We all watch athletes as they excel in their various sport. We are inspired and intrigued by their skills, talents, and their athletic ability. Athletes are to be admired. Athletes work hard and their hard work pays off. Champion athletes demonstrate skill that is to be admired and respected.
A champion athlete is a champion because they excel, champions win! Although athletes win because of their physical and technical skills, athletes become champions because they demonstrate behaviors and thinking that propel them to success. Perhaps you do not have the genetic and physical attributes to play and win like a champion, but I can guarantee you can have the ability to think and act like one.
- Champion athletes think they can! An athlete does not enter a situation thinking they will fail. In fact thinking that you will fail will lead to failure. Research tells us that what the brain wants to think the same thing as the body. If your mind is telling you you cannot do something, your body will not perform (Wachtel, 2001).
To think like a champion you must eliminate “can not” from your vocabulary.
- Champions practice. A champion athlete does not become the master of their sport from the moment they show up for their first practice. An elite athlete becomes a champion because they practice. Generally the winning athlete is the one putting in more time and more hours perfecting their craft. If you want to be a champion you need to practice. You will not ace your test without some studying (unless you are one of the few true geniuses out there). You will not lose weight unless you put in the daily effort to practice diet changes and physical activity.
To be a champion you must work daily to pursue your goal.
- Champion athletes work hard. Not only do champions put in extra work but when they work they give their all. You can train like a champion when you decide to give your task your full attention. Eliminate distractions. If you are seeking to train harder in your physical activity train in an environment where you can focus on your exercises. If possible obtain child care or workout when children are preoccupied so you have time to focus on yourself. Most gyms provide child care so that you can have “you” time. Wear headphones and listen to a book, show, or music to eliminate distractions.
This does not apply to just physical fitness but to any goal. If you want to succeed you need to be present, open, and available to improve your task. Research supports that paying attention will improve performance and will help you remember better, work better, and perfect your skill (Lopez-Vicente, Sunyer, Forns, Torrent, & Julvez, 2014).
To be a champion eliminate distractions and focus on the activity in the moment.
- Champions have goals. An athlete that wins has a goal, to win. Perhaps they want to win a gold medal, a trophy, or improve their personal best time. Whatever their goal, they work to make progress toward that goal. Champions know what they are working toward.
To be a champion define your goals, write them down, and keep it where you can see it.
- Champion athletes rarely work alone. In fact the most successful have a coach by their side. This support challenges them, encourages them, and guides them. A coach leads the way to success.
To be a champion have a coach or a person that is motivating you and encouraging you.
- Not only do athletes have a coach but most have a mentor, someone to look up to, and someone that can teach the athlete how to be successful. Ask any successful person who they looked up to and they will name another successful person in their field.
Be happy for the success of others. Seeing others succeed is the information we need to know that it can be achieved. Others success is your reminder that your goal is realistic and possible. Use others success to motivate, inspire, and teach you how to be successful.
To be a champion, find a mentor. Find a person that is doing what you want to be doing and seek their guidance and advice.
- In addition to having a mentor and a coach, champions accept feedback and follow direction. The athlete is successful because they follow the steps of the leaders before them. They understand that their coach and/or mentor knows what it takes to be successful and they are wiling to follow their direction.
Following direction can be a challenge, particularly when we want to do things our own way. You can be creative with the advice you are given and it is OK to apply your own unique twist. However to be successful you must listen and accept advice from others. If you want to lose weight you will need to change your diet and you will need to increase physical activity. If you want to be promoted at your job you will need to follow the direction of your supervisor.
To be a champion accept that it is sometimes OK to follow.
- Champion athletes study their craft and their skill. Elite athletes will not only practice their physical skills but they work to strengthen and improve their mental ability too. They observe, read, memorize, and learn the rules, the expectations, and even trends. Having a strong mind that is aware and knowledgable of the skill will help the athlete perform better.
To be a champion do not be afraid to learn. Study your skill. Read research, blogs, and magazines. Things change all the time. You can stay on top on of your game when your mind is mentally sharp.
- Champion athletes love and honor their bodies. Athletes respect their body is the reason they are successful. They see their body as a machine that works perfectly with proper care, nutrition, movement, and rest. If the athlete does not care for their body sufficiently their skill and performance will decline.
To be a champion love and respect your body.
This can start now! Thank your body for waking you up today. Thank you body for allowing you to breathe and think. Honor your body for the ability to move with little effort. I understand people have illness, injury, and disability that limits their movement, but the body still functions on the inside without little effort of your mind. Your body is so awesome it can work and allow your brain and your soul to love others, have fun, and seek fulfillment. Thank your body for allowing you to enjoy life.
Research suggests that athletes have different thinking, behavior, and motivation and it as a result they find success. You may not have the physical skill of a champion athlete, but you can think and act like one. The tools discussed above can be learned by anyone; truly, we are all champions inside.
Lopez-Vicente, M., Sunyer, J., Forns, J., Torrent, M., & Julvez, J. (2014). Continuous performance test II outcomes in 11-year-old children with early ADHD symptoms: A longitudinal study. Neuropsychology, 28(2), 202-211.
Wachtel, B. (2001). The language of becoming: Helping children change how they think of themselves. Family Process, 40(4), 369-384.