Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Champions Are Made Not Born

[Post by Cliff Harvey]

I was honoured to be the guest speaker at last years Auckland Lacrosse League Annual Dinner and Prize Giving, which doubled as a send off and fundraiser for the World Championship bound New Zealand Women's U19 team.

The theme of my speech was that Champions are made, not born and that no-one is inherently great - it is what we do that defines our greatness and our ability to achieve success.
I outlined some of the key differences in mind-set between athletes in various countries that I have worked with, and the differences in mind-set between minority and majority sport athletes in those countries.

The key things that I have noticed is that there are two simple things that seperate many athletes who achieve, from those that do not.
1. Belief
2. Hard work

Belief is that subtle, underlying pattern of success. It is the unconscious, survival based mechanism that let's us know that to achieve greatness is both safe and appropriate. Champions ave already imagined themselves as such. They have 'seen' in their minds eye their future success and podium finishes, and have framed the way they talk to themselves (often without even realising it) in a way that influences the subconscious mind to not only not reject success, but to seek it out, and to recognise those factors in our environment that will make it a reality.
On the other hand if we tell ourselves that we aren't good enough, that we can't succeed and imagine the failures we could make, then these will become our future reality.
In minority sports (such as Lacrosse in New Zealand) it is easy to give up before the whistle has even started if playing one of the world powers of Lacrosse (like Canada for example). But the belief that 'we can't win' can quite easily go from something that is a conscious probability (let's face it, the Kiwis winning against Canada would be a huge feat) to something that is a subconscious belief, and therefore a virtual certainty.

Hard Work is always necessary to achieve and maintain greatness.
Those who have attended one of my talks will know that I love the band Over the Rhine and often quote a line from their track 'Spark' which goes: 'It';s not the spark that caused the fire, it's the air you breathe that fans the flames...'
This lyric is such a great metaphor for the mind-body connection and for the value of hard work.
The 'spark' in this analogy at least I equate to the belief. Without that belief - or 'spark' there is no chance to start a fire (succeed) but with belief, AND the air you breathe (work) fanning the flames it is all but assured in some sense at least. Whether or not we do succeed is dependent on many factors, but without belief and hard work it all some to naught.

I finished by challenging this room of talented and committed young athletes to not be content to be mediocre. To strive for glory, to shoot for the stars...the worst that could happen is that they end up reaching the moon.
I challenged them to not be 'luke-warm' but instead to rise to a level greater than that of their competition, so that they (their adversaries) are luke-warm in comparison to the love and passion that they bring to their game.

So, because you are luke-warm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth
Revelation 3:16