Silent Concussions

24 02 2017

“The trauma that results when coaches over step the boundaries of human decency and respect.”silent-concussion

We have become INCREASINGLY aware and sensitive to the dangers of concussions over the last couple of years. Professional sports is implementing increased protocols in an effort to protect their players as they should. Traumatic brain injuries, as many know, debilitate the functioning of the brain and therefore ends up forever affecting the quality of life for the one affected as well as those around them. We all know that prevention is the key.

There are certainly no shortage of concussions in youth sports. I am glad that greater awareness is paving the way for preventing and protecting more youth sport athletes.

However, there are “BRAIN INJURIES” that our young athletes are encountering with little to no intervention or treatment. These injuries often come in the form of coach/athlete interactions. Often through simple observation you can attend any youth sporting event and witness interactions that are laced with demeaning abusive language, demeaning body language, a complete lack of self control, as well as, an overall disrespect for the athlete. These interactions are often excused by believing they are done in the “name of developing the athlete.” The athlete needs to: “toughen up”, “get more motivated”, “be sent a message”, “learn from their mistakes”, “quit making excuses”, etc. If we truly believe these types of interactions actually correlate to the outcomes purported, we need to truly re-think our logic. The bigger question is why are we so tolerant of these interactions especially when it comes to our young people.

The damage that these interactions are having on the psyche of our young people is astounding!

I often hear from parents, “Well if I do anything my kid will be punished, lose playing time, be alienated,” (or some reason that has FEAR at the center).

What about this? If we continue to tolerate coach bullies we are going to cultivate a generation of mentally intimidated, cowering, fearful, depressed, and dis-empowered young people. Personally, I would much rather have a young person lack playing time than confidence, self definition, personal empowerment, and courage. In my mind there is no contest in that trade.

Some of the damaging symptoms of a concussion include the slowing down of brain functioning, a feeling of fog, headaches, dizziness, and a lack of capacity to think clearly. If we look carefully, when our young people are bullied through intimidation, tactics that feed on fear and mental game playing, we are generating some of these very symptoms. CONFUSION, AND SLOWER BRAIN FUNCTIONING to name a couple. To make matters worse when we see evidence of these symptoms that are attributed to the environment generated through and because of these interactions we BLAME THE ATHLETE for the symptoms.

What has led to us believing that this type of behavior is acceptable?

When did we lose all common sense to think that learning, developing and progressing happens in an environment of confusion, intimidation, bullying, and fear?

The imprint these strategies are having on our young people is TRAUMATIC!!!

WE MUST STOP TOLERATING ABUSIVE INTERACTIONS BETWEEN YOUTH COACHES AND ATHLETES.

In my opinion, quality interactions should include:

  • Clear and specific expectations.
  • Honest feedback that gives understanding for the decisions that are made that impact the athlete.
  • Specific and personalized feedback that explain the strengths and work areas for the athlete and his/her ability to contribute.
  • Accountability that helps the athlete learn about responsibility to his/herself and the team.
  • An approach-ability that allows for young people to talk openly about their experiences without fear of punishment.
  • Kindness! Kindness and an overall love of kids should translate to an expectation that at the core of coaching young people is a love for them.

Young people flourish in an environment of clear, specific, consistent, honest, kind, and personalized feedback. The long term benefits of this are numerous and powerful.

It is time to make a shift in the environment that we expect our young people to play and compete in.

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Shaun





3 C Power

7 02 2017

stencil-youtube-thumbnailLike many, I am fascinated with the formula for SUCCESS. I realize that success has different meanings depending on the source. However, for the sake of this piece I am simply looking to understand a formula for living with purpose, resulting in something being produced, fueled by passion, and challenges our potential.

Simply stated, success might be be defined as living purposely to produce an outcome motivated by passion to realize our potential.

Isn’t this why we pour hours of energy into a sport, career, relationship, hobby?

Are we not truly desiring to have purpose and intention in our living?

Do we not want to see results from our efforts in the form of some outcome?

Are we not trying to live with passion and motivation so we can sustain ourselves through the challenging times?

Are we not also curious about what we are capable of and truly seek to tap into the deep potential that lives often latently in the depths of our being?

I want to suggest that there are 3 C’s that can propel us to this end.

First, is COURAGE. I really believe that removing unfounded fear and living courageously is at the center of fulfillment, purpose and achievement. Regardless of what you are striving for at some point courage will be necessary. Whether we are looking to improve a relationship, performance at a job, improve our grades in school, or let go of a dream to cultivate a new one, COURAGE IS PART OF THE SUCCESS FORMULA.

Second, CHALLENGE. Challenge is like the weight room of life. It is here where you face your limitations and train past them. When you are engaged in a well grounded strength training program limits and resistance are used to grow strength and endurance. Aren’t we all looking for strength and endurance in our lives? We MUST EMBRACE THE CHALLENGES IN OUR LIVES!! When we do so with wisdom these challenges can be transformed into strength and endurance. Success is often achieved through the expression of strength and endurance as seen in commitment and persistence.

