Lose the Resolution… and Put an ‘Intentional Stake’ in the Sand

The problem with resolutions? I actually think there are a few, but mostly they tend to lack a sense of alignment to your overall purpose and don’t end up being beneficial. Or, if they’re just based on your physical appearance, they often disregard how you want to be, perform and feel in your body.   

Resolutions aren’t usually based on the power of a heartfelt passion, or a deep yearning for something to change – to evolve and realize our potential at the next level. Sometimes, they can be as simple as resolving to live a life filled with more happiness.

In other words, the resolution can lack a soul of sorts.

When you ‘put a stake in the sand’ you are making a definitive statement to yourself and others who witness it, that you have an intention you’re committing to.

This kind of resolution comes from a deeper need, desire, or sense of self-care.  

Let me share an iconic example with you of ‘Putting a Stake in the Sand’.

One of my former students and now good friend is Edgar Martinez. Edgar played his entire career for the Seattle Mariners. I was there for 11 years as the team’s Strength and Conditioning Coach.

Over those years I had a clear viewpoint to observe his maturation. And what I mean is his growth and expansion of realizing his potential as a supreme baseball player.

There’s much to learn from Gar. His intention was to hit and throw a baseball at the highest level of proficiency that he could possibly achieve every year of his career.  

Well as soon as he put that “stake in the sand,” the earth shook. The power and resolve of his intention was already manifesting and being fulfilled from that moment on. That’s what happens when you make the commitment. 

Edgar had good days on the field, and some not-so-good ones…but throughout his entire career, his eyes always stayed on his “stake in the sand.”

What stood out most to me was his daily rituals and practices. He was consistent and disciplined in them and rarely wavered based on the results of the day. The energy and attention he put into each hitting drill, his warmups and stretches, rarely saw a shift.  

It boiled down to his belief, action, and commitment in the daily rituals he assembled and honed over time as the foundation of his consistent results. When he focused on the daily practice, the results naturally arrived.

Edgar rested when he needed to rest and worked a little harder when he had more energy. Yet the discipline of his practice was in his focus on the present moment of the process, not the outcome.      

So my assignment for you is to come up with one intentional “stake” which you will commit to over the next 12 months.

An intention filled with passion and desire. Can I make another suggestion? Make it about what you can do less of, in order to be more. One of the Life Athlete mantras is “Do Less, Be more.”

Remember that your ‘stake’ is often an inspiration for someone else’s goal. We will all be bolstered by what your Intentional Stake is.


“Don’t think you are, know you are.” – Morpheus to Neo, The Matrix

From Edgar, me and your best self. Rock it!

By | 2019-07-24T14:37:20-07:00 July 24th, 2019|Life Athlete|0 Comments

A Level Up: How to Be More By Doing Less

Just Keep Pushing

Early on in my teen years, I was educated on how to push. I followed the example of older teen gym rats and I learned through the gentle nudging of my first mentor, Rapha Kroger, to push my body hard, and still harder. The pure application of mental will over my body’s resistance resulted in two simple takeaways: 1) I could always push a little harder than I thought, and 2) overriding my body wasn’t going to end in death (at least, I hoped not).

The Sisyphus Days

I accepted the role of Sisyphus and actually had fun because my strength boomed upwards and my then 16lb steel ball landed farther and farther away from me. That’s the goal. Kinda simple. Pushing my shot put version of Sisyphus’s boulder up the hill didn’t feel like torture, and this strategy was far from ineffective. My gains were accumulating.

I had accepted ‘Grit’ as the god that I would always need to bow down to and ‘Embrace’ as the path to achieve greater success. Pushing had worked in the past, so I figured it would fulfill my dreams in the future. Also, it was the only path I knew.

Fast forward. It’s two years before the Olympic trials and a siren is going off in my head. It was ringing out, “Houston, we have a problem.” A stark realization had come over me. All of my progress had ceased. I wasn’t throwing farther, even though I had pushed harder, lifted more, trained more often, and dedicated every waking minute of my life to thinking about pushing towards my goal. Nothing was changing. Zilch.

Time to Go Within

I knew I wanted to make the Olympic team, but up until this point, I hadn’t progressed in years. I was desperate to find a solution, and only through this desperation did I realize that I needed to pivot in order to grow. I threw out all my old tools and methods and started over. 

Little did I know at the time, I was leaving one orbit of success and entering a new one with a higher potential.

The characteristics of this new orbit were powered by tapping into an internal wisdom that would allow me to decide how to move forward with greater economy and results.

This new path required that I pay more attention to the signs of my body and what it was telling me when I was feeling fatigue, pain, nervousness, or fear. I became aware of the signature patterns in my body and the tendencies of my thoughts. I taught myself meditation and learned how to calm my mind, putting that into play as part of my training program.

Before all of this, I had been successful, but not at a sustainable level. I needed to tune into my mind and body in order to level up. When that happened, my throws started going farther.

