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Relationships are Not a Numbers Game

Sometimes, people tend to think of relationships, especially marriage, as a 50/50 effort or a business partnership. Instead of being flexible and willing to lean in more so here or there when meeting in the middle just isn’t happening, we tend to think, “You do your part, and I’ll do my part.” This rarely works, or endures for that matter. And when it doesn’t, we end up feeling let down or disappointed.

This 50/50 mindset isn’t a sound way to live as one, or both of you, at times will not be able to give 100 percent to the other. Life happens, dates get canceled, work trips come up and we aren’t perfect. Our numbers are skewed, and as a result we develop false expectations of both our spouse and ourselves. What if instead, we adopted a 100/100 model in which we each made the commitment to give all of ourselves to the other – without counting the cost?

In the 50/50 model, your chances of reaching a full 100 percent are less likely than with the 100/100 model as it leaves room for overlap if one (or both) of you is having a bad day. In order to have a happy, lasting relationship with someone who will endure the trials and tribulations of life, it’s important to be willing to give 100 percent to your spouse without reservation and expectations.

You can’t just give or take. It has to be both. The reason most marriages fail is because they are entered into with the mindset of a business partnership, in which each agrees to contribute part of themselves. A successful marriage begins with the commitment to give all you have and expect nothing in return.

If you love someone, you don’t count the cost, you just love them. This is not easy, but with humility, gratitude and sacrifice – which is love – you will gladly do it. Choose to give yourself because you believe it’s the right thing to do, not because you will get something back in return. If you are looking for a return on investment, go to the stock market, not to those you love. 
Wednesday, January 8, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||

Embrace Change Through Understanding its Process

Most of us don’t like change. We seem to like it even less if it means changing something about ourselves. We usually try to avoid change altogether because it will cost us something: time money, energy, comfort, or more. And even when we know deep down that it may be for the greater good, we still can’t help but cringe at the thought of change. 

But what happens when the game, or even a life or business situation, isn’t going your way? Most likely, if our current efforts aren’t working in the heat of a game, we change our plays to employ a new strategy. The same is helpful in all facets of life – if it’s not working, change it.

Similar to the philosophy behind Pascal’s Wager, either change and possibly win or do nothing and lose. By understanding the process of change while strengthening your will to overcome your resistance to it, you will minimize the pain and eliminate the procrastination that often stops you from changing when you know it’s for the best. Here’s a roadmap on the process of change from “Less Than A Minute To Go”:

* Fear and anxiety: Change begins in your mind, but how does your mind do it? What enables your mind to figure things out and take the proper action? The first steps we take toward change often involve trying something new. Sometimes, we struggle with fear, in this case an emotion based on the false belief that something bad or uncomfortable is going to result from change. This is the reason for our resistance, or even the decision to stop change from happening entirely. This is why knowledge and reason are helpful.

* Knowledge and reason: Knowledge is simply the mental process of being aware of something and comparing or connecting it to something else. Reason is how you make good use of what you know. It enables you to infer and arrive at a sound conclusion by seeing the connection between one premise and another that you already know to be true. With these two components, you are prepared to act – “I know what it takes: this is reasonable. It’s safe. I can do this. I will do this.”

* The will to pursue: Even if you’re willing to enter the uncarted waters of change, it doesn’t mean it will be easy. When you are faced with an endless stream of negative thoughts, it’s not the one drop of water that gets you soaked, but rather the sudden downpour of a million droplets. In the same way, it’s not the one negative thought that holds you back so much as the endless harangue. The answer – exercise your will to pursue and persevere positive change.

No matter how difficult the circumstance, if you have the knowledge of what is objectively true, use your reason to make good use of what you know and exercise your will to put reason into action. It begins with the first small step, and then the next, and the next, and so on until you are doing what you know is true and right. If negative thoughts creep in along the way that preoccupy and distract you, remember who’s in charge and don’t sign for them.

Monday, December 23, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

The Cost of the Super Bowl Leads to a Conversation on Virtue

Super Bowl XLVIII will cost approximately $70 million. When viewing sports through the lens of history – originating in the form of competitive play – it’s amazing how over time we have structured play into an industry garnering billions of dollars each year.  

