Saturday, July 24, 2010

Leadership Series

I've now profiled Shaq and Kevin Durant. Who next? Among the people I can think of are Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, etc., etc. There are many player choices. What about coaches? Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, Greg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy. Front office: Pat Riley is the first that comes to mind.

Owners: Mark Cuban

NBA Leadership: David Stern

Leadership 101: Shaq

Shaquille O'Neal has been one of the great players in NBA history but his remarkable run of championships (4), All-Star appearances (15), and relevancy (drafted 1992) has come to a startling and regrettable conclusion.

And it's his fault.

The sad part is that despite his greatness on the court and incredible personality off the court, his wounds are self-inflicted and he should be considered a model for hownot to lead a team or organization.

His current basketball status is that of elder statesman. He is the longest-tenured player in the NBA and like all aging players, his abilities have declined.

In his favor, he was the starting center on a team with the NBA's best record last year and still averaged 12 points and 6.7 rebounds Those are good numbers for the oldest man in the league!

As far as aging veterans go who are trying to get one more shot at a championship, they typically have a label applied to them. A label that is intended as a compliment but often has the undertone of a role player who won't be playing many crunch time minutes.

What is that label?

Character guy.

Throughout his career, Shaq has openly mocked character players and veterans who subjugate their egos to win.

Shaq practiced "leadership by performance," which means it doesn't matter what one does off the court as long as one steps up during the game, which is not surprising for a player who relied almost entirely on physical dominance and skills.

He never developed the work ethic or appreciation for teamwork that a less physically gifted but supremely motivated player would have. Consider his early rival David Robinson.

Mr. Robinson, whose amazing skills came with discipline and leadership he undoubtedly learned during his rigorous training at the U.S. Naval Academy, was a character guy. Because of that, later in his career, the Spurs kept him and his eroding skills, and he was able to help them win another championship.

Mr. O'Neal has used "leadership by performance" his entire career, belittling the franchises he left (Orlando, Los Angeles, Miami, and Phoenix) in favor of the new one. He always stated he "makes free throws when it counts" despite missing almost half of them.

And that attitude and method of leadership is not consistent with being a character guy, which will prevent him from winning another title. Ever.

Shaq is done at four, forever behind Kobe.

If you don't believe me, consider the short list of contenders in the NBA: the L.A. Lakers ('09 and '10 champs), the Boston Celtics ('08 champs), Orlando ('09 Eastern champs), Miami Heat (free agent signings put them on the rise), and possibly the Chicago Bulls (same as Miami).

Shaq burned the Lakers, Magic, and Heat.

He mocked Kendrick Perkins, Boston's starting center. He has, in fact, mocked nearly everyone in the league, from Kobe to Dwight to Pat Riley to Stan Van Gundy.

When he was on top of the league and could beat double teams, "leadership by performance" was acceptable. He called players to step up and perform with him and match his level of excellence.

When they failed, he belittled them.

Now that he has failed to match his own standards, no team will give him the time of day.

The most damning evidence: LeBron James, who played with Shaq last year, won't recommend him to Miami. LeBron knows his skill level, accomplishments, and character, but won't play with him anymore.

Shaq has had a great career, but he'll never win another championship and be relevant again. His career is unfortunately over, and sadly, it's his own fault.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Leadership Series

I just published my second "Leadership 101" series article about Shaq. I think that articles about the players could be 101 series, articles about coaches could be 201, articles about franchises could be 301, and articles about the NBA overall could be 401. That would be a cute little signature method to tie all the articles together and analyze the different methods/types.


Next leadership article and another idea

I want to write another leadership article first on BR, in order to build some momentum for the leadership evaluation series I'm writing. Shaq? AI? Kobe I will save for last. Should I switch sports an analyze football or baseball? But my heart and passion is with the NBA, so I think I should write about how Shaq's poor leadership is finally catching up with him. Also, I think the best NBA leaders will always be the short guys, as they had to fight hardest to make it in the league.

