The Come Up Podcast (Episode 1)

It’s Here! Listen to my new Podcast “The Come Up: Steps to Success”

With the tools that are available on the internet these days, it has never been easier to share your story.

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This year, I’m setting out to explore the world of podcasting with my man Jimmy Lawson. Together, we are launching a mini-series called “The Come Up: Steps to Success” on SoundCloudiTunes, and Google Play.

After listening to a bunch of podcasts myself, I realized that the best episodes provide useful information and helpful advice, not just small talk. So, on The Come Up, we are going to share valuable tips that you can use on your road to success.

The Come Up Podcast is all about personal development and becoming a better athlete, student, parent or professional.

Listen to our first episode on SoundCloudiTunes or Google Play right now.

This is my first time ever doing anything like this, so I’d really appreciate it if you gave me some feedback. Leave a comment on iTunes or Google Play.

For more information about The Come Up visit the Podcast Website.

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Confidence: How to Perform at the Highest Level

During my career as a professional athlete, I have had to perform on all kinds of stages.

Whether you need to perform in front of 70 or 70,000 people, these four strategies will help you build your confidence like a pro.

Confidence is not found, it is created.

We have all felt those nervous butterflies in our stomach before, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?

Well, there is no need to worry since that anxious feeling you get right before the moment of truth is simply a sign that you care deeply about what you are doing.

And even if you don’t care much for what you are doing, the thought of the potential outcomes based on your performance always hold weight.

You may not feel overly confident right now, but with a positive perspective and enough hard work, you can learn how to will yourself to success at a very high level.

During my career as a professional athlete, I have had to perform on all kinds of stages. I have played in championship games when any second could be the one that decides the fate of an entire season. On the other hand, I have also delivered presentations as a brand ambassador to a room full of business owners and professionals. Believe it or not, these situations can be equally nerve-wracking.

Over time I have learned that the size of the audience doesn’t make much of a difference. The tactics that I am about to teach you can apply in any situation. Whether you need to perform in front of 70 or 70 000 people, these four strategies will help you build up supreme confidence.

4 Strategies to Build Confidence

Understand Your Body
You are the pilot of a very sophisticated vehicle, but you don’t really know how to drive it yet.

Continue reading “Confidence: How to Perform at the Highest Level”

How to Master Your Habits

Our habits determine a large part of what we spend our time doing each day, so taking control over those unconscious drives can go a long way in helping us navigate towards our goals.

We all have habits. They show up in every facet of our lives; in our thoughts, our speech and of course, in our actions. You probably don’t even realize half of your habits because they are so deeply ingrained in your lifestyle. Yet, these unconscious drives play an undeniable role in shaping our reality and, ultimately, determining whether we find success or fall short of our mark.

Bad Habits vs. Healthy Habits 
Not all habits are created equal. If you are like most people, when you think of the word “habit” you can quickly generate several examples of harmful routines that don’t really bring us much value. These might include things like substance abuse, procrastination, excess spending, oversleeping, losing your temper, or any other acts that lead us away from our goals.

Poor habits, however, are not limited to our actions. Many of us (myself included) have had to work through self-destructive and limiting thoughts as well.  It is important to realize that the things we think about inspire the words we say and, in turn, what we say eventually becomes our reality. So, it is crucial that we not only focus on our physical habits, but also the thought patterns that shape our perspectives.

With all of this in mind, the difference between a good habit and a bad habit can be summed up like this: a bad habit is a reflex or thought that distracts you or sets you back.  A healthy habit, on the other hand, is something constructive that you routinely do in a given situation.

Habits don’t have to be extreme to have a significant impact. Some of the positive habits that I have been working on over the last 12 months are actually really simple; daily goal setting, packing my gym bag the night before a workout, and listening to audio books on my commute. All of these things, in some way or another, help me feel better about myself and make me more productive with my time.

10 New Habits
Here are some simple practices that you can try adding to your daily routine:

  1. Start your day by writing down one thing you are grateful for.
  2. Add 10 minutes of stretching to the end of your workouts.
  3. Make yourself breakfast before you leave the house each morning.
  4. Carry a water bottle with you all day.
  5. Spend 15 minutes reading each day.
  6. Instead of answering messages individually as they come in, set a specific time when you will read and reply to emails (or texts, etc.).
  7. Give someone else a compliment at least once a day.
  8. Write down your goals for the week each Sunday.
  9. Save $10 more from every pay cheque, just because.
  10. Add a new healthy food to your diet. Eat it once a week.

