Separate Yourself

Basketball is a game of separation. If you want to create a distinction between you and your peers. You must learn how to separate.
Football, a game of inches.
Baseball, a game of failure.
Soccer, a game of tactical patience.
Boxing, a sport of kings.
Basketball, is a game of runs, angles and finding advantages.

I have a new one. Next generation basketball – is a game of separation.

Why a game of separation? Simple. The goal of offense is to get uncontested shots.We do this by creating and finding advantages. The best way is to create a closeout. Each coach has their beliefs on how to trigger the scramble of defenses.But they all revolve around this one concept. Get a defender out of the play. 5 vs 4. And follow the dominoes until we find the 2 on 1, which we convert into an open shot.

I have a theory to test.

The null hypothesis is our current approach to offensive philosophy. And how we incorporate individual talent is by having a go-to player. Igniter of offense. Decision maker. And desperation shot taker.

To coaches, I wish to disprove this thinking.
To players, I wish to make you invaluable.

And the theory I’d like to purpose is more than just a play on words.
I believe that a team is made of many parts, but two important, and different roles exist.

Go-To players.
And Go-Through players.
The difference is simple and once you understand it, your ceiling will rise as Milwaukee’s did. They unlocked this concept. And it was their key to winning the NBA Championship.

Your Go-Through player is what we typically think of as your Go-To.
The ball should touch their hands every offensive possession.
And bad things happen when it doesn’t.
The Go-Through player is critical to success as they touch the ball the most.

But the Go-To player is critical to winning.
This is the player,
when you need a bucket.
Late shot clock,
End of game.
They are the ones you rely on. Because they have that ability to create their own shot.
To separate, to get their shot off.

Go-Through and Go-To.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray;
Bam Adebeyo and Jimmy Butler;
Brittany Griner and Diana Taurasi;
Chris Paul and Devin Booker;
Kawhi Leonard and Kawhi Leonard; you can be both.
And as the Bucks learned to unlock championship potential.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.

Watch the Bucks. Begin with their disappointing playoff exists. The ball began with, returned to, and finished with Giannis. This was true for most possessions. And held true over the entire course of the game. Tip-off to buzzer. His physicality, talent, and decision making make him great.

And he made the Bucks great conversation contenders. But they had aspirations to separate themselves from the other twenty-nine teams in the NBA. And be champions.
So they adjusted, and in the critical moments, moved the ball into Khris Middleton’s hands.
Those moments presented themselves in possessions.
And over the course of a game.
The result?
They won it all.

Contrast the Championship version to their earlier forms. Giannis attracted defenders and made great decisions. For himself and others.
And so did Khris. The one difference. Khris had one more decision available to him. The ability to create a shot for himself when no other option was present.
The skill was always there. The trust, developed. Out of recognition, or necessity. I do not know.
But this adjustment created one more threat, when none other were present.

Go through Giannis and if that doesn’t work go to Khris.

I’m not here to convince coaches that the theory needs changing.

I’m here, for the players. who desire to separate from player they are today. To a player with a whole new role, or playing at a whole new level. And tell them.
They need to learn to separate.

So you want to be a Go-To player? It’s what we all dream of. You need to learn to separate.
And separation takes two forms.
There exist separation shots,
And separation moves.
Both are necessary.

Separation shots are simpler to understand. They are when you have committed to your shot, And need a little more space.
Think of Lillard’s side step. Or Jordan’s fadeaway.

Separation moves create space for the ball handler.
They can be sagittal – front and back. Retreat dribble.
Lateral – side to side. Crossover.
Or both – away and away. Traditional Step Back.

The goal of offense is to create closeout situations.
The goal of separation moves is to create mini-closeouts to attack. Or to shoot your shot if you are open.

Every dribble must serve a purpose. Each dribble must make space, or take space.You should never do two make space dribbles in a row. Make space, then take it. Attack the closeout you have created.

Do this, and make plays for yourself.
If you get stopped, find a teammate.
If your team gets stuck. Separate.

A Go-Through player has wide skill set. And is able to make the right decisions once they have threatened the defense.

A Go-To player is also great with their decision making. Except one of their decisions is a well-rehearsed package of separation moves and shots.

And a franchise player does both.

Daring Magnificent Brave


This is not for you. It is for someone I know struggling right now. Struggling to grasp, onto something. Anything. But you, the reader. I hope you remember these words. When life feels like a Slip N’ Slide. And you feel yourself

Falling… with nothing to hold on to.

Because that moment will come. It does for everyone. Often. When you least anticipate.
And too commonly, when you believe you have laid the last brick of your safe castle.