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Is spending an exorbitant amount of money on “elevated play” somehow erroneous? Do we need to readjust our perspective? I recently discussed these topics with Drew Mariani of The Drew Mariani Show, using the business world (among other topics) as an analogy. The podcast in its entirety can be found here, with our discussion beginning halfway through (minute 29).

We like to be the best of the best in all we do, and with that comes the desire to watch the best of the best perform at top levels. In business, athletics and life – we keep an eye on the experts because their talent and precision is intriguing. The difference with sports, however, is that we are willing to pay to watch other people play and showcase their skills. And as a result, a 30-second commercial spot during the Super Bowl now goes for $4.5 million.

While spending millions to produce and promote a single football game is undoubtedly a large amount of money, it will likely generate billions in economic impact for memorabilia, food, tickets, parking, lodging, and the like. Still, the bottom line is that the reason why these numbers are so high is because we are willing to pay for and endorse the experience. 

Some people argue that professional athletes are paid too much money. But, in reality – just like in business – it’s all about supply and demand. If someone is highly skilled and good at what they do consistently, such as Drew Bees of the New Orleans Saints, the highest paid NFL quarterback, he can demand more. And it is often those who earn the most who are the most generous. They recognize their responsibility to be good stewards of what they have received and gladly share it by giving back in forms of volunteerism, service or financial generosity.

Drew Mariani raises an interesting point when he says that paying people more – athletes or employees, alike – creates incentives to do better and perform at higher levels. If everyone within your organization received the same pay, there would be little motivation to produce higher quality work and go above and beyond for the betterment of the company. (Except for an exceptional few, but that’s another topic for another day.) Why should I break my back when my coworker isn’t performing and we are awarded the same?

In athletics, or even among the most successful businesspeople today, there lies a common misconception that world-class performance and living a life of virtue are at odds with each other. There are many examples to lead us down that path of thinking unfortunately. Interestingly though, many of the methods used to become a great athlete are the same methods used to become a virtuous person. There is wisdom to be gained from sports, regardless of whether or not you play.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

Focusing in Detail

Peak performances are possible, and they happen every day. You are capable of experiencing them more often than you think. Think in terms of detail – the more you try to see, the more absorbed you become. It is the secret of performing “in the zone.”

Human beings can do incredible things – make headline-worthy plays, solve the most complex mathematic equations, come up with the most leading-edge business innovations – the list goes on. But, for some reason, we have a hard time tapping into our full potential outside of extraordinary circumstances. And yet, it’s possible.

One of the keys to reproducing your peak performance is in seeing detail. The more task-related detail that you focus on during any performance, the more absorbed you will become in the moment. Albert Einstein probably wasn’t multitasking when he proposed the general theory of relatively. More realistically, he was undoubtedly so invested and focused in his work that it was his total consumption in it that lead to his discovery. That is what makes peak performances possible.

As outlined in this TIME magazine piece, Stanford researcher, Clifford Nass, challenged 262 college students to complete experiments that involved switching among tasks, filtering irrelevant information and using working memory. The expectation was that frequent multitaskers would outperform non-multitaskers on at least some of these activities. But, the opposite was true and even worse: only one of the experiments actually involved multitasking, signaling that even when focusing on a single activity, frequent multitaskers use their brains less effectively.

Multitasking is not a strength; being in the “zone” requires your full attention, not segments of it here or there. In a sense there is no such thing as multi-tasking. Someone who is a good “multi-tasker” is someone who is really exceptional at quickly shifting their focus to a different task but still seeing each one in great detail. The degree to which you improve your ability to focus on the details of the task at hand is the degree to which you will ultimately improve the quality of your performances.

One hundred percent. That’s it. You can’t give 110 percent. There is no secret slice under the pie. Using 100 percent of your attention to focus on the task at hand, only on the things that are involved with what you are currently doing, guarantees that you will perform at your best in each present moment for the rest of your life. The good news is that there is more – much more – for you to learn that will dramatically improve all that you do.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

Striving for Excellence and Virtue On and Off Campus

The following is an excerpt of Dr. Thierfelder’s interview with the National Catholic Register. The article, “Raising the Bar in Every Area of Life,” shares insights on pursing virtue, the state of Catholic higher education and lessons learned from Dr. Thierfelder’s new book, “Less Than A Minute To Go: The Secret to World-Class Performance in Sport, Business and Everyday Life.”

