Feed Your Belief

One of the most consistent myths athletes (and any of us) believe is that our performance in the moment is dictated by our thinking in the moment.

 This is an easy myth to confront. To prove this idea false, try this simple experiment:

Grab a seat and stay seated while you imagine a scenario. Vividly imagine yourself standing and walking out the nearest door/exit. See your motions in your mind (from your own eyes/perspective). Imagine how it feels to move your muscles. Imagine the sensations you feel as you walk and open the door or pass through the exit. When finished, read the rest of this post.

 Were you able to imagine walking out the door while you stayed seated? Of course you were. Your thoughts were conducting one action while your belief, a special type of thought, was insisting you perform a different action (in this case, the belief was that you would stay seated).

In my work, I’ve found two major reasons for buying into the myth that momentary thoughts dictate action. First, we tell athletes that’s the case. Second, we act according to our thoughts because we believe we must act according to our thoughts.

It’s not the thoughts that matter. It’s the belief. Performance comes from belief. If we believe thoughts will dictate action, they will tend to. If we believe with a deep understanding that momentary thoughts can vary while a deeper trust in our actions reigns supreme, then we can take action based on trust without wasting a second worrying about the normal variations we experience in momentary thoughts, such as those thoughts that encourage confidence or doubt.

 As I noted above, beliefs are special types of thoughts. While weak momentary thoughts are subject to swaying with the breezes of our moods – the instances of optimism/pessimism, can do/can’t do, possibility/impossibility – beliefs are hardy and withstand fluctuations in mood. Think about some of your deepest beliefs, such as the world being round. Is that belief subject to your mood? Or will you always endorse the idea that the world is round no matter how low your mood?

The same type of deep trusting belief is possible for performance. You simply have to feed that belief. As you move through life, you can verify this again and again through consistent performance that defies doubt and dips in your mood.

Trust in your ability. Practice to improve. Believe in yourself. Believe in your mind over matter existence that transcends momentary thoughts. This is the path to breakthrough performance and making the play under any conditions, including those of your own momentary thoughts.

The Little Things


“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make the big things happen.”
-John Wooden, Legendary College Basketball Coach


In explaining what it means to make the play, I often point people toward their own areas of expertise, their own endeavors, their own lives, and ask, “What are the little things that make the big things happen? Those are the plays to be made.”

Here is a letter I wrote to my daughter’s basketball team helping explain this concept. I think it will help clear it up for you, and it’s a great resource to share if you have kids. It’s about basketball, but I think you will be able to easily apply it to other activities.

Here’s the letter:


Ladies, what a pleasure it is to get to coach this great team.

Did you know that great teams look at every single day, every single practice, and every single rep in every practice as an opportunity to either get better or get worse. Do you agree? What little things are you striving to improve today?

As we move forward and continue to get better as a team, it is very important that we improve our performance on the little things.

What are the little things? The little things are the important little pieces of the puzzle that make big things – like winning – happen.

Here is a list of little things you might improve today:
Boxing out;
Playing defense with our feet;
Not reaching and not committing silly fouls;
Improving shooting form; Improving ball handling;
Improving passing;
Improving catching;
Calling out picks;
Moving around picks;
Playing great help defense;
Calling and running offensive plays;
Picking up teammates with enthusiasm.

Can you think of others?

What little things are you committed to improving today?

What is your commitment level to getting better at the little things today?


We then talk more about their ideas about the little things, and they give themselves a silent rating of their own commitment at moment, just a little reminder self-pointing in a certain direction.

So in making your own plays out there in life – be it sports, school, family, business, education, law, etc. – I ask you:

What little things are you committed to improving today?

What is your commitment level to getting better at the little things today?

I hope your day is great and you rise and shine.

Finding the Light of Love

The third key in making the play is to be alive. In this week of connecting to the light inside of us, I think it helps to think of this light as love (and there are good reasons why it makes sense to think this way, including the hot rush of adrenaline we can get when doing something we love). It doesn’t matter what type of love, it’s simply a loving, warm, thought and feeling. This love could be used to connect with another person or it could be used to build something out of wood and nails. The medium doesn’t matter. The love behind it is what drives it all.