It happens to everyone, at any moment.

And this is what I need. You, whom this letter is for. To understand right now. What you are feeling is universally felt. To different degrees, for different lengths. And in response to different triggers.

You may feel alone. But in what you feel – you are not alone.

And you have every reason to feel alone.
Those meant to support you, and keep you safe. Turned into the living danger you face.
Those now relying on your support, adding weight to already heavy shoulders.
Those dreams of your future. The potential antidote to your past. Dreams that were ripped away. Unfairly. Dreams you are attempting to resuscitate. Dreams so big, so scary.

But you are not alone. Few weeks have passed since we, your friends and I got together to celebrate you. You, for what you accomplished.
And what was repeated constantly. Was not only your most recent milestone. But a celebration of your repeated bravery to share your gifts with the world.

So, on behalf of those that love you. I have a request.

Be selfish.

For us.
It is the most selfless thing you can do.

Timeline is one framework used for contrasting depression and anxiety. Depression lives in the past. Anxiety lives in the future. Both are felt in the present. Because now is all we have.
I imagine you are bouncing back and forth between the two. As you plot a future to slay the demons still lurking from your past. While keeping serious obligations in mind.  
I don’t blame you for it. No one does. Okay maybe just one, maybe just you.

Take ten seconds to breathe. Ten minutes to meditate. Ten hours to sprawl out with your journal. Whatever you need.
And in that time, I hope you come back to a truth you know all too well. That nothing truly exists. Except,

Here and now.

Here and now.
Is all we have – this moment.
And when you come back to that foundational truth.
I think you’ll find the foundation that you have been searching for.
A foundation for a house with a guest room. So your demons can visit. But not stay.
A foundation to keep your family safe.
A foundation you can build your dreams on.

So go on. Break another barrier.

For you. For whom this letter is for. Go on, be selfish. Take care of yourself. Embody the strong body, mind and spirit we know to be you. Protect those around you by being an example of how to protect yourself.
Be creative, be courageous. And give us; the fans of you. A reason to keep the celebrations going.

Lastly. When you are ready, pick up the phone. No rush. No timelines. Just a pulse.

And to the readers that made it this far. I appreciate you. Know that I am here for you too.

Faiz Ahmed

Let’s Talk Communication

“Communication does not always occur naturally, even among a tight-knit group of individuals. Communication must be taught and practiced in order to bring everyone together as one.” – Coach K

Picture a coach and I’ll bet they are yelling on the sideline. This is likely about their team not communicating. Or at a ref, fine. All coaches list communication as one of the critical skills to win a basketball game.  So why is it that most coaches find their teams suffer from too little? Here are some perspectives on why communication falls short in many teams. Although I share basketball as the context – this applies to all teams. And effective leadership can not occur without effect communication. Now let’s get the conversation started on how to have our teams communicate effectively.

If we claim to be player-centered coaches then we must take the player’s perspective into account. A majority of the lack of communication is due to one of the three following reasons:

1. A Lack of Clear Language

One of the growth moments I had early on as a professional coach in a foreign country was recognizing the need to create common verbiage so our team could relay information quickly. (Off the court we had time to speak slowly, and a translator). Most of the language of basketball is universal, but even if you all speak the same language there are discrepancies since each player and coach has their own history.

What helped us as a coaching staff was to write down everything we might say or expect our players to know. And then, what we meant by each term. I suggest you do the same with your staff. Then, trim it down. There is no need for three different terms for one way you defend a ball screen. One is enough, this holds especially true when you are teaching.

In India, there are nearly twenty thousand different mother tongues spoken in the country alone, it’s one of the things that make their history fascinating. However, when India was looking to unite for Independence from the British it became increasingly difficult for the many provinces of India to work with each other. This was because the country did not have a common language. Luckily, Bollywood became wildly popular throughout the entire country. This had the unintended consequence of creating a common language. Allowing the leaders to unite and move forward for their citizens. Having a common language is huge for culture building and culture preservation. This holds as true for teams as it does for nations. 

Determine your terminology and turn it into a document. Share it with your players. It will lead to good conversation and clarity. You’ll be surprised to hear “Oh, that’s what that means” to what you believed are simple concepts. Or, “we call that, this.” Maybe you’ll like ‘this’ better and the language will change. The day you do this, you’ll witness an inflection point towards togetherness in your culture.

I suggest making this a running document. Something you can revisit each year, and during your season as your team grows.