Also, a great topic would be about determining if the Heat are setting themselves up to be the laziest team in the NBA? LeBron has the personal mentality of "if I want it I can get it" so they may start to coast through the regular season, letting other teams outpace them if they win a championship or two and the everything becomes boring, then try to turn it on after the fact.

How a Conversation Starts....

I have heard many stories about pro athletes who were spurned on Draft Day, or cut, or were simply drafted lower than projected. They felt insulted, let down, deceived, and mostly just hurt.

Then they put their heads down and that feeling stays with them, through the bus trips, the work outs, the failures, the let downs, and eventually they stop sliding down the hill and start climbing up.

And when they get going, boy do they really get going! Years pass and I've forgotten all about them; but one day I'm watching a highlight on ESPN or YouTube and there he is again, sprinting towards the goal, leading a pack and I just know they won't catch him. Could be a fast break, a fumble return, or simply a player stretching a single into a double and arriving just as the ball arrives. Tie goes to the runner.

He's not the top player or the face of the franchise, but he is the player who makes every hustle play and comes up with something when everyone else thought there was nothing there. In fact, he came up with something for his life, his definition of self, when the 'experts' evaluated him and found nothing there.

Too bad we don't have a word for that. There has to be a word in Spanish, Italian, French, or Swahili (spelling?), that sums up that feeling of determination brought on by how the conversation starts, by that initial rejection in the face of hope and perhaps a touch of expectation.

That is the mentality that is required to achieve one's potential.

When I think of LeBron, I think of the worlds best basketball player. But I also think of a person who has always, and I mean always, had success. With everything he does. He won three state championships in high school, was so far ahead of the pack in the draft that it wasn't even exciting watching the draft but more exciting watching the lottery to see which team won the draft and would draft him. The draft is supposed to be a day where the players see who picks them. LeBron watched a lottery between multi-millionaires to see would get him. He flipped it on his head.

In the NBA he has already won back-to-back MVP awards, been to the NBA finals, all-star game MVP, etc., etc., etc. Everything he has turned his mind to he has done simply by willing it to happen.

Except one thing.

You know what it is. I know what it is. And that thing, which I won't name, has not occurred despite having the best record in the entire league two seasons in a row. And LeBron has definitely willed himself to win it. He has tried and for the first time in his life had failure.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that he turns his attention to another team, with a proven leader that he can team with, to a team completely stacked so they can win the title by simply willing themselves to win, just like LeBron has done with everything else in his life.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Leadership 101 Series

I want to write a series of articles on Bleacher Report detailing the leadership traits and personalities of various athletes. This will be a great way for me to write about something unique while covering athletes in different areas, and refine my own study of leadership.

Leadership is such a challenging subject and writing about it, analyzing it, and hopefully getting in some good discussion with people about it will expand my knowledge and expand the knowledge of the readers as well.

Future topics to cover include Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Doc Rivers, Stan Van Gundy, Phil Jackson, Tom Brady, and many, many more. Leadership and human action is an endlessly challenging field which is open ended and not goal oriented, making it a perfect field of study for my needs.

Full Text of KD Article

Kevin Durant's leadership style is an important aspect of the Oklahoma City Thunder's development and is the No. 1 reason they improved by a staggering 27 wins over their 2008-2009 season.

To start this article, I want to separate his basketball talents and physical skills from his leadership style. His talents include leading the league in free throw attempts per game and being a prolific scorer; his leadership skills allow him to translate that hard work into motivation for his teammates to accept and improve their own roles for the team.

His leadership primarily affects his teammates and what they do, while his talents affect his impressive nightly stat line and nothing else.

Oklahoma City fans already know what the rest of the world is learning: Kevin Durant is a firm believer in “Leadership by Personal Example.” What is so natural for small families and military units becomes a rare trait in the world of multi-million dollar athletes.

Has anyone seen this hilarious Allen Iverson video? Statistically, they both have regular season scoring titles; for philosophy, they couldn't be farther apart.

