Book Summaries with Jeremy

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The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam

Summary:

This book is a biography of Bill Belichick but told in a way that illustrates how Belichick became the coach he is today. His father has coached for his entire life, making a mark as a terrific scout and then lasting many years as an assistant coach for Navy. Bill would help his father break down game film as a child and always had an interest in football and coaching. While Belichick played football, he was too small and slow to play at the highest level in the collegiate ranks, but always knew the game extraordinarily well and would serve as an informal coach at times. It was his intense passion for the game and tremendous ability to break down film in an effective manner that leads to jobs. Belichick took his first job in the NFL without pay, and quickly gained a reputation for a smart coach who could break down film extremely well. He had the ability to pinpoint the key focus of an offense and design a way to eliminate it. Belichick spent time with Bill Parcells, a Hall of Fame coach and had great success with the New York Giants in the 1980s. He finally got his head coaching start with the Browns in the 1990s, but struggled with the media, causing tension that was aided by losing. He had a multi-year plan but was unable to fulfill it. It wasn’t until he got a chance from New England that he could do things as he wished. His focus was on having a system where veterans did not have egos, they would pave the way and groom the new players so that continuous success could occur. Everyone would do their job and work as a team. He would only draft players he wanted and trade other picks to better be in position for the future. He has had tremendous success in his career.

Influence on me:

Three main themes stuck out to me during this book, being really good at something is helpful, passion drives all, and networking with your people is useful. Belichick was great at breaking down film from a young age and capitalized on that ability. Other people in the profession would overlook or delegate that task, but it enabled Belichick to get a job and become really good at his job. If there is something that separates you from others, you can create a name for yourself. Once you start to move up, depending on the need, you may decide to keep doing it, such as Belichick does as the head coach, or delegate it as well. He has always loved football and coaching. It is another reminder of the same premise that if you love what you do, it does not truly work. This is what allows for long work days and tremendous amounts of effort. Find what you have a passion for and seek that out. Lastly, coaching is not a secure position as a losing season can mean no longer having a job. Coaching is a profession where who you know can mean having a future job. Being a good person to others and not burning bridges is always a good practice. Too many people get bitter at others and ruin relationships due to emotions at the moment. It is better to take a moment, gather oneself and act professionally as no regrets can come from it.

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Utilizing Skills Sets in Different Endeavors

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There I was, 23 years old and I just graduated with a Master’s in Sport Psychology, but I felt empty. My plans to get a doctoral degree failed and I didn’t truly set myself up for a plan for what I would do after school. So here I am, full of knowledge about a specific skill set, but no plan about how I would apply my talents in the “real world.” As time went on I adapted. I learned how to use my skill set to my benefits as a strength and conditioning coach. My skills allowed me to become a more effective communicator and most importantly, allowed me to truly listen to my athletes.

From a sport psychology consultant intern to a strength coach, to a leader for a highly successful multi-billion dollar company, I have been able to adapt my skills to make myself an effective leader and help develop the people around me.

Now a new beginning. My wife and I are expecting our first child and emotions of fear and excitement run through me. Am I going to be a good dad? Am I going to be a positive figure in her life? Will I know what to say in tough times? What traits will I pass? And so on and so on. Most recently, my wife and I took a handful or parenting classes to become better educated for our future experiences.

As I sat in class listening to the instructor, especially during the support person section I began to pick up a lot of old cues and skills that I used as a consultant and coach. Specifically, the instructor talked about relaxation and communication. Immediately my mind sparked with exercises I used with my athletes to help with their relaxation, breathing, focus, etc. to help better their performance. At this moment, I felt extremely confident that I could in excel as a Doula (labor and delivery coach)!

Let’s reel this back in now. You may be reading this wondering what does this have to do with me. Let me tell you. Have you ever felt a time where you didn’t know what to do with the skill set you have or achieved? You went to school for many years, or took a weekend course and thought to yourself, now what? I know there are many people out there working jobs that they didn’t go to school for; spent many hours studying, practicing and a lot of money to end up feeling like they wasted time. Well…you didn’t!

This is a time now to reflect on the skill sets you have. Write them down. What are you good at? What are you not good at? Not sure, ask people for help. I have done this with my close friends when I felt that I was struggling to discover some of my skill sets. After you have your list of skill sets, ask yourself how I can apply these skills in the job or career I have now. Or how can I utilize these skills in the job or career I want.

Everyone has a unique skill set that can be adapted to anything that they do. I may not be a sport psychology consultant but I creatively use my skills daily at work and my life. I have tweaked the skills I have to better apply them to what I am doing at this moment in time.

Having trouble? Again, talk with people you truly trust and value their opinion. Make a list and email us at rawrnonprofit@gmail.com and we can help assess your skills and how to utilize them in your career or life.

-Sean C.