2. Player Confidence

Players can be unsure of what language to use, especially early on in a season when terms are being introduced.  This can lead to them feeling overwhelmed and lacking confidence in what they are saying than doing – which causes them to be quiet.  Often, players would rather be silent than be wrong.  

By positively reinforcing any time communication that occurs outside of their comfort zone and not providing negative judgment we can get players to flip this belief.  This can have powerful effect on communication and beyond.

Once they know the terms the next issue you may face is players that are overwhelmed with stimuli.  Their working memory is consumed by play and they have nothing left to speak to their teammates. Whatever thinking is occurring becomes internal.  This suggests that they may not truly know the schemes.  Many coaches can relate to the following situation in games or practice.  Your team starts a dead ball with tons of communication. But as the chaos of play begins. They become silent as they try to read what is going on.  

It is possible they know what they need to say but they aren’t able to apply it in action. When I suspect this, I will pull a player off in practice and have them track a player that is currently competing. I will have them simply communicate as if they were they were the player they are tracking. This allows me to test for understanding. Maybe they are still silent and now I know I have to teach them what needs to be said.

But often, by removing the kinesthetic load – actually playing. This will allow them to focus on communicating external thoughts.  Now the player has felt what proper communication sounds like.

3. Player Priorities

Dave Smart, who has won 13 Canadian Collegiate National Championships as the Head Coach of Carelton University – is one of the best coaches at emphasizing communication.  He constantly reminds his players “It is okay to over-communicate, it is never okay to under-communicate.”  Once players understand this they overcome their barriers to communication.  This increase in communication instantly leads them to become more cohesive as a unit and prevent breakdowns on the offensive and defensive end as they talk through situations and provide solutions to each other.

Offense and defense are easier to coach because of the scoreboard – which gives an objective score on how we are doing.  With that being said, if something is worth emphasizing, it is worth tracking.  As coaches and leaders, here are a couple of questions to ask ourselves when we find our teams falling short on communication:

  • Do we know what our non-negotiables are for communication?
  • Are our players clear on what those non-negotiables are?
  • Do we track communication in practice? If so, what do we track?
  • Are we specific in the types of communication we want?

Remind players that there are multiple ways to communicate with each other, such as: verbally, eye contact, touching, pointing.  Furthermore, the best communication is specific, to each other, and solution-focused. I’d much prefer to hear that they have “Help! Sara get corner!” than simply “I’ve got ball.” In the later, everyone already sees this because you are running there. In the former, you are in one word telling the entire team what you are doing and alerting a specific player of her next action. Communication in this manner cascades.

As a coach, I reinforce that our communication is Early, Loud, Continuous, (ELC) – which works effectively because it allows for a quick reminder when there is a general lapse in communication. Specific lapses must be addressed directly, but when the gym gets quiet a quick mention of your system will get players communicating.

I believe teaching effective communication is critical. Effective communicators make for effective leaders. Once your team makes communication a habit, they’ll start to reap the powerful effects of communication and it’s a great habit loop to be in. Communication engages players, increases teammates’ confidence, and shows that the player understands what is going on.  Without a system of communication in place, your team’s success will be limited.  Work to improve communication like you would any other skill. You’ll quickly see it translate to more wins.

Best of Basketball Bonus (For My Coach Nerds Only)

The best thing I’ve heard for on-ball screen coverage communication. First, as always have your Big communicate the screen is coming. How long should they yell out their coverage for? The classic I typically hear is three. But what I now believe, your big needs to communicate until the guard adjusts their feet. The guard flipping their hips to force a reject means they heard you and this action is their communication back.

A Letter to 19 Year Old Faiz

Dear 19 Year Old Faiz,

Get up off the ground, wipe your eyes – he is right, you are not good enough. This isn’t for you. It hurts, I know. Years from now we’re going to do great things, all of which will stem from the scarring this pain will leave.

Nobody cares that you had a spot on the team until they got an unexpected transfer. Nobody cares that you were three weeks removed from being hospitalized from exhaustion. Nobody cares about the work you put in. The three-a-days on top of an active full time job. The 3:30AM alarms. Trying to find an extra 90 minutes by sleeping in your car in the gym parking lot on the nights you stayed until it closed and had to be the first one on the court when it opened.

You’re here wondering if you did enough. Believe me, you did more than enough. You’ll come to learn that. Because it is here that the foundation of your character was cemented.

19 Y/O Faiz raining it from 3. Does he make it? The fans already know.

You’ve been on your strength and agility program but struggled to stay in front of their new guard. You’ve been shooting 70%+% on your catch and shoot 3s in training. But it didn’t show today on-court. Why not? From this moment on your life will be a search to answer questions for what you could have done different, better? This journey is going to lead you to me, thirty-year-old Coach Faiz.

