Character Matters

22 Nov, 2016


Jeremiah Chapman CSCS, SCCC, Pn-1

Character comes from the hundreds of choices you make every day. It is derived from the ancient Greek word, kharásso, which means to scratch or engrave. Just as a statue starts as a lump of marble until the artist starts to chisel away the unnecessary pieces, so it is with your character. The choices you make on a daily basis will determine your success or failure. “The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way.” - Heraclitus


At Performance Course there are six character traits we discuss with all of our athletes: belief, attitude, leadership, consistency, effort, and desire. The development of these character traits along with the intense commitment to your coaches and teammates will allow you to become successful on and off the field or court.

It starts with BELIEF!

Belief is the cornerstone of the Performance Course character traits. In the powerful poem below Walter Wintle eloquently sums up the power of belief.

The Man Who Thinks He can

by Walter D. Wintle

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but think you can’t
It’s almost a cinch that you won’t
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you’re outclassed, you are.
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.

In order to achieve your dreams, you must first believe in them and then develop a plan to take action.  

ATTITUDE determines altitude.

The mindset you approach each and every day with will ultimately determine your path. Keep a growth mindset and continually pursue excellence in everything you do. Charles Swindoll was able to sum it up with this statement, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes.”

LEADERSHIP means serving others.

Simon Sinek wrote an excellent book on leadership called, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't, as a follow up to his book Start With Why. In Leaders Eat Last he describes leadership as a privilege. “The true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.” Serving others and putting their needs ahead of your own is the difference between personal success and the success of your team. In the Battle of Thermopylae, made famous by the movie 300, King Leonidas leads 300 Spartan warriors into a battle against 20,000 Persian soldiers. The Spartans were known for their oversized and impenetrable shields. These shields were designed to be held directly to the soldier’s right to provide protection to the man next to him. This left one solider at the far left of the formation unaccounted for, Leonidas. Are you willing to serve others and put their needs ahead of your own wants?

CONSISTENCY is the mark of a Champion!

In his book, The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy describes a story of two friends who were presented with two options: 1.) I’ll give you $3 million in cash today or, 2.) I’ll give you a penny and double it every day for 31 days. Which would you prefer? Let’s say you take the $3 million now and your friend decided to take the doubling penny. If you take that $3 million today, you look pretty smart on Day 1 when your friend gets a penny. You also look pretty smart on Day 5 when your friend gets 16 cents. And on Day 10 when he gets $5.12. He is probably saying to himself at this point, “what was I thinking?” 20 days later and your friend is only up to $5,243. You’re feeling pretty good. Then the magic of the compound effect kicks in. Fast forward to Day 31. Your friend gets $10,737,418.24 to your $3 million. That is the magic of the compound effect.  Small choices. Consistently applied over time. Equal BIG results!

EFFORT is 100% up to you.

What would you do if you were given $86,400 every day for the rest of your life? Keep pretending for a little longer.  Suppose this amount was deposited every night at midnight and whether you had money left over from the previous day or not, at 11:59pm, your previous balance was cleared and another $86,400 was deposited. How would you spend it? Would you buy a car, share it with a friend, invest it? The real question is would you leave any unspent if you knew it would be replenished tomorrow? The good news is you are given 86,400 seconds to invest every day. How you choose to spend (waste) it versus how you choose to invest it is completely up to you. Time is always ticking and the amount of effort you choose to give will determine your future. You and you alone are in control of your effort. Are you leaving any left-overs in your account during practice or training? I hope not. Winston Churchill said, “Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential.” Make sure you are ALL IN at everything you do!

DESIRE is the WANT to.

In the Napoleon Hill classic, Think and Grow Rich, he defines desire as a “consuming obsession” and “definiteness of purpose”. Simply stated, if you have a big enough reason WHY (your belief), you will find a way HOW to accomplish anything. Let your desires motivate you to do more than expected. Everyone is familiar with the old cliché of “hard work pays off” but some are not willing to work for their dreams. The difference between being successful and unsuccessful is simple. If you desire to be the very best at what you do you will gladly accept more work. You will train harder. Eat better. Prioritize sleep.  These little sacrifices will ultimately add up to big successes later. Are you willing to work like no one now, to succeed like no one later?

The great quote that has been attributed to many, from Heraclitus to Ralph Waldo Emerson, sums it up best. “Watch your thoughts for they become words, watch your words for they become actions, watch your actions, for they become habits, watch your habits for they become your character, watch your character for it becomes your destiny.” What are you doing or not doing that is affecting your future. Take action. NOW IS THE TIME to take control of your own destiny!