1. Always give 100% – Never Accept Mediocrity
Our camp’s theme for this season is ‘Never Settle’. I truly believe that if you are willing to put in 100% and demand more from yourself, and never accept average work; that your path to success (in whatever you embark on) increases ten-fold.
Turning in and accepting average work has become somewhat of a norm with today’s society. I’m not sure how or why this happened, but it really frightens me. My parents, teachers and coaches have always encouraged me to give it my all and don’t stop until you reach your goal, and keep going even more! You must work almost maniacally sometimes to achieve lofty goals.
The reason there are only a few athletes who turn Pro each year and less than 1% of the nation being millionaires is not because they have Superman like abilities, but more times than not, it’s because their work ethic and commitment to their craft is unimaginable to the average person. You have to be ALL in if you want to make it to the highest level of your sport or profession.
High energy motivational speaker Eric Thomas is widely known for his thought-provoking quote – “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” Think about that, wow! If you’re a hard worker, you know sometimes those around you label it as a negative. You may hear things like – ‘Man, you work too hard, take it easy for once.’ Or, ‘You spend too much time doing ____, you really should take it easy.’ Unfortunately, the people making those remarks rarely understand just how bad you want it. If you’re getting that ‘negative’ feedback from people around you about your work ethic and commitment to your craft, I would take it as a compliment. It means you are truly putting in the time and are legitimately passionate and serious about making your dreams become a reality.
2. Always Follow-through on your commitments
This is the most sacred principal in life to me. Your integrity, or lack thereof is largely determined by your reliability, follow-through and commitment to ‘do what you say, and say what you do.’ I’m not sure what’s caused the change, but over the last decade I have noticed a large shift (and society’s acceptance) of ‘flaky’ (makes plans, but does not follow through on them) people. This is NOT acceptable. To me, not following through on plans is very rude to the other party and in general, is a poor character trait to possess.
I understand that sometimes things are out of your control and you truly cannot meet an obligation, but in those situations, you need to do your best to ‘make it right’. Always give a courtesy ‘heads up’ as soon as you know you will not be making the commitment. Remember, there is someone else on the other end who probably set out their time for you, and many times is relying on you to be there. Your bail-out could cost them time, money or embarrassment if other people were relying on them too. A no call/no show is just wrong.
Making it right does not mean make a blanket apology and be done with it. Making it right means make a sincere apology and a real effort to find some resolve for the other person, customer, business, coach, teammate, partner, friend or other that you let down. Find a next best alternative and make it up to them somehow and do your absolute best to not make this let down a habit in your life.
Making it right could mean as a business owner, offering a partial refund for a botched experience, or as a spouse, partner or dating relationship, an ‘I owe you a better date’ next week. Or as a player on a team – Coach, I’m so sorry for missing practice, I’ll volunteer to stay late this week to help with whatever the team needs.
Being a flake is a sure way for people to distance themselves from you and lose trust in you. A trend of unreliability and lack of follow-through will kill your relationships and any sort of bonds you are trying to forge with coaches, players, friends, employers, employees, coworkers, partners & mates.
The next time you feel like bailing on plans, think about the other person and realize how it will affect the other person or team. Your accountability in life and your dealings with people can make or break you.
3. Stay Loyal to those who help you
I’m a firm believer that having too many ‘talking heads’ in your life is a sure way to confuse yourself and never establish a firm direction. Investing your time and commitment with 1 or 2 experts in whatever field you’re trying to get better at is a much better way to go. Trying to please everyone can be disastrous. Stick with someone who has helped you and invested their time in you. It really is insulting to the person who has mentored, tutored and invested their time in helping YOU for you to go and be easily swayed by someone else with promises of the world even though that other person has already proven their commitment and loyalty to you.
Don’t be one of those people who uses others and leverages relationships instead of having meaningful ones for the right reasons. Strive to establish business, athletic & social relationships with a mutual respect, and not a ‘What’s in it for me?’ Mentality. Coaches see right through that and in training you or recruiting you, they will typically invest their time more wisely with others who are more loyal.
Seek relationships of a ‘full throttle’ experience from people who really care about you and want to help you because you’ve mutually earned each other’s respect. If you stay loyal, the other person will ‘go to war for you’ and will want to do everything he or she can to help you.
4. Treat others with respect
In the Bible, it says ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ This has come to be known as the Golden Rule. It’s a very powerful proverb and whether you’re religious or not, just think about what it means. Treat others how you want to be treated. If you want people to respect you, you also must give off that positivity, sincerity and respect toward others. If you start thinking – How would I feel if someone talked to me that way; it will help shape how you approach situations and interact with people. A good book to read on this subject matter is ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie.
