Building Confidence in Youth Through Competitive Sports

One of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my life, I’m actually currently doing.  I’m managing and coaching my 8 year old daughter’s competitive softball team.  Now, when I tell people this, a lot of times their first reaction is to say: “You have an 8 year old in competitive softball?”  They seem shocked that someone so young is already partaking in competitive sports, travel teams, etc.  They fear that the kids will experience burn out, be under too much pressure, and other negatives.  

I actually would argue against these fears, as I feel that competitive sports can do a lot for our children, if they are done correctly, and coached/managed correctly.  

The last year and a half that I’ve been managing and coaching my daughter’s 8U competitive softball team has been nothing but rewarding and inspiring.  To realize that I can have such a positive impact on these girls lives is awesome.  Specifically, if I can use the game to help these young girls develop the following skills and beliefs necessary to be successful later in life, then I feel I’ve achieved something great.  Skills and beliefs like:

  • Self Confidence
  • Team Unity
  • Overcoming Adversity
  • Competitive Spirit
  • Inner Drive
  • Focus
  • Winning with Humility
  • Losing with Grace
  • And so many more…….

As a coach, we can have as big an impact on the lives of youth in our community, as parents do.  In some cases we may be the defining role model for a young kid.  How we interact, how we motivate, how we inspire, and how we coach, can make all the difference in the world.  Do we use our position to tear down, berate, win at all costs?  Or, do we use our position to encourage, provide positive reinforcement, build confidence, and help succeed?

I choose the latter.  I know I’ve been able to be a positive influence in the lives of several girls, not only on my teams, but on those teams that we’ve competed against.  And THAT, is why it’s been so rewarding.  Our youth are our future, and I’m going to do everything I can to help them find success, and that starts with instilling in them a belief of self worth at an early age.

What are you doing to help build our future?  How do you motivate and inspire the youth of your community?

Inspiration Found! Time to Re-Launch this Blog

After getting caught in the daily grind of my everyday career, and letting my passion for writing and inspiring others drift away, I’ve finally rededicated myself to pursue what I once loved to do:  blogging as a means to inspire others!!  Therefore, I’m relaunching all three of my blogs:

Iowa Dad On A Mission – where I’ll seek to provide inspiration to others, sharing my stories of coaching, community involvement, and others

Will 2 Achieve – where I’ll seek to help others find that inner drive everyone has for success and achievement

Leadership and Other Ramblings – where I’ll seek to generate discussion on the topics of leadership, motivation, and others

I’m excited, and full of ideas, and I can’t wait to start sharing and generating conversation on all three blogs.  Please stay tuned and visit often, and more importantly, participate in the discussions and conversations.  

Thank you,

Iowa Dad

Finding Balance Amongst the Chaos

This is a tough thing to do.  Just look at our society today.  We’re always on the go, always rushing.  We’ve been trained to stay busy.  We’re busy at work, busy at home, busy raising our children, busy taking care of our pets, busy doing the extracurricular we enjoy, busy managing our friendships, busy managing our social apps.  We’re living in a chaotic environment.

Some of us thrive in chaos, and others become apathetic.  But, no matter where we fall on that spectrum, we must find balance in our lives.  Balance can be hard to find, but it’s necessary.  It’s necessary for us because it refreshes us, motivates us, relaxes us, and rejuvenates us.  Chaos is stressful.  Even if you thrive in a hectic environment, you are physically and mentally being stressed by the constant busyness.  Balance is what conquers that stress.

As I said, finding balance can be tough.  How do you rate all of these things in life that are begging for your time?  How do you prioritize them?  It’s hard.  Laziness, on the other hand, is easy.  It’s apathy….and it’s exactly where we’re heading if we don’t find balance.  All that stress will build up until we just give up, and don’t care.  Don’t be embarrassed.  It’s happened to all of us.  It’s happened to me.

Don’t let yourself become apathetic.  Instead, make a conscious effort to find balance in your life.  Take time to reflect.  Take time to prioritize.  Sit down and figure out what makes you most happy.  It’s those things you want to focus most your time on.  Learn to say “no”.  Let’s be honest, we can’t do everything.  Sometimes we have to make decisions on what we do with our time.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed…… sit down……write out everything you are doing……..and start trimming the list.  Seek balance and you will be seeking a healthier and happier you!!

