Deliberate Practice

odell beckham jrAs a coach, I do a lot of reading of how to improve my practices and make them more efficient and effective. Efficiency from the standpoint of having little to no wasted time, while keeping everyone engaged and focused on the task at hand. And being effective, by making sure everyone is making gains by working on the specific skills they need to. A lot of that effort leads to making sure the athletes are doing Deliberate Practice daily. Deliberate practice is defined as a highly structured activity engaged in with the specific goal of improving performance. Deliberate practice is different from the simple repetition of a task. Corbett Barr outlines the four essential components of deliberate practice and what it means to do it.  Continue reading


OGP #ThrowbackThursday: Power of Expectation

As youth, most of us begin reacting to others’ expectations of us before we fully form our expectations of ourselves. A key part of “growing up” is our formulation of the latter — what we expect of ourselves… My young life provided numerous examples of negative expectations, to which I reacted negatively, leading to disappointing results… Fortunately, there were also positive expectations, to which I usually reacted in ways of which I could be proud… Along the way, I realized that my own expectations — for myself — outweighed it all.

Negative Expectation, Disappointing Behavior

Okay, maybe not THIS bad 🙂

During my ninth grade year, a friend and I decided to cut a class. We got caught (surprise, surprise :-)). Before turning us in to the vice principal, the teacher of the class pulled my friend and I aside. He briefly surveyed us visually, then turned to my friend and said, “I expected more of you” … Whoa. I didn’t admit it at the time; but that comment, as well as that which went unsaid to me, cut deeply. As a coping mechanism, I checked out from that point on. To my own detriment, I found myself unable to absorb anything that guy said. Once football season was over, I skipped school altogether, on several occasions simply to avoid attending that class. I passed the class, because our grades were based solely on tests; and I typically did well on tests. Had class participation counted for anything, I would’ve been in trouble.

I’ll bet I know what you’re thinking 🙂 … My behavior, in this case, wasn’t great to begin with… While this is true, higher expectations may have helped me turn in the right direction. In support of my theory, I submit another example from the same time period.

Positive Expectation, Constructive Behavior

During the same school year, another of my teachers (my English teacher) and I got off to a rocky start. On the very first day of class, as he gave an overview of the course — and his expectations 🙂 — I whispered something to the kid next to me. I can’t remember what I whispered, or even to whom I whispered it; but I clearly remember what happened next. The teacher requested my immediate presence in the hallway. When we were in the hallway, he closed the door and had some choice words for me. I responded with some choice words of my own. He poked me in the chest, and I blew up. I don’t know if I could’ve handled him, physically, at that stage of my life; but I was certainly ready to try. Fortunately for all involved, he thought better of it and directed me to follow him to the vice principal’s office.

Yuh… At that time, at least in my hometown, teachers still hit kids on occasion. LOL, I know it’s terrible; but I have to laugh when I compare it to the way things are today. Can you imagine the backlash if a teacher called a student into the hallway today and poked him in the chest???

When we arrived at the vice principal’s office, the teacher informed the vice principal that he would not again have me in his class. The vice principal advised us both that his was the only English class available, so his class was the only option (LOL). I returned to his class the next day, kept my mouth shut, paid attention and did my assignments.

About one week into the class, we were given our first writing assignment. I did the assignment and handed it in, as instructed. When he returned our marked up papers, I was surprised to find constructive criticism as well as encouraging words. I was surprised on several fronts:

  • I assumed he hated my guts, and I assumed that matter of preference would dictate every interaction between us.
  • I never considered that I might have a talent/knack for any type of communication, written or otherwise.
  • Even though I still wasn’t certain whether he hated me or not, I felt an inexplicable desire to do an even better job on the next assignment… I had no idea what it would be, but I was looking forward to it. Up until that point, I’d NEVER looked forward to ANY school assignment.

When we were assigned the next paper, I worked with a craftsman’s mentality. My paper would represent what I’d learned and show what I could do — not only to him, but to myself, as well. When I got the paper back, I was surprised, yet again. There was constructive criticism followed by words that I can still envision today.

“I enjoy reading your work.” — by the first teacher that led me to take pride in my schoolwork.

I held my head high, and my chest grew a size that day… That was followed by yet another new notion……. I didn’t want to let him down. He had high expectations of me. I resolved to never disappoint him… To this day, there is nothing that drives me more than the desire to honor, with my best effort, those who place faith in me.

I wonder if Mr. Hazlett (sp) realized the magnitude these experiences had — and continue to have — on my life.

Expecting More of Ourselves

It’s great when people expect great things of us. It’s better, and even more powerful, when we expect great things of ourselves… By “expect”, I don’t simply mean “hope”. Expectation is about more than that. Expectation is also about vision. To truly expect something of ourselves, we need to put real thought intomake real plans for, and take actual steps toward our goals. To have high expectations of ourselves is not to kid ourselves.

