deep dive #004 - 2017, a year in review and the most powerful lessons learned

2017 was a huge year, both from a personal and a busines standpoint. It’s quite honestly been my best and worst year, I’ve grown the most and have also been challenged the most – but I guess there’s no real surprise there

It’s seen The Academy itself grow from a microscopic organism of 8 young athletes into it’s own identity that now houses close to 60 young athletes and adolescents and has impacted more than 100 this year alone. 2017 has seen us make errors and incorrect decisions multiple times, but it’s also seen us move into our own facility TWICE – and if I do my best to make 2018 even half as phenomenal as 2017 was, all I can say is LOOK OUT

We got to travel the country to support our Academy Kids, including surprising Ahp in Melbourne for her National gymnastics comp. It’s seen our OG Hayden gain 36 collegiate scholarship offers and two official offers for gridiron – and he’s on track to see his dream of becoming a professional athlete become his reality. Bray & Rayden both gained entry into NRL systems… and we’ve also been blessed to help a myriad of national, state, and local rep track athletes, netballers, footballers, baseballers, surf-lifesavers, hockey players and much more…

To say my wildest dreams came true is a severe understatement…

And there are a few things I’ve taken away from 2017 – lessons learned if you will – and there are two that stick out the most and brought me the hardest challenges and the most growth & movement forward

#1 – Life Shrinks or Expands in Proportion to One’s Courage…
There is no such thing as fearlessness – it’s a myth and a lie we tell ourselves to feed our ego’s… what there is, however, is showing courage in the face of fear… what people need to realise is that not making a decision and failing to deal with the adversity in front of them is actually making a decision. The fear in our lives is a compass, it’s showing us where we need to go, and showing courage in the face of that fear brings immense growth…

The decision to sign both of the leases on our facility brought immense fear with it… sleepless nights, immense amounts of frustration, disempowering thoughts and countless discussions with my father on how I’d make it work. They were honestly the times I’d been the most scared in my life – but seeing them for what they truly were and making a calculated decision to act has brought me the most growth and fulfilment I’ve ever felt in my life

the cave you fear entering most holds the treasure you seek

#2 – Hard Work IS the Variable of Success…
Period. You have to do the work. You have to make the sacrifices and show the dedication, as there truly is no such thing as an overnight success. The people who achieve are the one’s who can accept this truth and simply put their heads down and butt up… nothing you want in life is ever going to be handed to you – and if for some magical reason it is, you’re going to have to work damn fucking hard to keep it

There’s also a number of books I’ve read that have shifted my thoughts and perspectives on myself, life, and being a better human in 2017 – and I highly recommend you dive into them for yourself too

1. Psycho-Cyberntics by Maxwell Maltz
An exceptional insight into how to shift our own “image” of ourselves and create a more empowering story…

2. Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
This is my main personal goal for 2018, to be more aware of when I’m acting out of ego and try to tame this beast quicker than normal

3. The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson
Don’t let the title fool you, yes it delves into how to not give a fuck about the things that don’t matter, but Manson’s approach and explanation of pain, frustration and other “negative” emotions and their positivity in our lives is life-changing

4. Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
A collection of the best thoughts, idea’s and habits from the best in the world across a variety of different areas – this book is a goldmine

5. Shoe Dog: The Story of Nike by Phil Knight
A dive into overcoming severe adversity and having a doggedness and grit to truly achieve what it is you desire in life – “the cowards never started and the weak died along the way, that leaves us”

And lastly, here are the top 27 lessons I learned in my 27th year of life – I know there will be something small & all-powerful in here that you can take away and apply to your own life to make 2018 your best year ever…

1)    You may achieve your goals in life and still be left “unhappy”
Robin Williams achieved everything he set out for himself. He made millions of people happy, raised a phenomenal family, was one of the best comedians of our age, and even won awards for playing a more serious role – and at the end of it, he hung himself. Why? There was no fulfilment in his life… he had achieved, but wasn’t fulfiled – the science of fulfilment is an ugly beast…

For me, it happened a few Tuesdays ago. I had just returned home from Perth for the wedding of two of my closest friends. It was my first time away since late 2015, and I had an exceptional time. A lot of soul searching was done

Yet, as I was driving to The Academy, I had a breakdown. I had to pull over to the side of the road and unleash. Not in years have I felt so much anger… so much frustration and rage. My steering wheel took the brunt of it and my lungs emptied with vicious screams

