Archives For Sports

NO Checkbox Selected - Isolated on WhiteAs life moves forward at the speed of light I have found that the natural tendency is to say yes and add, add, and add some more. When football season arrives that has to get added in.  That’s Saturday, Sunday, Monday night, and Thursday night.  Then there is more reading and more meetings and more time developing people.
So my biggest challenge seems to be deciding what to say NO to.  For me it looks like I will have to cut out some of the flow of information; just can’t read as much.  Still sorting it out though.

Then there is the building project. Soon it will be something else.

But I believe deciding what not to do or do less of is going to be a BIG difference maker in my life.

One of the hardest things to say NO to is an idea while reading the Bible. My first thought is often ‘I need to study that passage a little more.’ Before I know it I have said yes and books are piled all over my desk. I must remind myself to say NO and put the books back and stay on task.

Steve Jobs was well known for saying that saying NO was perhaps the biggest secret to Apples’ success.

Now let’s be honest. How many of us really believe that saying NO could be such a key?

The hard part: not doing some good things.  But even Jesus could not do everything.  There were sick people He did not heal and there were people who wanted His time, yet He got in a boat and sailed away.

iStock_000007680150XSmallEvery week I have the opportunity to play basketball with guys much younger than I.  Because I have played sports since I was a kid, there has always been some competitiveness inside of me.

As I get older I often tell Carol that I when I can no longer keep up on the court I will hang up my basketball shoes.  Now that will be a tough day. Right now my goal is to be able to play until I’m sixty. Keep in mind most of the guys I play with are in their late twenties or thirties.

Fortunately for me I was blessed with some speed in the game.  Actually it was speed not skill that often kept me on a team.

But the reality is as I age I will slow down.  And when the day comes that I can no longer keep up, I will stop playing.

Now think how uncomfortable that is.  How often does someone in the workplace approach their boss and admit that they are not keeping up? How hard is it to approach someone and tell them they are no longer keeping up?  I still recall the days in steel erection where some guys just could not keep up, and we had to let them go.

One day you and I will leave our jobs.  One day I will have to quit playing basketball.  One day you and I will have to stop driving our cars.

Those will be tough days.  But they are coming.  And yes, it will continue to be one of life’s most difficult questions.

Am I still able to keep up?

iStockWinningMark is best known for being the writer of the Gospel of Mark.  That in itself would put him in the winner’s circle.  Can you imagine being one of forty different authors whom God chose to write the Bible?  I cannot even imagine. What an honor. What a privilege. What a WIN!

Winning is fun. Winning alleviates a lot of pain. It makes you forget about your losses.

But Mark didn’t start out in the winner’s circle.

Actually he started out in the loser’s circle.

We first meet Mark in Acts 12:12 when the church met in his mother’s home. Mark must have showed some promise because when Paul and Barnabas set out on their first missionary journey, Mark accompanied them. It didn’t last long, however. For whatever reason Mark left and went home (Acts 13:13).

A few years later when Paul and Barnabas set out on another journey, Barnabas was ready to give Mark another chance. But Paul was not so keen on the idea. Perhaps he thought Mark was lazy, uncommitted, or lacked the necessary skills. He may not have been up to the travel physically. We don’t know.

Although I don’t know how Mark felt, I know to be rejected by Paul had to hurt deeply. Rejection is never easy, but to be rejected by one of your heros multiplies the pain.

A sharp disagreement ensued, and Barnabas wound up leaving Paul and sailing to Cyprus with Mark. Evidently it got pretty heated. “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other.  Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus” (Acts 15:36-39 ESV). Paul is vehemently saying, “I don’t want him on my team.” OUCH!

Towards the end of Paul’s life he writes to Timothy and asks him to bring Mark with him.  In 2 Timothy 4:11 he says, “Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.”

As you can see, Mark is now considered valuable to the apostle Paul. I’d call that a win.

Clearly there were some hard feelings earlier, but these two men overcame those and were once again a team.

You need to understand Paul’s high estimation of Mark at this point. He is a lonely man since everyone but Luke has left him. To consider Mark very useful at this point says a lot about Mark. This was the guy who bailed earlier. Paul was not afraid of that now. Obviously Mark had grown personally over the years, and Paul noticed. Quite possibly Barnabas, Mark’s older cousin, was a huge inspiration to Mark’s personal development.

What did Mark do? What can we do in order to arrive in the winner’s circle?

