Great is not something one is given in life. Great is something one must take in life.
The Great Champions come from many diverse fields of life, but one of the most compelling is sport.
Sport is transparent, it speeds it all up , it consumes our emotions , it dramatizes life.
It’s a microcosm of life.
And it provides fertile ground for learning.
If you want to be the best – you must learn from the best
Indeed human greatness leaves foot prints, but one needs to be cognisant that Talent , Technique , Technology and Training can only take one so far in sport and in life .
From inside the game plans of some of the great champions of sport, here’re ELEVEN GAME CHANGERS to power up your game – to help set your game apart.
Seldom spoken about, seldom written about, seldom taught, and seldom coached – they’re what set the great champions apart – taking them to the next level performance , growth and contribution.
Hope you find value below for your very own journey from Good to Great to Greater
GAME CHANGER NUMBER ONE: MINDSET MATTERS MOST
Lionel ”Leo” Messi grew up in a small Argentinean town called Rosario. At age 10 he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency
Due to the country’s economic collapse at the time, no one, no club could afford to cover his medication. Messi departed for a trial at Barcelona aged just 13.
He was offered a makeshift contract on the back of a paper napkin.
Who would have thought that at 29, standing just 5 foot six inches, he would go on to be regarded by many as the greatest footballer ever.
Disadvantaged in many ways by his short stature, Messi chose to leverage off his lower centre of gravity and focus his energy on his greater agility, his greater balance, his greater speed and his greater ball control.
Messi is the only player that runs faster with the ball than he does without it. Pep Guardiola
Lionel ”Leo” Messi, reserved and unassuming, and a somewhat unremarkable man outside of football, proved to most that mind set matters most.
He chose to focus on what he is GIFTED AND GREAT at – and went on to become GREATER.
Focus on what you have – not on what you don’t have
GAME CHANGER NUMBER TWO: STEP INSIDE GREAT
At eighteen years of age, Richie McCaw’s uncle and mentor asked him what he wanted to be.
His reply: AN ALL BLACK.
His uncle’s reply: No Richie you do not want to be an ALL BLACK,
You want to be a GREAT ALL BLACK – now write it down, sign it and put it up.
Richie wrote it down as G.A.B on the back of a Mc Donald’s napkin. Signed it . And put it up in his room.
Putting the prefix GREAT before whatever it is you want to do and achieve in life, powers up your game.
It sets the stretch.
It sets the commitment.
It sets the tone.
Most importantly it creates a high performance culture of great – the way things will get done.
Richie went on to earn a record 148 caps for the All Blacks, lead his country to two World Cup victories – whilst creating and cementing an honor code amongst fellow All Blacks – which any sporting team would be proud of.
Richie McCaw – an ordinary guy doing extra-ordinary things – a shining example of stepping inside of great.
GAME CHANGER NUMBER THREE: GREAT IS SUCCESS AND SIGNIFICANCE . SUSTAINED
One question I love to ask my audiences is:
Who’s the greatest sporting superstar of all time?
Answers are mostly subjective according to which sport you love most, but it is the reasoning which I love to hear.
Having studied many of the greatest in different sports, GREAT is defined by 3 S’s:
SUCCESS & SIGNIFICANCE. SUSTAINED
Great is certainly no one day game, whether it is in sport or life.It’s tough to get to the top and it’s even tougher to stay there.
Many great careers often come crashing down prematurely.
That’s why we marvel at sporting superstars such as Roger Federer who is fast approaching his 100th career title at age 35 . How about 11 times world surfing champion Kelly Slater who is still competing at the highest level at age 45 .
Kelly lives in an exponential world of abundance where 1+1 =11
How about our very own AB de Villiers who stands atop of the cricketing world at age 33.
They are just a few of the greatest.
The list goes on and on – for those who understand what great is . SUCCESS coupled with the SIGNIFICANCE of giving back to others in their stellar careers.
Who do you think ? Make your own list of greats .
Human Greatness is Success and Significance .Sustained
GAME CHANGER NUMBER FOUR: START WITH WHY
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you figure out why. Mark Twain
Great individuals, Great companies all start with ‘the why’ .
Not ‘ the what’’.
Steve Jobs did not start with ‘the what’.
Yes, Apple certainly make great computers.That’s ‘ the what’ in Apple , but what sets Apple apart is their relentless focus on ‘their why’ – their burning desire to challenge the status quo :
To think differently
Using this analogy in the sporting environment , there is no doubting that A.B. de Villiers’s is a great cricketer.
That’s ”the what’’ in his life , but what sets him apart as a superstar is his burning desire to keep his focus on ’’the why ”
– to make full use his god given sporting talents:
To Entertain, To Educate, To Enrich the lives of others
He’s inspired to do.
Inspiration comes from starting with ” the why” – not ” the what”.
Living ‘the why ‘’
It’s a lot more than just wanting to play cricket. Sometimes I even surprise myself with the shot I play – but that’s more about the crowd being there . AB de Villiers
Darren Scott recently joked:
I would get out of a Jacuzzi – with Gwen Stefani – to watch AB de Villiers bat.
