What Makes a Champion? An Inside Look at the Top 5 Athletes of All Time* Part – 3
* This is a summarized version. If you need more details about this topic, please download the MP3 file, from the store section.
A-The Common Denominator
So what was common among these champions? What is one factor that they all shared, and we can say that this factor is their weapon?
It is their….. Mind Power.
Firstly, they had a genuine passion towards their sport. They aimed to be the best, and they wrote that goal. And they were focused and determined in achieving their goals.
Secondly, they believed in their ability. They believed they could be the best at anything. And they never had doubts. They had confidence and trust in themselves more than anything in the world.
Thirdly, they welcomed challenges. They never used excuses for their failures. They always had the willingness to improve. And they were competitive. They always wanted to win and hated to lose.
Lastly, they never gave up. They had the will power to keep on going. They refused to give up. They had the strength to survive and to bounce back amidst all odds.
Nowadays, more and more people are focusing on the psychological aspects of training in competitive sports. They are emphasizing mind conditioning in every competition. Research shows that high level athletic performance is directly linked to the balance between mental toughness and intensive training. One of these factors alone may not be enough to achieve sports success in the long run.
Natural talent and training no longer guarantees winning championships. Mental preparation is now perceived as important as physical training. Emotional attitudes are equally important, especially motivation, self-confidence and the deep interest in the game.
An athlete may have all the talent and physical ability, but if he under estimates himself, he may end up losing the game.
This article clarifies that it is the mind power of champions that set them apart from their competitors. It is their inner thinking and strong belief in themselves that made them champions. Enabling beliefs combined with positive thinking can bring magical results in sports, as well as in any other field.
B- The Champions
Why are the champions mentally strong? What are the things that made them different from the others?
1-They are competitive: Competitive people love challenges. For an instance, when Michael Jordan was young, he was always defeated in the Horse game. He did not like that, and so, he kept on challenging them until he won. He said this “I always had the ultimate goal of being the best. I feel that if I am considered one of the best players in the game, then I have to prove there is a reason for that.”
Muhammad Ali, used to say this quote “I never thought of losing…”
Roger Federer loved the competition as he once said “I like to play against guys who have beaten me, especially early in the career, try to get them back… He was a tough opponent for me for a long, long time.”
Tiger Woods, always wanted to be the best. His quote “I want to be what I’ve always wanted to be: dominant”.
2-They are focused and determined: Focused and determined people set their own goals and they work hard to achieve them. They do not give up. They believe in the saying, “try and try until you succeed.”
For example, when Michael Phelps was young he had ADHD or Attention Disorder/Hyperactivity Disorder. His teacher would complain that he couldn’t stay quiet, wouldn’t sit, and he kept on doing things to get attention. One teacher even said that he would never be able to focus on anything, but this teacher was wrong. With great determination, Michael was able to overcome this obstacle. He said “When I’m focused, there is not a single thing, person, anything that can stand in the way of doing something. There is not. If I want something bad enough, I feel I’m gonna get there.”
Muhammad Ali was very determined as he said it “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
Tiger Woods loved major tournaments. He said “The major championships have always been a special focus in my career, and as a professional, I think Augusta is where I need to be.”
Michael Jordan didn’t have any problem with determination. His quote “I had locked in, committed to my goals. I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come. I don’t do things halfheartedly.”
3-They are confident: Confident people believed in themselves. They look at success rather than at failure. They believe in their ability to succeed. And they are not shaken by pressures.
A perfect example of this is Muhammad Ali. He used to say his mantra “I am the greatest” before his fights and he found it very effective in boosting his confidence. He said “I am the greatest; I said that even before I knew I was.”
After winning Wimbledon for the seventh time, Roger Federer said “This year I guess I decided in the bigger matches to take it more to my opponent instead of waiting a bit more for the mistakes. Yeah, this is I guess how you want to win Wimbledon, is by going after your shots, believing you can do it, and that’s what I was able to do today.”
Michael Jordan can set the perfect example of self-confidence. Hear what he said“ I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot… when you think about the consequences you always think of a negative result.”
Tiger Woods had an excellent saying about self-belief, and this is how he puts it “I mean, as an athlete, as a competitor, you have to have that belief in yourself.”
