GCM 55 | Raise Your Game


Mastering the fundamentals and the basics is the foundation in raising our game. However, implementing those things daily with effort, intensity, focus, and consistency is never easy to do. Keynote speaker and performance coach Alan Stein, Jr. introduces his book, Raise Your Game: High-Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best. Alan talks about the value of discipline, having great effort, tremendous focus, and consistently working on the basics to be able to perform. He says putting structures in place accustoms us every single day to meet our objectives.

Listen to the podcast here:

Raise Your Game: High-Performance Secrets From The Best Of The Best with Alan Stein, Jr.

I have Alan Stein Jr. with me and I’m excited about it. He is a keynote speaker and author. He spent several years as a performance coach working in the highest performing basketball players on the planet. He now teaches the audience how to utilize the same strategies in business that elite athletes use to perform at a world-class level. I want you to read this because we all want to perform at a world-class level, not just as athletes, but as professionals, entrepreneurs at whatever you are doing. In this interview, there are going to be some insights on how we can perform at a high level. I am super excited to welcome Alan Stein to the show.

Thanks, Rodney. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. It’s great to connect with you.

I’m glad that you are here. You have been working with elite athletes and I’m sure that is quite an experience. We all look at elite athletes as superhuman. How are they able to perform at such a high level consistently? I’m sure a lot of my audience wished that they can perform at that level. They seek that. I want to get into a conversation with you about what have you learned from that experience? What can we do to operate at a high level to become an elite athlete in our own right, in our own environment? I want to talk to you about that.

The thing you teed up perfectly is that that we do perform in a variety of different areas in our life. Most people hear the word performance and they think of athletics or they think of an actor, a musician or someone in the arts. While those are performances, we perform in everything we do. We perform at work. We perform at home. We perform as spouses, as parents, as employees, as leaders, as entrepreneurs. The key is making sure that people understand that we’re trying to raise our game and our performance in everything that we do.

I had been fortunate to get a peek behind the curtain with many elite-level basketball players. One of the things that tie all of them together is they never get bored with the basics. As much as all of us are encouraged on social media to chase what’s new, what’s flashy, what’s hot and what’s sexy, the basics work. They always have and they always will. Whatever area you’re trying to perform, first and foremost, you have to make sure that you’re mastering the fundamentals and the basics because that’s the foundation to which the rest of the house is built.

That’s profound because I know even by example and looking out and seeing the desires of other people who want to perform at a high level, we look for the flashy movements or the sexy deals and the things that are going to get attention. We focus on those things first, not realizing the reason why elite athletes are able to perform at a high level is that they’ve mastered the basics. When you have the basics down, to me that expands your capability to start doing the things one would consider not basic, beyond basic or extraordinary. That’s the mindset. What you’re saying is to become extraordinary, you got to get the ordinary out, logically speaking. Do you find from working with individuals that are a challenge to get people to start in that place, to take that step back? We all reach for greatness. You’re saying in order to get greatness, you got to step back and start with the fundamental areas and master those. We’re talking about a level of self-mastery.

One of the things people need to realize that because something is basic, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. A lot of people use those as synonyms and they’re not. The principles of what it takes to be successful in anything are usually basic. As all of us know, implementing those things on a daily basis with effort, intensity, focus and consistency is never easy to do, especially when we talk about the basics. More times than not, the basics can get mundane, monotonous and sometimes even a little bit boring. To be able to give a great effort, have tremendous focus and consistently work on the basics, it’s about doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.

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Once you master those levels, then you can level up and do things that are on the more advanced. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about physical fitness or trying to attain financial freedom. The principles of what it takes to do either one of those things are basic. What it takes to do those things is rarely easy. You have to have some humility when you approach this mindset and saying, “I have to acknowledge that the basics work, but I have to have the humility to acknowledge that doing them daily is not easy.” That’s where most people get tripped up because if it was easy, everyone would already be doing all of this stuff.

That leads me to a term that I love which is discipline, because that’s what it gets down is disciplining yourself to do the work when it comes to the basic fundamental efforts, which you’re saying is not easy. I want to challenge you on that. Let’s get into this discussion. The basics are easy. The challenge is disciplining ourselves to do. That’s what’s hard. Sometimes we get distracted by all of those things or perhaps things don’t go fast enough. We all want it quick. That immediate gratification is a problem. We want to be great tomorrow. We don’t want to do the work. That’s what’s hard. The fundamentals are easy. Think about it like budgeting. That’s not hard, but people don’t take the discipline to do it.

