Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Training for life

Gifted performers and athletes often make the career-ending mistake of believing they don't need to train as hard or as much as their teammates or peers.

Without naming them, some young athletes celebrated for their exceptional talent and performance always run into a wall sooner or later - normally sooner - if they don't train, and hard.

The reason for training is not just to make the most of one's talent - but to build stamina and prevent injuries, which insures their ability to continue doing what they love for a long time.

A one-time youthful baseball phenom had a prodigious home run record. While he was happy with his performance, considering himself fortunate. Sadly, his training regimen was sporadic, leaving his teammates unhappy. They knew he would ultimately hurt the team, but said nothing because there was his current blockbuster record, wasn't there - and they couldn't argue with that.

Sure enough, soon after his career seriously stuttered because of injuries. Injuries that, most probably, could have been avoided by smart, consistent training starting at a young age.

Not focusing on off-the-field preparation is a short term gain, long term loss mentality. It does not prepare individuals for a long and achieving future, able to weather the highs and lows with equal aplomb.

Most businesses will ultimately fail for the same reason. They want to push for the highest profits NOW, rather than putting in the tough work it takes to plan for consistent and stable production, along with stable profits over the long haul.

Constantly pushing for the highest profits NOW means more and more injurious cost cuts - cutting corners, cutting experienced work staff and slashing other necessary costs that result in decreasing the quality of the product, desperate employees making desperate, cheating and often illegal decisions to save their jobs or status or bonuses.

Those at the bottom scrounge for crumbs and hang on to a ship that will ultimately sink as it currently performs; those at the top develop a something-for-nothing sense of entitlement = demanding phenomenal salaries and ridiculous bonuses for precious little contribution.

One of the - if not *the* most gifted basketball player in the history of the sport, Michael Jordan, comes to mind. Unlike the rest of the players, the lesser talented athletes, Jordan showed up early to practice - and stayed after everyone else left. To practice some more.

He was the one player who did not "need" to put in extra practice, but he did anyway. For himself. To be a better player. He was alone on the court, practicing to prepare, practicing to adjust - in order to play the same team better next time.

No doubt coaches and/or family influenced his keen work ethic and attitude as a youngster.

Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are two champion athletes with a strong work ethic whose understanding of establishing and maintaining a practice and preparation/training regimen early on has paid off. Both, incidentally, were strongly influenced by Peyton's father, former famed Saints quarterback Archie Manning.

While a young age is the best time to instill a strong, systematic work ethic, you can start all over at any age.

The key is to start where you are.

If you decide to train for a new body, remember that your age, weight and condition will tell you where you are capable of beginning. And slowly. With appropriate movement and diet, not overworking a system ill prepared for pushing yourself too hard. A friend of mine recently spent three days of agony after starting out with a New Year's resolution too harsh workout.

Remember being constant, consistent, and persistent is the key.

Do this to create a habit. Without a habit, we'll have a hit-and-miss record, whether it's watching our weight or hitting home runs. Success is actually a habit. Even when we run into pitfalls here and there, we still have a sense we can succeed in the end if we establish this habit in at least one area of our lives.

Keeping your word to yourself is the definition of success. Whatever you do, keep your expectations and goals real and within your ability to reach them. Low to start, raising the bar as you move along the scales of success. Keeping your word to yourself establishes the habit of success.

It's also a terrific way to be a good role model for children.

The "quick start" may in the end be a sabotage effort.

Whether learning to be an actor, writer, director, athlete or simply a happy person - start with what feels safe and successful, no matter how easy it may seem. One step at a time. One baby step at a time. Building on the stamina and power you gain, those steps can become leaps, those leaps can become vaults higher than you ever imagined.

The reason to start at a level at which you can keep your word to yourself is that it avoids the inner turmoil that will be the real cause of any setbacks. Once we stop keeping our word to ourselves, the mind games begin. We're failures, we're not what or who we appear to be - so we're phonies who don't want to be found out- and on it goes.

Success starts by just keeping your word to yourself - you can build on that success with more success over time because you feel good about yourself. You are authentically you, not someone you're trying to be.

I've gone through just such a process recently in two areas of my life - where I have in the past failed miserably. And so far, so good. As long as I keep my expectations low and my hopes high, it's working. I'll explain exactly what I'm referring to after I've had a record of success long enough to show a significant difference.

I share it with you today in hopes that it may help you as much as it has me!

Something else I'd like to share - Oprah.com has a program you can download called the O Dream Board; it's a method to help you visualize what you'd like your life and future to be. It's simple and easy if you have minimal computer skills. Remember you can use photos from any source since it is for your private use only and not for publication. My friends and I are enthusiastic about how cool it is and how it infuses us with great feelings about the future!

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