Present Focused

Learn from the past, Prepare for the future, Live in the Present!

We’ve all heard something similar at some point, haven’t we?  Well, I came upon this again while reading the book Mind Gym, and it really got me thinking this time around.

The Setup……

Gary Mack, one of the authors, discusses how “worrying” stems from a person’s reaction to the unknown.  He says that when we are focused too much on what’s coming next, we become anxious, because we are unsure where the future lies.  He relates this to a professional pitcher in the MLB.  When things start to go wrong for the pitcher (he gets a couple bad “ball” calls – he gives up a home run – etc), the pitcher starts to lose focus on what he’s presently doing, and starts to worry about not giving up another home run, or not walking another batter.  He’s worrying about the future, instead of taking care of the present.

Personal reflection……….

This hit home for me a couple weeks ago.  On my weekly bowling league night, I had rolled 8 strikes in a row (the first 8 strikes no less).  I started thinking about frames 9 and 10, and how I only needed to roll 4 more strikes for that ever elusive 300 game.  I’ve never had one.  I really wanted one.  So, I began to focus on what may be.  I became nervous.  I was physically shaking.  I toed the line in that 9th frame and rolled a split.  My dream was crushed.  Why?  Because I became focused too much on the future.  On what could be.  Where, instead, I needed to focus on that next shot.  On my approach, my arm swing, my release, my mark, on that one shot!  I wasn’t in the present.

The Take-Away (The Meat and Potatoes)………..

I think Gary Mack is dead on with this one.  Don’t get me wrong….it’s important to look to the future.  That’s how we set goals.  That’s how we ensure we are taking care of our kids education.  That’s how we know we have something to accomplish.  We need to “prepare for the future“.  But, we don’t need to constantly worry about the future.

The same goes with the past.  The past is awesome!  Why?  Because that’s how we learn!  And, learning is what this journey of life is all about.  Learn from your past mistakes.  Just as importantly, learn from your past successes.  BUT, don’t dwell on the past.  Learn from it…..Don’t stress out about it.

Instead, Live in the Present!!  Fully devote yourself to the here and now.  It’s when these 3 ideas (Learning from the past, preparing for the future, and living in the present) are in balance with each other……that’s when we can accomplish great things.  We see what we’ve done that’s worked and what hasn’t.  We know the course we want to follow.  Once we can immerse ourselves into what we’re presently doing, that’s when the future begins to take care of itself.

The past is the past.  We can’t change it.  We can only learn from it.  The future is there for us to have.  The present is the journey we need to focus on to help ensure we get there!

Life Lessons Learned From A Child

For those of you with children, you’ll know where I’m coming from.  For those without children, but spend time with children, you’ll know where I’m coming from.  For those that once were children (everyone’s hand should now be raised), you’ll know where I’m coming from!

Children can make AMAZING teachers!  They do it every day.  At a time as a parent/adult, when we’re suppose to be teaching our children how to function in this world, I’m finding instead, that they are teaching us lifelong lessons we should have learned years ago.  Do you see it?  Do you know where I’m coming from?  It’s amazing.

Here’s just a sampling of what I’ve learned over the last several years:

Adapting to Adversity (4 years ago)
Watching my two and a half year old continue to do the things she loved to do while having her dominant arm immobilized in a sling due to a fractured collarbone, was very eyeopening and humble.

Pure Joy (4 years ago)
Watching the pure joy and love radiating from my 4 month old’s soul as she played/pooped/ate/smiled (and everything else she did) was awakening.

Determination (Nearly weekly)
Watching my 1st grader read the same books over and over again until she has mastered every word, every letter on the page, is motivating

Watching my kids fail, then watching them learn from that failure, and then watching them try again in every thing they do, is inspiring.

