I Cannot Hear What You Say

By Jill E. Wolforth

Recently I’ve been bombarded with occurrences that made me think of the following:

“What you do speaks so loud,

That I cannot hear what you say”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s actually quite disconcerting to me.

Here’s the one that really tripped my trigger.  I was watching a team play in a very competitive tournament; they were more than deserving to be participating with several college-bound players.  In their first game, they were tied going into the final inning.  This was a big deal because they were facing the best pitcher in the tournament.  Unfortunately the wheels came off in the 7th inning and they ended up losing the game.  That happens.  As we say, “That’s baseball”.

To set the stage for my point, if you asked the players the following questions, I promise you their responses would be a unanimous “Yes”:

- Do you want to compete against the best teams?

- Are you driven to succeed?

- Do you want to win a championship?

- Do you support your teammates?

- Will you do all you can to help this team win?

As a matter of fact, I believe the players from all the teams would answer “yes”.

Here’s what happened…

In their next game, they actually play a better team; one that is better defensively and offensively.  This time they go into the seventh inning with the lead.  What I witnessed next was troubling.  With two outs and the game about to be won, (and I remind you after an UGLY loss) 6 of the 7 guys on the bench were SITTING!  They were nice and relaxed, chit chatting away.  I thought to myself “Are you kidding me!?”

These are the same guys that would have answered my questions above with a unanimous “yes”.

My comment, “What you do speaks so loud, that I cannot hear what you say.”

Don’t tell me you support your teammates.  Don’t tell me you want to win.  Don’t tell me you’re driven.  And certainly don’t tell me you’ll do all you can to help the team.  You sitting, at that moment, speaks volumes.

Let’s take a look at some other examples:

- The player who talks about everyone needing to “step it up” and then routinely shows up late.

- The coach who says warm-ups are important then drinks a coke in the dugout not paying any attention while the team is warming up.

- The player that says he’s a really hard worker then skips open hitting or morning weights

- The player that talks about people not pulling their weight and then fails a class.

- The coach who stresses mental preparation and then doesn’t let a pitcher know he’s starting until they arrive at the game.

- The team that talks about discipline then leaves their dugout, bus or locker room a mess.

I think you get my point.

So the question for you, what might you be doing that speaks so loud it prevents people from hearing what you say?  We are all guilty of this at times.  At the Texas Baseball Ranch we attempt to help players catch it happening and then eliminate or at least minimize it.

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Part II: You Can’t Alter…

By Jill E. Wolforth

In my last blog, I referenced the book Every Shot Must Have a Purpose by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott and specifically the quote “You can’t alter what has happened, but you can influence what will happen.” In that article I gave some specific (physical) training examples for pitching and hitting.  If you missed it, I encourage you to check it out at http://texasbaseballranch.com/blog/

This week I want to address this subject from the mental side, which is every bit as important.  Some might actually say more important.

Frequently when a pitcher throws a ball or a hitter has a poor swing onlookers will say something about a breakdown in the athlete’s mechanics.  Although that may be true, in many cases, it’s a breakdown in the athlete’s mental program that was at the core of the poor outcome.  The following is an excerpt from Every Shot Must Have a Purpose illustrating this very point…

Patty Sheehan, the LPGA Hall of Fame player, was playing the final hole of a tournament when she needed to hit a fairway wood second shot to a green protected by water on a par-5 hole.  A birdie was essential to stay in contention, and the possibility of an eagle was a chance she had to take.  What resulted, however, was her worst swing of the day – in fact, probably one of the worst swings she ever made in competition – and she cold topped the shot.  As the ball bounded down the fairway and into the creek short of the green, she watched her chances of winning disappear with it.

The shocked television commentators said, “Let’s take a look at what happened here,” and they ran slow-motion replays that showed a reverse pivot and that Sheehan had come right out of the shot, leading to the top.  But the TV commentators missed the point.  If they wanted to run a meaningful replay they should have shown tape of the indecision BEFORE Sheehan hit the shot.  First she had her hand on a fairway wood, then she stepped away from the ball and her caddie handed her an iron.  Then she went back to the fairway wood.  The indecision in the shot selection led to a lack of commitment during the short.  The poor swing resulted from poor thinking.