1. Never give up on yourself.

There are only 32 NFL head coaches. It’s hard to believe you can actually make it into that elite group and be considered a loser. But some are. That’s how hard life can be.

One reason I love football is that there are so many parallels to life within the sport. For one, attitude plays such a huge role among NFL coaches. They all experience losing. Yet they all act like winners. How? Bob LaMonte, a sports agent who works with NFL coaches, said, “When I talk to a winning coach on Monday morning, I often detect that his mood isn’t much different than that of a losing coach.”

For another, it’s a game of second chances. As I write this the Seattle Seahawks have just won the Super Bowl. The coach is Pete Carroll. Several years ago Pete coached the New York Jets and totally bombed out. He was criticized for his coaching skills.  When he returned to the NFL as the Seahawks coach, he was criticized for his drafting skills. In fact, some said the 2012 draft proved he couldn’t coach. Needless to say, it was in that draft that he chose Russell Wilson, the current starting quarterback, along with a few others who were on the roster of the Super Bowl winning team.

Pete Carroll never gave up on himself.

Neither can you.

2. Surround yourself with people who have your back. You need at least one person who is going to hang with you and encourage you. For Mark it was Barnabas. Who is going to be your cheerleader? Who is going to go through the tough spots with you. Oprah once said, “Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

How often do think about the company you keep? How often do you think of the influence they are having in your life? Are the people in your life the ones who will help you get to the winner’s circle?

Some are with you only because it’s convenient.

3. Add value to others. Near the end of his life Paul said Mark was helpful to his ministry. That is, Mark brought something to the table. Not only was Mark valuable to Paul, but Mark also spent time with Peter, another of the apostles (1 Peter 5:13). And we would all admit that the Gospel of Mark has added tremendous value over the years to millions of people.

Think of several ways you can add value to someone: Have a cup of coffee with someone and offer encouragement, spend time with someone, run an errand, etc. You could give someone you know a book on marriage, finances, ….Abraham Lincoln said, “The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.” The list is endless. Start today adding value to others.

Had Mark given up, Paul and Peter would have lost out. The world would have lost out. If you allow failure to define you as a loser, you will never make it to the winner’s circle.

AncientOlympiaWhat’s my ONE thing?  That question is much easier to ask than answer.

This past fall Carol and I took a couple of weeks to celebrate 30 years of marriage. While traveling we visited ancient Olympia. This is where the first Olympics were held. They took place every four years from the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.

The athletes actually had some amazing facilities for their time. This was before electricity and running water to be sure, but ingenuity ruled the day. There was an indoor gymnasium, an outdoor stadium with a track, and bath houses. Also, there was a temple to Zeus right in the middle of the sports complex.

The early games consisted of events like running, wrestling, and horse and chariot races. In today’s Olympics the site changes every four years, and athletes come from all over the world.

When they show up it is typically to participate in only ONE event. The fact is, it is very difficult to compete and excel in multiple sports. Swimmers swim and runners run. Ice skaters skate. And if the ice skaters decided to run, they would be considered failures. But as long as they skate, no one will notice that they cannot run very well. Stick to their ONE thing, and they look exceptional.

We admire people who have chosen to excel in ONE thing, yet we fall into the trap thinking that we can excel in several things.

As great an athlete as Michael Jordan was he never could excel at baseball, even in the Minor Leagues. So he wisely decided to stick with his ONE thing, basketball.

Now you may be asking, What is my ONE thing?

This is not an easy question to answer. It involves a number of things like honesty, clarity, understanding, choices, and time. There is no magic formula.

Olympians get this. Think about it.

1. Honesty: They start out being very honest about their strengths and weaknesses.

2. Clarity: That brings clarity as to what they will work on. Hint-It’s not their weaknesses.

3. Understanding: Over time they understand how to excel, improve, and increase their skill level.

4. Choices: They learn to say yes to some things and no to others. It may be saying no to TV and yes to fruits and vegetables. Those are hard choices for many, but not Olympians.

5. Time: In due time others notice their high level of skill, sponsors step in, and their journey to the Olympics begins.

These five things do not represent five easy steps. They simply illustrate that sometimes finding your ONE thing is not as easy as it sounds. But it also illustrates that you can begin the journey.

What’s your ONE thing? Why not start the journey today?

SuperBowlXLVIIIRight after the game the critics came out. I’m not a big fan of the critics, because they are often wrong. Sure, they appear to be right in the moment, but time often tells a different story.