First, you’ll question your body. Were you enough of an athlete to be a basketball player? You’ll search for the best strength coaches of any sport to learn how you could have trained different. This is going to lead you to some of the best coaches from any sport in Canada. They are going to teach you how the body works, how to coach, and how to build an athlete over time. These will be some of the best classroom years of your life. Cherish them.

Max Heart Rate and VO2 max testing.

The understanding of the body, the athlete. This will serve as the basis for you to understand skill development differently. In turn, giving you an understanding for how to train for sport differently. Shortly after, you will find yourself translating Long Term Athlete Development from building an athlete to building a basketball player. You’ll spend time interning at Canada Basketball in Coaching Education. A fly on the wall soaking up everything you can. Your internship will end, but you’ll never leave. They don’t know this. Heck, you don’t know this yet either.

After learning from some of the best coaches in Canada you’ll continue your search to learn from the best. You’ll take eight separate flights in one single month during the summer of 2016. That entire summer will be spent in the gym. 8am to 8pm will be common, watching film during any break you have, keeping a secret that many nights you were unsure where you’d be sleeping. And you’ll learn player development from one of the best in the business. But, something will shift in you as you coach alongside him. He’ll trust you with some of his top guys. You’ll learn you can be among the best. That shift is essential. That summer, you’ll be in the gym with current and future stars of the NBA. You’ll get to watch Beal’s silent work ethic. How detail oriented Lavine gets when learning a skill. You’ll witness the emergence of Embiid and Tatum. See Clarkson and Galloway go at each other in competitive shooting drills. Feel what it’s like to defend a number one draft pick in Wiggins. Observe the focus of an NBA vet like David Lee. You’ll work with pros. You’ll teach G League players how to prepare for the NBA. Here you’ll learn how specific attention to the little details matter, how to build a player for the body they have and the importance of training decision making. Rewind a couple years and this information would have changed the player you were. Fast forward a couple years, and you’ll be applying this with pros of your own.

And a crazy thing will happen, not just here, but throughout your journey. Idols will become friends. NBA Vets, Rising Stars, Olympians past, present and future. By the end of that summer you’ll be hanging around $200+ million of new NBA money. You’ll witness the glamour of it all. The money, the celebrity, and the power. It could be enough to change the meaning of the game for anyone. You’ll head home. But you’ll stop in Iowa on your way for two weeks of camp. You’ll coach a group of young girls and ‘together on three’ your confidence will grow. A few weeks away from potentially becoming a corporate-corrupted soul, you’ll have a mom chase after you in a gym to tell you her daughter had been planning to quit basketball. But she called home the night before and said she had the best coach, loves basketball again, and wants to continue. You’ll turn, run, and get caught crying in a storage closet by one of the best coaches in the world. It’ll cleanse your soul. You’ll be ready to come home and grow the game on local soil.

My OG Stef and I work – anywhere, any way.
Preparing our Team Canada U17 for World’s.
Extra shots with Kelly Olynyk at the Air Canada Centre.

You’ll bring all this knowledge home. Alongside one of your best friends, you will build one of the best high school programs in Canada. During this time you’ll work with some of the top talent in Canada and be a small part of their bright futures. In fact, right now there are 18 players from your high school teams currently playing NCAA. But it’s not all fun times. You’ll watch kids get cut. For some reason it’s always the kids on the outskirts that you will be drawn towards. Or the ones with the stupid hard work ethic. These kids will come to you for guidance. In a span of four years, six kids that got cut from the National Team come to you. Trust you. And one year later, they’ll make it.

A pattern will emerge of unraveling why you couldn’t make it. You’ll start asking the questions, finding the answers. Then finding an up and coming player who can put the knowledge to use.

Another pattern will emerge as well. Each year, after the season ends you’ll wonder if that was it. If you’ll ever coach again. Are you good enough for this? Are you willing to continue the sacrifice it takes to stay on the path of your dreams? When will it all align? You won’t see the next opportunity, one that will allow you to keep this going. 

Coaching pro basketball means quick decisions in the heat of battle.

Finally, when you are truly clueless about where to go next, you’ll get offered your first Full-Time coaching job. Here you will coach and live with young athletes who are on the verge of stardom. It will all be coming together and becoming real. You’ll see the path to making this your future and stop having to ask whether basketball can remain in your life.

Then, one day, you’ll wake up in an ambulance, hooked up to all types of machines, making all types of noises. Too much to even register. And the question will move from if you’ll coach next year to if you’ll ever coach again.

