The New Year Now!
We are just seven days into the New Year.
With the New Year many people remember last year's
achievements and disappointments.
And most look forward to the promise of a new beginning.
Though it might be true that everything comes to those who wait,
Those who wait often get the leftovers.
The good news:
Too many people are waiting for the perfect time to begin their journey to stardom.
(That’s good, because there’s more room for the rest of us!)
The bad news:
The perfect time is now.
(Bad, because there are no excuses for not beginning right now!)
Do something right now
to move a little closer to your dream.
Do anything, even if it’s wrong -
at worst, it’s a learning experience.
Right now is the first moment of the rest of your life.
Are you using the “now” in your life?
One Day or Day One! It’s Your Choice
Perhaps modern-day reality tv started
with The Real World on MTV
and exploded with shows like The Bachelor,
The Bachelorette and
Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
But way back when TVs were black and white and had snowy screens,
there was a American reality documentary series called ‘This is Your Life’.
Ralph Edwards created and hosted the show.
Guests of honor, normally celebrities,
were lured by some ruse
and surprised with the news that they were the featured guest.
One by one, people who were significant in the guest's life -
childhood friends, school teachers, etc.
offered telling and frequently emotional anecdotes.
At the end of the show,
family members and friends would surround the guest and commemorate.
The size and the definition of the screens might have changed
But it’s incredibly interesting how some folks commit hours
to watching other people’s lives go by,
and totally neglect to write the script for their own lives.
Bear in mind - This is YOUR life!
You are the producer,
The script is up to you.
I encourage you, write a great one!
One of my favorite performers once wrote,
"Remember, in the end, nobody wins unless everybody wins."
~~ Bruce Springsteen ~~
No one likes to lose.
Whether it's the Presidential Election,
The Super Bowl,
The Academy Awards,
or the 200 IM at the Liz Kazeck Invite.
We play to win. (just ask Herm Edwards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5-iJUuPWis)
The only problem with that model is for someone to win, someone has to lose.
In the sports world, I understand.
With relationships, different story.
How about Win/Win for everyone?
I read an article by Greg Anderson.
Anderson is a cancer survivor and wrote a book entitled
The 22 Non-Negotiable Laws of Wellness.
In the article The Law of Win/Win is explained,
“Let's not do it your way or my way; let's do it the best way.'"
The Win/Win idea celebrates the spirit of cooperation
and finds what is mutually beneficial in all relationships.
"For Win/Win to work," observed Anderson, "it must be founded on strong personal character...
Trust is the essence of Win/Win."
A positive working environment is unbearable without the Win/Win mindset.
A vibrant marriage is impossible without Win/Win as its centerpiece,
Parenting is a nightmare without deep unconditional love and respect coupled with a Win/Win attitude.
Friendships, school and community activities, philanthropy--all live or die around the Law of Win/Win.
From trust - open communication and synergy flourish.
Win/Win is the key to all successful relationships.
With Win/Win, there is no blame, just compromise and teamwork.
There's better listening, more generosity.
And EVERYONE takes home a trophy.
Or at least shares the same one.
Givers and Takers
How many times have you heard,
“There are two kinds of people in the world.”?
I bet more than just a couple.
In fact, there are many kinds of two different kinds of people:
Winners and non-winners,
Happy and sad,
Those who make your life easier — and those who make it harder. (Lubricators and Agitators)
Those that think they can, and those that think they can’t. (They’re both right)
And then there are givers and takers, today’s topic.
Most of us are both, depending on what we’re giving or taking,
but we’re not both at the same time.
Shakespeare once wrote,
“Either a giver or a taker be.”
Self-esteem is a good example.
Happiness is another.
Positive outlook is one more.
and Gratitude - today’s standard buzz.
I either have it, or I don’t.
If I have it, I can give it away.
If I don’t have it, I can’t give it away,
but perhaps I can receive it from someone who has it and is willing to share.
As a Coach, Husband and Father
I believe the understanding comes in knowing when to be which.
Did you give away something today?
Or take something from a giver?
"In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make"
'The End' by Beatles
If there is one thing I’ve learned in the past 30 years -
parenting and coaching are both a lot more art than science.
As my wife, three boys and coaching staff would attest -
I’m OK with spontaneity - as long as I know about it in advance.
One of the really unique and exceptional things
about raising or coaching kids -
We don’t always know what’s going to happen next.
Nonetheless, when we rise at daybreak,
Or dive into a new year,
It’s smart to have a plan.
I’m certain most would recognize,
It’s quite tidy when every now and then,
All does go according to plan.
But wouldn’t it be tedious
If everything always went exactly as planned?
Those expecting everything to go exactly as planned - all the time -
Are destined for heartbreak and grief.
I remind you with each daybreak
Comes the opportunity to move closer to your goal,
Regardless of what does
or does not not happen.
And that’s the amazing beauty of it.
Are you prepared to adapt your plan?
Just a Thought.
Coach Curley #AllChoiceNoChance
Beat the Standard
The highest compliment I can give you is,
I have high expectations for you.
18 months ago I took on an supplementary role at Lake Highland:
A daily position helping direct morning traffic in front of the lower school.
Though integral, I imagine we would all agree it’s not rocket science or politics.
Having shared that,
Perhaps you’ve observed people who do exactly what’s expected of them.
If there’s a rule,
they will follow it to the letter-
and no more.
If something is asked of them,
they will deliver exactly what’s requested -
and no more.
They show up on time never early.
They leave on time never late.
They meet the standard – and no more.
Look around at the standards by which
you are living your life.
And I encourage you to set the standard
just a little higher.
Are you meeting the standard in your life
Or are you going beyond?
Take Care – Standards Matter,
No, no! Don’t worry,
I’m not going to break into a song.
(I don’t want you to break into a run!)
In mid-December, as I have done 7 of the last 8 years,
I went to Las Vegas with six coaching friends.
During amazing meals at establishments such as Tom Colicicho’s Craftsteak
and Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House,
we share anecdotes and discuss a myriad of ‘Swim Coach-related’ topics.
Over the years, many conversations, dare I say disputes, have pertained to purpose and motivation.
Prior to this past year’s visit to the Entertainment Capital of the World,
I can’t recall once the mention of the word feelings.
And I venture to guess that even at the mere mention of the word,
all dialogue would have gone quiet.
Yes, all seven of us are male coaches.
And yes for the most part, feelings are not a “guy thing,”
But this year was a bit out of the ordinary -
Two of our Vegas crew are retiring.
One happens to have been the coach of arguably the best male swimmer on the planet: Caleb Dressel.
The other, a former President of the Florida Coaches Association and Chairman of Florida Swimming LSC.
On our last night, between sips of good wine and bites of prime steak,
Coach Gregg Troy and Coach Bill Vargo openly shared chronicles
about their last 40 years in the state of Florida.
It was truly captivating listening to these two Florida legends
openly talk about how others:
and Their swimmers made them feel.
As I eased into my exit-row seat on Spirit Air I got to thinking:
Perhaps feelings do have something to do with one’s purpose
And the nature of motivation.
For your organization.
For your team.
Maybe I should break into a song…
How do people feel after being with you?
Take Care and Happy New Year!
and a Happiest of Birthdays to my Best Friend who happens to be my wife - Jan!
I believe I’ve finally figured it out.
Over the years, the meaning of certain holidays seems to be
overshadowed by what we do with and on them.
Perhaps it’s my personal experience.
Perhaps it’s the media influence.
Perhaps I’ve just never taken the time to truly reflect
on why we celebrate certain holidays.
I recently played a little word association game with The Family.
You know the kind:
One person says a word, and the other responds with the first thing that pops into their mind.
Here’s how it went:
Valentine’s day – Card
Memorial Day – Bar b que.
Independence Day – Fireworks
Halloween – Candy
Labor Day – Beach
I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
At the word ‘Thanksgiving’” something changed:
Thanksgiving – Family.
We looked at each other, and agreed,
And this year, for the first time in awhile,
the entire family is together on the one day of the year nationally recognized as a Day of Giving Thanks.
What are you thankful for today?
Just a Thought
Hippy-Dippy Optimism and Trust
Last Sunday was a rough day at the office for the Green Bay kicker
Mason Crosby at Paul Brown Stadium.
Maybe you saw the game,
maybe you just caught the highlights.
The veteran place kicker missed four kicks against the Cincinnati Bengals —
Two game-winning opportunities,
including two inside the final three minutes of regulation
and another that would have given the Packers the lead.
As overtime was coming to an end,
Packers Coach Matt LaFleur had to make the choice:
Letting arguably the best quarterback in the league
go for it on fourth down and inches
or letting Crosby try again.
At the press conference after the game Coach LaFleur was asked,
“After your kicker had missed four kicks over the course of four
quarters and overtime, what made you decide to go for the field goal?”
