Anyone who talks to me on a daily basis will agree on one thing: I talk about the IMG Academy – a lot. Every morning when I sit at my desk to start my day I see the job posting as the Head of Mental Conditioning. I know what I need to do to be qualified for the position and I also know the journey will take a few years, including a masters degree, a few certifications, learning a new language, and a doctorate in psychology for good measure. (UPDATE 3/01/2016: I am the Head of Leadership Development at IMG Academy.) As a 35-year-old full-time teacher and coach I have little time for anything else outside of teaching, coaching, and school work. However, I know what I want and I know it is worth it. I see the path and I smile while waist-deep in research papers as I stay up late to complete the work for each class. I believe with everything in me I will one day be in that position. Henry Ford is many times credited with the saying, “Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you are right.” That being said, I believe. Here are a few things I have learned about belief:
Belief creates power. Belief has a way of creating the momentum you need to achieve fantastic feats. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), an American Psychologist who many sport psychology students credit as a huge influence in their studies once said,
Can you relate? I bet there is a situation you can think of right now in which you could honestly say you sold yourself short. If only you believed you could do better, perhaps that would have pushed you to try a little bit harder.
Belief is a matter of effort. I have spent the last few days working with a local high school team teaching the incoming freshmen how to lift weights properly. On the second day, I took them outside and asked them to raise their right hand as high as they possibly could. With their right hand in the air (some with their left hand, but I’ll leave that up to their coaches to fix) I asked them if that was as high as they could go. They said yes. Then I said, “Raise your hand one inch higher.” Every single player was able to raise his hand at least an inch higher. I have done that with adults, too, and get the exact same result. We live in a world of fierce competition. All things equal, the one who wins is the one who went an inch further than anyone else. Reference “Game of Inches” speech by Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday (warning- there is cursing).
Belief is learned. I remember my freshman year of high school I once said to a teacher, “I am just not good at math.” He responded, “Yeah, some people just aren’t good at math.” What an idiot he was. He should have encouraged me to work harder to understand the things I did not yet understand. He could have used that moment to teach me the power of “Yet” that Carol Dweck teaches in her TedTalk about the power of believing and in her book Mindset: The New Rules of Success. Instead, he agreed with me and I spent years believing math was just not a subject in which I could ever excel.
Some people will call you crazy for your beliefs. You are. You should be. You have to be a little bit nuts to ignore the haters who try and poke holes in your dreams. They are loud and persistent. Exceed their efforts to distract you by letting your accomplishments speak for you. And when someone tells you their dreams believe them, ‘cause, why not?
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
~Steve Jobs (1955-2011)
James Leath is a youth sports psychology consultant with over 15 years experience coaching young athletes. He writes a weekly note to athletes, coaches and parents on subjects that pertain to sports psychology, youth sports, and personal development. He is currently finishing his masters in Performance Psychology and lives in San Luis Obispo, CA. You can sign-up for his weekly note here, find him on twitter at @jamesleath, or visit his website jamesleath.com