That’s Entertainment . Par excellence AB . Knowing ‘the why ‘ that fills stadiums.
GAME CHANGER NUMBER FIVE : BRANDING CREATES CHAMPIONS
Whether we know it or not, every one of us in is SALES (closing the deal) and MARKETING (creating and sustaining relationships) ourselves.
Talent, beauty, strength, intelligence, kindness, wealth, loyalty, humor, power etc are all ways we market and sell ourselves
But, the great champions do more – than just sell and market themselves.
They BRAND themselves.
And they do it extremely well (Branding invokes an emotional response).
Branding sets the great champions apart.
It drives human greatness – acting as one’s compass in good times and one’s scaffolding in challenging times.
It delivers on personal performance, growth and contribution.
Cristiano Ronaldo has built a great PERSONAL BRAND, leveraging off all three all three of the potent P’s of personal branding, namely:
PURPOSE: Knowing THE WHY in your life – knowing why you were put here on earth
PRIORITIES: Knowing what’s is truly important in your life
PERFORMANCE GOALS: Knowing what you want to achieve in life
It’s the close alignment of these three potent P’s, which creates champions.
And delivers on human greatness.
In sync .
Cristiano Ronaldo’s outer and inner personas can be likened to an orchestra – and it’s not that just some of the orchestra’s players are virtuosos; a lot of them are .How they interact makes Ronaldo what he is. There is a confluence in his brain, his thinking, his person, his world. He holds all the aces.
GAME CHANGER NUMBER SIX : THE ONE THING
If you chase two rabbits – you will not catch either one – Russian Proverb
Here’s a short extract from the movie City Slickers :
Curly :What’s the secret to life?
Mitch : No ,What ?
Curly : This ( He holds up his one finger )
Mitch : Your finger ?
Curly : The One Thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else doesn’t mean sh*t !”
Mitch : That’s Great , but what is the one thing?
Curly : That’s what you have got to figure out .
Personally, I’m a big fan of Gary Keller’s version of “The Secret to Life,” which he reveals in his book
The One Thing: the surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results.
He believes “The One Thing” is the best approach to getting what one really wants in life.
In order to get more, one must have less on one’s plate.
Focus, Focus and Focus more
Success begets success when one narrows one’s concentration to one thing.
Sporting Champions are often blessed with multiple sporting talents and skills , but they all make a choice.
It’s The One Thing – which they can be greater at .
GAME CHANGER NUMBER SEVEN : INTEGRITY MUST BE THE FOUNDATION OF ALL COMPETITIVENESS
Seldom taught, seldom spoken about by coaches, integrity plays a major role in winning.
Blitzbok sevens coach, Neil Powell candidly spoke out about it:
Integrity is doing the right thing – when nobody is watching.
He’s got it spot on .
And he has expertly leveraged off it- to build a potent ”Honor Code” within the Blitzbok camp.
Yet, sometimes even the greatest of the great – get it humanly wrong on this count.
Take Lance Armstrong. Take Tiger Woods and many others who chose to cheat in either their professional or personal lives.
Only for their glittering careers to come crashing down
In reality, no one cheats on an opponent. You can only cheat on yourself – robbing yourself of the potent cocktail which makes champions – and determines sustained winning : F.C.B
FAITH , CONFIDENCE & BELIEF.
Faith ,Confidence and Belief in oneself – to deliver – without crossing the line .
Without FCB , sporting careers can begin to unravel at an alarming pace .
It’s the same in real life .
Integrity must be the foundation of all competitiveness.
It’s the foundation of human greatness.
80% of getting what you want is believing and acting as if you are worthy. The other 20 % is learning and acquiring the proper mechanics ,knowledge ,actions and details to make it a reality : Corey Wayne.
GAME CHANGER NUMBER EIGHT : THE POWER IN THE PELOTON
The Tour de France is no easy race. The modern editions of the tour consist of 21 gruelling stages over a 23-day period and cover around 3,500 kilometers.
And they say there are days at the Tour de France when one would consider swapping non-vital organs for a bit of shade.
One thing is for sure – it’s 21 days of intense competition where the champion riders, dogged by constant scrutiny and continuing doping allegations, seek to find and apply leverage in many different legal formats.
Leverage defined as the ability to do more – with less.
One of these forms of leverage is the Peloton (from French, meaning little ball or platoon). The purpose of the Peloton is to do more with less – hence creating an:
Elastic Band Effect .
It’s all about the team – alignment and synchronicity creates the magical multiplier.
By riding close to other riders (drafting, slipstreaming and particularly behind), the reduction in drag is dramatic :
Up to 40 % say sports scientists.
As in life the riders encounter head winds , cross winds ,tail winds and most recently in The Cape Argus – gale force winds.
The Peloton mimics strategies and tactics used in real life situations – and having to adapt to constant change.