LaFleur’s response, “I asked him (Crosby), what do you think?”
and Crosby said, “I got this.”
Then LaFleur, “All right, you got it.”
You probably can guess how this ended.
Crosby walked out and calmly put it through the uprights.
Believing in yourself when everything on the outside
is giving you (and everyone else) no reason to believe
is one of the toughest things to do in life.
For the record, it's easier to believe
when one has a demonstrated track record of success.
Mason Crosby believing in himself wasn't a reach.
He's demonstrated over the years (14 in the NFL)
That he can do this.
But what about, Evan McPherson, the rookie Bengals kicker,
who missed two field goals on his own
and really doesn't have that track record?
Or much more practically, what about you?
We all must work through these things.
My one bit of advice is to lean towards optimism.
One can get hippy-dippy in a hurry on this stuff
but I'm a huge believer in your mind affects your performance.
So give yourself some grace and lean into the positive.
As a coach, parent, husband and supervisor -
I love how Coach LaFleur handled this.
Very often, we're not in Crosby's position but in Coach LaFleur's.
Where we're being asked to believe in a friend or child or spouse or co-worker.
Like anything else, it's a balance, and you don't want to be rash or flip.
But you also want to honor those close to you with your trust when you feel it's warranted.
Take Care, and always err towards over-trusting the people you love.
Just a Thought
Potentially Part 1 of...
“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
Eden Phillpotts author
It’s been a while since I last sat down and wrote a “Thought for the Week”.
Some have inquired - Why the hiatus?
The truthful answers are various, plentiful, and somewhat selfish.
But I digress and will leave the prospect of revealing those answers as potential “Thoughts”
Last week the ASCA World Coaches Clinic took place at the Rosen Center on International Drive.
Between speakers I had the chance to catch up
with a longtime friend and coaching mentor.
After a couple minutes of pleasantries,
he asked, “So what are you noticing?”
Undoubtedly he was inquiring about the sport of swimming,
but some 35 minutes later, when we parted, I got to thinking -
‘What a powerful question.’
In part because the query presumes that you are in fact noticing.
Just as the fish does not recognize that it is swimming in water,
We can get so used to our environment and the people in our lives
that we stop noticing them.
If we aren’t careful, it’s easy to become so focused on completing a task
or finishing a project that we miss what is actually happening all around us.
Without recognizing it, we become somewhat “mindless” in our day-to-day living.
For this discussion, let’s define “mindless”
Being so lost in your own world and thoughts
that you aren’t cognizant of what is truly happening around you.
Now on the other end of the spectrum let’s roll with “mindful”
Being fully present and fully engaged with your surroundings
and your current-moment activity.
Not just on the surface, but also underneath.
Not just the obvious, but what are the slight shifts and turns.
When genuinely being mindful you realize the mere subtleties taking place
right before your eyes.
Perhaps it’s a change in someone’s face,
or a deeper feeling that was almost hidden behind their words,
yet is revealed in the sound of their voice.
Life is giving us signals all the time.
When we pay attention and notice the subtle shifts
and the almost hidden details,
we can be proactive in taking care of whatever is needed.
The more we read the signals and respond with clear intention, creativity, innovation, and inspired action, the less we need to experience crisis.
When push comes to shove -
Whether its within the context to the sport of swimming,
Or more importantly when it comes to our family, friend and work relationships,
And Our physical, mental and spiritual health
It’s simply about my friend’s powerful question: What are you noticing?
Take Care and to a possible next time,
Answer The Question
Last week I saw a post on Social Media -
“We are now as far away from the 80’s
As the 80’s was from the 1940’s.
This of course got me reminiscing.
One of my favorite movies from the 80’s - The Breakfast Club.
Had such unforgettable lines as:
"Eat my shorts."
“Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?”
“When you grow up, your heart dies.”
“My god, are we gonna be like our parents?”
“Screws fall out all the time.”
And another from that John Hughes classic occurs when
John Bender, the criminal, fires the line at Claire Standish, the princess -
“Just answer the question.”
What in the world does this have to do with a budding
Thought of the Week?
Well bear with me.
Life is full of choices.
And I was reminded of that recently
when my wife and I
went shopping for a new laptop.
The question –
Notebook or convertible, size, screen quality,
CPU, RAM, storage, processors, Biometric Security, USB, battery life…
When challenged, we really didn’t know the answer to
the singular question that kept coming up:
“What do you really want it to do?”
We left a smidge humbled, but I dare say a bit wiser.
Perhaps we might ask that vary question
each time we look in the mirror:
“What do you really want it to do?”
My bet is, those who reach what they feel is a certain level of success,
continue to ask and answer that obvious and distinct question.
Take Care, Do you know what you want to do - with you?
Dream Big - Act Now!
I believe it was Warren Buffett who said,
“Someone is sitting in the shade today
because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
Do you know anyone
who seems to spend a great deal of time just “getting ready”?
And they never really act.
Perhaps you’ve witnessed someone
Perchance you’ve been someone
I got news for you, we will never have
all the understanding,
all the means,
or all the data we really need to guarantee our efforts will be successful.
The best understanding, means and data
often come from the actual doing.
The Act. The experience.
Not the planning.
The distance between your dreams and reality is called action.
Is your plan complete enough to get started?
Take Care and Get Started!
Things We Don't Like - Not Doing
How often do you catch yourself lamenting about things you hate to do.
Actually, my list is small and includes things like:
Driving on I-4.
Weighing in at the doctor’s office.
Using the phrase “it is what it is,”
And of course waiting in line. (explains the first one on my list)
Yet, we do them because…
Well, I’m not sure why we do them.
I guess we do them because, “it is what it is”.
I think we should give equal time to the things we don’t like - NOT doing.
For me, these would include:
Eating whatever I want. (up until the last several years this has not been a
Going “full-tilt” in all sport activities. (to borrow a phrase from a great movie… I’m writing checks, my body just can’t cash)
Staying up late. (nothing like staying up past bedtime watching an old JAMES
BOND movie, but darn I feel like heck in the morning).
Some things we no longer do, because we can’t.
Others, we no longer do
not because we can’t,
but because we’ve chosen not to.
Guess when all’s said and done,
life’s just a series of choices we make.
Me… I’ll choose to talk about things I like to do.
Are you making the right choices in your life!
Your Personal Best
Just yesterday I was rifling through my old Highlander t-shirts.
I came upon a Carolina blue T
with the following inscription on the back:
“1% better every day.”
This of course got me thinking,
Athletes, among others,
tend to focus solely on The End Game - The final stage of action or process.
Hitting their personal best,
“More than ever before.”
And when we don’t hit this self-imposed standard of excellence,
we feel a certain measure of disappointment.
Focusing on personal excellence,
on doing just a little bit better than last time,
will ensure the greatest achievement.
It is the journey, not the destination,
that is the true measure of success.
Focus daily on creating your personal best
and you will do so - every single day of your life.
Take Care, And Did you know that your personal best is less than 24 hours away?
Sound of Silence
‘Hello darkness my old friend.’
As a teacher and coach,
father and husband,
I spend a great deal of time crafting and watching my words.
My hope - that I give my family, students and swimmers
just the right word, phrase, metaphor or anecdote,
at precisely the right moment.
A few instances as of late,
have made me realize, that it’s not always what I say that’s important.
The key is what they heard,
when I said it.
And vital to the fact is my allowing them the time to absorb what’s been said
and translate it to something meaningful for them.
Many times it is,
the sound of silence that has the greatest impact.
Of course, this realization may only have meaning
for fathers, husbands, teachers and coaches
…and anyone else who wants to be heard.
Have you not spoken up at the right time recently?
‘but my words, like silent raindrops, fell and echoed in the wells of silence’
My best friend, who happens to be my wife, and I,
went for a long walk on Sunday.
The sun was shining; there was a light breeze,
And low humidity, for Florida anyway.
A mere mile into our stroll,
for what appeared to be no reason,
I chortled aloud.
Jan asked, "What are you laughing at?"
She of course knows me like no other,
But, I still felt I needed to explain my goofy chuckle:
“You know how certain "real-time" events often trigger me
to recall happenings that occurred in my much younger days,
not really déjà vu, but sort of an intuitive experience?”
Now it was time for her to chuckle -
As she knows this sort of ‘thing’ happens quite often.
It was July 4, 1987.
The run was 5 miles, and I was not totally committed to the effort.
I was just 8 minutes into the Cedar Rapids Firecracker Fun Run.
I kid you not; it was 103 degrees with 100% humidity!
Not your typical festive fun activity on such a supposed relaxing Holiday.
