HATE LIST.

hatecopyI was listening to a speaker by the name of Les Brown in my car yesterday. He was giving a seminar about greatness and told the audience to write down everyone they hated on a piece of paper.

I was confused at first, and was wondering why someone who is so positive would have people do such a negative action. Les Brown then said when he first made his hate list he almost ran out of paper.

Once they were finished the audience was instructed to then rip their list up. The message was to not waste another minute stressing about people that are “toxic” in their lives. Les Brown called them “emotional vampires”, that feed off of stressing us out, raising hell, and creating drama.

After listening to this I started to wonder who would be on my list if I made one. Was there anyone on this planet that I hated? Was there someone that wronged me to the point where they consumed my thoughts, and took my focus off of living my life. I realized there wasn’t anyone that I actually hated, but there were definitely a couple of people that I strongly disliked, and for really good reasons. The next thing I started pondering was how was my dislike for them going to benefit me. Yeah I guess it could make me feel good for a second or two to vent about how horrible these people are, but how about after that? What would it accomplish?

I use to think that you should never completely give up on someone. I was a blind optimist that truly believed that at some point everyone ends up eventually getting it. The truth of the matter is that some people just don’t. Their hell bent on being who they are no matter what you say or do. Eventually they might snap out of it but its not going to be on your watch. So move on and let it go. Legendary basketball coach Don Meyer has an awesome quote he says, “Don’t wrestle with a pig because you’ll both get muddy and the pig likes it”. Why waste time being negative to someone who lives in negativity?

Last year my business got sued by someone that had nothing better to do with their life than try to ruin mine. Saying that I was upset would be a huge understatement. We ended up settling and having to pay money that could have went towards a million other things. I held that anger with me for a long time. I couldn’t believe that someone would try to damage something I love so much, but now I ask myself what does that anger accomplish? Does it reverse the lawsuit? Does it put the money back in my pocket? No it just brings more negative energy into my life. When negative things happen to our players on the basketball court we tell them, “Next Play”. Which basically means don’t lose your focus on the now by concentrating on the back then. The same theory can be applied in life.

If you live present that means the moment someone wrongs you, you’re already getting them out of your system. You’re moving on, letting go of the nonsense, and focusing on something way more important, which is you. So maybe you have a list and maybe you don’t, but if there is one throw it out and keep it moving!!

 

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PRISON..

jail-cell_open-doorWhen I’m giving advice to some of the inmates I talk to on a daily basis the hardest part of keeping them positive is convincing them that their situation is controllable. It’s giving them the confidence to believe that as soon as their mindset changes the bars disappear.

The prisoner’s I’m talking about are in a different kind of cell then the one you might be envisioning right now. My prisoners are in a cell called “The Past”. It keeps them from enjoying the present or looking forward to the future.

The inability to move on confines them to their cell. The irony is they have the key. There is no warden locking them in, or guards with shotguns patrolling the yard. At any point in time all they have to do is walk out, but the past has a way of luring them back in. It makes them remember how things use to be, and what their lives were like before the hard times. Years go by and there they sit in the same cell.

You can’t grow in the present if you’re still stressing about the past. Letting go is one of the hardest things for us to do as human beings. We’re like emotional hoarders. We hold onto broken relationships, broken dreams, past failures, past successes, past adversities, and the list goes on. At some point we have to ask ourselves, how will worrying about back then help me right now. If we’re truthful with the person we see every day in the mirror the answer is an easy one, it won’t.

Because of all the negativity in the world there are millions of cellmates available. All you have to do is sit down next to someone on a plane or a bus and say hello. At some point you’ll start to hear their story about how great life “used” to be. I’m always confused when people talk to me about the past like their not alive right now. Why not generate those memories in the present? Why not being successful now? The glory days can start today.

The one thing that holds true about the past is, the older we get the foggier it gets. The fifteen-point game you had in the playoffs now becomes the thirty-point game you had in the championship. We tend to forget that maybe things weren’t as great as we recall. It’s tough to get ahead while looking behind you.

