14 Steps to Success: The Blue Print
While pondering my thoughts, I was taking account of some of my previous success and how it came to be. To be more specific, the winning of my 2008 4x200 at the National Scholastic Indoor Track and Field Championship. It special because it was the first National title to be brought to my high school (Union Catholic), which is now noted for its superior track program, both nationally and internationally. This accomplishment led to the catalyst of what Union catholic is today.
Union Catholic under head coach Michael McCabe, has produced so many D1 athletes and National Champions since my time and continues to do so today. One of our most notable alumni is Sydney McLaughlin an Olympian and at the time of this post the World Record Holder of the 400 meter intermediate hurdles! So proud!
How did such a great accomplishment come to be? These things I ask because, I consider it one of my greatest accomplishments. Although this moment can never be recreated, I wish to take the process (blueprint) and apply it to new goals of what I deem worthy.
Once great things have been accomplished it can be duplicated because that barrier of what if or doubt no longer exist. In hindsight one just has to follow the blueprint that was previously provided. I took a step back to my memory archives and thought about what was done to achieve such an honor:
- Commitment & Accountability
- Setting Goals
- Action and Practice
- Consistency and Hard work
- Staying Discipline to a Schedule
- Limit Distraction
- Being Around Like-Minded People
- Having a Mentor | Coach| Leader
- Be Competitive
- Taking a Loss just as well as a win
Between personal issues, family issues, social issues and just overall staying committed to the team and my goals, things seemed difficult. Even overwhelming at times. Quitting became an option many times. To get through these obstacles though I had to be grounded. Which brings me to my next, and probably most important point to achieving success. MINDSET. To achieve greatness your mindset has to be bigger than yourself.
In my youth I used to go to a camp where there were people unfortunate in their physical abilities many couldn’t walk let alone run. I used to think to myself here I am complaining about the pain in my legs from running, and these people will never have the opportunity to run in their lifes. At the age of 12 I vowed to use my God given speed to run not only for myself but for them as well. Once I did that everything just fell into place.
My WHY was bigger than myself. I knew that what I was doing was for a bigger reason than myself. When I felt like quitting, I would tell myself you cannot quit, there is someone out there who wish they were in your position.
Also, by running and using my physical ability, I believed it to give me an opportunity to go to college to be able to provide for better opportunity for my family. Sports for me at the time was my way to better opportunity coming from less than favorable situations, so it meant a lot more to me I felt than the other athletes on my team.
Commitment & Accountability
Now everything is easier said than done but once you commit things become a lot clearer, because your commitment becomes priority and once it becomes priority everything else becomes secondary. With the commitment comes accountability. Once you make your commitment you must hold yourself accountable for as many things as you can when in pursuit to your goals. If you fail to wake up to go to practice or work because you were up late the night before because of the influence of your friends, you must take accountability for that. You can’t blame it on anyone else. Your committed to the process and whatever does not align you have to make sure you do your due diligence to make sure it isn’t a hindrance to the goal.
You begin to move the things that are secondary right out of the way because you understand, that it’s in the way of you achieving success. This success goes beyond yourself, so you can’t let what doesn’t matter get in the way. So set goals to achieve what you committed to.
I learned accountability from my coach. He was the first man to teach me about accountability. But more importantly self-accountability. It was simple if you want something to happen you make it happen. You have to figure it out, especially if its your vision or mission. He was tenacious in his pursit. Being both strategic and calculated and was willing to take risk.
Even when it wasn’t his fault he would take accountability. That showed be something different. I can recall a time when we as a team dropped the baton in a race and he took accountability for it. I was like okay how can you blame yourself for a hand off we blew? We’ve been practicing all week we blew it not you.
He went back to the drawing board and the next meet we fixed the stick. That showed me, even though it wasn’t my fault what could I have done to make that better. When I seen him take on that accountability, I was like that’s how you do it and followed that way.