4-They are optimistic: Optimistic people always look for the bright side of life. They focus on the good things. They are not bothered by stress, anxiety, or even their past failures. For example, when Rodger Federer was struggling to reclaim his spot as the number 1, people anticipated his doom. They said that he was done. But Roger remained positive. He did not let these negative comments affect him. And he did reclaim his top position. He said this “No, I’m not (disappointed). There’s no reason to be because I’m on an incredible run. You always expect a loss once in a while. So when it happens, why be disappointed if I win over 90% of my matches.”
Tiger was always optimistic. He said this “One of the things my parents have taught me is never to listen to other peoples’ expectations. You should live your own life and live up to your own expectations, and those are the only things I really care about.”
The following quotes reflect the mind power of these athletes. Michael Jordan “I know fear is an obstacle for some people, but it is an illusion to me… Failure always made me try harder next time.”
5-They anticipated their success: There is a proverb saying, “As a man think in his heart, so is he.” It means that people become what they think. If you think you will be successful, then you will be successful. Champions visualize their success. They look forward to claiming their victory.
Tiger Woods said “I did envision being this successful as a player, but not all the hysteria around it off the golf course.”
Muhammad Ali used to say “The man who has no imagination has no wings.”
This quote is by Michael Phelps “You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.” -
Michael Jordan was clear in his expectation as he said it “You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.”
These Champions have this strong mindset because they envision their success, they are free from negative thoughts, they believe in themselves and they constantly push themselves to be the best.
C- Helpful Ways to Strengthen Your Mindset
Having a strong mindset is necessary to achieve optimum performance in every competition. Here are some suggestions to strengthen your mindset.
1-Be truly passionate about what you are doing: You must enjoy what you are doing. Be enthusiastic in every waking day to push yourself towards mastering and perfecting your skills. You must have the inner drive to be the best!
2-Set a goal: Having a goal will help you focus. Write your goals on paper, or use worksheets with deadlines. Create a plan to achieve your goals. Remind your self of your goals. Remember goals without a deadline or a plan are just dreams. Make your goals as SMART.
3-Be Optimistic: Firstly, you need to concentrate on the good things that are happening to you. Focus your thoughts on your progress each day. Think about the things you did right. You may experience mistakes, setbacks and unexpected events and thinking positively will help you deal with them. Secondly, do positive affirmations daily. Always have positive things to talk to yourself. Tell yourself how good you are and do this with conviction. This will greatly boost your self-confidence. And lastly, have your own positive expectation. Expect yourself to succeed. Visualize yourself as the victor. Do not ever doubt yourself!
4-Be Confident: Always believe in yourself. Look ahead for your success. Visualize it. Always trust yourself no matter what.
Champions are made not born. None of the top five athletes we talked about in this article were born as winners. They all faced failure at one point of time. They all were defeated in at least one championship or tournament. Some of them were even written off by people, and were thought of as finished, and their careers reached the end. But time and again, these champions rise above all challenges and against all odds to win, to redeem themselves and ultimately obtain their deservedly recognition. We have seen this with Muhammad Ali, when he defeated George Forman. We have witnessed it with Michael Jordan, after his return from his retirement. Roger Federer did it after almost everyone said he was finished. These champions are human like us, yet they are different in their internal thinking, in their motivation, in their strong determination to overcome all obstacles. They accomplished achievements beyond our imagination. Imagine a man who can accumulate 18 gold medals in just 3 Olympic games, and a total of unprecedented 22 medals. This legend did this while believing that nothing is impossible. We can think of them as supermen, yet we saw them cry and laugh, like any human being, like anyone of us. What sets them apart from us is not their born-body, but how they used their brain and emotions differently from us.
A champion is a model. You can repeat the model if you do what the model did. We can replicate champions. Records can be broken. Gold Medals can be accumulated. Championships can be won, but only if we follow the pattern of champions.
We all have unimaginable potential, yet we tend to use only a very small fraction of it. We all have the ability to be champions, but once we encounter a setback or an obstacle, we begin to focus on the negative side of the road. Some persons are able to dream big, are able to believe in the possible, and they ignore inferior ideas, and thus they defeat others and become what we call them………….. Champions.
Hope to see you in next articles