Don’t be a prisoner of your past be a product of your present.

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BEST FOUR YEARS OF YOUR LIFE…

5250cff384002.preview-620I’m not quite sure what class I was in when I heard about the best four years of my life. I was still in high school and a college recruiter was giving my classmates and I his best pitch.

I was a junior in high school and in my mind college just meant more homework and harder classes. I had no idea that it was this magical utopia where all my dreams could come true. (According to the recruiter)

There were all pro’s and absolutely no cons. I would meet lifelong friends, have no curfew (he winked at the class after that one) and have the best professors in the history of teaching. Then Mr. Recruiter took out his crystal ball and informed us that at no point in time regardless of what we did afterwards would our lives get any better than those four years at college. Wait What???

As the rest of my class figuratively “drank the kool-aid” and dreamed about a life without curfews and parents, I sat in the back of the classroom confused. Was college really going to be the best four years of my life? Did the fun roller coaster stop after those four years are over? It wasn’t until after I graduated college that my questions were finally answered.

First and foremost college was not Fantasy Island. Classes were harder, professors were tougher, and all the “free time” that was promised to us by Super Recruiter was non-existent. Yeah you can stay up all night, but don’t depend on mommy to wake you up for your 8am chemistry class the next morning.

Obviously it wasn’t all work. I had a great time hanging out with friends, playing basketball, and causing a little chaos on campus every once in a while, but the best four years of my life? Not even close.

Your next year should be your best year. I love that I can wake up and do what I’m passionate about every day. I don’t have to take Math classes, eat bad cafeteria food, or turn my music down because my RA isn’t a fan of the genre. If I’m up all night its due to a slight case of insomnia not my roommate snoring.

I determine my schedule and what I fill it with. That’s the most important aspect of the happiness equation. Doing what you love every day. College is doing some things you hate, a couple things you like, and hopefully one or two things you love. The fun roller coaster doesn’t stop at college unless you want it to.

 

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MIRROR MIRROR

mirror-girl2I was angry. I wasn’t fun to be around at all. I had automatic excuses at the ready to combat any questions that would come my way. I allowed my situation to cloud my mirror.

I could no longer see my reflection when I looked inside it all I saw was the problem, and it consumed me for three months. I was at the end of what seemed like a never ending season. I didn’t want an end of the year banquet and to be honest I don’t think we had one.

All I could remember were the losses. How embarrassed I was shaking the opposing coaches hand after getting blown out game after game, and the looks of sympathy I would get from friends and family. I was better than that in my mind. I didn’t have players that were good enough to compete at the college level. I didn’t have the talent that the teams that were blowing us out had. It was all about what I didn’t have. I kicked off a total of seven guys before and during the season because they weren’t about the team and here I was being the exact opposite of what a team player is. I couldn’t see myself in the mirror every day because I didn’t want to. I was the problem and those four words are usually the hardest for any of us to say.

It’s easy to assign our problems to something or someone else. My boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, boss, co worker, environment, past, divorce, financial situations etc etc but its hard to admit that sometimes the problem is looking back at us in the mirror every morning. You can never fix the problems that you don’t see and when we can’t look at whats wrong with ourselves first how will anything ever get solved? The season I was discussing before was one I blogged about in the past. It was a season that a team I coached went 0-28. I was so busy blaming everyone and everything else that I forgot to put   the blame where it should have started first, with me.

It took me four months to understand the lesson in the losses. That season helped me learn how to look at myself first when I had a problem, and for that lesson alone I wouldn’t trade any of those losses that WE endured that year. It wasn’t just a wake up call it was a slap in the face. I finally realized that for me to be a better coach I had to work at being a better person first. I had to point the finger at me and go from there.

Being self reflective isn’t easy. Because it takes something called honesty. We have to be honest with ourselves and that is sometimes difficult to do. When searching for a solution first make sure that you’re not the problem.

