Understanding Ego

One of the basic needs of all human beings according to Tony Robbins is significance. Each one of us wants to feel a sense of accomplishment and success regardless of what we are doing. The one thing that comes along with that success is the development and growth of the natural human ego. The way we think, feel and express ourselves on a day-to-day basis gives a good insight into our individual egos.

We’ve all been around a person that has an inflated view of who they are and what they’ve accomplished. Your ego is always going to put your priorities on the top of your list. In these instances, ego is expressed through attention-seeking, power hungry, controlling behavior.

A big ego can cause resentment within any relationship and especially within a team structure. Nothing constructive comes from resentful interactions. Below you’ll see a few suggestions to deal with your ego and maximize your interactions.

Let go of the need to win

Your ego loves to make things seem like it’s you versus me and if I beat you it elevates me above you to a certain extent. Winning is impossible to do all the time. You are going to lose occasionally because you are bound to run into someone who is better than you, at some point. Remember winning/losing and/or successes/failures do not define a person; they are simple outcomes to an individual event. We can’t look in the mirror and call ourselves a winner or a loser based on one specific event. Define yourself by how you handle those events.

Stop having to be right all the time

Your ego will act as a source of conflict for you. When you’ve became stuck on a point that you know is correct you will fight and argue that point regardless of right or wrong. Ego will cause you to forget that when we are in decision-making discussions, it’s not’s about who is right but it’s about what is right.   We all have the need to feel superior. Your challenge is to stay focused on your growth and understand that that might mean you’re wrong.

Stop worrying about your rep

As much as we want to think that reputation is something that is inside of us, it’s a completely external factor. You might run into 10 different people through out a day and each person is going to have a different idea of what they think your reputation is.   Your ego will spend a lot of time worrying about what others are going to think and what rewards you might gain. Remember that you need to stay focused on the PROCESS, not the OUTCOME. You have to take responsibility for what actually resides inside you: your character.

Do you live in the 1 yard?

I was working a speed and agility camp a while ago and I saw something that became increasingly annoying as the night went on.   At one point during the session every single camper was involved in a speed station that required him or her to turn and sprint through a specific spot on the court. I would estimate that it was about a 20-yard distance that they had to cover and I would also guess that 90% of the campers slowed down at 18-19 yard mark and coasted through the line. Repeatedly you could hear me or Todd “TJ” Duckett instructing the kids to “finish the drill!” We got to the end of the session and TJ was burst to talk to the kids, what he said was full of passion, intensity and desire for each kid to work like a champion.

Duck shared that for 29 years working out was his life, everyday consisted of running sprints, lifting weights and eating healthy so he could compete at a championship level. During those years he was able to perform at every level of athletics he ever played. Earning a full ride to Michigan State and ultimately becoming a first round draft pick. Along that rode he played with and competed against players who stopped running the 20-yard sprint at the 19th yard. TJ knew that at a certain point he would defeat those opponents because he had run 21 yards when 20 were required.

TJ lives his life in the “1-yard” and always has. He has never stopped short because it wouldn’t be fair to himself, his teammates, his coaches or the people who paid to see him. The “1-yard is what will help you separate yourself from the rest of the crowd and will always give you an advantage in the longer run. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal but it’s amazing how those yards add up.

Old School Guide to Defining Winners/Losers

I picked up the mail the other day and noticed that I had a letter from a family member. I opened it out and found a copy of a 1967 Detroit Free Press article called: Winners & Losers : Their Key Traits by Sydney Harris. I read them and found it ironic that the things that their written about in 1967 still hold true today. Below is the article,

Winners and Losers : Their Key Traits

Part IV : How to Tell a Winner from a Loser:

A winner know that to forget and what to remember; a loser forgets what he should remember, and remembers what he should forget.

A winner seeks for the goodness in a bad man, and works with that part of him; a loser looks only for the badness in a good ma, and therefore finds it hard to work with anyone.

A winner admits his prejudices and tries to correct them in making judgments’: a loser denies his prejudices, and thus becomes their lifelong captive.

A winner in not afraid to contradict himself when faced with a contradictory situation; a loser is more concerned with being consistent than with being right.

A winner feels challenged when odds are against him; a loser is always looking for “the edge.”

A WINNER APPRECIATES the irony of fate, and the fact that merit is not always rewarded, without becoming cynical; a loser is cynical without appreciating the irony of fate.

A winner possesses ideas; a loser is possessed by them, and so, even when successful remains their slave

A winner knows how to be serious without being solemn; a loser is often solemn as a substitute for his lack of capacity to be serious.

A winner looks it over; a loser looks it up

A winner rebukes and forgives; a loser is to timid to rebuke and too petty to forgive.

A winner recognizes that the only true authority is moral authority; a loser, having little of this, tries to assume more external authority than his character can handle.

A WINNER TRIES to judge his own acts by their consequences, and other people’s acts by their intentions; a loser gives himself all the best of it by judging his own acts by his intentions, and the acts of others by their consequences.

A winner feels that his past failures have contributed to his success; a loser feels that his past failures blocked his success.

