Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How champions attain excellence.

Post 312 - Champions attain excellence because:

- they care more than others think is wise,

- they risk more than others think is safe,

- they expect more that others think is possible,

- they dream more than others think is practical.

Muhammad Ali puts it this way: “Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision.”

“Champions take chances and pressure is a privilege,” according to tennis great, Billie Jean King. I heard her speak at a fundraiser for tennis camps for underprivileged children in San Diego a few years ago where she shared the following story:

“If I pause and embrace my progress, it's great that I’ve gotten this far. But what's that got to do with today and tomorrow? You know, my dad never let me read my press clippings, and it was the greatest thing he ever did. The first time I made the front of the sports page in the Long Beach Press-Telegram, I’d lost, 6-0, 6-0, and I was just crushed. I’d won all of these other matches and they'd never put me on the front page. And my dad never let me forget that moment. He said, "Billie, I don't want you to ever read a press clipping again." And I said to him, "Well, why not?" And he said, "Because it's about yesterday. It's not about today and tomorrow."

Carl Lewis, the Olympic track champion, cautions: “If you go by other people's opinions or predictions, you'll just end up talking yourself out of something. If you're running down the track of life thinking that it's impossible to break life's records, those thoughts have a funny way of sinking into your feet."

Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden repeats what his Dad told him: "Don't compare. Don't try to be better than someone else. But whatever you're doing, try to be the best you can be. Take advantage of every day. Make each day your masterpiece." Wooden adds, "There are other things that are extremely important. Champions must have faith. They must believe. They mustn't complain. Individually, don't compare, just try to make the most of what you have under the conditions that exist for you and try to improve those conditions. No one can do more than that."

"The definition I coined for success is: Peace of mind attained only through self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you're capable. Now, we're all equal there. We're not all equal as far as intelligence is concerned. We're not equal as far as size. We're not all equal as far as appearance. We don't all have the same opportunities. We're not born in the same environments, but we're all absolutely equal in having the opportunity to make the most of what we have and not comparing or worrying about what others have."

Real champions are humble and are always striving to improve. As Tiger Woods said recently, “I’m just pluggin’ along, trying to get better … I still have holes in my game that I need to fix and need to improve on. I just think that what I’ve been working on, I’m headed in the right direction.”

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