Engage in the life you have been given!
Three dribbles. Stop. One more dribble. Stop. Bend the knees and become one with the shot as I follow through the ball figuratively extending my elbow and wrist like Stretch Armstrong all the way through the center of the goal swishing the ball through the net. It’s the same routine for me every time I shoot a free throw. It’s been that way since Jr. High, although I shoot a lot less meaningful free throws these days.
In the arena of peak sports performance, we call it a pre-shot routine, and it is the key to making a great shot. In sports, every successful athlete develops a routine before they perform. The idea of a pre-shot routine applies to all sports even though the specific sport may not involve an actual “shot.” Each athlete develops a systematic routine that involves both physical and mental activity that helps them prepare to perform at their best. While every athlete may have nuances within their specific approach, a pre-shot routine typically involves the following components:
- Mental focus – Preparing your mind to focus on a positive outcome and simplifying your thoughts to replace extraneous thoughts and distractions
- Physical Preparation – Preparing your body to perform the task at hand
Athletes realize they can’t just summon focus magically in the moment. Preparation is the key.
The concept a pre-shot routine applies not only to sports but also to other areas of our lives like our vocation, our community, and our relationships. In my book Moments: Making Your Life Count For What Matters Most, I call this principle “Focus on the Moment” and explain that in order to have focus IN the moment, you have to focus ON the moment which involves considering the following questions:
- What’s at stake?
- Who else is involved?
- How can I make a difference?
A successful presenter doesn’t just step up to the microphone and magically demonstrate focus. He or she prepares in advance carefully considering the moment, the audience, and the message. An incredible client meeting doesn’t just happen. You have to consider the needs, challenges, and questions of the other person and be prepared to provide answers and solutions that will make a positive impact. Great families don’t just happen. You have to focus on the outcomes you want to see and the opportunities you have to impact the people in your family. Effective weeks don’t just appear out of thin air. You have to be proactive and develop a “pre-shot routine” for your weeks and days that will put you into a position to “score” (i.e. be effective).
Question: What is your pre-shot routine for your life? How do you prepare for your days and weeks? Do you think your days could be more productive and effective if you spent time preparing and focusing ON the moment? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Whether you realize it or not, every day you are writing the script to your story. With every choice and decision about your time, talent, and resources you are putting a stamp on your legacy. With every great story, there are central characters, role players, antagonists, successes, setbacks, a key challenge, and a pursuit of persevering through the key challenge.
Does life seem to be passing you by? Are you writing the story that you want to create? If the answer is a resounding “No!” or you are unsure and you feel like you are going through the motions, here are 3 steps that may help you in this process:
- Reflect – Take time to reflect by scheduling a personal retreat. You may not have time or the resources to schedule a 6-month sabbatical, but you can make a choice to take a day or a weekend retreat to assess where you are, where you have been, and where you are going. One thing that has helped me in times of reflection in my journey is the power or prayer and listening to God for direction, wisdom, and clarity. Another thing has been asking myself the question that Ralph Waldo Emerson used to ask Henry David Thoreau and his other friends, “What has become clear since we last met?”
- Redirect – This may involve redirecting your energy, your priorities, and your pursuits. Based on an honest assessment of your strengths, passions, and purpose in life, you have an opportunity to redirect your efforts toward the right road in life. While we do not have ultimate control of the events in our lives and the world around us, we must be active and engaged if we want to affect the outcome of our story. Life was never intended to be a spectator sport no matter how good the seats or how tasty the halftime snacks are.
- Run – As an endurance runner, I love to run! I even like to walk fast when I am going somewhere. Running allows me to be active in a journey and committed to a goal. In life, we must be active in our journey and committed to purposeful decisions that will achieve our goal. While you may only gain clarity about the next step, trust and faith allow you to take that step with a determination that you are on the right path. We were created to embrace our calling and run with a purpose toward the right pursuits.
The path is often determined by asking the right questions to gain clarity through the right answers. You get one shot at life – one story to craft and create something beautiful, memorable, significant, and impactful! Decide today to be actively engaged in creating the story you were intended to live!
Question: What do you think your purpose or calling in life is? How are you impacting the people in your story? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
As I ended the call with a friend and coaching client, I thought about the wisdom of his words. My mind also went back in time to consider the many moments that he had been through, many of which we had navigated together. Moments of trial, triumph, and trust. Many times, we cannot see what is on the other side of a difficult moment. We only see what we are experiencing and want it to end or transition soon to a brighter day.
No one dreams of going through a trial in their life; yet, we know that hard times and occasionally, nightmares, are a part of a person’s journey. Whether you are an athlete who gets behind in a game or match or a person who is currently facing more severe challenges, here are 3 things that can help you with persevering through your challenge:
- Your Journey Shapes You – Every moment shapes you into the person you are and the person you are becoming. If we had our choice, we would cherish the good and chunk the bad. Yet, we must learn to embrace and engage in all of our moments if we want to learn from our past and become a complete person.
- Embracing The Moment Is Key – It is easy to embrace and enjoy incredible moments in our life, but who wants to walk up to a disastrous moment and give it a great big hug? We kick, we scream, and we throw a fist in the air at these types of moments. While I am not asking you to put your arms around a horrible moment and invite it into the living room of your life, I am challenging you to meet it head on. Most elite performers that I interview and coach embrace challenges as a part of life and competition. They gather context, maintain perspective, and then act accordingly to conquer the challenge.
- Character Is Often Developed In Times of Heartache – Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” While I believe that we can grow through times of triumph, many character-building moments can also be experienced through times of trial and suffering. The point is that we have to be active and engaged. We can’t just sit back in a recliner expecting things to happen in our lives. And it is through this activity that moments will occur – both good and bad – that helps us grow in character.