Pain. Emotional pain. But why? I sat there and reflected – I was chasing rabbits I didn’t want to catch. I was valuing growth and progress by metrics that didn’t sit right with me. I was achieving but not feeling fulfilled

I was measuring progress via growth in numbers and not in the connection we have with our phenomenal Academy Kids. This pain was a teacher, there to help me see what needed to be changed

And that’s the funny thing about pain – it’s there to help us change… if we choose to numb it or sweep it under the rug, it’ll come back as a bigger beast later in life

2)    You’ve got to move toward your fears…
Fear is a compass. It’s a guide. I look at the times The Academy & myself have grown the most this past year and it’s when I’ve been most scared and shown courage to take action

There’s no such thing as fearlessness – only courage in the face of fear. The cave you fear entering most holds the treasure you seek – face your fears in the eyes and choose to display courage

3)    We create complexities to hide imperfections → simplicity is the answer
Everything in life is simple. We simply create the complexities to feed our ego and hide the fact we don’t understand them

The simpler I’ve made my life and the business, the happier I’ve been and the smoother things have run. You decide what you get to care about, so choose the things that matter most to you – which isn’t how others think about you

Life & business is about adding value to others lives. About being there for them. Giving more than you take – and always placing others ahead of yourself. Simple…

4)    You’ve got to be crazy to do this, and it just might kill you
Marco and I always say this – it’d be so much easier to work for someone else, in a 9-5, but then we’d be achieving and not feel fulfilled. There have been times this year I’ve worked myself into the ground, I’ve wanted to throw it all away – but those times of adversity have brought about the most growth

5)    If you’re not coming from the heart in everything, you’ll lose
See #3 for this – everything in life is about living in service to others. This doesn’t mean letting them take advantage of you, but it’s better to go 49/51 in everything

6)    We are the only thing holding ourselves back
We stop ourselves from taking action due to the fear, the self-limiting beliefs, the disempowering thoughts, giving in to criticism or the thoughts & opinions of others. That’s all on you – as it’s up to you how you choose to respond to that stimuli

You are the string that holds your own kite back. Get out of your head and step into taking action

7)    People are here to teach us things, they’re either a lesson or a blessin’
This lesson was taught to me by a wise friend – and it couldn’t be further from the truth. Everything happens for a reason in life, people will come and go – and all we can do is the learn the lesson they’re here to teach us

Relationships end, and it’s our job to learn about ourselves from those experiences. Where did we lack… how can we better ourselves in the future… as new relationships will be formed, and it’s up to us to have grown so we can be better tomorrow than we are today

8)    Pain is inevitable, and we get to choose the pain we wish to feel
Mark Manson argues the most important question we should ask ourselves in life is “what pain do I want to endure” – as it’s one of life’s greatest teachers and is always inevitable for us. But we get to choose the pain we endure… via our thoughts, beliefs, and actions – we can choose the physical, mental, and emotional pain we endure

I choose to endure the pain of working my butt off, off pushing myself physically, and placing myself in a position of helping others, even though they may punch me in the face for my help. They’re some of the pains I choose to endure, as they’re helping me become the person I aspire to become and create the future life I desire to live

9)    If you demand greatness, it’s usually what you get
“Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask” – Time Ferriss. When we’re specific, when we show immense clarity in what we desire, our actions tend to align and we achieve what we desire

10) You’re capable of so much more than you imagine…
Your brain lies to you to protect you. It lives in total darkness, and yet we can see light. It lives in total silence, and yet we can hear noise… there’s a blind spot right at the centre of the eye, where the optic nerve attaches, and yet we can see “perfectly”… it’s working on vibrations and light particles…

There is one truth you need to believe with all your might - your potential truly is nearly limitless – as with energy, focus, and time you can learn any skill or achieve any goal you so desire…

If you want it bad enough, you’ll do everything you can to get it

11) Gratitude is the key
This one has always been hard for me – as I need to “feel” something… and I don’t know how gratitude “feels”… to me, saying your grateful for something is easy, but how do you mean it…

I now know what gratitude feels like though… it’s the quiet moment watching the sunset… it’s these final moments I get to spend with my 89yr old Oma… it’s being able to help and be of service to these phenomenal Academy kids… it’s this gratitude that keeps everything in perspective

12) Self Awareness is perhaps the greatest skill we can attain in life
If you don’t know yourself, you’ll never grow. You won’t understand how to kick yourself into action or why you believe certain things. This year, where I’ve grown the most is in my self-awareness and the awareness of others – with this has come patience, maturity, and an understanding of not needing to control everything

