A New Year’s Message!

by CoachZ on January 2, 2009

A Reputation To Live Up To:

For years, I have listened to athletes, students, clients, friends, and associates complain about the people in their life. They sound like this: “Charlie never spends time just connecting with me,” “Sarah is overweight and won’t lose it,” “My kid never does what I ask,” “My employees can’t do it right and they’re too slow.” Or, “She costs us more matches than she is worth, when is the coach going to wake up!” “His touch stinks, he can’t receive a ball to save his life, maybe if he could I would pass it to him. Why does the coach put up with him?” And finally, “This is her third knee surgery in as many years. I’m healthy! Why doesn’t the coach see that she’s had it? I should be the one playing, not her!” Often when I hear the same complaint in myriad forms, I throw out all the strategies of dealing with this person I usually employ and ask one of my favorite inquiries, “Are you giving them a reputation to live up or down to?”

I can feel the wheels starting to turn in the critic’s head after that question. I then go on to explain that what we expect of people is what we get. Another way of putting that is whatever you give your attention to, you get more of. This is a wonderful experience when you are noticing fabulous traits about the people around you, but when you’re noticing everything you don’t like, it’s a nightmare. I know it’s hard to sometimes not be reactive when your teammate or friend keeps doing the same thing you’ve asked them not to do. But make it your focus to concentrate on the things you DO like about that person, their positive characteristics.

We tend to be title experts. We call Sally, next door, “The Smoker Lady.” Hank is a “Weirdo.” Charlie is a “Freak!” Jessica is a “Ball-Hog!” Jason is a “Glory-Hound!” Guess what? We will constantly experience them this way when we see them. We will always attract proof to support our hypothesis, our pre-conceived notion. This goes for everything we decide about the world and the people in it. Some people believe the economy is down and repel business to prove their point. Others thrive during that same time, space, and reality because they believe they are always prosperous. We are not consciously trying to prove our negative titles. You simply get what you project. The old saying about life being 1% perspiration and 99% inspiration holds true. It might not seem like that in pre-season workouts but, to paraphrase Sun Tzu, “The match is won before the cleats hit the pitch!” How about that one sports fans! 

We should get back to the point. Conversely, someone else may consider Charlie,”The Freak,” is the most sensible person they’ve ever met. Now, you have a different perspective of him. Next time you interact with Charlie he seems less “freaky.” Hmmm … what if you started expecting good things from those people who have frustrated you in the past? Or focusing only on the things that you can truly respect about them? What if you gave them reputations to live up to? 

This same principle goes for the nasty things we privately say about ourselves. Some of the most famous lines about myself are, “I’m a slow learner when it comes to technical stuff,” “I should be better than this,” and “I’m not going to get my way.” And surprise! I prove myself right. The self-fulfilling prophecy! I told myself that going on to graduate school was going to be too hard and not worth the trouble. The first month of classes I experienced the worst case of self-doubt and uncertainty I have ever experienced. I was totally lost. Then I stopped having that conversation about it being hard and all. I changed my focus, as Tony Robbins is fond of saying! I came to understand concepts, formulas, and subject material faster than many of the other students. I titled myself, “Intuitively smart, persistent, and determined.” Now, I’ve been gathering lots of proof about that! Again, the self-fulfilling prophecy. It will work for you too!

What about throwing out titles like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)? Many times, it is associated with children who are “hyper-active” (ADHD) and then they’re seen as having a learning disability (LD). In adults it’s seen as being scattered, unable to focus, unorganized. Several years ago I was diagnosed with depression, just like Mike Wallace and a whole slew of people from virtually every walk of life. They said, “You have an extreme case and you need to be on medication.” “What?!” I said, “Well, I’m not going on medication! That’s a superficial fix, I can pull myself out of it…by my bootstraps if I have to!” I decided that I was going to be a “grounded, organized, focused, and happy person.” I also let go of all the pressure to do 100 things in a day so that I would be “successful.” That was the year I cut my workload down to a minimum and finished my degree summa cum laude. That was the kind of proof I like! Want to know a secret, I would never have done it without the help of others, including medical professionals and a bit of medication. You see, sometimes we have to look outside of ourselves for solutions to our biggest challenges, sometimes we need a coach or a mentor.

The secret? We need someone besides ourself to get outside of ourself. What? Have you ever heard the expression, “”He/She can’t see the forest for the trees?” Of course you have, we all have! Well, often when working towards a goal, in this case becoming a better soccer player or even a better coach, we are so close to the result seek we cannot see just how close we really are. It takes someone else, someone objective yet someone who has our best interests at heart. In this case, we need a coach, a mentor or trainer; and, sometimes we need all three!  

Back to our perspective. In conclusion,  our judgement and our treatment of others is crucial to our personal happiness and well-being. In fact, it is vital to our own success.  Consider for a moment someone who forgets about time. They are usually people who get so focused on what they are doing they are simply not focused on time. Are they spacey? NO! Quite the opposite. If you think someone is an idiot, I promise you, you will always experience him or her that way. Why would you want to be right about something like that? Be right about the “greatness” in people. Be right about their true value, their true worth. Give them a reputation to live up to! Do you have  a teammate you think will never measure up? Do you consider them a liability to be criticized, avoided, even ostracized? What do you think your relationship with that individual is going to yield? Can you now ask yourself the question you know is coming: “What can I do to improve my focus and thus my relationship with that individual?” Try it! In 2009 give it your best effort and I assure you, people will live up, or down, to the reputation you assign them.

Good luck and best wishes to all in this New Year, 2009!



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