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Archive for Wednesday Check Off

A Coach With Fortitude

White haired Jimmy Johnson is well known as a FOX NFL Sunday football analyst, working alongside Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Michael Strahan. But his story didn’t begin there. Jimmy began as an assistant coach in college football in 1965, eventually becoming a head coach at Oklahoma State University in 1970. While there, he was noted for his successful rebuild of an inconsistent program. And did well.

Jimmy could have stayed there but would have been stuck. He continued his career as head coach of the Miami Florida Hurricanes in 1984. After a fitful start, Johnson developed the team into a program that came to be known as “the Decade of Dominance.” He created a freewheeling atmosphere where he encouraged his team to show-boat and run up the score. He lived unstuck. In his 5 years there, he compiled a 52-9 record, and after an undefeated season, won a national championship in 1987.

In 1989, Johnson accepted the offer to be head coach of the NFL Dallas Cowboys. He replaced the legendary Tom Landry, who had coached the team since its beginning in 1960. Following in the steps of such a well-known man, Jimmy had his work cut out for him. But he had the ability to find talent in the draft, make savvy player trades and sign quality competitors as free agents. He had an uncanny knack to look at his options and make the right choice. He flourished and was one of only 6 men in the NFL to coach and win consecutive back-to-back Super Bowls.

When a former quarterback was interviewed about Jimmy, he described a coach that was tough on his team. “Yeah, he threw people under the bus. But with him, he needed an 18-wheeler.” This coach had fortitude. He had an unstuck attitude.

I want to have the drive and fortitude it takes to have a winning team. Maybe not an 18-wheeler type of approach but an ability to see into the future and make the right choices. To work hard and engage with life. To challenge myself and live unstuck. How about you? #Unstuck Living

If you fell down yesterday, get up today.

—H.G. Wells

Give Up? Or Keep on Going?

It’s a few games into the season. Some teams have yet to win a game. Players on these teams are less and less confident in their skills and abilities. And it shows in their playing. Coaches wonder if they should throw up their hands and begin to plan for the next year. Fans are disgruntled. One year, New Orleans Saints fans wore brown paper bags over their heads in protest for their teams’ poor playing.

But there are some players on these teams who can see the end result. They have a mental picture of their team playing as a unit. Going on to play better and better. Inspiring others and leaving the negative behind. Sometimes it takes a vision to see the next step, to create synergy between players. They live in an unstuck world.

When I start a new venture, from time to time I get stuck. Case in point was this morning. I was sound asleep, enjoying an intriguing dream when the alarm went off. I bounced out of bed, zipped over to the bathroom to turn it off (I know better than to put it on the nightstand next to me) and hopped back into bed. As I snuggled down in comfort, “those” thoughts started in. The chatter goes something like this: you will be off kilter for the day, you know how good you feel after your walk, the Duff really needs his exercise. On and on it goes. And once I lay low one day, it’s easy to skip the next and the next. The avalanche has begun.

After 5-6 minutes, I rolled out of bed. I decided my mind was right: I would feel better, the Duff did need a walk and the schedule for the day would be askew if I didn’t get moving. Then I remembered how much I revel in the morning, with the fresh breeze against my face and the beauty of our outstanding Arizona sunrises. The leaves are changing in the so many glorious colors of autumn. Don’t want to miss that. So much easier to see the payoff and move in that direction. No longer stuck in the “I don’t want to’s” or “I’m not up to it today.” Choices are free. And I made mine. I didn’t get stuck. How about you?

Consistent Dedication

Long ago, Joe Thomas earned the title of NFL Iron Man. He has never missed a game since the Cleveland Browns made him the third pick in 2007. In fact, this 11th year man out of Wisconsin who plays center, has never missed a play in starting all 161 games of his career. He has passed a milestone we might never see reached again. He snapped his 10,000th consecutive snap on 9/18/17.

Joe was the starter from his first game in his rookie season when the Browns won 10 games and just missed making the playoffs. This streak is the longest of its kind in NFL history. Browns Coach Hue Jackson said, “This is kind of unheard of . . . Now, it amazes me if anyone comes out of a game having been around Joe Thomas and seeing what he has done. I think our players see that too. I think a lot of that rubs off in our locker room.”

When asked by an announcer if he was first good or dedicated, the center got a little grin on his face. He said, “No, I was good first. And then, I became dedicated.” He never even considered being stuck in mediocrity. In a Tweet, Joe says, “I’m really humbled by the outpouring of respect from people all over the country . . . I feel like a guy who’s just always wanted to be there for his teammates, and I blink my eyes and 10k snaps has gone by.”

The call for dedication comes for many, not just in the lives of football players. When you have a child, that’s an essential commitment of 18 years or more. Going back to school takes single-minded focus and determination. If you have an interest, say cabaret singing, that passion takes courage and a knowing of yourself. The Winter Olympics arrive in February, filled with athletes who have dedicated time, energy and money to be able to compete. It’s not time to get stuck.