Leadership by example is the strongest type of leadership and is actually fairly rare in sports. It is legitimately difficult to demand someone making $15 million dollars a year, worshipped by hundreds of thousands of fans and his own national brand, to accept the same standards as a bench warmer.

LeBron James had his entourage fly with him on the team plane; Barry Bonds had a designated leather seat in the dugout, and we all know many other stories of over-pampered adult men. I know of no such Kevin Durant story and while one may emerge, his example right now is one of hard work, effort, and discipline.

The best example is how many times Kevin gets to the free throw line per game: 10.24, with a 90% success rate.

Besides Dirk Nowitzki, I can't think of a player that tall who makes so many free throws.

More importantly, it takes a strong commitment to aggression and absorbing a relentless physical beating to earn that many free throws in the NBA. He took 840 free throws this past year: that is a lot of NBA-level fouls, fouls from centers and power forwards who weigh in excess of 240 pounds per person.

His personal example is what sets up Thabo Sefolosha to selflessly play defense (and not much else) for every game of the year, similar to Tim Duncan's leadership encouraging Bruce Bowen to work hard for little personal reward and recognition.

It is important to remember that while NBA teams win and lose as a team, they get paid individually, often based on scoring and perception with less emphasis on defense and rebounding.

Many collections of "talented" players under achieve and fail to make waves in the playoffs (think Golden Sate Warriors 2007-2008 or Atlanta Hawks 2009-2010). Neither team had a leader able to inspire selfless acts, merely a collection of scorers focusing on their stat lines.

His personal belief in work hard combined with his physical tools have made him one of the best players in the NBA. A man who will inspire peak performances from his teammates not just on game day, but during off season workouts, off days during the season, and in the film room.

That is why they improved 27 games over the previous season, and while they won't improve by 27 wins again (that would mean 77 wins next season!), they can easily set their sights on earning home court advantage for at least one round of the playoffs, perhaps more.

The best thing to occur during the "Summer of LeBron" for the Thunder was Kevin Durant signing a five-year contract extension worth about $86 million. That will take him to age 26, the age where most players focus on simply maintaining their abilities rather than improving.

Oklahoma City gets to watch one of the preeminent leaders and players of this generation mature, grow, and ultimately create a legacy that will be remembered.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Leadership of Kevin Durant facts and tidbits

Kevin just signed a On July 7, 2010, Durant announced on his Twitter page that he signed a 5 year contract extension with the Thunder.[42] The extension is worth about $86 million.[43]


blah blah blah

That was a cut and paste job.

This post is really just a way for me to assemble to some facts about KD. The full article will come later.

He is also on Team USA and the likely leader (in terms of star power) for the team (also in terms of desire and work ethic). A quick look at the potential roster shows he was the regular season scoring leader, but Chauncey Billups (NBA champ '04, Finals MVP '04) and Lamar Odom (NBA Champ '09, '10) are on the team with a lot of credentials. It will be interesting to see if they defer to him, or resent his alleged "arrival".

Chauncey and Lamar have a history of deferring to others, so its possible.

2010 All-NBA 1st team.

I shall talk briefly about the psychology of being skinny, but should keep it brief.

Mention work ethic; find some quotes about KD to use. "quiet leadership".

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Leadership Style of Kevin Durant

I want to publish a BR article about the leadership style of Kevin Durant and I will start my leadership inquiry here.

First off I think he believes in leadership by example. He is motivated to be the hardest worker on the team, and goes about his training in a logical and forthright manner.

He is skinny, and as a former "skinny kid" myself, I know that it only makes his mental toughness go up to make up for his perceived lack of physical toughness. Contrast with Shaq, who is physically very tough but has been very sensitive to criticism his entire career. So KD followers won't have to worry about his ego getting in the way.

Leadership by example is similar to that of Kevin Garnett, who frequently spoke of his desire to be the first one in the gym and the last to leave.

