How to Bring Your “A” Game

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How to Bring Your “A” Game

Almost four years ago, I released my first-ever book, “Play Like A Champion Every Day:  Your Guide to Being Your Best You.”

It was a special project and something I am super proud of and couldn’t have been done without the help of everyone around me, including you.

Today, I want you to read Chapter 3 in the book, “Bring Your ‘A’ Game.” It’s a quick but powerful read and I believe it will really resonate with you.

BRING YOUR “A” GAME

 

“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” 

—Wayne Dyer

 

It’s February 5, 2017.

The site is NRG Stadium.

The stakes are high as it’s the biggest sporting spectacle of the year.

It’s Super Bowl LI.

With 8:51 to go in the third quarter, though, the game is all but over. Sure, there are over twenty-three minutes left, but the Atlanta Falcons hold a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots.

A deficit like that has never been erased in Super Bowl history and the way things are going, the Falcons are flying high with everything working and the Patriots are playing some of the worst football of their season.

According to ESPN’s Win Probability Metric, after the Falcons scored a touchdown to go up 28-3 midway through the third quarter, they were now over 99% likely to win the game. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know the rest of the story.

Atlanta never scored again, New England erased the deficit, won in overtime and shocked the world on their way to winning the fifth Super Bowl in franchise history.

As a Patriots fan, this game will be ingrained into my mind forever. Nothing was going their way. The greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady, was having an off game. Uncharacteristic mistakes like interceptions, missed tackles, blown assignments and missed extra points were holding New England back.

That all changed though.

Patriots special teams captain, Matthew Slater, said "No panic. We practiced in pads on Super Bowl week. We are squatting 80% of our maxes on Super Bowl week. We worked for this. Our bodies and minds were ready, and we just kept believing in one another."

Wide receiver Chris Hogan said of his quarterback, “He's laser-focused, and the entire time, there wasn't a time where we looked at Tom like he knew this thing was over.”

The Patriots believed they could come back. All they needed to do was keep bringing it, giving it their all and they could get back into it.

Bring your “A” Game.

That’s what New England did.

Sure, they fell behind early and things weren’t going their way for much of the game, but even when they were getting the breaks, they gave it their all.

When it comes to bringing your “A” game, it requires giving 100% effort and focus.

Do you have big goals for this year?

To reach them, it is going to require you to give your best effort even when you are having a bad day. The Patriots could have packed it in and chalked it up as it just wasn’t their day. They refused to, though. That’s because it’s instilled in them to bring their “A” game every time they step onto the field.

Do you bring your “A” game every time you step into the gym, workplace or home?

Bringing your “A” game will change from day to day. There are days when you are tired, sick, extra stressed, sore and the list can go on. Those are the days that make the biggest difference, though! Don’t be the 99% that just mail it in on those days. Do the best you can on these days because those are the days that make the biggest difference.

Imagine this: You have fifty days out of the year where you just aren’t feeling 100%. Instead of sitting on the couch, imagine if you did 1,000 extra steps each one of those days. First, 1,000 steps is about a half-mile and is pretty easy to accomplish. If you did that for those fifty off-days, you would accumulate 50,000 steps, which is about twenty-five miles. I talked about the compound effect earlier and this is a crystal-clear example of the compound effect at work.

Walking 1,000 extra steps for one day doesn’t seem like much, but over a fifty-day span, that compounds into big results. Almost a marathon’s worth of walking on days when you just weren’t feeling it.

In James Clear’s best-selling book, “Atomic Habits,” he believes a major pitfall is striving for perfection, instead of focusing on progress. Nothing is ever perfect, and going with an all-or-nothing attitude leaves no leeway for when life goes even a little off course.

Clear says that lost days hurt us more than successful days help us. The best in the world show up every day no matter what the circumstances. In his book, Clear uses the specific example of how 50% growth on $100 brings your total to $150. However, it only takes a 33% loss to bring it back down to $100.

By doing something, you are avoiding a big loss. If you are having an off day, do something. Exercise for five minutes, do ten minutes of yoga, read five pages, eat vegetables for a snack. Something, no matter what the size of it, counts and will help you continue to progress in the right direction.

Dealing with Setbacks

Whether you are on a journey to lose weight, run a marathon, save money or advance your career, you will face setbacks. Life does not operate linearly. Instead, it often has its ups and downs and yo-yo’s around. The key is not letting the lows keep us down and knock us out.

What challenges are you facing right now?

Have you ever faced a setback and then let it take control of you and hold you back from accomplishing your goal?

I’m guessing you have.

Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group and one of the world’s biggest and most inspiring entrepreneurs, has faced his fair share of setbacks on his way to building a portfolio of around 400 companies. His airline nearly shut down before it began. He tried to take on Coke and Pepsi and failed. He created Virgin Digital to get in the music download arena and it didn’t go anywhere. The list goes on for the number of failures Branson has had in his career.

Guess what?

He kept going and now has a net worth of over $4 billion.

Branson said, “A setback is never a bad experience, just another one of life’s lessons.”

A great example of using a setback as a way to push forward is the story of the 2017-2018 University of North Carolina Men’s Basketball team. The Tar Heels are one of college basketball’s premier programs. They have produced a number of NBA players—including that guy named Michael Jordan—won numerous conference titles and have six national championships. The 2017-2018 team won a national championship, but they could’ve allowed what happened the previous season to hold them back.

The previous season ended in heart-breaking fashion for the Tar Heels. They made it to the final Monday night of the season and were playing Villanova University in the national championship game. Villanova took control of the game in the second half, but UNC clawed back in the game late on the back of their senior guard, Marcus Paige. Paige tied the game with four seconds to go on an improbable double-pump three-pointer. If you haven’t seen it, just search “Marcus Paige National Championship Shot” and you will see for yourself.

