Blogpost, posh, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

POSH Woes Away From Home Continue

I place the blame squarely on my own shoulders. So far this season, I’ve only been able to watch four matches and two have been POSH wins. My lack of commitment is a leading factor in the poor form. While I say this all in jest, people link results to a variety of factors which represent correlation and not causation. The away form is troubling and so are the goals in quick succession. Both are a symptom of an underlying problem that is easy to spot but more difficult to correct. Fergie put it very plainly in his post match interview. There is a lack of belief within the team that gets exacerbated away from home and when the team concede.

While it is simple enough to identify a lack of belief, it’s more difficult to correct considering all contributing factors. In order to have a squad that can withstand the workload, injuries and the level of the Championship; there needs to be competition at every single position. It is an absolute necessity but it creates circumstances where a player’s position within the team is always in question. As professional athletes, this is part of the job but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy.

If it were just the uncertainty of the position, there probably would not be such a grand issue at the moment. However each player must also internally wrestle with the question of whether or not, they are “Championship standard.” Obviously all of the members of the squad are eligible to play in the Championship because it is the league where the POSH are now. However there is a difference between being a Championship player and feeling like you belong at that level. Hopefully the players are smart enough to avoid looking at social media or player rating. That level of scrutiny is difficult to bear. Fans, pundits and journalists have the right to rate or not rate a player. It doesn’t mean that it’s helpful. Keeping one’s mentality straight with daggers being pulled for any play that is not up to snuff.

Finally the pressure of survival. This is one of the reasons that I’ve been a firm proponent of aiming higher than survival. Having taught for many years, I know that the individual who is just looking to pass will never get an A. The one who is willing to put in the work with high expectations will do far better than the bare minimum. Survival is not riding on every kick of the ball or even every match. It just feels that way and that feeling doesn’t help. The increased pressure produces anxiety that does not improve performance.

It’s simple enough to just say “get on with it.” These players are professional athletes who signed up for this pressure. True! However, any fan, pundit or journalist can tell you that a striker in the Championship needs to be more clinical because the number of chances are fewer and more difficult. So a player will train to improve their finishing skills. It’s necessary to perform at this level. How much training have players gotten on their mindset? Belief? Self-talk? Visualization?

I’m sure there has been some but if this truly is the missing component to success then it needs to be a core component to the training. A striker who is not putting shots on frame would not be told to just figure it out. There’s too much at stake. Each player would be different. Depending on their personality types, learning styles and modality preferences; they would need to develop skills to help them put legs under the “table” of their belief. For now they seem to be able to believe at home. That’s something! Unfortunately that does not scratch the true potential of this squad. They can make a real dent in this league but they need to believe it to their core. For now, they are waiting for the results to give them belief. That’s actually reverse of what needs to happen. Belief is a skill that they need to hone.

Up the POSH! I’ll do my part. I’m positive the players can do theirs.

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Kickball Rules

In my neighborhood as a child, kickball was the game that we played most often. I lived near the local middle school and the blacktopped area behind the school was our regular play area. The beautiful thing about that time of my life and in our history was that there was almost no adult supervision. Our parents knew where we were but they were not watching us directly nor directing our activity. The organization, rules, procedures and culture was completely up to us. It usually started with knocking on doors to assemble enough players. Team selection was usually done by captains but almost never the same ones. Our preferred game ball was an old volleyball but we tried a soccer ball and even a basketball once. House rules said that two fouls was an out. Pitches couldn’t bounce and littler kids got a slow roll. The rules themselves are not what matters because we probably inherited them from a gym class or somewhere else. What does matter is that we had to decide regularly. We had to consider a number of variables as a group of young kids and figure out how to make it work so that everyone would want to play again tomorrow.

Despite the fact that kickball still exists and kids play it, my sense is that the autonomy and decision making are gone. A quick YouTube search produced at least five videos on the rules of kickball. There are a lot of positives to having that amount of access to desirable information. However a negative consequence that comes along with it is deniability when it comes to responsibility for decisions. If people are not used to making up the rules, they struggle when a new situation arises.

Each of us is playing our own game. It’s nowhere near as simple as kickball and we have to come up with the rules. There are definitely common practices out there that may inform our game. However the decisions are ultimately up to us. Do we greet people that we dislike? Do we work hard on something that no one will ever see? Do we prefer to play on our own or in groups? These are all things that we must answer for ourselves. It’s completely possible to defer all decisions to other people like your parents, teachers, bosses, friends, etc. Eventually though, you’ll most likely end up playing a game that you dislike.

