Sports and motivation are connected at the hip. The amount of one determines the quality and results of the other.
Motivation is to an athlete what support pillars are to a bridge. It gives the athlete a solid foundation from which to grow and acquire skills. With it, athletes are eager to improve; without it, results suffer.
The more committed the athlete, the greater their motivation and the greater their self-confidence. Over time, that becomes their base.
The greater the motivation, the more likely the athletes will go the extra mile. This is known as a growth mindset. It is a fierce desire to improve, to get better.
Much of the time when an athlete has to continue working out even though they are tired and in pain. Think how hard it is to continue when one feels worn to a frazzle. It is at this moment when an athlete’s commitment is tested. Does he or she have the motivation to continue?
Over time through repetition, i.e practice, an athletes gets better physically and mentally. He or she learns they can pretty much always do more than they thought they could. I remember hearing that Mohamed Ali didn’t start counting sit-ups until he started feeling pain. Until that moment, he wouldn’t count. That shows a fierce commitment to becoming the best he could be.
Mohamed Ali was in control of how hard he was willing to work. Every athlete has that capability. They are in control of how hard they work, how long they work, their nutrition, the amount of sleep they get, their attitude about everything, and more.
Yes, there are things not in the athletes control, but that doesn’t matter. The conditions of the meet or game are the same for each participant. It’s what the athletes does with the conditions that matters. Here there will be great differences between athletes. Like I said, sports and motivation are joined at the hip.
You might wonder why I just used the word ‘boot camp.’ What can it possibly have to do with sports and motivation?
There are many videos of Navy Seals going through boot camp. Check them out. Talk about intense. It doesn’t get more intense.
And the navy includes a ‘Hell Week’ to make it even more intense. Most marines don’t’ make it through. They quit. Only a small minority make it through ‘hell week’ much less the whole boot camp.
Now think of Michael Jordan who is considered by many the greatest basketball player of all time. If you watched “The Last Dance” on ESPN about Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls in which the players and coach won their sixth championship, you saw how hard Michael pushed everyone in practice It was as intense as the player’s effort in the games.
And that was not just for one or two practices, but all of them. And not just for that year. It was year after year after year after year.
Michael wanted to win. He hated to lose and was amazingly competitive. His commitment was something to behold. And it worked. But he put his fellow players through his boot camp.
How about you? Are you committed to your sport where you will work harder in practice than you do in a meet or game? Michael was, and it paid off. Multiple times (6 NBA Championships). Now that is motivation in sport. Spectacular.
If you want to be great at what you do, you need that kind of sports motivation. You need to put yourself through a really tough grind. You need to love the grind.
If the grind is so difficult, how can you possibly learn to love it? You will first have to manufacture two visions. And, make no mistake about it, those visions need to be very clear to you. You have to see them vividly.
The first is your vision of what it will feel like to reach high levels of competence. To see yourself winning. Not once, not twice, but over and over and over again. How does that feel? Let it be absorbed into your system.
See the outcome as real and as have already happened. You want to be able to bring into your mind’s eye in a moment’s notice. It needs to be that strong.
The second vision is your ‘why’ for putting yourself through so much. Why do you want to win? Why do you want to be the best you can be? Those ‘why’s have to be intense. How badly do you want it? And why? This is where individual sports and motivation come together. Don't leave it to chance.
There is an old saying that says, “If the why is strong enough, the how is easy.”
There is a marine who likes to suffer. Really. His name is David Goggins. He loves the grind for what it will make of him and for who he will become on the other side of that suffering.
David takes that attitude to the extreme. His story is so amazing, it is hard to believe someone can put themselves through that much. He went through 3 hell-weeks in one year. You read that right - 3. No one else has done that.
Now, you may not want to take it as far as David Goggins. I understand that. But to think you can reach your potential without suffering is naive.
David even invented a mental technique he calls “callusing the mind.” For most people who want to take advantage of the technique, they will have to start small and grow into it.
Here’s another example: Think how many operations Peyton Manning, NFL star, has gone through. And he didn’t have to. At one point he had the money and the fame. He could have quit. He didn’t. He demonstrates what it means to have a strong ‘why.’ And there are other professional athletes who have gone through far more operations than Peyton.
Hopefully, you won’t have to do that. But I ask you - how strong is your why? How committed are you in becoming the best you can be? How close can you get to your true potential? How much effort are you willing to put out? What is your sport motivation? Now is the time to commit.
If others have done it, you can too. Sports and motivation and you.
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