All of the momentum was on the Tar Heels side and all they needed to do was get one more stop and go to overtime. Villanova needed to race down the floor and score to win the game but the odds of that happening were slim.

The moment the UNC players had been waiting for—the confetti coming down from the rafters, after all of that hard work in the offseason, adversity they’d overcome during the season, including one that had surrounded the program for years about an alleged academic scandal—was about to come true.

And then it didn’t.

Villanova drew up the perfect play, raced down the floor and nailed a long three-pointer as time expired to win at the buzzer and snatch the national championship out of UNC’s hands.

After the game, Tar Heels head coach, Roy Williams told CBS reporter Tracy Wolfson, “You know, Tracy, I’ve been a head coach for twenty-eight years, and the worst thing is, on a loss like this I feel so inadequate, because I don’t know how to make it better.”

The press conference was a somber one for UNC, players and coaches with tears in their eyes and the sting of almost winning it all only for it to be taken away at the last second. Gone were the team’s two best players and leaders, Paige and first-round NBA draft pick, Brice Johnson. The rest of the team returned, and a solid recruiting class was coming in, but they were not considered a top-five team going into the next season. Plus, you just never know if you can get back to the big game.

Those returning players had other plans. They did not like the feeling of heartbreak on that Monday night in April and started a team text message titled “Redemption.” They had faced the ultimate setback, being denied the top of their sport, the National Championship.

The UNC team did not want to be remembered for that and used it as fuel to come closer throughout the offseason, working their butts off during workouts and doing whatever it takes to be their best. If that meant midnight shootarounds, they did it. If it meant extra time in the weight room, they did it. They came together and were not going to leave any stone unturned.

Despite a few ups and downs, the Tar Heels won the conference regular season title, earned a number one seed, overcame a scare in the second round, dealt with ankle injuries to their starting point guard and leader only to see him continue to fight through the pain, hit a game-winning shot to go to the Final Four with under a second to go, won their first Final Four game by retrieving an offensive rebound with little time left and then squeaked out the National Championship with a win over fellow number one seed, Gonzaga University.

“Redemption” turned to “Redeemed.”

Confetti fell and the team celebrated, and they would forever be national champions. It began with heartbreak a year earlier but ended with jubilation a year later.

What setbacks have you faced in life?

Maybe it’s an injury. Maybe it’s getting passed over for a job promotion. Maybe it’s getting a bad review.

The latter happened to me recently and instead of getting angry, I reached out the that person to see how I can do things better and thanked them for the feedback. Sure, when you face setbacks there is a period where you can feel sorry for yourself, but make it quick! Feeling sorry for yourself and getting angry is just wasted time you can be spending on overcoming your setbacks and working on becoming better.

A lot of times I hear the excuse, “I don’t have enough time.” It’s exactly that. An excuse.

How do the most successful people on earth get a lot done?

It didn’t just happen by accident. Nothing happens by accident. If you’ve ever listened to Dave Ramsey, financial and personal development guru and the man who has helped thousands of people get out of debt, you definitely know that nothing happens by accident. 

Ramsey believes in the “Momentum Theorem.” We all need momentum in our life because with momentum, you can take a monumental step forward. Ramsey’s Momentum Theorem is simple: 

Fi/T(G) = M.

“Focused intensity, over time, multiplied by God, equals unstoppable momentum.”

Whether you are religious or not, this still applies.

If you are focused over a period of time, you will create unstoppable momentum.

Want to lose weight?

Intensely focus on exercise, nutrition and building healthy habits into your life. Do this for a longer period of time. No, two weeks is not a longer period of time. Do this and you will create unstoppable momentum toward your weight loss goal.

We’ve established that nothing happens overnight, and I cannot stress that enough. There is delayed gratification. The positive result you are seeking is months or years away but if you focus on winning each day, you will be rewarded. You must be patient and if you are, momentum will build in your favor.

While momentum can build in your favor, if you stop doing the little things each day, momentum can also work against you. Be patient and focus on winning the day to create positive momentum. Well, that still doesn’t solve your time conundrum, does it?

Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in a day, it’s just a matter of how you use it. If you are focused on one to three things rather than twenty to twenty-five things, you will be more successful. Plus, you can’t focus on twenty to twenty-five things at once. It’s not possible. You need to take a time audit and map out where you are using your time during the day. I guarantee you can free up some time from just doing that.

 

Another exercise is mapping out your day. Every night before bed, I write down three to five things that I need to accomplish the following day. This simple exercise ensures that I stay on task and gives me a guide for the day.

 

If you really want to get detailed, Ed Mylett, entrepreneur and member of the exclusive Forbes Top 50 Wealthiest Under 50 List, breaks his day into six-hour blocks. This allows him to focus and instead of worrying about winning the twenty-four-hour period, he tries to win smaller, six-hour blocks. This is a classic case of breaking down bigger goals into smaller goals.

 

From 6 a.m. to 12 p.m., win.

 

From 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., win.

 

From 6 p.m. to 12 a.m., win.

 

Stop using time as an excuse and start creating unstoppable momentum in your life. If you bring your “A” game every day, you can do just that.

 

 

ACTION STEP

 

 

Write down three things you are doing in your life that help you bring your “A” GAME.

 

Example: I read thirty minutes per day.

Example: I go for a walk outside five times per week.

 

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Write down a setback you have faced in your life. Follow that up by writing how you overcame it or if you have not overcome it yet, write how you will overcome it.

Example: I was passed over for a job promotion.

Example: I worked with my supervisor to form a personal growth plan, started showing up to work thirty minutes earlier and read at least thirty minutes every day from a book in my profession to enrich my mind and help me grow.

 

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We will be closed for training this week, April 8-14. It is staff vacation week and we will return on Monday, April 15. Massage Therapy services are normal for the week.