This is very interesting to me.  The same thing happens in the game of baseball.  A pitcher isn’t fully committed to a pitch or a hitter isn’t fully committed to a plan and many times the result is far from good.  Coach Wolforth has often said he’d rather have a pitcher throw the wrong pitch with 100% commitment then the right pitch with doubt.

Let’s talk about what we can influence mentally and specifically when dealing with stress, whether that be from things not going as well as you’d like or simply the stress of competition itself.

First, you must know your own tendencies with how you react to the stress. For the purpose of today’s message, I’m going to discuss this from the standpoint that you react in some way that is detrimental to performance.  So, how do you react?  Are you prone to get angry?  Do you speed up?  Do you start talking negatively?  Do you complain?  Do you blame and make excuses?  There are a lot of ways people react.  You MUST know yours.

The first step to changing undesirable behavior is to recognize it.  Second, you must understand it and then finally step three, you change it.

One of the reasons you must know how you react to stressful situations is so you can catch it when it starts and cut if off prior to it escalating out of control.  One of the best ways to maintain mental consistency is to have routines.  To me a routine is your security blanket.  It keeps you steady.  It helps you get re-centered or refocused when things feel like they’re getting away from you.  Whether you’re a hitter or pitcher, you should have a pre-pitch routine (and post pitch routines).  This is one way we can influence what will happen.

Next, do you have a very clear picture of exactly what you want to happen?  Most people do not have a picture of any kind.  Some have a vague picture.  Few have a VERY clear picture.

The following is a great example from one of golf’s greatest.

Jack Nicklaus never stroked a putt until he had imagined the ball rolling to the hole, going into the cup, then popping out of the cup, and rolling back to where it started.

I’d say that was a VERY clear picture and it’s another way we can influence what will happen.

Here’s a final one for you this week.  What is your self talk?  Are you like me and tend to have your first response be one of a negative nature?  Are you the person that say’s “Here we go again”?  Do you respond to yourself with sarcasm, “Nice swing Grandma”?  We all know none of these are helpful.  So, catch yourself and make a change.  Again, you can have a routine for this.  One thing I suggest is finding something good in the situation.  And yes, I know this can be extremely hard but even when it seems like there’s no possible good, ask yourself “If I WANTED to find something good in this, what would it be?

Two last examples related to this from Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott:

- We have actually seen Annika (Sorenstam) say at a tournament, “I’m whining” and then stop!

- Few players have controlled their emotions on the golf course as well as Jack Nicklaus.  Lynn, who worked for the Nicklaus Company for five years, remembers one time at the Doral tournament when Jack’s tee shot on the eighteenth hole ended up in a divot.  How did Jack Nicklaus react? “I thought, ‘It will help me stay down better.’” Jack recounted later.

Wow.  What do you think?  Might these individual’s mentalities influence what will happen? We really should not be surprised that they are two of the best to ever play the game of golf.  They are worth your study.

In closing this week, remember these steps to changing undesirable behavior:

  1. Recognize it
  2. Understand it
  3. Change it

Next, determine for yourself, one way, from a mental standpoint, that you are going to work on to influence what will happen. Then continue building from there.  If you COMPLETELY buy in, the results will be phenomenal.

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“You Can’t Alter What Has Happened…”

By Jill E. Wolforth

“But you can influence what will happen.”

This line comes from a new book I’m in the middle of reading titled Every Shot Must Have a Purpose by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott.  The book is VERY practical. It’s easy to understand and apply. It is written for golf players but the message applies just as well to us in baseball and softball.  (Don’t do it now, but as soon as you’ve finished reading and sharing this blog, get online and get a copy.)

Here it is again:

“You can’t alter what has happened, but you can influence what will happen.”

I’m going to specifically tie this phrase into practicing.  The authors make the point that most practice is wasteful in that it doesn’t prepare us for competition because it doesn’t replicate competition. For example, in golf, most people, in training or prior to playing a round, will go to the driving range, pull out a club, often a driver and then proceed to hit 10-20-30 golf balls before moving onto the next club, at which time they repeat the process.  The problem, according to the authors, is that you’d never do this in a round of golf.  You’d hit one club, followed by an iron, followed by a pitching wedge, followed by a putter.