Mediation: My journey within a journey

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A few months ago I began meditating. I have read so many books and listen to many podcasts that talked about mediation in their daily routine. I was intrigued. In the past, I also thought mediating was a foreign concept that only very spiritual people or hippies did. I knew I couldn’t do it alone, so I purchased an app on my iPhone, “Simply Being.” It is a self-guided mediation that allows for 5-30 minute sessions with different background music and volume settings. My goals for meditation are:

  1. Re-gain focus and boost energy.
  2. To give appreciation for my life and what I have in it.

My goal is to set time aside each day, whether that is in the morning before work, on my lunch break or after work. Just find a time when I was alone. In the beginning I started with 15-20 minute sessions. I would get in a comfortable position, close my eyes and let the app take over. I would get so relaxed I fell asleep most of the time. So, I had to also set my alarm so I didn’t oversleep (especially on my lunch break). When I woke up I felt amazing! I repeated this for a month until I came to a realization about this new routine I did each day. Was I truly meeting my goals? Was I quieting my mind, re-focusing and taking the time to appreciate what I have in my life? NO. I was taking a power nap.

I reevaluated my plan and decided I am going to follow deliberate practice methods (10,000 hours and/or 10 years of practice) for this task. I started with 5-minute meditation sessions. I put myself in a comfortable position (but not one I would fall asleep in) and truly listen to the words. I focused on my breathing and let my mind focus on the task at hand. I let thoughts it but didn’t follow them. I stayed focused in the moment at the task in hand for 5 minutes. At the end of each session, when the recording said, “you may open your eyes when you are ready.” I would say to myself, “thank you for today, life is good.” I spoke these words to myself; to remind myself that life has challenges and you may get beat down again and again, but what you do after is what truly matters.

I have now worked up to 10-minute sessions and will be in this range for a while. This is a journey within my journey and it will take time. I always tell my clients when working with them that you cannot jump over the river in one jump. You must place stepping stones to get across. It’s not about the end result but the journey within. Small task (steps) will lead to big accomplishments (miles of steps).

Simply Being

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/simply-being-guided-meditation/id347418999?mt=8

-Sean C.

Value of Gym People Watching

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Everyone that has spent time in a gym has seen some interesting things. There can be guys or gals with muscles popping out everywhere, people going crazy intense, people going easy, people doing some really weird looking things, and more.

People tend to watch people. This is true at the gym, airport, food court and many other places. It satisfies our curiosities, but also on a fundamental level, it keeps us safe. If we see others doing some activity that is harmless, then we can have higher confidence we will be safe. A small example is at work or a conference when there is some procedure such as checking in. The newbie may not know what to do, but by taking a moment and watching others, they can follow suit and be fine. Another example is deciding where to eat. Finding a full restaurant with many people usually indicates the food is good. This is a concept of following others is called “consensus” in Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence, here is a link to a quick summary on our webpage.

This concept can be very useful in the gym as well if used properly. As I’ve mentioned, there is a variety of people and experiences in the gym so observing with the right lens is critical to maximizing the usefulness.

The lens to have is one of growth. This means identifying what people are doing right, and what can be improved upon. Regardless of knowledge and skill level, intuition will provide a basis for identifying what is safe and what isn’t. For those still new, as you watch over time, it will be easier to see commonalities and outliers for exercise technique. A way to accelerate this growth is to look at good resources for exercise technique.

One good resource is here on the CrossFit website. Some people bash CrossFit and say there is poor form, but it is like many things where many do it properly and some do not. The craziness of poor form tends to stick in people’s minds more than proper form, but it is still a worthwhile resource.

Another resource is Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier as it has amazing illustrations showing exercises per muscle groups. Understanding what the muscle looks like and how it functions can aid in correctly performing the movement.

There are some people that love Arnold and some that don’t but his book, The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding is another wonderful resource for weight training.

The last resource is a bit of a shameless mention, but it is still valuable in my biased opinion. Your Future with Fitness is written by yours truly and gives a good foundation towards being effective with your workouts.

Now that we have taken a bit of a detour with some resources, we can get back on the main topic. Watching people at the gym can be beneficial for those with experience as well. As we train more, we need to maintain vigilance in our own form. Our body is great at adapting to make a movement easier, such as bending the back during shoulder press to engage the larger pectoralis major (chest) muscles. The issue is that through this change in movement, it increases the likelihood of injury. As such, we must maintain our focus on form.

The exercise or weight can be easy, but to continue our progress we increase the weight, which brings us to the need for attention again. A good way is by keeping ourselves honest by using mirrors for feedback and asking a workout partner to correct us if our form is slipping.

Keeping a growth and learning mindset can help us learn from others. The gym then becomes a wonderful human experience.

-Jeremy

Trust Every Attribute of a Member

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Have you ever heard these sayings?

  • “Team is not just a group of people but a group of people who trust each other.”
  • “There is no ‘I’ in TEAM. But there is a ‘me’ in team!”
  • “TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More.”

All the above statements can be considered true, but the last two are negative because they are talking about the individual person. Within a poorly functioning team, there may be an individual or many individuals which are focused on getting the greatest personal benefit they can from the team. It is important as a leader that we influence these individuals to believe in a common, greater vision. We need each member of the team to trust each other and to trust you as a leader.