It might be some verbal semantics of how we have a connotation with a different word. I would say that creating a budget is incredibly basic. I can probably teach my nine-year-old twin sons and my seven-year-old daughter how to create a budget and they’d understand it. I don’t think it’s easy for people to do and to implement. The reason I say that, and I don’t have any research on me, but my guess is the vast majority of people don’t do it. Another example would be you hear people all the time saying, “I don’t have time to read or I don’t have time to work out.” You make a suggestion of, “Why don’t you get up 30 or 40 minutes earlier and do that before you start your day.”

It’s basic. Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than you’ve been setting it. We can all agree that’s basic, yet most people would agree that’s not easy for them to do, that getting up an extra 30 minutes early is hard for them to do. That’s the way I look. You and I are saying the same thing and what I love the way that you pointed out is the discipline component and that it does take a certain amount of discipline to stick to the basics consistently. That discipline in and of itself could be an entire episode, because part of discipline is to create different systems and processes that reduce the amount of friction for you to do something. You set your life up in a way that makes it easier to be disciplined that you don’t have to rely on old-fashioned willpower.

An easy example is if you feel you don’t have the discipline to eat healthily, don’t put a bunch of junk food in your house. If you know that if you have junk food in your house, you’re going to eat, an easy system would be to get rid of all your junk food and only keep healthy food in your house. You’ll reduce some friction. You’ll make that discipline easier if you can align your life with what it is that you’re trying to achieve. The discipline is a key component. I’ve always looked at discipline as having behavior that’s congruent with what you want long-term, not what you want at the moment. Eating a Snickers bar would probably taste good and I’d enjoy it, but that’s not in alignment with how I want to look, how I want to feel or how I want to perform long-term. It’s probably not best to eat that Snickers bar on a regular basis. It’s all about the systems and processes, not trying to gut through willpower.

What you’re doing is you’re touching on the why in this equation like, “Why do you do what you do?” which is important. You’re talking about setting up a structure in. Essentially, you’re using your structure as a weapon, as a tool to accomplish what it is you want to accomplish. The discipline is necessary. I don’t think we can get around the discipline side. You have to do that. How would we do that? How do we implement discipline in our lives? Honestly, that’s the difference between good and great. That’s the difference between the haves and have-nots. That’s the difference between taking advantage of an opportunity or letting it slip away. It’s the discipline and I think that’s the hard part. I get it.

I’m not pushing back on you. It may be hard to get up 30 minutes early. It’s difficult to get up early in the morning. I’m a morning person. My day starts early. I’ll go ahead and get the gym out the way. I do want to stay on this term discipline and hard and easy these terms. I was at a conference one day and there was a particular skill set that I was learning that was being taught. The skill set was learning how to raise money for your business and putting together the plans and everything that an investor would want to see in order to invest in your business. I didn’t know much about that and I wanted to understand that.

GCM 55 | Raise Your Game

Raise Your Game: For some reason, most people fear or resist change with everything they’ve got.


There were a lot of people in the room and the facilitator was going over how you do this. There were a lot of people in the room and they were saying, “This sounds difficult. There were a lot of steps to it. It seemed complex.” You had to be able to present yourself in this meticulous detail that you needed to express in order for an investor to invest in your business. The facilitator said something brilliant. He said, “It’s not hard, it’s unfamiliar.” It took me back to riding a bike or driving for the first time. Let’s use that. When you first started driving, you drove that car with everything that you had. You wouldn’t take your eye off the road.

You have both hands on the wheel. You would barely look to your left and your right because you were driving. It was something that you had to give 100% effort in order to make it happen. Now, you can drive on a cellphone, eating a sandwich on the freeway and it’s effortlessly. It’s almost unconscious because it’s more familiar now. Understanding that we have the ability to adapt to whatever structure or whatever fundamental skillset we want to put in place, it may be what we would consider difficult at first. Understand that we have the ability to adapt to that and then it becomes easy.

