Here at WFO, diving into the grit, mental mindset, and skills – both physically and mentally – of athletes is something that inspires us in all of our work. While we’ve talked about building mental strength, grit, and performance-based practice in our blog posts before, something we’ve seen more and more is the distinction between someone who does “sports stuff” and that of “athlete.
It’s really simple. If you work out and work towards getting better within your chosen sport in the extreme sports world, you’re an athlete. You’re an adventurer. And it’s time to think of yourself as one.
Many people are uncomfortable with the term “athlete.” They feel it doesn’t apply to them because they never played sports in school, don’t partake in the sport of their choice at a high level, or don’t enter competitions.
When they think of “athlete”, they think of the greats of the sports world, shiny trophies, endless knowledge of all aspects of the sport, fame and fortune, and respect.
We’re confident to say that whether you are ice climbing, mountaineering, a motocross rider, skateboarder or do something else, you are without a doubt athletic. But there lies one of the issues.
It’s the elephant in the room.
People get uncomfortable with the gap between the word “athletic” and “athlete”.
If safe and comfortable to say that you’re athletic. But when you say “athlete”…..
….there’s a lot of justification and pushback. Making jokes about your skills, your abilities, how you’re really not that good, but it’s just something you like to do. Those little things that we all do when we aren’t confident. When we aren’t comfortable in the situation we’re in.
Take a moment and think “what are the qualities of an athlete that makes him or her an athlete?
Here’s a few of ours:
- Trust instincts
- Has a compelling vision
- Learns from failure
- Driving desire
- Goal achiever
- Highly focused
- Lifelong learner
- Manages anxiety
Now come on, be honest. Don’t you want to have at least some (but most likely all) of these attributes?
Imagine your life now, but if you embodied these qualities in your thoughts, actions, and all aspects of your life. It’s life altering, in a magnificent way.
Now can see how having these qualities would improve not just your life, but your skills and lifestyle as an athlete? It’s not an alternate reality, it could be your life. No matter the level of sport you partake in, embodying these qualities would make it near impossible to not break free and level up to the greatness you aspire to be.
Think about it, if you claimed the qualities on this list as yours?
Being laser confident.
Have a burning desire to achieve your goals and dreams.
Reach for challenges, and receive the reward of achieving them.
Imagine it in your mind. It would be truly amazing for that to be your reality, right?
It can be.
If you really want it.
Be bold, embrace those fears, and truly live.
Everything else is just an excuse.
Are You an Athlete?
Most don’t think of themselves as an athlete.
Most don’t think of themselves as an athlete. They think of themselves as hobbyists. They are passionate about their sport and want to better themselves, and have dreams and goals, but don’t think of themselves as an athlete and don’t have the mindset of an athlete. “If you’re not entering competitions and winning, you’re not a real athlete,” is the mentality.
But let’s face it: You are taking part in a physical sport that demands extreme mental and physical focus, guts, determination, training, planing, hard-earned skill – and so much more.
Let’s boil it down: What is the difference between you and an athlete?
An athlete embraces that getting better is what they do. It’s a part of them, just like breathing. There is always another level higher than the one they are at, and the pursuit of excellence has no end but will constantly push you to better than you were last time.
On the other had, you just want to get better. Without giving yourself the “label” of athlete, you’ll fail to make performance improvement a lifestyle. Something that you embody as a whole, in every aspect of your life. Because…that is an athlete. The relentless pursuit of greatness that is the goal of all athletes doesn’t just stop and start when training or completing. It is a mindset, a lifestyle. It’s who you are.
- Why do you need to workout? Because you’re an athlete.
- Why do you need to eat healthy? You’re an athlete.
- Why do you need to mentally toughen up and focus like crazy? Athlete.
- That’s what athletes do. Since you’re an athlete, you’ll do it too.
Six areas in the athlete’s life that require laser-focused effort
There are six areas in the athlete’s life that require laser-focused effort: physical fitness, performance practice, eating with purpose, keeping an organized mind + environment, mental mindset practice, and meditation.
You might have one area down pat but really lack in another, and that’s normal and to be expected. Perhaps you often go on junk food binges and always feel low on energy. Time to get that diet cleaned up. Or maybe you tense up when practicing or performing in front of other people in the skating park. Time to work on the mental block there.
Because you are an athlete. And that what athletes do.
To be a successful athlete means you need to work and master all of these areas. You might need to hone in on a few more than others, so you’ll need to reflect and see where you are doing well and where you’re not.
Welcome. You’re on the journey of becoming an athlete.
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