The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino

It is our intent as coaches to help young men reach their potential not only as soccer players, but as people as well. Many times, it requires us to see the potential in them before for they recognize it in themselves.  In our society it is very easy to get beaten down and pessimistic, not only about life, but also about ourselves. Too often the media can paint a negative picture of the world in which we live. Likewise, if we are not careful, we can find ourselves in an environment where casting negative words makes us feel better about our own difficult journey. Our society does not always make it easy to see the gifts that lie within us. It is not always obvious to recognize our gifts, and beyond that, to recognize that we are the greatest miracle in the world.


Og Mandino's classic, The Greatest Miracle in the World reminds us of this fact. Mandino's book, published in 1983, is a story that combines Mandino's wonderful storytelling ability with his real life situation. He introduces the main character Simon Potter, who is a self-proclaimed ragpicker.  His mission is similar to that of the ragpickers that existed during the depression where they would pick up old rags from the trash, clean them, and then make use of them again.  The difference with Simon and the other ragpickers is that Simon used this principle with people, helping individuals to see that they are part of the living dead and guiding them back into the world of the living.


Simon is actually Og Mandino’s real life mentor, and throughout the story teaches him timeless wisdom and insight from years of drinking from good books.  It is Simon's interpretation that these books and the people that had written them where inspired by God.  He believed that through the course of time, the hand of God had guided certain people and certain acts to perform functions for His ultimate plan. These teachings positively impacted Mandino in shaping his life and how he views the world. Ultimately, Simon produces a written piece called “The God Memorandum" which is designed to provide proof that we are all meant to do great works, as well as the steps needed to pull ourselves off the piles of negativity to lead a life of success and fulfillment.


The Greatest Miracle in the World is an easy and quick read that you will find uplifting and inspiring.  I continue to find myself migrating back to it to not only reconfirm my own gifts but to also inspire me to find the gifts in others.  Whether you believe you are presently in need of a lift, or are just looking for an inspiring read, this book will provide you with a renewed hope in yourself and others.  

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 Play by Dr. Stuart Brown

I have always had such fond memories of my childhood days, and so much of the positive feelings center around memories of playing.  After school, my brother Richard and I would search for the neighborhood kids that were available to play.  With no cell phones and never really contemplating the use of the house phone, we would jump on our bikes and start the journey.  Once we collected the available playmates, we then commenced the activities until we had to head home for dinner.  The game or activity could have been a host of games.  We played soccer, basketball, football, baseball, stickball, ping-pong, kill the guy with the ball (likely not politically correct in today's society), or some form of these if the numbers were not enough for a game.  It was usually competitive, many times intense and we always kept score.  There were no parents, no coaches and no referees.  And sometimes, someone went home crying.  More often due to the hurt of one's pride rather than a physical injury.  Man, they are great memories.


I always believed those days shaped my life forever.  As a coach, I have grown to understand the value of sports in shaping our youth.  There is no better microcosm of life to teach principles of success than team sports.  However, it was not until I read the book "Play" by Christopher Vaughan and Stuart Brawn that I realized the significance of play and how it truly effects our development, mentally, socially and physically.


Through extensive research, Vaughan and Brown reveal the undeniable benefits of play.  The authors use fun and easy to read stories that provide new ideas for developing more play opportunities in our lives. The book depicts how play is the truest expression of our individuality and making play a part of our daily lives is one of the most important factors in being more productive, happier and simply being our best.


This book and the message have affected us so much that we have begun to schedule family play dates.  Recently, we went to a close friends house for an evening of ping-pong and swimming.  Our friend had grown up in an environment that promoted games and play, daily.  He is one of the most well adjusted and socially adept people I know. Our family had a great evening playing ping-pong with his mom, dad and wife.  Everyone participated and enjoyed the competition as well as the company.  It was one of the most enjoyable family evenings we have had in recent memory.  It was an evening that visibly raised our spirits as well as stimulated us mentally and physically.  


My hope is that this book will change the way you perceive play and furthermore, encourage you to schedule play in your own life.  It will not only pay huge dividends in your own life, it will create a positive example for your children and friends, and ultimately impact their lives forever.

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The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

In creating a winning culture at Louisville, we put a high priority on our daily habits.  I have heard and read the quote, “First you make your habits, and then your habits make you”.  I have attempted to live my life with this in mind and continue to encourage our team to do the same.  The seeds we sow today will certainly determine tomorrow’s harvest.  Sowing positive seeds produce good results, sowing negative seeds produces poor results. 