Contrast with the leadership style of Allen Iverson, which is about on-court performance and nothing else. This is less effective because although it worked for A.I. personally, it never pulls teammates up and indeed, allows him to measure his performance separately from that of others.

KD and Kevin Garnett were more about team results and feel that they can singlehandedly win games by outpracticing and outworking everyone before the game even starts. This is the most effective team-leadership style for the NBA.

While personal performance merits all-star appearances, the last shot as the game expires, and many other accolades, many people are interested in team performance (i.e. making the playoffs, securing home court advantage,

Back to KD. KD has taken some criticism personally, such as when he was attacked on Truehoop and by several statisticians about his poor pick and roll defense. He responded by focusing on that area and showing much improvement this year.

The important thing to note is that by focusing on a weakness, he improved it. That search-and-destroy mentality to weaknesses is reminiscent of an MJ saying "I will take a weakness and make it a strength".

Contrast this with LeBron James, who's back to the basket and post-up game are way below where they should be for someone of his amazing ability and potential. Two straight post-season flame-outs have not convinced him to work on his shortcomings but have instead made him sign with Miami, hoping that better teammates will bring him the championships he desires.

It seems likely that KD will methodically work to improve all areas of his game until injury and age make it more important to maintain his current levels rather than aspire for higher ones.

He is currently twenty one and NBA players max out physically around 26. While the mental game and experience continue to grow day to day, Kevin has about five seasons of the methodical improvement which is so fun to watch as a fan of Oklahoma.

**mention contract length here**

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dwayne Wade Wins the Regular Season MVP Award!

Dwayne Wade is setting the stage for himself to win the 2010-2011 regular season MVP award with his vocal defense of new teammate LeBron James from accusations that he "quit" during the playoffs the last two years.

The psychology of the team is already set and he is their Leader; the problem is until now the outward signs have been hidden from view. While we pundits wonder who will emerge as the leader, who will have the most points, and who will get the ball in crunch time, the "3Heat" already know the answer: Dwayne Wade.

As an NBA fan, I readily admit LeBron is the best player in the NBA despite living in California and rooting for the Lakers. However, LeBron has admitted in interviews that he doesn't have the "killer mentality" of a Kobe or more importantly, a Michael Jordan.

Problem is, I and everyone else who loves the NBA wouldn't admit it to ourselves. Even with LeBron telling us point blank that he's not like that, we couldn't admit it. How could someone THAT good not be so driven as to isolate himself from everyone, belittle his own teammates, fight with everyone, and eventually win championships?

Although many NBA fans will still debate who the best player is, it is clear that LeBron would be the most fun to have as a teammate. Heck, if I had played for the Cavs he'd still pass me the ball even though I can barely shoot! He did that in the playoffs against the Pistons in 2005 when he passed to Donyell Marshall for a game winning three despite having a clear path for a layup. He's a genuinely honest and loving guy, friendly and easy to laugh with, who happens to be the greatest NBA player alive.

He'll never be caught on video ordering his GM to "ship his ass out" like Kobe was caught talking about Andrew Bynum.

But he'll never push, prod, goad, and fight his own teammates into position to win a championship.

Which brings me to Dwayne Wade.

If anyone watched the 2006 series where he destroyed the Dallas Mavericks and single handedly won a playoff series and a Championship, they know Dwayne Wade will rise (or sink) to any level to win. He will drive the lane over and over, come as close to travelling as possible, push, grab, hold, literally anything to win, and if the entire state of Texas forever hates him, then let them hate.

Now that LeBron is tucked safely under Dwayne Wade's protective (and muscular) arm, he can continue to play the beautiful game of basketball we mortals can only dream of. But when it comes time for the speech to rally his team back from a 2-0 deficit in the playoffs, he will be listening and Dwayne Wade will be furiously barking at his team like a Marine Captain in the middle of a war.

