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31 Jan

I have a new little brother!

Well, he’s not actually my brother but that’s what he calls himself. I started volunteering with Big Brothers & Big Sisters last year and I spend roughly 4 hours each week with my 9 year old “little”. Entertaining doesn’t quite describe our adventures.

I try to find something different to do each week, and so far we’ve gone to the movies, the zoo, a reptile house, and a trampoline park. Actually, we did the trampoline park twice and the second one had a ninja warrior course! I think this big kid had more fun than the little one that day.

When the weather is nice we spend a lot of time in the park playing games.

He tries to turn everything into a competition between us and does everything he can to stack the odds in his favor, like not telling me we are keeping score until he is ahead. I have to give him credit because he’s clever. I’ve been around a lot longer though, so his sneaky attempts at winning never work out like he wants them to.

This leads to a lot of conversations about playing games, sportsmanship, and the concept of winning. He’ll often say something like “If I win this game, you have to take me to McDonald’s and I get extra nuggets!” I usually play along, but raise the stakes for him by saying something like “Ok, no problem. But if I win, we go for pizza and I get to eat yours.”

“What?! I don’t want to play then. That’s not fair!”

Funny how that fairness thing only comes up when he’s not getting his way.

I’m teasing him, of course. He always wants to win with everything, but there’s a problem…

He doesn’t know how yet.

I try to help him with this where I can, but it’s tough and I’m sure anyone with kids can relate!

When we play basketball, he usually starts running around the court, pretending to be LeBron James, then tries to make some impossible shot. When he misses (as anyone would), he gets mad and starts putting himself down:

“This is ridiculous! Why can’t I make a shot? I’m no good at this”

I usually step in at this point with the same approach I use with clients struggling in the gym. My goal is to get him to calm down, understand why what he’s doing isn’t working, and help him figure out a better way. I usually say something like “you’re not bad, but you’re taking shots that are difficult for someone my size. Move closer and try a normal shot like we practiced.”

As always, once he listens, he makes the next several shots and the all is right in the world again.

“I can do it when I pay attention to what you said.”

I explain to him that “winning” isn’t automatic. It takes a lot of work, and no one wins all the time. Even more important, EVERYONE wants to win, and nobody is going to let you win just because you want to.

If winning is important to you, then learn how to win!

Same goes for fitness and any other area of self-improvement.

  • Pay attention to what you’re doing instead of mindlessly going through the motions. This goes in the gym with exercises and at home with nutrition.
  • When you’re paying attention, you’ll start to notice what is working for you. Keep doing that until it stops.
  • For the things that aren’t working, change them. Make small changes to your approach, one thing at a time, until you’re getting the results you want.
  • Keep it simple until you’re confident and can handle everything easily.
  • Don’t quit because you’re frustrated or having a bad day. It happens to everyone. Your ability to manage this becomes important for future success, so hang in there!

Success and winning are not automatic, but you can be successful if you work at it. Put in the time to learn what works for you, pay attention to your actions, and improve them until you’re getting what you want. A simple and effective approach for almost guaranteed results!