When I set a goal for myself, I like to model my perspective on people like Joe Thomas. Folks with a mindset that embraces challenge. The men and women who set a steady focus toward where they’re going. And never look back. They are not afraid to grow. They don’t even consider getting stuck. And I don’t get stuck either. I don’t expect to be able to achieve a milestone like Joe’s, but I have my own landmarks. With inspiration from others’ dedication who arrive where they choose, I too can continue to live unstuck.

Are you living stuck?

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.

— Jackson Brown, Jr.

New Beginnings

At the end of last year’s season, the reality of the situation in Cleveland was that the Browns had holes all over their roster — despite having 14 picks in the 2016 NFL Draft — and they were still a long way away from being able to compete in the AFC North. The offensive line was ragged and the defensive line needed to be shored up.. Fans expected to see things get worse before they got better for the team. They were stuck in defeat.

It’s 2017. Enter rookie quarterback DeShone Kiser. Time to get unstuck. After being passed up in the first round of the NFL Draft, he showed up for training camp with a “can-do” attitude. He turned heads in the preseason by throwing a game winning 45-yard touchdown in his debut. He then led two scoring drives in his second contest.

DeShone gave the team, the fans and the town a fresh start. As a defensive lineman said, “Last season is finally in the past. The next season is about new beginnings.” No longer stuck.

At times, I have been stuck. Found myself stymied by what was ahead of me. At a loss for how to pull myself out. The most surefire way for me is to hold the goal in my mind, to see it completed. I envision it in full, vibrant color. If there are sounds associated with it, I add them in. And most importantly, the feeling. Where do I feel that success within my body? I anchor the feeling, the scene into my being. And I am no longer stuck. The road to success is mine.

All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.

— Earl Nightingale

Being Grounded

It’s Rockport, Texas after Hurricane Harvey. The small town was desolated. In the words of a young football player, “It looks like a bomb went off.” The Rockport- Fulton Pirates looked out of their homes and nothing looked familiar. Homes were gone. Streets torn up. Trees strewn across lawns and highways. Landmarks whisked away. It would have been easy to get stuck in the overwhelm of devastation.

After a day or two, Coach, J.D. Madrano said these high school kids started showing up for practice. They weren’t about to get stuck. He noted: “It (football) keeps them grounded.” Before they could begin, however, the team cleared brush from more than 60 homes. As one teammate said, “Nothing will ever stop us working as a family.” And the entire town is family now. No one is stuck without help. Everyone is grounded, having a task to perform and a determination to help others.

To paraphrase Steve Hartman on CBS Sunday Morning: Whoever said football is just a game never met these kids.

It all starts with being grounded.

What keeps you grounded? A friend? A group dear to your heart? Or something much bigger than yourself? For me, it begins with my early morning walk alongside MacDuff. This movement sets the tone for the day and clears my mind. If I’m without it, that lost, stuck feeling creeps in. Nothing quite goes right. Another plus: nothing quite like taking a walk with your dog. MacDuff discovers magic where none exists to my eyes (or in my ability to sniff things out). After this, I can proceed with my day, being a service to others as well as I can.

Football, Hurricane Harvey and Trust

Hurricane Harvey came and went. But JJ Watt, All Pro defensive end for the Houston Texans, never got stuck. Even before the disaster, this 6’5” behemoth was arguably the most beloved athlete in Texas. He has stuck with a team that tries hard to reach the NFL playoffs, but they are thwarted every year. He has shown loyalty and integrity throughout the years by sticking with the team.

This quality was never more evident than after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. He saw the problems in Houston and stepped up. He got unstuck. JJ began a fundraising campaign to aid relief efforts in the area. He hoped to raise $200,000. Yesterday, the funds were at $18 million. Today, it is over $20 million. Many of the 180,000 donations were less than $100. Last evening, he was standing in front of a warehouse full of donated goods and supplies. Donors trust him.

Others may have been stuck in the moment, dazzled by the spotlight. What interested me was his perspective and integrity. He clearly stated that he felt the responsibility of the faith people had in him. He wanted to do right by them.

People trust a man who knows his own values. JJ Watt is not going to get stuck in stardom. He’s down to earth and even personally helped deliver supplies where they were needed. I don’t know how I’d be able to inspire others to trust me enough to donate $20 million or more to a cause. To move forward and not get stuck in this immense need of Houston says volumes. Your thoughts? (Let me know below in the Comments.)

Want to develop more trust? Trust is consistency over time, according to Jeff Weiner, CEO of Linked In. He just sold his business to Microsoft for $1.2B, so I listened to his counsel. If you take the high road and always act in the same way… you will be trusted. You are dependable. Others can count on you. Get stuck in the positive. It’s about connecting, community and being heard. It’s that simple.