Here is a great example they shared about Ben Hogan.  “Hogan used to warm up for each competitive round by hitting the shots in the order he was going to hit them on the golf course.  Once, a few weeks before the 1951 U.S. Open, a friend came upon Hogan practicing by himself at this home course in Texas, hitting knockdown 150-yard 5-irons.  When asked what he was doing, Hogan replied:  ‘I’m going to need that shot at Oakland Hills.’”

Let’s apply this to baseball.  It is common for hitters, when doing cage work or taking BP to hit 10-20-30 balls in a row.  Typically what happens is the hitter starts to really smoke the baseball around swings 10-20.  The problem, in an actual AB you won’t see that many pitches.  There’s a good chance you won’t even see that many pitches in the game.

Here’s some inside baseball: The BEST average number of pitches per plate appearance in the Major Leagues last year was 4.59.  That’s the best, the top guy (Napoli if you’re curious).

So, how do we “influence what will happen”?  Take 3-5 cuts and get your fanny out of the cage.  Next guy.  You might ask “what if I’m practicing by myself?”  Take 3-5 cuts, and then go take some ground balls or have a video clip of one of your favorite hitters and watch it for a couple minutes.  The point is, break it up; make it more game like.

I’ll take this one step further.  During a typically BP, everyone wants to get their swings in.  It’s swing, swing, swing.  Is that really what happens in a game?  Pitchers would certainly like that.  The reality is that Major League pitcher on average throw 62% strikes.  That’s not college and that’s certainly not high school.

So, how do we “influence what will happen”?  Have the guy throwing intentionally mix in some balls now and then.  And if it’s a guy that struggles somewhat to throw strikes, don’t complain as a hitter.  It’s actually more game like.

One quick pitching example: pitchers are in the bullpen and they throw 10 fastballs, followed by 10 curveballs, followed by 10 changeups.  Are you getting this?  How close to game like is that?  So, how do we “influence what will happen”?  You should throw sequences such as fastball, curveball, fastball, changeup and you should do it in a set of 12-15 pitches followed by a rest.  Why?  Because that is like a game.

The message here is take some time and ask yourself if what you’re doing in your practice and drill work replicates and prepares you for what you’ll see and do in a game.

At the Texas Baseball Ranch, we are constantly working on this concept. We believe it is a worthwhile endeavor.  I hope you will now see it as one too.

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ENTHUSIASM

By Jill E. Wolforth

Last weekend Coach Wolforth was one of the speakers at the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association (WBCA) Clinic in Madison.  I was able to make the trip with him.  It was a very good clinic and as I joked with many of those in attendance we were especially grateful for the sub freezing temperatures and snow they provided while we were there

The WBCA had a terrific group of presenters and I was able to listen to a couple of them throughout the weekend.  It was during a presentation by Bob Morgan, 11th winningest coach in NCAA history, that a line really hit me.  He said, “Enthusiasm is like a coat of paint.  It covers up a lot of mistakes.”  I smiled as I thought to myself “How true”.

It reminded me of a written piece I was given in high school during one of my sports seasons.  I went back into my scrapbooks, found it, and have made it the centerpiece of this week’s message.

ENTHUSIASM

I am the greatest builder in the world.  I am the foundation of every triumph.  I am the dynamo of human action.  No matter what your position is, I can better it.  My name is ENTHUSIASM.

I change the conditions of man and the destinies of nations.  No one is proof against my power – ENTHUSIASM.

Put me to work within your mind and I will harness such ENTHUSIASM to your work that no force can block the road to your success.

Sink me deep within your mind, then draw upon my power.  Use it well and you will become irresistible and every obstacle will be overcome, making your progress safe and your success assured.

Do not be afraid to use me.  I am catching, and when you show me to the world, all mankind stand in admiration and lend their efforts to your support.

