Birth, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, old age, and death. These are the seven phases of our life. Within these phases we have countless opportunities to promote change, both positive and negative. We can change our own life. We can change the lives of others. We can alter the way others view us, and we have the opportunity to change the way we view them. In life, there is no “instruction manual” for creating positive change – no universal recipe for finding success. Every individual must navigate his or her own way through life’s challenges and hard choices. I cannot determine your path for you, but I can offer insight and advice that will help you find your way to success. Below are seven life truths I’ve distilled from my years of experience in professional sports.
- People-pleasers exist. These people eat, sleep, and breathe for a single purpose: convincing others (friends, family-members, coaches, mentors, teammates, or strangers) to appreciate them. They sacrifice the truth, independence, and integrity for a pat on the back or an appreciative smile. People-pleasing has zero impact on individual progression and yields limited immediate rewards. People-pleasers play it safe, trying their best not to make waves for fear of offending others. Here’s the hard truth about life: if you don’t offend anybody and make a few enemies, you’re doing it wrong. A man without enemies is a man who has never stood for anything. When the time comes to make a stand for your beliefs, don’t shy away from it – embrace it. Make the hard choices and defend your decisions, no matter the cost. You won’t always make the right choices, but you’ll earn the respect of friends and enemies alike for having the courage of your convictions.
- Deceptive athletes are everywhere. These “athletes” deceive themselves into believing that they are the best they can be. No professional athlete is the best on every given day and that worries the shit out of them. They will lie, cheat, and deceive to maintain any and every edge on the competition. Their reputation depends on it. Bottom line, if you don’t feel fear, anxiousness, or inhibition on a daily basis, you’re not reaching far enough. If you think you have talent, surround yourself with greater talent. If you think you work hard, work harder, longer. If you have a wall covered in plaques, awards, and championship pictures – get a bigger wall. Never be complacent! Complacency is the devil’s nectar. When you become complacent, life will knock down your door, punch you in the face, and rob you of everything you think you have already earned.
- Them and their “guy” never earns respect. Quickest way to earn a walk down the plank is to have a “guy.” You know the type… If it’s their summer strength coach, massage therapist, physical therapist, travel agent, personal assistant, or bell hop, an athlete’s “guy” is the shadiest thing about them.. When I was the Director of Rehabilitation for the Los Angeles Kings, we would inevitably have two or three players that had a “guy.” “My guy” is the plug in a players life that drips, causes rust, makes them squeak, and ultimately makes them unreliable. College and professional athletes feel the need to give their “guy” a name and introduce him/her to the people who are directly responsible for their athletic development, health, and academics. For whatever reason, that “guy” is the one whose advice an athlete values above all others’. Too often, such blind loyalty to that “guy” alienates those who are actually looking out for the athlete’s best interests. Athletes should seek to incorporate their resources instead of alienating them. Without inclusiveness, athletes are eccentric culprits to dysfunction.
- Lethargic athletes promote dysfunction. Lethargy is camouflaged disrespect. Disrespect comes in various forms and this is one of the most damaging contributions to a team. Lethargy is toxic and oozes the puss of disappointment. Lethargic athletes promote dysfunction on two levels, the physical and the emotional. Physical dysfunctions arise when an athlete is too lazy to put in the extra work on the field and in the weight room. Tweaked muscles, joints, and tendons are all the result of lazy physical preparation. Emotional dysfunctions affect the morale of the team. Athletes that do not arrive early and stay late are neither looked up to nor respected. A lack of motivation and drive from veteran athletes discourages their teammates and breeds further lethargy. Bringing anything but an eagerness to get the edge on the competition places athletes in the middle of the pack and in the foremost of the dysfunction.
- Liars exist. Sociopathic liars, compulsive liars, occasional liars, and white liars all fail. Sociopaths don’t have a lot of respect or regard for the feelings of others. They are charming and manipulative with intent to make themselves look better. Compulsive liars act with deceit out of fear, embarrassment, and insecurity. The facade will ultimately fall. Athletes who lie will lose credibility, friends, family, money, and if there’s anything left – that too. Having worked in professional sports for nearly a decade, I can assure the existence of psychopaths and sociopaths is not only prominent, but absolute. The sheep heard as one. They die as one too.
- Insecure coaches and athletes will fail. Life has ups and downs. This is fact. Place your trust in the existence of success and adversity. With faith in the system our work ethic and character will allow us to prevail. Do not become insecure about your contributions to your current scenario. Do not be the first to abandon the mission at the first sign of hardship. Enlist a creative mindset, remain open to change, and promote personal growth. Insecurity embeds itself beneath the skin of our will-power. We will not allow the presence of deceit to drain us of the confidence we have worked so hard to build. Athletes, coaches, and personnel may abandon hope, but I shall not. I am the black sheep and therefor I will succeed. I am free.
- Tweeters are poor leaders. Testimonials are for twitter. Name drops are for nobodies. Photo shoots are for fakes. Trust your intuition and use your past experiences to guide you. Don’t lean on people to fix your problems. Define who you are and do not let others dictate where you are going. Likewise, don’t stake your place in society based on the stature of your company, depth of your pockets, or popularity of your views. Do not be a chameleon – be more. You are not just a survivor. Reach out to family, friends, and mentors for advice but do not lean on them for survival. Independence inspires. Strength coaches, athletic trainers, coaches, players, family, and friends do not lean on others to paint the picture of your own success. Put your money where your mouth is, your talent where your teammates are, and your character where your resume gleams.
I opened Stadium Performance to pass on my experiences as a professional Athletic Trainer to the next generation of athletes. I worked 18 hours a day for eight years. I’ve traveled to over 210 cities on over 1000 flights. I’ve met 2000 friends, changed 1000 lives, lost two friendships, and fallen in love once. I did not win four Super Bowls, I won one. I did not win two Stanley Cups, I won none. I did not lose a starting job, I lost my entire job. Through it all, I lived, I lost, I loved, and I outlasted far longer than those who stood beside me. Most importantly: I LEARNED. I learned from my mistakes, my successes, my victories and defeats. My road has been anything but smooth, just as yours will be. Never be too proud to learn from your experiences and change your life for the better.
I now own the greatest strength and conditioning facility in the country. My athletes are leaders. They possess what they have earned, exhibit loyalty, and tackle dreams. We do it together and we are proud. We don’t huddle around a number, a brand, or a perception. We are what we are and we don’t need a court to prove it. No judge needed to witness our integral reflection. Cohesion of honesty is unmistakable.
We sleep at night. Do you?