Want to be the Best? Empty Your Cup

If you were putting together a team right now, what would you look for? 

What sort of player would you draft?

What would you prioritize to win a championship?

Or, if you were putting together a staff to run the business of your dreams, what would your interview process look like? Who would you hire to help you reach your goals?

That's a lot of questions.

But I'd love to know.

What do you think is the one thing that foreshadows greatness?

In over twenty years of coaching elite tennis players, I found that one trait stood out more than any other.

On the surface, though, it appears greatness can come from many different things.

I saw a lot of fast players make it to the top. I also saw big-hitters become elite. And I also saw smart players and unorthodox players and strictly disciplined players dominate their peers.

But there were always exceptions to those rules.

Fast was never a guarantee. Neither was big-hitting, brains, weird styles or discipline. 

One thing, though, was always true. One trait always guaranteed excellence.

An empty cup.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

No matter who the player was, if he/she had an open mind, they achieved their goals. Every time.

If they were open to believing big goals, open to restructuring their schedule, open to learning how to perfect their strokes, success was inevitable. 

Great achievers are completely open to learning all the time. No pride, no prejudice, no annoying, meddling parents. 

As long as the student is open-minded, all goals are doable. Nothing is off the table.

Some of us, though, come with our own stipulations. We don't want to be told what to do. We know just as much as he does.

And what if we do it this way instead?

Yet it's exactly those preconceptions that make us impervious to coaching.

If we're not improving, that's why.

Our minds are too closed. 

Do you want to build a team or create a staff? Do you want to be the best at anything?

It's simple.

Empty your cup.

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

 

How Many Steps Are Needed to be Able to Eat Anything?

Everyone loves a good diet

From raw foods to Ketogenic to Whole 30 and beyond, we're always one new diet away from our perfect selves. 

The problem is: they don't work

For one, when we start to lose weight, our body works against us. The stress of not eating (or eating weird things) makes our body freak out and attempt to slow down the amount of calories we burn. Initially the stress causes weight loss--then it doesn't.

For another, diets don't work because we won't stick to them! We're given a bunch of diet rules, and we follow them... at first. But we really haven't changed our mindset, so we eventually throw those rules out. They were stupid rules anyway (so the thinking goes). 

And most of all, diets are terrible! Who wants to eat that when we could eat this? What kind of quality of life do we have if we're eating kale? Seriously. 

So are we all just stuck? Are we hopelessly trapped in our current state?

No.

You can step your way out.

Now I'm not a doctor. I'm not giving anyone medical advice. For medical advice, go to a real doctor.

But I've been tracking my steps for several years now. And I've also been tracking what I eat in relation to those steps. 

And what I've found is that there is a threshold. There is a number that seems to create weight loss no matter what I do.

The first number to talk about is 10,000. Everyone throws around 10,000 as the number of steps we need to get each day to lose weight and be healthy. 

Unfortunately, that's not the number.

10,000 definitely can keep you at equilibrium (as long as you don't eat too much). But 10,000 steps won't get you where you want to go. You can still gain weight at 10,000 steps.

How about 15,000? We're getting closer.

If you eat a reasonable diet and don't eat past 6 pm, there's a chance 15,000 steps will get you to lose some weight. But if you eat late (past 8 pm) or eat too much, you may not even see progress at 15,000.

What about 20,000? Now we're talking.

20,000 is a big number. If you get 20,000 steps, you're almost off the hook. I've eaten late and not great on days when I've put 20k on the board, and woken up the next day weighing less than I did before. It's happened. I've seen it with my own eyes many times. But we're not all the way there.

So what's the magic number? 

25,000. 

If somehow, some way, you can get 25,000 steps in, I would bet you a hefty amount of money that you'll lose weight. On my days of 25,000 steps, I can literally eat anything I want whenever I want and weigh less the next day.

It's magical.

Of course, 25,000 steps is a massive number. It takes about an hour to walk 10,000 steps if you're walking briskly. 

So we're talking about 2.5 hours of walking to get to that number. Who has time to walk 2.5 hours a day?

In my tennis days, I got that number pretty easily. One of the perks of being a tennis pro. But it would take some creativity to get it done during a "regular" day.

How about vacation, though? A hike would do it. A long nature trail would do it. Walking the Vegas strip would do it (I've gotten 30,000 steps there before). 

The bottom line is: we should all eat a little less and eat earlier. 

But if we don't want to eat reasonably, 25,000 steps will get you where you want to go.

 

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

Why Can't We Meet Our Heroes?

If I had a nickel for every time I've heard someone famous say, "Never meet your heroes," I'd have more than fifteen nickels. 

I've heard it in interviews, podcasts, and famous books. 

Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love fame, even started her book Big Magic with a story about a poet that inspired her. This poet had a huge influence on her life and she easily could have sought him out and met him in person.

But she didn't.

On purpose.

She didn't want to meet her hero.

Why? Why is everyone avoiding their heroes?

Of course, there are some experts who say we shouldn't have heroes at all. By having a hero, we're taking the focus off of ourselves. By having a hero, we're neglecting our own development. We should be our own heroes, they say.

And they make a good point. 

But then again, having a hero is inspiring.

Heroes wake us up to what we can be.

On our own, we may think our situation is hopeless. A hero then comes along and shows us the way. We were wrong to think it can't be done. We were wrong to think so negatively. 

Heroes can provide the spark of inspiration that sends us rocketing down our own successful path.

So why not meet them? 

If we have heroes, we should seek them out, right? If we have the means, a meeting with a hero can only solidify our inspiration. 

Wouldn't it?

That's where we get the nightmare stories. Paul Newman in slippers. Naomi Campbell throwing phones. Bruce Willis' unwarranted hostility. 

If we meet our heroes and they're not actually good people, then, allegedly, all of our dreams are dashed. Our inspiration is doused. The hope we used to feel is gone. 

But is it? 

First, the actions that inspired us are still there. Strictly speaking, the person behind those actions isn't important. 

Second, if our heroes are losers, then take them off your hero list!

Absorb the excellence from their actions and then strike them from the record.

Because heroes don't have to be jerks.

There's no rule that mandates they have to let us down. Disappointment doesn't have to be built in.

Heroes can be heroes all the time. In fact, if we've chosen wisely, they will never let us down.

It's a senseless shame that Gilbert never met her hero.

It's a lost opportunity that has huge upside and no downside--if we have the right mindset.

So kindly hold your advice.

Heroes are made to be met.

 

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

 

Stop Believing in Talent

Almost nothing in this world can make me angry.

Nothing, that is, except someone saying: “Oh, that person is so talented!”

When I hear that, one of two things is happening:

1) I’m vomiting hot bile;

2) I’m quietly sitting in a corner beating myself in the head with a cheese grater.

Why is that?

Because there’s no such thing as talent.

Just like the moon isn't made of Gouda, bleeding people with leeches doesn’t cure them, and wrestling isn’t real. Well, maybe wrestling is real, but you get my point.

Believing in a thing called “talent” is like believing in Santa Claus. It allows us to offer a fact-free explanation for why that present is under the tree, but it’s a flat-out lie.

Talent is an easy, fanciful, and borderline dangerous way to keep ourselves in the dark about what we’re truly capable of.

“Hold up. Talent IS a real thing. Look at Michael Jordan or Mozart or Leonardo da Vinci. They’re clearly amazing! What do you call that?”

I call it skill, and there’s a huge difference.

Talent is something you’re allegedly born with (or so the story goes).

If you're one of the “chosen ones", after being delivered by the stork the Talent Gods come down and sprinkle Talent Dust all over you. And from that moment on, you mesmerize the world with your effortless, supernatural feats of amazement.