So perhaps it’s worth considering. What game are you playing and what are your house rules? You don’t need to keep score like everyone else unless you want the same results. Your boundaries may not be the same. The game that you’re playing may be unrecognizable to others and that’s alright. This world can be a playground or a prison based on these decisions. Some people who have all of the freedoms in the world feel trapped. While others who seemingly have every disadvantage find a way to win on a daily basis. It’s not about the external factors. The game that they’ve organized for themselves is one that they’re set up to lose or win internally.

Set yourself up to win!

Pete

Blogpost

POSH: Numbers Alone Don’t Change Behavior

While a draw to the league leaders may be an acceptable result for the day, the continued issues with defensive set pieces are anything but acceptable. The POSH statistics on defending set pieces are anything but impressive. It is an issue that is well known to the players and coaching staff. Regardless of the statistical analysis, numbers alone don’t change behavior.

The video of Lincoln’s goal from the corner kick is difficult to watch but indicative of the grander issue at hand. The cross deflects off our flatfooted captain and goes to a player at the back post who has been left by his marker. While it would be easy to point the finger at those two players, it could have easily been anyone else. Most of the POSH players look flatfooted on the play. Although some might say that a change needs to be made in the defensive set up on set pieces, my viewpoint would be that there needs to be a change in the story the team tells itself about defending set pieces.

Image: Andrew Vaughan/CameraSport

Behavior does not change on its own, in an individual or a group. There are many ways to change behavior and one is through fear. The number of goals given up on set pieces creates a sense of fear when they happen. While fear can change behavior, it brings with it a lot of baggage. The fight, flight or freeze response can be triggered by fear and “flatfootedness” might be representative of this issue. At the moment, the players have a story running in their head about “not getting scored on.” That focus does not tap into the positive emotions that get better results. So what should be done? Flip the script.

POSH is perennially a goal scoring juggernaut. It’s part of the manager’s, team’s, club’s owners’ ethos to be forward thinking. From the type of players that we buy/produce to the school initiative, POSH is always looking to be on the front foot. So the posture of flatfooted and defensive does not suit our mindset. My suggestion is this. Whenever there is a set piece against us, the players need to get EXCITED! That’s right I said excited.

While a set piece in our end may seem like an opportunity for the other team, it creates opportunity for us as well. The field is about as wide open as it will ever be in a game. Center backs are brought forward leaving a skeleton defense at the midfield with one of our forwards. So rather than focusing on how to keep the ball out of our goal. Focus on what we’re going to do with it when we win it back. Create breakout plays from defensive set pieces to put us on the front foot. Then each player’s mindset is not, “I need to keep my mark from scoring.” It becomes “where am I putting the ball when I win it? Because we could score from this.” It’s obvious based on the pressing strategy in the final third that Ferguson has at least subconsciously sold the idea that “defense scores goals.” He’s absolutely right and the final third is not the only place that this is true. It’s true all over the field because in order to score we need the ball. Telling a different story about the situation changes the players’ internal dialogues and focus at these times of high stress.

The POSH go forward. That’s who they are as a team. This subtle tweak just puts them back on the front foot rather than being fearful and flat. Get excited because a goal at the other end is 20 seconds or less away! We have the speed and the players to do it. Now all they need to do is believe!

Up the POSH!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Fealty and Fidelity

Language is something that has intrigued me for almost my entire life. I remember distinctly wondering why the change of one letter could get me into trouble. Changing a singular letter in the word “duck” could get my butt beat. Although I didn’t understand the why behind it at the time, I definitely understood the importance of words and getting the words right. Despite the importance of words, we live in a world where there is so much information coming at us that we tend to only take in small chunks of it. Even before this information overload, there were several experiments where letters in the middle of words were jumbled to see if people could still read them. It turned out that as long as the first letter or two and the last letter or two were correct, the text was “readable.”

Whether you share my fascination with language or not, the words that you use to describe yourself and your world matter. Your brain is an extremely complex super computer that can produce astounding results for you, if you program it correctly. The problem is that many of us are consistently shoving poor programming into our minds. Not through any form of malice or contempt, simply due to routine, culture or laziness. Listen the next time that you ask someone “How are you?” You’ll hear a variety of answer that people use automatically. The problem isn’t that the answer is automatic. The issue is the content of what they say is impacting their disposition toward their present situation. “Fine” “Not bad” “Surviving” What the f#@%!?!?!? This exchange is so extremely low stakes as a conversation. The person who is asking may or may not care what the answer is. However YOUR BRAIN IS LISTENING! It heard you just say that you’re “surviving” and it takes that message semi-seriously. Now that super computer can send you all kinds of information to back up that assertion. It can send you pain in body parts or turn your focus to the unfortunate circumstances in your life rather than the great ones. Your brain is your servant and it’s only doing what you tell it to do.

Most of us have not lived life with servants. It’s less common than it was centuries ago. In the past, kings and other members of the ruling class had people who were loyal to them. Or rather they had fealty, a loyalty that was usually associated with living on the king’s land. While fealty is loyalty, it would often come from force rather than choice.

