“Don’t focus on winning championships, focus on becoming a champion.” – Jon Gordon
I love sports. I always have. For as long as I can remember, I either played, watched or talked about sports. I loved the team celebrations after victories. I loved the passion the players had for their sport. I loved “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” My personal favorite moments are watching teams clinch a championship.
As a young athlete, I used winning championships a personal measuring stick for greatness. If I wasn’t a champion, I internalized this feeling of loss telling myself that I was second rate and not good enough. I took losses personally as if the loss were a reflection on who I am. I was obsessive about winning games, championships and couldn’t stand losing. I was insecure and immature to say the least. My focus and heart valued winning so much that I was overlooking what it means to be a champion.
A championship means you and your team are the best! It’s a moment every player and coach strive for. They spend years planning, preparing, practicing for that one moment to cut down the nets, then celebrate in the clubhouse, coming home to a victory parade, to receive a ring forever symbolizing their commitment to excellence. A championship banner is hung in the rafters for the world to remember this championship.”
For a player, a championship is fairly or unfairly used as a measuring stick of greatness. Sports media often talk about and compare great players to one another based on their number of championships. This championship comparison culture, in my opinion, has influenced a generation of athletes where the number of championships accumulated is more important than the process of becoming a championship player. Winning is important but who you become in the process is more important. Champions value the journey not just the title.
To me other characteristics of being a champion include:
Champions master the fundamentals and never stop practicing them.
Champions are not satisfied with yesterday’s performance.
Champions are disciplined. They put in the work each day.
Champions map out what greatness means and pursue it with tenacity.
Champions focus on who they want to become.
Champions identify and invest in themselves to get better.
Champions love what they do and do what they love.
Champions are contagious with their passion and drive.
Champions love challenges.
Champions are teachable.
This list is not exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination. My list will differ from yours. I suggest that you take time today to write out what becoming a champion looks like to you.
What are you doing today to become that champion?