Athletics and lessons in life have many common similarities when it comes to an individual achieving success. What is meant by that? In a large sense, like many other endeavors in life, they require the same life skills. When one has a sense of knowing what it will take them to succeed in life, it is called wisdom. In the realm of athletics, this sense is called mentality. What does it take to succeed as an individual in the athletic world? A common answer that one many come up may have to do skill, talent or physical prowess. While all three of those functions are critical to whether an athlete is successful on the playing field or not, there are more keys to success than that. While skill, talent and physical ability are the tangible aspects that we can see, the intangible keys are more critical. Why? The intangible keys are truly the keys to success as they mentally allow the athlete to exercise and show their skills, talents and physical feats. The keys to success that I am mentioning can be summed up in a simple statement – Having a positive, self-aware and team-based mentality. These three values are critical for not only athletes, but for any member of society to succeed. A positive, self-aware and team-based mentality.
In order to define why these measures can lead to success, we must define what success is. Is it accomplishment? Is it fulfilling ability? What is the benchmark? As youths and into our adult lives, we are taught that everyone has a different level of success and achievement. How do we then measure success? I want to point to two athletic coaches that will help us define “success” – Paul “Bear” Bryant, legendary College Football coach, and John Wooden, Hall of Fame UCLA Basketball Coach. Coach Bryant stated one has to have a plan for everything. This includes in being successful. How are you going to be successful and be helpful to both yourself and your team? That is one key for success – having a plan. John Wooden went a step further. As one of the great coaches of all-time both on the court and off the court, Coach Wooden defined what success meant to him. Wooden stated, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” In other words, if you have accomplished what you know you could based upon your understanding of yourself and your surroundings, then that is success. So how does one achieve success based on these virtues and words of wisdom? While the method is different for everyone, having a well-balanced and holistic strategy that involves being self-aware and having a team-based, positive mentality will help you on the journey to success. Success is never guaranteed for anyone person but one can have a plan to prepare for success that will put them in a better position to capitalize upon the opportunity to be successful.
The first aspect of these three keys is having a positive attitude. What does that mean? It means having confidence. It means believing in what you are doing, why and how. It means trusting those that are supporting you along with supporting yourself and having faith in yourself. While fear can be a healthy motivator if utilized correctly, fear of your own adequacy and the adequacy of those around you is not. These will stunt your potential and hinder your ability to help yourself and others, thus your ability to succeed. It is also important to note that one should never mistake positive feelings and confidence with arrogance. Be humble but be bold. If you have a positive attitude, you set yourself up for success by actively eliminating internal barriers to achieving a goal that you have deemed a milestone on the road to success.
The second of the three keys is having a team mentality. No man is an island despite the fact that all individuals are special in some way. However, no one is bigger than life or their team. Recognizing that is crucial in being a good teammate and attaining success at a larger scale. Even individuals can point to someone who has helped shape them. However, knowing yourself and how you fit into a larger unit is a critical aspect of having a team mentality as well.
That leads us to the third key of success – Self-Awareness. As an individual, you are who you are. You bring a certain set of skills, talents and physicality to your team and game – or in life, to the task at hand. The individual who knows himself is considered wise. Be wise. Know yourself. By doing so, you will be able to attain your maximum level of success based upon your personal expectations and you will be able to help your team but giving yourself the ability to attain that level. This is why it is important for one to know their role. In baseball, if you are a good baserunner but not a good hitter, don’t try to get the big base hits. Do what you know how to do hitting wise. Find ways to get on base in a way that suits you so that you can use your skill running the bases to help the team.
These keys to success are important not only for the athlete but for the everyday person as well. Knowing yourself and knowing when to trust others are the keys to a good relationship. Using those virtues, combined with a healthy attitude can put you in the position to succeed whether you are an athlete, a coach educating/instructing your players, a family member or someone working their job. Having a positive, self-aware and team-based mentality will put you in the position to succeed and accomplish what you know you are capable of accomplishing.
*This writing originally appeared in the Coaching Lessons Blog. It is being included as a writing in this journal due to it containing content that cross-translates to life in general and all vocations that one may undertake.