Spring has sprung in Ohio. That means lots of softball and baseball…and yard cleanup! This spring has brought a ton of wind which resulted in 5 billion (at least) twigs in our yard. Gathering five billion twigs means almost that many squats and bends to gather them and throw them into the fire pit.
Then the fun comes…the fire! Without any large logs, we had a raging fire adding only twigs and sticks as fuel. It was crazy to see how quickly the pit filled with fire and how hot it burned.
This was a great reminder that, as legendary coach John Wooden said, “little things make big things happen.” This quote adorned our locker room wall at Akron and as much as we know it’s true, we want big stuff!
We want a home run when a single can start a rally. We want a big shot when a layup can tie the game. We want a big win when beating the team we should be will move us up in the rankings.
The big stuff gets all the attention, and we forget that the little stuff burns hot, too!
When we are focused on the big stuff, we are usually focused on outcomes, and we know how unproductive that is!
As we head into the end of the year and spring sports move toward tournament time, it seems like a good point in the journey to remind ourselves how important the little twigs are to the fire.
Yes, to keep the fire burning you need big logs. But the big logs won’t burn without little sticks catching fire first!
Here are a few twigs that can help us light the fire and keep it burning.
1. Focus on the next step. As NFL Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula said, “It’s the start that stops most people.” How many times have you looked ahead and gotten tripped up either mentally or literally? If we look at the whole week ahead, the whole mountain, the whole conditioning workout… it seems daunting, but the next step is not. The next step is just the next step. Add the next step to the next one and you are going somewhere!
2. Acknowledge small wins along the way. What is a small win? Did you follow your plan? Were you able to keep your focus despite the pressure or distractions? Did you move the runner? Did you strike the ball well? Were you aggressive regardless of the outcome? Did you help set up the next guy for success?
If you are winning, paying attention to the little things you are doing to allow you to win is vital to staying on track. That’s where the “Well”? In the Well-Better-How practice comes in. What are we doing well? Why is it working? What am I contributing to it? It wasn’t the big hit that won the game. It was the thousand other things that went well that allowed the seemingly big thing to have an impact. Understanding what those things are allows us to capitalize on the “big” hit when it comes.
If you aren’t winning, looking for small wins can help build confidence as you stack up things that are improving and see that the process is moving you closer to your end goals. As Kobie Bryant says, “Losing is exciting” said only by those who don’t lose very often. But his message is true. In talking with author and podcaster, Lewis Howes, Kobie went on to say that it is important that we evaluate winning and losing in the same way. Looking at our “Wells” doesn’t mean we accept losing. It means we find ways to acknowledge that we can perform well and not win and there is always a small twig that can catch fire. We can play well and lose and play like crap and win. You can pull “wells” out of both. And building a string of small victories can have a much stronger effect on our mindset than those occasional “big” ESPN moments we all crave.
3. Win or lose, relive the small wins. In keeping with the stacking theme, Tony Robins says, we are what we stack. He has learned that stacking positive memories, experiences and performances and reliving them allows us to reap the benefits of experiencing the emotions of those events for much longer than he expected. He says “Just having experience is not enough. You got to stack the good to appreciate it.” In his book Executive Toughness, Author Jason Selk agrees. “Recalling a past performance in the present allows us to relive the same full range of emotions that we experienced when we performed the feat at the time.” As I wrote in Tip #73 about the Winner Effect, when we experience a victory, no matter how small, the chance of winning the next opportunity significantly increases!
4. Make small adjustments. When we screw up, we often go into over-adjust mode. We swerve one way and over-correct the other and end up in the other ditch. We throw low and our next one goes high. Most things need minor adjustments and most are mechanical, they are mental. What is the one little thing you can do that will make a difference right now? Is it as simple as taking a deep breath? A short pause? Setting your shoulders back and taking up space? Asking a question? Focusing on the seams? When we break things down into something we can manage, we gain some traction. We have a starting place. We gain control. We can then move on to the next thing. Everything we do starts with a simple action or thought. It is said that we can then move on to larger things, but in reality, we are just moving on to more small things that add up!
Do you remember the book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: And It’s All Small Stuff? We could change the name to Focus on the Small Stuff and You’ll Keep Your Fire Hot!
What we focus on enlarges. And if we keep our focus on moving the runner instead of the homerun, we are much more likely to score!
Manage the moments…one at a time!!
P.S. I’d love to help your team adjust their mental game! Contact me today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 234-206-0946 and let’s set up a session or a plan for your program!
Mental Performance Coach
email@example.com • 234-206-0946