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HOLD THEM OR FOLD THEM..

bad poker handBack in the days me and my brothers use to play a card game called “I Declare War.” You flip over cards and whoever has the highest one after you flip over four wins the hand.

The problem with this game is it would last forever.We would start playing on a Thursday and then sometime around Friday night a winner would finally be determined. The game must have been called War because soldiers from the first world war are most likely still playing the same hand they were back then.

Luckily we graduated to games like Blackjack and Poker which allowed us to play cards without donating years of our lives on one hand. What I did like about that game and cards in general is it all comes down to chance. Yeah you have to know how to actually play Poker to win the World Series of Poker but a lot of it depends on how you deal with the cards you’re given.

The term “poker face” was around way before Lady Gaga made it into a song. A poker face is when the person playing doesn’t let on to the cards he has in his hand whether they be good or bad. Its a skill necessary for survival in the poker world. When you get a bad hand crying at the table isn’t the best way to handle the situation. Complaining about the hand you were just dealt wont make the cards change. You have two options, you can make the most of them or throw them in and play the next one. This life lesson is one that tends to be forgotten on a daily basis.

About four years ago I started writing my own motivational quotes. I was inspired by all the negative post I was seeing on social media. Every other timeline involved someone complaining about whats wrong with their life. My boyfriend sucks, my girlfriend sucks, my dog sucks, my cat has pink eye. It seemed like so many people were giving up on the cards they were dealt instead of making the best of them. In most cases they were the ones that dealt themselves the bad hand.

The first thing you have to understand is that we’re all sitting at the same poker table. What that means is everyone around you has experienced the same bad hand or a lot worse then the one you’re complaining about right now. Life is the dealer and sometimes you get thrown the aces and sometimes you don’t. The people that “get it” somehow make the bad hands work for them.

Unlike a regular dealer in some shady casino life will eventually give you something you can work with. There will be times where you just have to make that bad hand work, and your attitude towards it will determine how well it works for you.

 

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INTERESTED OR COMMITTED?

Rocky-ReindeerI was at an authors convention this past week. One of the speakers there was John Assaraf. He was a contributor in the famous book “the secret” and has all sorts of billion dollar business. While he was talking about his journey he asked a question.

In terms of your book, business, or really most things that are deemed important in your life are you interested or committed? That question immediately struck a chord with me because it’s something I ask the players I coach on a daily basis. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to be the player you want to be? That question is usually answered with hesitation and sentence fillers like umm, and uhhhhh.

When I hear the hesitation the answers is already clear. There cant be any hesitation when it comes to accomplishing your dreams. The famous quote “he who hesitates is last” rings true in this situation. You might not be dead last but you definitely wont be first. Fear, doubt, outside voices, lack of faith, and other crippling thoughts and habits hold us back from answering YES. And what I have found out from listening to so many successful people speak is, its not the absence of fear that makes them successful its moving forward despite it.

Most the time the person holding us back is the one in the mirror. We refuse to commit because we have put a cap on success. Since the moment we can comprehend we’re given mixed messages. We’re told to dream big but be realistic. What?? Thats like telling someone to run fast but move slow. So we end up believing that theres a ceiling to our success. That theres no possible way we could ever be a millionaire, theres no way we could ever play professional sports, or be an actor. The irony of this all is that we watch people everyday doing just that. There are billionaires walking on the same earth you do. There are thousands of professional athletes that we watch on television.The oscars just took place, you know that show that honors actors and actresses? So if they can do it why not you? Are you interested in being an actor or committed to being one?

If you’re not committed to being great then you’ll never be great.Even if you are committed theres still no guarantee. So why take the leap? Why sacrifice partying with your friends, eating bad food everyday, and god knows what else? You sacrifice because you’re committed to accomplishing your dream, you’re committed to making it happen, The sacrifice is when you take a day off. The sacrifice is when you take time away from your dream. It’s not a sacrifice unless something you need is being taken away from you.

