“Champions believe in themselves even when nobody else will.” – Anonymous
We all know the basics; work hard and good things will happen. What I have learned over the last 12 years of competing at a high level both in college as a Division I wrestler and now a professional MMA fighter is absolutely invaluable. The competitor and overall man that the sports of wrestling and MMA have turned me into is one of the greatest blessings of my life. The lessons I have learned, the pain I have endured, the heartbreaks I have suffered and the absolute bliss I have encountered are all treasures that I keep near and dear to my heart. You see, most of the growth I have experienced is through things that would be universally considered by most as negative – immense pain, physical exhaustion, dehydration, lack of nourishment, lack of sleep because of lack of nourishment, missing out on close friends’ and family’s weddings, leaving my lovely wife for weeks at a time, getting my brain rattled, suffering embarrassing losses in front of millions, missing most of what people call “the college experience” because I was in the wrestling room or class more often than not. But if I could trade it all in for more comfort and more peace and less chaos, you better believe I wouldn’t.
Here is a list of things off the top of my head that will help you in your training, relationships, careers and overall happiness. I hope what I share next helps you look at things from a different perspective.
Focus on success, not perfection. I hear so many people call themselves “perfectionists” like it is a good thing or something to be desired. I think most of those who strive for success have a little bit of perfectionist in them at times, but the problem with perfection is it is perfectly unattainable. Instead focus on the here and now and embrace the journey. Its so easy to get caught up in our shortcomings and losses and flaws. Focus on how far you have come and how much further you will be in six months, one year, five years.
Be excited about all the work you have in front of you. If challenges and obstacles seem daunting, you may have to humble yourself and realize that nobody has ever achieved something great without hard work. We always hear the cliche “If it were easy, everyone would do it” and say what you want about the phrase, its darn true. The ability to separate yourself from the majority through hard work is so much more a gift than you realize. It says so much more about you and your character than can ever be expressed through words. Be excited that you are on a quest that will get painful at times, because its only then that growth can happen.
Be more thankful. It has been said that gratitude is the strongest of all human emotions. Have you ever felt like the more grateful you are and the more thankful you are for your situation, that situation continues to flourish? In my line of work(MMA) I can get down about a bad practice, I can nag about little injuries, I can be let down about sponsors or contract negotiations and I can let people on social media tear me down. Or I can be thankful that I have a great team to train with in this awesome line of work that is entertaining to people. I can choose to be grateful that I am put on a platform to have a voice and reach people. I can be happy that those little nagging injuries aren’t major injuries that so many guys suffer in this sport. I can be thankful for the amazing sponsors I DO have and the great contract I DO have that supports my wife and I and allows me the financial freedom to build wealth for the future. And lastly, I can be thankful for every insult, every put down and all the criticism because that means I am in a sport where people care. Its all about how you look at things and I promise you, the more thankful you are, the more you will flourish(and happiness you’ll have).
After a loss, don’t spend too much time dwelling on the negative aspects of your performance. Dwelling on and replaying your bad performances only reinforces them and ingrains them into your conscious and subconscious brain. Do you need to review your mistakes in order to improve, yes, but not more than 20-30 minutes, then its on to the thinking about the next opportunity to perform and making sure you don’t make the same mistakes again. I always talk about a mental highlight reel, in which you write down all the great performances you have had so that they will be relived in your mind and thus increase self esteem…in essence, playing back shortcomings too long and too often is a negative highlight reel and will only produce the opposite results: a lower self esteem.
Operate with integrity. This may not seem like something that is important to becoming a champion. But in my mind, integrity is above all else. I am driven by an inner desire to be great in and out of the cage, in and out of the gym. This fire is stoked and fed by operating with honor and integrity in what I do. You may think that dishonesty and treating people poorly won’t effect your performance, because they are separate, but I have seen it first hand and it is most certainly a factor in some people’s outcomes. That guilt you feel when you have done something wrong is a sure fire way to lower that self image of yours and in turn will spill over into your performances. Try your best to be a good person and good things will happen.
Don’t cut corners. Excellence is the accumulation of a multitude of the small things done every single day. I always say that there are only two types of people in this world: those that put their shopping carts away and those that don’t. I can’t scientifically prove this, but I can almost guarantee that the former are more successful. The fact that you will let yourself off the hook and not put that shopping cart back, not pick up your trash that fell on the floor, not do the dishes and make your roommate do them says a lot about how you operate in the bigger responsibilities in life. How you do the little things is most assuredly how you will do the big things. Think about it, do you need to stop cutting corners?
I hope this list helps in your quest for greatness! So much of our future success has to do with the way we process today and the way we decide to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. Make today a day in which you get closer to your dreams!!
To Your Success,