One of my best friends for nearly 20 years is a former hockey player and coach. We met when he was the Head Hockey Coach and I was the Ice Arena Manager at the State University of New York College at Cortland, where we both had respective challenges advancing our programs to the levels we knew they could achieve. We each left our marks on the school and went on to attain advanced degrees, supporting each other through the new challenges and advancing ourselves to levels we sometimes doubted we could achieve. For the past several years, we have had weekly mastermind calls to keep us accountable for taking the actions necessary to keep accomplishing what we want in our lives, and we continue our friendship well beyond those calls. It’s an exceptional gift to have such partnership and “chosen family”, fully committed to success for each other, ourselves, and the lives we touch. I highly recommend that you develop relationships such as these, allowing as many as present themselves and with the flexibility that works for each of them and you.
This week, we reconnected with our successes as athletes and coaches, looking to what allowed us to achieve great feats then, in hope that there might be clearer instructions for continued achievement. We were pleased to see that there are 10 actions that consistently produce results. So, how do you win any game?
- Remember that it’s a game. Whatever you’re working on is timed. There’s a beginning and an end. Whether you win or lose, it’s a temporary experience.
- Practice, practice, practice. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I now agree with Geoff Colvin, who wrote Talent is Overrated. I might have seemed like a “talented” athlete, but my success on the softball field came from the many days I spent playing the sport and doing drills. I was chasing balls at my sisters’ practices and asserting myself into their pick-up games from at least age five. So, by the time I was 14, I was pretty good, but it was because I worked at building the skills necessary for the game. No fairy godmother tapped me with a magic bat or gave me a glove with special powers.
- Deliberately practice. As Colvin states in his book, it might not be enough to go through the motions of practice, if you want to be world-class. High performers determine which skills they need to improve and focus on them–in addition to practicing the basics. I developed a very fast glove at third base by standing nearer the pitcher than the base during practice, and I spent a lot of my own time in batting cages. Had I realized the benefits of this deliberate practice then, I probably would have worked on sliding and other skills, too, and maybe I wouldn’t have gotten my Olympic team rejection as early!
- Study the game that you are playing. In sport, there are rule books, play books, game recordings, opponent highlight films, statistics, and many other resources to help you develop your strategy. Whether your goal is to succeed in business, money, relationships, or something else, there are a number of resources you can consult to improve your understanding of the game so you can make new and better choices in it.
- Keep score. Yet remember that if you’re watching the scoreboard, you’re not in the game. The purpose of the scoreboard is to let you know how much time is left in the game, how you’re doing, and whether you need to adjust your strategy to win. Don’t obsess over it or stare so long at it that you forget to get up to the plate.
- Set goals. Winning is a great goal, but you need to know what you want to win. Winning a championship requires more steps than winning a game. Winning a game takes more than winning a play. Winning a play only comes after you’ve won a spot on the team. Pace yourself, and don’t expect to go from glove on to trophy in hand overnight.
- Create contests. It will probably take longer than you think to achieve your big goals. Sometimes, your competitive spirit will wane, and you will need to be reminded of your abilities. Challenge yourself to 100 reps, an 8-minute mile, two new clients by Friday, etc. Bet a friend that you can complete a task you’ve been putting off, and agree to cook or buy dinner if you don’t do it today. This will also remind you of Action #1: Remember that it’s a game.
- Give rewards. I’m not necessarily a fan of the practice of giving everyone a trophy just for participating, but most of us need some sort of acknowledgment to keep accomplishing tasks, especially when the stresses are high and the noticeable results come slowly. Did you do more reps than you thought you could? Buy yourself a healthy green juice on your way home. Did you land two new clients? Go home an hour early. Be good to yourself. There’s only one you to achieve your goals.
- Train, rest, and eat for fuel. You also only have one body. You have to learn what it needs for maximum performance and give it that. Overtraining can cause injury. Lack of rest can cause accidents. Comfort foods, when eaten every day, can make you uncomfortable, if not sick. Whether you primarily use your body or your mind in your work, you need both of them to work well to achieve what you are uniquely designed to do.
- Work with a coach. Every high performer has advisors, coaches, consultants, mentors, and others to support them. You are not expected to do it all on your own, and your chances of succeeding alone are very low. There are coaches for nearly everything and at every price point. You might even have one in your life who is already trying to coach you. 😉 xo