Let’s look at one of my favorite candies, the dark chocolate peanut butter cup. From the outside, it looks delicious and all you can think about is that first bite that blends the chocolate layer with the creamy peanut butter on the inside. What if you went to take a bite and instead of the delicious combination, you experience the emptiness of peanut butter. Just crumbled chocolate. How are you going to feel? Disappointed. Not excited. This is a boring hollow piece of chocolate; it is like those chocolate bunnies you get during Easter that are hollow on the inside. No thank you.

The peanut butter filling is what makes the piece of candy complete and special; it is what sets it apart from the other candies. This metaphor is like a team with trust. A team without trust is just a group of people fighting for individual glory. But the team with that creamy, delicious, mouth-watering peanut butter is what makes it special. How can you gain the trust of your team? And how can you ensure that team members trust one another?

Words are only words but your actions speak so much more. Within your team, it is important to deeply know about each team member. What are their passions, what motivates them, what are their strengths and weaknesses, etc? Knowing more than surface level information allows for greater collaboration as people can more effectively fill roles. As leaders, we need to be transparent and honest with the team. If there is something that you struggle with but someone else on your team excels at, then let them lead that area. This shows the person you trust them. The other message is the team knowing you are willing to step aside and put your ego away for the betterment of the team.

It is important to listen to the team’s input because each member is invested in the team’s success and have thoughts for improvement. Take their feedback and input as a great learning opportunity because now you have many minds on one subject vs. your solo perspective. Through this collaboration along with an analytical perspective, you can look to omit poor ideas and move forward with good ideas. This is a great time for you to educate team members and give constructive feedback if needed.

Lead by example, if a team member makes a valid suggestion don’t shun them away because it was not your own idea. Embrace their suggestion and put it into effect. Ask them more questions about how they would move forward with their suggestion and plan the steps needed to succeed. Be part of the team; work side-by-side with them; don’t be afraid to show them that you are not afraid to get “dirty” and do what is necessary to see the success of the team as a whole.

Trust Every Attribute of a Member (TEAM).

-Sean C.

 

Book Summaries with Jeremy

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Born to run: A hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen by Christopher McDougall

Summary:

A writer has a foot injury and that starts a journey to learn more about distance running. In particular, there is a culture of Tarahumara Indians that are legendary for their epic runs, simple diet, partying and remote lifestyle. McDougall tells a few stories along the way. These intense 50-100 mile trail runs in various places and certain individuals that not only run in them, they dominate the competition. After each mini-story, we hear how the various individuals are invited to a secluded race with the Tarahumara. The race is extremely challenging and close but also a great display of friendship and joy with running. Some keys through the book are shorter strides and lesser cushion on shoes. Most running injuries correspond to new shoes. Cushioned shoes through research have shown to elicit harsh impacts. Shoes would minimize the temporary pain but not injury. A minimal shoe or barefoot causes the foot to react and strengthen. With smaller steps, the foot is efficient at this. There is also mention of research and possible explanations. It seems we as a species became upright and the main advantage was our distance running ability. We could cool ourselves and breathe while maintaining pace. Other animals cannot. This led to outrunning animals. This leads to more protein, helping to expand brain size over time. The book makes a push to illustrate that we are made to run when we rely on our natural makeup, something the Tarahumara have maintained. The other big takeaway is the joy they had. Each of the elite runners had a pure smile of joy as they ran. They found a way to fully embrace some or multiple aspects of it.

Influence on me:

I liked the discussion revolving around the evolution of our species to become distance runners. Personally, I had never called myself a runner. Most of my exercise experience was weight lifting as I found it to be more enjoyable. Knowing this information though gives me a new confidence that I too can improve. I can embrace running and get the numerous benefits it offers. As I was reading through the book, I had talked with runners and biomechanist to start and have a shorter more efficient stride. I have to report that my own plantar fasciitis has been reduced greatly. Lastly, I look to have joy during the run. It is easy to get down on yourself, thinking how tired or hot or thirsty you may be. As I think back to the book, these other individuals were capable of so much more. I think about what I enjoy about the running process. It, in turn, does make it go better and as each run has less pain physically and mentally, then I truly do enjoy it more. It’s a nice book for someone looking to get into running.

BornToRun

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Make Your Bed in the Morning

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You probably got tired of hearing your mom tell you to make the bed in the morning. You could never figure it out either. You asked yourself, “Why make my bed when I am just going to get back in it?” But, maybe your mom was onto something. What was it?

“One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.” -Unknown

That positive thought is an accomplishment. How do you achieve accomplishment first thing in the morning? By making your bed!

Making your bed when you first get up can set up the rest of your day for success. Start the morning out by seeking a task and completing it. It may seem simple and not a very exotic task, but I challenge you for two weeks to make your bed in the morning.

At the end of the two weeks email us at rawrnonprofit@gmail.com and let us know your experience. What did you notice different each day after making your bed? Reflect on this time. Stand in front of your bed after your done, smile and tell yourself something positive about your accomplishment and what you prepare to do the rest of the day.

Example: First task is done! Nothing will get in my way today. I am on a role!

Again, this may seem like a little task but this little step in the morning makes a huge ripple in the rest of your day. It allows for you to start off with the right mindset you need to achieve success each day.

Admiral William McRaven inspires many to change the world by making your bed in the morning. Watch the video here!

-Sean C.