How habits are formed
In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes habits as a 3-part cycle he refers to as the “the habit loop.” In a nutshell, we are presented with a cue (also known as a “trigger”), we respond with an action (also called a “habit”), and then we are rewarded for taking that action. Trigger, habit, reward.

Example #1: You are walking through the mall and smell the sweet scent of cinnamon rolls (cue), so you forget about what you were doing and get in line (habit). Finally, after waiting in line for a few minutes you get your freshly baked treat, sink your teeth in and bang – satisfaction (reward).

Example #2: Your friend is on her way over to your house to hang out for the afternoon. While she is on the way you get a phone call, “hey, do you want anything from the coffee shop?” (cue). You aren’t actually thirsty or craving anything, but you automatically reply, “Sure! I’ll take a small regular, thanks.” (habit). Then, a few minutes later someone is at your door with a 315 calorie gift, just for you (reward).

Habit triggers come in all shapes and sizes. Your brain works like a giant network of ideas and memories, each one connected to another. Simply put, a trigger is a spark that initiates the chain reaction of neural activity which leads up to action.

Most triggers are either environmental (i.e.: driving past Starbucks), sensory (i.e.: the ringer on your phone, the smell of McDonald’s fries), or psychological (i.e.: boredom, loneliness, fear, anger, etc.). Of course, there are other types of cues, but regardless, they all serve the function of initiating that habit loop.

A reward is just what it sounds like. As mentioned, your brain is like a network of ideas. Whenever you notice a particular trigger, your mind begins to make assumptions about the things that will accompany or follow this cue. When your brain learns to connect a certain trigger with a particular outcome, we are then motivated to take action (habit). If this action leads to a reward the habit loop is strengthened and the cycle becomes more likely to continue.

So, here’s the cycle one more time.

Trigger, habit, reward.

Catalyst Habits
Knowing all of this great stuff about the formation of habits is cool, but how can we take that information and apply it to our lives immediately? Well, because our habits determine a very large part of what we spend our time doing each day, taking control over those unconscious drives can go a long way in helping us navigate toward our goals.

It can be overwhelming to think about overhauling your life to realign your personality with an ideal version of yourself that you are striving to become. So, instead of spreading yourself thin and taking on a ton of new challenges all at once, try focusing in on one or two catalyst habits.

There has been substantial research on catalyst actions (or keystone habits as they are called in The Power Of Habit). When put to good use, these catalyst habits have an ability to trigger a domino effect of productivity and efficiency. Simply put, a catalyst habit is a routine which generally leads to another constructive act, making all tasks that follow easier or more likely to be completed.

A simple example is making your bed in the morning. Making your bed in and of itself might not change your life, however, beginning your day with a ritual involving cleanliness and attention to detail can setup the rest of your day for more of the same. Carry that momentum with you into the kitchen and wash your dishes after you eat breakfast. Now with a clear kitchen table, you feel inspired to pack a lunch for the day. Then when you take that break around noon, you don’t have to wander around for 15 minutes deciding which fast food restaurant is the healthiest. All because you made your bed and started a wave of positive energy that carried you through the rest of the day.

Catalyst actions can be difficult to identify. In my experience, the best way to find them is by taking a little time to build some self-awareness. The key here is to reverse-engineer the momentum.

Think about when you are at your best. Times when you are most productive and most disciplined. Where are you when you feel energized and focused? What does the area look like? What items are around you? Who is there with you? What time of day is it? What were you doing leading up to this moment? Did you just eat? Were you taking a walk when a great idea popped into your head?  Did you have a particular song on in your headphones?

Try to isolate all of the variables in the scenario so that you can better understand how you got into that focus zone. Really take some time to think about what inspires you in great detail. If you can identify your triggers, you can create motivation on demand.

Creativity, dedication, and positivity can seem to come in waves. Some days the ideas are coming by the dozens and we have enough juice to hit the gym twice. Other days we just can’t get anything going. That is why it is so important to keep control of our habits.

Regardless of the goal, it is critical that we pick up on the patterns that put us at our best. As your awareness develops you will learn which buttons control your cues. If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to build constructive routines around these triggers and truly make success a habit.

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“The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

For more on Habit Formation pick up a copy right here:

iBooks | Amazon

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Relentless

22 Books – Episode 2

Written by: Tim S. Grover

272 Pages (Paperback)

Scribner Publishing (2014)

Genre: NonFiction, Leadership, Motivation, Training

Purchase on Amazon : Download for iBooks

3 Sentence Summary

Relentless gives us a rare glimpse inside the headspace of elite level athletes and discusses the traits they share with those who achieve greatness in other walks of life. Throughout the book, Tim Grover shares gems from over two decades of experience working with the likes of MJ, Kobe and Dwayne Wade. In a lot of ways, this book is an unapologetically honest look at what it takes to become legendary.