That’s why you can find Grant Hill without any eyes. That’s why you’re the songbird of your generation. That’s why you can do this.

And when we, the regular people, see one of the Chosen Ones do something incredible, we tap the fellow next to us and say, “Wow, look at all that talent!”

Chances are, that person will nod approvingly, and life will happily go on. There’s almost no chance the person we just tapped will suddenly take on a look of deranged sadness and pull out a cheese grater.

Unfortunately, that talent story just isn’t true.

There’s no talent fairy handing out secret talent-blessings. When you see that superstar do something mind-blowing, what’s actually happening in that moment is the culmination of thousands of hours of boring, purposeful practice. That superstar actually was just like us when she started out. Nothing more, nothing less. But she decided to do the work.

How do we know that? The first answer can be found in the wonderful book by Daniel Coyle (The Talent Code). In his book, Coyle takes us to some “talent factories”, and we find out that talent factories simply are places where groups of people do a whole lot of deeply-focused practice. Hours and hours of it.

In addition, in Malcolm Gladwell’s amazing book, Outliers, we find out that it takes about 10,000 hours of focused practice to become amazing at anything. In Outliers we learn that the Beatles played gigs seven days a week when they were coming up (easily getting 10,000 hours in), that Bill Gates had special access to computers as a teenager (allowing him to reach 10,000 of programming time) and that Mozart’s early compositions were garbage (he didn’t become a “genius” until he’d composed for about 10,000 hours).

And in Matthew Syed’s book, Bounce, we learn how world-class table tennis players (like himself) aren’t automatically world-class at, say, tennis, even though the two sports appear to be similar.

It turns out Syed doesn’t have a “talent” for racquet-sports, he has a lot of practice time invested specifically in table tennis. That’s not the same thing as tennis, thus he has no equity built up there. In other words, you’re only talented at something you’ve spent countless hours on.

“Fine, maybe you’re right. I don’t understand what the big deal is.”

The big deal is that believing in talent just might ruin your life.

Let’s say you wake up one day and you have a dream. You want to be a singer or an athlete or a computer programmer. Whatever.

What happens, though, if you come across someone who’s really good at what you want to be? If you believe in talent, you might see that she’s really good, and you’re really not. She might even be so good that you think she’s a “natural". What then?

Because she supposedly has talent and you clearly do not, you decide to give up. That only makes sense, right? What’s the point of pursuing something you were never meant to do? You’ll never be as great as her no matter how hard you try.

So you do the logical thing and quit on your dreams.

The curse of talent doesn’t stop there. Now, everywhere you look, you see people with “talent". After throwing your original dreams in the sewer, you start to think that maybe you’re not good at anything. You start to take inventory on what you’re “talented” at. After a few sad, lonely minutes the answer hits you.

“Nothing, I have a talent for nothing.”

Where does that leave you? Since you’re not one of the lucky ones, you find yourself giving up on everything. You start gaining weight (“I’m not talented genetically”), you stop working hard (“I’m not blessed with work ethic”), and you find yourself alone after an emotional break-up (“I don’t blame her for leaving someone so un-talented”).

You find yourself slowly and inevitably spiraling down, down, down with no hope in sight. And why is there no hope? Because if you’re not born with talent, there’s nothing you can do about it.

What if, however, you realize that talent is a fake, made-up thing? What then?

The first thing that happens is you become hopeful. You see that girl who is so good at what she does, and instead of it being debilitating, it’s inspiring.

“Look at how good she is! If I can just practice enough, I can be just like her!”

And so you get to work.

You decide to get up earlier every day to get that little extra practice time in. You decide to start eating right because that gives you more energy, and you get to practice more if you have more energy. You get involved in a healthy relationship because hard-workers are confident, and confidence attracts admirers.

Meanwhile, you’re keeping an eye on whoever the best is, knowing optimistically you’re creeping closer and closer to that person with every hour you practice.

A life believing in talent is a life of despair.

A life built on focused practice is a life with no limits.

Do you see why I keep my cheese-grater handy? It’s because anyone who believes in talent is probably giving up on his or her dreams, and that's a tragedy.

Anything is possible. Nothing is pre-determined. There are no geniuses.

Getting you to believe that is my talent.

 

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

 

The Dark Side of Persistence

"Energy and persistence conquer all things." - Ben Franklin

Never give up. 

That sage advice can be found on posters in locker rooms or aspiring workplaces everywhere. It feels good and powerful to say.

But what the cool posters and Ben Franklin fail to tell us is:

Persistence is a terrible thing.

If you've ever watched a network mystery show (48 Hours, 20/20, etc.), you know that most episodes tell the story of a man who ended up killing his estranged partner. 

And, inevitably, we find out the man just wouldn't leave the woman alone. He followed her and watched her and was jealous of her, long after the woman had moved on to better things.

You know what that's called? Stalking.

You know what stalking is? Persistence.

Is that what Mr. Franklin meant?

Or if you consume podcasts or interviews, you'll definitely come across stories about the lowly neophyte who wanted the attention of a famous person in his field. 

The neophyte kept calling and calling and emailing and emailing and, golly gee, eventually the famous person gave in. 

Wow, what a neat story. 

Wow, what a horror show.

Anyone who ever called and called me for lessons (after I said no) during my tennis career wouldn't have eventually gotten a smile and an appointment. 

They would have gotten a restraining order. 

That persistent lesson-seeker isn't noble, he's a nuisance. At best.

In fact, the persistence is exactly the reason why I'd never agree to a lesson with a person like that. Any other strategy might have changed my mind--but not that one.

Yes, maybe one mail boy persisted his way to a vice-presidency. But we never hear about the thousands of other annoying mail boys who persisted their way to unemployment. 

Or how about sports?

John McEnroe, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, was obsessed with becoming the #1 tennis player in the world. 

He played way more tournaments than he should have and shoved friends, family, and anyone else out of the way during his pursuit. 

He ravenously hunted that ranking, never stopping for a second no matter what the cost. 

In 1981 that persistence won out. McEnroe became #1. 

And when it happened, McEnroe described in his book how lonely he felt. He got to #1, went back to his hotel room and no one was there to share it with him. He was melancholy and alone.

That's what his persistence produced: sadness.

It turns out that persistence is only useful when we strive for ideals, not individual things or people.

If we're persistently kind, we end up surrounded by friends.

If we're persistently grateful, we end up happy.

If we're persistently hard-working, we end up providing value for other people. 

If we're stalking, annoying, or obsessing, then Ben Franklin was absolutely wrong.

Giving that up is the only noble thing to do.

 

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

Why Deadpool 2 is the Greatest Superhero Movie of all Time

[First, there will be no spoilers in this week's post. You may read on without fear.]

[Second, this discussion excludes The Dark Knight. For now, The Dark Knight is untouchable. Every other superhero movie is in the mix, though. On to the post...]

Movies matter.

If they didn't, why would people all over the world spend billions of dollars going to see the good ones?

They provide distraction from tough times and entertainment for good times. 

A good movie offers blissful punctuation to a first date and escalates a good night into a great one. 

Sharing a good movie with the person you're with and with other happy strangers is a better experience than doing it on your own.

And since superhero movies are the only movies people seem to care about anymore, finding the best ones in that genre becomes an important task, indeed. 

Our happiness is on the line. The best superhero movie elevates our lives. A bad one can lead to this

Recently, I saw Deadpool 2. It was spectacular

So spectacular, in fact, that I think it might be the greatest superhero movie of all time. Here are my reasons why:

1) It's laugh-out-loud funny. I've never typed the letters "LOL" in my life and I don't intend to start now, but Deadpool 2 made me laugh out loud many times. It's really funny. How funny? It's been called the Step Brothers of its generation. THAT funny. Some people might say Thor: Ragnarok was the funniest. Those people would be wrong.