Darren Hardy, editor of Success Magazine has produced a book, The Compound Effect, which accentuates this principle.  Hardy is an example of consistent disciplined effort that has produced tremendous success in his life.  His father was his earliest role model and displayed self-control in his life that Hardy was to duplicate.  Through consistent disciplined effort Hardy built an empire of success. 


Similarly, poor habits compound over time.  When we develop habits that are not productive and useful, over time they move us further and further from our desired destination.  Small, minute, negative actions today, repeated on a daily basis, compounded over time, accelerate us in a direction destined for failure. 


The number one characteristic of successful people is self-control.  This is the ability to discipline yourself to do things you do not feel like doing. At Louisville, we continuously evaluate our daily habits.  We are driven to create a culture that is producing positive and effective actions daily.  This has been a major factor in our continuous growth toward national recognition.  The culture we have established has created a momentum that we still are riding today. 


Here are some of the daily habits of success that are part of the culture of our program:

1. We get started early and meet every morning at 7:45AM

2. Our players must be on time for training. If a player is late, he does not train on that day.

3. We read as a team daily on subjects such as personal development, principles of success and mental toughness

4. We always leave opposing team locker rooms as good or better than we found it

5. We write down our goals, both individually and as a team, and keep them posted in our locker room


The Compound Effect is a wonderful reminder of the core principles of life’s most successful people.  It reveals the importance and urgency to create good habits in your life now.  It is never too young or too old to start.  I urge you to read the book and adopt this principle into your life, as it will have an everlasting effect.

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The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle


Everyone wants to know the secret of talent.  What is it that separates underachievers from those that reach their potential?

It is the mission of our program at The University of Louisville to help our student athletes reach their potential.  We are driven to guide our players in their pursuit of being their best and maximizing their talent.  There is no greater satisfaction for a coach or a teacher than helping the players, or pupils, under their guidance, to achieve a level of high mastery in their field.  We are constantly evaluating the process and critiquing our efforts to become more effective and efficient mentors.  The success of our program is essentially dependent on the growth and development of each individual within the program.  Cultivating, nurturing and feeding the seeds of a garden is dependent on having the right tools so as to receive an abundant harvest.  Daniel Coyle’s book, The Talent Code, provides an insight into the tools necessary to effectively
cultivate the seeds that produce talent.

The Talent Code is a proclamation that talent is not born; rather it is something that can be developed.  Coyle uses specific examples of teachers and coaches that have effectively and consistently produced high achievers to
support his philosophy.  The Talent Code combines research of the brain and behavior to explain, in very simple terms, the natural physiological process in the development of a skill.  Repetition of an activity is important, but even more critical is the deep focus of the repetition that accelerates the physiological process in skill mastery.  Ironically, it is failure in the effort to master a skill that sharpens the focus and deepens the concentration.  Pushing oneself to the limit of one’s capability and actually failing in this process allows for more effective practice.  It is truly the pursuit of mastery and not mastery itself that fosters the growth and development of the skill. 

Coyle also sites the importance of motivation prior to the intent for mastery as well as during the process.  He uses the term “Ignition” in defining that grit and desire in pursuit of a skill.  The environment of training can also foster this ignition, as it is more beneficial that the surroundings are not soft and warm but rather rough and difficult to promote the hunger for improvement and success.

The nurturing of the athletes and students is just as important in the process.  Successful coaches and teachers understand their role in providing appropriate words and models for development.  This is a skill in itself and Coyle uses several examples of teachers whom he calls “master coaches.”

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle is quickly becoming one of the must-reads for coaches and teachers, alike.  Coyle’s book has produced such significant interest that he has become one of the most sought after keynote speakers on the personal development circuit.  Reading this book, coupled with books like Carol Dweck’s,  “Mindset,” will inspire and motivate anyone knowing that growth, development and achievement is attainable with the appropriate effort. Success is within our control. Coyle details what that effort looks like and the positive outcome as a result.

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 The Majesty of Calmness by William George Jordan

Along with the power of reading, my wife Tina and I have been taught the power of listening.  Many years ago we were convinced to turn our vehicles into rolling Universities.  Rather than turning on the radio, or throwing in a music CD, we began to carry a case of motivational, inspirational and educational alternatives. It is like havingmajestyofcalmness.jpg mentors sitting in the passenger seat, answering all of our questions regarding the keys to success.  Jim Rohn, Zig Zigler, Mark Gorman, Mike Murdoch and many of the great speakers and authors share time and wisdom with us on a regular basis and have shaped our lives.  

