Manny Johnson: Blog 3 at 2008 HP Youth Holiday Camp

Jan. 21, 2009, 5:05 p.m. (ET)

Day 2 Session 2 12/27/08

This was a classroom session focused on the importance of goal setting and how to achieve the goals you set.  Neil had Bruce Powers, the co-author of his upcoming book The Blueprint of a Champion, come in and give a presentation to the girls.

Bruce began by describing how principles and axioms provide the basis for all goals.  One major point Bruce made was how it is important to visualize your goals and visualize yourself achieving your goals; the difference is subtle but important.  In order to visualize your goal you have to see it daily, post it on your bathroom mirror, in your locker, where ever.  You have to physically see the goal in one way shape or form.  Visualizing yourself achieving your goals is more of an internal act than physical; say you want to win a gold medal you have to see yourself on the podium and dream of your goal on a regular basis.

Bruce mentioned that it is not enough to go into practice and say that your goal is to get better, its not even good enough to go into practice and say I want to pass 7/10 balls perfect b/c then you are allowing yourself to pass 3/10 balls not perfect.  You have to be mindful on every play.  Bruce then talked about stair stepping your goals, you have to break everything down to the minute details,   Michael Phelps is a perfect example of stair stepping goals; his main goal was to win 8 gold medals in Beijing.  How he went about reaching that goal was all stair stepping.  He worked on turns; he worked on staying underwater for as long as possible; he was mindful of the steps needed to reach the big goal.  That is stair stepping in a nutshell. 

Goals are important for several reasons; chief among them is that goals provide motivation.  Another important role goals play is that they provide the map needed for you to be successful in life.  WITHOUT A MAP YOU ARE LOST.  I love the story Neil told at the Final Four last year in Sacramento when he presented The Blueprint of a Champion.  He talked about the guy who got up got dressed got in his car started driving and 20 minutes later had no idea where he was because he did not know where he was going and did not have a map, that guy is like the person who goes through life w/o any goals.  They wake up one day and realize that their life has passed them by and they are in the same crummy job, in the same crummy town, w/no improvements or changes. 

Sports provide a great arena for goal setting and self improvement.  As Bruce said sports are a crucible where athletes have a chance to problem solve and make respond to adversity.  Organized sports also provide athletes an opportunity to learn how to deal w/ others, and they help athletes discover what they are made of.  The age old question comes to mind do sports build character or do they reveal it?  I think it's the latter.  Think of how many athletes give up at the first sign of losing or how few athletes are willing to go through the pain and suffering needed to achieve their goals; how is that building character?  It is revealing their lack of character. 

Goals also have to be SMART.  They must be Specific; I want to get both of my arms back on my approach vs. I want to be a better hitter.  They must be Measurable; I want to get ten kills in the match.  They must be Attainable, I want to get 25 kills in the set is not very attainable.  They must be realistic; for the libero to say she wants 15 kills in the match is not very realistic 15 digs is a much more realistic goal.  Finally goals must be timely; you must put a timeline on all your goals; it is not enough to say I want to make the Olympic team someday, how about I want to make the 2012 Olympic team.  For more about the blueprint of a champion visit the website