Before I give you some of my observations on the game, let’s go back to the NFL Draft of 2012. One sportswriter heavily criticized Pete Carroll. In fact, he gave Pete an F for his draft skills that year.  Oh, and he also considered Russell Wilson “by far the worst move of the draft.” To be fair there were many who doubted Wilson’s ability to play in the NFL.

In case you are not aware, Russell Wilson was the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks in their blowout win in Super Bowl XLVIII! So much for any credibility regarding the remarks of the sportswriter.

Now let’s move on to Peyton Manning. Yes, he gets a lot of attention due to his spectacular play on the field. Yes, he was expected to have a much better game than he did.

I am not going to defend or take up for Peyton except to say football is a team sport. Also, I don’t think Denver could have won even if Peyton had a great game. Seattle was playing at way too high of a level.

With that said, at least four things happened in the game that Peyton had nothing to do with, yet he was expected to overcome.

1. The first play from scrimmage consisted of a poorly snapped football that turned into a safety.

2. At halftime the score was 22-0. That is not good by any stretch of the imagination. However, if the defense can hold Seattle’s offense on the opening possession of the second half, have them punt, and then put together a scoring drive, we have us a ball game.  But that is not what happened. The opening kickoff of the second half was returned by Seattle for a touchdown, all while Peyton is on the bench. Now he gets the ball back and the score is 29-0. That’s very difficult.

3. But Peyton is able to complete some passes and makes a good throw to Damaryius Thomas who makes the catch, runs for extra yards, but then has it stripped from him for a fumble and Seattle recovery. Once again, Peyton is expected to overcome that mistake also.

4. The defense. What did they do to help the cause? Nothing. No one stepped up and made a great play or caused a turnover. That’s what good defenses do. But not Denver’s.

With that said, yes Peyton did not have a good game. And he will be highly criticized for some time, perhaps forever in football world. But football is a team sport, and where was the rest of the team?

Once again let’s gain some insight from the NFL Playoffs.  Let me start by saying that everyone knows that Peyton Manning continually attempts to get the defensive line to jump with his unique style of calling signals.

In the San Diego/Denver game I’m sure that was talked about among the coaches and players.  Easy enough.  Or perhaps not so easy.

During the game the defensive line jumped into the neutral zone bringing upon themselves a five yard penalty.  Not once, but several times.

Why?  Lack of discipline.

Actually the game turned out to be decided by just seven points, one touchdown.

In a close game those multiply penalties absolutely kill you.

As I said in the last post just lacking in one of these areas in your personal PDA can kick your butt. Someone said, “If if could kick the person responsible for most of my problems I wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week.”

The defensive line still may not be sitting down!

This is not always as easy as it sounds.  Typically there are several things in our day or week that we simply are not fond of doing.

That’s why it takes discipline.

We know what we need to do.  San Diego knew they needed to be aware of the hard count and not jump.

Discipline is doing what needs to be done even though you don’t want to do it, so you can eventually do what you want to do.

Had San Diego not jumped off sides, they may be still playing.  That’s what they wanted to do.

Discipline, or the lack of discipline kept them from their wants.

Today, identify just one thing that needs your attention and go out and do it.

In many ways January is the height of the losing season.  College football games, the NFL Playoffs, and personal reminders about 2013.

After all, that’s where New Year’s Resolutions came from.  Failures or losses from the previous year are acknowledged and drive us into a new year.

Losses.  Sometimes that’s where our focus is.  Losses happen.  If everyone won all the time there would be no inspiration to change.

Many losses sting for a long time.  Whether it’s a championship game or a marital breakup or the loss of a job.

You can’t just shake it off in five minutes or five days or even five months.

Let’s admit it hurts.  But let’s not quit playing.

5 Ways to Comeback After a Loss

1. Expect some horrible days. That’s normal.

2. Don’t take it personally.  Yes, you experienced a loss, but that does not mean you are a loser. Auburn lost the National Championship game.  Trust me.  They are not a bunch of losers.  Neither are you unless you pack it in and quit.

3. You may have to forgive someone.  He missed a tackle, your spouse forgot it was your anniversary, or someone forgot to pick you up from the mechanics.  Forgive and move forward.

4. Lose the guilt.  We spend too much time focusing on what we did to contribute to the loss.  The truth is you alone were likely not responsible for the loss.

5. Get back in the game. Never forget that others are watching. Your kids, your coworkers, and your teammates.  Write down on a piece of paper what you think a winner would do after a devastating defeat.  Then go do that.  You know what to do.

