Monday, March 28, 2011

What is a "Champion"

We are all captivated by extraordinary success aren't we? I have always wanted to know what makes a champion, and I mean a "champion" in the broadest sense of the word. I see it as a fundamental aspect of the mind, the aspect of advancing anything in life. I do believe that everyone is a potential champion. So we should all be compelled to understand the factors that nurture and amplify extraordinary achievement.
I mean imagine the competitive advantage for those who possess such knowledge. Its ultimately the greatest knowledge and the more we understand our "dormant" potential to be champions, the better.

So championship can be best described as exploration of human achievement. But not achievement limited only to sports, rather human achievement across the board. The entire spectrum.

Of course, sport itself gives insights into the universals of "champions"

If you think about it, athletes might be considered neurotic. Coaches have often made that call. How else can you explain why a person, and without over exaggerating, would drive themselves to physical and in some cases mental collapse? How else can you explain the single-minded dedication of an Olympic Champion?

But the question has to be, is there really any difference between the so-called neurosis of the athlete and that of an artist, a scientist or for any individual who commits themselves to realise a dream? In all cases there is a sacrifice of the pleasures in life as normally appreciated.

What elusive spirit sustains champions through the agonising process necessary to achieve greatness, necessary to realise a dream? Answering this question we will have unlocked one of the mysteries of the mind. We will have discovered the element common to all great achievers. Ultimately I believe that what makes a champion is a champion "Mindset". The champion "mindset", not the skill itself, is the transferable commodity. If you have done something great in one field, you are far more likely to do so in another.

Talent will take you, where character can only sustain you
    (the skill itself)                 (champions mindset)

It is our mindsets that limit our expectations of ourselves and line our boundaries. It is our mindsets that determine whether we have the courage to challenge others and to expand our horizons.

Of course research has been done over the years to give us individuals clues of identifying and nurturing a champion mindset. Champions often have a mind that removes the thought to being only average, not always necessarily better than others, just not like the rest. Research says this quality frequently appears early in life in the form of a independence, rebellion or unconventional tastes. They are often familiar with adversity. They have had to 'fight' to get where they are and they continue to do so at some level, say by ignoring the body's warning signals, by denying themselves normal pleasures, or setting challenges that seem unreachable to the normal individual.

Don't be phased, as research has also proven that "champions" often fail, but the difference is that doesn't discourage them in the long haul for success. They learn how to convert 'upsets into set-ups' for something better.

Abraham Lincoln lost over and over again before stage-managing his sensational election as president

Many of the world's greatest scientists were at best average students. Things just didn't come easily. At the other extreme, child prodigies rarely rise to the top of their profession, and by definition they are the ones who found learning effortless.
Those who learn effortlessly in youth may well be at a disadvantage in tackling seemingly insurmountable problems. Struggling in the early learning process possibly acclimatises us to difficulties as being a matter of course.

Surprisingly, what has also emerged from research is the possible necessity of overcoming adversity as preparation for being a champion, even adversity self created by the individual, say by setting goals beyond reach of which it first appears.

A famous quote from New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary , the first person to accomplish Mt Everest, in an interview was 'Go for something outrageous...challenge yourself' - create adversity. 'If you know you can do it, don't do it' said Hillary. 'You might as well go to the beach.'

We especially need to anticipate adversity and look at it as both a challenge and a learning experience. But this aspect is more profound than just engaging positive thinking. It is vital to a champion mindset and it requires a important shift in our views and perceptions with adversity.

Before any promotion in life, first you will be will be placed in fire and how you react to the heat and pressure will determine your success.

Champions have the courage to break rules. Obviously its crucial to know the foundations of the discipline, whether it is the mathematical equations or the appropriate routines for athletic training. But champions seem to differentiate themselves from others with equivalent training by having the courage to experiment with the rules and to invent new ways of doing things. Even in sports, it takes courage to break with a conventional training routine

Look at it through someone will all know 'Albert Einstein'. Einstein was not an especially brilliant student. His brilliance emerged later, not when he was learning the rules of physics but when he was questioning the conventional learning's of his discipline.
Again, research has shown that what makes a champion or lets say a high performance athlete like 'David Beckham' is they execute their skill unconsciously. Beckham has kicked upward of million footballs in his life, and the reality is his brain knows how to do this without needing to be told. His actions and decisions are often intuitive and rarely based on conscious logic. Now this is contrast to the process of learning itself, which is logical, and a contrasting struggle. Yet trusting intuition in society these days is condemned. Champions have a adept talent that when under pressure or threat they trust there intuition and don't resort to conservative strategies, never choosing to ignore the boldness that got them to where they are...

If we all can begin to challenge ourselves, never doubt our beliefs and never allow the emotions of success and failure to impact our capacity to learn then we then will start to achieve everything we want in life. Being uncomfortable and facing adversity means we are heading in the right direction, and without a doubt waiting on the other side afterwards is everything we dream for...

"I'm sure there is a champion mindset. I can perhaps describe it as a mindset that blocks out all else apart from the goal or task at hand"

John Eales (Most successful Captain in Australian Rugby History)

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