A champion is someone who has character and class regardless of circumstances. Although we tend to think of champions as people who win in terms of score, results or hitting some empirical mark, the true measure of a champion is someone who cares more about how they play the game than what the final score is at the end.
This mindset is not an excuse to lose, an okay to quit or a pass to procrastinate. Rather it's a challenge to demand more from yourself as you compete. Are you purely focused on the results you're getting in life? Or are you focused on the processes you use to play the game?
Focusing solely on results creates a pressure that causes people to compromise their judgment, make poor decisions and induce stress. When you garner your self-worth from the size of the deal you closed, the number of pounds that you lost, the final number on the scoreboard or how much money you have in your bank account, you start to think about the wrong things.
When we allow our results to dictate how we feel then we are in a constant and never-ending roller coaster ride that ebbs and flows with the seasons of life. When things are up, we feel unstoppable and then we forget that the rules still apply to us -- ask Tiger Woods or Bernie Madoff. When all we care about is "winning" we develop a radical commitment to do whatever it takes that costs us way more in the long run -- ask Lance Armstrong.
I'm not better than these people. I've had some of the same compulsions cross my mind as I've experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows that business, money, and success have to offer. The problem with focusing on results though is that they never sustain and they never satisfy. Our drive is never quenched and we are constantly chasing better, faster and more. Eventually, we lose sight of what we can control and we lose perspective on what matters most.
What is different about a champion's character?
They put their self-esteem into their work habits rather than their production.
A champion has a relentless and unconditional commitment to being the best they can be rather than focusing only on beating everyone else. Their battle is faced inwardly instead of outwardly. Their fight is directed at things that are in their control rather than beyond their control.
The champion isn't constantly comparing himself to everyone else. He is constantly competing with himself to be better than he was the day before. He is requiring that he work harder today than he did yesterday. He understands that any commitment he makes today has to also be reinforced tomorrow.
I'm no Alabama fan, but I loved what head coach of the National Championship Crimson Tide, Nick Saban, said in his post-game interview: "We celebrate rarely, we grind daily."
The secret of champions is they know that if they focus on the work, if they focus on the grind, then the results will happen naturally as the byproduct! So the champion prides himself on the effort that was expended, not the results that were tallied. A champion controls what is controllable and lets the rest shake out as it may.
So, are you doing your best? Are you doing every single thing in your power to achieve what you said you wanted? Are you worrying about what you can't do, or focusing on what you can do? If you are, then you're a champion. If you're not, then you need to get busy.
It's this subtle difference in thinking that ultimately creates champion character. When you have champion character you will have consistent confidence. Consistent confidence isn't based on fickle forces or worldly circumstances, it is grounded in knowing that -- in any situation -- you will deliver everything you have. That is why the champion always performs, always executes and why he ultimately, always wins.
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