What Makes a Successful Athlete?
Currently there is a movement where athletes are finding ways to become greater than the game they play. The term “athlete” is now used as a stereotype for someone who is engaged in a sport for their means of living or success, and unfortunately it does not mean much more than that. It’s all over the news about how some athletes are beginning to stand out and make their voices heard, only to receive backlash for their opinions. Some athletes have found true purpose in their life and use sports to do great things like start organizations that help communities, give opportunities to those who otherwise might not have them, and even build schools in communities that need them. No matter what it is, the athletes that make massive impacts on the world are those who transcend the game and create change. Athletes have an amazing opportunity to influence others in a positive way and become successful outside of the game. Does every athlete do this? No. But those who do have begun a movement that others can follow in to create a better world and share their values with the world.
What makes an athlete successful inside and outside of the game? According to the Ohio Center for Sports Psychology there are nine mental skills that help athletes become successful in both sports and their personal life:
1. Choosing and maintaining a positive attitude
2. Maintaining high self-motivation
3. Setting high and realistic goals
4. Effectively work with others
5. Positive self-talk
6. Positive mental imagery
7. Anxiety management
8. Emotion management
9. Concentration management
Along with these nine skills, Inc. lists five powerful traits found in successful athletes and business leaders: They accept that mistakes are part of the game, they put team members in positions to succeed, they are humble and accountable, they stay calm under pressure, and they don’t dwell on the past. Other sources list that overcoming fears, making negativity work for you, taking action, creating focus, and allowing your unique talent to shine are also play a major impact on success as an athlete and as an individual.
What does all of this mean to you? It means that there are universal skills that help athletes become greater than the game. Most of these skills can be developed by doing the work that will help you define your purpose in life, otherwise known as your "why." Why you chose to become an athlete, why you play the game, why the game means so much to you, and why you chose to forego your default life in pursuit of greatness are all connected to the value you bring to the world around you and drive you to your ultimate purpose. Finding your purpose is one thing, but the mind’s ability to fixate on a single goal and unrelentingly pursue it without wavering is what allows that purpose to come alive and that motor which drives all of it lives within you!!
There are choices that every athlete has daily which either help continue the pursuit of your "why" or stifles your progress. Yes there will be difficulty along the way, part of being an athlete is knowing that moments of success are only achieved by moments of hardship and learning. It’s what you choose to do in every moment that will define the life that you will have. The person you act as every day is the person you will be. Your past does not determine your future and you create your life every day. However, for you to have the life you want, you must truly believe that you are actually worthy of it to begin with. If you have thoughts about greatness and changing the world then you’ve simply created preferences about what you want in life, acting on it every chance you get is what sets great athletes apart from the crowd.
So decide, what can you do today that will begin to develop the skills necessary to be successful within your sport and outside of it? No matter what it is, make a commitment to yourself to be great, because greatness lives within every athlete and your greatness is unique and perfect to you. Find what inspires you and act on it, you will accomplish more out of being inspired and seeing the opportunities ahead rather than acting out of fear and pressure. Start dreaming big and for heaven's sake believe in your ability to actually make that dream become a reality, you cannot achieve or give things that don't already live within you so unleash your potential on the world already!
I work with current, former, and transitioning athletes to help them define exactly what it is that they want to achieve and how to break through their barriers to success by uncovering the root of the challenge and creating change from within. I want to hear what inspires you and what you want to achieve as an athlete! Please feel free to go to my contact page and reach out.