If I’m interested in a car I might take it for a test drive, shake the dealers hand, and then go home and look for another one. If I’m committed I leave that lot in a new car. Don’t leave your dreams in the lot.

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RALLY THE TROOPS..

leonidasAs a basketball coach one of my main jobs is to motivate players. It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having, sick, tired, or otherwise when I step into the gym I better be ready to turn it on for two hours. I can never be flat; I’m not allowed to have a bad practice.

Picture an army general rallying the troops with, “hey guys I know we’re at war but I’m not feeling well so I’m going to sit this one out”. Not going to happen.

In life it’s the same way for me. The troops are no longer plural. When I wake up in the morning I have to motivate the man in the mirror staring back at me. A flat day is an unproductive one. Yeah I could wake up sick, there are days when I’m tired, but the messages I use to motivate myself are stronger than the adversity I have to overcome.

What if you didn’t have another day? Would you sit around doing nothing? Would you put off today what you think you could do tomorrow? The answer in most cases is probably no.  You’d grab the bull by its proverbial horns and get after it.

It’s amazing how often we take time for granted. Time doesn’t announce to us that it’s leaving; it sneaks out the door while we sleep. We “lose track” of it. Time is a ninja and before we realize it, it’s already came and went without us knowing.

So why waste it? Why spend one minute not rallying yourself to get after it every day? When I wake up its “game on” weather conditions be damn. There are no rain outs!! You can get yourself through anything if you truly believe that you can. Be your own coach.

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GAME OF THRONES…

game of thronesI’ve never been into a television show where I had no idea what the main characters names were. Then the show Game Of Thrones came along, and not only do I not know most the names of the characters I can’t even pronounce half of them.

The show is set in what I can only describe as middle earth (google it) with dragons, giants, zombies, witches, wolves the size of lions, and about a million other things that could be very hazardous to a humans health.

The beauty of the show is names don’t matter as much as actions. The director calls the show the “Sopranos of middle earth”. You have to pay attention to every little detail. Who was slighted, if that person really meant that handshake or not and of course does that chick really have dragons.

The main story (as we are led to believe) is the feud between two families the Lannisters and the Starks. Their hatred for one another leads to double crossing, triple crossing, and all sorts of backstabbing and real stabbing. But this wasn’t what attracted me to the show. If I wanted to watch families fight and backstab each other I could turn on normal TV and watch desperate housewives from all over the country do the exact same thing.

What makes the show so interesting to me is that despite how hard the two families fight against each other their battle means absolutely nothing. Their oblivious to the fact that in another part of the world there are dangers far greater than anything they’ve ever experienced from each other. The best part is the danger is coming right towards them from all sides and they’re too preoccupied to see it.

One of the many problems with the Lannister and Stark families is that they only see what’s inside their bubble. Their issues and problems are the only ones that matter. When the proverbial poop hits the fan I’m thinking it’s going to be too late for most of them to survive it. This fictional world might as well be called Earth. Now I realize that we don’t have all the mythical creatures that they do (who knows) but we earthlings are consumed only with what’s in front of us. We don’t realize that some of the issues halfway around the world will eventually affect where we are now.

There are countries whose economy and political corruption are so bad that protests are going on as I write this. I currently live in a country hundreds of trillions of dollars in debt. Our economy hasn’t been good for who knows how many presidents and homelessness, poverty, crime etc has done nothing but gone up. Sound familiar? The only way to learn is to travel outside of what you know. When I went to a friend’s wedding in the Dominican Republic I saw people living in nothing more than shacks. Put together by wood that seemed like it was already blown away numerous times, and no running water or working electricity in site.

We get locked into the idea that we’re untouchable. That what’s happening “over there” will never happen “over here”. Understanding how narrow minded that thinking is will hopefully help prevent us from being blindsided. You only know what you know to get knowledge sometimes you have to go out and find it.

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BLAME GAME.

BlAme newIt’s hard to be accountable if you never hold yourself accountable. Grammatically that may not be the perfect sentence but stay with me for a little bit. We live in a world where most people blame their problems, issues, hardships, etc on someone else.

