The physical world that we live in doesn’t care about should, but so many people that live in this world, including myself, care a whole lot about should. The really unfortunate part about it is that people that we don’t even know or care about are the ones who are telling us what we should do. The media, marketers, and advertisers largely are the ones who tell us how we should live our lives. Don’t forget the Joneses either. Nobody knows them, but too many are trying to keep up with them. You should buy this, you should buy that, you should look like this, you should like that, you should watch this, you should, should, should, should!
So this is one of my observations. Should doesn’t matter. The physical world doesn’t care at all how it should be, it is just what it is. So really things are exactly the way that they are supposed to be based on a cause and effect equation. As soon as we accept ourselves for who we are, we can find peace in that and bless not only our own life but others as well.
I also am not saying that we don’t need to improve ourselves and work to improve our lives and others. If you don’t like who you are and want to be someone else, you can always change. You are the only person that you really have any control of, and as soon as you change yourself, everything else will change for you.
So I am trying to do better, a little bit everyday. I am trying to not give a should anymore and to just change what I can about myself. It’s all I can do.
The first time that you are doing anything that has a degree of risk to it, your brain freezes a little bit and tries to scare you out of doing it. You can’t blame your brain. Our ancestors sense of fear is what helped them to survive. However, this caution can also hinder your performance when it comes to wrestling or to life in general.
I remember when I was first learning how to throw people in greco roman wrestling. I was afraid that it was going to hurt me if I threw somebody else. Despite wrestling on soft wrestling mats, there was something that scared me about picking somebody up and throwing them backwards. I thought that it was going to hurt. However, after I was taught proper technique and had some practice and repetitions picking someone up and throwing them, I loved it! To me there was no better feeling in a wrestling match than picking someone else up off of the ground and being able to hurl them through the air. One thing I learned while training to lift and throw people was that you couldn’t go about it with a half effort, otherwise the throw would end sloppy, and those were the times that you could get hurt because of landing incorrectly. To have a successful throw, you have to commit 100% to the move. After you get your opponent up in the air, you can’t just start to throw and then chicken out and still be able to get the results that you want. You can’t over think it.
Over thinking is something that can hurt you in everything that you do. Obviously you don’t want to go out and make wild, crazy, and poor decisions that will negatively affect your life, but after you have done your research, you don’t want to sit around twiddling your thumbs about whether to move forward or not either. When you start to think too much, it is quite common that the whatif monster will show up. The whatif monster is a creature that comes around every now and then when we are looking to take a chance, even if the chance is one that will greatly enhance our lives if we succeed. The problem with the whatif monster is that it is always so negative. It asks you questions like “What if you aren’t any good? What if people say mean things about you? What if you fail? What if this decision ruins you and you end up sleeping on a cardboard box in the gutter?” A lot of these questions are ridiculous, but the whatif monster doesn’t know that or even care that they are ridiculous. It is just trying to help you to avoid pain.
So it is up to you to work things out with this whatif monster and teach him a new way of thinking. You start asking him different questions like: “What if I am great at it? What if a lot of people love and support me in this? What if I succeed beyond anything that I even thought was possible? What if this decision is the best decision that I could ever make in my life? What if I have a ton of fun and love it?” Then you are putting yourself in a position to have some great success or at least to learn some great lessons through experience.
So the next time that you are trying to lift and throw in wrestling or other areas of life, do your due diligence, but don’t over think it. Don’t think, just throw.
P.S. If you like this post, take the time to read Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster
One of the benefits of having been in the wrestling world for so long is that you get to meet a lot of people. Over the course of my wrestling career, I was able to meet so many great people from all across the world, and they all had experiences that I was able to learn from. One of my college wrestling coaches was Matt Lindland. He wrestled for the University of Nebraska and as a senior was undefeated all the way up to the NCAA national tournament. Unfortunately he lost his first match of the tournament, and at that time, if you lost in the first round of the tournament, the opponent that beat you had to win their next match in order to pull you back into the consolation bracket. Matt’s opponent lost the next round and thus eliminated him from the competition. However, after his collegiate wrestling career, he was able to garner world and Olympic silver medals in greco roman wrestling. He also went on to have a very successful career in the UFC, and now coaches other wrestlers and fighters who are working hard for their dreams to come true.