What is it in the first place? Is it because it’s unfamiliar to us and we are viewing it or perceiving it a certain way? What we say is hard, it’s negative in that you adopt that thought and you approach it that way or this is going to be hard. Instead of approaching it with, “I have the ability to do this.” Your approach is different. The reason why I say this is because of my story. I’m paralyzed from the neck down and not being able to walk. That’s hard to come back from that and to walk again. It was hard every single day to deal with the emotional and mental challenges of that. It was hard. When I changed my mindset towards, “It’s not hard, it’s unfamiliar.” The things you got to do, they’re just unfamiliar.

That’s why the brain of your emotions feels that it’s difficult but after a while, this is going to be easy. It’s almost like I pray and look forward to and approach this with that moment when it becomes easy. It’s a hack. It’s an approach to things that we may consider. Getting a promotion, working on a certain job, performing at a high level. Like when basketball players or teams, winning a championship they say are difficult. If you had the mindset that, “This is going to be easy. Why? It’s because I’m prepared or the things that I have to overcome, they’re just unfamiliar to me. They’re not necessarily hard or difficult because that says I don’t have the capability to do it, but it’s unfamiliar.” How do I get more familiar with this in order to overcome it? It’s a mindset. Talk to me about it. What are your thoughts?

The initial one, the best coaches in any sport or in any area of life will do the best they can to make practice as challenging as possible that the game becomes easier by default. They will do everything they can to make the training environment incredibly challenging mentally, physically, emotionally, so that when you play the game it does become easier. One of the things that I hear you saying and I know we have a lot of alignment on is I believe this unfamiliar term. It’s because people realize that they’re going to have to make a change. For some reason, most people fear or resist change with everything they’ve got. That’s part of the problem that if they could have a mindset where they’re more embracing of change and welcoming of change so they’re not afraid of what’s unfamiliar, they welcome what’s unfamiliar. Then they can then make it familiar, make it a habit and make it part of what they do. That would be a big part of it.

Most people will readily agree that a change can often lead to discomfort. There’s the other problem from a mindset standpoint. Discomfort’s not something that we should fear or resist. Discomfort is something we should welcome and embrace because more times than not, the discomfort is the prerequisite to getting what it is that we want. Getting up an extra 30 minutes early might cause some temporary discomfort, but then when you see your body starts to change because you’re going to the gym every morning, you’ll see that discomfort was a prerequisite that we had to do that.

We are habitual creatures as human beings. I read a Duke University study one time that said almost half of everything we do during our waking hours is on autopilot. It’s a habit. It’s unconscious. To change those behaviors that we’re all comfortable with and familiar with, it does. It causes people to be uncomfortable. I teach people how to lean into that discomfort, to embrace it and to recognize that it’s only going to be short-term but the result you’ll get by changing this habit and turning the unfamiliar into familiar can last you as long as you want.

Discomfort is the prerequisite to getting what we want. Share on X

You’re hitting on something that could be an awareness for some people, which is success performing at a high level is a result of X. Be it waking up early, spending a couple of hours in the gym, eating properly or preparation. You put whatever your X is, which is where you are not coming to a place helping people understand what behaviors, what structures, what plans will produce a result. We all want results. How do I get that result? We’re getting results in our lives. Everyone is getting a level of results and you’re not happy with that. You take a good athlete, that good athlete is getting good results.

I want to make this super simple and clear. You take a team that’s going to the playoffs consistent. They’re not winning the championship, but they’re going to the playoffs. They’re getting good results because we win enough. We played well enough to get to the playoffs. What do we need to change in order to win the championship? Small minute changes and that may require a lot of work, that may require a lot of discipline, but if you want a certain result, it requires a certain level of behavior, a certain structure, etc. Let’s get into that. What are your thoughts?

It’s funny, there’s an old quote and I don’t know who said this originally or I would give them credit. It’s something to the effect of, “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting. If you don’t like what you’ve been getting, then you needed to change what you’ve been doing.” I know that sounds rather obvious at face value, but most people wake up every day and do the same thing over and over. It’s the same habits and the same behaviors and then they can’t figure out why they’re not more successful. It’s the same thing with the team example you gave. If this is what you’ve been doing in the offseason, the preseason, this is what you do in practices and this is how you do your film study, this is what you’ve been doing for years and years and it keeps getting you the net result of making the playoffs but not going any further, then you need to take a look back at what you’ve been doing and figure out what things need to be changed.

