Friends: This blog post holds special meaning to me and is, forgive the pun, close to my heart. In July a college teammate of mine was diagnosed with Giant Cell Myocarditis. This is a rare but devastating heart disease that usually affects young otherwise healthy individuals. Larry had no warning signs and up to four days before going to the hospital he was functioning normally. There is an expression, my heart goes out to you, which we often use to let people know we feel genuine sympathy for them. Well in August, literally someone’s heart went out to Larry. He successfully received a heart transplant because an organ donor gave him the gift of life. The gift of organ donation is an incredible one because it has the ability to touch many people’s lives. I have listed myself as an organ donor and encourage you to champion the cause as well.
April is National Donate Life Month for organ donation.
In addition to Larry, I have witnessed several friends and relatives demonstrate the heart of a champion in beating the odds and winning the most personal battle which exists-the battle for life. This post is dedicated to those individuals may we all maximize our potential with the heart of a champion as they have.
Imagine, for a moment, that we’re able to approach all of our personal and professional challenges as if our lives depended on it. The results would be phenomenal. Unfortunately that is not the case nor is it realistic given the fact that we as humans have a limited amount of energy with which we must divide up and to assign to prioritized goals and activities. Given this reality a starting point in all of my teaching and coaching is one very basic and clarifying two-part question.
What do you want? Based on your answer now, what you are willing to earn?
The biggest gap that exists for people is the gap between knowledge and practice. I call this the performance gap. Many people have an idea of what sort of championship, they want. The student who wants to make Dean’s list, the athlete who want to be an All-American the salesperson who wants to make President’s Club the actor who wants to win an Oscar; but do they have the drive habits and characteristics to transform dreams to reality? It all starts with an idea; however the best ideas are useless without a plan to turn ideas into action action into performance and performance into championship caliber results.
It has to be a mentality before it’s ever a reality…
Champions approach each day with a performance mindset. Champions of any industry whether it is sports, business or entertainment have an expect to win attitude. They create a vision of success in their mind and more importantly employ laser sharp focus on the process of making their vision a reality. The subconscious mind holds tremendous power and cannot tell the difference between reality and visualization it simply responds to the thoughts that we feed it. It is often said the best leaders are visionary. They see their organizations not as what they currently are rather as what they can become. This begs the questions what does it take to become a champion and what do experts deem as the most important qualities that are at the heart of a champion?
In 1999, Dr. Shari Kuchenbecker a psychologist at Loyola Marymount University performed a research study to determine the top characteristics for success in sports. She survey 658 coaches from 43 different sports asking them to describe an athlete who is a real winner, by selecting five attributes from a list including 64 physical and 64 psychological characteristics. The results indicated that the overwhelming majority of the coaches described a real winner by psychological aspects over physical.
The top five attributes selected were as follows:
- Loves to play the game (43%)
- Positive Attitude (33%)
- Coachable (30%)
- Self-Motivated (27%)
- Team Player (26%)
Interestingly, the first physical characteristic, natural athlete, didn’t appear on the list until #19 and was only selected by 11% of the coaches surveyed. What does this tell us? (Beyond the fact that Yogi Berra wasn’t far off in his statement that 90% of the game is half mental.) I believe it reveals that you can apply the same attributes in other facets of your life to achieve success and reach your goals. You could survey CEOs and replace the word athlete with business person and the same attributes would rise to the top. Similarly if you surveyed HR executives and inserted the word candidate I bet almost identical results would follow.
It stands to reason that in business if we want to be successful and bring out the best in our people, we need to develop ways to encourage these five specific psychological attributes.
To take it a step further I would add that we also need to be seeking these habits in prospective recruits during the hiring process. There is no such thing as an overnight success and performance is preceded by passion attitude and motivation. With that in mind I am sharing with you one of my success strategies designed to enhance your performance. This is something you can begin employing immediately in pursuit of your own personal championship.
Success Strategy: POWER HOUR
- Start your day like a champion by waking up an hour earlier. In doing so you are gaining over 2 weeks of healthy productivity time over the course of a year. (365 hrs / 24 = 15.2 days)
- How to do it? Start by going to bed an hour earlier instead of watching a movie or TV. Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of heart problems. Final thoughts as your head hits the pillow should be reflecting on and visualizing or replaying in your mind three small successes you had that day related to your goal.
- What to do with your Power Hour? Stay in your technology free zone (no email, internet, or cell phones) Exercise or take a walk for a designated time (anywhere from 15-45 minutes). Physical activity strengthens the heart, literally. This will set the tone for your day in two ways: positive mindset and focus. Expressing gratitude during this time will put you in a positive mindset. In your mind spend the first half of your exercise activity expressing gratitude for what you have. (Ex. Mentors important people in your life the ability to passionately pursue your goals) The second half of your workout should be utilized as a focusing tool by allowing yourself to game plan and reflect on how you will win the day. Focus on the following two questions: What is the single most mission critical activity to be accomplished today? How will you go about enthusiastically attacking it to win the day?
- Invest remaining time in your power hour by consuming some vitamins for your mind. Read a chapter from an inspirational book or a book that will help you develop expertise in your chosen field. If you feel this time is better invested in exercising, more power to you! During your morning commute instead of listening to music or the morning news listen to that same book on CD or podcast in the car. (You’re not missing anything in the news any way. At the top of the hour they wish you a good morning and then proceed to spend the next 29 minutes telling you why it isn’t.)
- To bridge the performance gap between knowledge and practice, stick to this Power Hour routine for ninety days. By doing so you’ll make it a habit see results and won’t want to stop. I guarantee it will be a game changer for you because it is first an attitude changer. It is important to start your day the right way the quality of your mindset determines the quality of your performance. Remember it has to be a mentality before it’s ever a reality.
6 Red Hot Habits At The Heart Of A Champion
- Loves to work & compete
- Has tremendous focus & listening skills
- Commits to excellence in all aspects of life
- Is coachable & commits to continuous improvement
- Pays attention to details
- Take pride in doing the little things right