In Hagakure (The Way of the Samurai), the author talks about the stories of the samurai, their history, important people, and many other stories. The book gives advice on how to deal with and lead people that still holds as true today as it did several centuries ago.

One part of the book talks about how to address things with people. The author says something to the effect of, “It’s far better to tell someone a story about yourself and what you did or a change you made as a result of a certain situation rather than to address them directly about it. It is the person’s natural response to push back if you push them. If you lead them to a conclusion and they get it, then the problem is solved. If they do not get to the conclusion, it is of no consequence, as they did not start to revolt against you because of your suggestion.”

It also goes on to say that if you are in a situation that has to be directly addressed, do so in private and one on one. Any time that you are more than one on one, the person will feel attacked regardless of what was said.

These two points are ones on which I based a lot of my coaching/mentoring career. I would see issues that arose with a team and address them with different parables. We’d go over a lot of different stories to address different issues. These stories never took more than three to five minutes to tell from start to finish, plus people talking about them. We would take common parables, historical figures, and anything else that came to mind to illustrate our points. Even if it didn’t get the person on board at the time, it didn’t push them further away, so we could try from another position.

The ancient Greeks were also famous for this technique, as they used parables known as fables to teach right from wrong. Most of us heard Aesop’s Fables when we were little. In both cases, the parables were short and had a specific underlying meaning, which is great because college athletes typically have a short attention span.

This month, I have three stories to share about dealing with fear and accepting responsibility.

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Fear is huge in sports, from fear of failure to fear of success, to fear of the stadium to fear of… The fears are countless. Sometimes simply giving the fear a name or a strategy to deal with the fear can help. The latter is important because so many people look to point the blame at other places: It’s not their fault they were afraid; it was something else. It’s not their fault the other person did something that made them mad enough to act out of line and draw a penalty. It’s not their fault — wait. It is.

Once this is understood, roads toward success can be made.


Michael Turner ©

Champions and Cowards

A great quote that has been used by so many people that it is impossible to properly attribute is “A champion and a coward feel the same fear when going into a fight. The difference is the champion fights through the fear while the coward succumbs to it.”

In many different arenas, this is true. From the battlefield to the court, to the mat to the course, this rings true. Fear or anxiety will occur before or during nearly every game. It is your choice: either see the fear as a challenge to be overcome or see the fear as something too overpowering to even be challenged. Many athletes’ performances have suffered due to succumbing to this fear, but there are many athletes who have chosen not to.

Joe Montana, the quarterback of 49ers fame, has an incredible story dealing with this. During Super Bowl XXIII, the 49ers found themselves trailing the game 16-13, with 3:10 left on the clock and on their own eight-yard line. The game was at a TV timeout, and the team was huddled. Joe looked up and got his teammates’ attention: “Hey guys, look over there. Isn’t that John Candy standing in the back of the end zone?”

He then proceeded to lead the team down the field, completing eight of nine passes for 87 yards and throwing the winning touchdown to John Taylor with 34 seconds left.

This was the biggest game of his life to that point, and he did not succumb to the fear he was feeling, he chose to rise above it.

Remember the circles? Fear is in the circle of control, meaning you control how you react to fear. You can either choose to conquer the fear or succumb to it. It is a difficult thing to conquer when you make the decision, but you do control it. Conquer your fear and compete like a champion.


The founder of Aikido once made a very powerful statement: “The real and most dangerous opponents we face are fear, anger, confusion, doubt, and despair. If we overcome those enemies that attack us from within, we can attain a true victory over any attack from without.”

Fear, anger, confusion, doubt, and despair disable us, preventing us from achieving our goals and enabling the competition. These opponents are all ones that we can take care of. These are things we can control. We choose to fear things. We choose to be angry. We choose to doubt ourselves. We choose to despair over our situations. We can choose not to do any of these things. We can choose to overcome these opponents. When you can overcome these opponents from attacking within, opponents from without (or outside opponents) become simple.

It’s easy to be afraid or any of those things that disable us. It’s part of human nature to feel those feelings. It takes the nature of a champion to put those feelings aside and go win.


Michael Turner ©

The Buck Stops Here

Harry S. Truman was our 33rd President of the United States. He was born in Independence, Missouri. Although he was famous for many things during his presidency, one was for a sign that was on his desk. The sign read, “The buck stops here.”

“Passing the buck” was a common term that referred to passing on responsibility to someone else. Truman knew that this was not the right way to do things. Anyone of high integrity and honor wouldn’t do such a thing. He was the man in charge, and if something went wrong, it was his fault and he would accept responsibility for it.

“The buck stops here” means that you accept responsibility for everything. You do not blame your parents, teammates, coaches, genetics, or circumstances for any mishaps. By allowing yourself to blame these things, you get caught up in a web of the past. You are where you are today because of the decisions that you have made.

There are many opportunities to make decisions in life and many opportunities to make the right decisions. However, when the wrong decision has been made, you always have the opportunity to decide to make it right.

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Remember the circles of control and concern? You always control your reaction, but never the circumstances. You can take responsibility and make changes that will positively impact your life and your game, or you can continue to look for excuses and easy ways out.

When faced with adversity, people will ask the question, “Why me? What have I done to deserve this?”

This is the wrong question to ask. This is trying to pass on responsibility. The question that should be asked is “Why not me?”

See the challenge in the adversity; see the opportunity to grow. Adversity is preparation for greatness. If you seek greatness, you must go through adversity to reach it.

Accepting responsibility is a hard thing to do; it is a tough and bitter pill to swallow. However, greatness is achieved. Go and make the buck stop here and compete like a champion today.