A powerful exercise is to make a list of everything you do. Let’s say for the first 90 minutes when you wake up every day, and I mean a list of everything, do you wake up to an alarm or not? Do you make your bed or don’t you? Do you brush your teeth or not? Do you take a shower? Do you meditate? Do you work out? Do you immediately get on your phone? Whatever your routine is, make a list of everything that you do. Let’s say you have twelve things written down and then go to each one of those things and ask, “Is this behavior moving me closer towards who I want to be and where I want to be?

Is it moving me further away from that? There’ll be several of them that are neutral. I’m not going to suggest that brushing your teeth either moves you closer or further away from your goals, but there’ll be some others. Maybe the habit of waking up and immediately checking social media puts you in a negative mindset and a bad frame of mind to start your day. That’s not in alignment with what it is that you’re trying to do. Whereas waking up, going to the gym and setting your tone with a great workout is. Look at those things and then you can go back, look at this and say, “Of the ten things I do in the first 90 minutes, six of them are positive and four of them are either neutral or negative,” and then you can look at what things you need to start to tweak.

The oldest recipe for success is basic. It’s doing more of what works and do less of what doesn’t. You can start to look at these behaviors and ask, “Are these things helping me get where I want to go or are they not?” Let’s say you eat breakfast every morning. Let’s look at what you’re eating for breakfast. There’s probably a big difference between eating some steel cut oatmeal and some egg whites versus eating a pop tart. Which one of those is helping you move towards who you want to be physically, mentally, emotionally? Which one of these is going to fuel you for the energy you need to be who you want to be? You can start to look at all these things and then you can decide what tweaks need to be made and what things need to be changed.

GCM 55 | Raise Your Game

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

You can be pretty strategic in figuring these things out. With that said, we are human beings which mean we’re all fallible. No one is perfect. I work hard to create habits, systems and behaviors that move me towards who I want to be, but I’m not perfect. I have habits that I still need to tweak, to change and go up a level and so forth. You also have to make sure that you give yourself the grace and compassion to give yourself some time and some patients to realize, “I’m not going to be successful by tomorrow morning. This is a long-term play. This is a long game. What little things can I start doing to generate some momentum to get where I’m trying to go?”

It takes us full circle back where we started. Those little things are the fundamentals. Here we are, we’re back at the basics. Identifying what works and doesn’t work, a lot of people will not spend a lot of times here because it seems simple and basic, but that’s it. I have this thing where I tell my clients, “I want you to look at everything that you have been doing, what you do and how you feel.” Ask yourself, “How are these things serving me and the objectives that I have for my life.” Sometimes people don’t have objectives for their life. What is your objective for the day? What is your objective for the hour?

When you talk about these things in the morning, what do you want to accomplish in the morning? What do you want to be by noon? Those are powerful structures. There’s this guy I’ve been working with, he wants to lose weight. I said, “What’s your water intake?” We’re not going to talk about exercise and all of that yet. I want you to focus on your water intake because a lot of excessive waste, toxins, you need to detox your body. You need to keep the body clean and drink plenty of water, keep it hydrated, etc. I said, “You need to drink a gallon of water a day. What time do you get up?” He gave me the time he gets up.

I said, “A gallon of water is 128 ounces. Let’s break that down. You can get yourself a 33-ounce bottle. You drink four of those a day,” because he was looking at it like, “If I drink a bottle of sixteen-ounces, I got to drink eight of those. Eight never lie. That’s a lot.” I said, “You get yourself a 33-ounce and you drink four of those a day, that’s more than a gallon. How would you do that? You wake up in the morning, you wake up at 6:00, you want to have that first bottle down by 9:30, 10:00. From 10:00 to 12:00 have the second, you’re halfway there and it’s only noon. You got the rest of the day. 4:00 have the third one down. By 8:00, 9:00 you’re done. That seems doable.”

I feel that putting a small structure like that in place can make things more doable. He’s not looking at that like it’s hard. My mindset is doable. It’s a little trick there to get things done. We’re back to the basics. The key here is putting structures in place that you can use as a weapon that you can habitualize every single day to meet your objectives that’s going to serve you. Having that mindset is setting yourself up to win. That’s what this is called. You probably talk to your clients, setting yourself up to win.