A day I’ll never remember. And never forget… Many tests later.

The doctors will see something, something that needs to be removed. You’re headed for brain surgery. They’ll discuss the risks involved. Honestly, I don’t remember what they were because when they said there was a 10% chance you might lose your ability to move your left arm. All I thought was that I might never shoot a basketball again. And at that point, nothing else mattered. 

In the next few weeks there will be a bunch of scary words thrown around. Don’t worry, with time you will learn to accept them. They will become a part of you, of your story, of your soul. And there is nothing scary about that.

The surgery was a success. Being tested in the operating room for function of your limbs, the form still looked good. But it wasn’t just the jump shot that remained. Many people assumed that the Faiz they knew would be no more. But through all this you preserved the spirit of a Warrior. Perseverance, perspective and a dedication to challenging yourself to go beyond – skills fostered through sport, were all called upon. 

In the Operating room testing function.
‘Lift your left arm’.
*Shoots a jumper*
‘How does my form look Doc?’

Post-surgery, as you pumped your chest down the hall proclaiming, “I’m a fucking beast!” to everyone you passed (they needed to know). You began your process of healing. The surgeon said it would be a minimum of six months. You were back to your team within the month. No one can ever tell you that you don’t have love for this game.

It hurt to get cut. To be told you’re not good enough. But without that, would all of this have been possible? Trust that this worked out for the best, because it did.

Now sit down for a moment and let me tell you what is most important. I’ve come to learn that your greatest superpower lies right beside your greatest wound. It’s kind of crazy to look back at everything we’ve been through, but I have to admit that this moment here is the deepest pain. Your dream of playing may be cut here. But your superpower is to ignite love for basketball, and help players to rediscover it. Match that with your ability to put them on the path to Mastery. And watch a generation of athletes achieve their dreams.

Luguentz Dort locking down his idol, James Harden, in the NBA Playoffs. #ForksUp
Sami Hill keeping her eye on the ball as she prepares for France Top Division and Tokyo ’21.

And they do care. They care when they see how much work you put into this, even though you try to hide it from them. They care when they see how much extra you are willing to invest in them, even though you see it as the least you could do. And they care for you when they see you care for them as a whole person, even though you couldn’t picture coaching any other way. So continue to care in everything you do and for everyone life brings your way.


30-year-old Faiz

Plan Your Ideal Day

Schedules suck, I hate them, you hate them. And I’m convinced the solution you are looking for right now is to schedule everything. A lot of us are feeling the pandemic blues. I know I am. We’re almost through it. I promise. But right now, a lot of us feel like we are missing something. That is because we are. It’s different for each one of us. But it’s felt by everyone. There are many factor but I see a common thread. A loss of control. 

I have a suggestion to gain some control back. Use your calendar to create your ideal day. I think this might be what you need. Because I’m guessing, right now you’re lacking one of these two:

– Balance
– Structure

And this method can you give you them back. First we will proactively bring back more of what is currently missing. Second, we will create anchors, which will allow us to settle our days around them. With these two, we will begin to feel afloat again.


Do the things you want, or you need. Everyone’s situation is different right now. So everyone needs something a little different. I want you to list out the things that would be a part of your ideal day. Be realistic, think on a timeline of today or tomorrow with the resources and restrictions you have in place. Sorry, no coconuts served on the beach of your private island. As you come up with this list, try to think of what is currently missing or underrepresented in your current life. These items should be things you would like to do regularly, or even daily. Again, be realistic. My ideal day includes me playing basketball at the park. But it’s mid-February in Canada and gyms are closed. So it’s not an option. But my ideal day in winter would have me going for a long walk or two short ones. My ideal day would have me having dinner with my best friends but there are social gathering restrictions. For now, I can FaceTime for the social aspect and I can get my chef hat on. List out ideas for your ideal day. Acknowledge your commitments, and then, have some fun with it.


The idea here is we are going to build in anchors to your schedule that the rest of your day can revolve around. The goal is to give you ownership of each day. If you are without or have reduced work, this is critical for you. If you are working, you likely have them already. But why not have your own. Ones that are made by you and meant for you. Think of these anchors as your canvas. With the guidance of them in place, we are allowed to get creative as we paint your ideal-self-portrait.

Let’s begin building your ideal day

1) I was serious above and I’m serious now. Write down ideas for what could possibly be in your realistic ideal day. Maybe some become your daily anchors. Others we can save as we piece together your day.

2) Write down the approximate times each activity takes. This is important information for when we are staring at the blank canvas that is our schedule and looking to create our beautiful days.

