The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat,
at the point of exhaustion, when nobody else is looking.
— Anson Dorrance
Anyone can be a champion, whether they are Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, the janitor of your child’s elementary school, a grocery store clerk, a local park ranger, or the second-string quarterback on your peewee football team.
Being a champion is about practicing the habits and ways of a champion and demonstrating such traits, qualities, and characteristics on a consistent basis. It happens when one becomes dedicated to exploring the unlimited boundaries of one’s full human potential in sports and life. Anson Dorrance, in his quote above, sums up this process.
Over the past twenty-five years of my forty-year career in sports, I have had the fortune of being intimately involved with thirty-six national championship teams as well as hundreds of individual national champions. These awesome experiences have taught me everything I know about being a champion now. Indeed, I titled one of my twelve books The Way of the Champion, and it was so popular that I renamed my business, website, and email address after it.
How To Become A Champion
If you’d like to encourage, inspire, and empower your athletic child to live life as a champion, then you yourself need to model such behaviors, demonstrating the correct attitudes and using the right language. If you do, your child’s spirit will marinate in the process, and both directly and by osmosis, your child will begin to act like a champion in sports and in life.
What do I know about being a champion? Fasten your seat-belts, because here is what I’ve learned about what it means to have the “right stuff.”
A champion is anyone who
- is a fierce competitor fighting the inner battles of fear, frustration, fatigue, and self-doubt.
- demonstrates courage, determination, persistence, and perseverance.
- strives for positive results yet enjoys the process.
- takes risks to improve, knowing that if failure happens, it is an opportunity to learn and improve on the road of self-discovery.
- focuses on consistent practice and preparation, putting in the work so that the possibility of favorable outcomes and results increases.
- displays a strong work ethic to do whatever it takes to shine.
- understands that winning is a process, not an outcome, something that happens when you win the inner battles over fear and fatigue.
- is willing to sacrifice and suffer to get the job done.
- sees an opponent as a partner who helps push him or her to greater heights.
- knows that outcomes cannot be controlled and focuses on mastering what can be controlled, like doing all the little things, having a strong work ethic, and ensuring proper preparation.
- understands that winning is the willingness to do your best in order to demonstrate your best on a consistent basis.
- realizes the importance of integrity, responsibility, respect, accountability, courage, fortitude, and commitment.
- embraces adversity as an opportunity to grow.
- understands how less is more, soft is strong, and loss is gain.
- practices being selfless and giving to others rather than being concerned about getting.
Practicing the Traits of A Champion
Participating in athletics is not necessary to be a champion. Anyone in any walk of life can practice the traits of a champion and join that arena. For instance, I will always remember the dedication, sacrifice, suffering, courage, patience, fortitude, determination, and bravery exhibited by my wife, Jan, during the home births of our children.
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I thought I had experienced grueling pain while running marathons, but this was little compared to the remarkable, valiant efforts of my wife, which I witnessed firsthand, during childbirth. Her preparation and training for those sacred events were akin to the focus of all great championship athletes. Her champion-like mind-set continues to this day: in her work as a physician, as a runner, and as the mom of four challenging, vibrant, and at times very demanding kids. Jan lives the way of the champion.
When Do You Become A Champion?
We don’t become champions when we win some external reward — when we cross the finish line first or score the winning goal in the championship game. We become champions when we take the profound, inner, mindful path and succeed against our internal challenges, when we defeat the opponent within, fighting against the demons of fear, failure, fatigue, frustration, and self-doubt.
To defeat these opponents, we use the spiritual weapons of the heart. When you practice the “stuff” of champions, and help your children to do so, you and your children will become champions now. You will live a life of substance and spirit and be true winners in everything you do.
©2016 by Jerry Lynch. Used with permission of
New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com
About the Author
Sports psychologist Dr. Jerry Lynch is the author of over ten books and the founder/director of Way of Champions, a consulting group geared toward “mastering the inner game” for peak sports performance. The parent of four athletic kids, he has over thirty-five years of experience as a sports psychologist, coach, athlete, and teacher. Drawing on his experience working with Olympic, NBA, and NCAA champions, Dr. Lynch transforms the lives of parents, coaches, and youth athletes.