Is it the pursuit of an ideal situation, a vision, a dream that excludes all distractions, the ability to overcome, to endure, to sacrifice, to stay focused? Is mental stamina as crucial or more crucial than natural attributes, skills and physical ability and do champions emerge in fields other than sport? Must champions be winners, set records that others must measure themselves by, or is it enough to be considered a champion by being outstanding in any chosen field of endeavour?
There is no doubt in my mind that not everyone can be a champion in the universally accepted sense of the word. Society tends to confine the accolade of champion to only the most distinguished sports achievers, giving minimal acknowledgement to the broader scope of championship. It is easy to recognise physical achievement, championship of the mind is far more elusive.
Now even with the presence of all the necessary elements, would a champion basketballer become a champion cricketer or would a champion golfer become a champion tennis player? Although all of these sports demand well-developed ball skills, they are not easily interchangeable at championship level because they require such specific and focused development. This can also be true of intellectual championship.
I believe that the human brain is hard wired from birth to accommadate human frailty as well as strength and our inherited family gene profiles that creates individual potential. However, what happens from birth to maturity to enable potential to develop to its optimum is greatly influenced by environment nurture.
Themes that are reinforced with regards to champions;
- The essence of championship is having the determination to be the best we can possibly be. This takes commitment, effort, sacrifice and single-mindedness
- A champion mindset is one that embraces a 'can do' attitude even when tackling the unknown or the previously unachievable or unchallenged
- A champion acknowledges and accepts that 'If it is to be, then it is up to me'
Few individuals achieve championship status without a support network of committed people
In an ideal world we would all embrace these elements, and realise they are not beyond the realm of possiblity for the majority of us to tap into. Both physical and intellectual championship require nurture and discipline, commitment, dedication and expert coaching. It will do us some good if we remove our willingness to dismiss or ridicule the vision and aspirations of others while offering no better thoughts, actions or solutions. Also the attachment we have to the belief that much virtue lies in being ordinary. What could possibly make being ordinary attractive?
Is it the handy comfort zone we hide in and use as a shield, when we are not prepared to be challenged or to challenge ourselves? Is it a product of laziness or lack of self-esteem? Is it fear of not being accepted by others, the fear of risking failure or ridicule? The reality is we continue to live in society where people are so obsessed with fear and failure that we never take risks and push boundaries of all aspects of our lives be it at work, sport, in our relationships and we all fall back into our comfort zone, and cloud our fears and doubts with what we percieve are things to be important in our lives. I have learnt the being uncomfortable means your heading in the right direction, as soon as you become comfortable it means your not doing enough, not setting enough goals or being challenged, not taking enough risks because your fear of failure. This will only lead to dissapointment in aspects of your life as being comfortable is standing still in life, and if we stand still people will only walk past us and we get left behind. Remember fear can be a more powerful motivator than recognition. At the same time we should also recognise that it is human to seek and enjoy recognition. Recogniton is a powerful incentive and motivator, even for champions, perhaps especially for champions.
We all need to mature our attitude towards championship and excellence in the broader sense, beyond sport, and recognise that high achievers, whatever their excellence, expand the playing field and create opportunities for others. Wanting to build platforms for success is a very desirable mindset as even the smallest achievement can reach the first platform.
Life could ideally be likened to a golf game, where we constantly play aginst our own handicap in a companionable social environment, versus say the solitude environment of a distance swimmer or marathon runner. Golf stands above the rest because it provides frequent sociable pauses after each shot and though we most often play in pairs or fours, we compete as individuals playing against your own handicap. Does this sound familiar in life? We move through our existence, having opportunities and challenges put infront of us, we sometimes have the benefit of outside influences to help with this but ultimately it comes down to what we do as an individual, and if we allow our fears and doubts to enable that hold of feeling we a somewhat restricted mentally and physically by our own personally-placed 'handicap' then we will will never move on to bigger and better challenges and rewards.
Of course championship has a broad defination, it has many things attached to its meaning. The next question that I for one am interested in is;
Is leadership a form of championship? Does effective leadership require a champion mindset? This is a subject itself which i will not attempt to explore here, except to say that preparation for sporting champions usually begins early in life as soon as natural abilities are recognised, whereas leaders often emerge later in life, drawing their strength, vision and motivation from experience, circumstance and events.
While there are skills and attributes leaders and champions ofthen share, the primary focus of championship versus leadership is different, surely it has to be. Champions must focus on achieving their personal best to the exclusion of others whereas leaders must embody values that can be shared by others. Leaders must be capable of thinking collectively while acting individually and in the interests of the group. Leaders are recognised for their personal qualities and their ability to influence the performance of others.
Both 'champions' and 'leaders' are achievers. Both are inspirational, capable of inspiring others to greatness