Over the Christmas Holidays, I re-read portions of The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. I try to do that every year, don’t always succeed. I do always know that when I re-read it, I’m a better person when I am done.

This year, one word stood out to me. Practice.

Its in the vocabulary of coaches practically every hour of our lives. It has a multitude of meanings of course, but I wanted to be simple and just think of what things I want to practice more, in order to be a better coach, better friend, just… better. Here’s my list for the new year. When I got done, I realized that like most practice, there wasn’t anything new, but there were a lot of skills I’d used less than I should.

Here’s my list for Practice:

  1. Practice appreciation.

    I want to focus more on saying thanks. From the guys who pick up the garbage in front of our house on Christmas Day (now there is job that needs appreciation) to my swimmers, to my professional friends, to people who do good things and don’t ask for anything in return. Just more appreciation expressed.

  2. Practice Real Compliments.

    When I see something good, I’m going to comment on it more. More positive feedback to everyone around us is a good thing. But it has to be real. Some people around me think I am hard to please. They’re right. So I don’t pass ’em out like penny candy, but when I DO see something that I think is a plus, I’m going to say it more.

  3. Practice Calling People by their name.

    Its the sweetest sound. I’m going to use it more. Especially at swim team practice.

  4. Practice Spreading the Glory.

    Any accomplishment has multiple authors and contributors. From a good day at training, to a good day at the office. I want to practice making sure everyone feels the warm glow of accomplishment. (everyone who deserves it!)

  5. Practice Raising People Up, Not cutting them down.

    Actually, I am pretty good at this already, so what I am going to practice, is educating the teenagers around me on how important this is. Teenage humor today is incredibly destructive. Maybe it always has been. Its unnecessary. I’ll practice my speech on changing this behavior.

  6. Practice Remembering that Praise is Power.

    Hey, praise has huge influence. Catch someone doing something right. Make ’em feel good about themselves and there is no telling what they will achieve. Thanks to Coach Jack Nelson of FLST and 76 Head Olympic Coach for a lifetime of education on this one. He’s the best ever at this.

  7. Practice Putting Service First. All Else Flows From That.

    My Dad used to say “Make yourself useful, Son.” I believe that. Its hard to live it every hour sometimes. But if you practice, you will see more opportunities to serve others well. A smart salesperson by the name of Zig Zigler (the best who every lived at this) says “you can get anything you want in life, by simply making sure you help others get what they want in life.” A great practice!

  8. Practice Remembering that No One is Perfect.

    Least of all me. So tolerance within limits is a skill to learn and practice. Of course in training everyday, its important to remind the athletes that just because we’re not perfect does not mean we shouldn’t TRY to be perfect at our swim skills everyday.

  9. Practice Remembering that everyone has a right to be different.

    Or, as our friend Steven Covey would say “Simultaneous Loose-Tight Properties.” As long as the individual commits to and lives and enhances the central tenet of a group, allow all the little individualisms that make that person unique. Encourage them even.

    Advances come from people who think and act “outside the box.”

  10. Practice Courtesy all the time.

    It makes you and everyone around you feel better. And it allows for creative differences and civilized conduct of disputes. And Civilized Conduct of Disputes allows for progress to be made on stalemated issues.

  11. Practice Remembering that How You Think When You Lose Determines How Long It Will Be Until You Win.

And we all lose at something fairly regularly. Our reaction to that failure is the key to overcoming and triumphing over the difficulty.

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