2) The self-awareness. Since the beginning, we've been forced to suspend our disbelief in order to make it through a superhero show. They're superheroes, after all. It's not real. But let's be honest: we've had to stomach a lot of idiotic things in our quest for superhero entertainment. But then Iron Man came around and we had someone who understood where we were coming from. Tony Stark was in it with us, which is why that movie was so great. Deadpool 2 is that on a whole new level, and it's fantastic. 

3) It makes fun of superhero landings. This isn't a spoiler because this happened in the first Deadpool. But this acknowledgement from the movie is so much fun. Why did everyone just decide that heroes land this way? No good reason, that's why. And making fun of that creates a connection between us and the movie that no other movie has achieved--ever. 

4) The serious parts actually add to the movie. Personally, I deeply dislike movies that try to feign legitimacy by throwing in a serious part. "Hey, look everyone, I'm a quality movie because I have a serious, quasi-sad part." It's insulting and annoying. Just give me the action and shut the heck up. But Deadpool 2 gets serious ever-so-briefly and it's absolutely integral to the rest of the movie. It matters and it's touching. No other movie walks the line of irreverent and poignant quite like Deadpool 2 does. It's not even close.

5) It's better (slightly) than Deadpool. The original was great but was a shock to the system. It was so different than all the other superhero films. But the second one did it even better. The fight scenes were a little bit better. The jokes were a little bit funnier. The characters were all a little more interesting. Plus we didn't have to waste any time with the origin story. We could just get right into it. Almost every sequel is worse than the first. This one was better--and better than every other superhero movie at the same time.

6) It introduces the best female superhero character to date. Wonder Woman fell short (thanks to whoever was writing for Gal Gadot, who tried to make the most of it). Black Widow is ancillary at best (again, no fault of Ms. Johansson). Elektra? Yikes. Catwoman? No comment. 

But Lucky is phenomenal. She goes line-for-line with Deadpool and effortlessly steals scenes. She's legitimately funny. She's believable in her role even though her role is completely undefined. I'm happy when she's on screen and sad when she's not.

I will definitely be there if Lucky gets her own spin-off. Her performance was an amazing job performed by an excellent actress who was given writing worthy of her skills. 

So if you're looking for something to do, go see Deadpool 2.

In the world of superhero movies, it doesn't get better than that. 

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

 

Breaking Through: Conquering the Evil Fixed Mindset

It’s a question I’ve been asked many times:

“How come I play so well in my lesson, but I can’t do it in a tournament?”

Or, in another form:

“Why do I understand everything perfectly in a seminar, but I can’t do it when I go home?”

It’s a legitimate question and an interesting one.

Why is it easier to perform at a high level with your coach than it is when you’re alone?

There are two possible explanations.

One, you were never very good to begin with, and the success you were seeing with your coach was a mirage.

“Sorry, Billy, but that world-class forehand that you just showed off in your lesson is just an illusion. The reality is that your forehand shanks so much you’re a danger to anyone within thirty yards.”

“But I just made twenty in a row.”

“That was blind luck.”

“It was? 

“Yes. You’re terrible and you’ll always be terrible.”

That’s one possible explanation for why you fail when you leave your coach.

Of course, thinking that is ridiculous.

Billy did hit his forehand in, and you did learn the materials at your seminar.

The lie is that you can’t do it when you leave.

So where does this lie come from? Your mindset.

In her fantastic book, Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success, Carol Dweck talks about fixed mindsets and growth mindsets. Fixed mindsets mean you think everything fits in its own little space and it’s never going to change.

There are two major repercussions to thinking this way.

1) If you have a fixed mindset, you’re always going to be victim of self-sabotage because your skill level has already been capped (by you). When you learn something new, your mind rebels and you start hearing the voices:

I’m too old to learn new things.

People my age aren’t athletic.

I’m just not smart enough.

Learning a new skill is beyond someone like me.

When you’re with your coach, though, these judgments go away. Your coach believes in you, so you believe in you. And you learn stuff.

However, when your support is gone, the judgments come right back and your inner voice says:

Guess what? It’s all up to you now. You did it in practice, but can you do it now--when it counts?

And when you mess up just one time…

See, I knew you couldn’t do it.

Hard to improve in an environment like that.

2) A fixed mindset always makes you worry you’ll be revealed as a fraud.

Maybe you kind-of think you can be great. When you perform well with your coach around, you begrudgingly start to believe in yourself.  But, for years, people around you have seen you achieve at a certain level, so now you become worried you’ll look like an idiot trying to reach beyond your perceived ability.

It goes something like this.

Maybe you love tennis but aren’t very good. In fact, you’ve never won two rounds in a row in any tournament you’ve ever played.

But you want to get better so you take some lessons and completely remake your game. You start to feel pretty good about yourself.

And then you decide to enter a tournament.

As soon as the first point is over, you begin to worry.

Everyone is probably making fun of me because I took lessons and I’m still no good.

My parent/spouse/significant other probably thinks that I’m wasting my time and their money.

They’re all going to see how bad I really am. This is embarrassing.

So what happens next? You give up.

The judgments of others are completely overwhelming, and there’s only one way out: to quit.

You can’t judge me if I don’t try.

Maybe I can do it, maybe I can’t. But you’ll never know because I give up.

And all the progress you made with your coach goes right out the window.

What’s the solution? How do you break out of the prison you’ve made for yourself?

The solution is a growth mindset.

The growth mindset says, “I’m not very good right now, but watch how fast I learn.”

Look at what that mindset creates.

For one, it totally eliminates sabotage. With a growth mindset, you’re admitting that you don’t know anything…yet. How can anyone criticize that?

Yes, I know I’m terrible. I told you that already. Anything else?

When you confront judgmental sabotage with honest facts, the judgments become more speechless than Papa Doc.  

Once the sabotage is eliminated, you’re free to begin learning.

With a growth mindset, all you care about is how you can get better that day. It doesn’t matter if you win, and it doesn’t matter if you lose. It doesn’t matter if you’re not an expert right this second. All that matters is that you’re growing.

Somehow.

Furthermore, you can never be a fraud if you have a growth mindset. You’ve already admitted that you’re not great yet. How can you be a fraud when you’re telling the truth?

When your focus is on growing and not judging, your life becomes free. You find yourself working harder and worrying about results less. And what happens then?

One, you start improving at a rapid rate. And this time, the improvement will stick.

Two, the person you are with your coach becomes the person you are when you’re by yourself.

You don’t change when you leave because you’ve got nothing to prove, nothing to live up to.

You’re just yourself, and this is what you think:

I may not be good right now but watch me. Watch how good I am six months from now. And anyone who’s better than me right now, know one thing:

I’m coming for you.

 

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

The Hard Truth About Being Happy

“What is this idiot doing?”

I was driving to work, minding my own business, and I’d decided to switch out to the fast lane because traffic was slow.

As I moved out to the left lane (the lane specifically reserved for fast drivers who need to drive fast quickly), I immediately had to hit the brakes because a 1998 Buick was only going 45 mph. There were three lanes available on this particular highway. Two of the three would happily accommodate a driver who preferred to amble around mindlessly.

Yet, there he was. In front of me. Ruining every plan I’d ever made in my life.

“What an idiot. Did he get his license yesterday? Is he trying to cause a thirty-car pile up? Am I the only person in the world who sees this?”

Being inconvenienced by incompetence in that moment was unquestionably difficult.

But there was more to it than that.

I'd spent almost my whole life being the center of the universe -- and I was exhausted.

No one can understand the burden of being the only one who sees the never-ending failures of every other person on earth.

