Simple and brilliant at the same time

“It’s a Wonderful, Horrible Feeling” by Shaun White as told to Alyssa Roenigk (ESPN, 22 Feb 2010). Better knows as the Flying Tomato, Mr. White (age 21)  is considered to be one of the best snowboarders in the world. He is certainly the most recognizable.

It’s not often someone of such a young age shares an idea such as:

You know how I said that everyone assumes this is easy for me? Well, I probably downplay the one easy part: I cut out a lot of prep time by visualizing complicated tricks. But I still have to practice, and it still gets gnarly and terrifying. I slam my back against the ice all day just like anyone else. And there are still times when I show up at the mountain and think, I hate this. I don’t want to be here. The halfpipe is terrible. It’s cold. Then I look over at the next guy, and he hates it. And the next guy, he hates it too. Then I get this amazing feeling. Great. Everybody hates it. Their spirits are down. I am going to rip this halfpipe. The best riders shine through in bad weather. I’m probably the most prepared of anyone.

To me, it’s simple. If you really want to do something you can figure it out. If you hurt your hand and you have to write with the other, you figure it out. You adapt. I am a big fan of doing what you are really bad at. A lot.

There you have it boys & girls, this gold winner’s four keys to being world-class:

1) Visualize success
2) Suck it up in order to rise above the rest
3) Perseverance and adaptation
4) Get out of your comfort zone and force yourself to do what you’re bad at

Sound just like a day at the office sometimes, eh? Simple and brilliant at the same time.

No sense crying over spilled milk

“How To Bounce Back: The Last Drop” by Miles Austin as told to Charles Curtis (ESPN Magazine, December 2009). First, to the non-sports fans out there please excuse the sports “analogy” — but it works. Second, for reasons unknown to mortal man & woman, this (brief) article was only in ESPN’s print edition. No, AU value add today. That time is being invested in typing this in for you.

It’s a receiver’s most egregious sin: dropping a pass when he’s wide open. But that transgression might actually be a necessary evil.

Just ask Cowboys’ wideout Miles Austin. The way he tells it, his bobble during the first half of Dallas’ Week 5 win over Kanas City helped him break the franchise record for receiving yards. That day, he went for 250 yards, 234 gained after the drop. Since then, Austin has averaged 17.4 ypc (yard per catch) and scored 4 TDs (touch downs). We asked the four-year vet how he used his big mistake to come back big.

“Right before halftime, Tony Romo threw a fade pass to the corner of the end zone. For some reason, I lost concentration and didn’t stick my arm out for enough. The ball went off my hands, and immediately,  I thought, I have to lock back in. Mentally, I treated the moment like the game had started over. Luckily, the worked. For the rest of the day, I attacked the ball and tried to reach out and grab the ball before it hit me.”

“When I drop a ball I think I should have caught, I focus more during practice the week afterward. For example, right before Wednesday practices, we run what’s called pat-and-go. To warm up, the quarterbacks will throw a few fade routes to us. That’s a point where you could easily lose focus, but that’s when I try to concentrate more on the looking the ball in.

“In Week 9, against the Eagles, Romo threw the same type of ball to me on the opposite side of the field. I looked it on and caught it, the same way I wanted to catch the one I missed the month before. That turned out to be the game-winning touchtown”

We all drop the ball. We all make mistakes at work. We all make resolutions and then have transgressions. The point is, don’t get sucked into the black hole of a past you can not change. Just get up, learn your lesson and keep going. Also be sure to forgive your “team mates” when they drop the ball too.