by Dana Cavalea April 25, 2017

I don't know about you guys.. but I have always loved watching athletes compete, play, and just "be".. at one point I was fascinated with these super-humans.
Growing up in New York.. Long Island to be exact, the exposure to a high-level athlete was minimal at best. Growing up in a small town with division 5 talent (joke) made it more of a fantasy than anything else to meet a Pro Athlete.
For me, in 2001 that all changed once I went to college at the University of South Florida. I remember arriving on campus in August and seeing some amazing human thoroughbreds roaming the campus.. These guys were huge!
Not only were they huge, but their presence alone made them somebodies.
They definitely stood out from the rest.. from their gear, to their swag, to the sense of team that always seemed to follow them. As a kid who just came down from New York by himself, I was definitely jealous that they had an instant identity and I didn't.
As a young guy.. I always wanted to be a pro baseball player.. the only thing that stopped me was having enough talent to compete at the highest level.
Luckily- I had the heart, the desire, the burn to fight and train.. which is where so many lessons on success were learned.
In the gym, on the track, listening to the words of great coaches.. all inspiring, motivating, and leading me towards the higher playing field of achievement in life, sport, and business.
So the rest of the story goes like this... at South Florida I got the chance to work with the football team as a Strength and Conditioning intern, then the Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Bluejays, and finally, to the PROS with the Yankees...
What I have learned through the years has been incredible. From work ethic to discipline to caring for your body, nutrition, physical therapy, mental training, how to sleep after landing at 6am on a flight followed by a 1pm report time, and finally, what it takes to win.
Athletes teach us so much. Sports teaches us so much. We learn how to be a part of a team, how to compete, how to push our own limits, how to deal with failure (sometimes over multiple days or weeks), how to overcome that failure, how to take care of our bodies... when to push, when to rest, but most importantly we learn about ourselves.
We learn what makes us tick. We learn our own tendencies. We learn what takes us off path and how to self-correct.
We learn that life is actually more black and white than we think. Perception is reality.
If you want to "make it".. you must be consistent and committed. We learn that talent is truly an amazing thing... but without respect for it, you can lose it. We learn that getting to the Pros is "easy" relative to "staying" there.. We learn to leave yesterday behind us and focus on today if we want success today. We play to win. If you don't win, you will lose. You will then be called a "loser".
We learn every team needs a great leader and every leander and athlete struggles at some point.
Finally.. at some point, an athletes career always comes to an end. The question becomes did you learn enough to take those incredible lessons and apply to your "post-sports" life?
My writing of this blog is geared towards bringing out your inner athlete (again, or for the first time)... In a world that is focused more on softening and evening out the playing field, the lessons of sports teach us that it is "ok" to be an outlier. It is "ok" to train hard, to push, to fight, to claw, to go out and most importantly; WIN.
Winning is a good thing. Winning can build self-esteem and fill you up in an incredible way. Setting a high expectation and exceeding it is incredible. The associated feeling and just the thought of it should give goose bumps.
I have been focusing more and more on inspiring people to WIN. Set your targets high. Train everyday for the game. Go WIN for you and your family.
Dana Cavalea
Dana Cavalea

Dana Cavalea is the World Champion Director of Strength and Conditioning & Performance of the New York Yankees. Currently, he is a High Performance Speaker & Consultant to Pro Athletes, Entrepreneurs, Business Executives, and Workforces on lifestyle strategies to reduce stress, improve work/life integration, and most importantly improve daily performance /outcomes. Book Dana to Speak at your Company Event or Conference Today!

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