And they were always in my way.

If I went to the grocery store, someone always did something stupid. If I went to the mall, the worker always made a dumb mistake. If I watched TV, the only shows on were infantile.

It never ended. The weight of the world’s ineptitude was suffocating and depressing.

Then, many months ago, I found a YouTube video about a commencement speech David Foster Wallace gave back in 2006. It’s called “This Is Water.”

That nine-minute video changed my life.

In his speech, David Foster Wallace talks about adult life and how it can seem so mundane. He talks about how, in these mind-numbingly mundane moments, we all have a choice.

We can seethe, complain, and rail against the imbecilic personal injustices committed against us every day.

Or we can realize that we’re not the center of the universe.

What if, David Foster Wallace might ask, that person driving 45 mph in the fast lane had recently been in an accident?

What if he had just gotten out of the hospital yesterday and was too afraid to drive fast again?

What if he chose the fast lane because the other lanes were too congested, and he was feeling scared?

Furthermore, what if that worker at the mall has another job working nights at a nursing home? What if she was up all night comforting a lonely old lady who had just lost her husband? What if she never left her side for a second because she didn’t want that lady to feel alone, even if it was just for one night?

And what if that’s why she rang up the wrong amount on your receipt?

In the video, David Foster Wallace shows us our options. We can choose to be angry all the time, or we can choose to see those inconvenient, banal times as sacred. We can open ourselves to the magic that is choosing how we think about our lives.

Do you know what happens when you stop being the center of the universe?

You stop being angry. You stop getting annoyed. You stop hating every single person who’s “in your way.”

The drive to work becomes fun again. The trip to the store becomes a happy part of your day. The smile you give to the mall worker (instead of an angry stare) makes two people’s day a little bit happier.

It was hard to give up being the Center of the Universe. I liked thinking I was smarter than everybody else. It made me feel important.

But it didn’t make me happy. It won’t make you happy either.

So the next time that waitress gets your order completely wrong, do what I do and remember, “This is water; this is water.”

Then smile, be kind, and leave her a big tip.

You won’t believe how much better you feel about the universe. And vice versa.  

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.


 

How Fight Club Changed my Life

If it’s your first time hearing about the movie Fight Club, you HAVE to fight.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

But it should be.

For one thing, Fight Club is a perfect litmus test. If you find someone who likes Fight Club, then the two of you share a bond for life. Conversely, if you find someone who hates it, then you know that person will never understand you.

Similarly, Fight Club can save you months of probing, uninteresting small talk undertaken in an attempt to find out if that other person is compatible with you. If he or she doesn’t like Fight Club, then you know you can just move on and never bother asking that person out again.

It’s the perfect dating initiation exam.

But that’s not the real reason this movie changed my life. Fight Club made me re-examine everything I ever thought I knew about anything. Like a bare-knuckle punch to my face, Fight Club destroyed every belief I thought was beautiful. And, like the fight club members, I loved every minute of it.

Do you think material wealth is important? Tyler Durden says otherwise.

Do you think your job defines who you are? Tyler Durden says otherwise.

Do you think your life is hopeless? Tyler Durden says otherwise.

Do you want to change the world? In Tyler we trust.

Of course, the way Fight Club’s most important character, Tyler Durden, went about changing the world was horrifying.

Of course, I’d never want to actually be in a fight club.

Of course, Fight Club is dark and strange and violent and funny and optimistic and nihilistic all at once.

What matters is that it made me think. It made me think really hard. And I love that.

It’s the only movie I’ve ever seen that’s better than the book. It’s the only movie that made me want to take a dirty bath and sleep on an old mattress. It’s the only movie that says things like, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before and nothing you’ll ever see again.

It’s the only movie that’s changed my life.

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

I Fasted For Two Days -- Here's What Happened

Fasting is supposed to be really good for you

Fasting can lead to weight loss, improved athletic performance, a slower aging process, and in some cases, can help fight off cancer.

I'm in favor of all of those things, so we tried a full-blown fast (no food for three days). Here's how it went.

Thursday, 5:32 pm - Last meal.

The fast begins. The plan, researched meticulously via Tim Ferriss, was to have our last meal now (on Thursday) and then fast on Friday, Saturday, and part of Sunday. 

We'll have dinner tonight and then only consume black coffee, water, and coconut oil drinks until Sunday night. 

We feel good about it. It's going to be a fun, healthy adventure. And, most importantly, we are both 100% in agreement.

Friday, 8:07 am - The start of a new day.

We got up and had some black coffee. Not a big switch from our normal routine. We feel good. This is going to be easier than expected.

Friday, 11:12 am - That was a long three hours. 

Our stomachs are ready for something else. Hmm, what shall we choose? How about some FatWater (a high energy coconut oil drink)! That tastes pretty good! Feeling strong.

Friday, 1:37 pm - Hunger is upon us.

We just had another coffee. Didn't quite hit the spot the way we wanted it to. Getting kind of dizzy. Time to get outside for a long walk.

Friday, 4:21 pm - Starting to lose it.

It was nice outside but we learned that the beautiful outdoors isn't quite as breathtaking when you're dizzy and disoriented. I think it's time to lie down now.

Friday, 6:15 - Drifting away. 

It turns out that disorientation mixed with hunger is not that great of a combination. One of us is curled up in several blankets on the side of the bed. I am looking blankly at what I think is the TV. 

I'm certain now. We'll never leave this room again.

Friday, 6:15 - "Why did you make me do this?!?"

After a brief nap, it appears it's time to address the elephant in the room. 

She has seen the enemy, and it is me. 

This horror show is my idea. We were supposed to get work done this weekend. And now we're miserable and nothing will be accomplished. 

Somewhere in the back of my haze-filled mind, I remember we both agreed to this. I'm probably mistaken. 

Friday, 8:40 pm - It's time to end it.

The misery has won. I am hungry and defeated and detached from reality. And now I'm also angry. I'm tired of being hungry. I'm tired of being blamed for this. I want to punch Tim Ferriss in his healthy, knowledgeable face.

I offer to end the experiment. I'm ready to go get some food. I can't take it anymore.

No, she says. Let's just go to bed.

In my mind I only have one thought: This ends tomorrow morning.

We drift off into stomach-rumbling sleep. It's 9 pm.

Saturday, 7:52 am - A new beginning.

Someone had a good night's sleep. Hint: it wasn't me.

I am hungry and practically sprinting to the kitchen so I can end this sadness and have a piece of wheat toast. 

She has a different take. She wants to wait. She's feeling good. She wants to stretch it out to dinner time. I'm shocked and impressed. Maybe we just needed to get through the tough time and then it gets easier. 

Or maybe I'm going to eat this piece of wheat toast. 

I eat the toast. 

But she continues on.

Saturday, 11:22 am - Time for lunch.

The hunger has come calling again. Not for me, of course. 

It's time to eat, she says. It's been a nice run but some fish tacos would be nice.

No choir has ever agreed more with a preacher.

I set a new land speed record driving to the restaurant. Everything tastes so incredibly good.

I'm glad it's over

--------------------------------------------------

All told, we made it about 40 hours. Not bad. 

What did I learn?

We have a weird relationship with food. On one hand, the hunger was not pleasant and I was happy to end the fast. But at the same time, I felt guilty when we ate on Saturday. I felt like I was giving up control in some way. 

It's important to eat in moderation and not be addicted to always being full. Too much food isn't good for us. 

But 40 hours was more than enough for us. 

And I don't regret those fish tacos. Not one bit. 

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

 

 

 

 

The Top 3 Best Villains of All Time

If you're discussing great movies, a lot depends on the villain.