Third, CONTENTMENT. This one will most certainly come as a shock to many. In this ELITISM SOCIETY where being EXCEPTIONAL is often looked at as the norm, NORMAL HAS NOW BECOME SEEN AS DEFECTIVE. Success for most of us will reside in living with a healthy contentment knowing that we did the best we could have. There is nothing wrong with being content with your best even if your best was at the low end of the norm. I see many knocking themselves out to pursue exceptional and elite status at the expense of their own well being with no real hope of ever reaching exceptional status. I have to thank my mentor, Micheal Anderson L.P. and co-author of the book GIST The Essence of Raising Life-Ready Kids, for this concept.

COURAGE, CHALLENGE and CONTENTMENT. 3 C’s that provide a framework for us to intentionally live with purpose and deep fulfillment as we navigate through the many experiences that we will encounter in life. I urge you to take these 3 C’s and activate them in your life.

Let us know your definition of success in the comments below!

Shaun





What If?

20 12 2016

We ask ourselves questions all the time. Most of these questions start with the word WHAT.

What If?

What If?

“What should I wear today?”

“What should I say when asked a question?”

“What should I eat?”

We also ask ourselves, “WHAT IF?”

This often leads us to a series of memories that plant us right in the past regretting something we did leading to feelings of inadequacy or shame. I find that the questions that we ask ourselves inevitably shape our perception, perspective and framework for experiencing life.

Questions aim our thinking, awareness and focus.

This morning, while doing my daily journaling, I decided to RIFT off of the the question “WHAT IF?” However, the substance of my “what if” was much different.

Here are some examples:

What if my fears are unfounded?

What if 10 seconds of courage in a relationship could transform it forever?

What if my beliefs about myself are mistaken?

What if my assumptions are unfounded?

These were just a couple of WHAT IF questions I posed to myself.

As I immersed myself in this wonderfully inspiring series of WHAT IF questions, I literally felt my energy, creativity and world of possibility open up. I found myself in the mental amusement park of possibility.

As I came out of the journaling session I couldn’t help but wonder… WHAT IF everyone could begin to see their lives through a powerfully constructed “WHAT IF?” What if we were surrounded by a community of WHAT IF people? What if a simple blog could challenge just one person to pose this question in a new and inspiring way?

Maybe you are currently experiencing a significant challenge yourself. “What if” you could see yourself with greater courage, strength, skills, or support? “What if” despite past experiences you could see yourself rising above your past and transform your life by cultivating a new perspective never before experienced? “What if” on this day, in this season, we all could take a couple of minutes a day and pose this question believing we have been given the gift of free will and the creative capacity and imagination to ask ourselves “WHAT IF?!!”

What is your “WHAT IF?”

Let me know in the comments below.

Merry Christmas,

Shaun





The Challenge is Real

14 12 2016

Many people I care about and love are in the midst of significant life challenges! You might be one of those in the midst of a significant challenge.

TheseThe Challenge Is Real challenges could be best described as “being in a war.” The challenge never seems to let up. No matter which way you turn, there it is seemingly waiting to torment and therefore, torture you. It is said that when we face challenges of this intensity we come face to face with our true self.

I have to be honest and admit that the intensity of some of the challenges I am seeing go beyond a “problem to be solved.” Truthfully, a problem would be far preferred than a challenge. Problems can often be solved through advanced thinking, surrender and increased support. Challenges seem to dig at our humanity, value system, spirituality, and in some cases, our very existence. They force us to quickly assess our emotional, social, spiritual, and at times, financial resources.

How are we to respond when faced with a challenge(s) of this magnitude?

Whatever threatens our health, well being, family, security, and certainty is a real challenge. When life is at its best the strength of these arenas allow us to LIVE WITH DAILY CONTENTMENT. Once they are threatened then our life feels like it us under attack.

A bad doctors report puts the vision for tomorrow in question.

The loss of a job brings deep uncertainty of how to cover our financial responsibilities.

When one of our children or another loved one is struggling we are often faced with fear about what might happen.

Suffice it to say any of our lives could come under attack at anytime and without warning.

These challenges are REAL. They Require Encouragement And Love. (REAL)

CHALLENGES that shake us at our foundation demand the ASSEMBLING of an ARMY. No one goes to battle intelligently without an army. Armies have one thing they focus on…WINNING THE BATTLE.

We all need an army! A group of people that stand with us, fight for us and, without hesitation, go to war on our behalf.

What troubles me are the battles that people are fighting without their own personal army.