That would be a system that you’re putting in place. I don’t have the research to back it up, but logic would tell me that someone that walks around with a water bottle throughout the day drinks more water than someone who doesn’t. If your goal is to drink more water, then make sure you have a water bottle with you and that you’re sipping it. Maybe you did decide to take a page out of my friend James Clear. He has a book called Atomic Habits, which is a must read for anybody. He calls it habit stacking. This would be an example of you say to yourself, “Every time I look at my phone, I’m going to take two sips of water,” and you stack those two habits. The average person looks at their phone who knows how many times a day, probably hundreds. If every time you look at your phone you’re also going to take two sips of water, my guess is you’ll drink a gallon of water without even realizing it. It’s about creating these systems and these processes that are in alignment with who we’re trying to become and what it is that we’re trying to do.

I’ll also say too that it’s in our best interests to have some good focus and only don’t try to change everything at once. Don’t try to wake up tomorrow morning and have nineteen new behaviors that you’re trying to fix. I love the way that you approached it. You said we weren’t even going to talk about exercise. We weren’t even talking about food. All we were going to talk about is water, just to get started. Once the drinking becomes a habit for him, then my guess is then you’d shift. You’d start to focus on something else. The problem lots of times with most people are they try to change too many things at once and it becomes overwhelming and they don’t do any of them. The key is to have some razor-sharp focus.

Part of this system’s concept has some accountability. It’s having someone that can help hold you accountable in addition to your own self-discipline and self-accountability is having someone that that will hold you accountable and check in with you. An example would be if you introduced me to this guy that’s your client and I texted him a couple of times a day saying, “Have you been drinking your water? How much water have you had so far? What bottle are you using? Do you like flavored water or regular water?” Something where someone else is also keeping that spotlight of accountability on you so now you’ll start to get somewhere. You have a narrow focus. You create systems and processes to eliminate friction. You have someone else help hold you accountable to what you’re doing and you’ll start to generate some momentum.

Most people try to change many things at once, and it becomes overwhelming that they end up doing nothing. Share on X

That’s ultimately what all of us should be looking to do is generate momentum. It’s not where we are at the moment. What’s more important is the trajectory of where we’re going. I’m hoping that no one reading this is 100% satisfied with who they are and what they’ve achieved. Even if you’re incredibly successful, my guess is you still want more, you want to perform at a higher level and achieve more. What’s the direction that we’re going and the momentum we’ve created is more important than where we are at this moment.

What are your thoughts about those that make the time a factor? Perhaps they want to achieve a certain goal by this date and they’re looking at all the things that they need to do and they feel that it’s going to take too long. Sometimes people have this trajectory and it’s like, “That’s going to take forever. I’m never going to get there.” That’s discouraging. What happens? How do you deal with your clients that have that level of mindset?

For my own mindset and for anyone that I work with, I try to get them not to be outcome-driven but be process-driven. It’s okay to have that initial goal, that initial North Star. It’s okay for me to say, “I want to lose 30 pounds and I’d love to lose it by October 1st because I’ve got a family reunion or something like that.” There’s nothing wrong with having that, but there’s a danger in worrying about that huge macro-level goal all the time because it can be discouraging. The mindset is we want to break it down into small increments and all we need to do is wake up every morning and say, “What do I need to do now that gets me a little bit closer to that goal? I know I want to lose 30 pounds by October 1st, but I can’t worry about that. We’re in May. All I have to worry about is what can I do now and then break that down even further. What can I do this hour? What can I do this meal? Getting ready to order some food, what decision can I make that will get me closer to being 30 pounds lighter on October 1st and can I make that decision now? I don’t feel like working out, but I know that if I go workout that’ll get me a little bit closer.”

If every single night when you go to bed you can say, “I took a couple of steps in the right direction to get me closer to that.” More times than not, if you stay focused on that process, the outcome will take care of itself or at least get close to it. You don’t have to wake up every morning checking the scale and going, “Am I 30 pounds lighter now?” Wake up and put these systems in place to do that. If you can live in the process, the best way I use to describe it is to imagine a brick wall and don’t worry about the brick wall as this finished wall. All you have to worry about is laying one perfect brick. That’s all you have to do. Take one brick and set it exactly where it needs to go. Most people will say, “I can do that.” After you set that brick down, take one more brick and set it exactly where it needs to go. As long as you stay focused on the bricks, on laying each individual brick with care and precision, there’s a good chance the wall will take care of itself and you don’t have to be worried about it.

Does that mean I don’t set large bodacious goals?