I'm running with approximately 2,500 other idiots from Central Iowa,
Being passed by every child, man, woman, and senior citizen. (even the racewalkers)
I am silently cursing each and every step.
Sunday morning, after walking and reminiscing
about the Summer Jan and I started dating -
I pulled out my phone and checked the app that tracks your health data.
And I still had a smile on my face!
My mind set, approach and commitment to the goal.
This past Sunday I was pursuing MY goal,
not the goal of the knucklehead that unbeknownst to me
signed me up for the longest 50 minutes of my life.
(Thanks Mike Litzinger!)
How about your goals?
Are they in fact YOUR goals?
Or do they belong to someone else?
Can you make them your goals?
Make the commitment.
Own the goal.
Enjoy the trip.
Speed Bumps Ahead
At one point in my life,
I wanted to strangle the person who invented speed bumps.
Being the stickler I am for punctuality,
I found myself always in a hurry,
Occasionally stretching the speed limits a bit,
but not excessively.
Then I bought a scooter and we moved downtown.
With the move to the inner city came various passive engineering traffic-calming techniques:
Speed humps, speed tables, raised pedestrian crosswalks and traffic circles (a.k.a. roundabouts).
Which forces most to slow down.
And you know, I don’t detest them anymore.
Each of us needs some calming devices in our lives,
to ensure we do slow down a bit
and think about how, and where, we’re going.
Speed bumps ahead?
Slow down, and rethink your approach.
Do you have any speed bumps in your life?
Do you need some?
New Year Decree
I think we can all agree 2020 was a challenge.
The Coronavirus Pandemic,
Massive bushfires in Australia,
The Postponement of the Olympics,
Along with online virtual learning, plane crashes, volcanic explosions and both locust and hornet swarms.
It’s been trying, needless to say.
Several years ago, when Jan and I had all the boys at home,
The Curley Family had a dinner time ritual.
Over the always present meat and potatoes,
We would take turns revealing our "highs" and lows" of the day.
We would each take a couple minutes divulging what made us smile,
Gave us happiness,
As well as sharing the events that were not so positive.
This past New Year's Eve we had a chance to do the same,
And much like many of our pre-empty-nester High/Low dinner conversations,
this year’s rite became a tad emotional.
Upon the conclusion of our impassioned "Highs" and "Lows",
We decided to share our 2021 resolutions.
Because it was sort of my idea…
I decided to get a jump on revealing my New Year's Decree.
And with kudos to the great Dave Letterman,
I came up with my not quite ten, but "Top 7" 2021 New Year Resolutions.
7. Re-examine the demands I make on myself, and on others.
6. I will make a genuine effort to stay in closer touch with family and good friends.
5. Listen more and shoot from the lip less often.
4. I will give more compliments.
3. I will go to battle against animosity and complacency.
2. I vow to express more gratitude.
1. Finally I will walk tall and smile more.
I wish you all a Happy New Year!
Take Care, and to a safe, healthy and happy 2021!
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
Thought for the Week: Well Done Meat
Some folks get it.
Most people do not expect perfection.
However, if you are my cable TV provider or my surgeon,
I DO expect perfection!
As for the rest of life,
Well, I’ve learned that mistakes are going to happen.
Such is the case in the world of food service.
A couple Saturdays ago my wife and I headed out for our weekly “date night”.
At a local restaurant, we sat outside (under cover)
and watched a Fall rain pound the pavement.
After perusing the menu, my better-half decided on Salmon,
and I, the Scott Joseph award-winning, hard-core-carnivore burger special.
Just as I finished my last bite of salad, (I’m not a heathen)
the server stopped at our table,
placed our entrees on the table,
and without hesitation looked my way stating,
“It’s a little overdone. We apologize. We’ve already put another
on the grill and it should be out in 5 minutes.
You’re welcome to try this one, until the perfect one arrives.”
But wait, there’s more.
Approximately 300 seconds later
the MANAGER brought the second minced-meat delicacy,
apologizing again and proceeded to explain why overdone beef sometimes occurs.
Stuff happens. We’re human.
But in this case, stuff happened, they admitted it,
and they began the corrective action
even before the customer knew a mistake had occurred.
Yep. Some folks get it.
And they get something else -
This got me thinking when it comes to customer service,
do I get it?
Do I give it as well?
How about you?
Take Care and bon appetite,
Thought for the Week: How to Get What You Want
I must challenge that famous Rolling Stones Song Lyric.
I think you CAN get what you want.
For years now, I have used the line with my swimmers,
“Think of me as your travel agent.
Commit to where you want to go.
Tell me where you want to go.
And I’ll do everything I can to help get you there.”
A couple caveats being -
You have to first, know what you want.
Secondly, you need to be willing to share what you want.
And of course, you must entrust and devote.
Through my teaching and coaching career
I have taught the very novice,
coached swimmers at the age group level, varsity athletes,
and several years at the collegiate level.
In 35 years there have been instances where I’ve worked
with students and athletes who had difficulties deciding
and communicating what they truly wanted.
As an educator, my Day-to-Day ambitions:
Mentor young people in the art of taking control of their mind and thoughts.
And ultimately help them get out of their own way.
When speaking with my athletes,
whether I’m giving basic practice instructions,
or attempting to convey a new point,
I like to communicate utilizing similes and metaphors within my analogies and anecdotes.
(For the record - my mother was my 7th and 8th grade English teacher)
My hope, these learned literary devices help project indelible images in their minds.
Just recently, attempting to help one athlete get out of his own way,
I had the chance to test out two new analogies:
One - the opportunity and civic duty to vote.
(although possibly sensitive, I felt appropriate for the time)
and two, the act of scratching a vinyl record.
(this one required a longer explanation and narrative)
Attempt number one at making a point by comparison -
Everyone gets one vote.
You need to respect and value your own opinion.
How many times have you wanted to do something,
but hesitated due to fear of others opinion or potential reactions?
Personally, at times I’ve been hesitant about publishing my Thoughts and Musings
all because of potential scenarios in my head.
This is why it’s essential to not place anyone’s opinion higher than your very own.
Take a risk, venture putting yourself out there…
When it comes to doing whatever it is that you truly want,
people’s opinion isn’t worth any more than yours!
Imagine it’s election day and understand that we all get one vote.
My second effort using figurative language,
instilled by the late Jean Williams Curley,
was taking the analog storage medium in your head and scratching it.
Often times, the biggest hurdle to getting what we want
and achieving a breakthrough is comfort and convenience.
As humans, we are creatures of habit and our brain likes to keep us safe from risk.
It’s easy to get into an everyday routine and operate on autopilot.
Our habits and thoughts follow suit
which leads to the same actions that we’ve always done.
Thus achieving the same results.
Break up your idle habits and thoughts
by putting a disruption into your typical routine and thought process.
In acknowledging your right, privilege and responsibility to vote/have an opinion;
Along with scratching that phonograph record so it never plays the same again,
One can inch closer to grasping how Mick and the Boys closing track on “Let It Bleed” ends…
"You just might find you GET what you NEED."
Only time will tell if my countless attempts to draw comparisons and paint mindful pictures were a success.
But “Time, time, time is on my side, yes it is.”
Thought for the Week: Focus 2020
We know what it is.
But do we do it?
I’m betting that most, if not all of you, have heard these words:
“These are the three things I’d like you to focus on for the next couple days . . .”
I'm not convinced that works.
I spent some extra time with an athlete the other day.
I gave her some "pointers" if you will.
"Put your hand in this way."
"Engage your core.”
“Keep your chin on the surface."
"Accelerate out the back end."
"Emphasize the second kick."
She pushed-off and swam a 25.
I stepped back and wondered whether I had lost my touch.
She looked worse!
I reiterated my instructions.
I just shook my head.
My thought, ouch, this is not good.
I changed my approach.
"Let's just work on emphasizing the second kick."
WA-LAH, I'm a genius.
Focus on the hand, the core, the chin, acceleration, and the kick - not so good results.
Focus on one thing at a time - much better results.
Guess we learned our lesson.
Are you focusing on too many things?
Thought for the Week: The Importance of Celebrating
How do you really feel about celebrating?
If you're anything like me and most of the people I know, you probably relish it.
However, I notice that as much as I like to celebrate,
I sometimes find it challenging as well.
Here are some of the rationalizations that I use not to do it:
There's more work that needs to get done.
I don't have the time or money to celebrate right now.
People will think I'm weird, naive, or obnoxious if I celebrate too much.
With so much distress in the world and people having a tough time these days,
it's not appropriate for me to celebrate.
Can you relate to any of these?
Too often in life we think we have to have a "legitimate" justification to celebrate -
a birthday, winning an award, an anniversary, the completion of a project,
the accomplishment of a goal, taking a vacation, or some other "special occasion."
