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Live authentically

The cover article for the Sports Sunday section of this weekend’s New York Times features excerpts from ‘Cycle of Lies’ Juliet Macur’s new book on Lance Armstrong. Reading this story reminds me of several conversations I had with a professional riding coach when I lived in New Mexico in 1997. It was obvious then that the culture of professional cycling was so corrupt that Lance had to be cheating. I used to share that belief with others well before it became obvious to the world. The challenge for all of us who try to live with high integrity is what to do when everyone around you is cheating? For a competitive cyclist to succeed then you simply had to cheat. If you didn’t, someone else would and that would put you at a significant disadvantage not just in terms of winning but around fame, fortune, and your ability to make a living at the sport you loved.

It seems that until we live in a world that is more evolved, we need regulatory bodies to make sure some athletes, businesspeople or citizens don’t have an unfair advantage over others. Of course, the cheaters often evolve faster than the overseers and the race to find better and more sophisticated ways to cheat such as undetectable drugs, computer viruses, fake currencies, and other scams continues. The good news is that the world seems to becoming more and more transparent, a positive byproduct of new technology. The challenge in our fast changing paced modern culture is to live authentically which sometimes means passing on questionable opportunities that others will agree too. Given Lance’s competitiveness, ruthless desire to win, and fundamental insecurity, his choices was obvious. What’s yours?

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Let go of your past so you can concentrate on your future!

Sheila Talton, C.E.O. of Grey Matter Analytics, a consulting firm, an anti-Vietnam war activist in her youth failed out of college because she focused to much on organizing and protesting. Working as a secretary at a fork lift company a white male salesmen noticed her initiative and then got behind her and pushed her to go back to college offering to help her with her coursework. I shared this part of her interview because I just got off the phone with a minor league baseball player that I’ve been coaching for seven months. He is heading into spring training this year with a clear head, zero drama, and much greater focus! He thanked me for all my assistance and told me that he is now behind his girlfriend much like I got behind him. She too is thriving!

Ms. Talton also shared that she will offer up a member of her team for promotion or another opportunity if it is right because it shows how invested she is in other people’s careers not just her own. Instead of holding on or hoarding good people she prefers the good will generated from letting them go. I love this enlightened approach to business management and leadership. I imagine that she is successful in her personal life too. I often teach people, including athletes and entrepreneurs, to be more fluid and flexible by holding on less and letting go sooner. Often, it is simply the best way to live, create, and be!

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Successful Women in Male Dominated Careers

This New York Times Sports Sunday article on female sports agents in the N.F.L. is very interesting. To break into a male dominated profession like engineering is challenging but pro football is a whole other realm! I really respect the women who are up for the challenge and actually succeeding. I often talk about passion, commitment, and perseverance as fundamental aspects of success in life and business. In a profession such as this, Kristen Kuliga, Kelli Masters and others must have all that and more! Good stuff!!

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An Inspiring Success Story

Adam Case, the 35-year-old offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos never played college football and was a mediocre high school tight end by all accounts. Through a combination of hard work, ingenuity, and tenacity he worked his way up the ranks of professional football to become an invaluable part of the Broncos offense!

I love success stories like this because as a life coach, business coach, and sports psychologist I am constantly helping others overcome challenges and accomplish things they never thought possible. As I often say: if you want to achieve anything difficult you must believe that it is possible, take tons of action, and tweak your game along the way. In other words, it is essential to constantly learn and make adjustments along the way. Clearly, Adam Case did all that and more!

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The Courage or Craziness of Athletes

Reading about dangerous sports in the Los Angeles Times Sports section while traveling out here on business made me think about a golfer I am coaching who used to be a professional snowboarder. He’s shared several adrenaline addiction stories having had a series of near death experiences in his younger life as his passion for extreme sports and dangerous situations like surfing in near hurricane conditions nearly got him killed.

I too understand the desire to get a rush out of life but I also know that as we get older the best way for us to feel more alive is to learn how to create what I often refer to as the “magic” in life and business – the feeling that we are on the right path, enjoy who we are, what we do, and look forward to each and every day! This takes patience, discipline commitment, and trust – not necessarily easy traits to develop but well with it. So enjoy the extreme stuff while you are young and learn the magic of creating as you age!

