Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's Mandatory For Next Level

"I want to take my game to another level, and reach that 1% mindset, but I don't want to seem cocky or arrogant in the process." -100% of the students I've worked with.

To take our game to the next level, we have to know we're the best, and believe no one can touch our skills. Without this belief, we're vulnerable to opponents who do think this way.

As Rory McIlroy said in his press conference, prior to the final round of U.S. Open: "I have to find a cockiness and arrogance tomorrow (in order to win this tournament)..."

To be arrogant doesn't have to mean being an ass to your opponents or fans... it simply means you have a deep, personal understanding of your skill level, and believe you will defeat anyone who stands in your way. To many, this sounds rude, but to the elite in their field, it's a simple fact. They believe it's absolutely mandatory to think this way, as it creates an important mental edge over their opponents.

On the court, Michael Jordan was as fierce a competitor as there ever was. When he put on his Bulls jersey, he knew with every competitive fiber in his body, that he was the best, period! No matter the situation, he knew he could single-handedly take over a game. 6 championships later... Was he cocky? Yep! Was he arrogant? Yep!

During his dominant years, when Tiger Woods stepped onto the first tee, in his mind, there was no doubt he was going to win! No one on the planet could touch him if he was playing well. He knew it, we knew it, and his opponents definitely knew it. His swagger down the fairway showed everyone, as did his blistering, focused stare on the greens, that he was the best. This was a man who, with 100% certainty, knew he couldn't be touched! Is this cockiness or arrogance? Yes to both.

It's more than a simple confidence. Everyone who's experienced a fair amount of success can create, and play with confidence. The type of belief I'm talking about comes from a burning desire to separate from the pack, and not care what anyone thinks about us as we strive for this goal.

This attitude is healthy, as long as it stays ON the playing field. There's nothing wrong with believing we're the best. In fact, without these thoughts, it would be impossible to excel at anything. The problem with arrogance is when it spills into personal lives. Unfortunately for Tiger, he didn't learn how to keep that belief inside the ropes, leaking it all over his life, leaving him where he is today. The arrogance, itself, didn't cause the problem... his inability to control it was ultimately the issue.

This is the "million dollar puzzle," isn't it? How do we become cocky and arrogant while we're competing, yet not allow it to spill over into our personal life? It's taken me over 20 years to figure out, but I finally have the answer. I learned that we, as intense competitors, must create two separate buttons to push. Without these buttons, the line becomes blurry, cockiness becomes a grey area, eventually affecting everyone around us. There's nothing wrong with competing with extreme confidence. Ie: Cockiness / arrogance... as long as we understand it's potential destruction off the playing field.


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