13) Problems are inevitable → we just need to process better ones
Life is always a series of problems – it’s truly where happiness stems from – solving a problem either wa have or helping someone solve a problem they have

When I had the privilege of talking with Mike Bledsoe, he said the question he asked himself most was “how can I play at a higher level” – why? Because he got to solve bigger and better problems…

The athlete faces specific problems. The coach faces bigger problems. The GM of the organisation solves bigger and better problems again…

14) A lack of patience will destroy everything
In this past year, I’ve rushed countless things – including this move into a bigger facility. And this lack of patience almost killed us. You’ve got time, YEARS in fact… so the question isn’t about how can I get more done… it’s how can I do the things I truly desire to do…

15) You’ve got to attack and keep momentum
I still fall to this one and find myself on the defence – and when I do it’s a stark realisation… growth has come from going on the attack and seeking adversity – not from sitting idly by and waiting for things to happen

Identify what it is you want, set an intention, and take action on it… get the feedback you need and repeat the cycle…

16) It’s not about who you are today that matters, it’s about who you want to become and how hard you’re willing to work to become that person

Read it again… And again… And once more… And let it take you over

17) You only control yourself & your thoughts
 We cannot control other people, their thoughts, their actions, or how they feel about certain things. We can’t control the news or the weather

What we can control are our thoughts and how we choose to respond to the stimuli that come our way. We can control our emotions and how we choose to perceive everything… and in this “lack of control,” we find ultimate power

18) Expect the best of people, and don’t set expectations
Expect the best of everyone. See the best in them – but don’t set expectations – as you will get burned. I’d rather live and die by this sword than to judge and be weary of people

If someone tells me something about a person, I won’t believe it until I see it for myself. In time, people will show you their true selves, and you can make your own call then. The problem lies when people show you their true selves and you fail to see it

19) Be a good fucking human, forever and always
This came about from Brett Jones of Strong First on our Academy Podcast. It blew me away, and it’s the #1 rule I try and live my life by

20) Demand excellence of yourself in everything you do
 In his book “The Four Agreements” – Don Miguel Ruiz argues that we can only ever do our best – whatever that may be at this point in time. It may not always be our “true 100%’, but it’s the 100% we have at this point in time

This ties in with “when you ask for greatness, it’s generally what you get”… when you demand excellence of yourself this very second, this minute, this day, in this task – like begins to come together 

21) Always be a student
The more I learn, the more I learn I know absolutely nothing. Life and success are about the accumulation of skills and knowledge, and then taking action on them. The best in the world have cultivated rare and valuable skills – that’s why they’re so saught after

If it’s a powerful and simple truth to align yourself with

22) Peaks and Valleys
There’s an unexplainable duality to everything in life. If there were no darkness, we wouldn’t know what light is… if there were no “bad”, we wouldn’t understand the “good”

There are always peaks and valleys in life – and it’s our job to try and not minimise them, but rather shorten the valleys and lengthen the highs… I’ve found the best is when you don’t ride either…

23) Failure needs to be redefined
There is no such thing as failure, only learning. It’s all data – what worked, what didn’t, what should be attempt next based of what we see... It’s a science experiment, and should be viewed as such…

24) Self Sabotage Happens in more ways than we’re aware of
People fear success more than they fear “failure”. As if we’re successful, there’s more “pressure” on us… more expectations… we’re in the spotlight… people say they want the ball in the last second, but when it’s go-time, they’re oftentimes found in the crowd…

We will self-sabotage ourselves with our thoughts and actions in order to let ourselves off the hook… being self-aware of this and how you do it to yourself is an amazing skill to have

25) Nobody knows what they’re doing…
I mean no-one. Not your idols, not the best in the world. They’re all guessing, making assumptions, testing, tweaking based on the feedback and taking action

The reason they’re your idols is they showed courage to face their fears and act anyway. The secret lies in taking calculated steps of action

26) The boundary is all in your head
Gus is a dog. He wears an electric collar that gives him small shock should be exit the confines of the yard as there’s no fence… Gus found out about that shock once, and he’ll never attempt it again… The problem is, that was years ago – and the batteries are dead, so the shock doesn’t exist anymore… The boundary doesn’t exist anymore – the boundary is all in Gus’ head

What experiences have you had in the past or pre-defined beliefs that are holding you back?

27) It’s all your fault
Own everything that happens to you in your life from now own. Control that. Decide that you can always make a different decision or take a different action – as that’s where you’ll find the power fo change your life

“with great responsibility comes great power” – Jim Kwik

Nick Maier