If you think of love, it’s one of those things that never really runs out of supply. We think it does. It seems like it does. But if you find someone who is very loving, they will tell you that the more we love others and the world around us, the more love we have in reserve when we need it. The tank is always full no matter how much we use. In fact, it seems like using love in the tank fills it with even more love.

If you can’t find it for a moment, relax. It’s not lost. It never goes away. It’s only temporarily hidden from your view. Be confident that no person and no thing, not even you, can dull your love.

Love is in you and your world even when it appears to be gone. Other emotions are connected to love in ways we rarely consider. When feeling anger, we are energized to defend something we love. When feeling fear, we are scared we might lose something we love. When anxious, we are fearful about what may or may not happen to something we love. Surprise and disgust are sudden distractions from, or even toward, love. Happiness is warm love. Love is the fire. Love is the burning passion. It’s like our sun. It’s the fuel for life, and it’s always burning bright no matter what the emotional weather. It’s all love in various disguises.

So here’s a question to ponder: What do you want to get done? Do you want to point people toward having a good day? Do you want to coach a team the best you can? Do you need to solve a mechanical problem?

Whatever the plays of your life, find the love, connect to it, and use its energy to be alive and make the play.

Lose Your But

Being awake to opportunity is one key to making plays consistently. It works hand in hand with another key I wrote about yesterday, being aware of illusions of control.

In keeping with this week’s theme of the light inside (your inner fire, burning desire, etc.), I want to note that so many people I work with understand that they have a passion for certain things, but they buy into illusions of control that they believe prevent them from acting on those passions. Their belief in the illusion puts a type of glass ceiling on what they think is possible, and this thought keeps them from acting on those passions.

So often when I talk to people, I am clued into their mental limits when I pay attention to their buts.

I would love to write a book, but…..
I want to be more loving, but…..
I want to make more money, but…..
I would love to change careers, but…..
I suppose I can be pretty good at talking to people at times, but…..

To awaken to opportunity, simply start paying attention to your buts. See if you can stop your sentence before your but. Understand that anything that comes after your but is an illusion of control. None of your buts control you. You have influence to overcome them and persevere in a relentless pursuit of your passions.

After you awaken to the illusion of control that resides behind your buts, see if you can awaken to new possibilities. Simply see if you can start a new sentence with your can. I can……..

I would love to write a book. I can start by writing a journal or a blog.
I want to be more loving. I can say I love you more. I can ask people what they would like from me. I can do nice things for my family without any reason other than that I love them.
I want to make more money. I can work a little extra. I can start my own part-time small sales business. I can spend less and keep more.
I would love to change careers. I can start by figuring out how much money I need. I can start with small steps toward gaining new skill and knowledge.
I suppose I can be pretty good at talking to people at times. I can be clear with my thoughts. I can communicate my ideas very well, even if my point isn’t always perfectly clear or accepted by others. I can begin reaching out more in an effort to grow my network and influence.

Once you gain freedom by eliminating buts, you will find mental clarity more often, and a steady stream of possibilities will occur to you. After the possibilities occur to you, it’s as simple as realizing what you can do and acting on it.

Keep in mind, we aren’t defying the laws of physics here. I am not suggesting you say to yourself, “I would love to fly. I can jump off my roof and flap my arms.” You need not throw all caution to the wind. I merely want you to be aware that even physical limitations can be overcome.

We travel across the world’s sky every second of the day because the Wright Brothers refused to buy into assumed human limitations. They showed us we can fly. You can be safe and physically practical without limiting your possibilities. Indeed, sometimes tackling the assumed impossible is necessary when awakening to possibility.

Your inner fire is always blazing and ready for action at any moment, even if you aren’t aware of it. Do not limit your possibilities. Be awake and seize the opportunity available in the moment.

Being Aware of the Light Inside

Being aware of illusions of control is one key to making plays consistently. Don’t get me wrong. I understand the desire to use the word control, and I definitely understand a desire to control. The problem is that believing in control in a very concrete, literal sense always leads to problems.

