As players from the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons walk into Houston’s NRG Stadium on Sunday, it will, for many of them, be the culmination of a life’s effort both on and off the field.
Meanwhile, as millions of us settle in to watch the game, the distance between who we are and what we do daily will seem miles away from Tom Brady, Devonta Freeman or Julian Edelman. For many of us, it’s as if we will be watching a movie scripted by Marvel Comics featuring 22 Super Heroes endowed with other-worldly incredible gifts. But let me tell you something – they are not supermen. They very much are people. What we will see on the field today and how these athletes perform is, in fact, incredible. But their place in this game was earned, not given, and they have much more in common with those of us watching them on TV than ever gets articulated.
I know this because I live among them. I’ve spent the last two decades working in the field of “human performance,” specifically in a lesser known subset of this arena called sports psychology or mental conditioning. I’ve worked for the biggest sports agencies, college football’s best programs, and at the biggest and best elite training centers in the world. And in this capacity, I have had the opportunity and responsibility to support many of these athletes who have produced what, in fact, do seem like super-human feats under overwhelming pressure(s). Their accomplishments inspire us. They’ve inspired me. At times, they can speak to the very core of what makes the human spirit so exceptional (watch our inspirational video that speaks to this truth).
So, how did these athletes make it to the Super Bowl? How do they succeed in these moments? To me, the answers to these two questions are why it’s unfair to oversell these athletes’ gifts as being “God Given.” The characteristics they share are available to every mother, father, son and daughter, business and organization around the world. They are choices that have come entrenched behaviors. From what I’ve seen, there are two critical areas that separate competitors like Tom Brady and the Patriots from those who continue to aspire to get where they stand now.
When we form habits, those habits form us. Good or bad. Spend time around someone who performs in any profession at a high level consistently and there is nothing more clear than this statement. Much of who we become is not only what we do on a daily basis, but also what we are willing not to do on a daily basis. Sleep. Diet. Fitness. Recovery. Knowledge. Cohesiveness. Mindset. The understanding of the multitude of elements that impact our ability to perform at a high level is the first critical step, but the decision to adopt these behaviors daily is a conscious choice.
The Gamechanger. Period. The right habit patterns can only be developed with an elite level of discipline. Big time college and professional sports go right after and challenge anyone and everyone’s ability to be disciplined equally. In 17 seasons among these competitors, I can confidently say that losing that elite discipline has or will become the reason a team or an athlete will be unable to sustain or reach their capabilities. Greatness is a choice. The characteristics that sustain it are not open to interpretation. If you do what it requires (in any part of your life), you can make it. When you don’t? You won’t.
This goes back fundamentally to your habits. Life does not stop for these football players. Wives. Children. Divorce. Elections. Financial challenges. Managing adversity. Managing success. These areas that impact all of us also happen equally to the 2,000 athletes who have the privilege to play in the National Football League.
Getting yourself and those around you behind the right habits is a conscious decision. It’s not a gift. The ability to be disciplined with the unique challenges facing 2017 is also a conscious decision. It, too, is not a gift. In football, Atlanta and New England have demonstrated the unique ability to manage these challenges and opportunities and earn this incredible moment. They are the two best teams in Pro Football this year. Their habits and the discipline to sustain these habits have distanced them from many other organizations who had the same opportunity, the same number of players, and same financial conditions to work with, but couldn’t find their way through.
It’s been said that we all have an equal opportunity to be unequal. A unique opportunity to be uncommon. Your next step begins by evaluating your current habits relative to the requirements needed in that particular area. We all have a backstory. There are reasons for you not to succeed, just as there are reasonable explanations for the 30 teams that are not playing in the Super Bowl today. But the simple fact remains… they are not playing. Combining better discipline and the right habits will help create reasons to get to that next level. Nothing (good or bad) happens by accident. It starts with you.
For more on Trevor Moawad, visit moawadconsultinggroup.com.