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6 non-tangible qualities that are more important than talent

Throughout all my years of coaching athletes, there’s a few non-tangible qualities that I’ve notice have a much bigger impact on the success of an athlete than talent. I’ve seen amazingly talented athletes fall short of their goals time and time again while a less talented athlete goes on to succeed and accomplish far more than the latter. Talent can only get you so far, without the qualities I’m going to outline you will not reach your absolute best. If you have a high level of talent I highly encourage you to read through this article and take a good hard look at yourself and determine whether or not you can do better. Sometimes having talent early on can be a curse for athletes without these 6 qualities as a foundation. These 6 qualities are the route of our core principles which are the following

1. How you do anything is how you do everything

2. Be great where your feet are

3. Give respect before asking for it

4. Lead from the front


In order to get respect, you must first give it. Showing respect to others especially all the coaches you work with makes everyone you interact with route for your success, they will go above and beyond for you. When your coaches pour time and energy into you showing respect for their time and the work they have put in with you makes them more willing to continue doing that. While on the other way around, when respect and appreciation for their time and energy is not shown then coaches are a lot less likely to go the extra mile for you down the road. Doing this is not hard, it’s as simple as doing the following

- call your coaches “coach”

- show up on time

- ask good questions

- act on their feedback

- consistently show up physically and mentally

- do not bring your day into the gym (or practice).

Ability to receive Feedback

Throughout your athletic career you’ll be working with coaches who have a perspective and knowledge that can help to get you to the next level. You’re never too good to receive feed back from a coach. If receiving constructive criticism is hard for you, if you get emotional when you hear what you’re doing wrong or what you could be doing better or you write off feed back from a coach because you think you know better think of all improvement you could be leaving on the table. Have an open mind every time a coach talks to you, absorb what is useful and disregard what is not but show respect when receiving feedback always and listen. Make eye contact and don’t interrupt. Then ask questions to make sure you understand the feedback given.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve offered my advice only to fall on def ears and later on that same situation came back to bite the athlete in the ass. This can make all the difference in the long run. If you have two coaches like a sport coach and a strength coach that have two differing views as them questions about why they have a certain view point and you can decide for yourself what the best course of action is. But always remember to show respect when doing so.

Follow through

This goes right with the ability to receive feedback, after receiving feedback the next step is to follow through on that feedback. You don’t know what will work until you try it. When a coach offers their perspective from the years of experience they have coaching then that means it’s worked in the past for someone in a similar position as you. Meaning this feedback has a proven track record to work, might as well try it! Ignoring it is choosing to learn the hard way and you can only do that so many times before it’s too late, you missed your opportunity. Most great coaches have chosen this path in the past, they learned the hard way and that’s what makes them a great coach but not a great athlete (in many cases). Listen to the people who learned the hard way so you can take the shortest route to greatness.

Showing up on time

This is such a simple thing to do that goes along way, yet so many people fail to do this. Show up on time when you’re expected to show up. 10-15 minutes early is respectful, 20-30 minutes early is disrespectful. 1 minute late or later is disrespectful. When you’re expected to be somewhere at a certain time and your coaches are taking the time out of their day to be there for you as well, show up when you’re expected to show up. Athletes are extremely busy these days, they have so much going on it’s crazy but that is still not an excuse to be late. You know your schedule, don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s better to do a few things really well and get the absolute most out of it then half assing everything. How you do anything is how you do everything, if you show up late somewhere then you probably show up late everywhere.

Love of the process

Fall in love with the process, not the destination. If you obsess about the process of becoming better and better you’ll always show up and to the work necessary. If you’re just obsessed with the destination you start counting the cost. You pay attention to how much energy you have to put in on a daily basis to reach your goals and you’ll start justifying taking time off and taking breaks. If your destination is all you care about burn out will happen, if you love the process of becoming you’ll never burn out.

“be great where your feet are”. If you have focus on doing a great job with everything your do, greatness will come! Success, accomplishment, and greatness is not something that is forced it lived. It is the actions you do every day that make up the process of becoming who you are, your actions shape and form you.

Showing up in the face of adversity

Adversity is like getting punched in the face. Everyone eventually has to face adversity at some point in their life, and the ones who shy away from it, hide from it and try to avoid it at all cost end up with little to no progress. Failure is not fun, being faced with the reality that you’re not good enough in that moment can crush some athletes. When this happens the ones that go on to persevere do not focus on the things that they can’t control they only focus on the things that they have control over. Much like the 5 other qualities I mentioned above. The ones who fall short focus on all the external factors that they have no control over and they allow that to be their narrative instead of taking full responsibility for the outcome and daring to do better. “We lost because of the ref’”, “My alarm never went off”, “I’m late because of my parents”, “my school is so political, that’s why I’m not playing”. Do these sound familiar? How you handle the challenges in your life will directly affect the outcome of your life, when you take responsibility for the good and the bad it becomes much clearer what the best course of action will be for successful in your sport. And life for that matter.

If you’re reading this and you don’t identify with all these qualities I outlined and you want to have a good sporting career, take a good hard look at yourself and determine what you can do better. For some of you this may just be a reminder that the little things matter and it’s good to be reminded every once in a while, so you can be more on top of your game. If you have any sort of talent in your sport and aren’t adhering to these 6 qualities, someone who is less talented than you is coming up to take your spot.

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