Way back in April of 2008, I finished a book written by Lou Holtz, titled Wins, Losses, and Lessons, which was published in 2006. For those of you who may not know who Lou Holtz is, he was the head football coach at Notre Dame from 1986-1996. He also had a brief stint with the South Carolina Gamecocks after leaving Notre Dame. He now is a College Football Analyst on ESPN.
In 1988, Notre Dame completed a perfect season and were crowned National Champions. Before becoming the head coach at Notre Dame, Coach Holtz was the head coach at Arkansas, the New York Jets of the NFL, and many other stops along the way. His coaching career began as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa in the mid 1960’s.
In his book, Coach Holtz describes a time in which he sat down at his kitchen table and listed out all the goals/things they wanted to accomplish in his life with his family. He had just been relieved of his coaching duties at his current college and was unemployed with a young family. Coach Holtz wrote down 108 things that he and his family were going to accomplish. They were going to meet the Pope, skydive, go whitewater rafting, etc. Up to the time he published his book, he had accomplished 101 of things he wrote down that day.
One of the facets of the book that was and still is fascinating to me is that he had a vision of where he wanted to go. He didn’t share all of the things he wanted to do, but he went into detail about having a vision of where he wanted his life to go.
I’ve written about this before, but I’ll mention it again. After I finished his book in 2008, I wrote down things I wanted to accomplish in my life as well. There I sat, in my college style apartment, and wrote down things I wanted to accomplish and do in my life. Now, at the time, I thought I had a real chance at accomplishing most of them. Some of them, now I realize, was absolutely 0 chance of accomplishing them. One of things I wrote down was to throw the hammer at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Trials. Yeah, no chance at all. I also wrote down that I wanted to hit an elite powerlifting total in either the 242# or 275# weight class. Still haven’t come close, but I’m not counting those ones out yet.
Then came the ones that I wrote down because I thought they would be cool to accomplish and would also advance my professional career. I wrote down that I wanted to earn my administrative degree so I could one day have the option of becoming a school building principal or superintendent. I also wrote down that I wanted to coach a National Champion thrower. I wrote down that I wanted to write a book about throwing. And the one that I thought would most assist my family and I down the road, earn a doctorate degree. In 2009 I graduated from SUNY Fredonia with an advanced certificate in school district leadership. In 2016 I coached the DIII Indoor 35# Weight Throw National Champion at Nazareth College. In 2017 I graduated from St. John Fisher College with my Ed.D. in Executive Leadership.
I’m sharing these details with you, because like some of us that have goals, we may feel that although it would be nice to accomplish, they are set so far off into the distance that it is difficult to realize their potential of actually being accomplished. I wasn’t involved with coaching at the collegiate level at the time, yet I wrote down that I wanted to write a book about throwing. I always kept two journals with me. A black marble notebook and a blue marble notebook. My black journal contained lifting session information. My blue journal contained throwing session information. In my basement I have eight years of throwing and lifting journals—every throw and every lift from June 2004-June 2012. I still write down all my weight lifting training sessions in a journal.
I share with you my goal of writing a book for throwers, because like I previously mentioned, thought it would be something cool to do. Back when I wrote that down there weren’t many books available about throwing. There still really aren’t that many books available about throwing. If you visit your local bookstore or Barnes and Noble, you can find a variety of books focused on the four major sports, as well as books about cars, fishing, mountain climbing, hiking, biking, swimming, bowling, soccer, rugby, tennis, Crossfit, nutrition, weight lifting, and professional wrestling. What you won’t find is a book about throwing—shot-put, discus, hammer, javelin, and weight throw.
My purpose in sharing all of this information is that now I’m in the early stages of mapping out a manual/template/journal for throwers that will help them stay focused on their goals, give them the ability to chart and monitor their growth, and most importantly as a method of holding themselves accountable to their goals. I’m breaking down this template by habits in which I believe give throwers the best opportunity to be successful at accomplishing their goals. I share all of this with you because I’m going to need your help. I have an idea of what the traits are. I have penned 11 so far. I have joined some together that I think fit well together under one trait, and then I have others that could be joined together but are not. Over the course of the next several weeks I’m going to write about one trait. I’m going to share why I think it is an important trait to possess as a thrower and give some supporting examples as to why I believe so. Hopefully we are able to engage in dialogue about what you think are the essential traits a thrower needs to have in order to be successful in reaching and accomplishing their goals.