Set your goals high as you can don’t ever set a ceiling on what it is you want to accomplish. After committing to following a Track and Field program, our coach required us to set goals to where we see ourselves. More specific he wanted us to set projected personal records, that we can see ourselves accomplishing for both indoor and outdoor seasons. By doing this the goals became more attainable, and instead of focusing on winning we focused on hitting our marks, weather we won or not. By doing that the winning just fell into place, because we were putting in the hard-work to simply achieve our personal records not just winning.
Coach knew that if ever person did their part efficiently the winning would just fall in place. So make big goals and under does big goals set small attainable goals. Once you start hitting the goals you set, you will be more inclined and thrive more to reach the next goal. The small wins count!
My sophomore year I set a goal to run a 51.5 indoor in the 400m dash indoor. As the season progressed that goal got closer and closer. It didn’t happen the first race or the next race or the next race after that. Matter of fact it took the whole season to hit the goal, but I hit the goal and the progress showed. I went from running a 54sec PR freshman year indoor to 51.5sec PR Sophomore year. Each race to 51.5 the numbers dropped slowly but steadily, but they dropped. Than when I hit that goal, I set a new goal. It took a lot of practice and patience but it happened.
This might be the hardest part for many people. It’s one thing to say something and make goals, but to make action is a different story. This is because people in most cases are afraid. Many times, people become afraid of such a vast goal that they set for themselves that, they psych themselves out before even starting or they get intimidated by someone who is already doing what it is they want and they then deem themselves unworthy of accomplishing their goal. This mindset comes from the fear of failure. I’m here to confidently tell you there is no such thing as failure, only trial and error. If something that you planned didn’t work go back to the drawing board and try again. YOU COMMITED SEE IT THROUGH.
WHERE TO START, this is the biggest question people ask themselves when it comes to getting going with their goals. I give you this. Just start. Don’t worry about what is the right way or what is a wrong way. It doesn’t exist, the only thing that exist is trial and error. Try it the best way you can at that time and build and make it better from there. It’s not about the battle but it’s about the war. The journey is not a sprint it’s a marathon.
Don’t worry about the way someone else is doing it. Of course, take inspiration from it, but you have to do it the best way you know how in that time and moment. Learn educate yourself on the how to MAKE IT BETTER, reach out to or research credible people. Don’t be overwhelmed by someone else who has accomplished what it is that you are doing. TRUST YOUR PROCESS, you will get there do not be discouraged. If anything, the fact that someone else has done it should be proof to you that it can be done. Once you get your talent and your plan refined, the only thing that will set you apart is how you present it to your audience.
Again, to what I said previously I wanted to reach 51.5 as a PR because it would not only make me faster but because it would put me in rankings of runners who were older than me. I wanted to get there so bad, but I had to realize I wasn’t there yet and had to train and work hard to get there whether that meant failing or succeeding in whatever race.
It wasn’t going to happen because I wanted it to I had to work hard and I had to work hard every day in practice, but not just practice. PRACTICE MY BEST. Practice makes progress, perfect does not exist. By saying or deeming something is perfect you are putting a cap on what is possible.
Consistency and Hard work
Its one thing to practice on your craft, but its has to be consistency in what you are doing, It can not be just one or two days, it has to be everyday. Dedicating 1–2 hours to your craft everyday at least will increase your chances of success in what it is you want to do. Start with that minimal amount of commitment a day. As you begin to expand more hours will fall into place but just 1–2 hours out of your day everyday, even 30 minutes is good for starters.
When I was running track I practice 6 days a week for at least 1–4 hours. It was hard and physically draining. Many days I did this with little to no food because I couldn’t afford lunch at school. Many days I did this with 3–4 hours of sleep because of responsibilities, whether that be towards, school, family, etc. I made a commitment so I made time for it no matter what, and by any means necessary. It will get hard but you can do it just take it one step at a time. Brick by brick, piece by piece
During the process it was just clockwork these things just became second nature. At the time it didn’t even seem like all these things were happening. It became habit, it became LIFESTYLE. I myself had rituals to keep me focus for practice and performance and as a team we had our own inner rituals and practices. I encourage you to create your own grounding habits or rituals that you do to keep you locked in or focus. Some people call it superstition I call it good habit and routine.
