THE 10 FOUNDATIONAL BUILDING BLOCKS OF A CHAMPIONSHIP CULTURE
Champions focus, not on winning championships and outcomes, BUT on the mental process of building a strong foundation/culture that will ultimately create peak performance on a consistent basis, thus placing them in position to be the best they can be and, as a byproduct, win themselves a conference, league or national championship. That said, as a sport psychologist, MY MISSION for athletes is always "the exceptional execution of extraordinary excellence". I call this "the X-Factor", the process which is achieved by diligent, eager attention to all "the little things" plus the 10 Fundamental Foundational Building Blocks that can be controlled.
This "Way of Champions" creates goals that are in the now, process oriented objectives that serve as beacons on the horizon that keep all of us on track, living the lifestyle of a champion. Set goals that you can achieve now, in the process. In this regard, practice sessions become tantamount to a championship game, whereby you set a high standard and demand from each other strict adherence to these standards each time you enter the arena of play.
Know that this journey, this "way", is filled with obstacles. You will lose and you will fail. Yet this process is able to teach you how to go to the next level. The obstacles become challenges that you courageously embrace as opportunities to be tested, to learn and ultimately forge ahead. Plateaus will appear, and rather than get impatient or frustrated, you use these times to adapt to that level, master it and go on to discover levels beyond what you thought were limits. To force or try to make yourself push past the plateau will prove to be futile, counterproductive and discouraging. Plateaus are simply one more natural stop on the journey, time to refuel your emotional, spiritual, mental tanks, enjoy the moment, accrue the confidence from mastering that level and then advance not when you think you should, but when the time is right. Trust that when you go slower, you often arrive sooner.
Refuse to offer excuses when you experience slumps, choking, and blocks, or a have a mental meltdown, in your performance. Expect fluctuations and listen to their song. In a safe environment (team and inner self) you will continue on the road to peak performance and metal toughness. Remember that excuses ARE regressions, failures, mistakes. They allow the mind to "check out", not care and justify failure and write it off as useless when, indeed, it is our guru, teacher, mentor. . . how we learn all that we know. Embrace and accept failure -- this builds mental toughness.
The 10 Building Blocks of a Strong Culture are as follows:
- COMMITMENT (to a higher cause, purpose, other)
- RESPONSIBILITY (accept your role)
- ACCOUNTABILITY (give and take critique)
- INTEGRITY (gap between say and do)
- RESPECT (game, opponent, self, coach, team)
- TRUST (self, others, coach)
- LEADERSHIP (everyone's work)
- COURAGE/COMPASSION - twins (give)
- SERVICE (sacrifice/suffering)
- HUMILITY (others get credit, gratitude and thankfulness)
Individually, athletes on such teams must be accountable by demonstrating certain virtues/values/traits, and sport itself presents constant opportunities to develop this inner, spiritual development for sport, and more so, all of life. Some of these virtues/values/traits are: fearlessness, audaciousness, relentlessness, tenaciousness, patience, perseverance, persistence, flexibility, fortitude and belief in self and others. Such virtues are often more vital than talent when trying to experience success.
"I have a number of friends who support my development of
coaching principles. I count on Jerry Lynch as one who has
given me encouragement and information to make a
difference in helping athletes reach their potential. I use
Jerry's examples to support my journeys into the
unchartered waters of coaching."
- Phil Jackson, Coach of Los Angeles Lakers
The success of the individual depends on the success of TEAM. The strength of the wolf is in the pack. All sports, individual or group, demand teams with culture (golf, tennis, wrestling, x-c, track).
- Culture is about socially transmitted behavior patterns, beliefs, thoughts. These are the traits of the "Culture of Champs".
- A set of predominant attitudes/behaviors that characterize the TEAM.
- Developed through education/mentoring/example.
- An atmosphere and environment that is welcoming, nurturing, that we create using the 10 Blocks and certain virtues.
- Culture works together to arrive at a common understanding that benefits ALL rather than one.
- It's a bond. . . not essential to be "best friends" (although this is often the outcome) yet crucial to accept, respect others' interests, strengths, weaknesses.
- Shared experiences. . . resembles a family.
- Leadership in a culture that is healthy becomes everyone's job. Leading is when you reflect the culture you create.
- Ritual. . . all healthy cultures create ritual, be it pre-game, practice, meditation/visualization, post-game.
"Jerry has been with us for the past 10
years, helping the entire team to seven
consecutive national championships
in Lacrosse. Here we are during a team
meeting on the field."
- Cindy Timchal, Head Coach
University of Maryland
A CHAMPIONSHIP IS MERELY A SYMBOL. . . not the goal. The goals are smart work, dedication, ritual, the 10 Blocks, the virtues. A championship is only ONE of several SYMBOLS that our goals were achieved (goals being the process of Being a Champion before a game is played). THERE IS NO NEED FOR A TIME TABLE when a CULTURE adopts this "Way of Champions". Such time tables create slumps, blocks, choking, mental lapses, tension, stress, pressure, tightness, tentativeness and this runs counter to our mission (back to "the X-Factor" -- the exceptional execution of extraordinary excellence). . . of experiencing peak performance and being the best we can be with what we control and all "the little things".
Do not say, "I will try. . . " -- simply do! If you fail, learn from it and improve. The word "try" implies that you may or may not succeed. It's all success regardless of outcome if you realize that by doing over and over, you get better and better. Don't try. . . DO!!!
IF YOU WANT A SPORT PSYCHOLOGIST TO HELP YOU WITH BUILDING A PERSONAL TEAM CULTURE FOR YOUR ATHLETES, I AM AVAILABLE TO DO THIS AT YOUR SITE OR CONSULT WITH YOU BY PHONE. CALL 831-234-5606 FOR MORE INFORMATION.
To get started -- discuss the meaning of each of the 10 Blocks as it relates to your team, and how to specifically demonstrate each collectively and individually.
Define your culture. Ask: Who are we? Where are we going? Then ask your athletes how to act on these answers.