James Swan

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“….Triumph and Disaster…..”





“These very famous words from the poem “IF” by Rudyard Kipling can help you learn to become a consistent peak performer under pressure. Most athletes get far too hung up on winning and/or a fear of losing. However, when you go into any performance with this kind of “outcome focus” you will inadvertently set yourself up to fail over and over again.


As I’ve said many times, an outcome focus before or during a performance, (i.e. winning, losing, worrying about an opponent, what’s at stake or making a mistake) will put your concentration in the wrong place, send your nervousness into the red zone, tighten your muscles and insure that your performance will be a mere shadow of your potential.


As Kipling puts it, winning and losing, or triumph and disaster are really nothing more than two impostors! Their “song” is like that of the Sirens in Greek mythology. Listening to them would always lead to death and destruction.”  (from the website Competitive Advantage)


This quote is a favorite.  I think of it often and have revisited it and its meaning repeatedly over the last few days.  Along with notes from friends these words have been lifesavers, keeping me afloat and for both I am grateful.


If I were to adopt an “outcome focus” today I might try listing here all the things I can and will do to right past wrongs and honor commitments made.  But as the above post’s author suggests I would be setting myself up to fail.


Rather, I’m taking the advice shared with me by three different friends in three separate communications yesterday.  Each said the same five words.  These five words have become my new performance focus and will motivate, inform and energize every move I make:


Do the next right thing.

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About the author, James

With the launch of the new podcast, Million Dollar Decorating, James Swan adds media-host to his career accomplishments. The interview-based show becomes the first daily podcast devoted to the worlds of design, decorating and beautiful living and features interviews with the world’s leading designers, decorators, architects and artisans. Life-style leaders like Robert Couturier, Sandra Nunnerly, Vicente Wolf and Timothy Corrigan populate the podcast where unguarded conversations reveal behind-the-scenes sources of inspiration, resources and stories that inspire and motivate.
James Swan has built a career crafting classically influenced interiors across the United States. Swan has been featured in House & Garden, House Beautiful, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune and wrote for the “Trends & Shopping” column in House & Garden magazine. His book “101 Things I Hate About Your House” won a 2011 American Bookseller’s Award.
Television appearances on HGTV’s “Homes Across America,” speaking engagements with the professional design industry association NEOCON, regular guest spots on national radio programs have consistently placed Swan in the media spotlight.
Swan’s career took off back in Northern California at a noted San Francisco architecture firm, where he managed residential interiors. After that, Los Angeles beckoned, specifically the prestigious design firm of Frank K. Pennino & Associates, where as senior designer he managed high-profile projects, and earned a reputation for refined classical design that succinctly reflected his clients’ lives. In 1999, Swan opened his own firm in Beverly Hills.
Swan has a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology and music from Southwestern College in Waxahachie, Texas, and studied in Arizona State University's Architecture and Design master's degree program.
Swan is a past member of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, serving on its Executive Board of Directors. His other commitments include PAWS/LA, which assists with the care of pets for people living with disabilities, and KidSmart, an art education foundation for inner-city youth. In his free time, Swan may be found furthering his passion for skiing and traveling. Currently he lives and works from his home on the Maine coast.