There was time when Matt was in town in Colorado Springs for a training camp that we had at the Olympic training center. He showed some great technique, and I was able to have some great training sessions with him while he was out at our camp. As we were talking with some of his old team mates, who were also out in Colorado Springs, they began talking about one of their old friends. This friend had gone through a divorce and was with quite a younger woman. Matt and his friends were lamenting that their old friend had wrecked his previous marriage and that it was too bad for his ex wife and kids because they really liked them. During the conversation it came up that I was getting married in the upcoming fall. He gave me some marriage advice that I will never forget. It was very direct, and it actually caught me off guard and made me laugh a little. He said, “Oh you’re getting married? Let me give you some advice. Don’t bang whores.” It was simple, but apparently there are plenty of people who have a hard time with that. Infidelity causes plenty of divorces and break ups every year. I’m not judging anybody for the way that they choose to live their life. I know what my marriage commitment means to me, and as long as I focus on how I can treat my wife with love and respect, I think that we will be okay.
I have followed Matt’s advice and it has worked out well for me. I have been married to an amazing woman for 7 years who has given me two amazing daughters, and I hope that she sticks around for plenty more. She has been with me through all of the ups and downs and never complained about me being an athlete who was chasing my dreams around the world. She even flew half way across the world to see me wrestle in one of my last competitions, but that is a whole different story that I will have to tell another time.
We all have routines. Just think about it, whether the things that you do right when you wake up are positive or negative, you still have a routine. It’s like we can’t help ourselves but to do the same things over and over and over again. When you are able to recognize that you do have routines, that is when you are able to shape them to your liking. This is something that I have really tried to work on lately with myself and a little bit with my kids.
This is what my morning routine has looked like in the recent past: I wake up at 5am, use the bathroom, look at facebook (I know in a previous post I said I wasn’t going to waste time on FB, but its tough) in the bathroom, find some workout clothes, drive to work. I didn’t realize that this was my routine until I read an article on being intentional about your routine. Then I realized, wow, there is probably something better to be looking at every morning. So this is my new routine: wake up at 5am, read some inspirational reading material, kneel down and pray, review my goals, find some workout clothes, drive to work. I know that the change isn’t huge, but I feel like it has made a significant difference in my life. I like my routine and its manageable.
Sure there are times when I catch myself drifting back into my old routine, but I am doing my best to stay on track. My next challenge to mastering my routine is finding a way to blog more frequently. I love blogging. It’s fun and it is amazing some of the people who you end up coming in contact with all because of a blog. This post will be post number 189 so I see that post number 200 is within reach. I would like to get to post number 1000 some day, but one step at a time just like everything else.
Thanks for reading. Good luck with your routine. I hope it is one that you are consciously choosing and are happy with.
The Art of Wrestling
Everybody that has wrestled before knows that it is a tough and intense sport. The workouts are grueling, the competition intense, and the lifestyle of a committed wrestler is unlike that of most of his friends and family. He is only as good as his last match and he must be ready for his next opponent, the one that wants to take everything from him and humiliate him in front of a crowd. If you are a wrestler, your whole life revolves around a series of battles in a long process of war. You battle with your own mind telling yourself you’re good enough, you battle with your team mates to hone your skills, and finally when you are on the mat in competition, you are battling for the victory over another man who has trained to beat you. His goal is to stop yours.
With such an aggressive sport how can it possibly be compared to art? Well just like the artist who spends time learning how to develop his stroke and mixing his colors on a palette, a wrestler must develop his skills and learn the best blend of technique, power, and endurance to find winning combinations against his opponents.
The artist creates art for the love of it, and for a fortunate few they are able to make a living off of it, but the art comes first and the reward comes second. A wrestler doesn’t start wrestling with a hope of million dollar contracts, they start it because a friend or family member brought them to a wrestling practice. They keep wrestling for the love of the sport. At some point they will get caught up in winning and losing, but what if the wrestler could just focus on the love of the sport with an intense desire to continually improve their craft? Where would wrestling be at today if everyone who participated in it thought of it as art? Perhaps we would have more wrestlers doing what they love even at an advanced age. Perhaps this special art would change the world.
