Thoughts on Wrestling, Business, and Life

Category: Advice

5 Ways To Improve Your Life

Everybody wants a better life. Rarely is there an individual, at least in our American culture, that is completely content and satisfied with everything in their life. We always want more. More money, money recognition, more things, more freedom, more love, more time, and the list goes on. Our ego is what drives us to want more and more, and that’s not a bad thing. Just think of how life would be if our predecessors just settled for what was available to them instead of trying to grow and improve. Let’s take housing for example. I would much rather stay in a nice climate controlled home than sleeping under a tree any day. I don’t even like tent camping, and even a tent provides more shelter than what our ancestors had to work with. I like camping in a cabin with all of the comforts of home. Many outdoor enthusiasts don’t really even consider staying in a cabin camping, but my view is, if you stay overnight in a forest, you are pretty much camping.

Anyway all of this talk of contentedness and camping and ego, where does it all lead to? Here is my point: we want better lives, but we don’t always know how to improve our situation. Here are five ideas of what you can do today to improve your life:

1. Wake up early in the morning. Have you ever heard the saying, “Early to bed, early to rise, make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”? I get up early every morning, and have a set of routines that I go through that help to empower me throughout the day. I haven’t always done this, but the time that I have been doing it has helped me to feel more productive, alive, and focused than ever before. By waking up early and getting to work on yourself and improving, you can get very important activities accomplished before the rest of the world wakes up and starts placing demands on your time.

2. Exercise. I have been a competitive athlete for most of my life, and because of that physical training and exercise have been a huge part of my life. I haven’t competed in any sports now for a few years, but I continue to exercise daily. There is something about getting your heart pumping and blood flowing that helps your mind to be sharper, and your body to feel energized. The key here is to pick something you like doing and take breaks when you need to. It doesn’t do you any good to push so hard your first day at the gym that you never go back.

3. Read a book. I love reading. I remember as a child that I loved reading fiction. Some of my favorites were the Beverly Cleary series, How To Eat Fried Worms, and the stories about Bunnicula. Reading was how I would fall asleep at night. I wake up early every morning and read a book. In fact, right now I am actually reading several books at once. Some of them have shorter chapters so I read a chapter from those books and then have a main book that I am learning from. If you want to be successful in your field, you should definitely read. Learn all that you can. Think about what a great advantage it is to be able to take a lifetime of someone else’s learning and condense it into the few hours that it takes to read a book.

4. Take time to meditate. For a lot of people, they have this idea that if someone meditates that they are some crazy hippie granola type. This is not the case. Meditation is for everybody, and I think that all of the great spiritual leaders have practiced meditation in some form or another. Meditating allows your mind to come down from the stress and anxiety of the world and expand beyond what it currently is. Is there a perfect or a correct way of meditating? I don’t believe so. Meditation for me is just trying to relax and give my mind a chance to experience peacefulness. I have had amazing ideas and inspiration come to me when I quiet my mind and meditate. I do it for 10 mins a day. It’s not long, but it helps me to feel just a little bit better.

5. Focus on serving others. I think that we are all our number one fan. For most people we are definitely who we focus on the most. Even when tragedy strikes, it is easy to think more about how it affects your own life and schedule than others. For example, say that you are stuck in a traffic jam, and you’re late to an important meeting. What are some of the negative scripts and thoughts that run through your head? I know that there have been times when I finally get to see the wreck that caused the traffic jam I think, “Why are people slowing down just to look how bad this is?” I didn’t even take time to consider that five minutes from then I would be down the road and thinking about my appointment again and not thinking about how that accident may have changed people’s live significantly ranging from the financial cost to repair or replace their vehicle, not to mention the physical and emotional trauma that it could have caused as well. They will be thinking about that wreck for weeks or years, and I didn’t have time to think about it for 5 minutes.

However on the flip side, when you are able to serve people, and you see how appreciative they are or how happy they are to have received the help, it is one of the best feelings in the world. One of the reasons that I loved coaching wrestling was because you would see athletes train so hard, and by helping to guide and direct them and share strategies that work, it was great to see their hard work pay off. If you are going to pick just one of these things, serving others would definitely be the one to go with.

