Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Makeup of Becoming a Champion

The parallels of traits between successful business entrepreneurs and championship athletes are always present. And as a two-time national soccer champion on two different collegiate levels, I am a believer that there are certain characteristics that separate an athlete from a championship athlete.

How many of these traits listed apply to you, your athletes, your employees, or your co-workers? Do you have a champion in your office? Caution: These traits are sometimes best handled in small doses and not all at one time.

“Everyone tells me that the Italian championship is the toughest in the world, but I’m not afraid. In my career, I’ve always scored goals, wherever I’ve been.” – Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima

“Everybody on a championship team doesn’t get publicity, but everyone can say he’s a champion.” – Magic Johnson

“More than anything, I have learned a great deal about the amount of hard work and dedication that it takes to be a champion.” – Nadia Comaneci

Here are the 10 Degrees of Separation listed in no particular order:


Definition: wholly committed to something, as to an ideal, political cause, or personal goal

Not every day on the field is pretty. Not every day on the field is pain free. Not every day on that field is going to be flawless. But you have to stick through it every day through both the good and bad times to reach your end result.


Definition: having, compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling.

Having passion for the game that you are playing is crucial to your success. It’s not just something you do 9-5 or only 40 hours a week.  You not only do it every day because you have to, but because you want to.


Definition: belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance.

This is the belief that you CAN do it.


Definition: making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud

This is the belief that no one else can do it, but you! This term receives such a negative implication, but sometimes a very necessary quality for successful athletes.


Definition: being under compulsion, as to succeed or excel.

What drives you to succeed?  The actual element that drives a champion can be different for each person, but that ingredient is always present. Every now and then this drive is a reflection of a rough childhood, maybe proving others wrong, or simply a competitive drive to win.


Definition: devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

An intelligent call has to be made on behalf of an athlete about when to be selfish in the moment of the game; this includes when to take the ball themselves, not pass to a teammate, and just shoot for the goal.


Definition: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

This includes: the fear of a coach, the fear of losing, the fear of an opponent, and the looming fear of failure. These can become incredible driving forces for achievement.


Definition: the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.

There are just some athletes you watch in awe as you enjoy their ability to have amazing vision of the field. You also have to know what you want, your own vision for yourself before you can make it a reality.


Definition: having little or no concern for oneself, especially with regard to fame, position, money, etc.

While it is important to be selfish, the opposite is also true. Despite the fact that finding balance might be difficult, this is where ultimate success may lie.


Definition: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.

Holds true for respect for yourself as well as respect for others.

10 traits actually make for a very short list of characteristics. What traits do you feel are missing from this list that should have been included and why?

written by Kristen Sonsma

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