Almost everyone is interested in winning championships. It’s a special feeling to realize that type of dream. I’ve done it several times in my playing and coaching careers. The most important thing about winning championships is that you cannot focus on getting the trophy. The trophy is merely a symbol and what it represents is far more important than the metal, wood and plastic. The symbol represents the willingness to prepare on a higher level than most and the fortitude to put a performance on the field at the key moments. In all of the championships that I’ve won, I’ve never been conflicted about winning even though I know that in most cases we were not the “best team”. We were just the best team on that particular day. That is nothing to be concerned by. Managing the moment is just as important as high level preparation but let’s begin with preparation.
To prepare for a championship run, an individual or team needs to put themselves through more than they think they will encounter. A projection must be made about what a championship performance would look like. Then preparation must be done to endure that and more. Working backward from the projected championship, the road should be broken into sections. Perhaps months or weeks, those chunks of time should have a goal or marker. Each one of those periods then needs to be broken down to the daily. Then broken down again into the hourly. Then broken down again to the moment. When you get your preparation down to the moment level, you’ll need to develop your ethos or principles. You most likely won’t want to script your actions down to the moment but as you look at all that is in front of you, what are the beliefs and mindset that will aid you and propel you toward your championship run. Before you can become a champion, you need to think like a champion. Not about the person who has won the trophy but rather the person capable of winning on every single occasion. Developing a belief system that will spur you on at the difficult times. That will keep you grounded when success comes your way. These “commandments” do not come down from a higher power but come from you and what you value most. Just recognize that these beliefs need to be in line with the level of your ambition. Leading with belief is key to any grand success. Chasing an unknown future requires a belief so strong that it will not be broken by the mundane or the difficult. Every day something will be required in your pursuit that you will not want to do. Doing those things in spite of your feelings is a key indicator to whether or not you’ll make it. Oh yeah! That’s the gamble! You need to be willing to do all of this work with the knowledge that you might fail. It’s possible that you’ll put in all of the work, prepare to your utmost and still come up short. Can you live with that? I often jokingly say to groups “When the going gets tough, give up!” For some people, actually quite possibly most people, this is the perfect advice for what they want. They don’t want things to be hard. So giving up is the perfect answer to their problem. Don’t do the hard things, only do enough to meet the most minimum requirements. Talk is cheap and doesn’t get you very far (ironic coming from someone who make a living giving speeches). The statement is true however. Words can be powerful but they will always come up short in propelling you forward without some form of action. So take those beliefs and hone them, develop them. “I quit when the reps are done, not when they hurt.” These little types of statements will calcify your belief system if they are repeated over and over then followed up with action. A statement like the one above means nothing coming from someone perched on a couch watching Netflix. It means something from the person drenched in sweat and gasping for air.
Your championship level is also something that you should consider. Perhaps your championship is not a championship at all at the moment. Perhaps it’s winning one game or scoring a goal. The idea is not the trophy or the position in a ranking but more about who you become as a person or group. The moment will fade. The memory may not even be permanent but the person that you become from the experience will move forward into the world better prepared to take future steps.