Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 5.05.04 PMThe power to hold on in spite of everything, the power to endure—this is the winner’s quality.

It takes a lot of characteristics to be a part of a football team, but it takes even more to be a part of a successful football team. A distinguishing characteristic between the two is persistence.

Persistence is the ability to face defeat again and again and again without giving up, even in the face of extreme difficulty. Not only is perseverance necessary for survival, but it is also necessary for victory. You have to keep pushing to overcome the pain. You have to keep pushing to overcome and defeat the obstacles ahead of you, and sometimes, that doesn’t always seem possible.

This perspective might be easy at first, but in the face of failure, it becomes harder and harder to maintain.

The key to a persistent performance and mindset is not in the results, but it’s in the process. Once the process of integrity is mastered, the results take care of themselves. Most importantly, it’s not what people say, it’s their actions that define them. Performance is a recap of process; Process is what you actually do.

Another thing to remember is there are two different kinds of persistence.

The first kind of persistence comes with a lot of doubt. We are not sure of ourselves or our ability to perform. Regardless of such, we continue fighting. The things that push us forward may be unknown, but we go with them. We must persevere.

The second kind of persistence is a little different. It comes from something deeper. All sorts of things can be going on. The score may not be in our favor, but the type of person we are doesn’t pay attention to the scoreboard. We pay attention to a process, and even more so, we focus on a mentality that is simple yet powerful:

“We’re not giving up.”

That mentality is not a question. It is a statement.

It is also important to remember how to handle ourselves when we are successful at what we do. It is important to remember that yes, success is the ultimate goal we’re going for, but it is only a part of the process we use to get there. The process is still the most important thing. Never become too satisfied with results. Don’t dwell on failure.

Plainly, do not rest in accomplishments. Enjoy success and focus on the process. Only individuals with this attitude can enjoy victory on a consistent basis.

With so much focus being paid toward the physical aspect of football, we often ignore the mental side of it. Throughout the year, from the preseason to the postseason, athletes across the country devote countless hours to improving themselves physically. Whether it’s drills to improve their skills, sprints to improve their speed or lifting weights to get stronger, athletes are constantly working to better themselves on the outside–because that’s what people see. The outside is what gets sacks, hurdles defenders, makes diving catches and throws touchdowns. But what controls all those functions that the muscles perform? The mind.

Maintaining  positive vibes and translating them into focus and performance takes work. That’s where Dr. Rick McGuire’s guide to “Thinking Right in Sport” comes in. The Mizzou Tigers are embracing the expertise and knowledge of MU’s nationally recognized sport psychology program and its director to gain a distinct advantage in preparation that will ultimately translate into execution on the field.

Here’s an outline of “Thinking Right in Sport”:

The most basic understanding:

1.  Wrong thoughts, negative thoughts and distracted thoughts hurt sport performance.

2. Right thoughts, positive thoughts and focused thoughts help sport performance.

3. Thinking right is a skill, and like any other skill, it can be learned.

4. Our goal is to be able to focus on every play.

5. And to be able to re-focus for the next play.

Focus:

1. Focus is just a thought.

2. Focus is controllable.

3. Focus is a choice.

4. You make the choice to focus. It is up to you to take control.

Understanding Thinking:

1. People’s thoughts are independent. I think my thoughts and you think yours.

2. Thoughts are thought one at a time.

3. Everybody picks his own thoughts. I pick my thoughts and you pick yours.

4. You can’t force other people to think anything and other people can’t force you to think anything.

Positive “Self-Talk”:

1. Self-talk = thinking.

2. Your thoughts are your “self-talk.”

3. Your thoughts are your own conversation with yourself.

4. Your self-talk is the MOST INFLUENTIAL conversation that you ever have!

5. Have POSITIVE self-talk!

6. Negative self-talk hurts performance.

7. Negative self-talk is thinking wrong.

8. Positive self-talk helps performance.

9. Positive self-talk is thinking right.

8. Control and change it! Choose positive self-talk and positive thoughts!

The “Self-Talk” Model:

1. When we encounter situations, we have thoughts.

2. Our thoughts affect our emotions.

3. Our emotions affect our physical being.

4. Our physical being affects our behavior.

5. Thus, our thoughts affect our behaviors.

6. Our thoughts affect how we play.

7. Positive behaviors in football = GREAT PLAYS!

8. When we meet challenging or hard situations, when we become upset, we must choose positive self-talk! We must think right!

It is only with that solid foundation of mental training that the Tigers can achieve the Missouri Football Team Bottom Line.

Being a follower does not sound very glorifying. For some reason, the word “follower” is often given a negative connotation.

On the other side, the word “leader” holds a positive connotation.

The opposite of a follower is a leader, but contrary to what most people think, you aren’t always just a natural-born leader. At some point in a leader’s life, he must first understand what it is to be a follower so that as a leader, he may lead efficiently and with understanding of how his followers naturally work.