While all of these events are certainly reasons to rejoice,
we don't have to wait for them to happen to feel warranted in our celebration.
This past weekend, I visited my father in Louisville.
He has a caregiver named Ms. Z.
Ms. Z and I got into an interesting conversation about life, family,
and the state of our culture in America.
The caregiver told me she was from Jamaica originally,
but had been living in the United States for about twenty years.
I asked her, "What's your take on American culture, given that you didn't grow up here."
She paused for a long time; then asked me, "Can I be honest with you?"
I said, "Of course."
She then said, "I think most people in this culture act like spoiled brats."
"Why do you say that?" I asked, just a bit surprised by her response. (But Not Really)
"Mr. Mike," she said, "I'm from Kingston. Every day here is a good day.
I don't understand why people just don't walk around here
with their hands in the air saying, 'THANK YOU'."
Eye opening to say the least.
What if we did more of this in our lives - even and especially when things get tough?
While it may seem counter-intuitive,
celebrating for "no reason" and counting our blessings when things are hard
can literally transform our experience of being alive.
Regardless of what is going on in our lives right now,
we have so much to celebrate and be grateful for.
We shouldn't have to wait until we have a birthday or anniversary,
finish the project, get to retirement, fall in love,
reach our goal, or whatever else it is we feel we need to accomplish in order to celebrate.
Sometimes the best thing for us to celebrate is the mere fact
that we've made it to this point in life,
especially if things have been challenging,
which for many of us they have been recently.
Celebrating is a sense of being and can become a way of life!
If we choose to live that way.
Take Care and Let’s Approach Life like Ms. Z, THANK YOU!
As Oprah Winfrey says, "The more you praise and celebrate your life,
the more there is in life to celebrate."
Thought for the Week: The Long Way
I’ve arrived at a place in my life where I am frequently astonished
at how adept my parents were raising my two sisters and myself.
Over the last year my reflections of family memories and lessons beseeched
have become more frequent.
I once read, history is made up of memory, and memory is a storyteller.
I am certain over the next year I will write several “Thoughts for the Week” referencing something my parents instilled in me.
This week’s Thought happens to be one of them: The Long Way
The Long Way
There’s an old Chinese proverb:
“The short way is usually the long way.
The long way is usually the short way.”
Or as my father used to implore of me,
“There are NO shortcuts. Son!” and
“If it’s worth doing, then do it right”
Today’s world is full of books, videos and programs promising a fast-track
to almost anything from weight loss
to success and fame.
Regrettably, this happens to be true for youth sports as well.
But as both a coach and swim parent I am here to proclaim
that navigating a novice swimmer from blowing bubbles,
to feasibly competing in college,
is an extensive slow-burn process.
Which has led me to this very position;
There’s something exceptional about what I do for a living!
And every day seems to be a reminder.
To zoom out and focus on what really matters.
Whether we’re talking about how long it will take to help form healthier habits,
or boost lagging skills,
or adopt more positive outlooks,
we’re looking at years, not days, weeks, or even months.
Years of modeling for them,
coaching them, and, perhaps most importantly,
meeting them exactly where they are.
And as Michael Harold Curley Jr. continues to preach to his namesake,
Invest the time to do it right the first time,
and you won’t have to waste time doing it over.
Whether you’re teaching kids, training for sports, studying for classes
or piloting your career, you’ll find a lot of truth in this.
Take Care, Are you willing to go the long way?
Thought for the Week: It's All About Them
As a naturally competitive person I continually ask myself,
"How can I become a more successful ________?"
On any given day I might enter the word Coach.
Or any number of other “roles” I play.
These self-questioning sessions come at many different times,
but essentially, I can sum up the gist of each the same:
“Me trying to find the most important factor I can, to improve.”
And you know what; the answer always seems to be the same.
It is not about me; it’s about them.
A number of recent instances arose reaffirming my supposition.
Two transpiring on the poolside of the black fence and one outside the
Due to various quirky school schedules and Driver B - aka Coach Todd Mann -
taking a quick weekend work sabbatical,
I had the pleasure of coaching different swim groups
several times last week.
Wednesday while coaching Age Group 2 (ages 8-12):
I noticed a young swimmer swimming while the rest of the group was kicking.
When asked why she wasn’t using her kickboard, she replied,
“I’m new to the group and I do not know how to open my swim bag.”
Realizing my audience I replied, “I’ll meet you at the other end.”
We gathered at the side of the pool where I demonstrated how to press the plastic gadget located on the draw string
of the new bright pink Speedo gear bag.
Her reaction, “Thanks, now I can get my kickboard out.”
And coaching the Senior Group Thursday,
I pulled up Pandora on my iPhone and enquired,
“What music do you guys want to listen to today?’”
To which I discovered there’s a band called One Direction –
For the next 120 minutes, I listened to the boy band and relentlessly teased the senior swimmers,
calling the English-Irish foursome,
“New Direction, Opposite Direction, Wrong Direction and No Direction”.
And the latest occurrence happened today, brought on by the opportunity to vote early…
With the humidity down and the closest polling office only ½ mile away,
I decided to walk.
In route, I cut through campus, crossing the football field,
where lower school students were engaged in physical education.
I stopped briefly and took in the scene.
I got the impression the coach knew the value of demonstrating leadership
by doing everything that he was asking of his students - including pushups.
“Down seventeen,” he shouted.
At 20 he was still “push-upping” and shouting out numbers,
But because he was so focused on his own effort –
and not paying attention to the group he was leading -
he didn’t notice that three-quarters of the group had stopped,
and were comfortably resting while he toiled away.
This of course got me thinking…
Are my leadership efforts focused on me - or them?
Thought for the Week: New Beginnings
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I'm sure if we all thought hard enough we would realize
that we all have something in common.
Without too much thought I came up with one.
One thing we face day after day.
Most of us successfully,
and some not so effectively.
What is it?
(And you thought this was going to be thoughtful and profound!)
Yet for most of us, except perhaps for those
who sleep ‘til noon or travel the redeye,
morning is inevitable.
And regardless of how life has treated you
or how we have treated our life,
when that cock crows in Iowa,
or when dawn breaks over the Atlantic,
up to that point in time,
morning marks a boundless beginning.
If recent past is something we’d rather forget,
today’s GOT to be better.
And if yesterday was your best day ever,
there’s no rhyme or reason to think that today will be any different.
Mornings: New beginnings.
Time to rock and roll!
Each and Every day.
Take Care, Each morning has infinite possibilities!
"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
- Theodore Roosevelt
Thought for the Week: Gasoline and Gratitude
From the time we learn how to communicate,
we are being asked to remember to say, “thank you.”
The other day I noticed my scooter gas gauge
teetering awfully close to the red "E".
Being the college-educated man that I am,
I decided to find a nearby station.
I pulled in and yanked out my credit card.
I slid it in and out "quickly",
just as the gas pump told me to do.
I then proceeded to pump the three plus dollars
worth of high-octane fuel into my motorized velocipede.
And then a most unexpected thing happened:
A little message came back at me:
“You have just purchased the best gasoline money can buy! Thank You”
Now, most gas station pumps simply say (or spell) “Thank you,”
and we are left with only the Pavlovian response,
But much to my pleasure this machine went out of its way
to commend my college-educated, excellent decision-making abilities.
Gasoline Pump #7 essentially patted me on the back.
It proudly proclaimed with pride “Mike, Job well done!”
To which I responded,
“Well, yes I did, didn’t I?”
We now know that having good social relationships is as good for you
as things like smoking and obesity are bad for you.
It turns out that there’s an emotion that happens to be really amazing
at helping us solve this essential human problem of survival.
And that emotion is gratitude.
Research shows that experiencing genuine gratitude has immediate benefits.
Learning to harness this power and becoming more intentional about it;
improves our relationships, while bolstering our own health and happiness.
My cold, brief, anything but genuinely intimate interaction with the petrol pump
got me thinking about all the times when I thought a “thank you” was sufficient.
Perhaps it was.
Perhaps it wasn't.
Just suppose what I could have said.
Take Care and Remember true gratitude is the glue that can bring people together
as well as creating happiness from the inside out,
Gas Pump #7 - I really appreciate our brief interaction, for giving me pause and an insightful idea for my Coach’s Corner.
Thought for the Week: You Can’t “Shoulda Done” Anything
Know anyone who’s perfect?
Unflawed, never made an error?
Neither do I.
So its baffling how many people tend to brood on past missteps
and deprive themselves of the brilliance of today.
“I shoulda done this,
You shoulda done that.”
It’s been articulated by Eleanor Roosevelt
and paraphrased by Bill Keane, author of ‘The Family Circus’,
Tomorrow’s a mystery.
Today is a gift.
That’s why we call it the present.”