Dwayne Wade will be the leading scorer, be the best player and captain on the team with the best record, the team unlike any from my generation has ever seen. LeBron will have the best highlights, but Mr. Wade will get the awards. And if they are fortunate enough to win four playoff series in a row (and LeBron knows its never guaranteed) then Dwayne Wade will hoist the Bill Russell award, with a literal and metaphorical assist from LeBron.

Monday, July 12, 2010

We are all guilty witnesses

I like LeBron James a lot. I rooted for him against the Pistons all those years he battled them in the E.C. I've been a game to watch him play and he was everything he is said to be. The only thing he's ever done that I disliked was "the Decision". And what makes me dislike it is not the actual decision or the way he did it, but that I was excited for the decision and so incredibly let down by it.
That is why so many people are disappointed by "The Decision". It sucked. The show was a piece of crap and afterwards, every single person watching had an epiphany and realized how deluded we had all become over this process. I am the first to admit how excited I was about "the Decision" and I spent hours thinking over the possibilities, reading about the different choices, day dreaming and discussing, and was ultimately disappointed.

I realized as I watched it that 29 cities and literally millions of people had been kicked in the stomach and were turning off their TVs, thousands of TVs every second until the only people left watching were Miami Heat fans and gluttons for punishment.

There was no way everyone could have been happy or satisfied but somehow, everyone convinced themselves that they both knew what he would do and that it would turn out favorably for them.

It was an impossible mixture of hope, willful ignorance, and vicarious living. And when LeBron said the words "South Beach" we all realized how foolish we had been. No one is actually mad at LeBron. We are simply mad at ourselves.

Another writing topic

Doubt and hope are intertwined emotions. Hope is found in a dire situation because of the doubt. The situation may seem hopeless, the enemies plentiful, the options few, but there is hope because of the doubt inside each and every one of us. The doubt that the end will be as bad as we fear it may be; doubt gives us the irrational but necessary hope to push through bad days, dark times, and cloudy skies.

A healthy person has doubt and hope in equal measures.

Wow what a terrible piece of writing I just cranked out.


I've been reading this amazing book, "Writing to Change the World", by Mary Pipher, for about a week now. Its incredible. My fiancee was mad at me for underlining in pen last night, so I've switched to pencil, but that doesn't stop me from underlining!

Mary Pipher is a professional therapist and psychologist as well as a writer. Her writing topics have mostly been activist topics and she gives examples of her activism throughout her career. My desire would be to write more fiction topics than anything else. Whats amazing is reading her insight into human emotions and also some observations about linguistics.

I'm going to re-post all the underlined things and write a little about them.

"Whereas writers of propaganda encourage readers to accept certain answers, writers who want to transform their readers encourage the asking of questions". p 23.

That quote is great insight into the difference between the two.

"Once I articulated all these aspects about myself to myself, I tried to write as close to a unified conceptualization of myself as I could". p43.

What is my own tone and voice?

"Our lives are journeys toward a certain kind of wisdom, which is a love and appreciation for all living creatures". p58.

"We experience our lives as lived events, but also as material to be carefully examined later for richness and meaning. Just as meditation makes life more aware and joyous, so writing allows us to live more deeply and fully. Both involve the sanctification of time". P83.

I'm glad I've been writing for some time now and categorizing some things in my life. Must do them all!

"...that the way people enter into a conversation influences its outcome and that true change occurs only in the context of relationships". p 85.

this seems very true, and the first thing that popped into my mind was the Israeli/Palestinian negotiations.

"With our presence and attention, we suggest that honest exploration of issues is healing and that hiding from them is toxic...linguistic determinism that naming determines action and that which is unnamed is ignored". p86.

Some of my own experiences mirror this quote. Its better to figure out what you are feeling and why than keep plugging away at life without asking the questions.

"this nuanced use of words is evidence of a clear thinker" p90.

Perhaps my favorite quote so far.

"never underestimate the reader's intelligence or overestimate his information level" p90.

I should apply this to my classes.

"lets put this in the context of the larger patterns of your life" p91.