ENTHUSIASM brings success to you on a platter of gold.  Breed me in your thoughts, graft me to your mind and I will show you a power so great that you will shout and laugh for joy.  You see the way to actual realization of your good ambitions and every doubt and fear will be lost in the echo of your rejoicing certainty.

I can say to yonder barren plain: “Become a city” and it becomes a city.  I can put glory into the meanest work and out of the lowest occupations create unheard of opportunities.

With all your getting, get me, ENTHUSIASM! I will take you soaring to heights undreamed of, and give you great rewards for honest labor.  Grapple me to your heart with hoops of steel, for I am Master of Love, Confidence, Content and Riches.  I am the unfailing guide to you Success.  Forget me not.  Put me in your mind today, now, and feel the impulse of my Power.  Think my thoughts and I will touch whatever you do with my magic wand of gold.  Use me, ENTHUSIASM.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

Enthusiasm costs us nothing.  There is no degree or experience required.  You can have it and use it today!

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Stories Behind the Story

By Jill E. Wolforth

The 2014 Super Bowl did not muster the excitement that many hoped for in a Championship game, at least not after the first quarter and certainly not if you were rooting for the Broncos.

People can debate all the X’s and O’s.  They can discuss Peyton Manning’s place amongst the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks.  They can pontificate on Russell Wilson’s bright future.  I, however, found some others stories to be much more interesting and applicable to baseball/softball and everyday life.

The first one is about Seattle’s fullback, Derrick Coleman.  Coleman has been deaf since early childhood but did not let his lack of hearing prevent him from reaching his goal of being a professional football player, the first deaf player to play on the offensive side of the ball and now the first deaf player to play in a Super Bowl.

Here are two different YouTube clips, the first a commercial depicting his story and the second a short human interest clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2HD57z4F8E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW51d5Om614

How about that for facing challenges head on?  My favorite line of his is “Being different to me is a good thing.  You don’t want to be the same as everybody else.”

The next story is about Peyton Manning.  I’ve already mentioned that there have been all kinds of discussions on his legacy.  I realize they are hypothesizing about his football legacy but I think the following clip is really what we should be talking about when discussing Peyton’s legacy.

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/peyton-manning-leaves-crushing-super-bowl-loss-with-reputation-intact-065205260.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory

It’s often said, “It’s not about the destination but rather what you become along the journey.”  The previous clip epitomizes what Peyton Manning has become and continues to evolve as, a class act.

These two stories are the stories our young athletes, and for that matter all of us need to hear.  Please pass them on.

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Peoples Fascination With Words

Coach Wolforth’s weekly email to our Pitching Central Inner Circle members was one of those “make you think” topics so I asked him if I could share it on our Baseball Ranch blog post this week as well.

He obliged and you’ll find it below.

If you’d like more information on our Inner Circle, which has three different levels of membership (Gold, Gold+ and Platinum), with the Gold Level including our monthly newsletter – Pitching With Confidence, monthly audio and weekly email from Coach Wolforth, please email us (info@PitchingCentral.com) or call the office and visit with Samantha (936) 588-6762.


Peoples Fascination With Words

By Coach Ron Wolforth

Our culture is obviously obsessed with words. The ‘N’ word. The ‘F’ word.

Just recently I saw an interview with Charles Barkley who confidently proclaimed that the word ‘thug’ actually is the new ‘N’ word.  At first I laughed, then I realized he was making a mistake common to many people. Sir Charles believed HIS interpretation of other’s using the term ‘thug’ was both correct and universal. Of course it isn’t.

It reminded me of a comedy about a wise guy from Philadelphia who used the term,
‘Forgettaboutit’ for an amazing assortment of meanings. It just depended upon it’s placement and tonality for it’s true meaning.

In the field of education, the term ‘retarded’ has long been taboo, replaced by ‘learning impaired’ and then replaced by the terms ‘special needs’. Which, no doubt will eventually be replaced by another term after the last one is, in time, viewed as creating a ‘stigma’. And on and on it will go.

We believe the ‘word’ is the problem…or the solution.

In truth it will almost always be our personal interpretation of the word that creates the meaning.

Let me prove it too you.

If in passing I said you were:

arriéré or bête or lerdo or gafo or beknackt or ????? ….would you be offended?