Staying discipline to a Schedule
Consistency comes from being discipline to a schedule. In school its easy, because it’s a obligation to be in school every day. schedules was as follows:
- Wake up: 5:30am to 6:00am
- School: 7:00am to 2:10pm
- Practice: 3:00pm to 7:00pm (later sometimes depending on practice.)
- Caring for siblings/famly
- Cleaning house
- Downtime (Tv, videogames, etc.)
- Wake up: 5:30am to 6:00am
For many, not much has changed you work a: 9 to 5 | 3 to 11 | 11 to 7. You have to build your commitments and your goals around your responsibilities. This will be challenging. Here you will really see what you need to keep and what you need to remove and also what you need to limit or take out your life.
We all have 24 hours in a day how you spend it is solely up to you. Having a schedule is very important in your ability in taking action towards your goals, setting a visible schedule is a goal all in itself. Having a schedule lets you see how your time is spent on a day to day. Of course, life isn’t so to the schedule but at least if you have a schedule, you know how to work around it instead of being all over the place and if you get off track, you have a guide to get back on track
This is a big one and will lead to many people’s downfall if they cannot grasp control of it. In the information era there are more distraction than ever. We literally have access to the world in the palm of our hands. Needless to say, because humans enjoy pleasure and dopamine hits, most of us tend to go towards pleasurable and/or negativity distraction. Let me say this just as much pleasurable and negative information that is present on social media, there is just as much positivity and productivity it’s up to you to choose. There must be a balance of the information you’re consuming. If there is an over consumption of either of these energies it can be detrimental to you.
With platforms such as (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) just to name a few, you can literally get real time information on what is going on in the world. From what your aunt said to your cousin to what the president is doing in the white house. Which is not always bad, but in many cases, what is being consumed is negative energy and because it’s so normal these days, many do not even realize how consuming negative information is deterring them from what is important. It takes up your time and there is constant flow of negative energy being reinforced to your being.
People like negative energy, it’s exciting for humans to see others struggle and go through hardship, it makes them feel better about their own lives. A person struggling always makes for a great story as well. Every great story starts with struggle than triumph, if it didn’t it would be boring. These days people just want to see the struggle and no triumph or they just want to see pleasurable things.
Another thing with social media that is a major issue is people live in a fantasy world on it. Social media gives you access to your favorite celebrities, exotic girls, exotic guys, fabulous lifestyles the list goes on. It plays on people fantasies and people spend their time following these people and their lives because it’s something they want and do not have. They do this instead of working on taking the life that they have, and making it the best possible.
Many people feel uncapable or lack self-esteem because of the things they see on these digital platforms. The craziest thing about it is more than half the things that are praised and celebrated on social media is fake and fabricated. It pains me to see people follow the trends of social media, to fit in our gain acceptance of the “culture”. When in all actuality, the people they look at are not even living that life.
People literally demoralize themselves just to fit in to societies-ill’s. It’s crazy to me how people would rather take a life of fantasy as reality to become successful than living in a real life to become successful. But I learned that the reason many people do this is because they do not know what success is for them, they only know what the perception of success is based of media and social media. Many have not even taken the time to sit with themselves to figure out what success looks like for them to even begin pursuing it.Social media is just one distraction, but in my opinion the biggest one because of how much we rely on it.
Distraction comes in real life too, like friends, family, significant others. Sometimes they mean well many do some don’t but this is the hard part limiting your time on people and things that are not in line with your goals and purpose.
This becomes hard because, you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or you don’t want anyone to feel a kind away about you, but if they aren’t helping your situation, you cannot allow people to consume your energy, they will help lead you to destruction. Sacrifices have to be made.
You have to make sacrifices. In school being a growing teen, it’s exciting, new doors open up. The ability to have “fun” has multiplied. You’re a little more “responsible” now, so you’re able to do a little bit more with your friends like go out to social gathering, spend time with the opposite sex. Some even tested their luck doing “grown folks” stuff as it’s called such as smoking, drinking and sex.
