I have been thinking quite a bit lately about what the traits are that define great athletes. Of course the old adage of picking your parents well has a lot to do with it. However I have seen average folks do well with the talents they have regardless of their genetic gifts. I have also seen athletes make life long investments and commitments to their sport(s). Often new athletes look at the athletic lifers and are stunned at what they can do and have accomplished. Some look on in admiration and others in contempt. Then there are the athletes that understand that to succeed faster than their peers they will need to make all sorts of sacrifices to reach aggressive goals. However there is one trait that I have been amazed by and proud to have witnessed over and over this season, Grit.
I didn’t recognize it for what it was until this week after making small talk with a contractor who was making repairs to my home. He was introducing me to his young helper. They needed to borrow my extension ladder that was given to me by my father who used it in his business years ago. I was waiting for the inevitable groan as he picked it up. This is a very solid 30′ extension ladder that weighs somewhere between 45-55lbs and is very awkward to handle. He didn’t complain and went about his job and I was impressed by this. I shouldn’t be as this is how work use to be done! I told him I was impressed and his supervisor said that he had been working with this young man in teaching him what it meant to have grit. I shared how my father had a full time labor intensive job and a part time labor intensive business and that is much smaller than me and could handle that huge ladder all by himself and would tease me for not being able to move it with out help. I remember my dad telling me that I need to develop the confidence to deal with tough problems as there wasn’t always going to be someone to help me. Or something like that…
The contractor then said “Exactly! Do or die! We need more attitudes like this. Good for your father.”
Then it hit me how often I had been seeing this in athletes I coach, teammates and competitors this year. It’s GRIT! The personality trait grit is defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” I think we all know it when we see it but I fear that most of us only see this at the races, in gyms and out training with friends and teammates.
I was going to quote examples of how I have seen this unfold over and over this season but instead I would like to hear how you have had to grit it out or witnessed it yourself. It doesn’t have to be from a race or even be athletic. What traits do you think great athletes must posses? Just leave a comment and share.
I am going to be writing more about the traits that define great athletes. It may not be on a regular basis but I will continue this as a regular series. What traits do you think define great athletes?
Until Next time,
Train Smarter Not Harder,