Perspective is gained on the other side of the pothole. Looking back often allows us to look forward with renewed confidence and resolve. Embrace the moments in your life knowing that they will shape you into becoming a better person.
Question: What about you? Would you trade your experiences or change your journey? How have your experiences shaped you into the person you are today? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Recently, I learned how to swim. It’s not that I didn’t know how to swim. I have been getting in the pool since I was a child and faintly remember taking lessons, treading water by playing Marco Polo, and occasionally racing others to the other end of the pool. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I realized I did not know how to swim laps in a pool.
For years, my triathlon friends have been encouraging and challenging me to do a race. They knew I could run and cycle and told me that I had already mastered the hardest part; but, for me, the swimming was my Achilles heel. When I first attempted to swim a lap in the pool, my head did not want to go under the water. After I bought some goggles and was able to at least rinse my face in the water, I realized that it felt like I was “sprinting” in the pool. I am not saying that I was breaking Olympic world records with my speed. It was the sensation that I was going to drown and could not wait to get to the other side. I would reach the other side, catch my breath, and then attempt another 25-meter lap in the pool.
As I watched other people swim lap after continuous lap in the pool, they looked so smooth, calm, and relaxed. Their strokes seemed effortless, and they were able to swim for longer and farther than I could. Being a distance runner and in great shape, it frustrated me that I could not do what they were able to do!
I eventually found this blog entry from Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Workweek, which helped me to make a breakthrough in my swimming. He went from being frustrated to fearless in the pool. The combination of his tips and this great article on breathing helped me to finally discover what I was doing wrong. The breathing article mentioned that most beginning swimmers fail to breathe when their face is under the water, and they struggle to breathe out and breathe in when their head comes out of the water on their strokes. In other words, they never get enough time to fully exhale and fully inhale. They are essentially holding their breath until the moment (the looming lap in the pool) passes.
This scenario was exactly what I was doing. But how do you exhale in the water? I found that experienced swimmers exhale in the water by blowing out bubbles, and I began to practice this technique. It made all the difference in the world once I learned that you could exhale (blow out bubbles) without opening your mouth and taking in a gallon of water. While I am still working on my swim endurance and strength, breathing efficiently in the pool has made all the difference in the world! I am able to swim better, more efficiently, and for a longer distance.
This experience made me think about life. We all have moments of stress, crisis, and defeat, and it feels as if we cannot catch our breath. We don’t properly breathe and foolishly attempt to hold our breath, close our eyes, and hope that it was all just a bad nightmare. We have to get back to the basics of breathing: exhaling the stress and feelings of despair and inhaling the “oxygen” of today. What is that “oxygen?” It’s our friends, family, and faith that are there for us when we need them most. It’s your purpose – the reason you were put on this earth and why you are you still alive.
Challenges can distract us from continuously facing each day with purpose, passion, and action. The first step begins with breathing the right way.
You can leave a comment by clicking here.
This blog entry is a tribute to my grandfather Pat Joyner and the legacy he helped create! This excerpt has been adapted from my book Moments: Making Your Life Count For What Matters Most. Pat was my grandfather and an incredible man of integrity! Although he is no longer alive, I love him and everything he stood for. Everyone should have a “Pat” in their lives!
My grandfather was the first male figure that appeared on the scene. His name was Pat, and he was the father of my mother. He was a man of truth and integrity, living his life in such a way that what he said matched up with how he lived. We had “man-to-man” talks, rides in his car, and rides on his lap. I remember, as well as a 5-year old can remember, looking up into his eyes and wanting to be just like him. He invited me to go with him everywhere. It was the ideal mentoring relationship, where I was experiencing what it was like to be a “real man.” It didn’t seem weird at the time, but as I look back at it, many fathers, and especially grandfathers, didn’t provide the kind of insight and access to their life that Pat did for me.
I was proud of Pat, and he was proud of me. He took me – his only grandson and a fatherless one at that – and lived his life before me. Pat took me to play golf before the days of Tiger Woods and child prodigies. At the time, it was rare for a country club to allow a youngster on the course, because it might slow up the game for others. Pat told the suspicious officials at the club that I was his caddy and ball watcher. He insisted that I ride in the cart so that I could give him advice on shots and help him find his ball. I knew I could help him find his golf balls, but at the time, I wasn’t so sure about being a caddy. I didn’t know the difference between a fade and a draw, much less what club to use in different situations. At the age of 8, the biggest club in the bag looks like the perfect club to use on every shot. He would also let me hit balls on the course during our rounds together.
This is one of my favorite quotes from my book Moments: Making Your Life Count For What Matters Most.
Recently, I celebrated my birthday. As we increase in age, the actual celebration takes place with less people and less fanfare. It may include some of the most important people in your life like your family or a few close friends unless it is a milestone birthday. With technology, however, an online celebration seems to occur on places like Facebook and other social media sites where people weigh in on your newsfeed with all kinds of well wishes and encouragement.
As I surveyed the birthday responses on my Facebook page (as well as email, text messages, and other social media), I discovered 3 types of content from friends, family, and other colleagues and acquaintances: 1) Appreciation for the past, 2) Hope for future moments, and 3) Encouragement to enjoy the present day. It spurred a reminder for me about a quote that I included in my book Moments: Making Your Life Count For What Matters Most:
“To every man there comes that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered that chance to do a very special thing unique to him and fitted to his talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for that work.”
Moments: Making Your Life Count For What Matters Most (Insight Publishing)