So there you have it. Hopefully you are able to apply any or all of these activities in your life and see the positive impact that it makes. These practices have made a huge difference in my life, and I guarantee that if you are able to do them as well that you will be happier. And really, I think when it all comes down to it, we all want to be happy.

 

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How do you make it happen?

How Do You Make It Happen?

I remember my high school coach talking to the team and putting a lot of emphasis on “finding a way to win”. I was always confused as to what he meant by that. The way my mind worked at the time, (and still does a lot for that matter), was to think “if you do A then you get B”. So if he couldn’t give specific instructions as to how to do something, I felt a little bit lost. I won most of my matches in high school, but there weren’t a whole lot of them where I feel like I had to find a way to win. I just did what I knew how to do, and I ended up winning my matches. It seemed simple enough.

Years later, now as I reflect on what he said, it makes a little more sense to me. As I wrestled various international matches, I felt like I was not in complete control of the match, and I had to just keep wrestling and trying things in order to win. There were matches that I was down with very little time left that seemed like I was going to lose, and then somehow someway I would find a way to win. I never thought much about it during those times. Now as a coach, a father, and husband with a myriad of responsibilities that I feel resting on my shoulders, I do think about what it means to find a way to win. Whether or not I have come up with the right answer, I don’t know, but I at least have an idea of what I think and feel that it means now.

To me “finding a way to win” means not giving up. As long as you keep trying to do something, you are still in the match. As long as you make attempts regardless of the possibility of failure, you are still in the match. As long as you keep believing in yourself and working toward your goal regardless of what other people think, do, or say, then you are still in the match. As long as you don’t give up, you are still in the match. As soon as you mentally break and give up, you are no longer in the match.

Don’t give up. Stay in the match. Find a way to win.

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Using Limited Options To Your Advantage

When I first started wrestling, I learned three wrestling moves and used them almost exclusively throughout my first year of competition. The moves were: a double leg, a stand up, and a barbed wire turn. I wrestled less than 20 matches that year, but in all of my matches, I stuck to those three moves. I didn’t know any other moves, and I didn’t know if the moves that I was using were any good. All that I knew that what I was doing was working so I stuck with it. Due to my lack of knowledge, I was forced to do the best I could with what I had.

Years later, I traveled throughout the world to various wrestling competitions. I set foot on five different continents. I got to see how the rest of the world lives. One of the places that I had the opportunity to visit was the island of Cuba. I really loved going to Cuba because I speak Spanish and was able to connect with the athletes there because I was able to communicate with them. I was also fascinated by how they were able to do so much with so little. Their training facilities and conditions were very spartan, but they consistently produce world and Olympic medalists and champions. Despite their tough circumstances, thy find a way to win.

The ability to make due with what they have didn’t just exist in the wrestling room, it flowed out throughout their society. I have never seen so many cars from the 1950’s as I have when I was in Cuba. The people were able to do whatever it took to make their cars last or repair or rebuild them. They were able to make the best of a tough situation.

It is easy to fall into the “if only” attitude about being able to find success. “If only I had more resources.” “If only I had better people.” “If only I had more time.” “If only I had more…” I’m guilty of falling into this trap. There are plenty of times when I have thought “if only”. The problem with that is that nothing changes with “if only”. Change and success comes through hard work, persistence, and consistency.

I’m looking to challenge myself, and if you’d like to join me, I’d love it. This is the challenge: anytime I’m frustrated with trying to do more with less, I’ll turn that frustration into gratitude because if I can become an expert and master things with less, imagine what I’ll be able to do with more.

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Don’t Think, Just Throw

Don't think, just throw.

Don’t think, just throw.

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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

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The Importance of A Routine

I've felt like this before.

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.

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You Only Get Points For Finishing

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.

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5 Things Wrestlers Can Do To Get Into College

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.

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