You can set them, but then once you’ve set them and that’s your North Star, don’t spend too much time focused on them. Once you create that goal, then you start to break it down into smaller goals, micro steps or daily things that you need to do and focus on that stuff. Don’t worry about the end, which is what you’re trying to do. It’s the reason you have the discipline. It’s the reason you’ll make certain sacrifices. It’s because you do want to achieve that. I’m all for creating these big goals. I just think people focus on the goal too much and not on the actual behavior that’s required to get that goal. I love people that create goals that almost seem too big that other people laugh at or that scare you a little bit.

GCM 55 | Raise Your Game

Raise Your Game: High-Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best

That stuff is fantastic to do, but you have to realize that the best chance you have of achieving that is by what you do every single day. If you break it down and I don’t even know how to do the math, but if my goal was to lose 30 pounds by October 1st, that sounds like a lot. If you were to break that down daily where it’s like, “All you got to do is lose a couple of ounces every day and you’ll be at 30 pounds.” That sounds reasonable. It’s similar to your example with the water, like drinking a gallon of water sounds like a lot but taking two sips of water every time you check your phone is pretty reasonable. That’s not bad. I can do that. They’re both going to give you the same result.

I love what you said about the process. I’m a process guy too. This is right in alignment with my thought and my philosophy. I believe if you had A and you want to get to B, B is not the most important thing although it is the destination, it’s everything that you do in between A and B that’s what’s most important. Once you get to B, you want to set another milestone and then there’s C. There are different levels. Why is it important to be process-driven versus outcome-driven?

One, I believe it’s way more effective and two, It keeps it real and keeps it to be something tangible. It’s something that you can have these continued successes all of the time and it keeps the focus most importantly on the present moment, which is something most people are robbed of all of the time. We either look backwards and we’re distracted by the past. What happened five minutes ago, five days ago, five weeks ago, five years ago or were anxious about what’s going to happen in the future or not going to happen when all we have control over is the present moment. Back to that example, I don’t have a whole lot of control over whether or not I’m going weigh 30 pounds less on October 1st if I’m not in the present moment. All that matters is what I do because as you start to stack these moments, days, weeks and months, then eventually it’ll lead me to October 1st. A process would be a much better way of approaching it.

You used an example of winning a championship. You realize, for the most part, every single team starts the season with the exact same goal. Every team has the goal of winning the championship. Let’s say there are 30 teams in the league. All 30 have the same goal of winning a championship. Yet in the end, only one of them is going to achieve that. 29 of them are not going to achieve the goal. The one that does is the one that does the best job of daily preparation, execution, attitude and effort. In sports, talent matters. I’m not going to pretend that talent doesn’t matter. You have to have good players if you want to win a championship, but it’s the ones that focus on the process, master the basics and have the mindset. In order for us to win a championship on this date, we have to have the best practice possible now.

All that matters in the world is that we have the best practice now. From everything I’ve learned, seen and read from people like Coach K at Duke or Bill Belichick with the Patriots, they’re very process-oriented. Brad Stevens with the Celtics, I know the Celtics fell short in 2019. They didn’t win a championship and fell short of their goal, but they’re process-driven and they make sure that every practice is a championship-level practice because they know that stringing as many of those together as possible is what will give them the best chance to win.

I want to challenge you a little bit. Is there a time where the process would trump talent? All things being equal, the team that would win is the team that has the best process in place. If two teams, equal talent, what’s the discriminator? It’s the process. Would you agree with that?

I do agree with that.

When you have a variation of players on a team, which we have. There are some players better than others. There’s a mix of players on these teams. That’s a variable. However, we’ve seen teams that are not expected to win. By observation, the talent is as equal as another team. For some reason, they’re able to pull out a win. Is the discriminator the process? We’ve got heart, drive, desire and referees. There are certainly different things that can affect the outcome of a game but keeping this as simple as possible for explanatory purposes. The process could be the discriminator, how you prepare. Someone can have a lot of talent, conceited and still don’t put the work in terms of preparation. Where you have someone who’s not as talented but is going 120 every single day and putting processes in place, that’s unbelievable work ethic. It shows up on the court. It shows up on the field. What are your thoughts?