The full article may be found here.

Striving for Excellence and Virtue On and Off Campus

As a two-time NCAA Division I All-American and National Champion high jumper, Bill Thierfelder had long been accustomed to raising the bar in a literal sense.

Now, he does so in a metaphorical way by promoting excellence and virtue in every aspect of life. In fact, each light post at Belmont Abbey College is adorned with a banner reading “Excellence & Virtue,” serving as a reminder of what every member of the Belmont Abbey community is called to embody.

Thierfelder has frequently spoken about his insights into a virtuous life in classrooms, boardrooms, meeting halls and training facilities across the country.

Now, for the first time, he is imparting this knowledge through a book, from TAN/St. Benedict Press, called Less Than a Minute to Go: The Secret to World-Class Performance in Sport, Business and Everyday Life. He recently spoke with the Register about his new book, pursuing virtue and the state of Catholic higher education.

Why did you write your new book, Less Than a Minute to Go?

That’s a great question, since I really had no time to write it, and I have never considered myself a writer. Being president of a college is almost a 24/7 job, and my wife, Mary, and I have 10 children, so spare chunks of time are few and far between. (We are still praying for the gift of bilocation!) Add to that the fact that I’d never written a book before, and you’re talking to one of the least likely candidates for the job.

I never thought I’d write a book, but friends would encourage me to get one out. They wanted me to share, in a written format, some of the insights I’d gained over the years. I can’t claim any credit for those insights; that credit goes to the Holy Spirit. However, I did see the validity of my friends’ point. A book would be a great way to reach beyond the immediate Belmont Abbey community to share great things with others.

I knew if I wrote a book that I would donate all of the royalties to Belmont Abbey College. The final validation for writing the book came when St. Benedict Press asked me to write it and then offered to donate all of their profits from the book to the college. Unlike larger schools, we have a very small endowment with which to support our operations, so the opportunity to bring in funds for the school was an important consideration. Not only would I be able to share helpful insights and techniques with others in a new way, but I would at the same time be able to help support the college.

It was a sometimes arduous path, as I often stayed up until 3am writing. Then, on what was supposed to be our family vacation, I wrote all day and night. Without the encouragement and editorial advice of my entire family, including my 6-year-old, Matthew, it would not have been possible. In fact, by making it a family affair, it brought us even closer together.

The book isn’t only for athletes, is it?

The book is filled with examples of how athletes from various sports perform at the highest levels, but it shows how anyone, at any level, can significantly improve their performance. On the deepest level, it is also a book about how to be truly happy in this life and the next. The book shows how world-class performance and virtue are not mutually exclusive and why we will be most successful and happy when pursuing both.

Sport is a wonderful metaphor for illustrating how virtues are developed and strengthened over time. It provides an environment that can reveal insights about how our bodies, minds and souls work. While the book may be a great aid to anyone looking to improve athletic performance, it also offers tips and advice for improving other areas of life.

The first section of the book, [about] preparing the mind to win, helps us to see ourselves and others more clearly and avoid the ways of thinking that can hurt our performances. The second section, [focusing on] making peak performance a common occurrence, shows how and why peak performances happen. The third and final section, [on] playing with a passion that never ends, shows how sacrifice is essential to our success and happiness in this life and the next.

A recurring theme of the book is that, ultimately, what we do is far more important than what we say. We hope people’s words will match their actions; but in the end, the way you really know them is by what they did, not by what they said. Having given us life and free will, God is essentially asking us, “Do you love me?” Our response to that question comes forth very clearly by the way we choose to live our lives.     

Thursday, November 21, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

Abbey Players present "Freud's Last Session"

cs lewis_freudThe Abbey Players present Freud’s Last Session directed by Simon Donoghue. Freud’s Last Session centers on legendary psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud who invites the young, rising Oxford Don C.S. Lewis to his home in London. On the day England enters World War Two, Freud and Lewis clash about love, sex, the existence of God, and the meaning of life, just weeks before Freud took his own life. Freud’s Last Session is a deeply touching play filled with humor and exploring the minds, hearts and souls of two brilliant men addressing the greatest questions of all time. Written by Mark St. Germain.

It will run at the Haid Theatre of Belmont Abbey College November 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23.