As a freshman I used to see my friends all link up after school and just chill and have fun. I used to feel like I was always missing out, but I knew I made a commitment and I had make sacrifices for my priorities if I wanted to be the best. I used to love playing football, Union Catholic didn’t have a football team so it didn’t seem wise to just play recreational football and it lead me to being injured so I stopped.
My senior year prom weekend I had counties the next day. So after prom, my friend and I drove down to the shore, spent a couple hours than drove back up. I lived two hours from the shore but it was a good time and I wanted to stay and enjoy the rest of the festivities with my colleagues. I had to stay focused though cause I made a commitment not just to myself but to my team and I was a pivotal piece to the puzzle.
On Christmas eve we had track practice, because we had a meet the next day. On the day of my graduation I had states, I drove down to Egg Harbor right after so I could qualify for Meet of Champions.
These are things that many wouldn’t even fathom doing in their adult life let alone High School, but with great success coms great sacrifice. You have to do what you have to do. All winners have this mentality. Now I’m not saying that I never had fun with my friends because I did, it just wasn’t as frequent for me as it was for them. I had to find a balance. You have to have fun its needed otherwise you’ll go crazy but have balance to don’t go overboard.
Being around like-minded people
A process can be hard by yourself, surrounding yourself with people who think like you or have similar goals makes it better. It is vital, you have people who you can share your ideas with and hold you accountable to your goals as well as you hold them accountable. It’s also good because you can receive good constructive criticism from other people which is necessary to move forward. People who don’t do or don’t understand what you’re trying to do will simply agree with what with it is your doing because they like you or they want like it at all because, they cannot relate to what it is you’re doing. You have to have people who understand what your trying to do who can give you the good and the bad. Also having someone who is doing what you’re doing makes you feel like you’re not the only one in the battle.
Running track was hard but It was a core of 4–6 of us doing it together. So we expressed our pain to one another and we understood each others pain as well. We also held each other accountable when we were lacking, and we motivated each other to keep moving forward. If someone was having a bad day, we picked up the slack where ever we could. It was a team effort, especially in those long grueling practices.
Having a Mentor or Coach
It is wise to find someone who was or is successful in what it is you want to do and shadow them or take advice/coaching from this person. They cannot do it for you but they can guide and aide you in what you are trying to do.
In the age of information, the person doesn’t even have to be a physical presence even though that would be ideal. Anything you want to learn you can find, especially on YouTube. Find someone who you like, look them up see if their credible enough for your standards, then proceed to study them listen to what they are saying, learn from them. If your fortunate to find a real-life mentor do the same thing. Options today are unlimited, you just have to seek them. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed (Proverbs 15: 22)
In whatever you are doing, you have to compete. That does not mean the people you are competing with have to be your enemy, they can be your best friend, or the person or people you keep in your circle (likeminded). Friendly competition is healthy and will drive you to success. You can compete with yourself too. Example while running track if I knew I was faster than my opponents I competed with myself to reach my own PR, so I was racing the clock or time.
One thing that used to confuse me when I was running was how my coach was good friends with our arch rival. They were or number one competitors, but yet they shared workouts and strategies. In my mind I used to think why are you being friends with the enemy but in my aging I realize you can share all the information you want, its up to who applies it the best in the situation, so compete.
Whatever you are doing seek competitions, festivals, showcases anything were you can present your work to people. It’s good to get criticized on your work it will only make you better and it will give you a good idea of where you stand and how much more work you need to do.
To perform your best put your 100% into whatever you are entering. Do not worry about the other competition your as good as you practice for. So if you practice hard or worked hard on something go perform to the best of your ability take the results good or bad and set new goals.
Taking a loss or failing
This is so important not everything you set out to do is going to be successful. You can put your all into something and it not work. That does not mean to quit. It means taking the moment as a lesson and continuing to work towards your goal. It’s important to treat your wins and losses equally. “If you can meet with both triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same” (Rudyard Kipling). I can honestly say this is something I had to learn. Even as a young kid I despised losing. I would be so upset. Even if it was something as small as not breaking an elementary gym record… true story lol. I used to beat myself up over every loss always blamed it on myself even well into my late twenties.