And since at the present moment,
there’s no way to go back in time, and undo what’s already been done,
You can’t “shoulda done” anything.
Learn from the past.
Live in the present.
And build a beautiful future.
You deserve it!
Are you “shoulding” on yourself?
Are you “shoulding” on others?
Take Care and Carpe Diem,
Bales: Do you know the phrase carpe diem?
Chris McConnell: It's, it's fish, fish bait, right?
Thought for the Week: Merging and Life
How often do we find ourselves driving down the interstate,
And from afar we see a sign:
“Lane Ends – One Mile – Merge Left”?
Driver A (for giggles) we will call Mike,
uses his blinker,
moves into the other lane immediately,
hoping to aid in avoiding a bottleneck.
Driver B (for more chuckles) we will call Todd.
Todd consciously applies pressure to the accelerator and
drives all the way to the end of the ‘waning lane,”
and merges at the last possible second,
creating more of a bottleneck,
but certainly getting ahead of those that merged earlier.
Two different drivers.
Both have goals.
Both impacting others.
Is it short-term gain for long-term pain
(personal comfort at the possible expense of others)
or short-term pain for long-term gain
(civility makes the world a better place to live)?
Often, the level of your success is proportional to your willingness to merge early,
At times, you’ve got to give a little.
On the highway of life, are you Mike or are you Todd?
Take Care and Don’t be like Todd!
Thought for the Week: Respect the Boss
Nice idea chief!
If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t know the meaning of leadership.
You’re an inspiration to us all!
Because of you, our workplace feels like a community.
I really love my job!
Granted, it’s obvious that in order to achieve great things
and move through and up any organization,
this type of behavior is expected.
It’s not only expected,
but it is warranted and essential.
It’s called ‘managing the manager’.
It’s as simple as the psychology:
Behavior that’s reinforced effectively will be repeated;
that which is not, will cease.
With that notion in mind,
there’s another boss in your life who might not be getting the respect
He or She so richly deserves -
At the end of each day,
The person to whom you must answer for all your missteps,
and all your successes,
In order to respect others,
you must respect yourself.
And what’s not to respect?
After all, you are the best YOU there is!
Take Care and remember, respect the boss,
Thought for the Week: Rough Road Ahead
Rough Road Ahead
Not sure I believe in re-incarnation, but if there’s even the slightest chance,
In my next life, my intention would be to invent something that will always be in high demand:
Like traffic cones or those annoyingly prevalent orange and white construction barrels that line I-4.
Seems like we’ll never finish the roads in Central Florida.
On the positive, it gives us countless opportunities to read the captivating signs that tend to accompany those traffic devices.
The sign of the month for me
appeared south of town heading west on I-4 just before the “Attractions”
or the “Mouse House:”
“Rough Road Ahead - Proceed with Caution”
As I “proceeded with caution,” (is there any other way when navigating I-4?)
I got to contemplating: The last 5 months hasn’t always been smooth.
But as of late, schooling has resumed, with forethought.
And as coaches we’re back, with mindful protocol in place, doing what we love to do.
The thing that separates the successful from the not so successful,
is the act of “proceeding.”
The next time your road of life becomes a tad bumpy,
I’m encouraging you to remember the signs along that rough stretch of interstate;
They don’t read “Stop.”
They read “Proceed!”
It's not a coincidence that “proceed” rhymes with “succeed”.
Take Care and let’s PROCEED this week!
Thought for the Week: The Power of Taking Responsibility
I turned 56 in May.
I am not wise enough to know how much of the 20,500+ days
of my existence have shaped me,
However I can tell you that the last 160, has reaffirmed
that the kickoff to consciously making any change in your life
is to first "take responsibility".
Or at least take responsibility for that which you want to change.
When it comes down to making positive change,
almost all of the ‘experts’ talk about taking personal responsibility,
They say, stop blaming other people.
That sounds straightforward, transparent, clean.
Yet we have to contemplate:
"Am I truly, completely responsible for where I am today?"
Think about it.
Raised by parents, taught by our teachers, influenced by coaches, friends,
and the ‘oh so prominent’ media.
WHO IS REALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR LIFE?
In the last 5 months I have watched uncounted hours of news
addressing the Coronavirus and more political ads than I have SportsCenters.
(believe me, that’s a grand number)
On the lighter side I have taken in several interesting documentaries on Netflix,
found new shows on Amazon Prime TV,
and most recently, caught up on every show Bobby Flay has
airing on the FOOD NETWORK.
(that might be an even grander number than the political ads)
So I ask, don’t these things influence me?
In truth, I believe that all of these things can have a tremendous impact
on where we are today.
When I think about taking responsibility,
the question for me is not "Who is responsible for your current situation?"
“Who will take responsibility for where you’ll be tomorrow?!”
The answer for each of us has to be, "I will."
Can we really give up this responsibility?
Does anybody else want it?
I don't think so.
I want to share with you a quote that brings home this point for me.
It's from Denis Waitley, the author of The Psychology of Winning.
He said, "There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist,
or accept the responsibility for changing them."
I hope you go with the second option.
Take Care and take responsibility for changing your conditions.
Thought for the Week: Create a Ripple
Yesterday, while waiting for the PGA Tournament and Horse Racing from Saratoga to be televised,
I caught the back end of the movie "Pay it Forward".
This truly timeless flick stirred up memories from long ago...
Prior to moving to Orlando in July of 1993,
I was the assistant swimming coach at The Ohio State University ('89-'93).
Early each Fall the Athletic Director would address all of the coaches.
This normally took place right before the first home football game.
I remember vividly the first time hearing Jim Jones (R.I.P. April 2020) speak;
I'm hanging on every word and he says something I will never forget,
"Coaches, you can never pay back, you can only pay forward, you will be asked to make a difference today and everyday."
Over the course of the last 27 years,
I'm sure some of the kids have heard me use that line.
My attempt this week is to promote "paying forward and making a difference".
Let's set a goal each day to have an impact on one person.
And encourage them to do the same.
Let's begin each day with the objective of making one person’s life
just a little bit better for them having come in contact with us on that day.
Socially, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually or physically.
I’m not talking big, complicated, expensive things.
Just plain ole' simple things.
Like greeting someone with a BIG "Good Morning"!
Like pausing an extra few seconds to hold the door open for someone.
Like taking an extra few minutes to talk with that new student, employee or friend.
Like telling that cashier at the food store that you honestly appreciate his or her efforts.
Like saying "I Love You" to your kids or significant other.
One person a day. Not much, you might say?
But I say over the course of a year, that’s 365 people.
Over ten years, 3,650 (plus a few extra for leap years!)
Over a lifetime, tens of thousands of people
feeling just a bit better about themselves and about life.
Now imagine if you, and everyone else within our Highlander family, did the same thing.
Could we change the world?
Go on. Try it. You’ll like it.
Take Care and let’s create ripples,
Thought for the Week: Stay on Track
Those that ‘really’ know me, know I despise driving.
Maybe that’s why I live but 600 meters from my work environment.
Maybe it’s indicative of why my 2005 Volvo station wagon has but 65,000 miles on it.
If there was one small piece of advice, I could offer to our Sunshine State.
It's to please move forward regarding public transportation.
More specifically, by rail.
Say what you will about the freedom of driving your own vehicle.
But for me, life would be more splendid if I could zip to the airport via the Sunrail.
It would be just grand if I could go through a turnstile, jump on train and head to Tampa to catch
TB12 (Tom Brady) and the Bucs.
On several occasions I’ve taken Amtrak from downtown Winter Park to Ft Lauderdale and Miami.
It’s reasonably fast,
It’s reasonably priced,
And it’s amazingly reliable.
It gets you from point A to point B.
If the engineer/computer keeps the train on the track,
and ensures that the switches are thrown correctly,
the $27 Amtrak Silver Meteor ends up in Miami in just under 6 hours!
The 'stress-free Wi-Fi equipped' train simply moves along the rails strategically put in place,
to keep the train moving in the right direction.
Now for the BIG Analogy...
A calculated goal-oriented life plan is to your life,
What strategic train tracks are to the train.
If properly followed and maintained,
you’ll end up where you want to be.
I ask: Are you on track? Are you on the right track?
Take Care and jump on board,
Thought for the Week: It's the Little Things
How often do we dream of fame?
Of hitting the big time?
Winning a race, being the champion?
Of developing something that will become world famous,
and possibly leave a lasting legacy?
Some achieve fame through sports, the media, via acting or,
at the other end of the spectrum, a heinous crime!
For others, it is their contribution, rather than their name,
that touches people’s lives for years to come.
Such is the case with a guy named Harvey Ball.
Two weeks ago while visiting my father I sat on his couch
and watched an episode of Jeopardy.