Purchase tickets here: Nov 14 | Nov 15 | Nov 16 | Nov 21 | Nov 22 | Nov 23


Acclaim for  Freud’s Last Session

“Delightful! A brainy fencing match of Olympic caliber.” —Bloomberg News

“It’s a sharp, lively discourse, and audience members searching for engaging debate will be pleased…Mark St. Germain’s script is astute, and the humor is plentiful.” —NY Times

“A gem…great theatre…intellectually thrilling with both humor and insight in abundance…the kind of nuance that breathes life into history.” —NY 1

“…lively, plausible and provocative…dynamic, often comical.” —The Associated Press

“Riveting theatre! In Freud’s Last Session, Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis engage in a battle of wits that is exciting and thought-provoking…their extraordinary debate comes alive [in] Mark St. Germain’s crisp, carefully calibrated script. Freud’s Last Session is a theatrical and intellectual delight.” —Huffington Post

“…a juicy intellectual debate between two great minds…food for thought.” —NY Post

“The play takes on an irresistible intensity.” —

“Bracing theater! Intractably analytical and amusingly conversational…wittily and compassionately dramatized clash of personalities and ideologies.” —CurtainUp

Monday, November 11, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

2013 Fall Sports Preview

This fall, the Belmont Abbey College Crusaders are looking to add to the ever growing collection of Conference Carolinas championship banners hanging in the Wheeler Center. Last fall, both Women’s Soccer and Women’s Volleyball won their respective conference championships in stunning fashion (and Men’s Basketball won in the spring), and this season they are looking to repeat that success. Men’s Soccer also hopes to join the ladies when they take to the field and make a run at turning losses into wins.

2012 Women's Soccer championship

Women’s Soccer

There is no reason why the Women’s Soccer team should not be able to make it to the conference championship rounds this season. Last year, the Lady Crusaders made their sixth NCAA tournament appearance, their third in the last four years. This season’s squad returns eight starters that were part of last year’s championship team and includes fourteen new freshmen. The team’s fitness training and successful preseason could foreshadow a winning season.

Things are going “better than last year,” Coach Lynch said. “The team came into camp at a good fitness level; a testament to their desire to achieve our goals again this year. These goals include graduating leaders of virtue and excellence, dominating and winning the Conference Carolinas, and advancing at the NCAA Tournament.”

When Coach Lynch was asked what the team’s weakness was this season, he responded, “Our defending back line as we graduated three of the four in the back (Alana Ryzcek, Kristin Foster, Kiera Woerner, all four year starters). Their shoes are big ones to fill. However, I am confident we will find a few players ready and able to step in.”

In September, the ladies faced another very tough non-conference schedule against top-ranked teams in the region including Tusculum, Newberry, Lees-McRae and Pfeiffer. These teams “certainly show us where we need to keep working,” said Coach Lynch.

Men’s Soccer

According to Coach Keating, the Men’s Soccer team has no weaknesses, but rather, “only under-developed strengths. Our biggest goal is to infuse the program with a culture built around our 15 core values. Everything must flow from that.” Abbey sports teams have many great values, making cheering for them that much more rewarding. Some of the values that our Men’s Soccer team focuses upon include selflessness, classiness, respect, humility, resilience and perspective.

Women’s Volleyball

The Women’s Volleyball team is also looking for a repeat Conference Carolinas championship with several strong players returning and a full list of solid, fresh players joining the team as well. Head Coach DeJute said that this intensive number of new pla2012 Women's Volleyball championshipyers, thirteen freshmen in all, will be a weakness on which the team will need to work.

Victoria Jensen, a senior Elementary Education major, was part of the conference championship team last season. “This year,” she said, “we are building chemistry on and off the court with our new freshman. They are an awesome group of girls and have so much energy and passion for volleyball.” When asked what challenges the team faced at the start of the season, Jensen responded, “[They] include getting back into the habit of morning practices (which preseason prepared us for) and needing to bond quickly with all of our new teammates, which has been going really well!”

Women’s Cross Country

The Women’s Cross Country team will be looking to improve on last year’s fifth place finish at the Conference Carolinas meet, as well as working to be a top twelve team at regionals. Last fall, the team placed seventeenth in the regional meet, which included ten schools in the conference and thirty-four in the region.