3) Ask yourself. Are there certain things that already have specific times? If so, hurray you have your anchor! Skip to Step 5 (unless this anchor isn’t yours).

4) If you don’t, it’s time to create your anchor. Start simple. What from your list would you like to do daily? If you had a copy and paste template of your day. What must be on it? Of these items, do any of have a time? If not, could you give them a time? My anchors are a morning and evening routine of things I have batched together. They include things I like to do, like meditate, journal and read. And the things I must do like stretch, prepare for the next day and brush my teeth. 

When picking times be mindful of when you are best for certain activities. I like to meditate as soon as I wake up. I like to be active early when possible. My best writing gets done late in the morning. I eat my two biggest meals six hours a part.  I thrive on midday naps. Ideally, I want similar tasks blocked together. My best thinking gets done at the end of large blocks of time, when I get into a flow state.

5) Once you have your anchor – put it in your calendar. Choose repeat daily. Don’t worry, you can move or delete it on days that call for it. ‘Morning Routine’ is actually a daily repeat in my calendar. It holds me accountable on the mornings I’m not ready to get up just yet. It is a created contract. A scheduled promise with myself – and those are the worst to break.

To continue, I should explain. I have two different template days. Both include my morning and evening routine as an anchor. 

My chosen anchor during the day is my workout. However, I either workout at noon or 4PM. And this has ripple effects throughout my day. It changes when I eat, which changes when I nap. Which changes how much time I have in the morning and where my big chunks of time are. And for this reason, I have two separate template days. For the purpose of this step-by-step, we will continue with my noon workout day. Middle row, Saturday, February 20th in the calendar below.

For now, try for one simple template day. But feel free to give yourself multiple options if that makes sense for you.

6) We have our anchors into our schedule. Now we begin to pick and choose from our Ideal Day Brainstorm we started with. Let’s start to fill out that schedule. First, do any activities pair well together? For myself, I’m working out for an hour at noon, I’ll need energy, and time to digest. Okay, I need to finish lunch by 11, and I always give meals an hour. I don’t want to feel rushed during this time. Now, I’m at midday, so it’s almost time for my nap. That little gap is for a post-workout snack and shower (Sorry, I don’t schedule it in anymore so it’s missing from the image above). In the post-nap state, I find visualization exercises work best for me. And now you can see how the day starts to form. After my morning routine, I’m at my freshest. So I get into my Big task for that day. I created Big #1 as a repeat event of an hour. I’ll change the name of the task and modify time needed the night before when I decide what it will be.

7) Continue this process until much of your day is filled up with how YOU would like to spend it. Again, be real, that 2PM Zoom meeting with your boss, it stays. This step does not have to be done as part of your template as your days will change. Remember, now we are working around our anchors. But it should be the day before. 

I have my two templates. On Sundays when I review the week I start to plug in what I expect the days ahead will look like. As things come up, I add and adjust. The night before I fill in the complete picture. 

8) When you start, I’d actually recommend filling up your calendar completely. Every minute of your waking day. Even if it is just ‘Me Time’, ‘Break Time’ or ‘Watch Show X’’. As you progress, and as you see in mine, you can begin to leave some gaps to prevent the rushed feeling and anxiety a complete calendar can produce. But to start, we want to have a full vision of our ideal day. Also when you realize you are always late after lunch, you’ll learn to give yourself more time on lunch. At first, you will be shocked how often your expected times don’t match up. This is useful information to help you adjust accordingly.

With anchors I am trying to recreate structure that is missing. In fact, my week has an anchor. I let Sundays be a different type of day. I wouldn’t call it a day off per say. But a day to reflect, reset, recharge and retool.

As you can see I now do this in my Google Calendar. It even allows you to have desktop notifications. This can be useful as you get used to the renewed structure in your life. Pings to notify you when it’s time to move on. If you see yourself needing multiple template days. It might be easiest to do this in Excel or Google Sheets, if you choose this route let me know and I can send you the template I used. 

I hope this tool gives you back the control to turn the white winter weeks ahead into your own masterpiece. Be the artist of your days.

BIGS – My Most Reliable Productivity Tool

Do you do it? I bet you don’t. And if you do. Then, you deserve it. Deserve what? All the success that is and will continue coming to you. Take a moment to evaluate where you are – in whichever realm of life is important to you. Do you like what you see? Whatever your answer, look back. Because.

Your outcomes are a measure of your habits. Postponed.

I’m starting to see some success. I’m finding it easier to sit with the anxiety initiated through the pandemic. I have found creative ways to improve athlete performance from abroad. The athletes I have been working with are reaching new levels of notoriety in their leagues. My business has a solid framework for the spring ahead. Let’s look back. What have I been doing?


