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!

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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!





Communities that Unleash Kids for Success

11 09 2014

It is no secret that people thrive and exhibit moments of greatness when they are engaged and firmly rooted in a safe physical and emotional environment. I am compelled to write on this topic because there is not a day that goes by where I am not Who's Got Your Backhearing about some young person that is emotionally bruised, hurt, or devastated because of the social environment they are in.

THIS HAS TO STOP!

This writing is not intended to analyze all of the breakdowns that lead to an unsafe emotional environment. There are plenty of much smarter analysts that have written and exposed those much more effectively than I can. Rather, I would like to envision a type of community that we could aspire to provide for our young people. This community, whether it be a sports team, classroom, church group, or neighborhood, could be the most powerful asset present in a young person and families life.

I envision a community that is built first and foremost on acceptance. Acceptance is the life source that unleashes courage, self expression, belonging, and a sense of unconditional love. The type of acceptance I am referring to is actively, diligently, and ferociously protected at all costs. When someone says something that compromises the sense of acceptance of anyone present it is gracefully but intentionally dealt with. Acceptance is like soul food for the heart and soul of a young person. When ones sense of acceptance is not in question miracles of self expression happen. Fear of rejection is minimized, bullying is not tolerated and the hearts of young people are protected with fierceness and loyalty.

I envision a community where people are fully present. Imagine watching your kids learn how to start, grow, and maintain friendships. Friendship only grows when people learn how to become fully present and authentically interested in each other. I believe that we would see the hearts and souls of our young people come alive if they were able to EXPERIENCE THIS! The hearts of our young people are craving a touch from another loving, caring and present soul. Have you ever wondered why so many kids are “acting out” these days. I believe it is because the hearts of our young people are starving for authentic connections with others. In the absence of this the soul cries out in ways that seek to get the attention of those that can do something about it. A community of acceptance fueled with fully present people would literally perform miracles for many hurting kids.

I envision a community where young people are pursued with passion, fueled by the possibility another sees in them. Pursuit is powerful. We all like to be sought out, chosen and believed in. When people are taught to be and act like this with each other our young people actually end up becoming difference makers in each others lives. A community, team, group, or neighborhood that makes this type of social environment a necessity, rather than an after thought, will give each family and young person a gift of a life time.

Let me give you one other thing to consider:

You can watch exceptionally talented athletes at young ages, listen to musical talent from young people that will bring you to tears on The Voice, and Google the latest business idea that came from a 14 year old…imagine training and equipping more young people with the capacity to become difference makers socially with each other.

IT CAN BE DONE!

I HAVE DONE IT!

Look at “Who’s Got Your Back? Team Experience 1.0 Building and growing groups that transform one another.”

ACCEPTANCE, PRESENCE and PURSUIT actively executed with courage, conviction and consistency is a game changer. Let’s take this vision and make it a reality for our young people. Lives will be changed and transformed forever!

You wonder if I am right? Ask the parents that lay in bed at night wondering if their son or daughter is going to go another year without friends or experience some form of rejection the next time they go to practice or school.





WHO OWNS YOUR MIND?

16 07 2014

imagesA troubling trend is emerging and gaining momentum quickly.  This destructive trend is the outsourcing of our opinions, perspectives, thoughts, interests, and evaluations to coaches, parents, friends, teachers.  Day after day I talk to athletes that are giving away their sense of personal power to a parent, a coach, as well as, friends. It would be one thing if they had already arrived at their OWN thought or opinion and were seeking new thoughts, affirmation or challenge to refine and strengthen their own opinions. Unfortunately, many have simply abdicated and allowed others to dictate and define their lives and thoughts for them. Now I know this isn’t without outside reinforcement. There are certainly many parents, coaches, friends, along with others that like to share, might I say, force their opinions on those around them believing they are helping. This is dangerous and destructive and needs to be confronted, challenged and changed. You might ask yourself, “what is the harm?” Quite frankly, the harm is significant and long standing.

The price tag of abdicating one’s opinion, perspective, and sense of possibility is significant!