As a contestant asked for “Famous Images for $800”,
Alex Tribek replied “Creator of this 1963 image”;
and up popped the photo.
Maybe you have never heard of Harvey Ball.
But I’m guessing you, your parents (especially your parents) and everyone you know,
has been touched by his contribution.
You see, Harvey Ball created the “smiley face” in 1963 . . .not Forrest Gump,
for which Ball received the princely sum of $45.
As a side note, when asked about his lack of financial restitution,
Ball replied, 'Hey, I can only eat one steak at a time, drive one car at a time.'
Later brothers Bernard and Murray Spain trademarked the image.
In the 70’s they designed and sold products with the phrase "Have a nice day"
Which itself has become a phrase in everyday use in North America.
I know at least 5 times a week I preach,
"It's the little things guys, that make the difference!"
or “Let’s just do simple, better!”
Coaches Ty Segrest and Lydia Tate certainly have the young
ones dreaming of a "little thing" called tight streamlines in their sleep.
And who would have thought that a "simple little thing",
called the NCAA Fantasy Meet,
put together by Coach Todd Mann could have been soooo much fun.
And meant so much to the Highlander swimmers.
Often, it’s the little things that we do that have the biggest impact.
Take Care and What is - ‘Have a Nice Week!’
Thought for the Week: Leadership in Action
The great ones get it.
I know it because I’ve witnessed it - first hand.
Not often, but enough to recognize it when it’s there.
Contrary to some belief,
I believe good coaches and leaders are made,
they welcome feedback;
they “make” the time.
They hire the right people;
they train them;
they coach them.
And all that, leads to a great “sine qua non”. (better look it up)
Quality leaders and coaches do all that, too.
But there’s one thing that separates the good ones from the great ones.
The great ones care about their people.
And as a result…
The warriors care about their Chief.
The metaphoric soldiers show that they care by delivering
what they need to deliver so everyone wins.
It’s a leadership lesson you must see to believe.
I witnessed it again recently.
Do you care? Do you care enough?
Thank You Highlander Aquatic Staff and Take Care,
Thought for the Week: Communication and You
As a teacher and a coach I like to think I'm in the "shun" business,
communication, motivation, inspiration, etc.
As a self-proclaimed aspiring writer,
my goals are self-exploration as well as the "shun" words above.
With these ambitions in mind,
I'm in pursuit of potentially provocative concepts that are meaningful to me
and possibly purposeful to share.
I gather my inspiration and ideas from many different sources.
More times than not, my musings are not actually derived from what the sources have to offer,
but for the personal reflections and interpretations that are generated by those offerings.
Cause and effect; action and my innate reaction.
One such occurrence happened the other day.
The communication (aka the source) directed to me, was a mere 30 seconds in length.
It contained the word "you" 10 plus times.
Having just begun to age gracefully into my middle-years,
I've learned that when I use the word "you,"
especially in a statement,
it is oftentimes construed as thrusting a pointed finger.
From consequential dialogue with my better-half, my sons and my swimmers,
I’ve come to the conclusion that not too many of us
like to have fingers pointed at us.
Personally I'm OK with the "could you, will you and thank you!"
use of the word "you",
but like most humans, I don't like being commanded on what to do.
Most of us are aware, “it’s not what you say; but how you say it”.
Still, it’s grander than that, it’s recognizing why we are saying it.
It’s accepting and taking ownership in what comes out of our mouths.
Communication should be about the listener and what they might find meaningful.
Is there a message here for you about the way you communicate?
I know there is for me.
Take Care and own your “why”,
Thought for the Week: Stretch
Having been involved in some form of athletics for fifty plus years
as either an athlete or as a coach,
I have always found that success is normally preceded by preparation.
And in most of the physical activities I have taken a part in -
swimming, water polo, baseball, football, basketball, ultimate frisbee,
running, Insanity (some of you must remember) and yes, YOGA -
stretching before taking part was and is essential.
Whether you want to successfully compete in athletics
Or in life,
You got to s t r e t c h.
When you dream BIG,
You stretch your mind.
When you try the UN-TRIED,
You stretch your horizons.
And once they’re stretched,
They never return to their original size.
Stretch just a little every day
And watch yourself grow!
Have you stretched today?
Take Care and it’s Time to Grow,
Thought for the Week: You Make a Difference
Did you ever get to thinking?
“What’s the point?”
“Why do I bother?”
“No one really appreciates the effort.”
It usually happens when you’re busting your tail
day in and day out.
And you know you’re doing exceptional things,
yet not a sole make mention of it.
Days may pass with no mention.
Suddenly, a note of thanks,
oftentimes from the last person you would expect.
Unless you’re a recluse and live in a cave,
you CAN make a difference in someone’s life today and every day.
It’s swell when they show gratitude.
And if they don’t,
revel in the knowledge that you’ve done it.
Have you made a difference today?
Take Care and Let’s be of “USE” today,
Thought for the Week: Eagles and Graduation
A Tribute to Seniors and Their Parents
Interesting fact about America's bird -
The fact pertains to how eagle mothers build their nests.
Eagles and nests... 'what's up?' you might ask.
With the graduation season upon us, please bear with me.
Those who have studied the eagle found that
the "expecting" mother eagle begins building her nest
with all kinds of prickly and sharp things:
and other sharp objects.
These pointed and prickly objects are laid down first.
Next, the mother eagle fills this foreboding place
with the softest things she can find.
Articles like wool,
and fur from her kills.
This changes the nest into a place that is not only desirable,
but also inviting.
Here the babies grow in a very comfortable environment.
At the proper time, the mother reverses the process.
She begins to stir up the nest exposing the sharp items with which the nest began.
She throws the wool, feathers and fur to the wind.
Thereby making the nest not so friendly a place to be.
After a short period of time, the babies,
now mature enough to leave,
cannot stand the discomfort of the nest any longer-
Simply wanting to be anywhere else.
This is the mother's way of forcing her babies to maturity.
She knows that if they do not get out on their own,
and learning to feed and care for themselves,
they will have no future.
With this thought I both empathize and respect the parents of seniors.
May your babies sore to their highest potential.
Take Care and Congrats Seniors!
This virus may have stolen the end of your senior year
but it cannot and will not steal your future.
Look for opportunities.
What you believe will determine what you create.
Thought for the Week: THANKS!
So effortless to forget.
So significant to remember.
Because of IT, many men and women
brought their families here from a foreign land.
Because of IT, many Great-Grandfathers
spent their lives protecting it.
Because of IT, I was born at Camp Lejeune,
a marine corps base in North Carolina.
And because of IT, grateful men, woman and children spend hours
visiting memorials in Washington DC and Pearl Harbor.
What is IT?
And IT is not free.
Each November the place of my employ recognizes and expresses gratitude
to those that so bravely served.
This past weekend as I bar-b-qued, watched "The Match" (w/Tiger, Phil TB12 and Peyton)
and live horse racing from Churchill Downs on TV;
An announcer brought up what I so easily forgot…
This was Memorial Weekend.
In memory of those that fought for our freedom.
After being jolted from “over-indulgence”,
I took the time to call my father and once again express my love and appreciation.
"Thank you" is only eight letters.
But to a vet,
it speaks volumes.
Have you said "thank you" to someone today?
Thought for the Week: Attitude
Not unlike an opinion or a certain body part, everyone’s got one.
Explanation: A manner of acting, feeling, or thinking that shows one’s disposition.
Some are good, some are poor.
Some are excellent, and some are horrible -
At least that’s our attitude about them.
It’s a complex thing to discuss.
Perceptions are made instantly upon hearing the tone of one’s voice.
Assumptions instantaneous, upon witnessing
body posture, gestures, eye movement and someone’s use of space.
These impressions, based on basic senses, impact how we perceive attitude.
But the fact remains that attitude is internal.
So, what’s the big deal?
Contemplate this, another definition of attitude:
The position or posture assumed by the body in connection with an action, feeling or mood.
This would imply that while we can’t truly see attitude,
we can appreciate how the body responds to the attitude within that person.
In other words, our attitude influences our demeanor and behavior,
Which in turn impacts our results.
Does this mean, “Good attitude, favorable results?”
But it certainly can increase the odds on desirable results.
Personally, if I can increase the odds,
I’m going for it!
Take Care and choose optimism, the cost is the same as the alternative.
Thought for the Week: Keep Your Gas Tank Full
It has been brought to my attention that folks often think because of the topics I write about, that I’m always Mr. Optimistic.
But the truth is a bit ironic; I naturally go towards the negative. I think I often write “thoughts” concerning positivity because I have to work at it a lot myself. With that being said…
Keep Your Gas Tank Full
There are a several things in this world I detest.
Truth be told maybe more than several,
but that’s perhaps a whole other “thought for the week”.
