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Prepare to Win: Power of potential

I am writing this after an epic speed training session with the BFS athletes. The topic of the day was the power of potential (aka POP).

We joked that the athletes in attendance chose to embrace and develop their POP while those who weren’t there were at home eating Pop Tarts. There is a reason for the joke, which we will discuss as we go.

Potential is a word which elicits a love-hate connotation, depending on who’s using it. I advised the athletes that there was an article recently focusing on Kyle Larson, the next “hot” driver in NASCAR. At 20 years old, he has won regularly at his level and is now ready to move up in his career.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, legendary NASCAR winner Tony Stewart had this to say about Larson: “He’s a kid that I think really has a lot of potential.”

Potential, for some, is a cuss word, while for others it’s a declaration of things to come. For Blaine Scully of USA Rugby, it’s both. On a television interview during a USA Sevens competition, Scully said, “Potential just means you haven’t done anything yet.”

You see? Scully acknowledged that winning is not happening now, but by saying “yet,” it will happen as they keep their hearts, sights and focus set on winning. So, right now potential is a cuss word, but it’s also a declaration of things to come for USA Rugby, as long as they embrace their winning potential and develop their winning potential.

At BFS, the greatest thing that we do for athletes is not the actual training. It’s that we realize and celebrate the power of potential in each athlete and joyfully prepare them to reach their winning potential. I admit that our definition of potential is different than most, but winning athletes don’t have the same thought process as everybody else anyway.

Our definition is that potential means each athlete is designed to win, not can win. Did you catch that? Potential means that we are designed to win, not simply that we can win. “Can win” is what most say but do little with. When you begin instilling in athletes that they are designed to win, it takes on a whole new dimension in them.

The whole problem arises when athletes allow potential to be a word instead of a lifestyle. It’s a problem when athletes merely have winning potential instead of reaching their winning potential. Hey, just because we are designed to win, it will not happen unless we embrace it and develop it. And I do know this to be true. If winning was easy, everybody would do it. Having winning potential and reaching winning potential is what separates winners from those who make excuses, blame others for losing efforts or simply don’t make winning a priority. I’m not good with that as there are so many athletes who could reach their winning potential if properly guided.

What do winners do (WDWD)? The students who were preparing to win this morning bemoaned the fact that they couldn’t believe that their teammates weren’t out there doing the same. As they were doing another minute of Russian skips, they agreed that while they were developing their POP, their teammates might have been enjoying Pop Tarts instead.

Winners have embraced that they are designed to win and have established in their hearts that they will continue to develop their potential until they have reached their winning potential. In their breakthrough book, “Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing”, researchers Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman report that when athletes play to win, their overall performance improves. In short, when athletes embrace the fact that they are designed to win and begin pursuing it, winning performance improves and reaching their winning potential is just a matter of time.

Ever hear of a guy named Robert Griffin III? During high school and college, when other players were doing whatever they were doing, he was pulling tires across a field, throwing tons of extra passes and working out in the weight room (you know, developing his POP). He has embraced and continues to develop his winning potential, while most others do not. Hey, you are designed to win. But just like Kyle Larson, what you decide to do with it will determine whether you reach your winning potential or not. You can reach it or keep it. I say reach it. Now, PUT DOWN THE POP TART!

George Mangum, M.A., is a WIN psychologist and the founder of Bigger Faster Stronger-High Desert, where athletes at all levels are prepared to win physically, emotionally and mentally. George can be contacted at (760) 403-3449 or on Facebook at Bigger Faster Stronger-High Desert.


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