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What We Can Learn from “Unbroken”

It wasn’t a typical Friday night for me. Normally, Friday’s are for taking it easy and unwinding a bit from a busy week and staying at home, but this time around the husband and myself went out to the movies and we saw “Unbroken”.  I had read the book last summer and enjoyed it immensely.  Once I heard a movie was going to be released based on the book and the true story of Louis Zamperini, I knew that I had to get to the theaters and see it eventually.

I left the movie theater that night with a renewed sense of purpose and a complete new perspective on what it is like to go through something that is “hard”.  In fact, I came up with a small list that I will share with you below.

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1.  My definition of “tough circumstances” changed.

I did read the book “Unbroken”, but the movie really did a great job matching the words and the scenes in my head into actual pictures that I could relate it all to.  The unimaginable circumstances that Louis Zamperini survived will probably forever be in the back of my mind.

I go through each day and almost always something comes up and I think to myself, ‘Well, this is going to be difficult’, or ‘This sucks, how am I going to get this done.’  I know when those moments come at me again, I need to look at it with a new perspective.  Anything is possible.  Anything can be done.  Anything can be survived.  Nothing can be as hard as surviving that many days at sea or that many days being abused mentally and physically in those POW camps.

Life is really not at all bad considering what others, like Louis, have gone through in their lives as a soldier.  I need to be thankful daily about how good I’ve got it and keep things into perspective.

2.  The right attitude can make anything possible.  It is your choice.

I honestly do not think Louis Zamperini would have survived anything that he went through in WWII if he didn’t have the right attitude.

During their time at sea on the raft, he was the one that kept the other two on their toes.  He truly had a belief that they would survive and kept encouraging the others to stay positive as well.  Without that attitude and positive encouragement, there is no way they could have lasted half that time in the sea.

It just goes to show that a positive attitude is contagious and it helps you see the good in almost any situation.  If we are able to control our attitude appropriately, then we can battle any adversity that comes our way.  Battling adversity is a part of life and successful people use it as an opportunity rather than an excuse.

3.  Forgiveness is the best alternative to hate and it can set you free.

Louis Zamperini was mentally and physically tortured on a daily basis in the POW camps in Japan during WWII.  He was, unfortunately, targeted daily by the hated “Bird”.  Louis could do everything right and it didn’t matter.  The Bird had it out for him and never gave him a moment of freedom from abuse.

Several years after the war and after a long battle of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), however, Louis found his way back to Japan.  He not only set foot back on the soil of the very country that kept him captive, but he forgave his captors, including The Bird.  He even wanted to confront and forgive The Bird in person, but he declined to meet with Louis.  No matter, Louis still forgave.

Forgiveness.  This is a powerful tool that we must all have in our arsenal.  I know there are many people that have come and gone throughout our lives that have done us wrong, but if we do not forgive then we are the ones ultimately living in the cage guilt.  We need to love people when they least expect it or least deserve it, just like Louis did with The Bird.

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If you have not seen the movie, then I highly recommend you to read the book and then see the movie.  The book is rich in detail and gives you not only every detail of Louis Zamperini’s life, but it also is a great historical account on WWII.

So many soldiers have stories very similar to Mr. Zamperini and for that we owe so much appreciation and thanks to those WWII Veterans.  The strength and resolve they all had (and have while some are serving as we speak) is the greatest gift for us all.  Not only are we protected, but we can also learn a great deal from each story.

 

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Our Daily Commitments

Gratitude.

That word is popping up a lot lately…In books that I read (Jon Gordon’s “Positive Dog”), in other blogs that I follow (check out Natural Typologies blog post), quotes on Twitter (follow @JoshuaMedcalf and/or @jdgilbert19 for daily motivation), or just within normal conversation.

As much as I have seen it lately, I almost take that as a sign.  For me, it has been a simple adjustment, but I wanted to take it a step further and implement it into my team’s daily commitments.  Our daily commitments are something that we strive to do everyday and we know if all else fails and we complete that list, then the day is a success.  We have “won the day”.

Our society and Division I Athletics in general, is very results focused.  Our goal as a team is to focus on the little things that will make us great people and it is our hope then the results will follow.  That is what our daily commitments are all about:

 

Our Team’s Daily Commitments

  1. One Word
  2. “What Went Well” Journals
  3. Be FOCUSED and PRESENT at practice
  4. Have and COMMIT to a practice plan
  5. Treat people the way you wish to be treated
  6. Have a great ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE
  7. RISE ABOVE negative thoughts and actions
  8. REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE HERE

 

These daily commitments are simple and focused.  If we take care of these 8 things daily, then we will not only have great attitudes, but we will also be focused and committed.

“One Word” is a concept made popular by author Jon Gordon and his book “One Word That Will Change Your Life”.  After reading that book, I decided it would be the perfect thing to present to our team full of busy student-athletes.  They choose their one word for the school year and focus on it daily.  We do this instead of a long list of goals.  It keeps the focused narrowed and simple.  For example, my word for the school year is “Purpose”.  If I stay focused on my purpose in life, then there is no way that I can’t wake up in the morning ready to conquer the day!