You only get points for finishing is something that I tell my athletes. When I tell them this, it is in the context of wrestling, and I say it most when they are asking me if they should finish their attacks during their drills. Everybody wants to win, but you need to prepare properly in order to do that. In the end finishing is what wins wrestling matches. You don’t get any style points for a good set up or a good attack. You are only awarded points for execution and that means finishing. It applies to more than wrestling.
How many gold medals are given out for starting a race? The answer is none. Gold medals are given out to those who not only finish, but also finish first. If you even want to be in contention, then you have to finish. Think about it, how many college degrees are awarded for just enrolling in classes? How many times does a customer buy by you only starting your sales pitch? How many pancakes are enjoyed after the batter is merely mixed without being cooked? The answer again is none.
I am guilty of starting things and not finishing. Unfortunately I do it more than I would like to. It’s challenging to finish things. It takes effort and requires hard work. It may be painful, but all of the benefits come after the finish. So next time you start that diet or start reading a new book, work hard to finish it because you only get points for finishing.
“You should stretch more.” I tell myself this every time that I hurt my back. I have been hurting my back for years, but for some reason, I still struggle to take the time to stretch. The times that I stretch the most are during the times that my back is locked up and I want some relief. After my back starts to feel better I will usually keep stretching for another week or two, but then I get lazy, my muscles tighten, and I’m in pain again. Then I go see my chiropractor and rinse and repeat. I should be smarter, but a lot of times habits have nothing to do with smarts.
So if something is working, why would anyone stop doing it? I don’t know why, but I think it has something to do with boredom. One of my favorite quotes is “Losers have lots of variety. Winners just keep making the same old boring winning shots.” People overestimate their intelligence. They think that after something is working that they no longer need to do it, and that’s when things go south. The minute that you think you have arrived, you are screwed because you stop learning and you stop improving, and as soon as that happens your competition will pass you by.
So I’m trying to adopt a new philosophy. I don’t know anything, and I probably never will. Life has a way of teaching me the same lessons over and over.
I started taking college classes again, and it has been a challenge. It’s an accounting class and its hard for me. Debits, credits, where do they all go, how are they classified? I read the book and do the exercises but my mind tries to turn all of that information into scrambled eggs. It doesn’t want to think. It wants to be lazy, but I won’t let it. I’m going to stretch my mind, just like I stretch my hamstrings, glutes, and quads so my back doesn’t lock up. I don’t want my mind to lock up because I already don’t know anything, and I can’t afford to stay that way.
My back feels good today. I took the time to stretch this morning. My mind feels good. I stretched it too.
5 Things Wrestlers Can Do To Get Into College
When I was a young wrestler, I really wanted to earn a wrestling scholarship at a big university. I remember when I started getting letters from schools that I was so excited. I knew that I wanted to wrestle in college, but I really had no idea where I would end up. However, there were a lot of things that I didn’t know. I didn’t know that college coaches couldn’t start calling me until July 1st after my junior year, I didn’t know that I could take 5 official visits to colleges, and I didn’t know anything about recruiting rules or how I could help sell myself to college wrestling programs. To put it bluntly, I didn’t know much of anything. So now as a college coach, I know a lot more about what college coaches are looking for and what an athlete should do to get noticed. Here are 5 things that I think would have helped me during my recruiting process, and hopefully they can be helpful to others too.
1. Get good grades. There is nothing more disheartening than finding an athlete with a great work ethic, great wrestling skills, and a good attitude only to find out that he has horrible grades. The NCAA has set certain standards that must be met in order for a student to participate in NCAA division 1 athletics. If the student hasn’t fulfilled all of the academic requirements to participate at the D1 level, then the coach’s hands will be tied when it comes to recruiting an athlete. I am not saying that every wrestler needs to have a 4.0 gpa, but it also doesn’t hurt. There are many universities that will give scholarships to students who get good grades. You might as well do your best to qualify for one of them.
