Posted in Being Your Best, tagged Excellence, The Challenge on October 26, 2010 |
This is another segment of my interview with Kyle from earlier this year. You might notice some commonalities between Kyle’s mindset and what other athletes have said previously on this blog. Bonnie Blair, for example, said that if she had an enemy at all in her sport it was the clock or perhaps herself, and Kyle’s perspective is very similar. Beckie Scott talked about the Norwegian cross-country skiing “system” and how she wasn’t intimidated by it and how she was going to do it her way regardless. Like Beckie, Kyle competed in a sport in which no Canadian had ever won an Olympic medal. If you agree that believing is a key aspect to success, these are two examples of athletes who weren’t exactly surrounded by Olympic success stories, and yet they knew it was possible.
What makes a great athlete? A great gymnast? Natural talent is a factor, no question. Coaching and support team are critical and even though Kyle won Olympic medals at the same club he joined as a kid, obviously they knew what they were doing. It also takes dedication, passion and the drive to do the necessary hard work. But more than that, it’s about believing and not being content sitting back in someone else’s shadow. Kyle says some very insightful things about how he related to and learned from some of the greats of his sport.
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Posted in The Big Picture, tagged perspective, Values on October 19, 2010 |
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Thanks to Eric for finding this great video of famed UCLA basketball coach John Wooden talking about his coaching (and life) philosophies. I’ve referred to Wooden many times in this blog and on Twitter because he typifies the ‘make a better person, get a better athlete’ philosophy of coaching. There’s a great deal of wisdom in this 17 minute clip and it’s all so simply put and perhaps that’s why it resonates so well.
What I enjoyed most from the video was Wooden’s answer to the question, “who was the best player you ever coached?” because it had very little to do with natural talent and it had everything to do with competing to the best of your ability. Have a look:
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Posted in The Big Picture, tagged perspective, The Challenge on October 14, 2010 |
There’s a part of Andre Agassi’s book Open that I read recently in which he talks about winning his first Major. Prior to that he had been in a number of finals without winning and had really taken a beating in the press for being too much about image and not having what it takes to be the best. When it finally happened for him, it seemed like the press did an abrupt about-face and instantly he could do no wrong in terms of what they wrote about him.
Knowing that nothing had really changed and he was the same person he was prior to winning a Major, and having everything seem so different in terms of how people related to him, the whole experience really opened his eyes.
“I’m supposed to be a different person now that I’ve won a slam. Everyone says so. After two years of calling me a fraud, a choke artist, a rebel without a cause, they lionize me. They declare that I’m a winner, a player of substance, the real deal. They say my victory at Wimbledon forces them to reassess me to reconsider who I really am.
“But I don’t feel that Wimbledon has changed me. I feel, in fact, as if I’ve been let in on a dirty little secret: winning changes nothing.”
Imagine what that would be like. You wake up one day and everyone treats you differently. Better, in fact, and you’re exactly the same person. The only thing that Agassi did differently was score a few more points because it was his opponent that made the mistakes at the wrong times. Knowing that it could have gone either way when he won and when he lost and having everyone act like he was a different person gave him a really interesting and unique perspective about winning and losing.
He goes on to say that he felt bad after losing, a lot longer than he felt good after winning. It’s almost as if winning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Because it’s something that athletes dream about their whole lives, it’s very difficult for the experience, if it does come at all, to live up to what you dreamed it would be. That’s why I believe that at the highest level, very successful athletes are more about the challenge than the actual victory. In other words, the greatest fulfillment comes from the journey rather than the destination. So strive for the top, absolutely. Dream about it, do what it takes, work hard on improving mentally and physically but also realize that trying to improve and trying to be the best is every bit as important and enjoyable as it is getting there.
Dream about it, do what it takes, work hard on improving mentally and physically but also realize that trying to improve and trying to be the best is every bit as important and enjoyable as it is getting there.
And check out Open whether you’re a tennis fan or not. It’s a great read.
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Don Meyer may ultimately be remembered as the winningest coach in American college basketball history but I get the feeling this is only a trivial statistic for those who know him. The wins are merely a reflection of how dedicated he is to his profession, to the concept of team and to the young men he coaches. The following is a video of Don Meyer’s acceptance speech for the 2009 Jimmy V award at the ESPY’s. This is an incredibly inspiring story of a man who considers his greatest achievement that in all his years of coaching all but one of his players graduated from college.
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