I have a love-“meh” relationship with driving.  When there is little traffic, or when I am able to drive with no particular place to go, it’s wonderful.  Commuting is often a different thing altogether.  I try to turn that into a game, to find the seams in the traffic and get to and through those at a good clip.

I tend to not do this as much when my wife, Christine, is in the car, although I think she secretly enjoys it.  When I get to 90 or so, she sighs and says, “OK, Patrick.”  Yes, I slow down.  Yes, we laugh, even though I drive her nuts.

When I was a teenager, my mother had a classic Fiat Spider convertible.  Because Mom is both generous and likes cars, she let me drive it fairly often.  Because I am her son, and share lots of her genes, my assumption is that Mom knew how I drove that car.

One of things that was most thrilling was to see how fast I could go over the posted speed limit on curves.  My goal was to get 30-40 miles per hour faster than was “safe.”   One memory I have is of going on an on-ramp, where the suggested speed was 35 mph.  I went 70.  That little car was so low to the ground, and the gears shifted to well that it was fairly easy to keep it right on the edge of crashing.

I used to drag race other vehicles as well.  Manual transmissions are great for this, because you get to manipulate to RPMs more so than in an automatic.  It’s just great fun.

When my brother went into the service, he handed me the keys to his 1976 Malibu Classic.  That car hauled!  Since the body was so big and the engine was so powerful, it really didn’t “feel” like you were going 110, 120.  Not that I did that…ahem.

In an automatic, when you punch the gas, there is a slight hesitation before the car begins to accelerate.  Punch it.  Pause.  Go!

This has been on my mind the last couple of weeks.  This season for me feels a bit like that.  The word I keep coming back to again and again is “acceleration.”  I am convicted this is true for the team I coach, and the school I run.  Likely, it’s true for my faith and my family, and my growth as a man of God.

I have been interested in the pause that happens before the acceleration begins.  What the significance of the pause is, what can be found while sitting in that time of quiet anticipation.

A time to either catch your breath or let it out before you go.  A time to pray for discernment and wisdom, faith and favor.  A time to take a look around at what is really going on, before that acceleration kicks in.  A time to make sure obstacles are really out of the way that need to be, and that we’re not missing any signs warning us of danger or destruction.

So, it’s been an interesting place for me to be.  It feels holy, at times disquieting, and pregnant with promise.  There is a visceral quality to it, that longing of almost and not quite yet.  I have a vague picture of what some of the end of this will look like, and look forward to learning the rest along the way.

And, it’s soon.  Very, very soon.  For me, and by virtue of relationship, those in my life who are on the ride with me, who don’t always mind the wind in their hair and can still have the presence of mind to quietly say, “Patrick” when I need to hear that.

We are made for times such as these.  It is time for the pedal to be pushed, for the acceleration to begin.



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Posted in Business, Coaching, Leadership, Life, Uncategorized


Recently I came across this poem by Guillame Apollinaire:

“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, we’re afraid!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, We will fall!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.

I can relate to this.  Likely a lot of you can as well.  This is one thing I want for my children, students, and athletes.   For us to be people in their lives who are able to nurture and challenge those in our care, and to bring them to situations that are daunting but doable.  For them to be people in our lives who respond to us, who walk with us, who will partner with us in their growth.

This is a worthy endeavor.  For them to come to the edge, despite being afraid.  For them to find out that when they get to the edge, and they are pushed in the right way, they will fly.

I’m interested in the transformation that happens in this poem that isn’t noted.  “They” say that they will fall, and “he” invites them to come to the edge again.  And they do.  In my imagination, something wonderful happened between those two points.

They grew in their trust of him.  He pushed and prodded, provided support for them, and  maybe sometimes cajoled them.  Their reticence turned into courage and determination, and they went to the edge.

It’s interesting that they didn’t jump.  They were pushed.  Didn’t think they were ready, were still holding back a little, unsure.  But he knew.  As we often do before our kids do, or our students or our athletes.  We think, “Yes, you’re ready.”  We have insight and wisdom they don’t yet posses.  So we push them over the edge.

And they fly, they soar, sometimes despite themselves.  And, it’s beautiful and breathtaking.