Almost assuredly not. Why? Because you probably have no personal meaning for the word.

The word requires translation. It means ‘dumb’ or slow witted. NOW you can be offended.

A few years ago I listened to a audiotape from world renown surgeon Dr. Bernard Siegel and he told a story about 2 cancer patients who received the exact same diagnosis from him. One interpreted the diagnosis as far more severe than it was and actually died in weeks. The other interpreted the diagnosis as far less severe than it was and actually recovered quickly and was discharged within days. Exact same diagnosis, the exact same ‘word’ grouping and usage…completely different results.

Dr. Siegel’s point: It’s almost always not the diagnosis itself that was most important but instead it was the interpretation of what the diagnosis actually meant to that person personally that truly mattered.

Several years ago I read that whenever a very successful CEO initially encountered bad news he trained himself to have a response that was: ‘That’s actually good news’.

After saying the line…he actually went into mode of finding out what possibly could be ‘good’ about the news. And in fact he almost almost always found it.

Baseball is steeped with such words requiring interpretations

‘Pitching Absolutes’

‘Balance’

‘Scapular loading’

‘Drive line height’

‘Gloveside Block’

‘Forearm Fly out’

‘Forearm Bounce’

‘High cocked position’

‘Flying Open’

‘Rushing’

‘The Power triangle’

‘Momentum pitching’

‘Loading the Glutes’

‘Weighted Ball Work’

‘Long toss’

‘Flat ground work’

‘Pitching with your fastball’

‘Repeatable delivery’

‘Connection’

‘Late launch’

I would suggest to all of you that the words themselves are simply tools…and not the final answer.

I get this all the time. “I thought you were a ‘long toss’ guy… or a ‘weighted ball’ guy.”

My typical response is “I’m not exactly sure what that means. We use long toss. We utilize weighted balls. We use a great number of tools. The Ranch is not about a specific tool. The Ranch is an idea. The Ranch is a concept. We believe in the hyper-personalization of individual pitcher’s training protocols and are ever evolving to improve that end.’

I must confess that when people get all upset or argumentative regarding a certain word choice I usually yawn. It suggests to me that this person has a specific agenda or has a perceived advantage to become offended or a victim of the specific use of the word. Sometimes it’s warranted. Most times it is not.

I suggest the word…any word…is far, far, far less important than our interpretation of it.

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Messing With The Mind

By Jill E. Wolforth

I’m taking a slight diversion this week and sharing something with you that I have recently been giving more attention.  It’s one of those things that you hear about once and say “That’s interesting”.  You hear about it a second time and say “I’ve heard that before” and then by the third, fourth or fifth time you say “Okay, maybe this is a sign I’m suppose to get locked in on this.”

That’s what happened to me in the last nine months on the subject of “Sleep”.  Now, before you quit reading, know this; I’m NOT going into the subject of amount of sleep. Instead, I’m intrigued by and specifically going to discuss technologies negative impact on sleep and thus our overall health and performance.

Last April, Lou Pavlovich, editor of Collegiate Baseball interviewed Dr. James Maas and wrote an article where he discussed the value of and how to achieve proper sleep.  It was a very detailed article and in it one part he referenced how our computers, I-phones, I-pads, etc were detrimental to our sleep when used right before going to bed.  The article was my “That’s interesting” moment. (You can read part of the article online at www.baseballnews.com/category/health/sleep/ )

Then this past fall when Coach Wolforth and I were in Belgium for the European Baseball Coaches Association Clinic, Jeff Krushell, Strength & Conditioning Consultant for Major League Baseball International and President of Human Sports Performance mentioned the same thing during one of his presentations.  His message emphasized the effects on young athletes.  This was my “I’ve heard that before” moment.

Then in the last two weeks, I’ve come across and read two additional magazine articles on the subject.  Our family had already had discussions on the topic and taken some personal action but the last couple occurrences pushed me to share the information with you.

I’ve teased you a little to this point with the underlying message that our technology (tools/toys) are being shown to affect our sleep.  So, the questions should be: “How?” and “If so, what can be done to alleviate the problem?”

