Do you remember the old nursery rhyme that asked, “What are little girls made of?” The answer was, “Sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of.”
When you see the word “Champion,” images might bubble up like the excitement of competing at the Finals, winning the championship buckle, saddle, and all the prizes and accolades that come with the Championship title. The particular rodeo association you compete in may spring to mind.
In my book, Heart of A Champion, I write about how my Bold Goal of running down a WPRA World Championship in the Tie-Down Roping was not my Bold Goal after all. My Bold Goal, the true prize, was the journey to becoming the best version of myself-- someone I had never known before. You see, becoming a Champion is an “inside job.” In my book, I share my own life experiences where I do the internal work to develop each one of these four Championship Characteristics.
Here are what Championship Characteristics mean to me:
1. Elbow Grease – The first time I heard this phrase was from my mom. I was a little girl struggling to clean my horse equipment. She told me to use some “elbow grease.” What that meant was to do extra. Putting in the “elbow grease” has nothing to do with what others need to do to attain their goals. It’s about us honoring our own journey and doing whatever extra it will take to become our best.
Becoming a Champion can take a lot of “elbow grease” (extra work). It takes discipline to do the necessary extra work that others are not willing to do. It is enormously important to train and level up the required physical, technical, and horsemanship skill sets for your event.
When I ask folks how much of their event is mental, most will attribute at least 50% of what they do and how well they do it to the mental game. ( I attribute 80 – 90% to the mental game.) When I ask the follow-up question, “How much time do you invest in training your mental game?” Most folks reply with, “Very little time.” It is greatly important to be disciplined and put in the “elbow grease,” to do the extra work, toward your Daily Mental Training. Daily Mental Training strengthens your “mental game muscle” and helps you perform your best while training and competing.
2. Grit – Angela Duckworth wrote a great book titled Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, and in her book, she shares The Grit Formula.
Talent X EFFORT = Skill
Skill X EFFORT = Achievement
In her formula, EFFORT counts twice.
Did you hear that? EFFORT COUNTS TWICE!
Each time you face challenges, adversities, struggles, or you just do not get what you want on your timeline, this is an opportunity to train your Grit. Bouncing back up quickly, finding solutions, taking your next step forward, being present and staying productive are all ways you can train and level up your Grit.
3. Gratitude – Your focus is powerful. What you focus on you will get more of in life. Your focus determines your future. Each day, I journal at least three things I am grateful for. Knowing that I am going to be writing down at least 3 things I am grateful for trains me to focus on LOOKING for reasons to be grateful, reasons to be appreciative, and realization of blessings in my life. Practicing Gratitude is the fastest way I know of to produce positive emotions, enthusiasm, and joy. Gratitude is the easiest way I have found to be happy, and being happy quickly facilitates performing at your best.
This called the GHP Principle: Gratitude - Happiness - Performance
4. Grace – We have each been given an unconditional gift from God--the gift of Grace. As you give Grace to others, it is a contagious spread of positive energy. I also see Grace as an important value that you give to yourself.
For decades, I was extremely harsh, mean, and nasty to myself when I fell short and missed the mark. I was hard-headed and believed perfection was attainable. I thought I could beat myself up, to obtain the greatness I was demanding from myself. When I began giving myself Grace, my perspective shifted, and my life transformed. I began living a richer, deeper, more meaningful life.
Learning to laugh at myself, knowing that my mistakes do not define me or my journey, was significant in my being able to take steps forward. Striving for excellence and being my best in the moment allow me to fail beautifully and give myself Grace.
Here is what I’ve learned: I cannot give what I do not have. Being able to give myself Grace has helped me immensely and has allowed me to give Grace to others. Empathy, kindness, caring, and appreciation are attributes I practice giving myself, so I can give Grace unconditionally to others.
Championship Characteristics must be IN you before they show up in what you do. Developing your Elbow Grease, Grit, Gratitude, and Grace, as you rundown your Bold Goals, will help you to become a Champion in the arena of life.