Earlier this year, I had the fortune to work in my capacity as a performance coach with the Stirling Clansmen (the 2014 American Football British National Champions). Although I played a very small part in helping them get in the right frame of mind to play their best, what I learned from observing them taught me some extremely valuable lessons.
The most important lesson that I learned was in observing what I call relentless discipline. The Stirling football coaches cultivated a culture on the team that was extremely impressive. They emphasised over and over again the essential need to be consistent in everything they did. They worked hard on the pitch and were well behaved off it. The importance of a code of behaviour was instilled quite brilliantly.
I’ve never had a more receptive audience than the 40 strong Stirling group. They were hungry for success and cohesively resonating with that hunger. They seemed to have a deep understanding that their conduct would determine how they would perform. Their values all seemed aligned.
To me, that is where relentless discipline comes from. It comes from the ability to communicate the importance of being a certain way in all aspects of your behaviour. For to become a champion, you really must become a champion. These champions became champions before they won the title. They became champions by how they acted. They acted like any great sporting icon. They worked as hard as they could work. They supported each other and they respected their opposition and anyone involved in the game.
I see discipline as the art of getting yourself to consistently behave in a certain way regardless of how you feel. When I go to the gym, I rarely go because I’m excited about it. I go because I know it’s really important for me. I made that decision because I decided I would value it. I made that decision because I decided to become that kind of person.
We often look to our behaviour to define who we are. When this team looked at their own behaviour, they could see real professionalism. They could see champions. This ensured that their discipline became relentless.
The trick is, if we want to succeed in any chosen area of life, we need to value relentless discipline as being exceptionally important. We need to remind ourselves that success isn’t easy and the choices about how hard we are going to work and how consistently we will do so is going to determine whether we are successful or not. The beautiful thing is that it is up to us. It is up to what we choose to give value to. And we need to see ourselves as ‘that kind of person’. That’s a secret of champions.
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