“Nothing is impossible for God.”—Luke 1:37 (CEB)
In 2012, Nike launched an advertising campaign called “Find Your Greatness.” It was a series of short video clips showing athletes of all shapes and sizes in pursuit of greatness. Its goal was to inspire everyday people to aspire to greatness. The messages had a consistent theme—we’re all capable of it.
If Nike’s campaign was around when I was a kid, I would have auditioned for it because I wanted to be great at basketball and play in the NBA. Nike could have captured me shoveling snow off the driveway all winter long or using the light from the telephone pole across the street to extend my practice.
While I fell short of my NBA dream, I was pursuing greatness, and I learned a lot about the power of mental desire, focus and toughness. To truly maximize potential, every athlete needs to develop a champion’s mindset.
Developing that mindset starts with two things: how you see it and what you believe about it.
You Have to See it to Believe it. I call this vision. Vision is a clear picture of the future. It forms what you’re shooting for and why you want it. You have to be able to describe it in detail, painting the picture in your mind. It should be big enough that you have to stretch to get it and stir passion inside of you to pursue it. The bigger the why behind your what, the more challenges you can overcome along the way. The best visions involve others and will align all your energy and effort to see that vision come to pass.
In sports, visualization is an extremely powerful tool that can lead to high performance. A study done by Dr. Blaslotto at the University of Chicago in 1996 proved the power of vision. He had a random group of students shoot some free-throws, tallied the results, and then split them up into three groups and asked to perform three separate tasks over the next 30 days.
- The first group couldn’t touch a basketball for 30 days; no practicing allowed.
- The second group had to practice shooting free throws for a half hour a day.
- The third group had to come to the gym every day and spend that same half hour with their eyes closed, visualizing hitting every free-throw.
After 30 days, all three groups came back and took the same number of free-throws. The results were as follows:
- The first group of students who did not practice at all showed no improvement.
- The second group had practiced every day and showed a 24% improvement.
- The third group, the group which had simply visualized successful free-throws, showed a 23% improvement.
Think about the implications these results have for the power of our minds. Vision and visualization are key components of a champion’s mindset. Champions have a very clear and compelling vision of their goal.
You Have to Believe it to See it. I call this faith. Sometimes you have to believe that it can happen before you see it come to pass. If you listen to all the noise and naysayers, eventually you’ll give up. But the champion’s belief in their vision propels them to overcome incredible obstacles and disappointments. They are able to maintain optimism and hope in the midst of setbacks. What you believe about your situation always affects how you see it.
Those with the mind of a champion train their brain to reject doubt, discouragement and defeat. They “take out the trash” and “take in the truth.” They keep their eyes on the prize; they keep the goal in mind. They reject negative thinking and they refuse to make excuses.
“Do not conform to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”—Romans 12:2
They have a mental toughness and a willingness to enter the “crucible” so they can be refined, tested and proven. Faith overcomes fear. Unwavering belief separates champions from all the rest.
To become a champion, you’ve got to see it before you believe it. If you’re not where you want to be, create a clear picture of what you want. And, you’ve got to believe your vision is possible before you see it happen. Remind yourself how far you’ve come instead of how far you have to go. Remind yourself what’s possible instead of being discouraged by past failures. Develop a champion’s mindset and get on the road to an extraordinary life.
Jimmy Page serves as the Divisional Vice President for the West for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. As a 20-year leader in health care, he and his wife are co-founders of an innovative cancer foundation, Believe Big. Page is the author of several books and speaks for companies, teams, schools and non-profits around the world. Follow him @jimmypage37 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.