Similar to the way Coach Holtz and I accomplished our goals, we had a vision of where we wanted to go. We had a vision of what we wanted to accomplish. We had a vision.
Trait #1—The Best Have a Vision
A vision allows us to see into the future. Our vision of where we wish to be in one, five, or ten years gives us something to aspire to. Something to dream towards accomplishing. A goal we wish to achieve. Jon Gordon talks a lot about having a vision in his podcast interviews. You can listen to some of my favorite episodes by clicking the links below.
He talks about looking into a telescope and seeing a picture that is far off in the distance. The telescope helps us look into the future. It helps us see the picture in sight. It gives us something to aspire towards achieving.
Having a vision without a plan to accomplish the goal or realize the dream is simply wishful thinking. We get caught up in the daily grind that we forget to develop a plan for how we are going to achieve that goal. In my example, in order to one day become a superintendent or principal in a school, you need to hold an administrative degree (In New York State it is required). That was my vision. That was, at the time, a dream of mine. In order to accomplish that goal, I knew I needed to earn my tenure in teaching (which I did), and also have five different people write me a letter of recommendation supporting my application to enroll in the program. Those were the initial steps. Once accepted into the program, I knew I needed to take 12 courses over the course of two years, plus complete and pass my internship, to graduate. Before I was awarded my certificate, I was required to pass two New York State certification exams. That was my action plan. To take two or three courses a semester, even over the summer, in order to accomplish my goal. I made plenty of sacrifices. I sacrificed my time spent with family, friends, and Saturdays were spent in the classroom. I also sacrificed a lot financially. I wasn’t awarded a scholarship, nor did I receive grant funding to offset the price of classes. I knew that in order to accomplish that goal, I needed to sacrifice time and money.
Often times what we may fail to realize is that in order to accomplish a goal, we need to make some type of sacrifices. This, in my opinion, is where I see a lot of athletes getting stuck in the daily grind of moving towards their goal. Most recently, I had an athlete tell me that their goal was to win a 2018 DIII National Championship in throwing. We laid out a plan of what was necessary to accomplish that goal. This person was going to need to make some sacrifices in their life in order to give themselves the chance of accomplishing this goal.
Unfortunately, this thrower was not ready to make the necessary sacrifices. They were not ready to really dig down and put themselves in the best position to be successful. They were not ready to give up an active social life, spending a lot of time with their friends on the weekends, taking care of their bodies (physically and mentally), and committing themselves to their weight room training sessions. After a few months, the aura of wanting to win faded. They weren’t ready. They had a vision. They had their sights set on their vision, their goal, but they weren’t ready to make the necessary sacrifices in order to realize that goal.
I hope you continue to join me on this journey over the course of the next couple of months as I begin to conceptualize more of the traits I believe the best of the best throwers possess. I have shared my initial thoughts with recent and past Olympic throwers and their coaches. I have received constructive feedback and guidance. As I continue to write my thoughts, I will also share and discuss them here with you. My plan is to share a new trait with you every week, over the course of the next several weeks.
Hopefully my thoughts serve as encouragement. The traits I'm going to discuss over the course of the next several weeks apply to everyone in any facet of their life. If you don't have a vision for where you want to be next year or in five years, now is just a good a day as any to start thinking about it.
Here are some steps to help you move forward to realizing your dream.
1. Where do you see yourself one year from now? What do you want to accomplish?
2. Why do you want to be there? Why are you driven to accomplish this goal?
3. What types of sacrifices are you willing to make to accomplish this goal? Are there financial sacrifices that need to be made? How much time are you willing to devote in order to accomplish this goal? How much time are you willing to sacrifice spent with friends, family, and with your hobbies in order to accomplish this goal?
4. What skills do you need to acquire in order to accomplish this goal?
5. What support do you need in order to accomplish this goal?
6. What are your daily/weekly/monthly commitments going to look like in order to accomplish this goal?
7. Get started!
As always, thanks for reading. ~ Charles
Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.