Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

Eliminate The Noise… Focus On The Signal

by Todd Durkin

Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, had nearly four years to prepare for Super Bowl XLV.  In that time, he built a $1.2 billion stadium – large enough to fit the entire Statue of Liberty and its base with the roof closed… He expected to break a Super Bowl record with the largest crowd ever to watch from this mammoth venue complete with a video board measuring 72 feet tall and 160 feet wide.

And then came snow.  Snow in Dallas, Texas… lots of it, with ice and sleet.  It was still snowing 48 hours before the game.  I spent the entire pre-game week in Dallas with Gatorade and Under Armour.  One night, I slept in my coat and beanie to keep warm when the hotel furnace stopped working and my room was freezing.  On Wednesday night, our midnight taxi driver was too afraid to drive.  The pre-game media blitz that begins early in the week on Radio Row had a slow start when personnel and equipment were late arriving into town and sometimes there was no one to interview…  Not quite what was expected by the host city and Jerry Jones.  In fact, at times it was pretty chaotic.

By now, everyone knows how the story ended.  Game day arrived and for the most part, it all seemed to go as planned.  Fitness Quest 10 clients, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Wilhelm, and the Green Bay Packers took the Lombardi Trophy home for the first time since 1997.  Amidst all the chaos and confusion, the disappointment and despair, Super Bowl XLV was a great game.  Two powerhouse teams with a long history of championship play – and one goes home with the title and the trophy.

People tend to think that professional athletes live a cushy kind of life.  They’re born with talent, discovered, and with luck enjoy a long career.  It’s all about sweat and glory, right?  Let me tell you my friend, there’s a lot more to this than sweat and glory.  Very few become champions.

The Packers and Steelers were in Dallas all week just like the rest of us.  Their practice and pre-game preparation was disrupted just like everything else in Dallas.  In fact, with fifteen players on the injured reserve list at game start and two more out by halftime, the Packers could have failed before our eyes.  But they didn’t.  That’s not what champions do.  Champions don’t rely on what’s expected.  Champions plan for the unexpected.

Aaron Rodgers led his team to a Super Bowl win and was named MVP.  Could there be a higher achievement in football?  At 27, he more than measures up in key determinants for quarterback greatness: great feet, lots of core strength, and excellent shoulder and feet to fingertip strength and conditioning.  Plus, the intangibles – Aaron is a leader and a role model for his team.  He has mental toughness, love for the game, and he has fun playing football.  His fun-loving way works and helps him get the most out of his teammates on the field.

But I promise you my friend, Aaron Rodgers’ journey to Super Bowl XLV was not as you’d expect.  He was a good student in high school, but chose the community college route when no scholarship offers came his way.  Once at Butte Community College, he had a lucky break when a Cal recruiter spotted him while recruiting Aaron’s teammate.  Then, after noteworthy success at Cal, he left early expecting he’d go fourth or fifth in the 2005 draft.  Against expectations, he went twenty-fourth and was picked up by Green Bay.  He’d worked hard to earn the spot, but when he arrived in Green Bay, he sat for three years behind Brett Favre.

So when you wonder what makes a champion, or a successful executive or anyone of us who strives to be the best at what we do – the answer isn’t always what you’d expect.  Because just like in Dallas, sometimes after you’ve prepared all your life for the big day, you’re faced with chaos and confusion – bad weather and a long injured reserve list.  When this happens to you, I hope you remember something I learned from one of my mentors Robin Sharma: Eliminate the noise and focus on the signal. That’s what it takes to be the best.  That’s what champions do.  Because you can’t rely on expectations.  You can’t control the weather and you can’t control who gets injured, but you can find solutions.  You can eliminate the noise.  You can focus on the signal.

On Monday night, Aaron was on the David Letterman show.  He spoke about the difference in his game when he began to focus on his off-season preparation.  I especially liked one thing he said, “The things you can’t measure give people the most success.”  The road to becoming a champion is all about what happens when others aren’t looking. It’s all about planning for the unexpected.  It’s the patience.  The determined perseverance.  It’s the preparation that occurs outside the spotlight.  So keep striving and you’ll discover that your quest to be the best will take you places you could never expect.

Peace and love,

Happy Wednesday!



Remember Why You’re Here

“I once succumbed to the fad of fasting and went for six days and nights without eating.  It wasn’t difficult.  I was less hungry at the end of the sixth day than I was at the end of the second.  Yet I know, as you know, people who would think they had committed a crime if they let their families or employees go for six days without food; but they will let them go for six days, and six weeks, and sometimes sixty years without giving them the hearty appreciation that they crave almost as much as they crave food.”

This excerpt is taken from How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  It should be a reminder to not forget why you’re here and what really matters.  A reminder to show your appreciation for everything that you have.  It is far too easy to lose sight of who you are and all the great things you have in your life, so take time to reflect and appreciate those things.  Invest time with the people who you are closest to.  Make it your goal to leave those around you feeling better than they did when you arrived.  Pay them a compliment.  It will make you feel good and it will make them feel good too.  Put your positive energy in the air.

