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Monday, January 28, 2013

Sport is Life: Tenacity

Family –

First, I would like to thank you for your support in reading my rants over the course of the past eight months. I appreciate your time, interest and loyalty even if you may not agree with some of my points of view… as I’ve always said anyone can create a blog!

Today we tackle the final topic in our “Sport is Life” mini-series: Tenacity.  Let’s think about that word for a second… Tenacity… Hmmmmm…. Merriam-Webster defines Tenacity as a noun ---> the quality of being tenacious. Tenacious defined as persistent, stubborn, not easily pulled asunder; tough.

Let’s break the different characteristics of the definition down a bit further as they pertain to sport and life. Let’s look quickly at “Persistence.” Our coaches drilled a simple philosophy into us regarding our plan in sport. Never, ever quit. No matter what the score, no matter how bad it might be… never, ever quit. Coach Holtz took it one step further with us when he would define “The Plan” for how we win and round it out with “Never….ever flinch. We will find a way to win.”

Even in our work week we have moments when persistence is required… in sales, the legal profession, education… you name it – at some point we’ll hit the wall. At that point you have to make a decision of whether or not to “flinch” or find a way to win. Look at it this way; if you don’t get it done, somebody else will…agreed? Pretty simple stuff huh?

The next segment of the definition says “Stubborn, not easily pulled asunder.” Sounds a whole lot like focus to me gang! This definition simply says you will find a way and there is basically nothing anyone can to do to change your objective and focus. Our coaches encouraged us to be relentless and give 100% effort at all times. This attitude is evident when you watch professional athletes like Adrian Peterson compete; and former greats like Michael Jordan and Cal Ripken, Jr. In business we can see that passion burning in the likes of Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs and even (God help me) Donald Trump. Having a plan and executing that plan is a basic part of sport… it’s also one of the key ingredients in great success beyond sport.

The final segment of the tenacious definition simply says… “Tough.” Toughness is required in sport on many different levels. There’s the physical toughness required for training to get the body in shape and the endurance to stay injury free during the season to give team the best opportunity to be successful. Athletes play with physical pain all the time… so much so that now it’s become expected on many levels. Mental toughness is also required… having to mentally combat the challenges that are faced throughout the season both on and off the field of competition can place a huge burden on an athlete. Without some level of mental toughness failure is all but certain.

All coaches want tough athletes... athletes they can trust to consistently perform day in and day out… no matter what situation is thrown their way. Coaches want athletes who aren’t afraid to bleed a little and endure a small dose of pain for the success of the entire team. Remember, there’s a difference in being “hurt” and being “injured” right?

"Sport is Life" Mini-Series
In that same vein we should have that same type of toughness in business.  No matter the challenge, no matter the disappointment… no matter the incompetents we have to work with day after day, we have to be strong in relentless pursuit of success (whatever that means to you). Perhaps its salesperson of the month or producer of the quarter… maybe you want to be executive of the year… there may even be a monetary incentive that you find attractive - none of it matters if you aren’t mentally tough.

Just like sport you may not be the most talented or make the most money or may not be the favorite of senior management. However, the one thing that can’t be affected is your ability to outwork others. There’s nothing wrong with getting to work early and staying late. There’s nothing wrong with knowing everything there is to know about your job and there’s definitely nothing wrong with knowing everything there is to know about your competition. At the end of the day there is nothing we do in business today that we didn’t learn about through sport back then.

My uncle, who’s my mentor and a licensed marriage and family therapist, said to me, “Oscar, life involves a ton of crisis management. How are you going to handle each crisis, are you tough enough to continue to fight…. but more importantly do you learn from the mistakes that created the crisis in the first place?” I thought about it for a minute and after letting it marinate for a couple days I figured out why what my uncle said sounded so familiar. His words reminded me of what Coach Holtz used to tell us about facing adversity: “Life is 10% what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”

Dammit… I just can’t seem to shake this “sport thing!”

As we bring this mini-series to a close (and I run out to the doc to get an antibiotic for this ridiculously painful sinus infection) I want to again remind you that sport is so much more than wins and losses. Sport is so much more than just competition and fanfare. Sport is struggle. Sport is pain. Sport is jubilation. Sport is passion. Sport is life lessons. Sport is education. Sport my friends… is life.

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