A hero with no competition is boring. A rivalry with no rival is no fun at all. The bigger the threat, the bigger the triumph.

A fantastic movie can make our lives better, and the fantastic ones often need a superstar villain

So what makes a great villain?

It's not how powerful he/she/it is. For example, the villains in Suicide Squad could destroy the whole world and that movie was still not good. 

For a villain to be great, he/she/it needs charisma. 

We need to be riveted when the villain is onscreen. We need to be sad when the villain scenes are over.

A great villain, in fact, may actually make you kind of root for him/her/it, even though it's completely wrong to do so. 

Villains also have be extremely good at their craft. It should always appear that, this time, the hero won't be able to pull this one out.

Last, a great villain should make the movie completely re-watchable. If you were changing the channel and this villain's scene was on, you would definitely stop everything you're doing and watch that scene. 

So here are the categories: 1) Charisma; 2) Powerfulness (not necessarily beat-you-up powerfulness); 3) Watchability. Each villain will be given a score of 1-10 in each category and totals will be given at the end.

That being said, here are the greatest villains of all time:

(Netflix shows are included. How could they not be?)

But first, here are the almost-winners.

Honorable Mention:

Anton Chigurh, No Country For Old Men. This might be the scariest villain of all time. But he didn't make the list due to charisma. He's so scary and so evil that I don't really want to watch his scenes again. If No Country was on and I saw Anton, I would probably turn off the TV and go cry in a closet. For that reason, he doesn't make the cut. 

Agent Smith, The Matrix. The words, "Mr. Anderson!" will probably be burned in my head for the rest of my life. He had charisma, was basically unbeatable, and is completely re-watchable. He deserves to be on the list. What about the sequels, though? That's the tough part. Agent Smith became more tedious as the Matrix sequels got worse and worse. That's the only reason he missed the list. 

The Top Three List:

3 tie. Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs.  "What does he do, this man you seek?" He scares the crap out of me! But he also makes me want to stay and hear more. You can't get more charismatic than that. 

Charisma: 10 

Powerfulness: 6 Yes, he was extremely intelligent and he killed Miggs with only his words. But he was in prison. To be in prison, you have to be caught. If he was caught, then how powerful is he? I know he got out, but I still feel like people could catch him again. 

Watchability: 10 (Love your suit.)

TOTAL: 26

3 tie. Hans Gruber, Die Hard. Lest we forget, Bruce Willis wasn't an action star before Die Hard. He was David Addison. Die Hard changed all that forever. Why was Die Hard so good? Yes, there was plenty of action. But really, the reason for Die Hard's eternal greatness was Hans Gruber

Charisma: 10 (If you don't believe me, then you won't be joining us for the rest of your life.)

Powerfulness: 6 He was super smart, but no fighting skills or long term plans. And he was foiled by a barefoot cop.

Watchability: 10 (I'm going to count to three...)

TOTAL: 26

2. Moriarty, Sherlock (TV series). Sir Arthur's Conan Doyle's Moriarty was always intimidating. Anyone who masterminds a world-wide criminal network is a worthy foe. But when we finally got to meet Andrew Scott's Moriarty? Holy crapoly. 

Charisma: 10 (there were a lot of layers to this Moriarty, and then makes him so intriguing. He's weak but not really. He's silly but not really. He'll let you live, but not really. It's magnificent).

Powerfulness: 9 (there was the feeling that you're only alive because Moriarty wanted it that way. He could take you out at any time and there's nowhere you could run. He will burn you. He will burn the heart out of you. No one could ever beat him--except maybe Sherlock).

Watchability: 8.5 (his early-season Sherlock scenes are clearly an easy 10, but the way the show used him in the most recent season took a little bloom off the rose; thus the 9.5 rating)

TOTAL: 27.5

1. The Joker, The Dark Knight. The Joker has been around for years, and there's a reason the character was immensely popular, even when the Joker was a cartoon. But then Heath Ledger walked into our lives, and showed us a magic trick

Charisma: 10 (he looks crazy but talks like a genius; and he has a different origin story each time, which only adds to the mystique).

Powerfulness: 8 (he's a criminal mastermind, no doubt about it; but his opening plan in the movie's first scene, while awesome, is probably overly complicated; points off for that)

Watchability: 10 (everything he does is must-see TV; you're sad when he's gone and he steals every scene; he makes The Dark Knight a classic)

TOTAL: 28

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

 

 

Five Reasons Why the Borg vs. McEnroe Movie is So Great

Let's get one thing straight: tennis movies are terrible.

Which hurts. 

I love tennis and I love movies, so a tennis movie should be just about the best thing in the world.

And when they're awful, and they always are, it's twice as painful.

The best one to date was probably the recent Battle of the Sexes. I've actually met some of the tennis stand-ins for that movie and the tennis scenes were pretty good. But I really couldn't recommend it. It was just...okay.

Which brings us to Borg vs. McEnroe.

Keep in mind that Bjorn Borg was my absolute favorite athlete (only Federer compares). 

My childhood adulation went so deep, in fact, that my mom once had to ban me from watching any more Borg matches because they made me too emotional.

I don't think running out of the house so I could sob in private (after Borg lost a set) is too emotional, but we can agree to disagree.

So when I found out that Borg vs. McEnroe was coming to theaters and VOD, I knew there was a lot on the line. 

I wanted so desperately to see it and love it, but I was absolutely certain I would hate it. This movie was going to let me down just like all the others did, except this time would be worse because it had Borg. 

It was definitely going to break my heart.

I was wrong. 

I loved it so much, I ended up seeing it twice within a week. .

And here are the reasons why it's so great:

1) The movie takes place during the biggest tennis boom we've ever seen. It's hard to understand how big tennis was at the time Borg vs. McEnroe takes place. If you wanted to play some tennis with a friend back then, it was understood that all the courts would be full everywhere in town and you would definitely wait at least a half hour to play. It was a given. Every public court in town was always taken. Knowing that makes the tennis in the movie that much more intense.

2) Tennis was a big part of our culture then. I remember going over to visit friends of my parents one time and all the adults talked about was tennis. Everyone was watching Wimbledon in 1980. Everyone. The pressure on these two guys was incredible.

3) The fourth set of Borg/McEnroe is still regarded as the most incredible moment in tennis history. Maybe even sports history. The "Battle of 18-16" is still famous today, and the movie does it proud. 

4) Borg retired shortly after the movie takes place, and it's one of the biggest sports mysteries of all time. Why, in the prime of his career, did Borg walk away? We've never gotten a good answer. The movie does a great job of answering that question.

5) Borg and McEnroe are two of the greatest players of all time, without question.  And there are very few times that two opponents this great were at the peak of their powers simultaneously. Maybe Ali/Frazier? Maybe Celtics/Lakers? Who else? Jordan had no rivals. Tiger had no rivals. But these were fierce rivals both in their prime, and they were colliding in front of the whole world. How great were they? This great:

  • Borg still holds the record for the top two longest winning streaks in tour history. He once won 49 matches in a row and then won 48 in row the very next year.
  • Five years later, McEnroe won 42 matches in a row (and would've set the all time record had he not squandered a huge lead to Lendl in the French Open final that year).
  • Borg won 11 Majors faster than anyone ever (faster than Federer, who's in second place).And he didn't even bother playing the Australian Open which would have added several to his total. 
  • Borg was the first player to win a million dollars in prize money in a single year.
  • Borg won more 6-0 sets than anyone in history (by a wide margin).
  • McEnroe still owns the highest single-season winning percentage of all time, going 82-3 in 1984.
  • McEnroe was ranked #1 in the world in singles for 170 weeks and was ranked #1 in doubles for 270 weeks. Nobody has done that. Nobody even comes close. 