Control in any way, shape, or form is conditional. Control always needs to be modified with terms like temporary or partial. Control always leads to disappointment, confusion, and frustration. At worst, when someone’s illusion of control is blown at the wrong time, they find themselves lost, terrified, and feeling under the control of a dangerous, scary world.

But it doesn’t work that way. No person and no thing outside you controls you. Certainly, the outside world has influence in ways. It’s fuel or fodder for our senses, which in turn is a major part of our thinking. However, no matter what the outside world presents, it doesn’t control you. Even instincts and reflexes can be overridden when we understand our influences.

After one understands that there is no external control, the leap is to believe that there must be internal control. Do not fall for that illusion either. There is no control. Emotional composure isn’t control. Understanding concepts in math or literature isn’t control. Being able to use your body isn’t control. I know it seems like control, but part of what makes it possible for you to complete these actions – such as your genetics and their phase of improvement or decay – is out of your control. What you truly have is influence, and sometimes it works better than it does at other times.

Look, you often have powerful influence over your own thoughts, feelings, and actions, but I think you have to admit, sometimes you don’t. We all have doubts, fears, misunderstandings, and unintended physical breakdowns and errors. And this is where I really want to make a point today.

Being aware of illusions of control will help you connect to your inner fire more often. Consider an analogy:

The sun always shines and provides heat and light for Earth. Sometimes this fact slips our mind. For example, when clouds fill the sky and bring a storm, it’s easy to forget the sun is still shining, especially when it rains on our parade, picnic, or ball game. At night, the darkness can seem scary, and then too, it is easy to forget about the light that constantly shines and fuels life in our world.

Both night and clouds can obscure or hide the sun at times, but they can never douse its fire. Imagine how scary the world might be if you didn’t understand how the sun actually works. Like certain ancient civilizations, I bet you would worry about it and have rituals to help the sun rise each day.

When we look out into the world, if we have the idea that the world can extinguish our fire, there is a good chance we are going to find an excuse to feel cold. This is buying into an external illusion. Don’t fall for it.

Other times, you may look out into the world trying to be positive and still come away disappointed. Too often when someone tries to apply the power of positive thinking in this way, they come away feeling broken because they weren’t able to control their thoughts and feelings. This is also an illusion. Don’t fall it either. Sometimes we get stuck, and that’s ok. If the power of positive thinking works, great. Use it. If it doesn’t work for you at the moment, do not despair or believe you are broken. Your fire isn’t gone. It’s always burning even when the events of your life seem dark and cloudy for a moment. It won’t last forever if you just understand your fire is always burning.

Sometimes the best we can do is to have the understanding that the fire in our lives will seem to be out at times. It isn’t. Like the sun, it’s just momentarily hidden or obscured, or we’ve temporarily been turned away from it. As with the sun analogy, it helps to understand that our fire isn’t really out. It simply seems that way at the moment. It is always still there, burning bright, ready to be obvious to you when the clouds part or the next turn of your life happens.

Be aware of your inner fire. It is always burning. When you truly understand that your fire never goes out but merely seems like it does (sometimes despite your best attempts to keep its blaze in focus), you will begin to experience incredible freedom, confidence, and clarity, and you will begin to make the plays of your life with great consistency.

Love and Football

In yesterday’s post (The Light that Shines Inside of You), I wrote about something Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney said to his team before the College Football Playoff Championship Game:

“When the light that shines inside you is greater than the light shining on you, there is nothing to be afraid of.”

Yesterday’s post noted how this light analogy seems to ring true, and has throughout time. And I really think Dabo is onto something because he said something else that I think rings true about the light inside of us.

Dabo said, “This game will come down to love.”

To some, love may seem like an odd thing for a football game to hinge on, but for those of us who have played the game, or for that matter, for any of us who have taken on any great challenge in life, love is the most powerful thing in this world. Why wouldn’t it matter in football?