Hilarious quote, almost made me laugh out loud.

"Black and white thinking in others is unlikely to be changed if we employ the same thinking ourselves" 91.

George Bust.

"Churchill once defined fanatics as people who won't change their minds and can't change the subject" p91.

Who doesn't know a few fanatics??

"Unacknowledged emotions do not disappear; they fester. Ignoring dark emotions leads to addiction and violence." p95.

Addiction, the greatest of them all.

"Often, in the real world, people who behave badly or disagree with others are shamed or made to feel guilty. However, shame and guilt are poor motivating tools. They sap energy, and lead to rigid thinking. They may work short-term, but long-term they almost never sustain good behavior" p96.

Can I apply this to my teachings??

"appeal to clients' better selves" p96.

This to my teachings as well?

"Cynicism is a form of resistance, a walling off of the possibilities for transformation. At its core, it is a response to learned helplessness, a defensive strategy. Scratch every cynic and underneath you find a wounded idealist. For therapists and writers alike, the best treatment for cynicism is healing stories" p96.

First thought in my mind was I guy I knew once named Kevin C.

And finally...

"English does not include many words to describe mixed emotions--"poignant" and "bittersweet" are the only two that come to mind. German strings together adjectives to label complicated emotions; Japanese has many words to unsnarl such feelings" p105.

It would be delightful to read a book about the differences between the different languages of the world.

So where do I go from here? I want to start writing some sort of part time fiction stuff. Perhaps a modern day science fiction type novel, based in our society but with larger than life characters.
Thinking about these quotes and the larger context of the book, my first thought is about the moving starring Tom Cruise and his "pre-cog crime unit". The film, Minority Report, felt more like propaganda than a real movie trying to raise questions.

I'm sure Tom Cruise knew this, which raises more questions. Do most people prefer to be told what to think rather than do it themselves?

Contrast this to the success of the Matrix Trilogy, despite having one of the most boring and lame actors ever in Keanu Reeves. Perhaps it was his dead-panning of lines and general emotionlessness that allowed people to push past the human acting and superimpose themselves and their own questions on the movie.

Minority Report felt so contrived and the actors were very one-dimensional. Aside from the super cool graphics and cutting edge ideas, it was basically very limited and ended with a conclusion that felt forced. Most movies of that genre seem to feel forced with no real consideration and the villain always, always loses.

That is another major disappointment of mine with the Bond series. The bad guy always loses. For once I'd like to see a major movie where the bad guy wins, where people root for him despite his evilness, despite his flaws, and he emerges as a hero despite being bad at heart.

Perhaps a villain who at the most crucial part of the movie shows some sort of human side, makes a small concession, lives to fight another day, survives because of a scrap of goodness inside of him. Like Darth Vader versus the Emperor.

Friday, July 9, 2010

LeBron goes to Miami


Thats all I have to say. What a terrible way to punch Cleveland in the stomach, btw. If Bill Simmons is right about this entire drama being a charade, and that those three planned it ahead of time, even more wow.

The interview was very, very bizarre. I'll watch it again but LeBron had a very strange expression when talking about his Mom.

And to be honest, I don't think they'll win the Championship. They are like a donut, with a giant hole in the middle. That said, they will be a beast in the regular season, and could very well challenge 70 wins as they steamroll all the weak teams in the league. Biggest games of the year will be versus the Celtics, Magic, and Lakers, and possibly the Thunder as well. That team is going to be strong, strong, strong in the years to come. Durant is becoming a natural leader; leading by example is the strongest method of leadership and he seems like a very honest and hard working man. As his personal expectations grow, he will become more demanding of his teammates.

But I digress. KD would make a great article for Bleacher Report.

LeBron is going to Cleveland, and I'm honestly not sure of their dominance. But its super impressive for Pat Riley to have swung this set up when it was least expected a month ago.

