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Sunday, December 29, 2013

THE FOCUS OF LEARNING

Followers of my blog already know what a follower I am of John Maxwell and his teachings.  He has not only made me a better teacher, coach and person but he has improved my teams as well.  This season our team is currently reading his book "Talent Is Never Enough" complete with worksheets that we have developed for them.  In fact, if you'd like a PDF of our complete worksheets that we use for this book, email me at rstarkey@athletics.tamu.edu and I will be glad to send you a copy.

This past year, Maxwell put out another great book titled "Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn."  It is a great read certainly for anyone as we all suffer through defeats and setbacks.  But I think it is an amazing book for coaches to read.  I gave a copy to my head coach Gary Blair for Christmas and he was quoting portions of it to our team this week.

Here is just a few of my notes from one section of one chapter in which Maxwell deals with help us to be better learners:

1. Improving Yourself is the First Stem to Improving Everything Else

Success does not always bring growth, but personal growth will always add to our success.

"It is the capacity to develop and improve themselves that distinguishes leaders from followers."
-Bennis and Nanus

2. Improvement Requires Us to Move Out of Our Comfort Zone

Novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky observed, "Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most."

What does it take to get us to move out of our comfort zone? In my observation, it requires two things:

--Handling our Aversion to Making Mistakes...Mistakes are not failures.  They are proof that we are making an effort.  When we understand that, we can more easily move our of our comfort zone, try something new, and improve.

--Overcoming a Life Controlled by Feelings...Improvement demands a commitment to grow long after the mood in which it was made has passed.

3. Improvement is Not Satisfied with "Quick Fixes"

Losers don't lose because the focus on losing.  They lose because the focus on just getting by.

If you have a quick fix mindset, then you need to shift it to continuous improvement.  That means doing two things:

--Accept the Fact that Improvement is a Never-Ending Battle...Carl Sandberg said, "There is an eagle in me that wans to soar and a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud."

Make this your motto:

I'm not where I'm suppose dot be,
I'm not what I want to be,
But I'm not what I used to b.
I haven't learned how to arrive;
I've just learned how to keep on going.

--Accept the Fact That Improvement is a Result of Small Steps...As Andrew Wood observed, "Success in most things comes not from some gigantic stroke of fate, but from simple, incremental progress."

4. Improvement Is a Daily Commitment

David D. Glass, the president and chief executive officer of Walmart was once asked why he admired Sam Walton, the founder of the organization.  His answer was, "There's never been a day in his life, since I've known him, that he didn't improve in some way."

As I have worked to improve on a day-by-day basis, two words have helped me to stay on track.  The first is intention.  Every morning as I start my day, I intend to learn something that day.  This develops a mind-set in me to look for things that will help me improve.

The other word is contemplation.  Time alone is an essential for self-improvement

If you want to spend some time each day to try to improve yourself, you might want to begin by asking yourself three questions at the end of the day, as I do.  They are:

--What did I learn today? What spoke both to my heart and my head?

--How did I grow today?  What touched my heart and affected my actions?

--What will I do differently? Unless I can state specifically what I plan to do differently, I won't learn anything.