Happy Wednesday!


Even With Cancer, Life Goes On…

It’s all about mindset.  Your attitude will often dictate outcomes.  I’m often reminded of a story about someone who I consider a great mentor and business friend, Alwyn Cosgrove.  This story has to do with his battle with cancer.

Throughout the number of times I’ve spoken to him or attended his seminars, he’s talked many times about adversity, mindset and staying focused on achieving your goals.  Why?  Because shit happens.  Sometimes really shitty stuff happens.  Like you get cancer.  But life has no mercy.  Life won’t wait.  Life won’t pay your bills.  And life offers no helping hand.  I remember him saying one time that if it weren’t for cancer he may never have taken the time to create a system for how he designs fitness training programs, and subsequently, he may not have been able to grow his business the way that he has.  That really stuck with me.  During a time when most people would probably be thinking, “how did this happen to me?”, he was focused on doing what he did every day – improve his business and life.  He had cancer but he was still alive.  At the end of the day nothing had really changed.  Cancer, or no cancer, there were still goals to be reached and mountains to climb.

He could have easily given up on it and said, “I have cancer and the last thing that matters right now is my business.”  But he didn’t.  There was always a goal.  Always something he needed to get done and make better.  So even during a horrible situation he was able to do something to improve his business and eventually make himself more successful.  I really wonder if being this focused allows you to get past things that seem, otherwise, impossible to overcome.

The same could be said for Merril Hoge.  His story is also an amazing one.  His battle with cancer and the mindset he had and the focus he had and the determination he had to find a way to beat it.  It makes any problems we have look pretty small when you stack them up against these battles.

We should learn from them.  We should realize that shit happens to everyone.  No one’s life is perfect.  And pretty much everyone is guaranteed to have some pretty crappy shit happen to them at some point in their lives.  Feeling sorry for yourself will get you absolutely nowhere, except maybe into a worse situation.  On the other hand, staying focused on getting past tough times puts you on the offense and focuses your energy on overcoming your obstacles.

Nobody wants to think about it but how would you react if you got cancer?  What would you do?  Do you think you’re mentally strong enough to face it?  If this thought scares you, then have some work to do.

Remember, life doesn’t wait.  So don’t let it pass you by.  Make your life happen, don’t let life happen to you.  Whatever your problems, stop moping about them and start doing something to make your life better.  It only takes one small change to get the ball rolling.

If you don’t know where to begin, start by finding out how to become Mentally Resilient.

Happy Wednesday!


How Winners Are Made

Success has been, and continues to be, defined as getting up one more time than you’ve been knocked down.  Nothing in life is free and living surely ain’t easy.  Life is hard.  Real hard.  You fail more often than you win.  And no one is handing you anything.  It is up to you to overcome what you’re up against.  If you want more… prove it!  If you want to be the best…get out there and earn it!  Dream bigger.  And don’t stop pushing forward until you get there.

Happy Wednesday!


Learn To Let Go

One of the hardest parts of life is letting go of what you have, and who you are, so you can become who you aspire to be.

How do you overcome this?  You must learn to make constant sacrifices.  You must be willing to consistently let go of your past so you can focus all of your efforts on building your future.  You cannot change the past, no matter how hard you try.  The sooner you can accept life for what it is, the sooner you can do something to change it – preferably for the better.  You must also learn to understand before you can expect to make any progress.  With understanding comes creativity and solutions.  Solutions are things you can take action on.

If you don’t have what you want, it may be time to stop looking at what you don’t have and start looking at what you do have.  The question to ask is, is something you have now holding you back from achieving the life that you really want?  What are you willing to give up, or let go, in order to make room for what you really want?  Keep in mind that whatever you’re willing to give up is a short-term sacrifice made for the sake of a long-term gain.

You can easily measure how serious you really are about something by how much you are willing to give up in order to have it.  While the thought of having to give something up, in order to let something else in, might spark some fear in you, accept this because it is a natural response to change.  The first reaction to change is always to resist.  The real problem arises when you let this resistance and fear make the decisions.  Stay focused on what it is that you really want.  Make your decisions based on positive things, like what you want, as opposed to negative things, like fear.  And remember, you should also consider the cost of not letting go – this is your opportunity cost (you may find it helpful to read about how to Recognize Your Opportunity Cost)

Sometimes you think things in your life are providing comfort and security, when in reality they are just holding you back from living a more fulfilled existence.  Being a little uncomfortable will always be a good thing.  It’s the driver of change.  It’s the catalyst for growth.  People like comfort for some reason, but when you’re comfortable you’re not growing.  And if you’re not growing, you’re standing still.  And if you’re standing still, life is going to run you over and never look back.

Sometimes you have to learn to let go so you don’t get run over.

Happy Wednesday!


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