  • Loss of inner confidence
  • Increased anxiety
  • Decreased engagement and motivation
  • Decreased self awareness
  • Inconsistent performance
  • Delayed learning
  • Delayed maturation
  • Decision-making skills underdeveloped
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Increased confusion and despair

These are just a few of the unintended consequences.

When athletes play and learn in environments where their opinions are rarely asked the likelihood of outsourcing one’s opinions, perspectives and personal power is high. I believe we need to challenge, encourage and affirm our young athletes to retain to their personal power by asking, affirming and acknowledging their opinions and perspectives along with refraining from offering OUR thoughts. This is not to say that every opinion and perspective one generates is helpful. However, if we rarely ask or acknowledge then how does one ever cultivate a useful, productive and personalized perspective for themselves? This is often referred to in other circles as “growing your voice.”

Over the last 15 years of coaching athletes at every level I have found that those that have learned to believe in themselves starts with having an opinion that often leads to an inner confidence, strong work ethic and faster learning than those that simply wait for someone else’s approval or perspective on their performance.

If you are an athlete that has been prone to giving away your power then I offer these tips to gain back your sense of power:

  • Start with admitting that you have given your power away. What you are most likely doing is trading your power for the assurance that you will play or please. At some level you believe that if you try to fit your game to the satisfaction of someone else it will insure you will get playing time. Hey, the truth is playing time goes to those that are clear about their role, have the skills to perform and confidently and courageously engage themselves doing the best they can.
  • Determine your strengths. GET REALLY CLEAR about them. Most athletes hand over their power because they are not clear about their strengths. To compensate for their lack of clarity they simply allow someone else to tell them what to do. KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS!
  • Have an opinion before you ask someone else for theirs. It is to easy to shape what you think after you have heard someones opinion, especially if you respect them or they have power to determine your playing time or role. No matter what it is IMPORTANT to arrive at your own conclusion. You may need others to help affirm or challenge your opinion but HAVE ONE TO START!
  • Commit yourself to fully expressing yourself to the best of your ability. We are all at our best when we live boldly, confidently, intentionally, and without regret. You can do this by designing your life and play with clarity, support and the commitment to learning along the way.

Lets take the time to ask before we tell, acknowledge before we assume, and empower our young people to retain and refine their opinions and perspectives. In doing so we will be growing independent thinkers that can confidently withstand the objections, critical feedback and disappointment that often accompanies the competitive environment they will undoubtedly experience now and in the future.





Moving from PRACTICING to TRAINING

1 07 2014

Training

The time of year is upon us when many athletes prepare to take the next steps in their personal and physical development. For many this  time of year is when skills, strength, speed, and mental focus can significantly advance.  For this reason I am compelled to provide a  framework to exponentially charge the progress in each of these areas. That is, to differentiate between just “showing up” to practice and  engaging in training.

At the surface these two concepts almost appear redundant. However, they really aren’t and it is important to know the difference.

The concept of training centers on an athlete’s vision for a goal they want to accomplish and doing the work to generate crystal clarity about what needs to be accomplished in order to see the vision become reality.  This vision or goal may include making a team, increasing ones contribution or playing time on a current team, running a marathon, preparing for a challenge, or deepening ones physical and mental tools. The focus on training is on growing discipline, focus, consistency and overall personal development  because this is how exponential gains are earned rather than the incremental progress that is the mindset associated with practice.

The focus for practice is a single ‘moment in time’, a scheduled block of time that provides the opportunity to work on a skill or set of skills often done in repetitive fashion seeking to incrementally move an athlete or individual closer to their vision of achievement. Here is the problem…it is possible for one to practice but not train. I have worked with athletes too often that continually show up to a practice session lacking clear goals, leading to a lack of focus, as well as, disconnected from a overall plan, investing significant time, energy and resources only to find themselves at the end no closer to any goal than when they started.

So how does practicing turn into training?

