What is Focus?

20 07 2017

We hear a lot about the importance of focus in discussions about HIGH PERFORMANCE. Rarely is this concept unpacked with clarity and practical application. For this purpose, I offer these thoughts.

First, let me ask a couple of questions:

Do you find yourself with a daily desire to experience more in your life?
MORE…
Energy
Accomplishment
Peace of mind
Motivation
Purpose and Fulfillment
Connection with others
LESS…
Distraction
Fear
Uncertainty
Discouragement
Isolation
Empty days with endless tasks but very little purposeful results

If you can relate with these then I suggest that generating MORE focus is the equivalent of generating more power in your life. I have learned from coaching thousands of people that the LACK of FOCUS is always CONNECTED to a lack of true POWER in their lives.

Let me explain.

Focus is the capacity to continually invest yourself in the direction of clearly defined goals that connect you to your deepest desires and dreams. The emphasis here is on CONSISTENCY and INVESTMENT. The basic form of FOCUS is found in these words.

The reason why distractions are so destructive is that they turn off the continual feeding the fuel needed to generate or create the outcome for which you desire.

Many get lost right here, in distraction!

When asked what their goals and dreams are, responses vary but they sound something like this:

I want to have a great marriage!
I want to be an outstanding parent!
I want to make more money!
I want to have better friendships!
I want to make the A team!
I want to get better grades!
To name just a few…

The derailment has begun at this point because the strategy for progressing towards these outcomes is UNCLEAR, VAGUE, and LACKING TRUE FOCUS. In other words, great intention but very little capacity to turn the intention into the outcome sought after.

Here is a better, more focus friendly way to approach these goals:

I will pursue being a better parent by bringing a heightened degree of energetic, engaging presence to my interactions with my kids. I will focus on being present and intentional in the practice of this with each and every interaction.

If you wanted to make the A team in a sport you would say this: I will dedicate myself to mastering the skills needed to elevate my performance so that I increase my chances of making the A team. These skills include (list the skills specifically). I will pursue this mastery by dedicating 1 hour a day of practice in each of the skills I desire to master.

The power in statements like these is that they give a point of FOCUS for the individual to INVEST THEIR ENERGY ON A CONSISTENT BASIS. Without a CLEAR AND SPECIFIC point to direct one’s focus, you are left with a goal but nothing to point your energy towards on a consistent basis that moves you closer to that which you desire.

You might find this basic framework helpful as you work to generate intentional focus in your life:

I will progress towards my goal of _________ by ________ over the next 30 days so that I can reach my goal.

What is focus?

Focus is the intentional, consistent and ongoing pursuit of the desired outcome. When you use this formula to direct and guide your energy on a daily basis you literally generate your outcome because of your consistent pursuit.

Put the formula to the test in an area that you are looking for accomplishment.

If you’d like to dive deeper into this concept of focus and clearly defining your goals, sign up for your personal High Performance Strategy Session with Shaun now by clicking here.

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Who’s Got Your Power?

23 05 2017

I often get calls that start off like this, “Shaun my son/daughter is really having a tough time this year. EVERYTHING has changed.” They continue by stating, “Something is off.” They conclude by saying, “I do not know what to do to help! Can you help?”

This is truly a difficult spot for a parent to find themselves. Knowing that your kid is struggling and not knowing why or what you can do to help is truly disturbing and a bit scary as well.

This experience has become far too common and as a result, it is going to be the focus of this blog to help give perspective, guidance and some encouragement to those that might be dealing with this currently or in the future. We can all learn something.

Every player that I have worked with over the years WANTS TO DO WELL AND PLEASE THE COACHES they have. Hopes are high, motivation is strong, and most of the time they have invested significant time and energy to perform well. What often transpires moving forward is NOT WHAT THE PLAYER HAD IN MIND. As time goes on, playing time may be limited, communication is sparse, confidence is questioned and discouragement, frustration, and disappointment begin to overwhelm. It is at this point that fear also begins to run deep because answers and hope are absent.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED?

Every player’s experience is different. However, I have learned something very important over the years. MOST players have GIVEN AWAY their personal power to their coaches. What this means practically is that they have given away (unconsciously) their identity as a player and person. Instead of defining for themselves their priorities, purpose and strengths they look to others to affirm, provide certainty and make it better for them.

WHEN SOMEONE ELSE HAS YOUR POWER YOU WILL ALWAYS BE A SLAVE TO THAT PERSON. Your thoughts about yourself will be dictated by them leading to a complete internal breakdown. This is happening to athletes of all ages, skill levels and personality types and it destroys confidence.

There is no substantive change until the player takes back the power and digs deep and decides that they are going to strengthen themselves from within to PLAY and LIVE from this internal center of power. This is not to say that you shouldn’t take feedback from those around you, but, you should always reserve the right to have the FINAL SAY.

Let me give an example: a number of years ago I received a call like I cited at the beginning of this blog. The player was absolutely beside himself, mom was in tears out of despair and the future looked extremely bleak. It was apparent that this players power was in the hands of his college coach.

