Learning from a champion - Unpacking Effort

The willingness to do whatever it takes to become the very best and to stand on top of the podium, not just once, but over and over again and season after season is not possible for every competitor. In fact, it is one of the reasons why we see individuals with immense talent never quite reach the very top or if they do it is only for a very brief moment.

In my interviews of both male and female ski racing champions and their coaches, I heard over and over again stories on what was going on behind the scenes that enabled these superstars to stay on top and it was more than physical talent. If you have ever gotten every question right on an exam, think back on the time that you put into your preparation. Your friends probably thought that you had disappeared or your family wondered why you were locked into your room for hours every day. Now, think about making this effort every single day, for every class and for the entire school year. 

Champion ski racers do not just train throughout the Spring and Summer in order to ski fast in the Fall they are also eating the right foods so that their muscles develop properly and so that they have the energy to actually train every day and develop the necessary skills in order to win. A champion ski racer is getting enough sleep every night so that the body can recover from a day of work and to then be able to put out the same effort the next day. Champion ski racers are putting out all of this effort with friends asking to go see a movie or perhaps go out dancing.

Champion athletes have the ability to say “no”. This subtle skill allows them to tell their friends, I am busy or I am sorry, but going out is not in my schedule for this week. Think how hard it must be to tell your friends no and then think how hard it must be when your friends stop calling because they already know the answer.

The effort required to be at the very top over and over again is beyond just physical ability and hard work, it is personal. It is an effort that comes from the very depths of a champions body and psyche. It is an effort that consumes every minute of every day and it is an effort that very few are willing to access and put into action.

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