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Posted in Coaching, Leadership, Life, mental health, Uncategorized

soon, 1

Lately I have been thinking about a piece by Marianne Williamson.  I encountered this some twenty years ago, when I was still working in the public schools.  Most of you have read this, from “A Return to Love,” which says:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

We encounter people who seem intent on being thorns in our sides.  The closer we get to breakthrough, the more they seem to come against us.  One of the reasons they do this, I am convinced, is because the dark just cannot stand the light.  It rebels against it, because it hates it.

The dark within ourselves and within others tries to extinguish light.  Success, joy, peace, love–all of these are much harder to come to and sustain than is failure, anger, fear, discord, and hate.  These latter things are deeply rooted in the part of our brain that is the most primitive, and the easiest to access.  My faith speaks to a constant struggle between agents of darkness and light as well.

People who are in a place where they are deeply sad, abused, or are suffering in some other very real and very present way often want to bring others to the place where they currently reside.  Misery loves company in part because misery simply cannot understand a better way.  There are neurological, bio-chemical, and spiritual reasons for this.

And while we are still in the dark, we are being constantly invited to make the choice to move towards the light.

We get to make the choice to understand and use the gifts God has given us for a greater good.  We get to begin to step up.  Our “playing small does not serve the world.”  We get to let our light shine, so others may see it and be affected by it.

I don’t know if our presence “atomically liberates” others.  It’s much harder than that, especially for those who have been living with darkness for an extended period of time.  Often, the first reaction people have to us is to mistrust and show derision.  The dark hates the light.

And, we still have tremendous influence over others around us.  Our presence does affect others.  The way we think about ourselves provides a lens through which we see the world.

There are times when we do need to sit with in what appears to be darkness.  For example, we need to mourn, be sad, experience anger.  We will be frustrated, have set backs, and trip over obstacles and our own feet.  How we exist in those situations and how we come out on the other side of them is determined in large part on how we entered them in the first place.

This post turned out different than I originally had intended.  In some future posts, I will look more in depth about how our light frightens others, and what to do about it.  I think.  For now, I would challenge you to re-read the selection from Williamson, and see how it speaks to you.  I would love to know your thoughts.






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This summer, I spent a great deal of time watching videos and reading books and articles about coaching.  One particular website has struck a chord with me.  “What Drives Winning” features some of the most prominent collegiate, Olympic, and professional coaches in the country.

Jim Loehr is one of the coaches who speaks in What Drives Winning.  I had known about Loehr for a while, and had read some articles and books by him.  Loehr is a one of the preeminent sports psychologists in the world, and has worked with the world’s top athletes as well as Fortune 500 CEOs and Fortune 100 companies.

“Repurposing Sports” is one of the talks he gives.  I have watched it several times, and am incorporating it into my team’s practices this season, especially the part about “who will you become as a consequence of the chase.”  We have discussed it, written about it, and will keep coming back to it.

Take some time to watch the video.  It takes about 20 minutes, and is well worth it.





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Posted in Business, Coaching, Fitness, Leadership, Life, mental health, neuroscience, Uncategorized


I was having a conversation last night with a gentlemen for whom I have a great deal of respect.  He mentioned that I haven’t posted in a while, which of course is true.  I said some self-deprecating things and made a couple of excuses.  And, here we are.  And, here we go.  Back to posting again.  (Thank you, DP)

I have two Post-It notes placed on the window in my office.  I put them in a spot where, when I look out at the mats, these notes don’t quite obscure my view, but I notice them.  I make a decision to read them before and after I teach and coach.

The first note reads, “How does it feel to be coached by me?”  I stole this from a video series, “What Drives Winning.”  This is a brilliant series with collegiate, professional, and Olympic coaches who give talks and have roundtable discussions.  Look it up on You Tube–it is well worth it.

The other note reads, “Leave them better and happier.”  This is a paraphrase of something Mother Teresa wrote.  I love this quote.  My guess, however, is that a lot of people would have this (or a similar) reaction to it:  “If I make it my goal to leave them better and happier, I will cause them to be weaker and selfish.”

Since when does leaving people better and happier leave them weaker and more selfish?    It seems to me that many coaches believe that if they show kindness and compassion, their athletes will take advantage of them or will perform worse.