When I said, “Why does your coach have all your power?”

His response was, “Until now I didn’t know that was the case.”

From that moment forward there were a number of conversations that centered around him taking his power back by PERSONALLY defining his purpose and matching that with decisions to re-engage in his own empowered manner. His mom would tell you today this was his MOMENT OF TRANSFORMATION. Her words were, “Shaun I have my son back! I do not know what you did but I got my son back.” This story is not isolated but has been repeated many times since with many different athletes.

What did I do?

I taught this player to take back something that he should have never given away! HIS POWER. He recently graduated and he was able to reignite his love for the game, play at the highest level he has ever played at and finished the year playing some Pro hockey. Most importantly, he learned a valuable life lesson.

Here is the lesson: The best person to have control of me is me!

People are powerful when they live from their center and reserve the final say for themselves. When they are fortunate to have positive influences in their lives they can integrate these messages to elevate their performance and life experience. But they should always ask themselves WHO’S GOT MY POWER?





Fear of Failure vs. Mentally Strong and Confident

20 03 2017

As a parent I have never really feared my kids physical abilities and skills to compete in the sports they have been in. My greatest fears have centered around their mental skills.

It is their failure that I fear.

I often wonder what will happen to their self esteem, confidence and overall well being if they fail. In an attempt to avoid having to see this outcome I have OVER USED encouragement and pep talks to do anything I can to PROTECT THEM from the possible fallout of experiencing failure.

It never occurred to me that FAILURE, STRUGGLE and DISCOURAGEMENT was actually the “game they needed to win.” Rarely was I concerned with wins and losses. MY CENTRAL CONCERN and point of interest and ANXIETY was EMBARRASSMENT. I did not want to see my kids get embarrassed. I equated the possibility of failing with them being embarrassed. I believe that this is what drives most parents in their interactions with their youth athletes.

THEN IT HIT ME…

What if I EMPOWERED, TRAINED AND TAUGHT THEM to UTILIZE these moments to GROW and STRENGTHEN?

What if I grew in my assurance that they were STRONG, RESILIENT, CREATIVE, and MENTALLY SKILLED?

THEN I COULD REST AND BE AT PEACE!!!

As a result, I created Stay In The Sport Zone!

Do you want to get a jump start on your MENTAL SKILL TRAINING?

Do you get confused about where to go to begin your training?

Do you want to learn from someone that has many years of experience coaching and training youth athletes to improve their mental skills?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions then Stay In The Sport Zone is for you!

Stay In The Sport Zone is an online, non-threatening coaching program you can do in the privacy of your own home. I personally will lead you through (6) powerful mental skill teachings that will propel you forward in the pursuit of a STRONGER MIND!

Each video coaching module provides a step-by-step approach on how to build these vital sport-zone skills:

MODULE 1: Moving from Frustration to Fire
MODULE 2: Building Laser Focus
MODULE 3: Becoming Unshakably Confident
MODULE 4: Peak Performance Practice
MODULE 5: Powerless to Empowered
MODULE 6: Moving Beyond Your Fear of Failure

Here is what is being said about this program:

“This email is to THANK YOU for your great video series Stay in the Sport Zone, I spoke with you on what you offer athletes for working on building their mental skills. After hearing all the options we ended up going with the online “Stay in the Sport Zone” online program where my kids could work at their pace and even revisit different concepts.

I don’t think I could possibly convey to you in an email what a big difference, in a positive way, your online program made to my daughter this senior season of her high school career. It was pretty amazing! We’ve always thought she had many athletic tools but for the first time, I think EVER, she was a very composed and confident athlete even when she had a few minor set backs. It was such fun to watch her all season long and admire the personal growth she made. She made some big goals for herself…. and she accomplished them. Knowing this kid — this came down to her finding something she’d never had before and that was truly a mental edge. She ended up accomplishing LIFETIME best time in her event (by a lot, after 2 years of a plateau) and making individual All – State which was the biggest deal ever to her. She diligently and completely (on her own) used your program all season and grew as an athlete. It was obvious to me she connected with the concepts and used them to grow and enjoyed the process. She enjoyed her season so much she’s planning to continue in college.

Just want to say thank you for having that program available!!

It’s made a huge difference to a kid who has now wrapped up her high school career in a sport she has put so much time into, in the most positive outcome we could have hoped for. THANK YOU!”

Parent of a Stay In The Sport Zone Client

“Working with Shaun has been an incredible opportunity. I started meeting with Shaun as a freshman in high school, and little did I know that moment would change my life forever. I was ecstatic to begin my journey with Mental Edge and boost my athletic performance by working on my mental game. Shaun not only taught me strategies of how to become more mentally tough on court, but also how to be a supportive teammate and compassionate person. He’s by far one of the most incredible, kind, and generous people I’ve ever met and I’m lucky to have him in my life.”

Student Athlete

Go ahead and get registered for this life-changing video coaching and I’ll see you on the other side to get started!

Shaun





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





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!