I am into blogging since 2012. I, just like any other blogger, wanted to be the number one blogger in my niche(which I still want). It didn’t take long to realize that I am missing major blocks that will build a castle for me in this career. Since then, I was tracing people who’re best in their respective industries, trying to figure out how they are the best — why the best is “the best” at what they do?
I always wanted to know what is that one thing, one secret thing that champions do, that lets them be the number one at whatever they do. How the heck on earth they get enlisted in the elite 1% of over 7 billion human population. The secret has always fascinated me.
Recently, the desire to be the best overtook everything inside of me and I gave up doing all I was doing and went on digging everything I could lay my hands on, didn’t leave any rock unturned, a lot of observations and brainstorming led me to have a list of 15 things that champions do that make them the best.
After I found these things that champions do, I decided to share with the web. This is my observation and opinion, it doesn’t ‘have’ to coincide with yours.
That being said, let us begin the list.
Remember! This will an interactive post, with examples of champions across various industries. Stay till the end.
15 things that ‘Champions’ do that makes them what they are
#15 They’re creative
I remember reading a post on Quora about some of the most adorable drone shots people have seen. A lot of people answered it, but one answer caught my attention. It had images, and one of the images was a herd of sheep entering a gate. See the image for yourself here.
Champions are off this herd. They’re creative and that’s what brings attention to them. Initially, they get criticized, but eventually, they win.
I mean, C’mon, it takes a creative mind to think out of the box. And in this case, that out of the “box” was a flat earth.
Galileo was called psychopath because he said, the earth was round and not flat. He was creative enough (of course backed by data and analytics) to say this when everyone around him had flat earth in their DNA.
Galileo had guts to say this and hence even after hundreds of years, Galileo has his name glittering forever.
#14 Very strong control over the emotions
“Why So Serious?” Remember this dialogue? Unless you lived under the Dwayne Jhonson all this while, let me tell you, Heath Ledger said this in The Dark Knight. This movie has shaped my present character. While I’m shaping control over my emotions, Heath Ledger, on the other hand, had mastery over controlling his.
Who, better than Heath Ledger would be a better example of controlling emotions. Doesn’t matter what was going through in his personal life, his performance was always top notch. Heath Ledger would roam around on a skateboard wearing the full costume & makeup.
Why would he do that?
I presume to control his emotions & get into the role of The Joker. Needless to say that Ledger was a method actor. Hell of a method actor.
#13 Gives credit to the team & takes the blame
There’s a reason why champions give credit of the wins to the team and take the blame of the loss on themselves. Champions do this to keep the team motivated, it shows a sense of gratitude and who doesn’t love recognition? It takes a lot of discipline to give credit to the team and/or subordinates. That’s why all champions are leaders, but not all leaders are champions.
Furthermore, taking the blame requires a lot more than you think. There’s a thin line between taking the blame of the loss and giving away the credit of success to the team, that line is responsibility. Either way, you declare yourself as responsible for the team, for the actions that happen under you. I’d like to quote Russel Wilson, captain of Seattle Seahawks, took all the blame on him for a tough loss of the team in a crucial game of American Football.
#12 They take calculative risks
Remember when Facebook was a project out of revenge as Facesmash. Mark foresaw this as a huge platform that would connect people across the globe. He took a calculative risk of dropping out from a Harvard. It is not important to simply take risks, it more important to take calculative risk.
Sure, you may end up failing for that attempt. But consider the magnitude of learnings you will have at the end of the attempt.
How can one “calculate” for a risk?
That comes with practice, observations & guts to try. You need to consider a lot of things to “calculate” for a risk. It’s a skill, that champions do like “champions”
#11 They are visionary leaders & understands human behavior
I’d like to quote Zuckerberg again. When he was a student at Harvard, he was a psychology major but mostly took computer classes. One academically chosen subject, another out of passion. These two subjects have shaped Mark’s vision to build Facebook as a platform that would be home for over 2 billion people within a decade.
Facebook is the fastest growing platform in the history of the internet, at least for me it is. There have been so many platforms in the past, way more vast than Facebook, but no one came even closer to what Facebook achieved.
Mark has his eyeballs on human behavior. Humans are a social animal, humans love to make new friends, connect with distant friends & relatives. This caught his attention and he built a platform to connect people with each other. No wonder, why Facebook spread like a forest fire.
Mark’s vision and his understanding of human behavior.
#10 They consider performance over figures
Tiger Woods won Masters 2019 recently, the first major since 2008. For 11 long years, Woods did not win any major title. This was not coinciding with his stature, not winning any major title for 11 long years needs guts to stomach it.
Sure, there have been controversies around Woods but who cares? That’s not Golfers would bother about. Michael Jordan calls this one of the best comeback he has ever seen.
11 long years without winning any major title needs attention on performance than figures. Tiger Woods is a classic example of this.
Here’s a video of his celebration.
#09 They’re planner & practitioner
I’m a huge fan of cricket. I feel the game is a great teacher. When it comes to the game of cricket, seldom it happens that cricket fans wouldn’t remember legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. I came across an astonishing fact about his career. If we remove all the runs scored in boundaries in his career, Sachin ran over 353 km in his 24 years of career.
I’ve seen him run between wickets. No one could say he was one of the oldest cricket in the pack. How was he able to do this?
Plan & Practice
I’ve read in so many forums & articles that Sachin used to practice for hours together. He would leave his ego at the door & would request even the youngest bowler in the pack to bowl him so that he can learn to play his bowling too. I remember an article that said, Sachin used to practice for 6 hours every day.
