|Ricky, Matt and their coach. What an honor.|
I'm in San Francisco at an Indie UnCon, sharing ideas and brainstorming with other author friends. I ditched my writer's hat and went across town to the Mission District Vanguard Properties office, to attend a special talk given by Matt Brown, National Elite-Level Single Scull Champion, and six time American Record Holder on the Concept2, Yale Grad, Masters Degree in Science and Medicine of Athletic Performance from University of Oxford, and Olympic Contender.
I love meeting people like this, because it reminds me of what I enjoy writing about my Navy SEALs. I've always been a student and avid fan of winning, of pushing ourselves to peak performance in all things in life. Anyone who endeavors to become an elite athlete like Matt and his partner Ricky are, understands the mindset it takes to win. And I'm not talking winning that hurts others, but winning for the sheer joy of winning, for the juice of life and the passion of being alive. It's what drives being in love, living a truly artful and passionate life, as well as achieving all our physical, mental and financial goals. I could attend a talk like Matt's every day for the rest of my life and still want more. I hope I never stop seeking this information.
Here's what he said, in a nutshell:
|Vanguard office has a conference room in an old bank vault. Why not?|
1. You have to be coachable, desire to set goals and obsessed with achieving that goal. I counted nearly thirty times Matt used the word Passion in his talk. As a romance writer, I get what he's talking about. Sure, we like our books sexy in the bedroom, fearless when it comes to throwing all caution to the wind and going for that perfect love experience – I get that my job is to deliver that elixir to my readers. And getting there requires I be coachable, that I set goals in several arenas (my energy level, my financial goals, my word count goals and new release or projects goals). Living a passionate lifestyle is what I'm all about. I had the cheesy grin in the back row all the way through his talk. And we weren't talking sex or romance, but it's all the same mental and emotional energy.
2. Passion means to suffer. He used examples of a rowing champion who suffered from severe dyslexia, so severe he sometimes had difficulty signing autographs. He had Type I Diabetes, had a family to support and a string of near career-ending injuries. But he was one of the most decorated champions the sport has ever produced. He didn't walk in and have it handed to him. He carved it out of granite.
Having that desire to fail is what leads to mastery. One of my early Real Estate affirmations I used to shout into the phone with my realtor mentor daily was, “I love rejection. The more rejection I get the larger my bank account becomes.” Not a lot of people get this concept. It really has nothing about money and everything to do with seeking those things that will make us elite at whatever we do. The struggle, suffering that must occur is part of that track to Mastery. SEALs don't quit if they're going to become a SEAL. They practice with pain and suffering so they are ready for every eventuality they can think of. And even after that, mentally train for anything that might come up (and probably will) that they hadn't planned on.
Matt talked about it not being a dream to be an Olympian. It is his obsession. It isn't reasonable or realistic to want something so badly. Greatness transcends mediocraty.
3. Mastering the elite level is paved with tons of little achievements along the way, little daily victories, seeking failure, pushing ourselves to new extremes, never accepting that “reasonable” excuse not to have a life filled with passion and excellence. We used to train Realtors about repetitious boredom. Sticking to the path even when it's not as sexy or fun as we want it to be at the time. Learning to be uncomfortable. As my SEALs have been told, “getting comfortable with Dr. Death.” We get better by seeking to expose ourselves to our limits, and then learn to push beyond them. If we never came up to that limit and push just a little harder, we'd never achieve it.
4. Discouragement and self-doubt are part of the process. It affects some people more than others. I loved his example of how coach Wooden took his dream team at UCLA and began coaching his young elite athlete recruits by first showing them how to tie their shoes. Some of these guys were saying, “Hey coach, don't you know who I am?” Being great starts with the little things, victory over little mindset lapses and emotional quagmires. Seeking them out and getting comfortable with the flame. Being excited about the danger involved. And it starts with the simple things. Wooden was teaching his players not to make the mistakes with the fundamentals. Do seek to push yourself to make the mistakes when you are testing your limits, but never the fundamentals.
5. Compete. I loved his concept of working competitively against another teammate to become better yourself. And what would it take to tell that person what you see as a flaw so that they could get better, therefore becoming a harder competitor against you. But you get great in the process. I love this. My Cheerios this morning! Don't be afraid to go for the gold medal, not the participation certificate. Losing is healthy if you learn from it.
6. Get comfortable with stress. The right kind of stress diverts energy to your working muscles. Mouth dryness when you are under stress is your body's way of giving your muscles every ounce of energy they require to perform at an elite level. But worry, is a wasted energy. Pushing to failure is the good side of it. Worry is the destroyer of everything. I got a great character image of a SEAL I'm going to use in my next book, who will go on a date with someone he's terrified around. It will feel like he's just had a shot of espresso and attending a really nasty Horror film with the love of his life. LOL. I loved hearing this. Nothing is more terrifying than letting go, falling in love and allowing that to become life-changing. “Get those butterflies in your stomach and make them fly in formation,” was his quote.
7. Great competitors are great actors. (Yes, J.D., this is for you!!) To become master at anything you have to take how you really feel, and turn it into the way you need to feel to do the job. I used to say it all the time in real estate. We aren't salesmen. We are entertainers. Being someone who can do something even though they are feeling something else is a skillset that isn't given, it's learned, and actors do it every day. Your brain and body don't know the difference between the real smile and the “fake” smile. Life is about performance, not just living. Religion is a practice. Marriage or being insanely in love is a practice. Living with purpose and passion, playing a role, fulfilling a destiny. Playing big. Feeling strong. Playing for keeps, like it matters, because it certainly does.