Neurologically, of course, this is bullshit.  Our brains and bodies are more apt to be receptive to learning and to retain that learning when we are in a “good place” mentally and emotionally.  Our brains are always looking for the simplest state of being.  They do not want to work very hard, and it simply will not compete agains itself.  The most primitive state our brains can be is in fear or survival mode.  When in those states, learning is hampered or doesn’t happen at all.

Anger overrides fear, and there is a place for it.  Because one of our primitive responses when scared is to freeze, sometimes we need to have anger “unfreeze” us into action.  That being said, repeated exposure to anger, to sarcasm, to belittling words and phrases, both conditions us to become numb to those words, and to shut down neurologically and consequently in performance.

And, it takes a lot more self-discipline to leave someone better and happier than it does to coach through fear, anger, and threats.  Those are easy–almost the easiest thing our brains can do.  Coming from a place of kindness and goodness is really hard to do on a consistent basis, until it becomes a habit.

The question, “How does it feel to be coached by me?” can be altered and applied to different aspects of our lives.  How does it feel to be married to me? How does it feel to be parented by me?  How does it feel to be my friend?  How does it feel to be “bossed” by me?

I hope it goes almost without question that if, after every encounter we have with others, we left them better and happier, we would change the world.  For those of you who just had a reaction that was similar to, “Yeah, right, dude,” I would sit for that a while.  Examine why you had that reaction, and do something about it.

So, how are you leaving people?

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Posted in Life, Life Coach, world taekwondo academy



I wasn’t much for Statistics class in Graduate School.  The professor was a kind gentleman from Korea, with a very strong accent and a stronger mind.  He was funny, approachable, and a terrible teacher.  For some reason, he related each of his statistical models to studies or correlations for Viagra.

This was in the late 1990’s, so maybe using the Viagra model was shiny and new for him. Or, maybe he forgot we were all graduate students and not sophomoric young men.  I believe my final grade for that class was a B (might have been a C).  Thankfully, he graded on a curve, because my actual final percent in that class was 37.  Really.

I liked looking at scatterplots, even though at the time the method to create scatterplots hurt my brain.  I could interpret data quite well.  Constructing data, especially from disparate pieces of Viagra, I mean information, was another story.

Lately, I have been thinking about how scatterplots look.  How at first glance they can appear to be chaotic and disconnected dots, with no relationship with the other dots on the graph.  As you likely know, as the scatterplot is studied and interpreted, the dots have relationship to one another and to some larger thing.

Thinking can be a lot like a scatterplot.  Not the actual physical and chemical process of thinking, but rather thinking in terms of a metaphysical and existential pursuit.  How we look at various aspects of our lives or the happenings in the world, and they might seem to have little or not connection to other aspects and happenings.

But, upon closer examination, they likely connect.  How what I choose to do today can be connected to and influenced by what you do today.  How the choices we make and beliefs we hold are closer in relationship to one another than we likely know.

It’s not as obvious as Viagra.  It’s not always on the surface and readily seen.  And, I would challenge us to keep looking for connections in seemingly random and disparate events and relationships.

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Posted in brains, Coaching, Life, mental health, neuroscience, Taekwondo, Uncategorized



It is extraordinarily frustrating to live as a black-and-white thinker in a world full of grey.  If we are limited to perceiving relationships, circumstances, and situations in an exclusively binary manner, we will likely end up either extremely happy or extremely upset.  The only logical outcome of seeing and thinking in two dimensions is to exist at one end or the other, happy or frustrated, depending on what is currently happening around us and to us.

Binary thinking tends to discount nuance and historical context.  Binary thinking tends to want answers to questions immediately.  Binary thinking has very little room or understanding for others to process information, or to see another perspective.  It disallows for others to answer a question with, “Yes, but…”

Oftentimes, this boxes others into corners.  When people are boxed into corners, their flight, fight, or freeze response is activated, and they tend to go on the defensive.  When this occurs, people tend to make decisions they don’t like or fully understand.  This is the space in which heated arguments happen and relationships are damaged.

Sometimes we arrive at decisions or understand something well in advance of others.  It can be frustrating to have to wait for them to “get it.”  The longer we understand or believe something, the more we can reinforce it in out thinking and behaviors.  The longer and more deeply we hold on to things, the greater our frustration when others either disagree or are slow to get on board with where we are.