So I ask you again.  What are you learning from our children?  What have they taught you?  Give a child your attention today, and tell me what you learn.  Seriously, I want to know.  Leave a message at the bottom of this post, so we can start an amazing discussion on how (and what) our children teach us.

Strong Support: A Key to Achieving the Extraordinary

Having a good support system is important if you want to be successful in accomplishing the extraordinary.  No…….I’m not talking about an expensive brazier or a well made jock strap……… Instead, I’m talking about surrounding yourself with those people that genuinely care about you and want to see you succeed.  Those people that lift you up when you are down, and pull you down to earth when you are a bit too high.  Those people that aren’t afraid to tell you when you’re in over your head, and those that encourage and support you when you’re on the right path.  You know…….good friends……good family…….the ones that genuinely care.

I’m blessed with having a great support system.  Over the weekend, I ran my first half marathon in Las Vegas.  It was an amazing experience, and one that I’ll share with you over the next couple posts.  But, for now, I want to discuss the importance of the support system.

See, I’m a strong believer in finding and unleashing your inner drive……you know….that determination deep down inside each and every one of us that keeps us going when times get challenging (in fact, you can read more about that on my other blog,  I feel it’s important that we are able to self motivate and to persevere in troubling times.  With that said, it’s also very important to have an amazing support system.

When I ran that half marathon, I really relied on the knowledge and support of my wife, my family, and my close friends.  I also found that while in Las Vegas, I met many other runners that truly supported me.  They encouraged.  They cheered.  They shared their knowledge.  It was truly humbling.

How is your support system?  Do you have those you can turn to when you need advice?  When you need to be supported?  Just as important: do you return the favor?  Your inner drive/willpower/determination/perseverance will get you far in life.  Having an amazing support system can be the ingredient that helps you climb even higher, helping you achieve amazing things; helping you accomplish the extraordinary.

Find support from others!  Be the support for others!


note: picture courtesy of Personal Challenge Fitness Blog


Running Wild……er……Wildly Running?

I love the innocence of an imaginative child’s mind.  There’s something there to envy as an adult.  Children seem to find the pure joy in everything…….in everything they do…….everything they say……their environment.  It’s awesome to see!  We’ve all heard the statistic before…..that an adult laughs maybe a dozen times per day, while a child laughs hundreds (if not thousands) of times a day.  I can’t remember the stat exactly, but it’s definitely a glaring opposite.  It’s the truth too.  Children just seem to have an innocent, glowing joy, radiating from them.  My two girls are no exception, that’s for sure.

Thank goodness for my wonderful wife (Iowa Mom On A Mission), as she has instilled a passion of exercise and activity into my two young girls (ages 6 and 4).  They love to “work out”.  That is, they love to pretend they’re at the YMCA (when in fact, they’re really in the main living quarters of our home).  See, when they go to the “YMCA”, they have to “work out”.  So, they proceed to run wild around the main floor of our home.  They are running laps……getting in shape.  It’s such a double edged sword at the time.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s cute as can be.  And, I love that they love to exercise.  But, as a parent, I also have to make sure they are safe, and in control.  So, although I’m beaming inside, it’s my duty to put a stop to the wild running.

Of course, this doesn’t faze them.  They just quit running laps, and instead turn their efforts to resistance bands and dumbbells in the living room.

Yep………..they know………..they know you’ve got to get both cardio and weight training in.  The good ol’ aerobic and anaerobic exercise!  It’s so innocent.  It’s so pure.  It’s so perfect.  They find the pure joy in staying active……It’s amazing.

When do we lose that innocence?  When do the majority of us go from finding pure joy in exercising and being active, to just trying to find time in our busy schedules to take a walk, or get a workout in?  When do we go from enjoying activity, to nearly despising it?  Adulthood is busy.  Adulthood can be stressful.  However, I challenge each of you to go back to the basics.  Go back to a time when you found that pure joy in exercise.  Enjoy your workouts.  Seek out that time that you can get active.  If you don’t enjoy running, try a sport.  If you don’t enjoy sports, take a walk.  If a walk is too boring, try a kickboxing class.  There are so many options out there for you.  Heck, maybe we should wise up and join our children in running wild throughout the house.