible in solving this very formidable problem. And, sometimes, it is not even about conquering the giant but more about how they can grow from the experience.

Problems, foes, adversaries, strongholds, and giants are all a part of life. You will see them and ultimately face them sometime in your life. Whether you have faced a giant in your past or are currently facing one in this present moment, I want to encourage you to learn from the story of David. He did not focus on Goliath and avoided the pitfalls mentioned above. By focusing on his faith, his strengths, and the size of God and His power, he conquered his Goliath, and you can too. Choose today to focus on the things that will help you prevail against your giant!

Related to the topic of this blog post, I wanted to make you aware of a book by my friend Louie Giglio entitled Goliath Must Fall. Louie has been a spiritual mentor to me since my days in college, and he is an incredible Pastor and communicator who has inspired many people including college students all over the world. In his new book, he authentically shares his testimony of facing a season that seemed insurmountable and what he learned about how you can truly conquer the giants of Goliath proportion in your life. While you can find a link in our Resources area on my web site to buy the book, I am also giving away 3 free copies of his book. Enter Our Giveaway before the deadline of Monday, May 22nd for a chance to win one of these free copies.

 

The Source of Your Identity with Kyle Van Hoozer – Podcast: S01E006

Today’s podcast is a follow-up to last week’s episode where I talked about 3 X-Factors to success in sports, business, and life and introduced you to 2 math equations that can help or hinder your performance based on which one you follow. I explore these equations more in this episode and discuss how connecting your identity directly to your performance or title can severely hinder your ability to perform at your best, especially when you have a bad performance or when that title, sport, or opportunity changes or is taken away.

You will also hear from a very special person that I have known all of his life – my son Kyle Van Hoozer. Kyle shared a message on Youth Sunday at Second Baptist Church that I think will resonate with you that relates to this topic of identity and how pride can get in the way of discovering the real source of strength in your life. You can listen to the audio of his message on the podcast or watch the video on this blog post.

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3 X-Factors For Success In Sports, Business, and Life

In today’s podcast, I share 3 X-Factors that you can use to have success and impact in sports, business, and life. I have taught these principles in my “Mastering the Mental Game of Golf” workshop and have used them in coaching thousands of athletes across all sports as well as coaching entrepreneurs and business leaders. These principles can be applied to any area of life and can help you become more resilient, maximize your potential, and accomplish your goals.

Episode Outline:

  • 4 Dimensions of Peak Performance:
    • Technical
    • Mental
    • Nutritional
    • Physical
  • Use creative tension to be resilient and push through resistance to accomplish your goals.
  • “Most people never get there. They’re afraid or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance. But struggling and suffering, as I now saw it, were the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not constantly demanding more from yourself—expanding and learning as you go—you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.” Dean Karnazes, ultra-marathoner
  • Many people operate from this math equation that can hinder your performance:
    • Identity = Performance + Opinion of Others
  • They should be operating from this equation which can boost your performance:
    • Performance = Potential/Talent – Distraction
  • 3 X-Factors For Success in Sports, Business, and Life:
    • Focus
    • I Will Mindset
    • Recovery Time©
  • “What you choose to focus on magnifies in size.” – Mike Van Hoozer
  • Key Questions About Focus:
    • What thoughts are you thinking about?
    • Do you carry bad plays or bad performances in the past with you into the present moment
    • Are you using negative words without even realizing the effect it is having on your performance?
    • Do you focus on the obstacle and the challenge or the target and the goal
  • Volition – Your will or desire to do something; determination
  • “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” – Nido Qubein
  • 9 Additional Tips For Consistently Achieving Excellence In Every Area of Life:
    • Know Why You Do What You Do
    • Practice With a Purpose
    • Use a Consistent Pre-Shot Routine Utilizing SFT
    • Use Activating/Trigger Phrases in Your Pre-Shot Routine
    • Focus on the Target (vs. Avoiding the Hazard)
    • Play Shot to Shot – Perform in the Moment©
    • Focus 12 seconds at a Time
    • Be Outcome-Driven and Process-Focused
    • Play the Round and Let the Round Play Out

Additional Resources:

  • Catherine Kruppa – Peak Performance Colleague and licensed dietitian, nutritionist, and wellness coach
  • Ben Fairchild – Peak Sports Performance Colleague and trainer for elite high school, college, and professional athletes
  • Jim Guillory – Peak Performance Colleague and muscle activation technique (MAT) specialist

 

Building The Production Capacity Of Others

Great leaders know that in order to produce, they have to build the production capacity of themselves and of those that they lead and influence. This is true in sports, business, and life. The best leaders that we have researched, studied, and worked with are transformational in their approach versus just being transactional. The brilliance of their leadership style is their ability to get things done while also developing the leadership capacity of others in the process. We call this process “activating the performance of others.”

Female leader in front of group

In our “Invisible Hand of Leadership” program, we felt so strongly about the importance of this concept that we dedicated modules around both the role of being an “Activator” as well as the habit of “activating” the performance of those you lead and influence. It all centers around 2 basic philosophies of leadership:

  • Exponential Leadership – the ability to produce beyond yourself in an exponential way, impact, and return on investment
  • Generational Leadership – the focus of going beyond just collecting followers who execute tasks to developing leaders who build and transform the team, organization, and culture.

Sometimes, we find the challenge with emerging leaders is that they get so obsessed with producing that they become oblivious to the benefits of building the production capacity of others. Entrepreneurs and people in business development and sales roles that I have coached often refer to this as “working in the business versus working on the business.” This reference is somewhat analogous to the idea of developing leaders and the production capacity of your team and organization. You have to rise above the everyday tasks and transactions and make leadership development a strategic priority.

But how do you do it? Here are 3 quick tips on building the production capacity of others:

  • Time – You will never produce beyond yourself if you don’t make and take time to invest in the growth of others. John Maxwell refers to this principle as the “Law of the Lid.” At some point, you reach the “lid,” or limit, of what you can do with the time that you have. No matter how good you are and how productive you can be, you only have so much talent and time. The best leaders prioritize the growth of others not only in their annual goals and role description but also in their weekly calendar. In other words, they act on their intentions. Think about who you can invest in and then begin to schedule regular time with them to help them grow into the leader you know they can become.
  • Teach – Great leaders are always teaching and sharing insights with others in order for them to learn, grow, and take those ideas further based on their insights and talent. In leading teams myself, I always try to assign responsibility based on a person’s experience and potential and then support them in the process. I also strive to be purposeful about teaching them things I have learned and having a dialogue with them based on questions and things that they are interested in that I can help them learn and grow faster. The goal is to accelerate their learning through your journey. Teaching begins with developing a “teachable point of view,” which involves drawing clarity around the experiences you have been through and discerning principles from those experiences that can help you and others in the future. Make it a priority to teach in the midst of tasks.
  • Trust – Ultimately, growing the production capacity of others becomes a matter of trust with the key question being: Do you trust this person to take on this task? Most leaders rise through the organization based on their ability to produce, not necessarily their skills in building the production capacity of others. Yet, when you arrive at the title of leader, you have to make a shift and learn how to lead which involves producing through others. In order to be an effective, transformational leader, your whole mode of thinking has to shift from “I’ll just do it myself!” to “I need to grow our collective production capacity in order to produce exponentially.” This mindset shift is based on trust. You build trust by giving up control of things you used to control yourself and coaching, encouraging, and giving feedback in the process.

Whether you are a leader in a company or non-profit organization, a leader on your sports team, or a leader at home and in your community, learning to grow the production capacity of others is an important and essential skill. In order to make the most impact through your life, you have to learn to make an impact through others. Great leaders know and realize this, and they also recognize that their investment in others goes way beyond just getting things done. The return is revealed in the changed lives of others and helping them become who they were created to be!

We offer some great leadership, consulting, and coaching programs that are growing and developing the leadership capacity of some incredible organizations like Accenture  KPMG, Rice University, NCI Group, SpringSpirit Baseball, Kendra Scott, and Baylor University. We would love to help you, your team, and your organization grow as leaders through one of our leadership programs. Email me to discover how we might be able to help you create an “invisible hand of leadership” that transforms your leadership culture.