I also feel terrible for Cleveland and the way this all went down. LeBron quite possibly knew all along that he was leaving. Numerous people have mentioned that his facial expressions seemed off or disjointed at times. Now I found out that after Game 6 he didn't return a single call or text to Cleveland. Thats a terrible way to end a relationship that his (at least publicly) been so loving and supportive.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Facial Expressions II

A cab driver in Cleveland, Ohio thinks that LeBron is leaving based on a facial expression he briefly shows when asked about his future. I watched a Pro Golfer, who was leading after his round was completed, make what could only be described as a uniquely Scottish facial expression. He drew back his mouth in a half grimace/half smile expression, but also scrunched his eyes. Its not a facial expression I've ever made or really even seen. I made the face a bunch of times but still couldn't figure it out.

It had to be some combination of anxiety, fear, but confidence and a perhaps a bit of superiority.

Very strange.

Facial Expressions

People make the darndest facial expressions. Often times they are so strange I don't even know what they mean! That is, until I make it myself. Then I know EXACTLY what it means. Facial expressions are funny because they convey what the person is ACTUALLY thinking, at that instance. Often when someone puts up a mask they conceal their facial expression because they know how it can betray their true emotions. But often, when asked to talk, or consider some new fact, the facial expression shines through for a split second, as a ray of sun passes through a patch of clouds before being covered up again.

I watched film of Brock Lesnar's post fight interview, after he had just completed a 12-month comeback from a life-threatening intestinal problem. He had the strangest look on his face for a split second. I watched the interview about five times and tried to make the expression myself. The most conclusive thing I could come up with was that he was worried and a little bit afraid.

That expression acknowledged his concern and the doubts he had about the fight. Will it lead to a more humble Brock? It certainly seemed it did in his post-fight interview.

Will he be humble for longer than a few minutes? We'll see.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blogging about Blogging

I've been doing much writing lately. Golf journaling, blogging, personal journaling, formal letters, etc., etc. It really makes me introspective and analytical, but simultaneously enjoy everything in my life and made me more self aware. That concept of mindfulness actually started in golfing, where I frequently realized that I would walk up to the ball, and next thing I know the ball is fifty yards away in the wrong direction. My mind would just blank out over the ball until I was done. With work I became better able to focus on my swing while I was setting up, practicing, and ultimately swinging.

This concept of focusing on what I'm doing while I'm doing it is intriguing and is certainly a great subject to explore.

I choked in golf

I was golfing yesterday at Sunken Gardens golf course. It is a nice par 29 course, featuring seven par-3s and two par-4s. Through eight holes I was having my best round ever. I had bogeyed the first hole, made three straight pars, a birdie, and then three more pars. That left me with, you guessed it, one hole to play before I could par the course. All I needed was a three on a hole that was playing 118 yards that day.

I'll be the first to say its never easy to land a green from any distance, and a 118 yards is a long ways. Nevertheless, I'd been playing quite well, made a few saves, had some great drives, and was confident. But as I did my preparations I thought I was focused, so I was completely surprised when the ball squirted out at a 45 degree angle, went across my fairway, through trees, and landed not on the green but in another fairway.

A terrible shot.

Not just a bad one, but the worst shot of the day on the most important hole of the day. I play 36 holes yesterday (thats four rounds) and it was easily my worst shot.

So what happened? I obviously choked. I didn't really approach the hole with the mindfulness I needed and didn't really check my backswing during the swing. I'm still surprised at what happened, and its bothersome.

I'm not afraid of becoming a choker or a panic-er. I simply need to get more technical knowledge. The fact is less than half my tee shots landed the greens I played. Some of my pars were tough up and downs. I simply have inconsistencies in my swing that result from not enough practice and not enough technical knowledge and not enough mindfulness. The best thing for me is to be able to monitor my swing and be aware of what I'm doing, as I'm doing it.

Golf is fun, and yesterday I almost made par on my first course. Once I do that, I can start trying to get under par for a round, par more courses, and par my first 18 hole course. It all comes down to focus, knowledge, and mindfulness.