There are a few huge steps that need to be taken before becoming a leader, and many of those steps will knock you down to the floor before you’re able to move onward and upward.

The Mizzou Tigers football program has established 15 particular traits that make someone not only a leader, but a “self starter.” We believe that these 15 traits are ingredients and can be learned, but it will and must take lots of hard work and dedication. Let’s begin with the first.

1. Competitive greatness

To be competitively great, you must be at your best when your best is needed. To obtain this, you must learn to enjoy a difficult challenge.

2. Poise

Poise is sticking to your identity and being who you are. To have this calm composure, you must be at ease with yourself. Inner conflicts should be controlled.

3. Confidence

Respect without fear often comes from being prepared. You must keep a proper perspective to do so.

4. Condition

There are three types of condition: mental, moral, and physical. Rest, diet, and exercise are necessary. Everything must be done in moderation, too much of one thing is never good.

5. Skill

You need a knowledge of and the ability to properly and quickly execute the fundamentals. Be prepared and cover every little detail.

6. Team spirit

You must have a genuine consideration for others—an eagerness to sacrifice personal interests of glory for the welfare of all.

7. Self-control

Practice self-discipline and keep emotions under control. Good judgment and common sense are essential.

8. Alertness

Be observing constantly. Stay open-minded. You must be eager to learn and improve.

9. Initiative

Cultivate the ability to make decisions and think alone. Do not be afraid of failure. There is so much to learn from it.

10. Intentness

Set a realistic goal. Concentrate on its achievement by resisting all temptations and being determined and persistent.

11. Industriousness

There is no substitute for work. Worthwhile results come from hard work and careful planning.

12. Friendship

This comes from mutual esteem, respect, and devotion. Like marriage, it must not be taken for granted. Friendship is a joint effort.

13. Loyalty

You must be loyal to yourself and to all those depending on you. Keep your own self-respect.

14. Cooperation

With all levels of your coworkers, listen if you want to be heard. Be interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way.

15. Enthusiasm

Lastly, you need enthusiasm. It brushes off upon those with whom you come in contact with. You must truly enjoy what you are doing.

Senior offensive lineman Max Copeland and junior defensive end Kony Ealy are two leaders on Mizzou’s football team, and have spent quite a bit of time in Coach Pinkel’s program. These guys get asked about the X’s and O’s all the time, but we wanted to see what they had to say about the man who leads this program.

Listen as Max and Kony describe Coach Pinkel, and share their thoughts on brotherhood, buying in to the We Are Family philosophy, and setting their sights on goals.

NCAA Football: Missouri vs. Southeastern Louisiana

Recently, we’ve touched on how commitment is a key to achieving excellence, and being mentally focused is just as important as being physically able. Now you have to ask yourself, given your current performance level is your commitment strong enough to take you where you want to go? You know yourself better than anyone else in the world! Develop a focusing plan to improve the quality or duration of your focus, and practice this every day.

Six Steps to Follow for this Mission

1. Select a target area for improvement:

  • Choose from one or all of these area: commitment, focus, confidence, positive imagery, mental preparation, distraction control, or learning. Make sure you choose an area on which to effect positive change.

2. Pinpoint your best performances:

  • Reflect closely on what may have already worked well for you in past situations.

3. Review the strategies of others:

  • Choose anything that will be useful in accomplishing your mission.

4. Write down your plan of action:

  • It’s not real until you write it down. What are you going to do to initiate the change you are seeking? When are you going to do it? How often? What circumstances?

5. Practice your plan:

  • Think about what worked well and what didn’t work well and what you need to change. Keep this process going by the continued experiences you’re having.

6. Share your pursuit with others:

  • Use your teammates and keep full focus on what you’re trying to accomplish. Become mentally stronger and your pursuit will be more joyful.

Commitment to Excellence

To achieve your potential, somewhere deep in your core you have to create the belief that you can do it. By dreaming about your goal and focusing on the process you nourish your commitment, your confidence, and your belief in your ability. Great accomplishments begin with some kind of vision or dream. Every great feat flashes in the mind before it surfaces as reality. Think about your own dreams; nurture them in your mind, often. Go after your dreams; let them lead you. It’s the only chance you have to move along your path of self-fulfillment and excellence.

As this Emmy-nominated commercial by Nike shows, hard work and the commitment to reach a goal are both necessary for success. You don’t have to be born with elite physical gifts. You have to idealize greatness in your mind and commit to it. Greatness can’t be achieved without commitment.

Personal excellence is largely a question of believing in your own capabilities and fully committing yourself to your own development. There are disagreements about the physical requirements necessary for excellence, but almost total agreement on the psychological attributes. Commitment and focus are identified as the most essential keys to excellence. To excel in anything, you must become highly committed and you must also develop the focus required to perform your best under stressful circumstances. At some point you have to say, I want to be really good at this; I want this to work; I am going to do everything I can to be as good as I can be; I am making this a priority in my life. To be your best, you must live this commitment and continue to stretch your limits. Commitment alone doesn’t guarantee success, but a lack of commitment guarantees that you’ll fall short of your potential.