Our second daily commitment is our “What Went Well” Journals.  Many psychologists have recommended this daily journaling activity, but it first came to light when I started regularly reading blog posts from Joshua Medcalf and Jamie Gilbert of the Train to be Clutch team.  We started these journals last semester and it was an eye-opening experience.  Even on days where we struggled, we were able to dig deep and stay positive.  That type of attitude is contagious and we all felt it was one of our most rewarding and rich team bonding semesters yet.

An extra addition to our journals this year will include, what we are grateful for.  Not only will we write down things that went well for the day, what we learned, and an area of growth we discovered, but we will also include something that we are thankful for.  These student-athletes cannot forget how lucky they are to be playing their sport and getting a degree at the same time.  They cannot forget that they have a roof over their heads.  I hope they understand that they are lucky enough to have amazing facilities at their disposal to stay healthy and perfect their craft.

If you are grateful, you are heart-full!

We will never feel stress, if we are always feeling blessed!

We are only 4 days into our practices and workouts for the semester and I can honestly say that I have seen more smiles, I have seen amazing work ethic, and I have seen positive attitudes.  These attitudes are contagious and it is only going to grow and when it does, we will start seeing that anything is possible and our scores will drop.

I can’t wait to write this down in my journal tonight!

 

I Am Not Just a Golf Coach, I Am Also a Life Coach

 

When people ask me what I do for a living I always respond proudly that I am a Head Women’s Golf Coach. Then I almost instantaneously prepare for the numerous questions that follow:  “At a college? Which school? Do you get to play golf everyday?” I answer each question with as much enthusiasm as I can for sounding like a broken record, but as I do, my mind always wanders a bit and I think to myself, “Oh, but it is so much more than that.”

 

If I were to sum up my life’s purpose in one sentence it would be: “I am not just a golf coach, I am a life coach”. While teaching the game of golf and making decisions as a coach, I’m doing more than my job, I’m preparing young women for life after college. 

 

I will teach you honesty.  Not everything I do or say will be what you want to hear. My dad always told me that truth hurts. I think not hearing the truth hurts even more. Honesty is a lost art and I have an obligation to make sure my players understand it, use it to make themselves better people, and continue to be honest to others throughout their lives. Covering up what is actually reality “just to be nice” is not progress. Progress sometimes comes in a package not wrapped up with a shiny bow. Truth equals unconditional love.

 

You will most certainly learn how to deal with adversity. Pain comes in many shapes and sizes and our sport can be heartbreaking. How will we handle heartbreaks? With our heads held high. With a perspective like no other, meaning, that the adversity we are experiencing at any time, WILL make us stronger and WILL prepare us for great things down the road. Without adversity, how can we truly appreciate the times when everything goes perfectly? Adversity is necessary not only for success, but for our survival in our sport and lives.

 

I will want you to understand, more than anything, that your worth is not measured by how many trophies you have on a shelf or hanging on your wall. Who you are is not measured by what you shoot. You are defined by what you contribute to our team and to this society everyday. It is your effort. It is your work ethic. You can make everyday a success if you take care of all the little things and give 100% toward each task. If you do that and fail, in my eyes you still succeed, because you undoubtedly gave it your best. Let’s not forget that if we go after each day and conquer every minute, every hour good things will no doubt come our way. When you leave here, that skill will help you soar to the top!!! 

 

I will want you to keep things simple. Over analyzing can get ugly. Overwhelming yourself can cause unnecessary stress and worry. Taking on too much can lead to frustration and even quitting before the job is complete. Simplicity, in our world of high-tech, instantaneous information, is a beautiful thing. Stress and worry? Trust me, it doesn’t look good on you! One of my philosophies is and always will be to keep things simple. This might frustrate you at times, but it is important that you are aware of this concept because one day you will need to simplify and you need to know how to get there.

 

I will teach you to embrace learning.  If I had a $1 for every time I heard the words “I hate school” I could retire easily.  School is not about the books you (hopefully) open on a daily basis.  It is about the people who surround you.  It is about diversity and keeping an open mind about each other’s differences.  I’ve learned more things, good and bad, from people than I honestly did while in college.  It is important that we know the difference between what is right and what is wrong.  The people around us can teach us that.  Your teammates, other athletes, regular students in your class…they can give you so much.  Don’t discount this.  Look UP from your phones and talk with someone different each day face-to-face.  We need to get out of our social media shells and learn the real way to be social again.  Learning from others will increase your chances of success, but it is not a full-proof plan to avert the negative.  You will still make bad decisions, bad choices, and mistakes.  It won’t matter if you are 21 or 31.  We will not go through life scar free.  Learn from everything.  Learn from the good and learn from the bad.   

 

I can’t say enough about living a purpose driven life.  It gets me up in the morning and motivates me to give my very best everyday.  Leading by example and my players are my focus and when it comes to my job, they absolutely are my first priority.