This is not a typical sports movie, but it's a great sports movie. 

And you need to see it.

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

 

 

What I Learned From San Francisco

Last weekend, I went to Oakland, CA to visit one of my old tennis students. It's important to me that my old students live in cities I want to see. If I don't approve of where they live, I make them move. 

Just kidding.

But not really.

On Saturday we decided to cross the bridge and take an 8-mile walking tour of San Francisco. Here's what I learned. 

  1. It's more beautiful than you think. Not having been there before, I had my own stereotypical ideas on what the city would look like. Real life blew everything away. There's water and fog and bridges and hills and mountains and landmarks, and it's incredible. San Francisco's reputation is actually under-rated. 
  2. The best way to see a city is on foot. I guess it's possible to see San Francisco in a car or trolley. I guess that would still be impressive. But everything is better on foot. You get the nuances of each fascinating neighborhood, and you can just stop and take it all in anytime you want. Seeing Alcatraz with your own eyes is infinitely better than a drive-by. And, yes, streets are that hilly. We climbed the equivalent of 62 floors on our walk so make sure you have good insurance if you decide to go that route. You may or may not end up with cramped legs in an oxygen tent.
  3. With great beauty comes...other stuff. If you visit or live in a beautiful place, other things may come with the package. For one, you might have to share part of the city with these folks from Pier 39. They can get pretty vocal. Or you might stop at a quaint bay side restaurant for coffee and a beignet and have someone take off their pants and urinate in a trash can eight feet away from you. When you choose somewhere amazing, a lot of things come with it.
  4. If you want to grow, go where the growing is. I was only there for a weekend, but you can feel the vibe in San Francisco. Some cities vibrate (hopefully not literally), and San Francisco is one of them. The people are hip and diverse and purposeful. And it seems like every other block has a Fortune 500 company's headquarters on it. Like the saying goes: If you want a haircut, hang around a barbershop and you'll eventually get a trim. San Francisco is one of the most impressive barbershops in the world. 
  5. Cost of living is important. We all want to be financially independent. What we don't realize is: being well-off financially doesn't mean making a certain amount of money. It means gaining mastery over our monthly expenses. The quickest way to be independently wealthy is to have a good job in a cheap place. San Francisco, however, is the opposite of that. While walking, we looked up the listing of a 1 bedroom, 1 bath place in a hip downtown area that was only 400 square feet.  A place with that description would sell for way under $200,000 in Ohio. How much do you think it was in San Francisco? [pause] It was over $600,000! That's another price you pay for living in extreme beauty.

In short, all your dreams may come true in San Francisco, and I dare you to find a more beautiful place.

Just make sure you're ready for all the attached strings. 

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

  

The Joy of Being the Only Sober Person in the Room

I don't drink.

Actually, I've never even had a sip of alcohol. 

But as a wise man once said, "You're not cool if you drink, and you're not cool if you don't drink."

I'm not preaching, I'm just saying.

Because this is true, I've been in a lot of rooms where I've been the only sober person there. And it's a weird thing.

At first, it's funny. Personalities are magnified and you see sides of people that you may never have seen before. Sometimes it can be good entertainment.

But sometimes it's lonely.

Drunk people, when they reach a certain level, start speaking their own drunk language to each other. At that point, you're all alone. There's no way to reach them and there's no way they can reach you.

Being left out can cause anxiety. 

I'm tired of not having anyone to talk to. Maybe I'll have a few drinks and join them...

And therein lies the challenge. 

Once you give in and join them, you lose an advantage. The sober person sees everything. The sober person can capture memories. The sober person makes reasonable decisions. The sober person can help people who might be getting out of hand. 

And the sober person is always available to make a connection with that one other person who might be sober, too. Finding that one other person can be a thrill that leads to something valuable.

The thing is: this situation is happening all the time to everyone--and not just at bars or parties. 

The other day I was standing in line at a Starbucks. There were eight people in line. 

All eight were staring deeply at their phones, speaking their own silent languages with the internet.

No eye contact. No recognition.

They stumbled around. They screwed up their orders or forgot. They were incapacitated zombies.

I was the only "sober" person in the room. 

I was all alone.

As I said, the easy way out would have been to join them. If I opened up my phone, I could've been a drunk zombie, too. We'd all have been in it together.

But then I might've missed meeting that one other person that also might not be looking at their phone. Or I would've missed the thankful smile from the barista when I promptly stepped to the counter and made a coherent order.

I would've missed the connection.

And that's something only a sober person can get.

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

 

Top 20 Motivational Quotes

Here are 20 of the best motivational quotes I've read with my own eyes.

I didn't go searching the internet for some generic list. These are quotes that have come from the books I've read over the years and have made a difference. 

  1. When you consistently do the right things, success is predictable. Success is inevitable. --Jeff Haden

  2. A success is anyone who is doing deliberately a predetermined job because that’s what he decided to do deliberately. But only 1 out of 20 does that. --Earl Nightingale

  3. Action will lead thee forward to the successes thou dost desire. --George S. Clayson

  4. Geniuses and presidents strip meaningless choices from their day, so they can simplify their lives and think. Inventors and entrepreneurs ask, How could we make this product simpler? The answer transforms good to incredible. --Shane Snow

  5. A man who is all caution, will never dare to take hold and be successful; and a man who is all boldness, is merely reckless, and must eventually fail. --PT Barnum

  6. What we saw was that health at age sixty was strongly related to optimism at age twenty-five. --Martin EP Seligman

  7. Are you committed to being happy, no matter what happens to you? --Tony Robbins

  8. The self-image can be changed. Numerous case histories have shown that one is never too young or too old to change his self-image and thereby start to live a new life. --Maxwell Maltz

  9. As Vladimir Horowitz, the virtuoso pianist who kept performing into his eighties, put it, “If I skip practice for one day, I notice. If I skip practice for two days, my wife notices. If I skip for three days, the world notices.” --Daniel Coyle

  10. For starters, the single biggest trick for manipulating your happiness chemistry is being able to do what you want, when you want. A person with a flexible schedule and average resources will be happier than a rich person who has everything except a flexible schedule. --Scott Adams

  11. You may as well know, right here, that you can never have riches in great quantities, unless you can work yourself into a white heat of desire for money, and actually believe you will possess it. --Napoleon Hill

  12. Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been. —Marcus Aurelius

  13. The professional does not wait for inspiration; he acts in anticipation of it. He knows that when the Muse sees his butt in the chair, she will deliver. -Steven Pressfield & Shawn Coyne

  14. You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. --Dale Carnegie

  15. Case history after case history proved that the size of bank accounts, the size of happiness accounts, and the size of one’s general satisfaction account is dependent on the size of one’s thinking. There is magic in thinking big. --David J. Schwartz

  16. It cannot be done in a moment, or a day or a month, but it can be done. --Claude M. Bristol

  17. Henry Ford said: “Anyone who stops learning is old—whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” --Frank Bettger

  18. To simply wait and be bored has become a novel experience in modern life, but from the perspective of concentration training, it’s incredibly valuable. --Cal Newport

  19. If you only care enough for a result, you will almost certainly ascertain it. If you wish to be rich, you will be rich. Only you must then really wish these things and wish them exclusively and not wish at the same time a hundred other compatible things just as strongly. --Earl Nightingale

  20. Most of us are like that--stewing about yesterday and worrying about tomorrow...Even the great French philosopher, Montaigne, made that mistake. “My life,” he said, “has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.” --Dale Carnegie

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

The Incredible Torture of Self-Improvement

Research shows that a few important things trigger happiness.

One of those things is taking a journey..

When we take on a new task, we are happy. We have a purpose and we have the excitement of something new. 

