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Play by the Rules

Brad Yates with Bill Curry

In writing this piece I have enlisted the help of Bill Curry. Bill was my teammate at Georgia Tech.

By the way, I've just made an update to this blog. I've added a fourth step to the Rules. It leads off in the number one position.

Bill Curry was destined to play 10 years in the NFL and then went on to be a head coach at Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky and later a high-profile broadcaster with ESPN.

broken image

Bill and I got back together in 1980. I volunteered to be Bills performance coach. Long before the term was coined and the work accepted and considered valid.

Today, Bill and I are still working together. We collaborated on the first edition of “the rules,” as both of us had gone through a series of difficult joint replacements. Now were back at it as the issue of age is presenting challenges.

I use the metaphor: Move Forward as the next level of awareness, acceptance and capacity to learn and grow as we work to age with grace and poise.

Play by the Rules

The process involves 4 steps: Risk Assessment, Show up Rested, Trust the Process and then, Find the Beauty in the results of your efforts.

1. Risk Assessment

Involves a careful examination of a specific challenge in terms of what’s going to happen, what could happen and in the worst case scenario, what would happen then.

In order to assess the possible risks related to your challenge, you need to do four things:

  1. Ask the right questions to people that are familiar with your challenge.
  2. Do a search of the written information related to the demands of similar challenges.
  3. Be open and honest with yourself and use this information to determine the worst thing or things that can happen.
  4. Make a decision to move forward and learn how to show up rested.

For example, It’s like going to surf in a new location. Before you paddle out you need to know the risks. Is there an issue with the tide, i.e., at low tide the wave sucks out and you will be looking at the reef when you take off. Or like Sunset Beach on a west swell, the take-off is straight up and down, and when it gets over a certain size, it requires a no paddle take off.

Or like dating a girl who’s father threatens your life if you bring her home late.

Or letting someone drive your car when the insurance doesn’t cover them.

Or being a “yankee” in Georgia in the 60’s.

Or drinking MoonShine without an awareness of how drunk you will be.

Or trying to cover a receiver named Fred Biletnikoff (who later became an All Pro–Hall of Fame receiver) one on one.

Or taking a new medication and not knowing the contraindications.

Or wanting to play football and not liking contact.

Next Level: Deal with the Risks
Plan: Not knowing the risks can be embarrassing, a real threat to your well being or worse.
In the words of Jon Wooden, “Failing to plan is preparing to fail.”
Move Forward: Confident in your plan and your ability to be up for the challenges.

2. Show Up Rested

Rest can provide the energy to be mentally and physically ready, to bring forth the skills, attitude, and belief to handle any possible challenges. With experience, rest can provide the awareness needed to focus in the moment and resist the tendency to allow negative emotions to dilute or change our focus. In the words of Vince Lombardi,

"Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

Next Level: Breathe Through Your Mind

Show up Rested–Settle–Go Deep.

Know what is expected.

Move Forward: Focus on what you want to have happen and see (visualize) the creation.

3. Trust the Process

Trust is belief in your own ability to perform a specific task, to stay present and maintain a positive attitude, and when others are involved to believe that they can and will perform at their best. The role of trust for an individual or team is to focus on the process completely, and effectively eliminate doubt. Doubt is a natural enemy of trust. Doubt is a powerful form of resistance that can lead to the creation of drama and a negative outcome.

Next Level: Work Hard and Feel the Joy

Express passion, feel the sensations that signal proper acceptance and confidence.

Learn to Battle with the distractions in your recovery and win.

Move Forward: Get the job done, accept the results.

4. Find the Beauty

Now that you have evaluated the risks, shown up rested and trusted the process, it’s time to debrief the results of your efforts.


Beauty is synonymous with acceptance. To find the beauty is to operate at full acceptance of self and embrace the opportunity to debrief and refine the efforts to get better. To know that this challenge is in your life for a reason and that you will learn and grow from the experience. The energy that results from being able to flip your experience and find beauty is the key to building amazing levels of health, happiness and acceptance.


Next Level: Find a Better Off Ramp

Establish a lens to see and seize the opportunities for growth.

Debrief the results and record the learning.

Move Forward: Trust the process and evoke the mental strength to find beauty.

Live the Rules

The rules work when they become a conditioned response that allows you to find the fun and/or value in challenges. Responding to fatigue, doubt and/or resistance with your best effort is to know what it means to be satisfied and successful and live your life with integrity.

Next Level

The ability to live your own truth has given you compassion for yourself and others. You are living with timeless grace. You are aging with balance, strength, and poise. You are able to follow the advice of the stoics and frame the challenges in your life with acceptance and appreciation for the gifts that they have given you.

And, you are able to reflect, in the words of Sam Harris:

On the impermanence and finiteness of life and keep your priorities straight so that you can enjoy this moment in the sun and appreciate everything in your life with full awareness.”

Thats HiLevel!