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In a wide-ranging Youve-got-to-make-uprecent interview, former Boston Celtics legend and current Washington Wizards veteran Paul Pierce discussed the advice that his gives to the young stars on his team:

“I talk to them a lot about mental preparation and consistency,” Pierce said. “I keep telling (John) Wall and (Bradley) Beal, ‘You’ve got to make up your mind. Do you want to be good, or do you want to be great? Because if you want to be great, you gotta do it every single night, not just when you feel like it.”

Do I get an amen?

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I-dont-know-what-my-kidsYesterday afternoon, my 10 year old son Hayden said that he didn’t think that he would be able to make it to the AFL (Australia’s highest league for Australian rules football).  He thought that maybe a lower league was more achievable.

I looked at him with pride and said, “Let’s not put a ceiling on that goal just yet, the sky is still the limit, so let’s keep training hard and see what happens.”

Maybe he won’t make it to the AFL.

Maybe he will get distracted and try something else.

Maybe he won’t put the work in or just doesn’t have the talent.

Maybe he will get injured and that will hold him back.

But I’m not going to put a cap on his (or my other kids’) aspirations.

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If-you-think-that-youreOn the weekend, Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo amazed us once again with an extraordinary 5 goals during his team’s 9-1 trouncing of Granada.  This included a hat-trick within 8 minutes and his performance was as close to perfection from an athlete as you could expect.

But not according to the man himself.

Ronaldo once said, “If you think that you’re already perfect, then you never will be.”

Despite his obvious talent and natural skill, Ronaldo’s work ethic is legendary.  Since a very young age, he has pushed himself on the training track harder than most of contemporaries, developing his skills and physical capabilities to a level reached by very few athletes.

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You-miss-100-of-theIt was ice hockey great, Wayne Gretzky who said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

It’s true in sport and it’s true in life.

You won’t make a sale if you don’t make a pitch.

You won’t get published if you don’t start typing.

You won’t buy a house if you don’t make a bid.

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Sacrifice Decision11-time world champion cyclist Emma Meares recently told the story of when former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh was the mentor for the Australian Olympic team at the London Olympics.

He told them that athletes make decisions, not sacrifices to be successful.

In Emma’s words, “If you think that having a healthy diet is a sacrifice then you’re wrong, yes moving away from family and spending time on your own is hard, but it’s a decision and you can choose not to do it.”

It struck me that I use the word sacrifice too much.

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I-do-believe-in-praisingBasketball and sport in general lost one of its great doyens this week with the passing of North Carolina head coach legend Dean Smith at the age of 83.

Coach Smith was a universally respected figure who nurtured the college careers of over 50 future NBA players, including superstars Michael Jordan and James Worthy.

He was a great teacher and leader who led his teams to 2 NCAA Championships and when he retired, had won more games than any other basketball coach in Division 1 college history.

But one of his most influential teachings was the introduction of pointing to the passer, whereby any player who scored a basket would acknowledge the team-mate who gave them the ball.  It’s a habit that is now seen after almost every score on almost every court across the world and is even utilised in other sports as well.

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Your-body-is-an-idiot-One of the books that I’m reading at the moment is inspirational athlete Kurt Fearnley’s autobiography.  He tells a range of stories including the philosophy of legendary rugby league coach Phil Gould.

According to Fearnley, Gould believed that all athletes had a voice in the back of their minds that told them it was acceptable to take short cuts.  To not run when they were fatigued; to stay down and feign injury so that they could have a little rest; to not dive or get their body in line for a tackle because they might cop a knock.

But winners didn’t listen to that little voice. Read the rest of this entry »

Theres-no-point-inA good friend (thanks Simon) recently shared with me a story about legendary (and slightly eccentric) Hall-of-Fame baseballer Rickey Henderson.

It seems as though Rickey had always wanted to be a millionaire, so when he received a bonus cheque for a million dollars from the Oakland A’s, instead of cashing it, he had it framed and put on his wall to display for all to see.

It wasn’t until he received a phone call from the slightly flustered A’s finance department, who suggested that he display a photocopy, that he went to the bank and cashed the cheque.

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Richmond Players

Tigers players celebrating their amazing win on the weekend

After their first foray into the AFL finals in many years in 2013, the Richmond Football Club had big, bold plans for 2014.

The team had improved every year under coach Damien Hardwick and were ready to launch themselves at the top of the ladder in his fifth season at the helm.

But the start of the year didn’t go according to plan, with key injuries, poor performances and confidence dropping by the week, resulting in a 3-10 start to the season.  This placed the Tigers equal bottom of the ladder with nine games to go.

They were written off by everyone else, as finals seemed a mathematical impossibility.  No team had ever recovered from such a shambolic start and the underachieving Tigers didn’t seem like the kind of club that could beat the odds.

But they dared to dream.

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One of the books that I’m reading at the moment is “The Hoops Whisperer” by Idan Ravin.  In it, I found this fantastic quote.

“Life boils down to a series of jump shots:

Some you make, some you miss, some you wish you’d taken, some you wish you hadn’t.

Great players move on, looking forward to the next possession.”

I love this reminder that when we live life to the full, some things will work and some won’t.

And I know that there are a lot of things over my journey that I wish I had done, or done sooner, or done differently, or not done at all.

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