After that, the whole process became more fun because I wasn’t pushing against a wall thinking that if I pushed harder, I would get there. All of a sudden, a kind of ease just overtook my body.

Afterthoughts and Tips

Most of us were taught that pushing yourself, grinding it out and giving your “all” will get you to your goals in the most direct way. Plus, we get a certain ego satisfaction from our business partners, teammates, co-workers, clients, family members and coaches who view us as successful and say we have a ‘they got what it takes” character. It’s addictive and alluring. I know.  

So, what I‘d like to suggest is the following – if you’re interested in up-leveling to a wisdom and awareness-based way of achieving personal, physical or business success, happiness or just to be more at ease with life, try these steps:

  • First, without judgement, identify one area or task in your life where your belief that you have to push harder and endure more may be taking away from either your enjoyment, achievement, satisfaction, or your ability to actually get any better at that task…i.e. achieve more.  
  • Second, commit to 2 weeks to experiment with a new way of thinking – to start becoming more tuned into your body’s energy needs. Then, be willing to accommodate those needs as best you can when they come up, so you don’t go into depletion mode but rather feel more energized and vital. Your body’s always talking… are you listening?  
  • Third, for the same period of time, be hyper-vigilant in noticing when habitual thoughts arise that say you can’t slow down, or take a break, or make time for yourself because if you do you’re lazy, or not giving it your all, or feel that you’re being unproductive. Be honest.
  • Fourth, Seek Doing Less to Become More.
  • Fifth, Your Mantra: Seek energy and be compassionate to yourself in the process.

Awareness is King and the choices you make from it Queen. Both equals in helping you use your internal wisdom to guide you effortlessly towards your desired goals and achievements.

By | 2019-07-24T14:34:35-07:00 July 24th, 2019|Life Athlete|0 Comments

5 Tips to Switch Off Autopilot and Level Up Your Performance

Autopilot – A Fast Track to Mediocrity

There is something so comforting about switching into autopilot. It’s something I used to do every day and it quickly became a familiar pattern I could fall into. Like an airplane pilot, I could just sit back and relax, confident I was heading where I needed to go. I had set my intention a long time ago and I was sure my destination was coming up soon.  

For me, it was a way of getting through every day, doing the same habits and actions, working towards the same goal, without ever needing to be aware of the costs and benefits. I could just simply go through the usual list and check things off. My athletic career consisted of lifting weights, throwing a shot, recovering, and then doing the same thing the next day. The only thing that changed was that each day, I would try to do more. I’d get up in the morning and the gun would go off, so to speak. I’d start the day and I’d fall into this unconscious autopilot mode — work hard and hope like hell to get to my goal.

It was like driving from Seattle to New York by getting into the car and driving as fast as I could in a generally eastward direction. I told myself there wasn’t any time to stop for food, no time to stretch and re-energize. Forget pulling over to take a nap, look at a map, think through the fastest route possible, or even plan ahead for food and water. Oh no — that would all just be a waste. There was just enough time to refuel the car before jumping back in to drive hard and fast. That was my M.O. in my early 20s. Don’t think. Just do.

Then something happened.  

One day, I realized that all autopilot did was slowly chip away at my achievement. My ability to do more was stifled when I didn’t check in and stay oriented to my goals. I wasn’t tapping into any new potential. I was just riding out a daily ritual for the sake of checking off the boxes.  

“It’s not only moving that creates new starting points. Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities.” – Kristin Armstrong

What We’re Losing with Autopilot

Autopilot sounds attractive in that it’s going to give you a pathway that you don’t have to think about. Mentally, you can sit back, have a cup of coffee, eat a donut, and you’re still going to arrive on course. But for human beings who are trying to efficiently achieve a higher level in what they do, whatever that may be, going on autopilot is a setback.

If all we do each morning is have our cup of coffee and then blindly work through our day without an intention, at a speed that equates to doing good work but may not be getting us where we want to go, an unconscious thing starts to happen. We find ourselves spinning our wheels. The spinning feels good because without our attention, it feels like progress. Unfortunately, the vehicle is not moving forward.  


In my athletic career, it was apparent to me that there needed to be what I would later call wedges in my day. Those wedges could be anything from a very short nap, to a timeout during a practice, to hopping in the swimming pool for a couple of minutes in between workout sessions. Whatever shape it took, it was something that broke up my routine. Initially, I felt as though it was a waste of time. I was convinced that if I didn’t keep my mind on my training 24/7, then I wouldn’t get there. My belief was that any time away from thinking or putting effort into that goal was going to lessen my chances of getting there.

Instead, what I began to realize is that taking these short moments to break away from autopilot enables us to gain a renewed perspective on how we are approaching our goals, how our body and mind are progressing, and whether or not we’re making inroads in the direction we want to go. It helps us identify if we’re working just for the sake of working or if we’re really on the right track.