On the other hand there is fidelity. Only a few letters difference but conceptually huge. Fidelity is loyalty by choice. The person serves because they want to rather than are obliged to. Given the choice, which form of loyalty would you rather give to others or have from others? My personal preference would be to give/have fidelity.

Now think of that servant inside of your head. Is it exhausted by the thoughts that you force upon it? Has your routine, culture or laziness condemned your mind to living on the scraps of your poor perspective? Is your poor self-image an inheritance from past events or is it a daily tax that you’ve imposed because you’re afraid to forgive yourself for anything? The quote “The mind is an excellent servant but a terrible master” brings the entire idea into focus. Our mind should be our servant but we should be looking for its fidelity rather than fealty. A servant who chooses to serve will go out of his/her way to improve the life of the master. The one who is forced to serve will only do what is necessary to avoid punishment. Be a good master today and win your own fidelity. Then do the same with others.

Have a great day!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

X Marks the Spot

Pirates! Those scurvy scoundrels that took to the high seas in order to rob other boats in search of treasure. According to movies and stories at least, they took that loot and buried somewhere. While this practice may be largely fictionalized, it makes for an interesting adventure: the treasure hunt. People trying to find another pirate’s treasure or retrace steps to their own. The use of maps, codes and booby traps may have been common place but the likelihood of an X marking the spot is doubtful. Why would you advertise where the treasure is? Their hope would truly be that no one else would be able to find it.

I’d like to give you a clue where all of the treasure that you’re looking for is buried. Even though the traditional pirates are gone, there are still people around who want to steal your treasure. They are looking to take everything that you’ve got and bury it in their own special spot. If you feel like you’ve lost your treasure and do not have a map to find it, then here is the X that you may need.

Everything that you’re looking for is inside of your own head. It is where everything that happens to you is processed. So regardless of whether you have a chest full of gold or not, you are in control of how you feel about that. Many people who have had “riches” felt poor because they did not know how to control that treasure chest between their ears. By comparison some people who seemingly have nothing, have lived a rich life based on their possession of the keys to their own mind.

While this is a simple idea, it may not be easy to access the riches that I’m talking about. Some people have buried their treasure under years of self-doubt, fear, anxiety, recklessness and other impediments which keep that treasure out of reach. So if you want to have all that life has to offer, dig into that place where everything is kept and demand the gold rather than the lead that weighs you down. The externals of your life are usually a reflection of what is going on inside of your own head. Don’t bury that treasure, use it!

Heave ho!

Pete

P.S. – If you liked this blogpost, sign up for my email list and get my book “Fill Your Boots” for free.

Uncategorized

I Had To F%#$ This Up!

HHS Soccer
Not exactly the right year but the shorts tell the story!

I was in 8th grade and my school soccer team was playing against North Warren.  They were the only team that had beaten us all season.  It was late in the game and the score was still tied.  Someone passed me the ball as I was wide open in front of the unprotected goal.  I shot the ball and it sailed over the goal.  It almost defied physics!  I was so close to the goal that missing seems as though it was harder to do than scoring.  The memory of that shot is almost 30 years old and it still bugs me a little bit.  All of these years later though, I’ve come to realize that I had to miss that shot.  In all of our lives, there are things that we really have to f%#@ up.

No one wants to fail.  The disappointment, the shaken confidence and the negative memory are all reason enough to avoid failure.  People are always trying to give themselves the best chance for success in any endeavor.  Aiming for success is always crucial but always achieving it is both impractical and probably detrimental to future successes.

The path to where you are is probably filled with potholes, detours and the occasional breakdown.  Even though we think that we want a smooth and clear path to our destination, most of the fire that we have in our belly comes from past failures.  Learning how to live through and overcome failure are key ingredients to a growth mindset.  Although we live in a physical world, the beginning of almost everything in our lives starts in our mental world.  That is the space where failure can be taken, molded and turned into a stepping stone for future success.  I’m sure that you want whatever you’re working on right now to be a great success and I hope that it is.  However what if you need to F%#@ this up to succeed later.  Part of the equation is that you really want to succeed but recognize in the long term f%#@ ups are part of the equation too.

Give it your all today!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

The Chewing Tobacco Solution

tobaccoMy cousin who is fifteen years older than me used to go on vacations with my family each summer.  At the time, I was a teenager and he was in his early thirties with a very successful career in retail.  Despite my seemingly inferior station in life, I was able to change his life for the positive with little more than a few words.  I’m hoping that the process can give some hints about making big changes in your life.

