12-7-4

Stitched onto the Iona basketball jerseys are the numbers 12-7-4. It is a mantra for the team created by coach Tim Cluess. It stands for: 12 months a year, 7 days a week, 4 hours a day. That’s the minimum you need to put in if you want to want to be the best. To be the best takes hard work, there’s no way around it. You can have all the natural talent in the world, but to be the best, you have to put in the time. Legendary basketball player Kevin Durant once said “Hard work beats talent when talents fails to work hard.” Hard work will out perform talent in the long run. Whether it’s being the best basketball player, the best student, the best leader, teacher, storyteller, parent, it all takes hard work. But the good news is you can achieve the level you want to by
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I Dare You!

With the Olympics in full swing, I am in awe & inspired by the athletes & their dedication. A friend told me to look up a letter written to high school students by an Olympic gold medalist named Clifton Cushman in 1964 & I absolutely love it. I hope you love it too. To the youth of Grand Forks: Don’t feel sorry for me. I feel sorry for some of you! You may have seen the U.S. Olympic Trials on television September 13. If so, you watched me hit the fifth hurdle, fall and lie on the track in an inglorious heap of skinned elbows, bruised hips, torn knees, and injured pride, unsuccessful in my attempt to make the Olympic team for the second time. In a split second all the many years of training, pain, sweat, blisters, and agony of running were simply and irrevocably wiped out. But I
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Choose Your Word for 2018

As the New Year approaches I enjoy spending time reviewing my goals and my progress from the previous twelve months and setting goals for the next. I look at my life in four parts: Physical, mental, emotional & spiritual. I set goals in each. I think about what I want to be in each category, why I want it and how I am going to achieve it. It is one of my favorite times of the year. Several years ago, I added something different to my goal setting session. I decided to choose a word: one single word that I would focus on throughout the year. It became the subject of my study, the focus of my thoughts, and it defined the trait I wished to gain in that year. Like Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues, my word would become part of me in that year. One year I chose the
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Push Through With Passion

I am sure there is a goal that you are passionate about. Something that you are pursuing with all of your heart. What is it? Is it your business? The relationship of your dreams? Weight loss? Most people think that passion is just enthusiasm for what you are doing, and it is that, but there is more to it. Even though you focus on what you love, it does not mean it is always going to be without challenge. The word passion originated in the 12th Century, originally used by Christian scholars who were describing the suffering of Christ. Passion is more than just love; it is willing suffering for something that you love. It is when the feeling in your heart supersedes the challenge that lies in front of you. A family friend recently went through a kidney transplant because his body had rejected his own. He explained to
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Energizers vs. Drainers

We are all busy.  Running from this to that to the next.  It’s just the pace of life these days.  While a lot of that busyness is necessary and enjoyable, it also is a drain on our energy.  We only have so much energy and we need to make sure we spending the majority time, or at least our discretionary time, on activities that energize us and not drain us.   Below are two lists, the first a list of “energizers” and the second a list of “drainers”.  While sometimes “drainers” cannot be avoided and are a necessary part of life, we can look for healthy ways to reduce or eliminate them.  When we look for opportunities to do more on the “energizers” list, we find ourselves feeling more positive, enthusiastic and hopeful.   Things That Energize Me Hanging out with people who inspire me Loving my children Teaching Reading books Developing ideas Exercise Hobbies I
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What Is Your Contribution?

My father-in-law Dennis White is a master gardener. It is a hobby that he has taken and made into a real craft. Every week, he cuts a bouquet from his beautiful flower garden to take to church to display on the pulpit. It is his contribution, his way to use his talent for the benefit of others. It’s been said that we can’t all contribute in a grand way, but we can all contribute in our own way. If we take our strengths, our talents, what sets us apart and use them for the good of others, then we are making a grand contribution. My friend Jason Hewlett describes this as finding your signature move and he has helped me to realize that it is vital that we share them with the world. I loved this observation from Jason, “The secret is this: Share them. Don’t hide them! If you
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10 Tips for Being Nonjudgmental

We are all judgmental.  It’s just human nature.  Even though it’s in our nature to judge, it’s not always helpful and often turns into a hindrance. There is a definite difference between making judgments and being judgmental. Being judgmental can keep us from building relationships, harm those relationships we already have and keep us isolated.  As Walt Whitman said “Be curious, not judgmental”. These 10 tips for being nonjudgmental from Sheri Van Dijk can help make the distinction. Remember that being nonjudgmental isn’t about turning a positive into a negative; it’s about being neutral, neither positive nor negative.. Reducing your negative judgments will reduce your level of anger and other painful emotions. Keep in mind that judging is like adding fuel to the fire of your emotion; it only increases your painful emotions. You can often reduce a behavior just by counting how often you’re engaging in that behavior. If you get overwhelmed
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Authenticity Gives You Power

My friend, Sandra Joseph, is a big time Broadway star.  She played the part of Christine Daae in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway for nearly a decade.  She is an incredible actress with an even more incredible voice, but what I think I love most is her story. Sandra was a struggling actress in New York City when she was given the opportunity to try out for the part of Christine.  She went into the audition so nervous that her mouth became dry and her lips stuck to her teeth.  Not exactly the best way to make a good impression.  She was offered a part in the chorus but not the lead. A few years later, she was given the opportunity to audition again.  This time she wasn’t going to let her nerves get to her, but she overcompensated and really over did it.  She was not offered any
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Plus, Minus and Equal

The four-time undefeated MMA champion now MMA trainer, Frank Shamrock, has developed a system for training would-be fighters. I’m not a huge MMA fan – but I think there is a lot of merit to his system. The system is called “+, -, =”. Shamrock’s theory is that in order to be the best, you need to work with someone better than you, someone equal to you and someone whom you can teach.  Shamrock believes this builds the best fighters.   We certainly don’t have to be an MMA fighter to benefit from this system. The same can be applied to us in any scenario. Training with someone better than us pushes us past our limits and helps us see greater possibilities. Training with our equal tests our skills and in the process they become a peer, allow us to create cooperation, shared learning and has a mastermind effect. Teaching allows
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Dream Big (But It’s Not What You Think)

The other day my friend Sandra Joseph, the amazingly talented Broadway star, quoted the poet and philosopher Mark Nepo. Nepo said “Often your dreams don’t come true but as we give our all in pursuit of our dreams sometimes we come true.” As children, we are taught to dream big and to go for our dreams. The reality of it is not everyone can become the professional athlete, the CEO or the Broadway star, but the fact is the growth we find in pursuit of the dream is more valuable than the actual dream. The hard work, the setbacks and triumphs, and the journey make us the person we are. We may not become the “best in the world”, but we certainly can become the best version of ourselves as we strive to be the “best in the world.” When we pursue our dreams, go the extra mile, put in
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