22’s Review

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It made me feel… “normal”, in a sense (whatever that means). I think it’s because deep down inside I felt good to know that my insatiable compulsions to seek out progress were actually working in my favor, though most reasonable people might call such behaviour obsessive. Grover doesn’t waste time dressing up his ideas in academic prose or complicated metaphors. Instead, he cuts to the chase to make his point loud and clear.  This book is like the best friend you never had, who can keep it real with you and tell you exactly what you need to hear at the risk of hurting your feelings.  On the whole, this book is easy to read because it’s more of a compelling story than a long-winded lecture. The advice inspires action, which is the ultimate measure of effectiveness. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to separate themselves from the pack. It doesn’t matter if you are an athlete, a student or a career professional Relentless outlines a model of greatness that can take you from good, to great to unstoppable.

Actionable Advice

  1. Stop looking around for confirmation and support. Just focus on controllable factors. In the end, success is between you and you.
  2. Don’t just look for advice that supports your current point of view. Stay open to all kinds of feedback.
  3. Find your triggers and master them. Never let someone else push your buttons, instead, learn to channel your emotions into relentless energy.

Words From The Author

“Everything you need to be great is already inside you.” (p.5)

“Being relentless means demanding more of yourself than anyone else could ever demand of you, knowing that every time you stop, you can still do more. You must do more.” (p.5)

“Decide. Commit. Act. Succeed. Repeat.” (p.5)

“From this point, your strategy is to make everyone else get on your level; you’re not going down to theirs. You’re not competing with anyone else, ever again. They’re going to have to compete with you.” (p.8)

“If you want to be great, deliver the unexpected. If you want to be the best, deliver a miracle.” (p.19)

“You can’t claim you ran a marathon if you started at the seventeenth mile.” (p.164)

“Every dream you imagine, everything you see and hear and feel in your sleep, that’s not a fantasy, that’s your deep instinct telling you it can all be real.” (p.231)

“The greatest battles you will ever fight are with yourself, and you must always be your toughest opponent.” (p.231)

“Life can be complicated; the truth is not.” (p.232)

3 Thoughts…

  1. Everyone has different motivations for their grind. Grover suggests that “to have what you really want, you must first be who you really are.” When was the last time that you sat in silence and thought about what you would be doing with your life if money was no object?
  2. In one way or another, sacrifice always precedes achievement. What are you willing to give up in exchange for the chance to reach your biggest goals? Where do you draw the line? What sacrifices are off limits?
  3. In the words of the author, “you don’t have to love the hard work; you just have to crave the end result.” Do you agree? Is desire alone really enough to inspire life-changing action or does it take something more? What is the main thing stopping you from making your biggest goal a reality?

– 22 –

Are you looking for a new book?  If you haven’t read this one yet, you can find it on Amazon or iTunes through the links above. Once you’ve read, it tell us what you thought about it below.

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Do More With Your 24

You have to be willing to work on your craft every day. Here’s how I make time and stay productive.

orangebowl-practice

(My Northern Illinois Huskies practice in sunny Miami before a showdown with Florida State in the 2013 BCS Orange Bowl)

Sometimes life can get busy. That is true for everyone. But, if you want to be great at what you do, you need to be consistently productive. You have to be willing to work on your craft every day. You have to build a winning routine.

A routine is just a series of habits. Reflexes and patterns of action.

When the behaviours that you unconsciously fall back on are productive, then you are in luck. Productive habits help people make the most of their time. On the other hand, if you lack focus and have a tendency to be distracted or unmotivated, you should think about building some positive habits to get you moving in the right direction.

When trying to become more efficient, remember this fundamental rule. To create free time, you need to a) work less, b) work faster, or c) waste less time. The secret is to set yourself up for success.  It is always easiest to execute when you have a plan and the right resources.

 “Time is the most valuable currency you can spend and you ought to be in control of how you invest it.” – 22

Here are a few time management strategies that have helped me streamline my life. If you are trying to Be More Productive  consider these ideas:

“1 Tasking” – Do one thing at a time instead of multitasking. The majority of “wasted time” is lost in the transition from one task to another, focussing and refocusing. Work to complete one task at a time, so you will spend less time reorienting your divided attention.

