Habits

In these posts, I’ve tried giving you some insight about our program and philosophies. I hope they’ve helped generate some thoughts and ideas in your own head. If you are one of the ten who reads these posts and would like to continue to receive our thoughts, information, philosophies, opinions – please subscribe to our weekly thoughts letter at the bottom of the page.

We had tryouts for the first time in program history the other day. Evaluating student-athletes based on one meeting – what an awkward experience. After the tryout, a parent whose son has played on several teams over the past few years approached me: “Hey coach, quick question: what can you do to get him to play D1 baseball?” The question is obviously relevant to his needs which is fine. Unfortunately, this question embodies the misplaced focus of the amateur athletic landscape today.

The Sales Game

The advice that many would provide the father is usually disjointed and self-serving; I hear from various friends on the guarantees they are implicitly or explicitly provided. Play here, throw there, attend this event, compete in this tournament, wear this jersey – all will help you play Division I baseball. *Shrug* As percentages go and return on investment is concerned, these directions do not carry much weight.

Instead, I hope our message is more apropos. Scholarships, recruitment, post season awards – all byproducts. All simple ends which are viewed upon so heavily, unfortunately, that the means to these ends are obscured. Instead of this, let’s obsessively focus on the means, the habits in which we create to achieve these ends. More importantly, the habits that we create, that wind up promoting transcendent success in fields outside of sports.

Develop Habits

Whether we are consciously trying to or not – we are either developing habits that will promote success or habits that will impede it. Below is an actionable list of habits that may help you during your growth process and beyond. These – to me – are the means.

Surround yourself with people who care for your growth

This is a difficult habit since many times we are confined to the environment we are put in. But it’s an important one since our world is so heavily influenced by those we surround ourselves with. If you struggle finding good people, don’t worry – they’ll come as they will continue to seek the value that you provide.

Stop placing so much attention on what everyone else thinks

Many times we become paralyzed by the notion of how we are viewed. We seek asylum in the thoughts: person A likes me, person B thinks I’m good. We highlight only our strengths (or our perceived ones) and intensively shield our weaknesses. We post only good pictures on social media and delete anything negative. Because we live behind these barriers, we get destroyed by any semblance of negativity. Stop. Be a lion. Lions don’t concern themselves with the opinions of sheep. When people blast us on twitter for our #LegKick idolization – I think it’s comical. Are we the best coaches or is the Compete Academy the best training facility on the plantet … well yes. But if someone said differently, then they are entitled to that. I don’t live for them; and they shouldn’t live for us.

Breathe

The game of baseball – and life in general – can beat you down and seem like a continuous battle that can’t be won. When this happens, change the perspective and breathe. Calm your breathing, calm your brain. As a kid, I used to get nervous to ask my dad for anything. I would pace outside his room while practicing my questioning and my hands would shake uncontrollably from nerves. Then one day I asked myself – what’s the worst thing that happens? He says no. Life goes on. I laughed at myself for being such a wreck. The same goes for sports. What’s the worst that happens, strike out, make an error, drop a pass, miss a shot. I’d give anything in my being for the chance to strikeout under the lights again. Perspective. Breathe.

Write down 3 thoughts a day

As athletes, we believe class/education/school and our sport life are mutually exclusive. Ultimately, however, they’re not. The learning process doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom. In fact, for many of us that’s where it begins. So appreciate and respect the learning process by capturing it. Everyday, write down 3 thoughts that you have regarding school, life, sports. The thoughts you write down can be anything. Do this for 3 weeks and you’ll be amazed how open your mind becomes. My thoughts from yesterday: Dustin Pedroia has a ridiculous ability to stay in his legs (must be something to that), various names for a business idea I had, what gifts could I get my oldest niece for Christmas (which led to the thought that there should be a website for guys to buy gifts for girls/women because I have no idea what they like/need). We’re always learning, or we’re not. Make the choice to always learn – and take note of it.

Be Accountable

Most people become frustrated with their lack of success because they don’t hold themselves accountable. When this focus is on “what can YOU do to help MY son get to XYZ?” accountability becomes blurred. As a coach and a teacher, the most frequent complaints I hear: “I’m not playing because my coach doesn’t like me,” “My teacher never taught me that,” “Our coach starts the wrong person,” “My pitching instructor taught me the wrong thing which led to my injury,” “I would have gotten recruited had I played in XYZ showcase” etc. It’s a constant cycle of finger pointing. We are ALL guilty of this fallacy which is why it’s important to get in the habit of being accountable. You get called out on a close play – put a ball in the gap and remove the ump from the play. Your coach is not playing you – become the best player on the team and you’ll play everyday. You’re not getting actively recruited – throw 100 and hit 500 foot home runs. (They’ll come watch you throw in a parking lot for free.) Getting grades that are beneath your potential – work hard to learn the material instead of simply cramming for a subjective test. There are so many ways to hold yourself accountable. Maybe you can list 3 in your thoughts of the day for today. Maybe the people you surround yourself can help you hold yourself accountable.

