We’ve all heard the startling stories of the sacrifices players make to get back on the field in this sport. Shaking off concussions, having dislocated fingers reduced, receiving stitches, and even playing with broken limbs at times. Nobody questions the mental toughness of the NFL players or the collegiate athletes, it is understood. How about you? Do YOU possess that kind of mental toughness and emotional intelligence in your world? Football players practice strategies to help keep them emotionally stable and mentally strong, do you? Should you?
Mental Strength – When we have the ability to control our emotions and remain in control, we increase our chances of success. Football coaches teach their teams to learn to deal with adversity. If you’ve ever played the game, you know that football is designed to present you with adversity at times. The best coaches teach the best teams to ignore the distraction and to devise a plan to overcome the obstacle. These coaches preach that you must remain disciplined in your thoughts while you revise your game plan, and you must remain optimistic and hopeful. Each of us possesses some amount of mental toughness, and we can train ourselves to enhance the ability to be mentally resilient.
Accept, Don’t Capitulate – We are all born with our genetic pallet, but we do not have to accept anything other than our current reality. The future is largely dependent upon our ability to remain resilient and focused on improving our field position. Only YOU can own the ability to alter your situation or influence your character. We own our reactions to the circumstance of our lives and the down and distance in our individual football game. We can control our reaction to difficult circumstances by focusing on four controllable elements: 1) emotions 2) thoughts 3) choices 4) our behaviors and actions. Face it, life hands us lemons, and we can always choose to turn them into lemonade. I’m the sort of fellow who wants to not only make lemonade but to open a lemonade stand on a busy corner.
Strong Choices – Strong people don’t squander their time feeling sorry for themselves. Let’s face it, the cavalry isn’t coming. If you are going to win the game, you need to figure out how to win by choosing to feel positive and acting proactively to improve your situation and to prevail on the field of play. If you’re going to win the game, sometimes you are going to need to do something you’ve never done before. Embrace change and growth by believing in yourself and figuring out what you need to do differently to lead the team to victory. Sometimes the referees are going to call a terrible call against you, and you cannot focus on the things that are beyond your control. Think about the end of last year’s Super Bowl. The defense turned the game around in the last seconds by intercepting a pass when it appeared the Seahawks were about to score the game-winning touchdown. They recognized what they had power over and didn’t give up when the situation looked grim.
Earn It – Football players are coached to understand that nobody is going to give you anything in a game. As business professionals, we would do well to understand the same. Nobody will give you anything worth having in business. If you want to play the victim card, go ahead, but understand, that victims never win anything worth having. Be humble, concentrate on what you’re going to do, and work diligently on the things you can control and be deserving of the victory. In doing so, you become a winner, whether you win the game or not. The process of practicing, sacrificing, planning, and playing turns us into winners, and that is the best victory we can achieve, in my view.
Patience – The process of turning a bad team around, or preparing your squad for a championship is not an easy path, and it will not happen overnight. If you want to build a dynasty, you must recognize that excellence takes preparation and time, lots and lots of time! Immediate results are never as rewarding as those that were hard earned on the field of battle. Work toward your goals, with a measure of maturity and patience, and honor the achievement of the gradual plateaus along the way. In time, if you stay the course, you can build strength and muscle memory as the players on the football team do, and sweet victory can be yours.
Don’t Give Up, Ever! – I suspect that if Winston Churchill had lived in the United States, he might have made a great football coach. When he buoyed the British during WWII, he reminded them that they would “Never Surrender!” Mentally tough people do not give up. They refuse to quit when the calls go against them, and they keep struggling until they find a way to win! Give yourself the space to make mistakes and remember that failure is often the price of learning the path to success.
Recognize that developing mental toughness is about improving your ability to keep monitoring and managing your emotions, your thoughts, your choices, and the actions that you take as a result! No matter the adversity that you and your team face, you must remain calm and positive in any weather, and you must remain undeterred. Only when you are mentally tough enough to bounce back again and again from horrible circumstances will you be able to taste the sweet taste of victory. I am looking forward to another revealing and entertaining football season. I’ll see you at the fifty-yard line for the kickoff…