A winner does what is necessary with good grace, saving his energy for situations where he has a choice; a loser does what is necessary under protest, and has no energy left for moral decisions.

A winner accepts the fact that, finally, no mortal can know who the real winners and losers are; a loser thinks that status and power and applause confer a kind of immortality upon him – and never wonders what the lessons of crucifixion might be.

Eating or Sleeping -What Would You Choose?

From the time I first picked up a basketball to the day I finally decided to call it quits, I participated in countless basketball camps.  Anytime you attend a camp, there is always a keynote speaker who comes in and addresses the group. He imparts wisdom of basketball and life upon them. I sat at center court in many gyms listening to numerous speakers share their beliefs on what it takes to become the best. After years of commitment and hard work, I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked by several camp counselors to be that inspirational keynote speaker for their camp.  They wanted me to share with their camp them how my passion, experiences, and adversity through life provided me an opportunity to play basketball at Michigan State and beyond.

Whenever I finish a talk, I like to leave the campers with something to remember.  Sometimes I ask them who wants to go on and play basketball at the next level.  A majority of them raise their hands.  Next I have them look at the people sitting around them, informing them that each person sitting near them is their competition.  He or she might be trying to reach the same dream. As they continue to look around at their friends and teammates, I ask which of them is working the hardest right now, and they continue to size each other up.  Finally, I educate them on how roughly 500 other camps are going on at this exact moment and kids at each of those camps are thinking about the same question.

It doesn’t matter if you are the best or hardest working person in your group of friends, on your basketball team, or in the entire school.  There is always going to be someone out there willing to work harder than you.  Right now you might be the best iPhone app developer in the world, but someone is out there working 20 hours a day so he or she can gain a competitive advantage on you.  Constant improvement and learning is required in all professions. Never stop getting better.

I saw Coach Izzo one day and thought he looked like he had lost weight. So I asked him, “Coach you look skinny, are you trying to lose weight?”  He looked back at me and said, “Timmy, I have a choice of eating or sleeping and I have to get a little rest.”

He determined that he only had enough time to fit one of those activities into his work schedule based on how many hours he spent trying to make his team better.  Now that’s what I call constant improvement.

Protecting your No

You’re not driving my car and I’m not follow you’re map.

It’s one of my favorite phrases and let me tell you why. I spent a lot of time of the years with an overall feeling that I needed to act a certain way or be interested in certain things based solely on how I thought other people wanted to see me act or express interest. I’ve literally changed behavioral patterns because I didn’t think it fit into how I was being viewed.

That kind of mentality can put you into a very confused place of fighting the urge to do things you don’t want to do or continue to put forward a façade. It’s taken time to combat that thought process and one of the most helpful tools I’ve used is one of the shortest but most difficult words to use in the English language…..NO.

The word no is one of the most difficult words for people to use because it can put you in a position to feel like you’re letting people down or you’re going to be missing out. The real issue is that people spend so much of time doing and effort being a part of things they don’t want to do.

Controlling your no is one of the easiest ways to control the path you want to take. Giving away your no is the same as giving away your time and that’s the most valuable asset you have.

The Start is Important but the Finish Creates Legends (NCAA Bracket talk)

Selection Sunday came and went and there was the normal discussion over the seeding process, who should’ve been seeded where and who’s being disrespected with the seeding that they got. The hard part is that no one seems to understand how the committee gets to their final brackets or what the criteria is that they are using. John Calipari said it best when he said it’s a moving target and the committee changes every year.

But here’s the real thing when it comes down to seeding……it doesn’t matter what number you have next to your name at the start of the tourney. It only matters that you cut a net and hang a banner at the end of it.

I can’t tell you what seed we were in the tournament for 4 out of my 5 years at MSU. I have no idea where we started when they announced our name. But I remember how each of those years ended.

They only thing that you can focus on and pay attention to is the process of preparing for the tournament because at the end of the day if you’re the best team in the country you should be able to beat all the other teams regards of seeds.

I’m excited for the start of the tournament; it’s one of my favorite times of year. I’m even more excited to see the Spartans cross the finish line.

Do You Really? – One of my favorite anecdotes about entitlement

I love the anecdote below.  It was shared by Suzy Merchant head women’s basketball coach at an event I was at and I never forgot it.  I love how it highlights that none of us are entitled to outcomes, only the opportunity to take part on the process.

A man pulls up to a golf course at 7am.

When he gets out to the driving range he sees one other guy

This other man has empty buckets all around his area

As he stands there watching he notices the perfection of his swing

He stands there for 10 minutes and finally he gets the courage to say something

“I’d love to hit a ball like you

The other gentleman stops, looks back and answers

“Do you really”

“Do you really want to be out here at 4am every morning hitting balls for 3 hours?”

“Do you want to go to a job you hate at 8am everyday just to put food on the table and a roof over your head?”

“Do you want to come back to the range after that job and hit more balls until your hands are bloody?”

“Do you really want to do what it takes?”

None of us are entitled to the outcome

The only thing guaranteed is the work

Next time you find something you think you really want ask yourself

Do I really want the work it takes to truly be great?


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