And when we take a new journey that ends with us improving ourselves--that's doubly effective.

Knowing that: Why is improving ourselves so damn hard? 

Let's use fitness as an example. 

Being fit fixes everything. It helps brain function, provides more energy, gives us self-confidence, and fights off sickness.

And the path to fitness and all of those rewards is easy. It's so easy it's literally not believable.

To get fit, all we have to do is pick an exercise or two, do them every day, and record it.

That's it.

On paper, it appears that there aren't any obstacles to getting that done.

But there are.

The first obstacle is the every day part. To do something every day, it has to become an ingrained habit. Do you know how long it takes to create a new, ingrained habit? 

Twenty-one days.

Do you know how long twenty-one days is? An eternity. 

Let's say you want to run a half-mile every day. The first day? No big deal. 

Second day? No problem.

Third day? I'm sore, but I'll go.

Fourth day? I'm tired. I just need a day off.

Fifth day? I have a work project that has to be finished.

Sixth day? Dinner with friends.

Seventh day? I don't feel like it anymore.

Twenty-one days? I can't even make it a week.

But do you know what's worse? Writing it down.

Our minds are evil creatures. We rationalize and mis-remember constantly. 

When a friend asks us how many miles we ran last week, we often (mistakenly??) include the miles we had planned to do. Why? It's easier that way.

And that's how running ten miles in our imagination equals five miles of real-life work.

The cure, of course, is to write it down. 

If we write it down, it's real. Progress is documented and factual. With each log entry, success becomes inevitable.

Just write it down.

But do you have any idea how hard it is to write something down every day? Even though there's 24 hours in a day, there seems to be absolutely no time for a ten second window to record something in a log

For example, earlier in the year I bet the internet I could walk over 3 million steps in a year. 

I love to walk and where I live is very walk-able. I think I can reach that goal.

The problem is writing it down. I have all the time in the world to write it down every day. Open spreadsheet, type number.

It takes seconds.

And just the other day, I went to bed and forgot to do it. 

How is that possible? How is it so hard to do something so easy and so beneficial to my life?

As Alanis Morisette once said, "Why is it such work to stay conscious and so easy to get stuck--and not the other way around?"

It's super hard. But it's worth it.

We're all in a battle: a battle for own happiness.

The blueprint for victory is simple.

Twenty-one days of doing and recording. 

We can do it.

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

 

How to Spot a Superstar (or Become One)

Organizations spend millions searching for talent.

Sports teams spend hundreds of hours studying in dark rooms before drafts. 

Companies interview prospects for weeks tying to find that next rising star.

And it's all a waste of time.

Because they're going about it backwards. 

It's like trying to find out when a stoplight will change from red to green by studying  weather patterns around the intersection or researching the correlation between light changes and amount of trees planted.

Looking for superstars by studying external factors is a losing game. Running fast doesn't guarantee great performance. Being strong doesn't necessarily translate to stardom.

What's on the outside is almost completely irrelevant. It's what's inside that determines a star.

After coaching elite tennis players for over two decades, it became easy to predict who was going to be phenomenal. 

And it had nothing to do with their athleticism or their strokes. 

The highest ranked players I ever coached came in all shapes and sizes and all played a different style.

I saw a girl who might have been 5'1" and might have been 100 lbs. become top ten in the nation and turn pro.

I saw a kid who couldn't hit a forehand (and actually played with the wrong hand) make the NCAA tournament. 

I saw a kid swing and miss for 14 minutes in a row during a lesson and go on to become one of the top 100 players in the Midwest.

And I also saw the best athlete I've ever been on a court with struggle for four years before putting it all together and become an All-American (and a pro).

Tall, short, righty, lefty, athletic, slow of foot, good grades, bad grades, rich family, poor family. None of it mattered. I saw all types become standouts. 

But there were two underlying themes with all of them. The willingness to learn and the commitment to try all the time. 

If a player was willing to listen and learn, everything else was negotiable. 

It didn't matter where they came from or how good they'd been up to that point or how hard they served or how quick they moved.

Are you open to learning strokes that have fewer flaws? Then you can be a superstar.

Are you open to learning how to play the percentages in a style that suits you? Then you can be a superstar. 

Will you try as hard as you can to hit the ball in? Then you can be a superstar.

Will you show up every day? Then you're on your way.

That's it. That's the secret.

When I had a first lesson with anyone, you could see their future almost immediately. If he/she made good eye contact when listening and hit the ball in (regardless of form), it was almost a foregone conclusion. This was somebody special.

Scouting for a body type or experience level or family history would have forced me to miss out on dozens of amazing prospects. 

But I never did that. 

Because none of that external stuff matters.

Be coachable and be committed. That's the formula for superstardom.

It works every time.

 

My latest book is The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

 

 

 

 

Breaking Down the Best Sports Quotes of All Time

Sports are ridiculous most of the time.

Everyone loves March Madness even though college basketball is the most corrupt competition in the world not named the Olympics or Tour de France or anything from Russia.

The point of March Madness is not even to crown the best basketball team, it's just to provide entertainment--mostly for gamblers!

But deep down, if you peel away all the ways that men have ruined sports, there's still something magical in there.

A wise man once said that sports show us human excellence. And it shows us right in our faces. We can see how great we can be.  

So I thought it would be worthwhile to break down one of the great sports quotes of all time. Great quotes lead to inspiration which leads to amazing athletic feats which lead to more inspiration, and the virtuous circle continues.

Here's one of the best quotes ever and also the breakdown on why it's so good.

Quote: "Nothing." -Rafa Nadal

Why It's Great: This quote came right after the greatest tennis match ever played. Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer were playing at Wimbledon, which was Federer's best surface and Nadal's ultimate dream.

Nadal was already the king of clay; beating Federer at the biggest tournament in the world on supposedly his worst surface would be a monumental achievement, to say the least.

And Nadal had played brilliantly. So brilliantly that he held match point in the fourth set tiebreak. (Just listen to the crowd in this tiebreak. Incredible.) 

First, Nadal had fought off a set point from Federer, and then he lost his own match point, only to get back to match point once again.

The drama, the tension, the crowd, his effort; all his dreams right at his fingertips. 

And then a lightning bolt from Zeus in the form of Federer's backhand laser down the line took it all away in a flash. Seconds later Federer claimed the set. Nadal's dreams were on hold. We were going to a fifth and deciding set.

In the press room after the match, Nadal was asked by reporters about that moment.

What was it like, Rafa, to see all your dreams slip away? What were you thinking going into that fifth set?

"Nothing."

Amazing.

You can read about zen or persistence or any self-help book ever published and never read anything wiser than Nadal's one word response.

To achieve greatness, we must meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same. Maybe one enlightened person in a thousand can actually do it. The rest of us don't even know how to attempt it. 

But Nadal showed us how.

If we can take all the good and all the bad, and then discard it and move on, we can achieve excellence beyond our dreams. 

Nadal, of course, won that fifth set.

Now, any tennis historian worth their salt would point out that Federer was the better player that day. He dominated the early sets and somehow gave them both to Nadal. Had he won either of those sets (or had the idiotic tournament directors decided to do the right thing and stop making them play in darkness!), Federer would have come out on top.

But that doesn't change the power of Nadal's quote. Either way, Nadal showed why he might be the best competitor of all time in any sport. 

If we can see our dreams dashed and still carry on with full effort, our lives will be better.

As Nadal showed, thinking nothing will make us become something.

My latest book is The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

Who's Better in The Office: Pam or Karen?

Hello and welcome to the first episode of America's new favorite show called It's Debatable!

It's the show where we take important, controversial topics and invite two experts to come in and settle the argument once and for all.

