Have you ever taken the time to observe the behaviours or learn about the common traits shared by the world’s most elite athletes?
One thing I have identified over the years, especially within my own sport during the transition from amateur level to pro level title is that sport is 10% physical and 90% mental.
Who are the champions?
In this game or competition, eventually it becomes impossible to beat the ones who never give up. The ones that keep coming back, better then the last time, and are even hungrier for the win.
These truly elite athletes possess key character traits that simply can’t be gained in the gym, by good nutrition or by some amazing costume they wear. It’s not external to them, it’s actually deep seated internally and it’s something that simply can’t be taught easily or quickly.
The minority of athletes I’ve encountered who possess what I call ‘strong mental strength’ have developed it via hardship, personal struggles and major setbacks.
They aren’t blessed, it didn’t come to them easily and they fought hard to achieve what they do. They have never been unappreciative for any opportunity that’s been presented to them. In fact, they proactively seek to create opportunities that will lead to further development in mastering their craft. They welcome feedback and act upon it.
How to become a champion
The keys, as I personally see them, for success in the sport of competitive fitness modelling is directly linked to how we see ourselves, how much we truly believe in our own strength of character, how much we value ourselves, and a genuine feeling that we can, and will, eventually be the best of the best.
This belief and genuine acceptance that we are an eternal at work in progress not perfection, is what forms an innate resilience to overcome challenges without succumbing to the temptation to quit. In fact, quitting isn’t even an option. It’s not even a consideration.
So what is their secret? What makes them different? The ten key traits of mental strength that I have identified, and what I recognise in aspiring athletes, as ‘champion’ potential are:
- Commitment to solid goals
- Strong people skills
- Positive self talk
- Controlled emotions
- Controlled anxiety and managed stress levels
- Laser focus and concentration
- No comparisons but to themselves
Discovering your inner champion
Why is that we see people that seem to have it all – great genetics and highly marketable looks that never quite make it?
Well, for most of them, they struggle internally with fear. Fear of success or fear of failure. But essentially they have weak mental strength. They are missing one or more than likely, several of the above traits. To put it shortly, they simply don’t believe they can win. It doesn’t matter who your coach is or how great your costume is, if you turn up without truly knowing in your heart that you have what it takes to succeed – then you won’t.
The road to athletic greatness isn’t marked by perfection but by the ability to overcome adversity, the capacity to be humble in defeat, and the ability to accept feedback and use it to improve your performance.
Everyone who steps on stage has the same opportunity, the same ability to become a pro or eventually a world champion, if that’s what they desire. They just need to know they can, believe they are worthy, have a clear strategy on the way forward, be consistent and actively seek great mentors. They need to develop themselves holistically, growing their mental strength as much as their physical. Because to be successful you have to face your hardest opponent – yourself!