Square Squad vs. Hope Hijackers

Last week I sent out an idea that I hoped many of you would be interested in to help make your 2019 G.O.A.L.S.a reality. The response was great, and we are now in the arena. Doing the daily work and grinding it out. I referenced the “Man in the Arena” quote from Theodore Roosevelt.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” 

It is so rich and dense that I am going to use it to help me write to my articles until I felt it is unpacked and we have exposed all its greatness. With that said, I am going to start at the beginning with the first sentence.

As it turns out my wife and I had been thinking about this quote on our own. She shared with me that the first sentence is her favorite part. The Critic. The Naysayer. The Doubter. We all have them. They are out there. Sometimes they are co-workers, family members, teammates, classmates, friends, or people we don’t even know who want to add their two-cents via social media. No matter how big or small the goal they will be there. Many times, we listen to them. We let their negativity get us down, we let their doubt infect our thoughts until we to believe that it is not possible. Jon Gordon calls them “Energy Vampires”, Brian Cain calls them “Drains”, and I am calling them “Hope Hijackers”. Whatever name they go by they should not be welcome into our lives as they are not bringing anything positive to uplift us toward what we what and where we want to go.

There is a simple activity you can do personally that I think can make a big difference to focus on those that matter and eliminate those that don’t. I learned this from Brene Brown in her book Dare to Lead. Take a 1-inch by 1-inch piece of paper and write down those whose voices and feedback matter most to you. This list should be made up of the most influential people in your life. It is a small piece of paper to force you to narrow down those you know to those that matter most. She calls them her Square Squad. Try this activity with your coaching staff, extend it to your players and family. It allows you a quick easy checklist that if someone is giving you any type of feedback that you can decide if it is worthy to listen to. If it is someone who is being skeptical about a timeline or goal I have in mind that is on my list I will give them the time of day because I trust their opinion. If it is someone being a hater and criticizing something who is not on my Square Squad, then I need to ignore the negativity. They are not worth my mental energy, my time, or my emotions. They are doing nothing for me other than trying to steal my hope for a better me. The critic is Hijacking your Hope. Hope is a key ingredient when wanting something more. We need it as the fuel to drive us when things get difficult, boring, mundane, or unexpected. Which is the next part of Roosevelt’s – Man in the Arena quote which I will write about in the future.

The clarity this can bring to your life when dealing with feedback is game-changing. It will let you know who your people are because you have identified them intentionally. There will be no mistaking it. Try it and don’t let the critics in the crowd tell you how you should have done something better or you can’t do it at all. Knowing your who is on your Square Squad and who are potential Hope Hijackers will let you stay in the arena. Keep fighting the good fight! 1-rep, 1-minute, 1-pitch at a time!

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