The team is led by sophomore Lucy Schmitz and senior Ally Craven. Both girls are returning All-Conference runners, and Craven was All-Regional last Fall. Schmitz and Craven, along with sophomores Brianna Mosby and Kaitlin Howard and freshmen Elena Fea and Marilyn Guevara, are projected to be the top five runners for the ladies this fall, according to Coach De Witt.

Schmitz developed into the second-best freshman distance runner in Division II last spring with her school record performance in the 10,000m run. She was also the only Division II freshman 5,000m runner to qualify for the USA National Under-20 Championships held in Des Moines, IA over the summer.

Men’s Cross Country

Like the ladies, the men are also looking to improve their previous success by advancing up the ranks in the conference and in the region. They hope to be in the top five for the region. To achieve this goal they will be working closely with the top two programs in the conference and region, King’s and Mt. Olive. Last fall, the Men’s Cross Country team was third out of nine in the conference and eighth out of thirty-three in the region. Last season was the first time the team ranked and placed in the top ten of the region since joining Division II.

All-Conference performers senior Tim Gill (also a returning All-Regional runner) and sophomore Ryan Caulley hope to lead the team to a successful season. Gill and Caulley, along with seniors Dustin Stewart, Frank Spicer and Mike Rogers and sophomore Dave Iverson, are forecasted to be the top six runners this fall.

“In cross country, the goal is to run your best individual races,” said Coach De Witt, “which contributes to the team performance at the most important meets. I consider all of the other meets as practice for the regional meet at the least and the national meet as the goal. We do not gear our training to be at our best for the [conference] meet; it is just the final meet in the progress to be ready for regionals.”


For more information, including live stats, please visit the Abbey Athletics’ website at

Sunday, November 10, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

Belmont Rail Trail Coming Soon

For those students who have yet to find that one perfect running route or those who avoid the spider web overhangs and debris lining the railroad tracks when walking to downtown Belmont, help is on the way! This summer, Governor Pat McCrory signed official approval for the “Belmont Rail Trail,” yet another step for the long-awaited running and biking trail that will make its start at Belmont Abbey College.


Photo courtesy of Anthony Wyatt

For those students who have yet to find that one perfect running route or those who avoid the spider web overhangs and debris lining the railroad tracks when walking to downtown Belmont, help is on the way! This summer, Governor Pat McCrory signed official approval for the “Belmont Rail Trail,” yet another step for the long-awaited running and biking trail that will make its start at Belmont Abbey College.

The trail, a ten-foot-wide greenway that will run alongside the unused railroad track that spans from North Belmont to Belmont Abbey College, will allow students a safe and scenic route to their favorite downtown shops and restaurants, another way to get to classes at the Sacred Heart campus, or simply a fresh route for early morning runs. It is still currently unknown when the trail will be completed, but significant progress is currently being made. The trail will likely be completed within two years.

The “Rail Trail” project has been in the planning stages since 2011, but has recently experienced delays. According to Adrian Miller, the Belmont Assistant City Manager for Community Services, “[The trail] has been pushed back a bit due to an unexpected need to ask for special state legislation for the project by the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA). The NCGA approved a bill to allow us to build the greenway in the NCDOT railroad easement as long as we received approval form the owners of the property on which the railroad easement exists.” With special assistance from Gaston representatives Senator Kathy Harrington and Representative John Torbett, the bill was approved unanimously in the NCGA before receiving final approval from Governor McCrory in June. The project now lies within the hands of Belmont residents. Local property owners who would be affected by the trail will be consulted by the city council at a public meeting (the date of which has yet to be determined, but will likely be within the year).

The Belmont Rail Trail will become a new piece of the “Carolina Thread Trail,” a landmark project devoted to establishing and protecting North Carolina’s natural areas in the hopes of explorative, scientific, cultural and historical progress. As such, special funding from the Thread Trail will be gifted to the Rail Trail to help cover the costs associated with planning and land development. With funding, state approval and likely support from Belmont residents, the Belmont Rail Trail finally shows signs of coming to fruition despite years of setbacks.

By: Kevin Miller for The Crusader Online, Student newspaper of Belmont Abbey College

September 20, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||


Tuesday, September 10, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

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Thursday, November 29, 2012|Categories: Uncategorized||