#08 They work on their weaknesses
I’ll quote myself. I’m not a champion, though I wish I was one. But I’m working on my weaknesses. I’m glad I could figure that out before it was too late. I know my weaknesses, I know how to fix this. Slowly, inch by inch, I’m eliminating those weaknesses.
Though I cannot fix all of them, some remain weakness forever. All I can do is either delegate or avoid situations that would expose it.
Weaknesses are one of the easiest ways to get rid of anyone. If you don’t want to get eliminated, get rid of your weaknesses.
#07 They always keep learning
No one is perfect. Not even champions. There’s always room for improvement, no exceptions. Michael Phelps is a classic example of this habit. He is the most decorated Olympian of all times. He has never taken his achievements for granted and has kept practicing every single day, bettering his techniques and learning new ones to further improve his skills.
Michael Phelps individually owns 28 medals in Olympic, which is more than many countries in the history of Olympic.
#06 They have very good listening abilities
The problem with today’s world is that people listen to respond. There are very few who actually listen. That’s what differentiates between champions and others. People have a ton of stories & emotions to speak out. Emotions are like water, you cannot hold it forever.
One who is a good listener always has better solutions to problems. Also, one who is a good listener can make a very good bond with people than those who don’t. If you listen keenly, you can establish trust and hence you can work for each other.
This time its a community, a nation as an example. Japanese have this in their DNA. Doesn’t matter even if it’s not important to them, they will listen very keenly. This is one of the biggest strengths Japanese have developed over the years. No wonder why Japan is in the top 3 powerful nation even after nuclear attacks just decades ago.
I don’t say good listening abilities will make you a champion. But the trust you will establish with people with the help of listening abilities will help you reach that stature. Kids listen very carefully because they’re curious. That’s exactly what’s wrong with the adults. We think we know everything and hence refrain from listening.
Listening is a skill that very few have mastered.
#05 They are committed
When I speak of commitment, it would be a crime to not mention the legend, Muhammad Ali. Punches, that would sting like a bee, speed that was too fast to handle, the power that was unstoppable by anyone, and determination to win, that couldn’t stop him from being the boxer of the century.
He didn’t have the best childhood, but he had a life that inspires many children to become like him. A famous quote from the legend himself
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” — Muhammad Ali
How did he end up being one of the greatest boxers to live on this planet? He committed to the game. He could visualize everything in terms of boxing. The ring became his bed, the coaches became his friends.
Champions are not born, they’re made.
#04 They think
A foolish, hungry & visionary leader. Who broke the stereotype of open systems and dared to launch something that is not friendly(at least not then) yet start a company, that would turn out to be first trillion dollar company on this planet.
Why did he “think” of having an end-to-end closed system? When Microsoft was flourishing in length & breadth across the globe?
Because he was able to “think”. Plain & simple.
Thinking has been a crucial part of our evolution. Which sadly is very rare these days. That’s why there is a huge difference between the champions & others.
They do this human thing called “thinking” and that’s how they solve problems & become a champion.
#03 Work on principles & ethics
When it comes to professionalism, champions are off the charts. Their work ethics become a role model to many and hence changing the lives of people who’re less or not ethical at all. They have principles they ritualistically follow and never break. Doesn’t matter if people call it a hoax. If it works for them, it is their ritual. They have morality, they build their own character, they have ethics you can count on, and they work with integrity.
I’ve found this in Elon Musk, who’s a working arm of four multi-billion dollar companies. His work ethic has to be groundbreaking. Without which, managing four companies profitably is not a child’s play. He recently wrote a letter to Tesla employees for a successful quarter. You’d love the letter, read it here.
#02 They are disciplined
Can’t emphasize this enough. Discipline is a vital element of your growth. It takes a lot more than hard work to improve & grow in your space. Sure, you’d need proper planning and other relevant factors, but if you are not disciplined, you’re simply going to procrastinate.
This makes you a herd of 99% of the human population. Discipline is what makes the elite 1% of champions. You pick anyone from the 1% and show me just one person who’s not disciplined yet a champion. I’ll wait.
Discipline is the heart of any goal.
#01 They’re crazy
You probably have noticed the featured image. It says, “There’s one thing about champions. They’re crazy. Unbelievably crazy.”
This single line is behind this post. I was looking for an answer to what’s one thing that champions have that the rest doesn’t have.
After a lot of introspection & observation, I got this.
Champions are crazy. So much that people actually call them crazy.
A small boy from a small town of India dreamt of becoming a cricketer. The boy was the first one from his region to dream this. Against all odds, he got into the national team. And since then, amidst a lot of failures, all he has done is broke records.
I’m speaking of the former captain of the Indian cricket team, M.S Dhoni. He was crazy enough to hand the bowl to young Shreesant to win the inaugural t20'07 world cup. He was crazy enough to promote himself over in-form Yuvraj Singh and lift the world cup after 28 years. He was crazy enough to defend a low score against the home team and win the champion’s trophy.
MS Dhoni is the only captain in cricket history to win all major titles in the game. A boy from a small town in India must be unbelievably crazy to even dream all this, let alone achieve it.
This would sound biased, but I’ve found all 15 traits I’ve mentioned above in MS Dhoni, that makes him a hell of a champion. He may not be the captain of the team, but he will always be a champion leader.
If these observations & opinions resonate with you, support it by sharing it with people you care and want to see them become their dream.
Thank you for reading.
Originally published at http://www.smarterworld.in on April 21, 2019.