Given this basis for expectations, we can still expect great achievement. Some of our plans may be fuzzy, as achievement is usually accompanied by learning new things. We can plan as we know how, take steps as we are able, learn and continue raising the bar.

If you are one who believes that high expectations set the stage for disappointment, consider whether the examples of expectations that bring this thought to your mind were heavy on aspiration, yet light on vision, planning and steps toward goals.

Expecting More of Those Who Seek Our Direction

I hope, at this point, that this is a no-brainer. If we truly want to help someone to achieve great things, we must make clear to them that we have high expectations. If we clarify what those expectations are, why we have them, and on what those expectations are based, we have much greater chances of helping those who seek our direction to reach their full potential.

” High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation” — Jack Kinder

Previous Throwback Thursday Posts

OGP #ThrowbackThursday: Mirror Mirror On The Wall

Be true to yourself. Don’t cheat yourself. Don’t be afraid to look in the mirror.

How many times have you heard these, or some variant of them? What do these mean to you? When did you first truly ask yourself — er, the mirror — “Who is the [insert self-affirming adjective here] one of all”? More importantly, when did you first take head of the answer, and what impact did it have on your life?

I recently had a very tough conversation with a beloved protege that led me to revisit this concept. It reminded me of a drastically different situation that caused me to do what I asked of her — to look in the mirror, be honest about what you see and, if you are not satisfied with what you see, be sincere in your actions to grow.

It sounds so simple. It actuality, it can be so hard. Sometimes it stings. When you are sincere, though, and you really want to grow, it’s always rewarding. Here’s my flashback…

Continue reading

What is YOUR core set of values?

Jayson’s post, Living by a Code, combined with my after-lunch coffee 🙂 , got me all kinds of excited. This is, by far, one of my favorite subjects. As Peter Marshal (1947), Malcom X (not sure of the year), Alexander Hamilton (1978) and others have said, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”.

Think about what that means. If you, as an individual, have not established and committed to your core set of values, you are much, much, much more likely to simply “go along” with any apparently attractive idea — without consideration of whether the idea is actually beneficial for you or those who depend on you. If you have not established your core set of values, you have no framework for weighing the pros and cons of life’s toughest decisions.

Let’s say, for example, that I’m back in high school. It’s Friday afternoon, and I have an unfinished paper due on Monday. All of my friends are planning to attend a birthday bash that is expected to be the biggest and best of the year. My friends mean only good things when they implore me to join them. The social possibilities for the night seem unlimited. Every girl in school will be there!!! (LOL) … What should I do?  More importantly, WHY should I do it? … While it’s easy to say that I should finish my paper, it’s much tougher to actually do it, especially while the birthday party looms as a beacon of adolescent bliss. Even if my parents lay down the law and force me to stay home all weekend to work on the paper, they cannot force me to put my heart and soul into my work… This is where my set of values needs to kick in. I must understand why it is important, to me, to finish my paper on time and with the best quality of which I am capable.

Continue reading

Living by a Code

As Bunk said in The Wire, “A man must have a code.”

The Virtuous Life
Art of Manliness ran a series of Benjamin Franklin’s Pursuit of the Virtuous Life, a challenge originated by Aristotle. After reading about his pursuit and personal finance lessons, it strenghthened my need to continually evaluate myself across a set of principles. Establishing the principles is the first step, holding myself accountable on a daily basis is what makes it work. Franklin used a small book of 13 charts to record his daily progress in his quest for moral perfection. When he violated a virtue, he placed a dot next to it. His goal was to minimize the number of marks each day. The key for me and Franklin made this point hit home, is to minimize the number of “marks” against my code. It is a daily challenge, but one I am willing to do in an effort to better myself for my family and friends. It also helps me to set an example for my children to follow because it is never too early to develop one’s personal code. And when one has a code, it provides a base for any tough decisions that arise. Thus providing a sense of freedom because the decision was made ahead of time when the code was developed.

The Code of the West
A co-worker let me borrow the book, “Cowboy Ethics“. As I flipped through the book, I landed on the page that listed the 10 convenants for the Code of the West. The first one, “Live Each Day with Courage“, sets the tone for the rest of the list. More importantly, living each day with courage gives us a chance to make each day great. As I went through the list, I thought about how many of these I already do and what I personally needed to do to accomplish the rest. It was good reminder for me to look at all I do to make sure it is in line with my code, which helps me finish things and not take shortcuts. While the Code of the West might not be for you, it is important to have a standard that will guide and enable you to live you life to the fullest each day.

Continue reading