Fascinating. You already know what to do.  You already know the answer to the question, How do you come back after a loss?

 

dessert_2Carol and I recently were out of town for a meeting so we decided to grab a bite to eat. Following dinner Carol suggested we look for some dessert. Not wanting to disappoint, I pulled up a bakery on the Yelp app.

Three-tenths of a mile away. Perfect. I got the brownie and she got a cream filled puff of some sort.

Since we had just eaten dinner we decided to wait and eat our dessert when we got home. After arriving home rather than eat the whole brownie I opted to eat half and save the other half for the next day.

Actually I wanted the whole thing, but felt like that was overeating.

That’s not the only time I struggle with overdoing. I try to read too many books, watch too many football games, and take on too many projects.

To be honest I have never eaten too many carrots or apples. Desserts, low quality food, is what I struggle with. I do try to read only very good books. I clearly don’t have time to read books of little value.

The same applies to football. As the season kicks off I have to be selective. There is no way I can consume seven or eight football games in just one week. Actually three to four are about all I can watch. That is healthy number for me. Often while watching I like to read a book between plays and during commercials.

Football is like food. I can’t just indiscriminately consume it just because it is available. Diet affects us. Whether it’s food, football, or just plain fun excess is not healthy.

So let me ask you. How’s your diet?

IMG_1727The NBA Finals has been everything a fan could ask for. We are now getting set for Game 7.

However, what intrigued me is how many fans left Game 6 early. Thousands left early and the end was one for the ages. Some said it ranks in the top two of all NBA playoff games.

The game was played in Miami although the San Antonio Spurs had a 3-2 lead in the series. That made the game a must win for Miami.

Late in the fourth quarter Miami was down and the trophy was being wheeled into position for the supposed Spurs victory.

But I must say that while I was sitting at home watching the game I never came close to turning the TV off. These type of games are just too exciting.

Now all of this made me think.  As a fan you live for these games. So why did people bail on their vision on seeing a great game, which you had to see the end to experience the ultimate thrill?

Here are my quick takes.  And by the way this applies to marriage, careers, and dreams in general.

Stress – The fans simply could not handle the stress. No vision will be realized without tons of stress.

Shallow – Shallow fans followed weak people out the door. Happens all the time. I have watched workers leave and go to another company only to want to come back weeks later. Things did not work out. It rarely does for weak people.

Soft – They wanted it to be easier. They would have preferred a blowout. I’m sure they blamed the refs for bad calls. It is always someone else’s fault.

Show – They came for the show. Actually the show came at the very end, but by that time they were outside the arena. (In Miami fans typically show up late for games which led Lebron James to do some pre-game dunk maneuvers to entice people to come early. Give them a show. No show, the fans don’t come or stay). The truth is life is often fairly mundane. But you have to stay in the game to have the chance to experience the show.

Scent – It did not smell like a win with two minutes to go. People buy Gain detergent simply because their clothes smell cleaner. They may not actually be cleaner, but they smell cleaner.

Selfishness – The focus was on themselves. At least the fans could get a jump on the traffic. But why not stay until the end? Because it was all about them.

Of course the fans could not get back in the game, but it was not their fault. It never is. They are the ones who bailed. Now that the show had finally arrived they pounded on the glass doors to get back inside. It was too late. They bailed on the vision for no good reason, and as a result they missed the very thing they came looking for in Game 6.

You may be on the verge of bailing on a dream, a marriage, a career, or a life long vision. Are you expecting it to come quick and easy?

Are you hanging around the right people?

Are you being realistic?

Remember, few look in the mirror and admit that they are the ones who bailed on the vision.

IMG_1269Typically when I am out doing yard work I’ll listen to a podcast or two. Recently I was listening to Colin Cowherd on ESPN talking about great talent and great teammates.

Over the years from playing sports to construction to church I have been able to work alongside people who had talent. One of the sad realities is that great talent does not always come with humility. It’s hard many times for those with great talent to defer to another teammate.

I have been a Los Angeles Laker fan since I was a kid.  Magic Johnson was a great talent, but he was even a better teammate.  He made everyone around him much better. Kobe Bryant on the other hand, while a great talent, is less of a great teammate.

Great Teammates do at least four things well:

1. Get excited when others excel.

2. Defer to others.

3. Get along with others.

4. Possess great attitudes.

Magic Johnson did all four and more very well.  Someday your name will come up in a conversation. How will you be remembered?  More for your talent, or more for being a great teammate?