For me it was fuel. Growing up coaching was a lot different than it is now. Coaches would motivate you by literally telling you, “You suck you’re way better than that step up your efforts!” Lol of course it was probably said a many different of ways, but that was always the underlined message. With that in my mind, I thought I had to apply that same pressure to myself to hold myself accountable, until I found another fuel.
You see even though, I was holding myself accountable for my losses, it was expressed in negative ways. For example, I’m playing basketball and I go up for a shot and I miss, I know exactly why I missed the shot. I would come down and just automatically start chastising myself, calling myself “stupid” you “idiot” or I’d critique myself like, “how many times you not going to jump on your shots” or “jump more you dummy”. I was not just thinking it, but I was saying it out loud as well to myself.
Just so much negative self-talk. At one point I realized how it would disturb my performance. I would be so mad at myself for mistakes, and it would ultimately carry over into my entire game, and ultimately my whole game be bad except my defense of course lol.
I really had to switch myself talk to being more positive, “you missed that one go get it back its cool”, “you going to hit one don’t worry just keep shooting”, I begin to just fill my head with positive self-talk and my results were significantly different. I still held myself accountable I realized my faults I just fixed them with positivity instead and it led to a better overall result.
The same goes in to real life, there are so many situations that we get into and it can become so daunting at times, to the point where it’s like, “you know what forget this sh*t”. Sometimes you want to quit or you just try to forget about the situation in its full entirety.
Guess what though, I got news for you. Just because you’re having a hard time and something isn’t going your way it’s not the end of the world and even more true those problems aren’t going anywhere unless you go through them and handle the situation.
Now that might sound hard but you can do it. You must develop mental fortitude. It is in these moments that when you want to quit you must keep going. If you can stand the pressure and be strong that on the other side is peace, on the other side is success and, in those moments, when you beat adversity, you win!
It can be as simple as having a bill for 5 months and you just can’t pay it because of the lack of finances. Don’t let it discourage you keep pushing through, direct your mind to positive talk when these things come about. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18: 21). Or a even better quote, “a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him” (Matthews 12: 35). In this contemporary time period, there is so much talk about “energy” and “manifestation”, but it’s simple, what you put out you receive.
Last but not least I want to talk about the most important thing to success is faith. It will come to a point when your pursuing success where things may be out of your control. You may not see the finish line you may lose the belief. In these moments you must have faith. For example, in my national title race my third leg Obinna Nwafar jumped out a little early than I expected on the 4x200 and my legs were fatigue and heavy coming down the last stretch. He jumped out so early I did not think I was going to catch him. When I tell you I found every inch of strength I had in me to get this baton to him and it still wasn’t enough lol. I had to make a decision though, it was either hold on to the baton and not let it hit the ground or put it out there and see what happens. It was either continue the race or be the small school from Scotch Plains who made it to Nationals and fell short.
I made the decision in a split of a moment to take the risk even though the chance of failure was high. I kid you not by faith once I trusted the decision, faith made it possible that, that baton made it to my teammate’s hands. He brought the baton around to the anchor leg and the rest is history!
Now people may see these and go O that was luck, but I believe that is what luck is, being in the right place at the right time and having faith that things will be seen through. Sometimes you hit sometimes you don’t that’s just the natural order of things, but ambitions and desires fueled by faith leads to a higher outcome of success because now instead of just depending on your own finite mind, which can lack possibility, having faith is having infinite possibility because you are now deploying the powers of the most high when you decide to put your situatuon in God’s hands. “Trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your path straight” (Proverbs 3: 5–6)
This is the blueprint, there is nothing magical about it, there are no shortcuts, the work has to be done no matter what. I hope this was insightful and helps you on their venture to success, and I wish you the best of luck :).
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me.” (Philippians 4: 13)