2. Compete well at national tournaments. I know that every young wrestler grows up with the goal to be a state champion, and that is a very admirable goal and a great accomplishment. However, there are quite a few state champions out there, and just because you win a state championship doesn’t mean that you are going to be heavily recruited. College teams compete on a national level and want to have success at a national level. If you are winning at a national level for your age group, it is more likely that college coaches will be interested in you. Travel and compete at the big tournaments to get noticed.
3. Study for and take the ACT or SAT tests. This ties back into academics. Once again the NCAA sets standards that must be met in order to be eligible. Also don’t just show up and blindly take the test. Put in the extra effort to study for and prepare for these tests. They are challenging and the better you do, there may be an opportunity for an academic scholarship.
4. Register with the NCAA clearinghouse. This is another task you must complete to be NCAA division 1 eligible. It doesn’t take long and you can do it at http://ncaaeligibiltycenter.org.
5. Communicate with college coaches. Hopefully one lesson that you learn sooner or later is that you have to market yourself. If you are interested in a college, then call the coach, email the coach, etc… NCAA rules prohibit coaches from contacting prospective student athletes before July 1st after completing their junior year of high school, but that doesn’t mean that an athlete can’t call the coach. If an athlete really wanted to, they could call the college coach every single day! I don’t recommend it, but the athlete can take some initiative to get on the coach’s radar.
Please realize that this list is not an exhaustive one on what to do to get into a college and compete on a division 1 level, but I hope that it is helpful to you in your pursuit of wrestling in college. If you’re a parent of a wrestler, I hope that this list helps you to know a little more about what it is that your athlete can do to get into a college. Thanks for reading and feel free to ask any questions. I am here to help.
Do you remember when you wanted to accomplish something so badly that you were willing to give up anything and everything to have it? Do you still feel that way about accomplishing your goal today? I know that over the course of my lifetime that I have set plenty of goals for myself. I have accomplished a lot of them, but I have also failed at accomplishing others, even some that I put a lot of time into achieving. So what is the difference between being successful, accomplishing your goals, and living the type of life that you want or failing miserably and wishing that you would have followed through on the promises that you made to yourself when you were in the mood to work hard? The closest thing that I can come to an answer on this one can be summed up in a single word, distraction. Distraction can be your absolute worst enemy when it comes to achieving the things that you want to achieve in life.
Think about it, we make big promises to ourselves when we are feeling good, but as soon as things start to get a little bit hard, or don’t go as we planned it is easy to get a little distracted. Maybe you promised yourself that you are going to start reading more books, but as soon as your favorite TV show is on, you forget about that goal and plop down on the couch with a nice cold soda. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with drinking soda and watching TV, but what I am saying is that a lot of times distraction is what keeps us from living the life that we tell ourselves that we want when we have a moment of quiet introspection. I am saying that distraction lulls us slowly to sleep as time creeps by and we wake up with our lives having passed us by and not much of anything of significance to show for it. Fortunately there is something that can be our best friend, motivator, and coach. It also happens to be distraction’s worst enemy, it is called focus.
Absolute and concentrated focus will help you achieve whatever you want in this life. The concert pianist focuses for hours a day perfecting their craft, the professional sports star spends their life perfecting technique and skills, the artist spends their day sharing the clarity of their vision by putting it on canvas. Focus helps you to cut through distraction and concentrate on executing those specific tasks that will help you to live the life you have always wanted. Focus will help you to work through the pains and struggle of growth and overcome the obstacles that you will be forced to confront. Focus is hard. Focus is painful. Focus is sacrifice. But, that is what makes focus so great. You see not everyone is committed to 100% focus, and that is why there are very few champions.
So the next time that you sit down to write a goal remember that you will face challenges before you’re finished. You just have to ask yourself at the end of every day, “Who won today? Was it my enemy distraction, or was it my dear friend focus?”