On the despise list:
Throwing up, Moving, Traffic, Apathy,
And Car Shopping!
Recently my wife convinced me go auto shopping with her.
(No worries, I’m not giving up the Vespa, the potential purchase was for her)
On Jan’s wish list, was a four-wheel machine with all the bells and whistles:
Automatic high beams,
Adaptive Cruise Control,
Lane Departure Warning,
Precise Internal Environmental Control System,
Power seats with lumbar support,
Front and Rear-end Cameras with Automatic Emergency Braking,
and a kitchen sink...
I started thinking, during what seemed like close to 10 hours,
but was just under 120 minutes,
despite all the new techno bells and whistles ‘if we EVER leave this lot, Janny’s still gotta’ fill her own fuel tank.’
No gas no movement.
So why did a mere 2 hours intrigue me to write a thought for the week about petrol?
Because with my attitude, I was draining my own tank.
Rather than being supportive, I was secretly wishing I was anywhere else.
Instead of investing in the process, I was moping.
Significance of this adventure...
Each time you think negatively,
or listen to the negativity of others,
you are draining your emotional tank -
and when the tank is empty,
you’re going nowhere.
You have the power to create the environment
that nurtures and supports your dreams.
Positive, focused thought and action keep the needle of your soul’s
gas tank on “Full”
When you keep your personal gas tank filled,
you can drive your life to the destination of your choice!
Is your gas tank full, or are you running on empty?
Take Care and as I continue to remind myself
choose optimism over the alternative; it costs the same!
Thought for the Week: Let The Sun Shine
Perhaps there’s someone in your life
who seems to constantly have those
“Extra-strength Tylenol” days.
Those are the days when nothing goes right;
the days when it seems Murphy lives next door;
(and I don’t mean the World Record holder of the men’s 100 Backstroke...)
The days when, if it weren’t for bad luck,
you’d have no luck at all.
Perhaps there are days
you’re that someone.
The greatest lesson learned
is that those kinds of days are a choice.
(The greatest power we have - the power of choice)
Even when I can’t see the sun,
there are a lot less cloudy days in my life trusting it’s there.
And that it will be more visible in a few short hours,
makes all the difference.
When the sun’s not shining outside,
choose to let it shine inside.
You will feel the difference!
Are you willing to let the sun shine in your world today?
Take Care and as Warren Haynes once wrote “Let Your Soul Shine”!
It’s Damn sure better than rain.
Thought for the Week: The Pandemic and a New Dawn
Those that know... KNOW.
I’m a planner.
I like order.
I appreciate regiment.
OK I’ll concede,
I’m fine with spontaneity -
if I know about it in advance.
Sure, this Pandemic has been a wicked curve ball,
but one positive for me has been the reaffirming of how important
personal goals, regime and process are.
It’s certainly comfortable when more times than not
everything DOES go according to plan.
But wouldn’t it be a smidge boring
if everything always went exactly as planned?
And wouldn’t you go mad
if you were anticipating everything
to go exactly as planned – all the time?
When we arise at the dawn of a new day,
or embark on a new year
or begin life as we know after Covid-19,
it’s astute to have a plan.
With each new dawn comes the opportunity
to move closer to your goal,
regardless of what does or does not happen.
And that my friends is the absolute beauty of it.
Are you prepared to adjust your plan?
Are you willing?
Take Care and Keep Smiling,
Thought for the Week: The Delete Button
I venture to guess most of us have one daily routine in common,
The process of opening, reading, deciphering and responding to electronic mail.
If you’re like me the process is not complete until
you delete the message from your inbox.
At this point it’s still within the system as a deleted item (or Trash).
And to get rid of it,
there is another step in the process...
Before the final dump, (i.e., taking the trash to the end of the driveway)
The once efficient and fast method of communication and message transferring,
now a way of harassing with spam, credit card, insurance and “other” offers
(wink, wink, nudge, nudge) asks:
“Do you want to permanently delete the selected conversation?”
Users of Microsoft Outlook will find this pop-up announcement familiar.
“Selected messages are in "Trash".
This action will permanently delete those messages.
Click OK to proceed.”
Upon seeing this notice, you’re either Mike Pence, an AARP member or Coach Curley.
Because you still have an AOL Account!
You’ve attempted twice now to purge it,
but the system wants to make absolutely sure!
So I venture to speculate the creators of Outlook and AOL
had to be America's pastime fans,
As that’s where “three strikes and you’re out” derived.
Is there something in your life that ought to be moved to the end of the driveway?
Mistakes you’ve made?
People you’ve inadvertently bruised?
Opportunities you’ve missed?
To continue to grow we must “keep clicking on the delete button” of our lives
until the garbage that’s holding us back is really gone – permanently.
Trash clogs up our operating system.
Clean it out, and things just seem to run smoother and faster!
Cleaned out your operating system lately?
Take Care and Crush IT this Week,
Highlander Quarantine Video
Wish You Were Here
Dear Highlander Swimmers-
You have no idea how much we miss working with you.
I have put together a 5 minute video trying to "artfully", passionately and sincerely convey how much we "WISH YOU WERE HERE!"
A QUICK APOLOGY
To the Highlander kids that do not know the song nor the band. The Band is Pink Floyd and the song, "Wish You Were Here". I couldn't fathom a song written within the last 5-10 years that would do justice to what I wanted portrayed, so I chose one from my wheel-house era.
I hope you enjoy and please continue to Stay Emotionally Connected we truly are Better Together.
Thought for the Week: What Will They Remember?
This quarantine has really got me doing some self-introspection.
So I ask…
What Will They Remember?
Have you ever stopped and thought about
in my small world, my swimmers,
And what was their very last impression of you?
How about your friends?
Your loved ones?
Well my Better Half (a term of affection for us) and I
Make it a point to make
“I Love You”
The last words we speak when we part.
That goes for 2 - 3 day separations due to my attendance at swim meets.
Each morning when we head to work,
(yes, even though we work at the same address)
And every evening when we decide to close our eyes for bed.
I believe we do it for a collection of reasons.
And others I’ve forgotten.
But most noteworthy,
in the event these words are the last three we declare to each other,
they will be the last words most remembered.
I implore you with all this recess
Go ahead Call
Say what you want her, him or them to remember.
We will all feel better for it.
What does your last acquaintance remember about you right now?
Take Care and Have a Great Week!
Thought for the Week: Find Your Own Fanatic
My research tells me that countless articles are written about how to motivate others.
Offerings like: Be the change you want to inspire.
Challenge and appeal to people’s value systems.
Empower people with trust.
Much less, however, is written about a question few people ask:
“Who motivates the motivator?”
True we all need a pat on the back,
We appreciate a round of applause,
And on occasion a bouquet of flowers for a job well done.
To be frank, I am beyond fortunate.
By virtue of staying in Iowa City the summer of 1986, I met a fanatic.
Three years later, I married my biggest fan and my soulmate.
Though the foam finger and pompoms are no longer around,
The undying support and cheering endures, for me, for us, for our family.
During the last 31 years my support system has taught me a
boundless amount about Commitment, Courage, Leadership and Love.
And believe me, We’re both still learning.
Have you found your fanatic?
Take Care and Make it an Outstanding Week,
Thought for the Week: Leadership
Leadership is not about being in charge.
Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge. (aka Captain Brett Crozier)
The exceptional ones get it.
I know it because I’ve witnessed it - first hand.
Not often, but enough to recognize it when it’s there.
Contrary to some belief,
I believe good coaches and leaders are made,
They hire the RIGHT people;
they train them;
They coach them.
And all that, leads to a great “sine qua non”.
Quality leaders and coaches do all that, too.
But there’s one thing that separates the good ones from the great ones.
The great ones care about their people.
And as a result…
The warriors care about their Chief.
The metaphoric soldiers show that they care
by delivering what they need to deliver
So everyone wins.
It’s a leadership lesson you must see to believe.
Do you care?
Do you care enough?
Take Care, and Have a non-Ordinary Weekend!
Thought for the Week: Not Fair
Jan and I are being raised by three boys:
Harrison (27), Mitchell (24) and Hayden (20).
All you parents out there, can I get AMEN!
(Pendant your understanding of where I’m coming from)
When our three terrific young men were a bit younger,
we occasionally had to deal with issues of fairness,
especially when one received something the others did not.
The Christmas Santa brought Harrison a Vespa Scooter,
The birthday Mitch was gifted the PlayStation 3,
And of course on any occasion the youngest received a present at all!
In response to the tools that siblings so masterfully use
to negotiate satisfactory outcomes - whining, complaining and/or fighting -
Jan and I would respond, “OK. Next time Mitchell gets punished,
You all get punished too!”
The usual response: “But, Mom, Dad! That’s not fair!”