Let’s start with the how (and I’ll try to keep this rather simple).  When used at night, it is believed that the blue light given off by these devices can fool the brain into thinking it’s still daylight thus disturbing sleep patterns.  We have what is called a circadian rhythm which works on our 24 hour cycle.  It’s our body’s natural ebb and flow.

The blue light emitted by these devices closely simulates outdoor daylight.  As a result, the light triggers the brain to stay awake disrupting the natural and much needed production of melatonin.

Understand that the interruption of the circadian rhythm can have significantly more consequences than the limited discussion here.  In addition, other elements of your sleeping environment can affect the rhythms.  This week I simply wanted to address the blue light affects of our gadgets.

So what can or should we do?  The number one recommendation I’ve read over and over again is to shut off these devices at least one hour before going to bed.  I don’t know about you but that’s a challenge in our house.  We’ve compromised, started with 30 minutes and are slowly working our way up.  It’s particularly hard if you’re one to read books on your I-pad when you go to bed or you’re a student doing homework on the computer right up until you crawl into bed.

The other thing I was just recently introduced to is a download that automatically changes the color of your computer display to match the time of day.  It looks to be promising.  The link is www.stereopsis.com/flux.  I have told my son that this does not eliminate the 30 minute shutdown mandate.  (He had been hopeful.)

I encourage you to look into this more yourself.  I have found it quite interesting.  Remember, it simply comes down to not stimulating the optic nerve once the sun goes down.

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A Bad Day

By Jill E. Wolforth

We all think we have had bad days from time to time.  After last weekend, I view mine just a tad bit different.  Here’s why.

Last weekend, following the conclusion of a busy and tiring 3-Day Elite Pitchers Bootcamp, Coach Wolforth & I decided we’d go to a movie.  We went to “The Lone Survivor”.  The movie is based on the true story of a Navy Seal assignment in Afghanistan that goes bad, very bad, with three of the four original Seal team dying along with 8 Seals and 8 Army Special Operations soldiers losing their lives trying to save the four.  One Seal, Marcus Luttrell, was the lone survivor.

Words can’t describe here what these soldiers withstood and yet continued to fight.  Their will was absolutely incredible.  Even with broken bones, bullets holes and lost limbs, they persevered.  Several times throughout the battle, one Seal would say to another, “We’re good, right”.  Meaning we’re okay.  The other would respond, “We’re good” and they’d press on.  Anyone looking at them would most definitely not say they were in good shape, actually quite the contrary.

Now, I realize with the Navy Seals we’re talking about them fighting for their very survival.  Fighting for our lives would cause most of us to endure more than we typically otherwise would.  But it does raise the question, can we endure more.  I reminded my son after the movie, I guess that cracked skin on your hand that bothers you during bp isn’t so bad after all, is it?

This is why I’ve taken the stand to view my “bad” days a little differently now.  As a matter of fact, in comparison mine are really rather good bad days.  So, that’s how I’m going to look at them, as “Good, Bad Days”.

I encourage you to determine for yourself how you will process your bad days.  I simply remind you that you will have good days and you will have bad days and you won’t know which are which for a very long time.

For example, if a good day causes you to become complacent in the long run; it wasn’t actually a good day, was it?  And if a bad day causes you to take action for something bigger and better, I would suggest it wasn’t a bad day after all.

In closing, if you haven’t done so yet, I highly recommend seeing “The Lone Survivor”.  After watching it I simply said, “Thank the Lord there are men like these who do what they do so we can do what we do”.

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Firm Decisions

By Jill E. Wolforth

A new year is upon us and for many it means New Year’s Resolutions.  What does resolution actually mean?  According to Merriam-Webster it is “something that is resolved”.  Alright, so what is the definition of resolve?  Here are a few that were listed:

- to deal with successfully; clear up

- to find an answer

- to reach a firm decision about

I find the last one the most interesting when talking about New Year’s Resolutions; “to reach a FIRM decision about”.  Notice I emphasized the word FIRM.  I think that’s the problem with New Year’s Resolutions.  They are things we’d like to do.  They are things that would be nice.  But do we really come to a FIRM DECISION to make them happen?  In most cases no.