Armies compound courage in one another. BEING IN THE FIGHT WITH SOMEONE ELSE HELPS US TO FIND HOPE, COURAGE, STRENGTH, and FAITH IN THE BATTLE. Some of the challenges we face do not have any quick and certain answers. Maybe, the presence of a challenge forces us to GET OUTSIDE OF OURSELVES and LEAN INTO OTHER SOLDIERS borrowing their strength, hope and courage even if just for a season.

To those of you under attack because of a seemingly insurmountable challenge, I URGE YOU TO ASSEMBLE YOUR ARMY.

Many challenges appear to have no answers even though we chase answers with diligence and often desperation.

THE ARMY IS THE ANSWER!!

Don’t go it alone,

Shaun





Struggle and Strength

21 11 2016

I think most of us would agree that increasing strength is a good thing. Athletes invest countless hours training for the purpose of increasing their strength.Theystrugglestrength do this because the rigors and challenges about to come REQUIRE ENHANCED STRENGTH to succeed. Without adequate strength they will be overwhelmed and out matched by the demands of the sport.

ATHLETES THAT TRAIN INADEQUATELY ARE ILL PREPARED FOR THE DEMANDS OF COMPETITION.

Physical strength is trained by utilizing resistance. I have never heard of an athlete that goes to the gym to train with AIR. Resistance is a CRITICAL element of strength building. However, if the resistance is not moved with correct form then INJURY can occur which has the exact opposite effect on the body. What initially was intended for BENEFIT has now become HURTFUL simply because of the use of IMPROPER FORM. The RESISTANCE is not the problem. The FORM is the variable that allows for injury.

Through the thousands of conversations and observations I have had with athletes and those around them, I have come to a DEEPLY HELD BELIEF AND OPINION:

The emotional, mental and social training our young people need to generate success will require a complete change in “FORM” with regard to STRUGGLE. It seems whenever the presence of struggle emerges we immediately seek to remove it, avoid it or numb it.

Struggle emerges when our life circumstances are not cooperating with our current psychological framework. Simply stated, this means that we are not getting what we want. This is similar to an athlete in the gym training and the trainer puts a certain amount of weight on the bar and the athlete wants to BARGAIN, COMPLAIN, NEGOTIATE, OR AVOID the work that is ahead. In life people face struggles almost everyday. Tests, homework, crazy drivers, parenting, relationships, conflict, money, etc… rarely does life put a manageable weight on the bar of our life.

It is by having GOOD FORM (Growth Mindset) while in the midst of these struggles that STRUGGLE becomes LEVERAGED or UTILIZED by us for increased strength, maturity, confidence, trust, competence to name a few. In my opinion it is VITAL THAT WE IMPROVE OUR FORM CONCERNING THE VALUE OF STRUGGLE IN THE LIVES OF OUR YOUNG PEOPLE. Rather than looking to change the WEIGHT (or eliminating it all together) we need to COACH young people to engage in proper form to LEVERAGE the struggle resulting in GREATER STRENGTH and MATURITY.

Learning the proper form is different than changing the weight. Take some time and think about how your life might be different if you were able to:

Learn how to UTILIZE and LEVERAGE your biggest challenges and turn them into your greatest assets!

Grow stronger and more confident by doing nothing more than re-inventing your PERSPECTIVE and APPRECIATION for the events, challenges and opportunities that are right in front of you.

Becoming EMPOWERED to EMBRACE challenges that have limited your expression of your best self.

Learning this skill and other mental strength skills are just some of the benefits of having a SKILLED and EXPERIENCED COACH in your life!

I’d love to hear YOUR current struggle and teach you how to leverage it into an asset.  Comment below and I’ll will personally answer you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Shaun





What is Your Aroma?

6 10 2016

aromapostI attended my first teen support group about 30 years ago. I remember that night like it was yesterday. My first encounter was with a 15 year old that asked, “What the ******** are you doing here?” To which I honestly had no good response. To be honest, as a recent college graduate I believed that I had answers to the problems that many teens were experiencing at the time. I was there to share wisdom and provide a pathway to better living for those that were lucky enough to listen to my counsel. (I now realize how misguided I was)

This is where MY education began!

For the next 6 months I listened to young people talk about family breakdown, drug abuse, suicide, school failure, rejection, depression, hopelessness, and deep discouragement to name just a few. I realized that my answers were weak and unwanted, not because they were without merit, but because my presence reeked of superiority and judgement. I certainly did not intend this, but in retrospect, I understand.

You see my first encounter was a test. The test was, are you here to PROVIDE an ANSWER or are you here to BECOME PART OF THE ANSWER? Becoming part of the answer meant LISTENING INTENSELY before offering a solution. It meant truly seeking to understand before being understood. It meant EARNING through commitment and consistency the influence to MATTER over the long haul . After thousands and thousands of hours engaging in deep, honest, courageous, and vulnerable conversations, now 30 years later, I realize that the aroma that I brought to that first meeting had a distinct smell.