Every morning I know what my prioritized tasks for the day are. I call these my Bigs. Get them done and it’s a good day. Get them done consistently. And it’s magic.

I’ve modified my method over time. But here I will share how I do them now. My recipe for success if you will. This is just a guideline. As always, modify to taste.

The goal of Bigs is to start the day knowing, in order of priority, the tasks that must get done. I want three. With one starred as an absolute. The purpose is to separate my ‘must get done’ from my ‘like to get done’. I want to go into the day making sure I have planned out what will have the most impact – for me. I want to know this before I get to my email and texts, where the demands of others are stored. Without premeditation, others needs sneakily supersede your own. It’s a natural phenomenon. Protect it with a plan.

The goal is to get into the day with your Big 3 items listed. So how do we get there?

I suggest doing this the night before. I used to do it early in the morning. But now I like going to sleep knowing that my plan for a productive tomorrow is off my chest. As Julie Andrews sings “Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumber / When you wake up / WAKE UP.” With my list prepared, I can get into immediate action.

Write out your top six things you need to get done. Why six? Why not simply three? Most often the first three that pop up are simply top of mind or what remained unfinished at the end of your workday. This doesn’t mean they are significant. Each day is a new day. Keep going. Once you have six, look through the list and rank the top three. As you scan your list, keep a long term lens. Remember we are searching for the important. We are fighting the tendency to do the urgent.

In fact, here are my Bigs for today

Points worth mentioning:

·  My friend and the package I want to deliver came to mind first. Not urgent, somewhat important. It will get done. But this is why we go beyond the first three.
·  (3) This is my longer vision Big. Not urgent, but important to me.
·  (1) Not directly related to me. But very important for me to complete for my athlete. And time sensitive. This is why it got number one priority.
·  (2) The article is more or less complete and I want to get it out there. I made it a top priority big to make sure it gets done.
·  These next two are somewhat important. They can get done after completion of my Bigs. If not today, soon. But notice how easy it could have been getting caught up in researching the best facility or having a long catch up.

A note on big vision goals.

When you have a big scary project or goal. Break it down to next actions. What is an action you can complete that will have a significant impact towards it? You can’t complete your book tomorrow. But you can complete the initial draft of your next chapter. You can’t do the presentation that’s at the end of the month. But you can speak to your boss to gain clarity on what is expected of you.

Completing Your Bigs

We have our tasks with the top three prioritized. A quick note, I’m not against completing four, five and six. But be aware. These are the items most likely to distract you from completing your true Bigs.

I make one of my three Bigs specific to a larger time horizon than today. A small chip away at a larger opportunity, bigger project or habit adoption. My current priority as we prepare to come out of lockdown is to re-evaluate my morning routine. Specifically, my meditation. I’ll dabble with a new method recommended to me by a friend. Learning it now, so I can try it out and see if it works for me has an impact beyond today. Therefore, each day should have a big that relates to the progression of this trial.

Tracking Your Bigs Over Time

If something is on your Bigs list for three plus days. Look at it. Ask yourself why it’s not getting done?

There is a reason it’s not getting done:

·  It’s either not important. Remove it.

·  You don’t want to do it. Delegate it.

·  Or you are afraid of it. Make it number one.

Now, I write each days Bigs on a notecard. In the past, I recorded them together in a Google Doc. I recommend one document to begin because it allows you to see what is getting done and what you are carrying over. After two weeks, review. Look for items that always or never get completed. Search for the bigger themes in them. When I first started my Bigs for others always got done. While mine were inconsistent. Within my own, the basketball ones always got done. Other aspects remained inconsistent.

If you’re looking to increase productivity, accountability and impact give Bigs a try. When you do. Be warned. You’ll be surprised how often you don’t go 3/3 to start. But as you continue you’ll gain understanding. Transfer this understanding to momentum and you’ll get change.

Imagine your life if you complete your top three most important tasks each day. In a week, twenty one. A month, ninety. A year, over one thousand. Critical tasks completed. And as you cross off Bigs consistently there is a compounding effect. The nature of your tasks will evolve. The level of your daily Bigs will get, Bigger.

Let Go of Your Goals

The brutal and honest truth is that it doesn’t matter what your goals are. All that matters is what you do. If you want to live an accomplished life – let go of your goals.