The first wedges for me came in the form of a nap. Then I noticed that when I was having a practice session and my throws weren’t feeling right, I would stop and just sit on the grass and take a few minutes. Despite what I had been telling myself, I had plenty of time, and what I gained felt like a reboot. It was like turning off the computer when it’s running slowly and restarting only to find that all of a sudden, things start to click again.

In that reboot time, the downtime, the sitting on the grass time, or the few deep breaths, you’re not thinking about what’s coming up next or what is about to happen. It’s a step away, a step off the treadmill to take stock and rest. Rather than being a waste of time, these refreshing moments ended up heightening my athletic performance in ways I couldn’t imagine. They made me more aware and more conscious of what needed to be done. They allowed me to focus on these new tasks in a much more clear-headed, connected way, integrating both mind and body. Autopilot is one way of shutting down a tired brain, but it also disconnects you from yourself.

Four Benefits to Working with Wedges

Staying oriented to success — If you never check in on your goals, you may not reach them at all. You can spend weeks, months, or even years veering off track before you remember to course-correct, costing you valuable time and energy.

Seeing new and improved results — When we run on autopilot, we’re only ever able to make pre-planned improvements. Just like a training schedule for a marathon, you’ll know months in advance just how far you’ll run each day of training. But when you take time to check in and reassess, you can start to customize the results you want to see as you go, bringing new options for improvements in every direction.

Structuring strategic growth in all areas — When you take time to check in, you can see what areas you’re making the most improvement in as well as those that need more attention. From there, you can make intelligent adjustments to your schedule to maximize your goals.

Feeling good in your body and mind — Jumping off autopilot allows you to check in with how you’re feeling periodically throughout your day to maximize how your energy is spent. If you show up to the gym with a pre-planned workout, but your body is in need of something else, neglecting that messaging leaves you open to injury and exhaustion. On the other hand, a quick moment to breathe gives you the headspace to assess how you can best use that time to leave feeling healthy and accomplished.

If you feel that you are slipping into autopilot and you’re up for trying a different approach, then consider this 2-week experiment:

Five Steps to Jumping Off Autopilot

First thing in the morning, set an intention that you’re going to create one wedge,  two wedges, three wedges…you decide how many, and each one of those wedges is going to be anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes.

Be flexible. As with anything in life, sometimes they won’t go as you planned.

Find a place you can be alone. If you have an office, close and lock the door and pull the shades down. If it’s possible, leave your office and go outside or at least out of your work area. You can even go sit in your car.

Choose a wedge that works for you. Experiment with new ones to find where the best fit is in your day for the ones that benefit you the most. Whichever wedges you try, do so being completely present in what you’re doing. This is not the time to think about what your boss just said or what you need from the grocery store. Being fully present helps us refocus on what we need to do. Some examples of wedges include:

Take three deep breaths: be highly conscious of the physical act of breathing. Put your entire concentration on the breath, be with it, and make it as long a breath in and out as you possibly can.

Go outside and walk around the block. Notice your surroundings, breathe in the fresh air, and allow it to clear your thoughts.

Take a mini nap. Even five minutes with your eyes shut can bring refreshment and a renewed perspective on your day.

Introduce five minutes of light movement. This can be light calisthenics, office yoga, or even a quick freestyle dance session. Getting up and moving will get your blood flowing back into your brain and muscles, preparing you for your next tasks.

Consciously drink water. Simply sitting or standing with no other task than sipping from a water glass for several minutes can give you a healthy reset.

When you’re done, ask yourself these questions: What do I need right now to move forward in order to reach my goals effectively and efficiently?

“All that is important comes in quietness and waiting.” – Patrick Lindsay

Whichever wedge you choose, be sure to take a few deep breaths and find a moment of stillness. If your mind wanders to what you’re going to do later, bring yourself back to the present moment by focusing on what your body feels as you lie on the floor, sit in a chair, or lean against a wall.

If it helps, set a timer to remind yourself to add in your wedges. If you say to yourself in the morning “I’m going to do this right after lunch”, then set a reminder alarm for 1pm. If you choose the middle of the afternoon, set an alarm for 3:00pm and your timer will go off reminding you that it’s time to create a sense of coming back and connecting with your vitality.

That short time away from autopilot is a magic moment, and during that break, realizations, understandings, clarity, and consciousness will materialize that wouldn’t otherwise. If you experiment with these wedges, I think you’ll find that it is worth the time and more.

When I decided to go off autopilot and connect my awareness of where I was in my body and in my mind, it became easier to decide what I needed to do at each and every step of the day. 

These insights were absolutely foundational to the next level of achievement for me, and I have seen this over and over again in the years I’ve worked with both athletes and non-athletes. The life athletes that I have coached see how profoundly it can affect them, and they now move through their days with more grace, efficiency, confidence.

By | 2019-07-24T14:29:21-07:00 July 24th, 2019|Life Athlete|0 Comments