There’s always someone else that caused their misery or pain. “I could have been in the NBA if it wasn’t for my coach”, “If my boss didn’t hate me I would have been promoted years ago”, “I’m failing that class because my professor is horrible”. I could write examples of this all day long, because I’ve not only heard them all but I’ve used a few.

What you don’t hear is people putting their failures on themselves. Maybe it’s not the coaches’ fault, could it possibly be that you’re not good enough? Instead of thinking that all your professors are involved in a conspiracy to fail you it could possibly be that you’re not a great student. I know this is unconventional thinking in this day and age but it can’t always be someone else. Not one coach that I had from high school through my first couple of years in college was responsible for me not being good at basketball. Yeah they’re supposed to show me a thing or two about the game but it’s up to me to put the work in. If I didn’t improve it was the guy in the mirrors fault not anyone else’s.

The blame game is so prevalent today that you would assume if it wasn’t for someone else everyone would be successful millionaires. There would be no such thing as failures because no one would be held back by someone else. It’s hard for most of us to be critical of ourselves. It takes honesty to say, “Wow I really botched that interview”.  Instead of blaming the reason you didn’t get the job on the interviewers’ hatred of people with freckles.

When you put the onus on you then there are no more excuses. Blaming other people mask the bigger issue. If it’s always someone else’s fault then how could you ever fix the problem, which is most likely YOU. My mom use to say the person that points the finger has four fingers pointing back at them. I heard that phrase so much that I never pointed at anything when I was little let alone someone else. I am responsible for me. My attitude, work ethic, and mindset will determine my success or failure. If for whatever reason it’s the latter I’ll figure out the problem and come back even stronger.

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WAITING IN LINE…..

waitingWaiting has never been one of my strong points. Being the second youngest of five siblings my entire life has been about doing just that. So growing up anything that involved me waiting for longer than three to five minutes was a huge test of my patience.

My mom use to tell me that “patience is a virtue” but when there’s only one box of Count Chocula cereal in the whole house “waiting my turn” was easier said than done.

Little did I know that waiting would be a reoccurring theme in my life. I had to wait for just about everything. I was the last kid to get picked up from school, one of the last ones to be called in homeroom (last name starts with T) oh and did I mention that I was the youngest boy in my family. My sister (who is two years younger than me) got pushed ahead of everyone which solidified my status of low man on the totem pole.

My true test of patience though happened between the ages of 16 and 21. It took me exactly five years before I considered myself a legit basketball player. Five years of not only waiting for that magical day to come but killing myself to make it happen. Waiting through all the games, workouts, doubters, and any other obstacle that comes along with chasing a dream. It felt like marking your height up against the wall as a kid. Every day I would train and look for even the slightest sign of improvement. I would say to myself, “hey you couldn’t do that a month ago keep working”. Somehow I had more patience with this process than anything else in my life.

I didn’t quite know when my time would come I just knew that eventually it would. When we’re waiting in an actual line we know that eventually (no matter how long the line) it will eventually start moving. That’s the way lines work. You’re sitting in traffic forever; something opens up or clears and then boom you’re on your way. (L.A is an exception to this rule) Now imagine standing in line with no end in sight. There is no angry person at the cash register waiting to slam your eggs into a plastic bag, or attendant at the DMV who looks like they want nothing more than to stab your first born. The line just goes with no signs of ever ending. This is how we all feel sometimes. Like we’re waiting for something to happen and it never will.

Anything worthwhile is worth waiting for. Basketball for me was worth the wait and that’s why I developed the patience to wait for it. If you want to be a famous actress you can’t fly back home to Louisiana after the first bad audition. No you have to work even harder to ace the next one. We never know when opportunity will come. We might get out of line seconds before it actually starts moving. If you put me in a line at Disney World I’ll want to strangle Mickey by the time I get to the end of it, but put me in a line that I want to be in and I’ll lose track of time waiting in it.

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