This week, we're discussing the greatest American TV show ever: The Office. Specifically, we will settle the debate over who is better on that show: Pam or Karen?

Our two experts are here, so let's get started!

Narrator (N): Thank you both for being here and welcome to It's Debatable. This topic has been on people's minds since 2007 and it's been a hot debate ever since. Here's how it works: I'll get you two started on a topic and we'll hear your arguments on each subject. At the end, a verdict will be rendered. Ready to go?

Pro Karen (PK): Ready.

Pro Pam (PPam): I'm ready as spaghetti.

N: Um, okay. The first topic is: who's the better couple? This is in no way meant to be misogynistic, so keep your comments appropriate. The reason we're discussing this is that many, many people believe that Jim and Pam are the best couple in television history. However, in recent years, there's been a strong movement saying that actually Jim and Karen are the best couple in TV history. What are your takes?

PPam: Wait, are you serious? Who is saying that Karen and Jim are the best couple? It's been a proven internet fact that Jim and Karen are the GCOAT (Greatest Couple of All Time). I mean, you'd have to go back to when? Sam and Diane on Cheers? Come on!

PK: Oh, ye, of little knowledge. When was the last time you took your head out of the sand? When you were on your dinosaur? Everyone now knows that Pam and Jim were actually a mediocre-to-awful couple, and that is entirely because of Pam.

PPam: Surely, you can't be serious.

PK: I am serious, And don't call me ever. Let's list the facts. 1) Pam teased and tortured Jim into staying at a job he hated;  2) She led him to think they were something special--while she was engaged! 3) Then when he totally fell for her, she turned him down; 4) And when Jim tried to pick up the pieces and move on, Pam sabotaged his new relationship any way she could. As a wise man once said, "Pam was the devil in nerd's clothing."

PPam: Nobody said that.

PK: You're avoiding the points.

PPam: She did it because she loved him. She was confused.

PK: Well, let me tell you who wasn't confused: Karen! From day one, Karen was kind to Jim. She played video games with him (Pam never did), took care of him when he got drunk (Pam was too drunk herself to care--remember the Dundies??), and followed him to Scranton when the branch was closed (Pam instead left Jim and went to art school). Pam selfishly manipulated while Karen selflessly gave. 

PPam: Jim and Pam got engaged in the rain. You can't get more storybook than that!

PK: At a gas station!

N: Moving on. Next topic: quality of character.

PPam: That's easy. Pam is kind and sweet. Sweeter than a june bug's nectar.

PK: I agree. Because june bugs are one of the most troublesome summer insects! Look it up. From the start, Karen was always nice to Pam. She respected Pam's past and her friendship with Jim. She liked Pam and treated her well. And what happened on that Office Retreat?? Pam made a ridiculous speech about wanting Jim back right in front of her. Rude!

PPam: She just didn't want to keep it inside anymore. She wanted to tell the truth.

PK: The truth came out all right. The truth is: She's a world-class jerk!

N: Let's get to the next topic. Who was the most charming?

PPam: That's definitely Pam. She was cute and nerdy...

PK: Devil in nerd's clothing!

PPam: As I was SAYING, she's cute and charming and definitely had strong appeal.

PK: Yeah, if you like Corn Flakes. Let me spell it out for you: Pam was C-O-R-N-Y (and flaky, too). By the time we got to the later seasons, she was downright cringe-worthy. Remember "mental pictures" at Niagara Falls? Yikes. Remember how bad she was at volleyball even though she was supposed to be good? Remember her corny "yes" cheers to herself? She was the worst part of the show by the end.

PPam: Yeah, well, Karen wasn't even on the whole show.

PK: That was Pam's fault! If Karen ended up with Jim like she was supposed to, there would be no argument.

PPam: But how about how adorable Pam was with Michael in the first few seasons?

PK: It's not how you start, it's how you finish. And Pam finished horribly.

N: Last topic, people. Let's discuss the overall body of work for each contestant. 

PK: Perfect! No contest. 

PPam: Au contraire, mon frere.

PK: You're French now?

PPam: Si.

PK: If we're looking at overall lifetime bodies of work, Karen wins easily. We can start with Parks & Rec if you like. Who is more adorable than Ann Perkins?

PPam: I don't know... She dated Tom Haverford.

PK: She never really liked him and broke up with him a hundred times. She can't be marked down for that.

PPam: Hey, what about Blades of Glory? Pam was pretty awesome in that.

PK: She was good, I admit. But I'll see your Blades of Glory and raise you "Woman in Love Contract" from Chappelle's Show. You don't see Pam on that all-time great show!

PPam: Fine. But what about Dewey Cox: Walk Hard, though?

PK: Oh. That's a good one.

PPam: What about Dewey Cox, though??

PK: I hear you.

PPam: WHAT ABOUT DEWEY COX, THOUGH?!?!?

PK: Okay, okay. I didn't want to bring this out. But, hey, you brought this on yourself. I just have two words for you: Angie Tribeca.

PPam: Oh no...

PK: Oh yes! Hey, what are you doing?...

N: Well, it appears that our Pro Pam expert has just flung himself head first out of a four story window. By virtue of that and the salient points made by Pro Karen, we can say that it's no longer debatable: Karen is greater than Pam!

Thanks for joining us, everyone. This has been It's Debatable, where every debate is a good one as long as the other person is wrong.

See you next time!

 

My latest book is The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.

 

 

 

 

The Spark of Inspiration

Right now, I'm reading The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden.

It's about how motivation doesn't come from slogans or fire-walking seminars or cool posters. Motivation, Haden says, actually comes from taking repeated action. It's the process that provides the vehicle to change, not passion.

There is no spark or special moment that leads to super stardom, he says. The path to achievement comes from the long journey.

In Haden's mind, it wasn't the famous, spine-tingling speech from Herb Brooks that created the Miracle on Ice. It was, instead, the months of work leading up to that night.

I disagree.

While it's not completely necessary to have that spark, the spark does matter. It can make a difference.

I've had many tennis students accomplish amazing things, and in every circumstance the accomplishment can be traced back to a single moment when everything changed. 

Maybe it was a Herb Brooks-like speech or a tough loss or a big win or a new skill learned. Whatever it was, it proved to be life-altering.

And books can do the same thing. 

My life has definitely changed after reading certain books. A book has been the spark for me on several occasions.

So, with respect to Mr. Haden, here's a list of books that have ignited me in a positive way. Maybe they can do the same for you.

The Spark List

1. The Talent Code. I've always believed greatness was accessible to all of us. Daniel Coyle put science behind it. There's no such thing as talent, and believing that can open up doors that may have been closed our whole lives. 

2. The 4-Hour Workweek. It's been around a while, but it's still potent. I don't really do any of the tools and tactics contained in the book, but the philosophical message changed me forever. If you've never read it, drop everything and do it now. If you've read it before, it's worth another look.

3. Anything You Want. I believe we need to surround ourselves with powerfully positive ideas and goals every day, and anything written by Derek Sivers checks those boxes. This book thinks about business and life in totally unique ways. It's a course-changer.

4. Bringing Down the House. M.I.T poker players taking millions off Vegas casinos? How can our lives not get better reading about that? It's a tense, fun, and intriguing story. Plus, it's inspiring. Why not go for it? Why not go for it and use probabilities to give ourselves a real chance? This story is a stark example about how out-of-the-box thinking can make millions.

5. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. This is the best book I've ever read--and it's not even close. But it's not for everyone (although I wish it were). It's several stories wrapped in one and stays in your head for years (or a lifetime). I've read it five times and I'm looking forward to a sixth. It's changed me and everyone I know who's read it. Maybe it can mean something to you, too.

Enjoy!

My latest book is The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.