How do you compete, with question marks or exclamation points? – Motivation by Mark Schwab

Competing with question marks is competing with uncertainty. Sometimes you will compete with doubt and you can still prevail, but too many question marks limit and diminish your effectiveness.

Competing with question marks is delay and hesitation. Don’t ask for permission when you train or compete. You’re stacking the deck against you. You would never knowingly or intentionally impair your potential but we all do. So what can you do to call off an “iffy” mindset? Start with awareness of your mindset and make a firm unwavering decision to compete with exclamation points!!! I’m not suggesting being reckless. I’m advocating competition authority. Make some noise!

About Mark SchwabRegardless of your nature, when it’s time to compete, jump into your mental phone booth and emerge as Superman – change your clothes and change your mind – mild off the mat, fierce on the mat.

Competing with exclamation points places your opponents on notice. This is a sign of certainty. You don’t ask for consent, this would soften your influence. Your story and declaration is planting exclamation points on your performance. You have intensity, emotion, and volume but remain composed and definite regardless of the elements. You always stay in command. You compete with exclamation points and as one Latin theory suggests, exclamation marks indicate joy! How much better can it get than to be effective and experience joy?

When you compete with exclamation points, you’ll extract impressive mental mileage.

In the beginning, it doesn’t matter how you feel. The feelings will catch up as you engage. Defy and ignore the initial resistance. Take the action – unite – behavior is the pot of gold. The behavior is where you go into the phone booth and emerge as Superman. Behavior is what gets it done. The feelings will accompany at some point. Nothing will happen, change, or improve without you engaging and when you employ, it’s with exclamation points! vs. question marks?

Competing with exclamation points sends a clear message. You don’t waiver! You compete with influence, authority, and say-so. You have the first and last word. Open and shut, rain or shine, you compete with authority and sow an exclamation point on your performance! You have conviction when you compete. Bang!

Prepare, communicate, and compete with the same authority you sign your name. There’s no thought at all. You sign with authority and certainty. You’re fluent, natural, and apply an exclamation point for emphasis!

When the whistle blows – make contact with authority, attack with force, defend with rule, explode off bottom with command, and ride with domination. Plant an exclamation point on your finish! Leave exclamation points on your performance! Leave no doubt!

I’m for being mindful over reckless as a competitor. I lean towards basics and semi-conservative but hesitation is ineffective and will often get you in more trouble than doing nothing at all. If you’re going to compete, then put an exclamation point on your assault, contacts, and performance. Exclamation points have influence and persuasion essentials that drastically tilt the scale in your favor.

Mark Schwab is an assistant coach at the University of Northern Iowa. Previously he spent nine years as assistant coach at the University of Minnesota, helping the program to seven top-three team finishes at the NCAA Championships and two NCAA team titles. As a wrestler, Schwab was an All-American for the University of Northern Iowa during the late 1980s. Schwab earned his bachelor’s degree in 1990 from the University of Northern Iowa and his master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 2003. Schwab returned to the University of Minnesota to get a second emphasis in sport psychology on his existing master’s and completed that in 2010. Email Mark at

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