Eventually, they got it.
And eventually, We did too.
My sons were born, after their mother pushed heroically for untold hours,
while I stood bedside encouraging her to breathe
And offering ice chips.
By what stretch of the imagination does that seem fair?
Everyone knows that the genetic lottery is not based on
the principles of equality and justice.
Heck the very symbol of American ethics - Lady Justice - wears a blindfold
as she weighs the law on her impartial scale.
It’s not fair that some of the best ideas often get lost by lack of funding,
competence or experience.
Not fair that athletes that qualified for the NCAA Championships won’t get a chance to shine this year.
Not fair that the tastiest foods are unhealthy.
And of course it’s not fair that Tom Brady has to play his final two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
It’s not fair. But life is not always fair.
In the end it's up to US to make chicken salad
from the chicken _ _ _ _ that life sometimes plops our way.
Is something in your life not fair?
Time to Make Lemonade!
And please remember Love trumps fairness every time.
Take Care and Have a Great Week!
Thought for the Week: Yesterday’s Tomorrow 2.0
"A positive attitude is a person's passport to a better tomorrow."
Scientists have determined that every thought
creates an impression on the brain.
These impressions create mental tendencies,
and our tendencies create character, ability and purpose.
The combined action of character, ability and purpose determines our experiences in life.
Given the opportunity (see last week’s Coach’s Corner) of vast amounts of ‘free-time”,
I must confess this past week I have spent a considerable sum of time visiting various social media sites.
Some of that time, at least in my judgement, proved productive.
Looking for inspiration for my Coach’s Corner piece
I decided to check out quotes from Pinterest.
At the present time with a good portion of the world feeling stressed
I typed in the interest-sharing-search box ‘quotes about worrying’
There perhaps could have been as many quotes
as leaves currently resting in my gutters.
The one I chose is a smidge philosophical:
“Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday!”
After organizing in my brain exactly what I believe the quote meant;
I decided to use it in this week’s THOUGHT prose.
I turned to Mr. Webster for his take on what "worry" actually means.
In surmising, worry is to feel distressed, anxious, troubled or uneasy.
Today’s world-wide societal mindset in a nutshell.
Though Mr. Webster hits the nail on the head possibly encapsulating
the emotional state of over 7.7 billion people,
The notion of allowing one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles, is NOT good.
True some folks probably did spend an exorbitant amount of their waking
and probably non-waking hours yesterday, worrying about today.
Will our Country go into a financial depression?
Are the Olympics in jeopardy?
Where’s Tom Brady going to play quarterback next year?
Do we have enough wine?
Is it possible to expel my own child from home-schooling?
Will the toilet paper be restocked at Walmart?
Well, I’ll leave you with another truth...
Today is the yesterday you’ll reflect on tomorrow.
Whoa, talk about abstract maybe even transcendental...
I challenge you why not make that reflection a positive experience?
Use today to create the yesterday you’ll look back on tomorrow with pride and self-satisfaction.
You won’t have the time to worry about tomorrow.
Or the need.
Take Care and Try to Have a Great Week!
Now more than ever it’s important to have a strong immune system.
We know that stress weakens our immune system while a positive mindset boosts it.
We need to win the mental battle so we can win the physical battle.
Thought for the Week: NOW
So what are we going to do the next 4 weeks?
It might be said that everything comes to those that wait...
It is also true that good things come to those that initiate.
Me personally, I'm not the most patient sort.
I don’t believe ALL good things come to those who wait.
I believe more in what Abraham Lincoln proposed:
"Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle."
Sometimes, we just have to go and get it.
When it comes to the next 28 days…
The promising news:
It’s time to discover extraordinary things.
Read books you should have read in High School and College.
Not just the Cliff’s Notes.
Pride and Prejudice
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Great Gatsby
Brave New World
Take steps to learn a new language.
Quilting or simple sowing techniques.
Explore the world of cooking.
Begin lessons to play a musical instrument.
Harmonica (one of my ambitions along with continuing to write)
Many people are waiting for the perfect time to begin a new journey...
The regretful news:
The perfect time is now.
Regretful, because there are no excuses for not beginning right now!
We’ve been given a chance, an unexpected golden opportunity.
Do something right now to better yourself, move a little closer to your dream.
Act, even its frivolous – at worst, it’s a learning experience.
Right now is the first moment of the rest of your life.
Are you using the “NOW” in your life?
Take Care and Make IT a Great Week,
Practice social distancing but make sure you stay emotionally connected.
Thought for the Week: Reading the Message
Just 10 days ago I traveled with my wife to watch our youngest compete at the ACC Championships.
After, I wrote an ode to my son in attempt to explain how much I enjoyed watching him swim.
“I smile because your wishes do not take the place of deeds.” I penned.
Rather prophetic considering the topic of today’s Coach’s Corner.
This weekend I attended the Florida Age Group Swimming Championships (FLAGS).
Again a sporting event.
When I wasn’t coaching,
Or flexing! (catch last week’s Coach’s Corner Thought for the Week)
I entertained myself between Highlander swims by reading colorful T-shirts.
There was an entire team sporting T’s in club colors.
Going through a strict regime of ballistic stretching exercises.
Their cotton billboards exclaiming “Eat, Sleep, Swim, Repeat” - PREPARATION
A 10 year old boy with gold mirrored goggles donned in a shirt:
“Veni Natavi Vici” come to find out means “I came, I swam, I conquered” - PERSEVERANCE
A 13 year old girl easily close to six feet tall, with a neon pink T stating “Courage is Contagious”
She was bawling her eyes out because she didn’t achieve her best time. – COURAGE??
There was one parent with the Olympic symbols on his shirt.
He was sitting outside eating a doughnut and drinking a Mountain Dew.
There were two moms loudly questioning the chosen order for their girl’s upcoming relay,
One with “Shut Up and Swim” inked on her back,
With the other “I can wine all I want, I’m a swim mom”
Mom One certainly not showing any restraint.
Mom Two whining.
And then there was the 14 year old
After triumphantly winning the 1650 Freestyle last night bearing the brand:
“At Lap 20, I thought I was dead.”
“At lap 40, I wished I was dead.”
“At lap 60, I knew I was dead.”
“At lap 66, I realized I had become too tough to KILL”
And it hit me: the message (wishes) is not what we say,
or how we appear,
but in what we DO (deeds).
What message will people read from you today?
Take Care and Have a Great Week,
Thought for the Week: Where You Are
This weekend my wife and I traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina.
The occasion: A sporting event.
At 55 I’ve had the pleasure and chosen to attend my share of spectacular sporting events.
This past weekend was more than just an occasion to be in attendance.
It gave me a fortuitous opportunity to witness, observe and personally reflect.
My presence at the Men’s ACC Swimming Championships was My choice.
My Choice also gave me countless scenarios to witness where everyone else was at various moments in time.
The athletes representing 12 schools:
Periods of stretching,
Parading out for finals,
At various times loose, smiling and happy, at others serious and stern.
The 50 plus coaches and supportive staff sporting colors from Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame and NC State.
Sometimes loose, smiling and happy, other times serious and stern.
The thousands of spectators somewhat organized seated above the pool.
Friends and supporters in Carolina, Georgia Tech, Miami and Pittsburgh T’s.
Parents donning the colors of Duke, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Boston College.
And at times Flexing!
Sometimes loose, smiling and happy, other times serious and stern.
As for myself there were instances that moved me tears.
For the record: tears of pride and joy.
At the conclusion of the 400 Free Relay which culminated the Championship
I had an overall sense that most everybody was pretty happy to have been there.
Which made me reflect:
For me and for each of us,
We are happy because we choose to be.
We are where we are because we choose to be.
And if we’re not happy, nor where we want to be,
We simply need to start moving in a new direction.
It’s within your power to do it!
We call the shots.
Your life, your rules.
You, me, us… are responsible for our own happiness.
It’s the greatest power we have, the power to choose.
Are you happy?
Are you where you want to be?
I say choose to be HAPPY.
Choose to be where you want to be.
Choose happiness for your health.
Choose happiness for your relationships.
Choose happiness for the success of the world you live in.
But most importantly of all, choose happiness for the simple fact that this is YOUR LIFE.
Take Care and Have a Great Week,
Thought for the Week: Door Openers
Call me crazy, but there’s something different about a business that has automatic door openers.
And they’re just a little more appealing and
approachable than those businesses I frequent
where I have to p u l l the door open to cross the threshold,
And p u s h it to get out.
While the new Credit Union building is sleek and modern,
I have to share that it possibly has the most substantial door
I have ever strained to enter.
I find there are people in my life who exude automatic door openers.
They’re more welcoming.
And there are people who are the epitome of my Credit Union ingress.
Take Care and Have a Great Week,