It is very thrilling to watch an NFL game. The game, the business, the chess match of competing strategies, winning and losing is fascinating. In many ways it is also a reflection of our lives. In life the events take a long time to develop. You may also not see a clear cause and effect as situations normally make take a long time to develop. However following NFL events, it is easier to observe the success and failure and the factors that lead to some results in a short amount of time. In front of your eyes you see players being drafted, teams being built, re-built, management changes, coaches, and strategies being played out in a relatively short span of time. The results are visible in a season and may become clear in a couple of football seasons. Besides the game, this aspect of the game is quite fascinating. It is fascinating to watch different players develop and grow in their positions. Everyone that plays with an NFL team has top talent but only some have been able to be consistently very good and very few have gone on to become great. There have to be something more than the talent that drives the superior performance. I tried to find out what makes someone great besides the physical talent. You can get to NFL with just pure talent but to survive and continue to perform at peak levels more than talent is needed. There are countless players that had talents but could not make it to the top level. And there are countless examples of players that were picked in lower rounds due to their lack of super physical talent but have consistently performed at the top levels.
Here you will find a list of the things I learned from watching NFL and its top players. There are a lot of common themes in all of these top players. These are winning qualities and based upon sound psychological principles. These can be used outside of NFL in any life situation and make life more exciting and enjoyable.
1-Adversity builds the Character
Great players thrive on the adversity. It is not something to run away from. It is something to be embraced. It is something that refines you as a player and brings out the best in you. None of the adversity in a game is to be feared. They are looking for a greater challenge. They are looking to test their skills against the best of the competitors. They nurture complete confidence in their own abilities while blocking any thoughts of weakness. More a team has faced the adversity, more it is prepared for greater challenges. More it comes together as a team. Often a team grows together by facing these challenges and overcoming them.
Exercise: List down the difficult situations that you had to face and how did you overcome them. How did that experience make you even better prepared for future?
2-Believe in Yourself:
One of the things all the great players demonstrate is the power of belief. You have to believe in yourself and your team to win a game. You have to believe in your abilities to make a play. You are not hoping to make a play, you are not trying to make a play, you believe you can make a play and then you go for it. Teams come out of big deficit situations with the power of belief and knowing that they still have a chance, they can still do it. Players come back from career destroying injuries and play effectively. It all happens with the power of belief. It is the optimism that springs out of intense preparations.
3-Never Get Down on Yourself:
Great players never let a bad play determine and control their emotions. They don’t start criticizing themselves for the mistakes they have already made. They definitely learn from their mistakes but never look back. Great players just shake off a bad play like a dream and get ready for the next play. They keep their chin up and come ready to play when the next play is called. There is no time to brood or whine or complain about the play that is already done. Great players are often heard saying after the defeat that they will learn from their mistakes and get back with a better prepared team the next week.
Exercise: Do you get down on yourself a lot? Do you criticize yourself a lot? Are you being your worst enemy?
4- One play at a time
When the chips are down, great players always focus on the next set of tasks. It may become overwhelming when focusing on all the things you have to accomplish. But things seem very simple when you ask a simple question- What do I have to do in this moment? Great players try not to bog down by the unfavorable score or missed opportunities. They just do one good thing at a time. Often the course of the game is changed a one big play like an interceptions returned for a touchdown or a big sack or a big run by a struggling offense.
Exercise: When chips are down are you able to focus on task on hand? Are you able to calmly walk and do your job or do you start to panic? Are you able to be in the present moment without the negative distracting thoughts?
5- Be humble
There is an ancient Indian saying – “Only the semi full vessel splashes water.” The full vessel is more balanced and doesn’t splash water while the semi full vessel tends to have splashes when the water is being transported. This happens as the water in the semi full vessel moves around a lot. Great players have tremendous confidence in their abilities to execute and perform. But they never rub it into other people faces. They always talk about the other teams with due respect and accept the qualities of their plays. Great players realize that it takes a team to win games and they will not be successful if the others are not doing their jobs. While the immature players tend to trash talk and try to demean other players. The really great players rise above the fray and remain humble.
Exercise: Do you remain humble when you are tasting success? Do you try to put people down or raise them up when you seem to be doing better than them?
6- It is about the team
Great players raise the level of players around them they act as inspirational leaders and the team coalesces around them. They understand the value of the team and power of acting as one single unit. They focus on winning as a team rather than focus on the individual statistics. Great players take pride in winning rather than amassing individual statistics. They help their teammates become better and perform more than they previously thought possible.
Exercise: Do you think about the team performance or collective results? Do you try to make people around you better or make them feel worse?
7- Do your job
A team is only as strong as its weakest member. A team becomes strong when the individual units perform their tasks in a masterful manner. A player would not sound very inspirational if are often found not playing their position well. Others listen to the great players for the opportunity to learn from them. NFL is a team sport and a great team is built by individual members doing their jobs to perfection. Great players focus on their assignments and do them really well and by doing that they act as inspiration for others to follow. This is how they elevate the level of others around them, not by overtaking their responsibilities but by becoming a great role model.
Exercise: Do you do your job well? Do you stay on top of things? Do you inspire people by your own work?
8- Act like you have been there before
Great players have already prepared so much that they are really not surprised by the outcome. Even what seems like a stroke of luck is a result of being in the right place at the right time. That takes instincts and instincts are honed by great preparations. Great players act like they have been there before. They have already visualized their victory so many times that it feels natural to them when they win. They have already practiced their winning move so many times that they do it as a matter of fact. It is not a fluke that they make great play so they are not really surprised. Celebration is a spontaneous outcome of your joy when you do something great. So the great players will celebrate but they will not act surprised and wildly exuberant like it might have been an accidental lucky stroke.
Exercise: Do you expect great things to happen to you? Or Do you expect bad things to happen to you? Do you anticipate things always get better for you after you have focused on doing your best?
9- Love it
Great performances need a lot of emotional investment from the players. The emotional energy is needed to helps them keep going when the chips are down. That emotional energy also keep them going when others have already quit. They naturally love what they do and exude that in their actions. A great thrust is provided when you feel the energy rather than just following the motions. Love of the game is what separates a good player from a great one. If you love what you do then it is easier to go through the daily grind or multiple setbacks.
Exercise: Do you love what you do? What would you rather be doing? What are the elements of your present work that you love?
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