This happens when five elements converge:

1. A clear and challenging  goal or achievement is set. (requiring significant progression)
2. The skills needed to qualify for the achievement are clearly identified.
3. A holistic plan is created that puts forth a series of practices that build momentum towards the achievement sought after. (including mental skills)
4. The athlete engages, commits and focuses on these skills intentionally in each practice with the desire to push beyond current limitations. (living more comfortable with discomfort)
5. Quality coaching brings feedback and correction immediately to enhance learning. (expertise, and relevant immediate feedback and correction)

The individual blocks of work often disconnected from any clear goal are practices. The long haul daily grind connected to a goal or clear point of accomplishment is training. Very rarely does any ONE practice or block of time get one to their goal or achievement, it is the ongoing focused energy and commitment to deliberate and daily practice (I am calling training) that qualifies one to gain not only the physical tools needed but also the character and mental toughness and focus required to achieve and succeed to the extent required to reach the long term goal.

My challenge is to TRAIN your way to your vision and goals, use practice as your on ramp to accomplish what it is going to take for you to get to your end result. The character, mental toughness, and discipline required to do this not only helps you in your sport, but also deepens your character along the way.





Perspective and Power

26 03 2013

Perspect&PowerAthletes consistently pursue achievement at many levels. When athletes train, they spend most of their time training their body to be faster, stronger and more skilled (these are important). Optimum performance often is not only dictated by the training of the body, but also the mind.

The mind is often spoken of as being a significant asset for those seeking optimal performance. Words like confidence, mental toughness and resiliency are often noted as labels to clarify what leads to optimal mental capacity.

The truth is, in order to cultivate deep confidence, resiliency and mental toughness a TRAINED PERSPECTIVE matched with an active, consistent display of personal power is non-negotiable. Most athletes simply believe that the mind will develop on it’s own until they run into a performance roadblock. This is a catastrophic error in judgement.

Your PERSPECTIVE is your personalized window you look out of AND the window that information comes back to you. Your PERSPECTIVE sets the stage for how you think, how you feel and what possibilities or limitations you experience. Your PERSPECTIVE either opens or closes you to vital information that can end up influencing your ability to learn or keep you stuck in a reality that limits you. Too many athletes have an untrained perspective. They have never even explored this nor experienced the power of a “trained perspective”. When your PERSPECTIVE inhibits your learning, you foster a negative and rigid attitude as well as a defensive and fearful existence that reveals your need to enroll in PERSPECTIVE TRAINING.

Perspective training includes:

1. Increasing your awareness of how your current PERSPECTIVE is helping and hurting you in your quest towards achievement.

2. Re-inventing a new PERSPECTIVE leading to enhanced awareness, creativity and courage.

3. On-going support to consistently grow and utilize your reinvented PERSPECTIVE to take on challenges and pursue optimum achievement.

Make a commitment to train your perspective in a way that will allow you to reach consistent play and live at your optimal potential. You will never regret it!!

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Discipline…get in the zone!

14 03 2013

ImageBeing a sports fan, along with working with athletes to enhance their performance, I am fascinated by the concept of discipline.

What captivates me is how easy it is to miss the deep value within the practice of discipline. The richness of this concept begins when you start to break down the word and realize at the root of the word discipline is the word “disciple”.  A disciple is one that positions themselves to LEARN. Learning is a critical aspect of development, performance enhancement, and life training. To live without discipline inhibits us from learning the lessons required to realize the self mastery needed to live in a manner that positions us not only for success, but as important, a life of peace.

Putting ourselves under a structure of discipline is like being mentored by a great teacher, sort of like your own unique personal trainer. Unfortunately, many have come to think of discipline as a life or torture and punishment.

Being disciplined forces us to face discomfort, which in turn kicks in our need for will power. Many of us our weak in will power because we engage in all sorts of avoidance thinking, actions, and comfort-based life patterns. To dodge life lessons through  excuses, comfort behaviors,  and avoidance eliminates our ability to learn the lessons that are taught through struggle and the use of creativity, resourcefulness, and imagination.

Challenge:  Choose one behavior that will force you to face some discomfort. Make a 30 day ritual out of that behavior. Spend the next 30 days executing that behavior. Experience the good feelings that occur as you generate success each day using your will power to fight all the excuses and explanations used in the past to act in an undisciplined fashion.

There are not any successful people I know that are not disciplined and have great will power. Make a commitment to strengthen yours today!