A common question I receive is what are the variables commonly associated with athletic success? My immediate response is quite simple, yet very important — successful athletes typically want it more than the competition. Note, “wanting it more” has little to do with being more naturally gifted and talented, but everything to do with motivation, perseverance, focus, and resiliency (otherwise known as “mental toughness”).
In my experience I have personally witnessed many great athletes — and people — simply outwork the competition. In these cases failure is not an option, and they not only hope for success they expect it. The great ones are the first ones to arrive at practice and the last ones to leave.
We live in a world today where it’s a lot easier and more comfortable to simply point outward as to why we aren’t as good as the competition — “he’s stronger, she’s faster, and those kids have parents that buy them their success.” While it is true there are some people who have distinct advantages over us, those advantages are usually not enough to beat the athlete (or person) who simply wants it more. What I mean is that conviction, belief, and perseverance “levels the playing field” and in most cases washes out many of the anxieties we have when faced with competing against other, seemingly more talented athletes.
The good news is that we are all able to discover things about ourselves that prompt us to “want it more,” and that motivation is something that can be developed and improved upon. This message is especially powerful for kids to learn early in their lives, as it is in the very moment where they see the light and realize their future success is a product of their own thinking that they then can begin taking confident steps toward reaching their goals.
Success is not easy, but it is very possible. The first step to success is eliminating negative thinking and easy, built-in excuses that come in the way of conceding to others and their assumed advantages while minimizing our own power of belief. Sports provides us countless examples of athletes who have overcome the greatest of odds, and kids can gain great inspiration by learning these stories — for example, former Major League Baseball pitcher Jim Abbott had a terrific career only having one hand, while Derrick Coleman of the Seattle Seahawks plays in the NFL even though he is deaf. There are countless “Rudy” stories out there if we look for them; but even more importantly we must inspire kids to embrace these success stories so they may one day enjoy their own success through the inspiration they gain.