Hockey’s Great One, Wayne Gretzky, was asked, “What is it that separates great champions from the near-great?”
He replied, “My goodness, I don’t know. If I did, I’d bottle it up and sell it.”
(“Soul of a Champion: Athletes share common competitive thread” USA TODAY 9/25/06)
”Champions are made, not born.” -Vince Lombardi
If Vince Lombardi is right, when are champions made? How long does it take? Where is the best place to make them? What is a champion? Who can be a champion? Like Wayne Gretzky, there are no simple answers to these and other questions. The only thing I do know about champions, (or champions in training) is that I recognize greatness when I see it.
Recently, a past client and friend shared a video of his young daughter playing basketball. As my teen-aged son is into basketball, I was looking forward to seeing another young person playing and enjoying the game. As I clicked on the link to the video, I realized I was in for a big surprise. During the opening scenes of the video I was blown away. You see, I was expecting her to be a teenager like my son, but she was not. In my view, not only was she superbly skilled at the game, but also equally determined and enthusiastic. I will let you watch and decide for yourself. (please watch below)
After watching this video a few more times, I thought about what it takes to make a sales champion, and I realized sports and sales have a lot in common. Patrick Cohn, a sports psychologist, suggests that there are four mental and emotional characteristics common to champion athletes. I would argue that they are common to sales champions as well.
Cohn’s characteristics are:
- Competitiveness: “This is someone who loves the heat of battle,” Cohn says. “They’re motivated by testing their skills against the next person. Obviously, they love to win and hate to lose. You need that. People might think, ‘Well, isn’t everyone competitive?’ The answer is ‘no.’ The really competitive person digs deeper than the next guy.”
- Confidence: “Self-confidence is probably the No. 1 mental skill that championship athletes possess,” Cohn says. ”Simply put, it is their belief in their ability to perform. They see themselves as winners. They think, act and behave in very confident ways, sometimes to the point it can turn people off.”
- Composure: “This one has a couple of connotations,” Cohn says. “The first is: Can you keep it together under pressure at crunchtime? It’s the last minute of the game, and you’re trailing by three: It’s how well you can stay under control emotionally and can perform when you need to. ”The other component is how well you deal with mistakes. Can you stay composed and forget about them? Or do you get upset and frustrated and thrown off your game? Athletes who are composed don’t get rattled and compound one mistake into many.”
- Focus: “The idea is to give focus and attention to what’s most important — and, when you do get distracted, to refocus quickly,” Cohn says. “This is the key component to success in sports such as gymnastics and diving, but it’s important in all sports.”
After watching this young girl play, I know she will be a basketball champion some day. I hope her story will inspire others to excellence and success.
Thank you for sharing this Derek!
P.S. What will you do today to improve your sales game?