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September is here again! Yay!

The smell of hockey is back! Yay!

(Sorry Moms, sorry.)

Many of you know that one of my passions stems from my curiosity about why certain individuals are able to maximize their talent and consistently play-their-Best Game. In other words, how do people across all walks of life, family, hockey, business, relationships, etc. really excel, really get their best game on the ice?

People are unique and they each become inspired differently, but I would submit that there is one common thread among these high-achievers… their focusability.

The ability to increase their attention and focus towards what they want is the common trait among high achievers. Am I allowed to say that I get excited about this? “Why?” you might ask. Here’s why: because athletes do not have to be the biggest or strongest kid on the block to FOCUS more. Business people do not need to be the smartest executive to FOCUS more. Parents do not need prior experience to FOCUS more. A pretty successful NBA coach by the name of Phil Jackson was once asked, “Phil, what was your secret to winning all of those championships?” Phil answered with three words; “I pay ATTENTION!”

Phil focused on what matters….more.

Again, why am I so exited about September and this skill of focusability? After you read this, I highly suggest that you scoot over to ESPN (the URL is at the bottom of this page) and read the whole article on the Washington Capital’s super star goalie Braden Holtby. Holtby is not only a Vezina Trophy winner, but will compete against Carey Price for the starting position with Team Canada this fall. And the next big questions are: Where did Holtby come from? How did Holtby get on top? HOW did he become such a high-achiever?

Holtby spent parts of four seasons with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, trapped behind Capitals’ goalies Semyon Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth and Tomas Vokoun, so he wasn’t what people call a natural athlete, and certainly not an instant success.

Then, how did he maximize his talent? How did he become successful in his field?
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“For a typical 7 p.m. game, Holtby will begin his preparations at 5:30 with a quiet 10-minute meditation, followed by hand-eye exercises in which he tosses a rubber ball against a wall. When the clock strikes 6, Holtby finds a place in the arena, often behind the players’ bench or in the stands behind the net, rests his chin on his goalie stick, and begins darting his eyes throughout the arena.

‘He’s looking for things to focus on,’ said Capitals goaltending guru Mitch Korn, who coached six-time Vezina Trophy winner Dominik Hasek when he played for the Buffalo Sabres. “Pekka Rinne would do the same thing in Nashville, but he’d sit in his locker stall and find the ‘O’ in a nameplate, then find an ‘A.’ Like another player warms up his body, Braden warms up his eyes.’

Moments before the puck is dropped, Holtby will rock to the rhythm of the national anthem, spray water on his thick mane, kiss the names of his children on his mask, then buckle up for a 60-minute ride.

When he allows a goal, Holtby will break into another routine. Leaning against his crossbar, he’ll squirt water into the air and follow each droplet as it descends in front of his face.

‘It started as an eye trick,’ Holtby said of the post-goal routine he began in junior hockey under the direction of sports psychologist John Stevenson. Sometimes when you’re feeling a little lost, your vision starts to shake a bit when you’re trying to focus for too long on the puck.

‘One of our tricks is to zone in on something really small and focus on that, and it kind of brings your eyesight back into focus. It reminds me to focus on the next shot.’

More than anything, Holtby credits his mental preparation, which includes a game-day jam session on a portable guitar, for his meteoric rise to hockey stardom.

‘I knew fairly early in junior that guys were going to be better than I was,’ Holtby said. ‘I had to find a different area where I could push myself to the next level, and that was the mental game.

Not everyone wants to put in that kind of work and not everyone wants to buy into it because it’s one of those things where you’re kind of the weird guy when you’re doing mental exercises. You’ve got to get over that hump, and that’s 90 percent of the reason I’m here today.’ ( http://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/17439691/nhl-world-cup-hockey-team-canada-goalie-braden-holtby-routines-big-reason-success )

Jenn and I have been training teams, sales forces and organizations for 25 years now on how to pay attention to the Inner Game, or as Braden likes to call it, The Mental Game. Braden is right. Not everyone wants to pay attention to, or increase their awareness, their FOCUS on SHIFTING their thinking and SHIFTING their cultural mindset. As in sports, we have noticed that when business leaders & whole cultures hold themselves accountable to SHIFT their focus towards solutions and away from complaining (as one example), this becomes a first small step towards increasing their ability to maximize talent. Successful focusability comes from “what we focus on” and “how consistently we keep this focus.”

Social Scientists suggest that we generate approximately 60,000 thoughts per day, with 95 % of those thoughts being the same thoughts as we had yesterday, and (this next one amazes me) 80% of those 95% are negative. Focusing consistently on what we don’t have, don’t want, or what we hate about other people will get us a result; it just won’t be the positive result most of us are hoping for.

If I were to bring in ESPN or TSN to interview the people in your work place or on your team, what would they talk to us about? Would they discuss how your team is playing up to it’s potential, highly focused, heading towards playing it’s best game, so exited, and can’t wait to win? Or would they explain that this job is just OK, they can’t wait to leave at 5 pm, but they are still hoping to have the job next month? What type of mindset, focus and energy runs your business?

That people get distracted from being their absolute best because of smart phones, email is reality (recent stats suggest that we get interrupted by our phones 110 times per day) but these distractions are tiny compared to what a negative focus does to reducing our potential and decreasing our performance.

FOCUSABILITY; what we look at most, we get!

I did look up focusability in the dictionary and was happy to see that it is a word… phew, (I thought that I had made it up.) Focusability = the ability to be focused.

And here is what separates the professionals from the amateurs…

what you choose to focus on, and for how long?



PS – Love to discuss this skill and how to increase it on your team with you this week.


( http://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/17439691/nhl-world-cup-hockey-team-canada-goalie-braden-holtby-routines-big-reason-success )

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