By John Leonard
One day a few years ago, a club board member accused me of "having favorites" on our club team. Several other parent board members nodded their heads in agreement The implication was that this was a terrible sin. When I was a younger coach, I thought it was terrible also. And he was right. I did have favorites. My favorites were those athletes who most fervently did what I asked of them. Those that did, I gave more attention to. I talked to them more. I spent more time teaching them. I also expected more of them.
The implication that he was making was that my favorites got better than the others because they were my favorites, and that was somehow unfair. He mistook cause for effect.
The fact is, that the athletes who came to me ready to learn, ready to listen, ready to act on what they learned and try it my way, even if it was more challenging, more difficult than they imagined, were ready to get more out of our program. And they were my favorites.
As a coach, I have only one thing to offer to an athlete. That is, my attention. Which means that I attend to their needs. The reward for good behavior should be attention . . . attending to their needs. The consequence of inattention, lack of effort, unwillingness or unreadyness to learn or just plain offensive or disruptive behavior is my inattention to that athlete.
How could it be other than this? If you have three children, and you spend all of your time and energy work working with the one that is badly behaved, what does that tell your other two children? It tells them that to capture your attention, they should behave badly. What we reward, is what we get.
As a coach, I want athletes who are eager to learn eager to experiment to improve, eager to work hard. I want athletes who come to me to help develop their skills both mental and physical, and are willing to accept what I have to offer. Otherwise, why have they come to me. And I am going to reward that athlete with my attention. In so doing, I encourage others to become like the athlete above. If I spent my time with the unwilling, the slothful, the disruptive, I would only be encouraging that behavior.
The link I want to forge is between attention and excellence. Excellence in the sense of achieving all that is possible, and desired. My way of forging that, is to provide my attention to those who "attend" to me. This does of course result in increased performance for those that do so. I am a professional coach, and when I pay attention to a person, that person is going to improve. Over time, this makes it appear that my "favorites" are the better swimmers. Not so at all. The better swimmers are those that pay attention, and thus become my favorites.
What Dad didn’t realize is that you must have favorites if anyone is to develop in a positive fashion. The coach’s job is to reward those who exhibit positive developmental behaviors. Those are my "favorites," and they should be.
New set of possibilities
Somewhere out past where you're now comfortable, there's a pleasant surprise.
Beyond what you already know you can do, there are exciting and fulfilling and new things you'll be able to do.
There's a very short distance between what you think you can do and what you don't think you can do.
That distance is the size of just one thought.
Once you decide that it is possible for you, it is possible or you.
Once you have the thought that it can be done, it can be done.
The world you experience is contained within the world you expect to experience.
Expect more, and suddenly a whole new set of possibilities will open up to you.
Ask yourself what you would like to be able to expect.
Then go ahead and bring your expectations in line with your desires.
Each day is an opportunity to grow beyond yourself while at the same time more fully expressing your authentic self.
Touch your highest vision, expect it to happen, and you'll surely see your way there.
Bring excellence to life
You cannot achieve excellence just by proclaiming it to be.
Excellence is built in the details.
Attend faithfully and competently to the details, while
staying true to your purpose. That is how to bring
excellence into your world.
What is done with genuine love is done with excellence. Let
love guide you in each moment, and you will consistently
Excellence resonates with what is true, what is good and
authentically valuable, with what is right. Work with
honesty, integrity, and a commitment to truth, and
excellence will permeate the results.
Intention is critical, yet excellence does not come from
good intentions alone. Excellence comes from actions
persistently and consistently guided by the highest and most
In each thing you do is the opportunity to create
excellence. Again and again, bring excellence to life, and
live true to your highest purpose.
Authentic and unique
You are unique. So think like it, act like it, and make the
most of it.
Breakthroughs do not come from following the crowd. You are
capable of truly great achievements if you will simply and
authentically and passionately be you.
Why would you let anyone else define who you can be and what
you can do? Those are decisions that are best made by you.
You have something valuable that no one else has. You have
the unique perspective of being you, of seeing the world in
a way that cannot be duplicated.
You have dreams that are yours alone, hopes, passions,
things that interest you, things that make you laugh and
things that make you cry. They all combine to create
outstanding opportunities for fulfillment.
In all you do, richly express the wonderful, unique person
that is you. And find joy in seeing your greatest
achievements flow from your most authentic and unique
How will it affect you?
How will this affect you, and how will that affect you? That
is completely for you to decide.
What happens outside of you has an influence. Yet it is what
happens within you that has the final say.
You can choose to be brought down by the worst aspects of
the situation. Or you can choose to be lifted up by the best
positive qualities of that very same situation.
What do you think about the possibilities of this day? How
do you feel about the circumstances you're in?
What you think, the way you feel, the things you believe
combine to create the filter through which you experience
life. What passes through that filter is exactly what you
allow to pass through.
You cannot change what already is, yet you can decide
precisely what you will take from it and what you will do
with it. No matter what happens, you have the power to make
of it what you will.