Your commitment is reflected in the intensity you must bring to practice and competition. When you train, you are there for a reason – to do your best and accomplish your goals – and are focused every second out there. In competition, you are energized and on the right channel, and you are determined to perform your best – no matter what. Your personal level of commitment is something you must work out for yourself. No one can tell you how important something is in your life; that is your decision. It is clear that people who excel are extremely committed. There is no way to achieve a high level of excellence without a high level of personal commitment.

The Mizzou Football team has embraced this philosophy, and dedicate our time to committing to activities that will help us reach excellence. Check out our Youtube page to see more videos of our hard work like this.

The need for accountability is obvious in the fourth quarter. The time on the clock melts away at an impossible pace, and the only sound louder than the rabid crowd is the pumping of your heart in your ears. Down by four, you line up under center, staring into the face of a defensive end whose job it is to put you on your back.

Here’s where accountability comes in; you have to trust your line will hold their blocks just long enough for you to get the throw off before your body is put in an uncomfortable sandwich between Mr. Defensive End and the turf. You need to trust that your receiver will make his last cut, turn and catch your pass.

In these moments, the importance of accountability is clearest. However, as a member of a team, a family, you must be accountable around the clock. The word vacation is an alien term, every day you and your team must hold each other accountable.

So how do you do this? The Law of Accountability gives a formula that is easy to understand but hard to achieve. And like anything that’s worth having in life, you have to work for it.

Character+Competence+Commitment+Consistency+Cohesion=Accountability

1. Character

Character is the first step in this equation, but it’s important to remember that every member of the team must embrace all five of these qualities in order to achieve accountability.

Character makes trust possible. Trust makes leadership possible. Accountability begins with character because character is based on trust. Trust is the foundation for all human interaction; it determines who we surround ourselves with. If you can’t trust someone, you won’t count on him or her when it counts.

2. Competence

Competence boils down to getting the job done. While character is the root of this equation, being trustworthy or being a good guy can only get you so far. Think of it like this: if you were having surgery for a life-threatening illness, would you rather have a good surgeon who was a bad person, or a bad surgeon that smiles a lot?

Competence matters, plain and simple. When you put someone in a vacuum and eliminate all other qualities, can they perform? If a person is going to be on the same team as you, you want both competence and character.

3. Commitment

The common cliché about teams is that they’re only as good as their weakest link. Great teams are filled with players who refuse to be the weakest link. Great competitors refuse to lift less than their teammates. They refuse to study less tape, to be less prepared.

Showing commitment outside of the lines, when the clock isn’t running, is the best way to demonstrate to your teammates that when the going gets tough, they can count on you. It’s important to remember that every member of your team must be committed to the same goal. It just takes one person to topple the harmony of a team. Lou Holtz once said, “You can’t win without good athletes, but you can lose with them.” Talent is a terrible thing to waste, and a dedication to commitment is the best way to avoid the path to failure.

4. Consistency

Consistency is the synthesis of the previous three qualities. You have character, you’re competent, and you’re committed. Demonstrate those traits every day. Consistency isn’t easy to achieve. Willpower is necessary. You must have the perseverance to put in work every day to create a routine that will allow you to be successful.

By making yourself more successful, you are benefiting your entire team. You ensure that you aren’t the weakest link. You act as a role model for other teammates. You engender a culture of constant work and a commitment to excellence. Do this consistently, and you will see marked improvement in your entire team.

5. Cohesion

Cohesion seems a little redundant at this point, doesn’t it? If every member of the team embodies the previous four qualities, then your unit is already cohesive. Alas, nobody’s perfect, and if a teammate slips up, the rest of the team has to be there to catch him, brush him off and go back to work.

Through all of the trials and tribulations, the team must stick together. Adversity is not only inevitable, but also necessary. The strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire. After overcoming adversity, the team will have a collective pride that will create a unifying, sinewy bond. Take pride in the fact that the collective group can function at a higher level than any individual could. The unit doesn’t shine because you’re a member; you shine because you’re good enough to be a member.

There’s an old saying when it comes to teams: “Either we’re pulling together or we’re pulling apart.” Without cohesion, you can’t pull together. With cohesion, you can achieve the highest level of performance possible.

Accountability

When a teammate looks at you in crunch time to perform, a feeling of pride swells up knowing that all of your hard work and dedication has paid off. Your teammates believe in you and hold you accountable to perform. Reciprocate that in holding your teammates accountable, and they will feel that same sense of accomplishment.

When you add these five C’s together, you end up with accountability, and by association, success. Finally, it’s important to remember that the Law of Accountability is a workout plan, not a weight-loss pill. Now, get working.