Be Unavailable – Don’t respond to text messages or emails right away. Instead, schedule two or three blocks of time in the workday to filter through your messages and make any necessary replies. If you need to, turn off your notifications while you’re in “work mode”.

Wake up Earlier – This is the simplest way to add hours to your day. Obviously, not everyone is a morning person, but when you start your day early, you can get more done. Morning momentum can have a resonating effect that lasts through the rest of your day. Going to bed earlier is the easiest way to start this new routine. To give yourself the best chance to rise and shine; don’t skip meals, drink lots of water and try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Be Honest with Yourself – There is a difference between keeping busy and making progress. Are you prioritising your time so that the most important tasks are getting done first? Don’t just work hard, work smart! Get the most out of your day by setting goals and working towards milestones. Clear objectives will help you stay on task in the long run.

Make a List – People have made “to-do” lists since the beginning of time, but not all lists are created equal. The real value of a list is in its ability to illuminate a path to the finish line. Start with priority number one. Make a habit of writing a list before you go to bed each night. Then when you wake up, you can get right to it!

Use a Calendar – Have you ever wondered why every cell phone, tablet and laptop has a calendar app? Well, because they work! What if you’re not big on technology? No problem. Just print out a hard copy of the monthly calendar and put it up on your wall or bulletin board.  Write down important dates, so you can quickly remind yourself of what’s upcoming in the next few weeks.

Unplug Your Distractions – I used to play video games all day, non-stop. Then as my training schedule picked up and I started travelling more, I found myself out of time to work on important projects. I needed to make a change.  It took some major willpower, but eventually, I decided to take the batteries out of my Xbox One controllers and unplug the system from the wall.* This way it would be a huge hassle to plug it back in, turn it on and get distracted. To this day, one of the best moves I ever made.

For a good book related to this subject check out:

The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

4hourworkweek

The ONE Thing by Gary W. Keller & Jay Papasan

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*moment of silence for my Xbox One… thank you

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The Formula for Success

The ABCs of Dream Chasing

The ABC’s

Ambition. Belief. Consistency.  Three ingredients that you can never get enough of.

(Ontario Varsity Football League HOF induction ceremony in Guelph, Spring 2016. Left to right – ME, Austin Huh, Jerome Messam)

From time to time I find myself in the midst of greatness. Over the course of my career I’ve had the privilege of meeting some amazing people. Athletes, executives, entrepreneurs,  parents – the list of people who have made their living while beating the odds is endless. Fascinated by their stories I always ask myself what they all have in common.

In the end, it’s simple. The difference between those who Do and those who Try comes down to three core principles. Ambition, Belief, Consistency. In almost every situation I found that the most successful people were passionate about their goals, made detailed plans and stuck to them.

The ABC’s

Ambition comes from a very personal place inside you.  Ambition is deeper than a craving or a passing thought. Ambition is like hunger. Ambition comes from purpose. When your goals are attached to a worthy cause you will be able to channel new energy to get over any obstacles that may threaten your mission. That energy is called motivation. Only you know what means the world to you. Find something you are passionate about and use that as motivation to propel you towards your goals. When obstacles appear, remember the reason you started and keep your eyes on your ambitions.

“Chase your dream or stay asleep.” – 22

Belief is a strong word.  We usually look for proof of something before we can truly believe it. When it comes to believing in yourself, the proof is in the plan. Not every situation can be planned for ahead of time, but a good strategy goes a long way in avoiding unnecessary trouble.  Set yourself up for success. Find mentors who have experiences to share with you.  Keep yourself accountable by writing things down and setting deadlines.  Your vision will only become clearer as you begin to execute your plan. Monitor your progress and always take the time to plan your next steps.

“Confidence is a product of preparation. Be Confident.” – 22

Consistency is the key. They say that nothing works unless you do. Everyone on earth is given the same 24 hours each day, but it’s what we do with our time that separates us.  Consistency means waking up with the same mindset everyday, looking for that next step towards progress. Think of each day as a deposit in the bank and when you reach your goal you get to make one big withdrawal! Not very many people have the discipline to stay dedicated to their plans. Let your commitment separate you from the pack.  Speed is overrated. It doesn’t matter how fast you work, but rather that you just keep working. Fast or slow, you will always be making more progress than someone who quit.

“Just keep making deposits…” – 22

When it comes to getting the things you want in life just keep it simple. Decide what you want. Make a plan. Work towards it day by day, decision by decision. If you can stay committed, you can make it happen.

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