8. You have to be tough as nails. Nuts to say we get the most joy out of the toughest things in our lives, but when we are in training for anything in life, it's true. Toughness is learned, again, not organically bubbles up. It's created by the unique little things we achieve every day. The little joys that add up to a life chock full of everything, especially love and the love of life.Writing about Navy SEALs reminds me about that part of myself that is a SEAL.
|Even superheroes need to practice|
I've mentioned it before, but getting comfortable with mistakes, making a fool of yourself, pushing to the next level is how you learn to be tough.
There was much more I could write about, but not all of you are going to read all of this. I make no apology for being inspired this morning. The right people will show up to read this, and it will mean the right things to those right people.
We are not lost, we are found. Have I found you? Have you found me? Are we on this path together?
Have the best day of your life today. I sincerely mean that.
Wonderful to be able to enjoy all the best things in Sonoma County with some of my best friends. We had a turnout of readers better than my expectations. I had hopes it would be a good group, and it certainly was that. Thank you to all who helped promote the event and who showed up and helped the celebration yesterday was. To my fellow authors: Catherine Bybee, Marina Adair, Susan Stoker, Kathryn LeVeque, Carolyn Jewel, Diana Orgain, Lisa Hughey, Pam Gibson, Tiffany Snow and Kate Douglas and Lori Ryan – thank you thank you thank you!! Wonderful women, great players, awesome authors and super friends for life.
I am blown away by the generosity of my writer friends, who spent their weekend, and traveled far and wide just to come share in this vision. Coppola Winery was the perfect location. Yes, I admit, we are a bit out of the way and it isn't easy to get here, but that just means you have to come and stay a few days. We are a region, not a single destination.
|Funning around the Godfather desk|
Today eight of us are going on a limo tour of four great local wineries. Again, I can't wait. And it looks like the sunshine will be out for us.
Readers drove as far away as 4-5 hours away and built their whole weekends around this event. The winery crowd came from all over the world, and we met new readers from Boston, Denver, New York, even a family from Canada visiting Wine Country in all its glory. We had a steady stream of people here for the 5+ hours of the signing, yet the setting was small enough that we could intimately speak with people about our stories, our books, and share our lives.
I'm definitely planning one for next year.
|Our author group at Francis Ford Coppola Winery book signing event|
My voice is hoarse. I slept like a baby last night, finally able to relax after all the worry and planning. But what a treat to bring our world to all of you out there willing to listen and read our stories.
|Tucker from Tucker, the movie. One of only 52 made|
My mind is flooded with ideas and things I can do to help my writing career. I'm also very grateful to all the presenters and awesome authors who shared so freely and gave me such wonderful inspiration. We rarely get to go to things so jam packed with material. Although most of my pictures were taken in front or behind an umbrella drink, most of my time here has not been spent drinking.
I described my mind as “frizzy” like a bad hair day. It will take a couple of days to calm it down.
Getting to meet Hollywood people who have actually read and enjoyed my books was a super rush for me. I learned some things about what I need to do with a screen play to make it more packaged for the TV series I think it would work for. I also learned what had to be done to create the screen play for a movie, which is very different than the TV series.
There were lots of author platforms and retail platforms I hadn't considered using that I will now be doing. Learned the importance of FB ads and now I'll be getting blood with them.
Highlight was of course the Pearl Harbor tour, which I sponsored. The trip to the Arizona Memorial, the Mighty Mo, learning more about the Kamakaze pilot who perished on the deck of the Missouri. Saturday a small group of us signed books at Hickam AFB in the beautiful Community Center building built in the 1930's. I love that style architecture. We toured buildings on grounds that had absorbed divots in the concrete where Japanese rounds had landed. Viewed the flag that was standing that day, and the eternal flame commemorating all those who lost their lives.
I poked my head into the Officer's Club and I did feel like I'd been transported back to those days.
The beautiful beaches, outstanding food and drinks, the shopping, and weather was just a plus. I'd have come here if it was just for the classes, but to have all the other wonderful things about being in Hawaii too, well, it was indeed learning in Paradise. I go back richer in ideas and excitement, a little poorer in the pocketbook, but satisfied.
As you read this, I will be in an airplane, hopefully watch pre-football highlights, or reading a good book, editing, or inspired to write, or talking to some interesting passenger. I'm going to be in Hawaii at an author conference and I'm so excited, they might have to unload me as a nuclear device…
I'm really looking forward to this conference. The company will be outstanding – leaders in the Romance industry, as well as all the folks who help us from Amazon to iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Ingram Spark. We'll be talking about time management, VAs, FB ads, branding, writing series, brainstorming, and there will be time for just hanging around, sprinting by the beach. For a writer, that means writing. Then on Saturday, a great big book signing at Hickam AFB (I even have an official pass) and a 1940's Swing Dance. I got my vintage dress and supposedly some young officer who has agreed to take me on the dance floor and dance with someone who could be his grandma.
On Thursday, I'm sponsoring the Pearl Harbor tour, and the trip to the Arizona and Missouri Memorials. Now that I have my camera fixed, I can perhaps share pictures.
Finished my mentoring on Friday, and now its green lights all the way from the conference to the week before my Coppola Event. Still some tickets left. This will be an outstanding Romancing The Vines, another first in hopefully a string of successful signing in the future.
The San Francisco Airport is buzzing with Superbowl fever. I bought a coffee tumbler with Superbowl 50 on it, and there's a whole group who just flew in and are having Irish Coffees here at the Buena Vista Cafe. Supposed to be in the '70's here in my part of the world, and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect day for a game. Go Niners! Wait…I'll have to wait for that.
I wasn't going to do as much traveling this year, and I've changed my mind. Now I just have to boost my sales up to afford to do it all. But meeting readers, hanging out with some of my best friends, learning and just getting outside my cave is going to be fun.
I can tell 2016 is going to be a brilliant year. Can't wait to tell you about it!