It was completely unintentional but it sticks out in my memory as if it were scripted out.  My cousin was and is pretty fanatical about health and fitness.  He would run everyday, do push-ups and sit-ups in order to maintain his chiseled physique.  Despite this relentless pursuit of fitness, he had a habit that seemed out of place to me.  He used chewing tobacco daily.  It wasn’t anything that particularly bothered me.  I had friends who used it.  The thing that felt out of place was that it seemed contrary to all that he valued.  So as we were driving home from North Carolina and he got his spit bottle ready for his next lip full of tobacco, I made the simple statement.  “It seems odd to me that you do that.  You are so healthy in all other parts of your life but you do something that you know is horrible for you.  I just don’t understand.”  That was all that it took.  He didn’t tell me until much later that he had quit using tobacco and that was the reason.

Many of our decisions break down to the story that we tell ourselves about ourselves.  It could be true or it could be bullshit.  The main thing is that the story is effective at moving life forward in a positive manner.  The reason why my simple statement was able to change my cousin so quickly was that it showed an inconsistency in his story about himself.  In that situation, I knew his story about himself and showed him how the tobacco didn’t fit.  People want to stay consistent with the image that they have of themselves.  That’s the entire reason why the term “midlife crisis” exists.  Men (usually) make poor decisions in order to maintain an image that they have of themselves as young, cool, etc.

The first step to changing a behavior in yourself or someone else is to know the person’s story.  What is an identity that they want to uphold at all costs?  Is their family the center of their world?  Do they think of themselves as an athlete?  Do they think of themselves as successful?  Once you know the story, take that thing that needs changing and flip it against their story about themselves.  I keep saying they but I really want you to do this to yourself.  So if your family is extremely important but you are obese, then you actually don’t care about them very much.  If you truly cared, you’d do your best to guarantee that you’ll be around for them.  The combinations of stories and behaviors is infinite.

The key is to find the one that works.  Results are what we are after, not an excuse to feel bad about one’s self.  Your mind can play tricks on you.  It is time for you to play tricks on it to help you get where you want to go.  The possibilities of your tomorrow need to be forged in the thoughts that you have today.

Tell yourself a better story about you!

Pete

Uncategorized

The Survivors of the Mental World War

mindworldThis morning on my run I was listening to the Inside Quest interview of Carol Dweck.  Her book “Mindset” is one that I have not read yet but has been suggested to me over and again.  The basic idea is that of a “fixed mindset” versus a “growth mindset”.  People who believe that their intelligence or skills are set and cannot be improved upon have a fixed mindset.  While a person with a growth mindset believes that they are always able to improve in any given area.  Although this is an oversimplification it gives a basic understanding of her thesis.  The effect of each mindset is astounding and either can be developed largely without the person’s knowledge.  The fixed mindset puts emphasis on the outward appearance of skill rather than the internal development of skill.

For some reason listening to this conversation about growth and fixed mindset started me thinking about the present international economic situation.  The European Union in particular has had a tumultuous period because some of their member nations seem to have a growth mindset: Germany especially.  While others seem to be contented with their situation as it is with little thought of growth.  It seems almost odd that Germany, a country that has twice “lost”  World Wars would be an economic leader.  However when compared with a country like the United States, it becomes clear that “winning” and being a “super power” can lead to a fixed mindset.  After the end of the Cold War, the extrinsic competition no longer existed.  Therefore a conservative fixed mindset seeks to maintain a position of authority rather than progress for its own good.  Perhaps wars should not be won but rather survived.

In no way am I a pacifist but I’m also not sure that war should have a winner.  Everyone loses: lives, money, peace of mind, land and the list stretches on for all sides of a war.  People, land and nations survive wars, they don’t truly win or lose them.  I’ve never studied history in a German school but I’m confident that their historical loses are the exact reason why they are thriving because first they had to survive.  Survival is an instinct that runs deep within the human spirit.  Once we get above the line of survival, we look to improve life incrementally.  When survival is assured, comfort is readily accessible and no “enemies” seem to threaten that station, it easy to develop a fixed mindset of protecting that which we have acquired.

The problem is that there seems to be a new “World War” coming and the combatants will not be nations but rather individuals.  Each of us will be challenged to either grow or be the cog in someone else’s machine.  The industrial revolution gave mass production to the world and allowed a few key bosses to give direction to the masses.  It was a system that was based in a fixed mindset.  That system is disintegrating and the new one requires people to be human and think progressively.  The growth mindset will be required to survive in the world’s new economy.  The US or Germany or any other set of people can survive the “Mental World War” if they realize that it is never over.  Even if drones are farming our food and jobs in the traditional sense are obsolete, we need to hold fast to the idea that there are only three positions in the world: dying, surviving and thriving.  It is important to remember while thriving that you got there not by doing what you’ve always done but pushing for better at all times.

Be better today than you were yesterday!

Pete