To be able to give a great effort, have tremendous focus and consistently work on the basics. Share on X

Talent is always going to be the X factor and talent ultimately is required to win at a high level but the key is making sure that you focus only on the stuff that you have control over. Ultimately, winning a championship in sport is not 100% under your control. If it was under your control, then you’d win every year, but it’s not because you don’t control what the other team does. You don’t control how talented they are or what their process is. Clearly, if I go to the local high school team here and I put them through an immaculate process. We have championship-level practices, we do everything the right way, their nutrition, their training and then they go play the Golden State Warriors. It doesn’t matter how good our process is going to be. We’re not going to be able to win that game or that series because there’s such a huge disparity in talent, but we don’t control that. The goal is to take whatever talent you have, to develop it to the fullest and to establish a championship-level process that gives you the best chance to be successful.

Many times in sport, we’ll see a team that has a lot of talent and they have bad habits. They don’t want to have good practices. They don’t have good culture or chemistry and they tend to win because they have great talent, but it’s hard to sustain that long-term. I challenge you to find any of these, “Sports dynasties,” whether it’s the Golden State Warriors with basketball or the Patriots in football. They have talent. The Patriots have had arguably the best quarterback of all-time leading them for the last dozen years. The few teams have matched the talent level of the Golden State Warriors. They have talent. The reason they’ve been able to sustain success is that they nix that talent with the habits, the structure and the process. It’s not one or the other. In theory, if you have talent, you control your own attitude and effort and you create the process, you become as close to unbeatable as one can become.

If you don’t have the talent, then all you can do is create great habits, structure and process so that you can overachieve and be the best that you can. I do think long-term. If you are talented but you have awful chemistry, awful habits, bad attitudes, you are going to majorly underachieve. You still might beat people on talent alone, but you won’t come anywhere close to what you’d be capable of achieving if you did the other. A lot of it’s that movie Rudy. According to the movie, he didn’t have any talent, didn’t have any athletic ability, but he had all of the intangibles that allowed him to get to that highest level. There were players with a lot more talent than he had, but they didn’t have a fraction of his heart or his discipline. They underachieved and he overachieved.

The last thing I’ll leave you with is not to play the comparison game. Whether it’s us individually, we’re talking about our business or we’re talking about our team, it’s not about playing the comparison game. Am I better than Rodney or is Rodney better than me? Is his business more successful? It has nothing to do with it. All it comes down to is, “Am I doing everything in my power to be the most successful that I can be?” All of us want to be able to look in the mirror, lay our head down at night saying, “Yes.” If that ends up resulting in the outcome that we wanted, that’s wonderful. If we end up falling a little bit short, but we know we did everything possible to attain that result, you’ll end up being able to live with that. It still might sucker. It might sting in the short-term, but once you’ve done everything possible to be successful, you can live with falling short of your goal.

There’s even a lesson in falling short because we can evaluate that and understand what changes we can make to improve. How can people get in touch with you? If they wanted to connect with you, maybe work with you as a client, where do they go to find you?

I have a book called Raise Your Game: High-Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best. It’s all of this stuff you and I have been talking about. They can go to RaiseYourGameBook.com to check that out. It’s available as a hardcover, at most bookstores as well as on Audible as an audiobook. If they’re interested in my speaking, my workshops or all of this stuff, they can go to AlanSteinJr.com and I’m also @AlanSteinJr on Instagram, LinkedIn and all of the social handles. I love engaging with people. If anyone was reading this and you want to reach out to say, “Hi,” challenge my perspective or share your own thoughts, please hit me up on social.

Thank you for stopping by, joining us and sharing your insights with us. This has been wonderful. I appreciate the work that you do. You’re awesome. I appreciate that.

The feeling is mutual. Keep up the great work. I appreciate you.

Are there any final words that you would like to share with the audience?

Keep having that game-changer mentality.

That’s another successful episode of the show. I want to thank you for joining us. Until next time, peace and love.

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About Alan Stein, Jr.

Alan Stein, Jr. is a keynote speaker and author who spent 15+ years as a performance coach working with the highest-performing basketball players on the planet. He now teaches audiences how to utilize the same strategies in business that elite athletes use to perform at a world-class level.


Are you ready to shed your past, rise above your present, and go confidently in the direction of your dreams? The first step? Decide. Choose right here and now to make a move. Set your intention. Then simply ask Rodney for help. https://rodneyflowers.com/mentoring/ 

Want an inspirational story and a magnetic personality plus interactive actionable strategies to transform your audience? Book Rodney for your next event. https://rodneyflowers.com/speaking/

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