Though it’s been years since I’ve worked directly with athletes, I still consider myself a coach. And though my primary area of focus is no longer in sports, I still teach the principles, lessons, and strategies that I learned on the field and court. Sports are elemental. They’re about performing in pressure moments, managing your emotions through adversity, communicating with others toward a collective goal, and staying disciplined when others don’t. I think of these as fundamentals, and no matter your domain, your ability to do them will distinguish you from everyone else–even those who may have more opportunity, natural talent, or intelligence. I’ve never felt that what you have is most important; but rather what you do with what you have – that’s what matters most.
The highest performers in all walks of life have taken full ownership of themselves, their work, and their choices. They got to where they are—and have stayed there— because they have chosen to establish, refine, and repeat the mindset and habits that serve them best. These men and women understand that you can’t be selective when it comes to excellence, that how we do anything is how we do everything.
I’ve worked with the likes of NBA stars Kevin Durant and Victor Oladipo when they were young and watched superstars like Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry in their private routines. I’ve sat across from Mark Cuban and Jesse Itzler as they talked about how they built their empires and interviewed Jay Bilas and Jay Williams about how mental toughness creates success. In sports or business or anything else, the best aren’t the best by accident, genetics, or good fortune. They are at the top because of a commitment to the fundamentals. True superstars never get bored with the basics and they never underestimate their importance.
My primary job is to inspire, guide, and coach people on the fundamental building blocks of high performance (both individually and organizationally). I think of my role as one who works to inspire, motivate, and instruct people in the ways of the basics.
Nobody wins all the time. Losing, failure and obstacles are real and there’s not a sport in the world that doesn’t have those ideas baked in. A game literally doesn’t make sense without it. Pro athletes, even successful ones, lose. Sometimes constantly. Athletes are also well versed in making mistakes – dropping passes, missing shots, and stepping out of bounds. Even our language has adopted concepts from athletics; think of words like fumble, strikeout, choke.
For athletes, the failure and the requisite feedback are constant. If they don’t absorb and make use of that feedback, they won’t be playing very long. Consequently, sports are a wonderful way to study improvement, success, and adaptation. Jerry Seinfeld once said, “If you could take your experiences and ask to trade them in, the last ones I would trade would be the failures. Those are the most valuable ones.” He’s not the best in spite of those failures. He’s the best because of them. And he’s the best because he knows this.
This work is my calling. I am passionate about serving, impacting, influencing, and connecting with people. Experience has taught me that success is a choice and I want to inspire and empower people and organizations to make that choice. I’ve turned a successful basketball performance coaching career into a professional speaking business, recognizing that the principles from the court translate to the boardroom and the office. Major companies from all over the world hire me to teach, train, and consult on effective leadership, performance, and teamwork.
My time as a coach with top high school players led me to opportunities with pros, so I’ve seen both sides of the coin—what it takes to get there and what it takes to remain there. My last book, Raise Your Game was all about bringing your A game to your job, your relationships, and your life. But that is really only half the battle. Keeping it up, sustaining your game, is even harder. The commitment to raising your game – in any area of life – is no easy feat. But the commitment to sustaining your game is even more challenging. An athlete has to execute—on the play, for the season, and for a career. In business, publishing, or whatever your field, succeeding along these three timelines are equally important: the moment (short-term), the stretch (mid-term), and the long haul (long-term).
Sustaining Your Game is about succeeding in all three, looking at the particular challenges of all three timelines:
- In the moment we have to battle stress.
- In the stretch, we have to fight stagnation.
- In the long haul, we have to beat burnout.
Sustain Your Game is for high performers who want to learn practical strategies and actionable tools on how to sustain their game across all three timelines. It will distill advice and lessons from successful athletes, entrepreneurs, social scientists, journalists, CEOs, motivational speakers, business coaches, and consultants, as well as my own personal stories.
Each step requires discipline. And discipline is doing what you said you would do long after the mood you said it in has faded. Most people refer to me as a motivational speaker as that seems to be the agreed upon title for someone who makes their living on stages with a microphone. But that’s not what I do. I’m there to stimulate change. I’m there to encourage, empower, and guide the audience to think, feel, and act differently. To change their perspective and to change their behavior. I do believe in motivation, but I never confuse it with the need for discipline. I meditate whether I’m motivated or not. I make my bed whether I’m motivated or not. I don’t think I’m more motivated than anyone else, but I am a lifelong proponent of discipline. I don’t always want to get up early, work out, travel somewhere, but I do it because I’m disciplined.
My goal is not perfection; it is progress. Am I closer to where I want to be than I was yesterday? That’s my measurement.
I am most certainly not speaking from a place of mastery. Like everyone else, I am under construction, a work in progress. Coming off a successful first book, I understand the challenge of continuing to perform at a high level and navigating the obstacles along the way. In essence, this book is a manifestation of the very thing I am writing about, a perfect marriage of author and subject, form and content. I am sustaining my game by helping others sustain theirs.
Thank you for joining me on the ride.