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.

Be Aware

One of the keys to making the play is to be aware of illusions of control. While perceptions of control are real, true control is an illusion. Anything you believe you control is temporary at best and influenced by factors that are going in your favor only out of pure change and fortune. Too many people become frustrated and confused when they confront their lack of control, and this blocks their ability to make plays in the moment. Belief in control always requires conditions and limits, and ultimately it is disappointing and confusing.

The antidote to the illusion of control is trust. Trust that even when you momentarily lose focus, effort, attitude, or peak physical performance, you are still capable of using your influence to make plays. Trust in the power of your influence only requires possibility, and ultimately breeds clarity and freedom.

Understand that the power of thought creates your experience of living, and while it seems like you can control your thinking process, you are really just steering it with the current of the moment, which is made up of countless influences, most of which are certainly outside your control. It’s really like you are paddling a canoe in a river. You have some influence over where you are going, but so does the river.

Trust that when your thoughts aren’t going your way, it’s only a momentary issue. Keep your composure, and trust that your thoughts can and will change and flow in the direction you desire.

Everyone and everything constantly changes through interactions of influence, and it’s a beautiful and miraculous thing that the influences converge as often as they do to keep you alive, capable of your own influence, and making plays consistently.

When you pass the control baton (sometimes you see yourself as having it, sometimes you believe others have it), you give up on your own power and influence too often. Be aware when you are passing the control baton, understand it’s an illusion, and be awake to the bounty of possibilities this moment provides.

Keys to Making the Play

Keys to Consistently Making the Play…

I mentioned in a previous post (Making the Play) that there are no absolute musts to making the play, but if you want to make plays consistently, there are certain keys that you should understand and follow as often as possible. This is a quick overview of those keys. Each one will be the subject of subsequent blog posts.

The Keys: Be Aware. Be Awake. Be Alive.

Be Aware

In order to make plays, it helps to be grounded in an accurate understanding of reality.

Be aware of illusions of control. While perceptions of control are real, true control is an illusion. Anything you believe you control is temporary at best. Too many people become frustrated and confused when they confront their lack of control, and this blocks their ability to make plays in the moment.

Belief in control always requires conditions and limits, and ultimately it is disappointing and confusing.

The antidote to the illusion of control is trust. Trust that even when you momentarily lose focus, effort, attitude, or peak physical performance, you are still capable of using your influence to make plays.

Trust in the power of your influence only requires possibility, and ultimately breeds clarity and freedom.

Be Awake 
In order to make plays, it helps to see that you are surrounded by plays to be made each and every second of your life.

Be awake to possibilities that exist for you in each and every moment. No matter what your reality seems to be at the moment, be awake to the fact that other possibilities exist.

Being aware of illusions of control will help you be awake to possibilities because no matter what or who it seems is in control at the moment, you will have influence if you can just be awake to one other possibility. And one other possibility is always available with just a simple shift in perspective. Your thoughts create your experience of the world, so a new world is only a thought away.

Be Alive

In order to make plays, 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.

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.

Making the Play


What a game. Clemson played a game with Coach Dabo Swinney’s proclamation of belief, love, and guts, and prevailed against the great Alabama Crimson Tide, 35-31. In the post-game interviews, Alabama’s Head Coach, Nick Saban, one of the greatest coaches of all time, attributed Clemson’s win to a very simple factor.

“They made the plays, and we didn’t,” Saban said.

Every endeavor has its own plays to be made. You either make them or you miss them. The more plays you understand how to make, the more plays you will make consistently. The more plays you make, the greater your chance of winning.

Too often we get lulled into thinking that the conditions (situations) dictate our response. To be a play maker we need to be open to the idea that no matter what the situation, we have influence.

In a battle that is weighed on a scoreboard, games aren’t determined by one play, even though the last play sometimes matters in the outcome. Each play counts equally. Often, it seems that games are determined by 3 or 4 big plays, but it simply seems that way because the plays made during the rest of the game balance each other. Each play, each moment, is an opportunity to make a play that tips the balance of the scales.

Sports are simply an extension of a greater life, and every situation in life presents a play to made, a moment to be seized. The best playmakers understand that no matter how favorable or unfavorable the situation appears, it is full of wide open potential, and in this invitation to possibility, the playmaker does what he can to influence the world in front of him.

Last night, Clemson made a few more plays than Alabama, but in such a great game, both sides made plays all night long. Some were easily noticed, others were subtle and more easily glossed over, but each counted. And according to Coach Dabo Swinney’s proclamation, Clemson’s belief, love, and guts made the difference in making a few more plays than their opponents made. They made the plays that needed to be made to win.

If you desire to make plays in your life, I aim to help. There are certain keys that will help you make plays consistently. This blog is dedicated to those keys. I hope you enjoy it and make plays in your life.

My Best to You,

Jared Wood