Think about this.  When you ask someone “What are your New Year’s Resolutions?” the typical answer is something like: lose 10 pounds, spend more time with my family, read a book a month, etc.

If however, I said to that same person “What firm decisions have you made for 2014?” I’m guessing I might not get the same response from most people.  I imagine most would give me a blank stare or ask me what I meant by firm decisions.  Just saying “firm decisions” gives you a feeling of something serious, something important.  Isn’t that the point?  If you’re going to make New Year’s Resolutions then they should be important (at least to you).

There is a second part to the equation.  It is the time lapse between making a decision and acting on it.  There is a correlation between the creation of an idea/goal/resolution, the speed at which it’s acted upon and success.  The longer the time between the two the less likely it is to happen.  The people who are best at taking immediate action, once a decision is made, are routinely the most successful.

I do want to make the point, action does not mean completion, it means moving toward completion and often the first action step is the key one.  It gets the ball rolling.

So as we start 2014 I ask you, “Have you made any firm decisions for the upcoming year?” and as importantly, “What is your first step?”  If you haven’t taken it yet, I challenge you to take it today.

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Keep Planting Grass

By Jill E. Wolforth

I read a story earlier this week that I found quite interesting.  It was about a man who was having a terrible time maintaining his yard.  It was overtaken by weeds and no matter how much he worked at it he couldn’t get the problem under control.  He eventually called out a lawn care company to take a look and was told it was too big of a problem for them.  Unwilling to give up, the man drove down the road to a local farm where he shared his problem with the farmer, asking for a lawn care tip.  After listening carefully the farmer responded, “Keep planting the grass; don’t pull weeds”.

Interesting.  Very interesting.

In our daily lives, it’s easy to focus on what’s not going well or what’s not working.  It’s easy to focus on the outcome and not the process.

In the story above the emphasis was indeed on paying attention to the process and if you’ve read any of my writings before or been to The Ranch you know we are process centered.  We like to say “Focus on the process and the outcome will follow”.

Today however, I’m going to share some thoughts on something else I concluded from the story and it’s the power of what you allow yourself to focus on.  It’s been shown in studies that we actually get more of what we concentrate on, so, if you think about what you want, you’ll get more of what you want.  Conversely, if you think about what you don’t want, you’ll get more of what you don’t want. Sounds easy enough but almost all of us can use some work here.

I always ask my athletes at the end of a softball lesson, “What are you going to work on/focus on this week?”  Occasionally, I’ll get an answer like “Not bending my arm or not leaning forward”.  I immediately say, “Put that in the positive” to which I frequently get the questioning, what do you mean look.  I then say “Tell me what you want, not what you don’t want.  It’s like me telling you ‘don’t think of a purple elephant.  What’s did you just think of?’  Of course, a purple elephant.”

So, I then ask the question again, “What are you going to work on?” and the response changes to “Keeping my arm long and staying tall.”  It may seem like a small difference, but it’s an important difference when talking about training and long term success.

Lanny Basham, an Olympic Champion shooter and mental coach has a GREAT book titled “With Winning in Mind”. I highly recommend it.  In the book and through his Mental Management System™ he emphasizes focusing on exactly what you want to have happen.  He also stresses the importance of keeping a Performance Journal and in the journal recording those things that went well.  It all ties to his concept of “imprinting” and he wants those imprints to be of the good or the positive, not of the bad or negative.

I had a bit of a difficult time with this at first as my belief was that you’ve got to know what you’re doing wrong to fix it.  I now believe his point is simply that you don’t think or concentrate on that.  It is what it is.  Look forward and keep planting the seeds of what you want.

I’ll often catch myself asking, “What went wrong? What needs to change so this doesn’t occur again?”  It seems harmless but what if instead I asked, “What can I do better so this turns out well next time?”   One puts a far more positive light on the situation.  One leads to better answers.  If I ask what went wrong, my brain will come up with a lot that went wrong.  If I ask what I can do better, my brain will come up with a lot of good answers.

Our brains are amazing and we can choose to have them work for or against us.  Remind yourself this week to, “Keep planting grass.”

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