Well, that’s just tough nuts, isn’t it?

Do we need binary thinking?  Certainly.  There are situations that are urgent and immediate.  Fire in the house.  Get out.  Also, there are times when people can over-think, and not make decisions.  This can hinder growth and progress.

I would argue that we need multi-directional thinking.  Read about that in the next post!



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My podcast and audiobook libraries have grown pretty large.  At times, I get a bit overwhelmed by the amount of content available and left unheard.  I subscribe to twenty-one podcasts*, and have twenty-one audiobooks on my device.  Until this very moment, I was not aware that I had the same number of each, which is both cool and “yeah, whatever” at the same time.

Most of the podcasts renew daily or weekly, with a couple that renew monthly.  I listen to eight of them on a regular basis, and the rest occasionally.  I have listened to or am currently listening to each of the audiobooks.  Probably because I paid for them.

One of the issues I am having with The Horde is information overload.  I benefit from breadth at the expense of depth.  This isn’t a universal for me–I have listened to a couple of my audiobooks several times (notably, “Top Dog” and “The Talent Code”).

Another issue, which might not be an issue, is that much of the material presented in one source in The Horde parallels or reinforces information another.  Because I sometimes (read: most of the time) don’t discipline myself enough to slow down, breathe, and be still, I will merge information from one source to another.  I will start one podcast, for example, then switch to an audiobook, and then switch to a different podcast.  Sometimes this happens in the twenty-odd minutes it takes to drive to my school.

So, I have a goal for myself: Listen more to less.  Engage more with fewer.  Appreciate the breadth of information, and embrace the depth of knowledge.  Build up the myelin in my brain, so that I can actually use the information.

How about you?

*As of last evening, I now have 25 podcasts in my library, and 22 audiobooks.  Paring it down…


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A virtuous cycle is a chain of events that reinforces itself through some type of feedback loop, with advantageous or positive results.  As the cycle develops, it is strengthened.

Despite appearances, a virtuous cycle isn’t self-propagating.  If the cycle doesn’t receive input and energy, it slows down and stops altogether.  Also, if outside influences are acting against a virtuous cycle, more time and effort are needed to keep the cycle functioning.

Getting physically fit is an example of a virtuous cycle.  As we begin to get more physically fit, we feel better mentally, emotionally, and physically.  Feeling better, we are better able to make and maintain healthy life choices in relationships, eating and sleeping habits, etc.  This motivates us to increase our physical fitness, so we continue to work on our fitness.

Of course, if we discontinue the habit of being physically fit, we break that cycle.  That’s not to say our lives will automatically and immediately go to pot.  However, good leads to good.  We get fit, we feel good, so we continue to get fit.

Good leads to good.

What types of virtuous cycles are you planting in your life? In your children’s?  It might be an interesting exercise to draw out a few virtuous cycles, and then do spot-checks on a regular basis to see how well the cycles are running.

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Posted in brains, Coaching, Fitness, Leadership, Life, mental health, Uncategorized



I have been listening to a wonderful speaker lately, by the name of Graham Cooke.  A lot of his teachings have to do with our reframing ourselves.  Rather than seeing ourselves as starting from a place of weakness, defeat, sin, etc., we need to have a different mindset.

We need to start viewing ourselves as, Cooke says, in the image that God sees us.  That image is of us strong, victorious, righteous, and right with God.  Once we have that mindset, we will act accordingly.

During mat chats with students and team members, we often talk about seeing ourselves as champions prior to competing.  We talk about seeing ourselves as having already won, as being victorious.  Because we see ourselves in that light, our behaviors and training need to match the image.

So, we are beginning to train and learn like champions.  Rather than causing us to slack, this mindset pushes us to reach higher, to train smarter, and to give our best.  It’s making a difference.  Our focus is better, our training is more precise, and it’s a lot more fun.  It’s much harder, but it’s so much better.

So, what’s stopping you from having this image? Yeah, easier said than done.  Most good things and habits are.  But why not start today?  It’s so much better!

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Posted in brains, Coaching, Fitness, Leadership, Martial Arts, mental health, neuroscience, Uncategorized
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