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!


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