Taking this idea of the light inside of us a step further, this light analogy is a description of the love inside us. This light, this fire, this energy inside us is love. I am hardly the first person to see things this way. Love is often described as fire, warmth, or light. People who are loving are often described as shining, glowing, and a light of life. Love is often described as a burning desire or a warm feeling radiating from the heart, from the center of the torso, the core, and I don’t think this is a coincidence. The body’s responses to love, which include a release of adrenaline and an increase in heart rate, explain this feeling biologically and support the idea that love feels hot, warm, and exhilarating. Love is a fire inside you.

The more you understand the fire’s unconditional existence, the more you will connect to the passion, brilliance, possibility, creativity, freedom, and love it creates in your life. The more you believe this fire is conditional – that it only burns occasionally when the right conditions exist – the more you will disconnect from your passion, brilliance, possibility, creativity, freedom, and love.

Please connect. Love. Let your fire warm and light your path in life.

The Light that Shines Inside of You

Inside the Clemson locker room before their College Football Playoff Championship Game, the Tigers’ Head Coach Dabo Swinney had a message for his team.

“When the light that shines inside you is greater than the light shining on you, there is nothing to be afraid of.”

I love this message. I realize it seems cliche and hokey to talk about the light inside of us, but it’s become a cliche for a good reason: It rings true across time and culture.

While some have referred to our light inside, others have called it a fire inside, a burning passion, brilliance, shine, illumination, a radiant light. When we are performing at a very high level, others describe us as being on fire. The analogy is apt because it seems to match our experience.

What I really love about Dabo’s statement is that it combines our inner brilliance with the idea that the outside world can’t dampen or outshine our inner fire. When we remember that our light can shine no matter what is going on around us, we have nothing to fear.

Other statements that describe this condition are rising above the fray, overcoming the odds, and living from the inside-out.

When you awaken to the understanding that your brilliance exists despite anything going on in the world around you, you gain incredible freedom in your mental and emotional life. You no longer need to waste precious resources searching for the causes of your thoughts and feelings. You no longer need to cast blame. Your light shines because of you, and nobody and nothing outside you can change that.

Even you can’t change it. Like the sun, the source of all life in the world, your light is always shining. When it seems like your fire is out, it’s only because your mind is clouding that fact or turning you away from it temporarily. Be aware of the illusion that your fire has gone out. Trust that it is still burning bright, fueling your ability to make the plays of your life.

It’s normal to be cold and cloudy and turn away from your light at times. It happens to all of us. I suspect that’s one reason why Dabo reminded his troops of this before the game. It’s easy to forget at times. The world can seem harsh, but it is no match for your inner fire.

Whether you believe this light is your soul or simply chemical energy of neurotransmitters swirling through your brain makes no difference. Your thoughts create your experience of the world, and the outside world is simply a canvas you project your thoughts onto. When you understand and trust that you create your experience of the world internally, you no longer fear situations such as success or failure. Indeed those terms begin to seem completely made up, and you begin to gain freedom to create an experience of the world that you desire. This is the beauty of the energy of life: It creates its experience from the inside-out.

So here is to hoping that you can also experience the light and brilliance you were born to manifest. Let your light shine brighter than any circumstance in your life. You have nothing to fear.

Be Alive

In order to make plays, it helps to trust that you are a bright, shining, brilliant being who is capable of doing great things big and small, and when you let your light shine, you can serve as a reminder to others that they too have the light of life within them.

Be alive with the energy and enthusiasm of life and make plays! Whatever it is you have to do, do it. Whatever it is you desire to do, get after it. You are a living, breathing, blood pumping, thinking, feeling human, so get moving! Use your influence. Connect and communicate with others. Pursue the life you want to live. Make plays! And when you miss a play, let it go with the understanding that this moment is always filled with more opportunities to make another play.

The more you connect to others and your craft, the more your eyes will be awake to the possible plays in each moment, and the more you will be involved in making those plays. The more you make plays and bounce back from missing plays, the more aware you will be that you need not be in control to have a strong trust in your own influence. You can rise about the situation and make plays no matter what the circumstances.

Be aware, be awake, and be alive. Exercise those keys in any order, and making the play will become your way of life.