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Strategy to success in life

Strategy #1: Keep in Mind That No One Is Thinking About You Despite your strong confirmation bias, most people, most of the time, are not thinking about you or judging you at all. Other people aren’t even thinking of you while they’re looking at or talking to and about you. Yes, it’s true. In those cases, they’re talking and thinking about themselves, merely using you as a convenient projection screen. Often when you look at other people, you’re not really looking at them; you’re comparing what you see in them to what you see in yourself or what you’ve seen in others who are similar. If you do any public speaking or performance, you’ve looked into the audience and seen blank faces looking back at you. Those people may be judging you, but not in a negative way. They’re thinking about how what you’re saying or doing applies to them. They are using you to think about themselves. We all do this, all the time. When other people see you, you’re a reflection of their beliefs, insecurities, pride, areas for improvement, and anything else they have trouble seeing in themselves. Don’t concern 111 mental toughness 9781260121377_Baldwin_P4.indd 111 12/13/18 2:27 PM yourself with how other people are judging you. Because even when they are, they’re really not. When I speak on stages, I’m not concerned with what the audience thinks of me. I’ve already been hired to be there; what the audience is evaluating is how what I’m saying applies to them—which then affects their opinion of me. It’s what they see for themselves that formulates that opinion. Strategy #2: Recognize That the Only Thing That Works Is People By age 16, I was tired of kids mocking me for not being able to dunk. I decided I would train myself to dunk a basketball. I read an ad in SLAM magazine for a program that guaranteed to increase my vertical jump by 8 to 12 inches in 15 weeks of training. I mailed a money order to the address in the ad (welcome to the nineties!). The 20-page instructional booklet came a few weeks later, and I got to work. Halfway through the 15 weeks, results were showing. I was jumping higher and more quickly. My speed and lateral movements were more explosive. By the end of summer 1998, I could dunk easily, opening up a new facet of my game. I repeated that 15-week vertical jump program again in college and twice more in my professional years. Players I played with would sometimes ask me what I did to train my athletic ability. I gave them my copy of the program to use on their own. What happened for them? Well, nothing happened. None of those players achieved results, for good reason: none even completed the required 15 weeks. One player said it was too much work. Another said while he could see it had worked for me, it just didn’t work for him. Others quietly quit the program and never mentioned it to me again. 112 WORK ON YOUR GAME 9781260121377_Baldwin_P4.indd 112 12/13/18 2:27 PM This experience taught me two things about myself and other people: 1. Most people never finish what they start. Which meant if I could develop a habit of completing things, I could get ahead, regardless of my resources or talent. 2. Many people “try” things, with no belief in a positive result. The players I gave the vertical jump program to had doubts and negative expectations from the beginning. Therefore, they didn’t bring their full selves to the training, and subsequently, the weakest pretexts were good enough reasons to quit. I’ve published more than 6″,000 basketball drills online. Sometimes players would find my stuff and, seeing me practicing alone, ask: How can I be sure these drills and moves will work i And they have logical excuses at the ready: • I don’t know enough yet to begin. • I’m not sure this will work. • I don’t want to waste time on something that’s not guaranteed. • I want to make sure I get it right when I begin. • I don’t want to half-ass things. There’s only one thing in life that works: People. Strategies don’t work. Tips, tactics, tools, and hacks don’t work. Drills and exercises and programs and online courses don’t work. Human beings work. Have you ever seen two different people in the same place, employing the exact same strategy, but only one person gets the result? We can’t fully blame or credit the strategy. The major variable is the people involved. Any time you fail to take full responsibility for something, you’re setting yourself up to have it never go right. What if your coworkers and teammates never improve their skills? What if your tools never get replaced or updated? If it’s their fault, what can you do? Powerful people never blame their tools, teammates, or anything outside of their full control. They are therefore empowered to make things happen. And when it turns out to be the wrong thing, the powerful make it the right thing. ••• I played in a recreational league at a local LA Fitness in Tampa Bay, Florida, after coming home from playing in Montenegro. I’d played pretty well in Montenegro, so my confidence was high and I physically felt great. I met a guy who was a former college player himself who asked me if I would play on a team he was putting in the league, and I agreed. But this guy played 114 WORK ON YOUR GAME 9781260121377_Baldwin_P4.indd 114 12/13/18 2:27 PM in only one game before other commitments forced him to miss the rest of the season, leaving me with a team of players who were not very good. I realized that with this team, I had only one exhausting-but-fun option: dominate the action and score all the points. While I earlier lamented my former teammate Gus’s strategy of doing the exact same thing, this was a different situation: Gus had very competent teammates on his side; I did not. My decision was more strategic than selfish. If you find that your strategy isn’t working, first make sure you are working. Are you lazy? Are you lacking in skill? Are you holding back? Are you making weak excuses about everything? Is there anyone around you who would tell you this if it were true? Next, look at your strategy. If your plan is faulty, edit or swap your plan for a new one. If that plan doesn’t work, make another plan, and another, until you find one that does work (all given that you are still working). This perpetuating rule never expires. As a player, I never did any lower-body weight lifting. For one, I falsely believed it would slow me down, and for two, I didn’t know what I was doing (proper form is of extreme importance when lifting heavy free weights). This became obvious when I tried deadlifting. Having no idea of proper lifting form, I hurt my lower back and dealt with pain in that area for months. I didn’t try any more lower-body lifts again until years later, when I learned proper form and the deadlift actually became my favorite strength exercise. It wasn’t the exercise that was the issue; it was my own lack of knowledge and training. ••• Plans, strategies, and programs are just words. They don’t move, talk, or exert effort. These inanimate objects never work. People work. Or, they don’t. 115 mental toughness 9781260121377_Baldwin_P4.indd 115 12/13/18 2:27 PM Strategy #3: Live with No Regrets There’s no worse feeling than regret. Especially the regrets of what you didn’t do. The worst part about regret is that there’s not much you can do about it but revel in what might have been. You can just as easily choose not to have regrets. Whatever happened, happened. There’s nothing to do about it now but live to the fullest. Let the past stay the past, and make your present so great that old regrets wash away. Maybe you have some strong regrets, regrets that eat away at you sometimes, knowing you can’t go back and change the past. In that case, you’re left with two questions: 1. What can I do about the past regrets that slow me down in the present? 2. How can I ensure I don’t have any new regrets moving forward? How can I maximize the time I have, leaving nothing undone, unsaid, no life unlived? The answer to #1 is simple: It’s gone, so let it go. Amor fati is a Latin phrase meaning “love of fate.” Anything and everything that has happened in your life thus far has happened for a reason; it all contributed to you being who, what, and where you are now. I’m sure you have been in situations where, had things gone just slightly differently, you wouldn’t be where you are today. All of those situations, combined with any possible regrets, make you as you are, right now, how and where you are in life. If you were to go back and “fix” all your possible regrets, you’d also have to risk all those positive breaks, hoping they would break your way again. Would you take that bet? Regarding the second question, about the future, here’s what you’ll do to ensure no regret finds you in the future:

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