Make Two Lists

Make a list of your 10 athletic goals (or life goals, dreams, etc.) in order from 1-10. Now take the top 3 and forget the rest. Focus on the PATH to achieving the top 3 with borderline obsession. The other 7 are just syphoning your energy because they are simply noise; so drop them completely until you can do the top 3.

Ask Questions

As outlined in our piece about Plato, today’s student-athletes don’t answer questions as frequently as they should. Because you are paying someone money does not mean that they are the center of your growth. Because they used to throw a pigskin a quarter mile, does not mean they are without philosophical deficiencies or could not further explain themselves to help you understand better. Ask questions, be intellectually curious, spark conversations.

Grow a little everyday

Rome wasn’t built in a day. How cliche. But it’s true. I wrote a “bucket list” in college after seeing the movie of the same name (I’ll watch anything with Morgan Freeman). On the list: write a book, surf in Hawaii. For years, I researched and thoughts about topics to write while watching Hawaiian surfing videos. Some book topics I came up with during my college life: Stock advice for college students, How to swing a bat (at a point where I would have written about “throwing the hands” – wow.), Financial nightmares of a college student entering the real world. I also thought about the plane ride to Hawaii, visualized the feel of the Pacific. All ideas and dreams. Zero words. Zero waves surfed. If I had simply started writing, just one paragraph a day, I’d have written several books to this point. Maybe they’d all be an insult to the work of professional authors – or maybe they’d have been best sellers. We’ll never know because I didn’t do a little each day. Athletically, Jose Bautista didn’t develop his swing in a day. It was a process, a process in which he was committed to everyday. Be better today than you were yesterday. Be better tomorrow than you are today. You may plateau and not see changes, but trust me: growth is exponential under this process.

Sacrifice

It is only after we fail do we appreciate the sacrifice necessary to succeed. I wanted to lose 20 pounds in 4 months. I gained 5. On reflection, I couldn’t stop drinking Mountain Dew despite kidney stones and medication. I couldn’t sacrifice this sugary liquid gold in order to reach my physical and health goals. It’s interesting how often I hear kids say they want to be D1 or professional athletes. It’s disheartening to see how little they realize the sacrifices necessary to reach these goals. Kobe Bryant wasn’t born to be one of the greatest NBA players of all time. Rather, he’s sacrificed time, life experiences, friendships, health – all on the quest to being the greatest. What we see is the game winning shots, NBA rings, million dollar contracts. What we don’t see is the awkward 12 year old, the nights at the court instead of at a party, the sleep that was lost during early AM training sessions. He’s an extreme example. His balance may not be your balance. But whatever the goal is, there are some sacrifices of time, pleasure, mental sanity that you must make. Appreciate and respect the sacrifices necessary to achieve your goals.

Embrace Failure

Nobody who has ever succeeded did so without failing first. We all have minor failures. We all have big failures. These failures are the only way in which we grow. So try, fail, pull yourself up, learn, try, fail again. This is the road to success – one in which we all must take. Some choose to take it, some simply give up after they fail. Our goal shouldn’t be to avoid or hide from failure; rather it should be to appreciate, domesticate, dominate, conquer our failures.

Enjoy It

On the bus ride to one of my last games we pulled up to the stadium and I remember thinking – I hate this. I became so jaded by this game, by my coaches, by my own perceived failings – I just wanted it to end. So it did. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of that exact moment on that bus and feel disappointed in myself. I let my frustrations cloud my appreciation of the little things – teammates, handshakes, playing in front of people, the perfectly groomed grass. If you’re doing something you don’t enjoy – you miss out on all the little things that make up your life. Focus on enjoying these little things – that sometimes make the big things even better.

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The biggest reward we’ve received since creating the Compete Academy is the community in which we have developed. As we continue to grow, we’d love to hear from you – as we always say – we are constantly learning and growing. To further your interaction with our philosophies, please subscribe to our weekly Thoughts Letter:

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Comments 3

  1. Well written!
    I like all of the comments within each section – especially where you set goals, than question, and embrace failures! ESPECIALLY in baseball!
    First Plato now Aristotle – I cant wait to see Shakespeare!!!

  2. Don’t change a thing …..Love EVERYTHING about this program…..and your philosophy about growth perceived success and these blogs….. keep on keepin on

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