The benefit of investing in our growth through listening has been so valuable that we find ourselves searching for new audios at every opportunity.  Our search has led us to many valuable, unique, and sometimes obscure books and speeches. Once during a trip to Florida in a mom and pop bookstore, I picked up a collection of old success stories and books that were dictated on to audios.  One of those books was called The Majesty of Calmness by William George Jordan.  Jordan lived from 1864 to 1928, and published numerous books and articles.  The Majesty of Calmness is a timeless creation that I listened to many times prior to downloading it in text on my Ipad.  I have since read it again and have gained even more insight and inspiration.

In today’s society and pace of life it is becoming even a greater challenge to maintain a calmness and peace in our daily routine.  The Majesty of Calmness provides insights and strategies on how to remain a calm disposition and it’s benefit to a successful and abundant life.  Further, Jordan reveals the importance we have to further our own growth not only for our own success but to positively influence others.  

The longer I stay in coaching, the more I understand the value of calmness. Once a course is set, in life or coaching, it is critical that we maintain a focus on the goal and the plan for the journey. Anxiety, worry and fear are emotions that get one off course and moving in a less desirable direction than intended.  Calmness allows one to maintain a focus and as well the state of mind to make proper adjustments when necessary.  

Reading The Majesty of Calmness will help you refocus, or perhaps create a focus, for your life.  And if you are challenged to create the time during the day to pick up the book and read, consider buying the audio and turning your vehicle into The University of Success.




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Believe You Can - The Power of a Positive Atitude by John Mason

My wife Tina and I have a strong belief in the power of reading.  It is an investment you make in yourself that pays ongoing dividends. Years ago, one of our mentors taught us that when you read 15 minutes a day, you will likely complete a chapter.  Most books are 15 chapters long.  At that pace, you will complete two books a month.  When you read two books a month, you can read 24 books every year. When you commit yourself to this habit of reading for just 15 minutes every day for 4 years, you will have read close to 100 books and will be among the top 3% on the world regarding the knowledge in the subject area you have chosen to read. 

We were introduced to this philosophy over ten years ago and it has changed our lives.  The power of reading is that we can learn in two weeks from reading a book what it took the author a lifetime to learn and write.  Tina and I so much believe in the power of reading that we are registered with two “book of the month” clubs.  The clubs are geared toward business owners and many focus on personal development.  One of our latest books “Believe You Can – The Power of a Positive Attitude” written by John Mason, is one of the best we have received in regards to personal development. 

“Believe You Can” is packed with over 60 principles that are presented in short powerful messages, quotes and stories.  John Mason is a prolific writer that believes we have a responsibility to fulfill our potential and maximize our God given gifts.  He believes we were created to make a difference. These messages are woven throughout the book. It is a great book for those who are starting to develop the habit of reading every day.  The chapters, although short, immediately influenced my thoughts, words and actions.  Each chapter will inspire you to read more. 

Start the habit today and I am confident it will positively impact your life as well. Sowing the seeds now will allow you to reap a significant harvest later. 


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The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy

When I was coaching the U.18 National Team, I had the opportunity to hear a compelling speech by former US National Team player, Thomas Dooley. Thomas was the Captain of the National Team when the US hosted the World Cup in 1994. He grew up possessing dual citizenship being born of a German mother and American father. He played the bulk of his career in Germany prior to coming to the MLS and played for the Columbus Crew to finish his career. Thomas was not an overly dynamic player, yet he was very successful. What struck me most when I first met him was his infectious smile. He seemed to always be happy and positive. After hearing him speak, it was clear why. He talked about his career, obstacles and ultimately the meteoric rise to the top of German soccer, the Bundesliga. He credited much of his success to a book he read at the age of 18 when his was floundering in the German 9th division. That book was The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy.

I immediately wrote the book down in by journal and ordered it at my first chance. The book is filled with many powerful lessons. What I learned first was that our mind has the ability to remember and imagine. Remembering allows us to reflect on past decisions and discern the benefit or consequence of those decisions. This ability shapes our future decisions. Our ability to imagine is greater still as it allows us to project our future and destiny before it ever happens. The Power of the Subconscious Mind teaches us how to project our destiny and use the power of the subconscious mind to make it a reality. Dr. Joseph Murphy explains in detail the influence of our subconscious mind on achieving our goals and dreams. It is a powerful message that has changed the lives of many who have read the book and applied the principles.

The book obviously impacted the life and career of Thomas Dooley, and I am grateful for his recommendation of the book as it has equally impacted mine. I continue to use these principles in my life as well as teaching them to our players at UofL. I pass on this recommendation to you in expectation that this will equally impact your life as well.

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