There is a big difference between wrestling to win and wrestling not to lose. It all starts with the mindset that you have as you go into your match. If you are wrestling to win, you will do whatever it takes to get the job done, while if you are wrestling not to lose, you will do the bare minimum just to get by. I have been in tough matches where I have experienced both. The matches that I felt best about were the matches that I gave it my absolute all, and the funny thing is I lost some of those matches. Then on the other hand, I had matches where I won, but I didn’t feel like I wrestled very well. I think it comes down to one thing in particular: being aggressive and attacking from every position.
A long time ago, I was wrestling in my first age group world team trial. I didn’t even realize that it was possible for a kid in high school to wrestle in the world championships until I came across a coach that really opened my eyes to international competition. His name is Mark Fuller and is a four time Olympian for the United States. I had the fortune of starting to work with him on a regular basis during my junior year of high school. I had been to regional and national championships, but he encouraged me to go wrestle in a tournament that would allow me to go wrestle in Finland if I won. I was both nervous and excited to go wrestle in this tournament, especially because there would be college athletes competing at the tournament as well, and I was just a high school kid who had started wrestling a few years earlier. I remember the morning of the competition. Before my teammates and I ate breakfast, our coach told us that we needed to go on a little run in order to wake up and get our bodies moving. While I was on the run, I made up my mind that I was going to wrestle as hard as I could and that I had nothing to lose. This really helped me throughout the tournament. My mindset was that I really wanted to beat a college wrestler from a big school. I also knew that if I lost that it wouldn’t be the end of the world because the college kids would be the ones who would be favored to beat a high school kid anyway. I wrestled well and was able to make it to the finals.
I was nervous going into the final because I saw how big and muscular my opponent was. He was a college wrestler, and you could tell that he was the most physically developed athlete in the weight class. I told myself that I would just go out and wrestle as hard as I could. My game plan was to hit moves as soon as I felt them without even thinking about it or the risk involved. I was just going to let my training take over. I had spent a lot of time working on developing and arm spin and an arm throw with my new coach. This was one of his specialties, and his athletes had also spent a lot of time drilling it over and over. The match started and I just let everything out. I was trying headlocks, arm spins, body locks, gut wrenches, and lifts. You name it. If I knew the move, I was trying it. I kept attacking and attacking, and by the end of the match, I had created enough scrambles to allow me to score enough points to win. I had secured a spot on my very first world team, and I was really excited about it. I thought that it was cool that I was traveling out of state just to get to these qualifying tournaments, and now I had the opportunity to go out and wrestle in the world championships. It was awesome.
However, I can’t say that I wrestled like that throughout every single match of my career. I remember wrestling in other tournaments after I had more experience winning big events. I had a name now. I was supposed to win. I felt like I had a lot more to lose. I felt like people would think less of me if I lost to a lower ranked opponent. I based my self esteem on whether or not I was winning and losing wrestling matches so the fear of losing became greater than the desire and will to win. There is a definite difference between the two, and trust me the fear of loss is not a good one. It is a sickening feeling that sits in the bottom of your stomach and makes your mind race. You start to think about “what if?” and how everything good in your life can change in an instant if the thing that you fear actually takes place. Your heart starts to race, it gets harder to control your breathing, and your palms start to sweat. However, the truth in most cases is that your fear is just an illusion. You don’t have anything to lose because the game isn’t even over yet. It really is just irrational thinking. If you are wrestling a match and you lose, it isn’t like your opponent or anyone else for that matter will come to your house and strip you of all of the trophies, medals, and titles that you have earned in the past. You will still maintain all of the accomplishments that you had in the past, it just might be a case of where you might need to work harder or smarter in preparation for your next event.
Wrestling isn’t the only arena where people can make the choice to wrestle to win instead of wrestling not to lose. Take whatever you do at work for example. Are you really happy doing whatever it is that you are doing, or are you just doing it because it has good benefits and you don’t want to end up homeless in the gutter? Our world is changing at such a rate that if you’re wrestling not to lose, you are going to get beat and regret it. We need people to step up and take chances because a lot of the time even playing it safe isn’t that safe at all. You obviously don’t want to be reckless, but you have to give it your all whatever that may be. There is no guarantee that you will win if you wrestle to win or compete to win, but 10 years later you can look at what you did and be happy that you put everything on the line to succeed. That is something that no one can take away from you, ever.