A good goal is simply one that gets you to act. Many goals have the opposite effect:

  • Some goals are so large and scary that we don’t know where to begin and so we do nothing. 
  • Some goals are seeds which were planted by others, so they don’t help us live the life we truly want. 
  • Some goals are so far into the future that we can’t feel them, so we have no need to act now. 
  • Some goals lack specificity or intermediate steps, so we don’t know what actions to do. 
  • Some goals are easy and simple so we meet them, but brief completion is often a distraction from our true goals. 
  • Some goals gain you social approval, but approval does not compare to achievement.

I remember myself as a child loving Connect-the-Dots. A page with a bunch of dots, each labelled with a number above them. I would stare at the page not knowing what awaited me. But I was excited to begin and find out. I would put my pencil on 1 and continue to the next. The portrait of our life is created the exact same way. One dot, on to the next. Except, each dot is labelled ‘Now’.

For this reason I don’t care much for what you say your goals are. I care for what you are doing now to create your life.

Here are some goals I had until recently and how letting go benefited me.

I let go of my goal to coach in the NBA. I have relationships with people within the league but most were hierarchal. They were in and I was out. These people held my golden ticket. Once I let go of this goal when we spoke, it was just two people talking about hoops and life. A magical thing happened, the relationships became friendships. People want to work with their friends. I’m closer to working in the NBA now than ever before.

I let go of the goal to weigh less than 200 pounds. I stopped obsessing over how many hours I logged in the weight room. I no longer suffered the overuse injuries that were common when I hovered at 205. I saw that food was meant to nourish me, not just macro targets. What followed has been a sustained period of consistent activity and nutrition. I now weigh 190 and am the healthiest I have ever been.

I let go of the goal of dating. Initially, the indifference made me attractive. I was still meeting women. But with nothing on the line, there were no nerves. I now see the whole person, myself and the interplay between us. Some of what I learned about what I value surprised me. Eventually, I could decide to pick this goal back up with confidence that I’m better prepared.

I stopped keeping track of the number of books I completed per year. This allowed me to re-read old classics, take time to reflect on key points, and journal about ways that they could teach me. I now read more often and have learned to apply more.

I let go of my goal to be on the Canada Basketball Olympic staff for the 2028 Olympics. I took a step back and saw the Canadian Basketball landscape as it is now. Knowing this now, I am able to see where I best fit in and how I can grow in my role. I won’t be on staff for Tokyo 2021, but I will be involved.

I let go of my goal to learn how to code. I took the hours of frustration spent on my laptop and turned them into hours watching basketball film. I stayed on my laptop. But now I was excited about my work. I created film edits for players who I couldn’t get in the gym with. I improved my ability to teach virtually using film. I began to pick up micro details quicker.  

I’m closer to my mission. Any goals I let go off are closer to possibility if I choose to pick them back up.

Think through your goals. I suggest writing them all down. You will know to let go of some right as they come up. I suggest you write at least 30. This forces you to think beyond your automatic responses. Now, look at each goal. Ask: Is this goal mine? Does it belong here? Cross out any that don’t.

Go through the list again. Ask: Are you acting on this? If not, can you rewrite it in a way that will move you into action? If yes. How excited does it make you? Does it align you to your larger vision for yourself? If the answer is low for either of these, cross them off.

Let go of your goals. This will open up space for goals—dots of Nows that will thrill you. Get into action.

Hello World.

I don’t live a conventional life – I live in polarity. My strict morning routine lasts three hours. It consists of what I must get done. Calm mind, healthy body. Then I start my day. From this point on everything I do feels like play. This can be reading, film study, prompted reflection, imagining or simply getting bored. 

With this freedom. I explore the opposite. I ask questions of the unknown. I apply mental models across disciplines. I will make errors – we can examine them together. I love to change my mind and indulge in different perspectives. I hope my articles do the same for you.

In 2020, I have called four different cities home. In 2016 I took seven flights in six weeks to work with the elite players and coaches. This took me to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, St. Louis and Iowa. I’ll find the best wherever they are. This persistent pursuit is what led me to coach professional basketball overseas and build my professional clientele back home. 

My experience has been atypical. As I reflect through the recordings of my journal I recognized I needed a place to share my experiences, thoughts and the learnings that have resulted. That is this blog. Most success stories have the benefit of hindsight. Here, I will chronicle my thinking as it moulds. We’ll witness the failures and successes – but most important will be a glimpse into the process. Don’t be surprised to see different beliefs across time. Or even in the same article.

These days typically what’s on my mind is productivity, philosophy, pedagogy. I believe these three connect me back to my purpose – using passions to level up on the ‘Path of Mastery’.

I’d like this blog to be a conversation. Comments are encouraged. Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.