In 2003 I left everything behind and moved to the Sonoran Desert outside Tucson, Arizona. I got rid of my television and pursued a simple life; less things, people, and pursuits so I could be singularly focused. Inspired by Henry David Thoreau, I wanted to examine my life and make sure, when it came time for my life to end, that I had fully lived.
It was there in the desert that I began researching world champions and those who lived extraordinary lives for the book Inner Excellence.
As I began my new life in the dry heat and silence of solitude, I teamed up with former teammate Ricky Scruggs and helped out part-time at his Centerfield Baseball Academy. It was the start of examining everything in my life, letting go of all assumptions and attachments; starting fresh.
Chicago Cubs outfielder
Professional baseball started for me as the Cubs 14th pick out of Portland State University. My dream of playing Major League Baseball took me to small towns all across North America. Baseball was my life, my identity.
I ran into problems, however. My self-esteem followed my batting average, and since I had vision problems (though didn’t know it), my batting average and self-esteem dropped dramatically. I was emotionally attached to the results of my performance and often played with tension and fear of failure.
While playing in the Cubs organization I transferred to the University of Washington and graduated with a degree in psychology. After five years playing professionally, injuries cut my career short. So I started coaching at an inner-city boy’s school in Seattle, Washington (O’Dea high school). The team had a losing record the previous season, but our team went undefeated, and had a great time doing it. I decided to study Human Performance full-time.
I enrolled in graduate school at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in their Human Kinetics program, focusing on exercise physiology and sport psychology. I also walked on to their football team after an eight year layoff–I was 25–and became starting free safety as well as special teams player of the year.
For my master’s paper I interviewed (in-person) 38 Major League Baseball managers, GM’s, player personnel directors, and college coaches on how to build a championship team.
The title of the paper was On Becoming a Champion, which became the book Dugout Wisdom: Ten Principles of Championship Teams. Collegiate Baseball called it “One of the most important books to ever hit the shelves on baseball.”
During grad school I approached athletic director Bob Philip about starting a varsity baseball team. They were without a team for over 30 years, and Canada was without varsity baseball at the intercollegiate level. So I started the team as a player/coach. It was the spring of ’97 and one of the wettest on record. We went 4-0 with about 15 rainouts. One of my players eventually took over the team. Soon other Canadian universities started baseball programs and now baseball is a varsity sport across the country.
After graduate school I began working with Major League Baseball International. Soon I was invited to be the hitting coach for the South African national baseball team. Playing against favored Guam in the Olympic trials, we won three straight games to sweep the series and advance to the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics.
At the Olympic Games, our team of teachers, plumbers, and accountants who all worked full time and played baseball on the weekends (with brown baseballs and no pitcher’s mounds), pulled off possibly the biggest upset in Olympic baseball history.
Our top hitter, Ian Holness, broke his wrist six weeks prior to leaving for Sydney and was not supposed to go. But after convincing Ian and management that he should go and he would do well, Ian got 4 hits in the big game with two doubles and two home runs including the game winner in the 10th.
After the Olympic games I arrived in the desert, without my friends, family, and TV. Just myself, my journal, and my hopes and fears. I decided to become a personal coach to professional baseball players, and my first two athletes did extraordinary–the best of their careers. I began to put together a little manual for future pro baseball players to use. What I first thought was going to be a two week project turned into a full-time job, spending the next five years on research, 60-70 hours a week or more. It was a solitary life, studying and interviewing experts on high performance, as well as how to live the best possible life – one filled with peace and joy.
Those 10,000+ hours cost me my life savings, countless hours with friends and family I rarely saw, and many hours soul-searching and questioning the rattlesnakes and restlessness that always seemed to be lurking.
During the five year period of research and writing the book, I got certified as a Master Practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and have used various NLP tools ever since with each one of my clients. NLP is the study of human excellence and the subconscious patterns that run our lives.
What originally started as a manual for pro baseball players turned into the book Inner Excellence, which is a manual for all athletes and leaders who want to perform their best and live the best possible life.
Today I coach athletes and executives, teams and organizations around the world. It’s been an amazing journey for which I’m incredibly grateful. I’ve been so blessed to have, in one year, helped three teams in three different sports to their best seasons in 22 years, 41 years, and 62 years respectively. Teams have gone from last place to first place in the span of one year or less.
What I’ve found is that the skills needed for extraordinary success as an Olympic athlete, a Navy Seal, and a business executive are essentially the same skills.
One of the most popular life-transforming events I put on is the Inner Excellence Offsite Retreat. Whether it’s 1:1 or a team, every retreat has given incredible feedback. It’s a 3.5 day retreat in a beautiful setting of client’s choice where I teach the life-changing Inner Excellence Principles. The waiting list to participate grows each month.
I give athletes and executives tools and teach them how to enhance their focus, creativity, problem-solving, passion, and poise. They learn a system of controlling their energy (mind/body/spirit) that creates an environment of high performance where they can get into that zone where they’re unstoppable.
I teach athletes and executives how to get into the flow of resonance, where they’re fully engaged, unattached to the outcome (so they can pursue it with freedom and passion!) To do this, I teach athletes how to direct and manage how they think and feel, as well as how to process those thoughts and feelings in order to learn and grow every day.
For those who want advanced training…