5. Be Real with People
I never understood the purpose of putting up a front or crafting an illusion. Just give it to someone straight. I’m not advocating rudeness however. I feel transparency is essential to not only alleviating confusion, but in being authentic with others.
It drives me nuts when people can’t give a straight answer or when someone dances around a subject or responds too much like a politician or overly diplomatic. Never be afraid to give your opinion in fear of denial or unacceptance. Have a personality and be yourself. Never pretend to be something that someone else wants. Honesty definitely hurts sometimes, but in the end you can hold your head up high knowing you either lost by being true to yourself, or even better, won for the right reason without any manipulation involved.
6. Communicate with Clarity & Professionalism
While today’s technology is remarkable, many negatives have occurred because of the ‘instant on’ lifestyle and various short form (Text, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.) methods of communication we’ve all come to know. Knowing how to properly communicate with poise, precision and clarity can help you stand out from the crowd. Text like e-mails, 1 liner responses, vague statements; all of these are a no go! Having to interpret what you’re saying is like a novice attempting to uncover the meaning of ancient hieroglyphics. Not checking and fixing spelling & grammar errors before firing off a resume or business proposal is simply unprofessional. Not understanding the difference between their/they’re, were/we’re, etc. does not earn you points. Your ability to summarize your thoughts and write clear-cut next steps and action plans is a very powerful asset in all forms of communication and dealings with people.
Being able to respond intelligently, or at least composed enough shows you can handle your own and be a reliable person to interact with. Many people don’t realize this, but you’re always on an interview. While it’s perhaps not the nicest thing, many people are judging you every step of the way. Life is a constant interview. Whether you’re actively being recruited by a college football team/coach, or are going through interviews for the toughest job of your life; make sure you take an extra minute to compile your thoughts and present the best form of you that you can!
7. Find Solutions to Problems; Not Excuses!
It’s easy to make an excuse. Very few people are willing to ‘own’ up to their mistakes or foul-ups and find a remedy. It takes more time and more effort to find a solution than it does to just blame someone or something else.
Don’t blame other people, own up to your mistake, and even if it’s not your mistake, don’t throw others under the bus. Work hard to find a solution and don’t take the easy way out and finger point. It’s very cowardly to not take ownership over a foul-up. What’s remarkable about how humans work is that if you really mess up something, sometimes the way you handle a situation (when positively/proactively) can actually win you more points with the other, versus if everything just went smoothly from the get go. They respect and admire that you ‘went to bat’ for them and helped right a wrong. Handling controversy and the ability to problem solve instead of running away from problems is a sign of a capable person with strong character.
8. Give Back & Help Others
No matter how little you have to give, it’s always a heartfelt and appreciated gesture. Doing something just to do it out of sincerity, not because you want something in return or because you want to be seen in public as a ‘good person’ is the only way to do it. Whether it’s a charitable donation, volunteer work, giving back your time to coach younger players, or mentoring someone who is following in your footsteps; just do it. Your reward is the feeling you get from seeing someone else smile and by impacting their life positively. The next time you have a chance to make a difference in someone’s life, jump on it. Some of life’s greatest pleasures are derived from the simplest of gestures. You never know what someone is going through and how much that small act of kindness and giving has brightened their day.
9. Get Better than Yesterday
My high school football head Coach Dan Duddy, on his way out to practice every day, would say loud and proud ‘Let’s Get Better Today!’ Almost 20 years later, it still has stuck in my head. What’s the point of practice? To get better. If you’re out there putting in all this time and effort, you better be darn sure that you are making yourself and everyone around you better; or else you’re just going through the motions and wasting everyone’s (including yourself) time.
I like to set goals for each day/week. Have a task list of things you want to accomplish today, this week, this month and this year – not just a To Do List, but a personal, career and athletic Objectives List. Film study, self-education, self-improvement, constant learning, education, re-education, etc. are all great ways to ‘get better than yesterday’. Create goals, achieve them and set new goals. Always improve yourself and strive for more.
About the Author
Coach Brent Grablachoff is one of the top professional kicking coaches in the world. He has been training football kickers & punters for over 10 years and has coached over 3,000 students through his world-wide camps and private lessons. Before launching Kicking World, he held positions at Fortune 500 companies in sales & marketing at Merrill Lynch, CDW & Honda, as well as 2 tech start-ups. He is an entrepreneur & tech enthusiast and has authored & published a book and DVD on kicking, as well as created an iOS and Android App – Kick Tracker.