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Coach Mike's Blog

Chicken or the Egg? The Key to Understanding Greatness

October 4, 2013

Which comes first…the occurrence of a perceived bad incident in our life or the state of being of stress, pressure or fear that may have caused the bad incident?


ANSWER: It doesn’t matter.


(I will explain this answer shortly.)


Here is a sports example: A basketball player misses a free throw, has immediate thoughts of anger and failure, then goes on a stretch for the rest of the half where they miss all of their shots along with making several additional mistakes to hurt their team.


At this point (and at every point during competition) the athlete has a choice…they can stew in their angry juices and their inadequacy during halftime while questioning their ability along with blaming their teammates for not doing their jobs.  They can also start ripping on the refs for making bad calls. They can tell the coach about how they just can’t make any shots and how it just isn’t their night and then, they can go out in the second half of the game and suck even more.


Good plan there… not.


Or, the athlete can regroup at halftime and let go of everything that has happened in the past by staying in the moment because this moment is the only thing that is real. They can refocus, they can accept everything that has happened to this point make a decision to go out in the second half and be better. Then, the athlete goes out relaxed, focused, confident and determined while leading their team to victory.


Much better plan there.


Which came first?  The state of being which caused the initial missed free throw or the occurrence of the missed free throw?  It’s actually the state of being or internal resistance that always causes the physical occurrence and then, if we aren’t aware of the resistance (anger, fear, pressure), it begins to grow and the performance suffers even more.


The key is being aware of the state of being at all times and making the shift when necessary back to acceptance (relaxation, confidence, focus, certainty, trust).  The key and the ‘missing link’ for athletes and non-athletes is to live from the inside out.


The problem is that most people live from the outside in instead of the inside out.  They blame the occurrence for making them angry or stressed instead of looking at the cause—which is themselves–and making the decision to make the shift back to acceptance when things start going bad.


As I mentioned it doesn’t matter which comes first as a missed free throw or ANY ‘mistake’ in performance (or life) can be just that…a brief mistake— provided you don’t allow the negative state to expand which will ALWAYS cause more bad experiences.


Let me finish this post with a real life story that happened this week in my family.


My 15 year old son was playing in an important season ending golf tournament with forty other golfers.  He was cruising along through six holes, playing really well and then, on the seventh hole, he hit a couple of bad shots and made a triple bogey—three over par for you non-golfers out there— which is not good.  I saw the stress and anger on his face as made his way to the next hole and while he did ok on the eighth hole, he was definitely not the same golfer he was for the first six holes.


Then, on the ninth tee, he hit an average drive off to the left, then proceeded to ‘shank’ his next shot into the woods on the right and then, his third shot barely got out of the trees leaving him lying three on the par four hole still eighty yards from the green.
He was stressed and pretty pissed off as he walked up to the ball.


I just smiled and said to him, ”breathe…relax…loosen your hands…you’re doing fine” (so easy to say when I am not the one playing).  He gave me the look out of the corner of his eye like he wanted to tell me to go pound sand (haha—I would have done the same!) but I smiled again and said, “you have a choice here buddy and that choice can be to relax, trust your talent, knock it on the green and make the best five of your life.”


My son took out his wedge and hit his next shot on the green to about 12 feet away from the cup and proceeded to make the putt for a five… maybe the best five of his life.  When the putt fell, I, along with the other spectators, cheered and I saw my son fist pump in excitement and then, I noticed a complete change in his state of being back to confidence.


He went on to birdie the tenth hole then rattled off four straight pars on his way to finishing third out of forty golfers in the event.  At the pivotal point on the ninth hole, he had a choice and had he not made the internal shift he would have most likely spiraled downward and probably finished among the bottom of the pack.


It was a really proud moment for me to watch my son not only compete but, to decide to make the shift back to acceptance while realizing that he had a choice in the matter.  I hope it is something he never forgets.


And I hope you never forget, that you have a choice in every moment and every situation in your life.  Stay awake, stay aware, take responsibility for your experiences and ALWAYS live from the inside out.


- Coach Mike

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