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Follow Your Gut

As I was reading this article on A-Rod’s suspension in the Los Angeles Times, I saw a quick highlight of the 60 Minutes special on the Biogenesis founder who spoke convincingly on A-Rod’s guilt. Anthony Bosch basically said that not only did he sell A-Rod several performance enhancing drugs but he also injected them into A-Rod himself on multiple occasions. With each phase of this sad saga A-Rod sounds more and more like Lance Armstrong who lied and denied until the evidence became overwhelming or Roger Clemens who got off legally but looked horrendous in the process. It’s disheartening to watch.

When there’s so much money, fame, and success riding on one’s performance, the incentives to cheat are high. The problem of course is that non cheaters are at a disadvantage when so many around them are cheating. MLB seems to be doing a reasonable job of handing this lately but the cheaters still seem to hold a lot of the records (Bonds, Mcquire, Sosa, etc…). I find this problematic. It makes it almost seem as if they got away with it and clearly some did.

Sometimes in life it pays to be suspicious. When something seems to be too good to be true it often is. This is not negative – it’s just helpful to have a little healthy skepticism when it comes to success in life and business. So the next time your gut tells you not to believe something or someone, you might want to listen!

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The Foundation of Success

It’s been an amazing year of tight finishes as the Sports section of the Sunday New York Times highlights! Tom Brady is on the cover for a reason. The Patriots have been especially good at winning in the last seconds or on the final drive! I love watching football on tv for a variety of reasons: players play hard, coaches work hard, careers are short, greatness is rewarded and great finishes make it all the better! I often use football analogies when coaching clients, even non-athletes. I talk a lot about the foundation of success: eating right, exercising, meditating, and being proactive! The more we focus on what we want and do the necessary work involved, the more likely we will achieve it. This is what Tom Brady does!

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About Arrogance And The Jets

The downhill journey over the past five years as a Jets fan is disconcerting. Thank God I am a primarily a Giants fan, though this year hasn’t been pretty either. In the NFL, many great coordinators often don’t make good head coaches and one could argue that this is definitely the case with Rex Ryan. The numbers compiled by Chase Stuart of Pro-Football-Reference.com don’t lie. The Jets suck. Hubris, pride, ego and arrogance seem to be a factor in the Jets issues. Ryan has been full of himself and was blinded by his love for Mark Sanchez for way too long. Organizational issues underlie their problems too but the head coach is the one ultimately responsible and Ryan has failed to deliver. If he is the best defensive coordinator in the league as he once boasted then what the f… is he doing as a head coach? I recently watched a Piers Morgan show with James Ray, the debased life coach and spiritual leader who was jailed for 20 months after three of his retreat guests died in a sweat lodge. He acknowledged arrogance and hubris as underlying issues that may have contributed to the tragedy. Sound familiar Rex? I have never seen Bill Belichick boast of anything and he is simply the best. It’s great to have a strong, dynamic personality and yet sometimes a little humility is good too!

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Criticizing vs. Understanding

It’s nearly impossible not to like Russell Wilson! Not only is he a superstar in his second year in the league with the Seattle Seahawks but he is affable, outgoing, smart, personable and seems to have wisdom way beyond his years. Colin Kaepernick, who almost won a Super Bowl in his rookie year with the 49ers is similarly gifted as an athlete but with a much less outgoing interpersonal style, at least in front of the press. As a psychologist, I can infer that Kaepernick’s maternal abandonment and early adoption might have had an impact on his sense of trust and interpersonal style. Speaking in front of the media, not an easy task for any young adult, might be a greater challenge for him. Mr. Wilson is a pro in this regard but that’s highly unusual. From my perspective, anyone can judge and criticize but it takes toughness to be understanding.  Let’s think about that the next time were critiquing someone without fully understanding who they are or how they were raised!

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A Different Approach

After years of watching the Yankees sign high priced superstars to long-term contracts I feel strongly that they did the right thing by letting Cano go by passing on his demands. At 31, it’s hard to argue that another 10 year two hundred plus million contact is worth the risk, especially given the A-Rod situation. It takes courage to change course and do things differently and the Yankees are finally showing some – good stuff! I teach clients what I call fluidity or the flexibility to do things differently, especially if what they have been doing is not working. The Yankees have had a lot of success with high priced superstars in the past but the world is changing and the numbers are getting out of hand for guys that are already in their prime and may only have a few great years left. Only time will tell but again congrats for trying a different approach!