All types of team dynamics come into play as teams seek to create competitive advantage and deliver their lead rider to the bottom of the first big Pyrenean climbing stage :
fresher than any rivals – and with the opportunity to let loose
Teams like the All Blacks , who operate and “play in a peloton” , will come at you fresher – with up to 40% in their reserve energy tank.
It’s a game changer.
GAME CHANGER NUMBER NINE : TRUST ALLOWS FOR TEAMS TO GO HIGH RISK HUNTING
Teams are built on :
Focus and Trust.
It’s what allows for teams to go ‘’ high risk hunting’’ – and play at another level .
Londelozi Lion expert Ian Thomas tells a story of how a 200 kg lioness can take down a 900 kg buffalo – trusting and knowing that the support will be there .
Focus and trust allows for the lionesses to take down any opponent.
No one lioness will be seen “hunting warthogs “simultaneously. They go in united .
Trusting and knowing that the support is always there – it allows for high risk hunting.
And they get handsomely rewarded.
In sport, we have great examples – The All Blacks get it right . The Lions Rugby team are becoming expert .
And our Blitzbokke.
Teams that foster a culture of ‘Focus and Trust’ are enabled and empowered to play at a far higher level.
High Risk Hunting comes from knowing that someone has got your back .
GAME CHANGER NUMBER TEN : NO HEALTH.NO WEALTH
This is an interesting and insightful one – as it’s becoming more and more common to find sporting super stars who at some stage in their careers just feel:
Indeed , there exists a fine line between human greatness and human implosion ( Called BURN OUT in sport )
Often the loss of one’s health ( or facing up to constant injuries ) is the price that is paid when one pushes the human limits too far. Or reads the game wrong .
Here’s some of the most invaluable insight on health and happiness – which I have uncovered to date .
Surprisingly, it did not come from the medical fraternity. It came from a sporting legend –one of Great Britain’s greatest ever middle distance athletes:
We all have a finite amount of energy. Whether you use physical or mental energy it all comes from the same source. Wherever you focus your energy you’re either filling or depleting the same well – Sir Sebastian Coe
It follows that it’s our job to make sure that one’s human energy well never runs dry.
Here’s some game changing opinion to consider :
The human well, wellness, or well-being has three buckets, each one equally important – namely physical, chemical and emotional buckets. Physical, is what we do with our bodies. Chemical is what we put in our mouths, and emotional is what we put in our hearts and heads.
Thankfully the genius of modern medical science has made us all pretty adept at how to fill our human energy well from the physical and chemical buckets. We know how much sleep and rest we need. We know how much exercise we need. We know which foods agree with us, and those which do not.
Our bodies even have wonderful feedback mechanisms to help keep us balanced in the physical and chemical realms of life and health. We know what to take in.
But, it’s never that simple in the emotional realm.
Surprising very few people grasp how our emotions can turn toxic. Negative emotions ‘taken in’ and harbored long term will create havoc .
Often this is where human implosion, or BURN OUT happens. Unwittingly or habitually, we continue to drain the human energy well from the emotional bucket, creating an on-going state of imbalance. A tipping point is eventually reached and breached – and the human energy well runs dry.
The body moves from a state- of- ease to a state of dis-ease : BURN OUT.
Here are a few valuable pointers to keep one’s human energy well filled to the brim – and yourself on the road of ease, as opposed to the road of dis-ease.
To fill up the human energy well using the emotional bucket – one should focus one’s life on the ‘Big Five’ positive emotions, namely:
Unconditional Love , Gratitude, Acceptance, Forgiveness and Joy
They Energize! They’re life’s greatest healers.
And be sure to steer well clear of life’s Big Five ‘negative emotions’ – namely:
Resentment, Guilt, Criticism, Hate and Futility ( Self Pity )
They Drain. And if held long term, they turn toxic – and become life’s greatest destroyers.
Ultimately, it’s a human choice as to how one manages one’s human energy well on one’s journey through life.
Balance your health , investing with all three buckets that fill the human well .
GAME CHANGER NUMBER ELEVEN : LIVE THE JOURNEY . DON’T CHASE THE GAME
Even the greatest of the great sometimes get it humanly wrong – when they :
Chase the game
Chasing the game means chasing the result .
But , as any wise coach will tell you , greatness does not come from focussing on the result – greatness comes from keeping one’s focus on the process .
Live in the moment .Live the journey
Sadly golf has lost one of its greatest players in Tiger Woods- currently ranked 780 . Tiger chased the game – becoming obsessed with chasing down Jack Nicklaus’s 18 major victories – wanting to dominate . He burnt himself out .
If only , Tiger Woods realised that his game – his god given gift is : To Entertain , to Educate and to Enrich lives ( as in Game Changer Four ) .
If he could turn off the self- inflicted pressure valve , I believe he could still win more majors .He is that good .
That’s the final potent message from our sporting greats .
Don’t chase the game. Live the journey
Live. Love. Learn. Leverage and Laugh
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Rob Opie is a Brand Expert, Author, Speaker, and Performance Coach to Business Executives, Corporate teams, Sports teams and Individuals.
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