That smell was the aroma of LET DOWN.

Why? Because, providing answers and solutions to complex challenges without immersing myself in learning the learner has the smell of superiority and smugness.

This is often the aroma we bring when we want to solve heart-felt hurt, fear and desperation with simple cliches.

The truth is this AROMA is ALL OVER THE PLACE.

My presence and mindset that first meeting would have lead to nothing but more hurt, disappointment and LET DOWN to those I was with. The memory of my first years and what I have learned is one of the greatest gifts I have received in my life professionally and personally.

Here are three distinct POWERFUL PRINCIPLES that I have learned that I believe can guide you to better relationships, team work, personal success, and fulfillment.

People are wired to want and thrive from knowing that they are not ALONE. The disappointments, fears, failures, hurts, and unrealized hopes are best endured and healed through the unconditional presence of a loving person that simply seeks to walk in these moments WITH PEOPLE. Providing answers pales in comparison to being fully present. It took a group of teenagers to teach me the power of this principle. Many feel isolated, alone, and inferior without the relational experience of knowing they are not alone.

Practical help is the by product of deep listening and empathy. When we truly seek to understand the dreams, disappointments, and struggles the practical solutions become more clear. We often under estimate the power of UNDERSTANDING where one is coming from. This requires patience, curiosity, courage, and consistency. When this happens people grow wings of freedom and belief. When we take the time to LEARN THE LEARNER we become a powerful force for COURAGEOUS EXPRESSION and FREEDOM.

The aroma of our heart surpasses the wisdom of our words. Simply stated, “People do not care how much we know until they know how much we care.” This is a mantra for living, working and competing. I learned that everyday I am being vetted according to this principle and so are you.

When we are willing to BECOME part of the solution for others and serve them in this capacity we become forces of positive influence.

I want to humbly challenge us to change the aroma of our hearts by courageously investing in those around us. Lets see ourselves, not so much our solutions and wisdom, as part of the formula that unleashes FULL and FREE expression of those around us. Think of the untapped potential that could be realized if everyone had this in their lives.

Thirty years ago a group of 15 year olds taught me what was required and needed to truly become a force for growth and optimal expression of self. My hope is this blog can do the same for you!





Mirrors of Greatness

13 09 2016

When people think of a mirror they think of a piece of glass that reflects the image that faces it. Mirrors can be useful because they reflect back Mirror Blogto us an image. Mirrors do not judge, have an opinion, talk back, or hate. Like most things when utilized for their intended purpose the value is high.

However, a mirror can be turned into a weapon of mass destruction because of the user. Many spend hours in front of a mirror shaming and hating on themselves because of the judgment and self-condemnation they generate from the image being reflected.

Let me offer a different way to think about a MIRROR.

Recently, I was mentoring a young soccer player. She just finished tryouts and I asked her to share a moment that stood out in her mind. She proceeded to vaguely tell me of a moment where she passed the ball to her teammate and that teammate scored. The initial description was lacking detail and it would have been easy to gloss over with a statement like “good job” or “that is cool.” After further discovery I learned that she had noticed the open player, put herself in a position to receive a pass by getting to an open space, executed a quality right-footed pass, and unselfishly shared the ball. My discovery revealed ELEMENTS OF GREATNESS that were NOT CLEAR in her first description. A more detailed description, uncovered through a more thorough exploration of what happened, made it possible to AMPLIFY and bring to her attention details within the event that put a spotlight on aspects of the play that could then be utilized in the future to reinforce her belief.

In essence, a deeper dive into what actually occurred provided an opportunity to mirror back to this young athlete ELEMENTS OF GREATNESS.

I believe we are all mirrors! The question is, WHAT ARE WE REFLECTING back to those in OUR LIVES? I believe those around us benefit when WE REFLECT truthful detailed images that empower learning and awareness. This is INFORMATION THAT CAN SPARK LEARNING and REINFORCE THE PROGRESSION towards enhancing performance and life.

Many athletes, coaches, parents, business owners, etc…… lack consistent images that help them deconstruct the elements of success. When success, as well as failure, are not clearly understood improvement and development are improbable. WE CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE by committing to reflecting images that are descriptive and detailed to those that we want to influence.

The smile that emerged from this young athlete told the story of CONNECTING TO INFORMATION THAT GAVE CLARITY TO HER EXECUTED EXCELLENCE! We can all BE MIRRORS OF GREATNESS to others in our lives.

STEP 1, Explore, through the use of questions, details that describe the more detailed story within the moment.
STEP 2, Gain clarity by deconstructing a moment of success.
STEP 3, HIGHLIGHT vital skills, attributes, and execution points that contributed to success.
STEP 4, REPEAT OFTEN.

Reflecting with you,

Shaun

PS: After you do steps 1-4 comment below and let me know what happened!