Wow! Thanks to my good friend and mentor Coach Tully (Totalgameplan.com) I just listened to an inspiring talk on Youtube by Wayne Goldsmith, a high-performance consulting coach. His theme: turning good athletes into great ones. Though his focus is football, there’s so much Wayne said that relates to improving our craft as writers, that I wanted to share some of his insights with you.
As he points out, there are hundreds of good young players to be found in camps, clinics, and on the field. Virtually all of them have the physical skills — the raw physical talent — to succeed. But over the long term, he asserts, physical talent isn’t enough. — it’s only the beginning. The real critical success factors are what underpins that talent. Talent only gets you so far — it doesn’t equip you to hand the challenges that life will throw at you.
In Wayne’s view, here are the qualities that coaches should be helping their elite young players to develop (along with my take on them for us as writers):
1. A sense of self-confidence that can’t be diminished by others — they believe strongly in themselves and aren’t driven by peers. (As writers, we need to cultivate a confident, independent mindset, and a belief in the value of our work that can’t be shaken or diminished by fellow writers, publishers, agents — our peers).
2. A willingness to accept responsibility for the direction their life takes (For us, I believe this involves making choices about our writing lives with intention and focus).
3. A value-based life — making decisions based on integrity, honesty, humility, courage, and discipline (As writers, we surely are called to develop our own set of values to work and live by).
4. Live every day as if it were the last (For us, as well as for athletes, I believe this means, going all out, not holding back in fulfilling our potential).
5. Never stop learning (As writers, curiosity and fascination are what spur creativity and drive us forward).
6. Always be nice to mom (Be kind and grateful to those who nurture and support us).
7. Love the game (Bring passion and joy to our writing life everywhere and all the time).
Wayne also talked about training young athletes to “think like champions.” As he put it, champions aim to create training regimens for themselves that are always more demanding than any game. They see training as the minimum — the starting point — and they always strive to push past it. Champions demand more of themselves than any coach will. Now here’s a nugget of gold for us all.
As writers, some of us have mentors or coaches, but most of us don’t — we basically work on our own. There’s no one looking over our shoulders and urging us onward. We have to motivate ourselves. But even without a coach by our side, we can ask more of ourselves — even just a little more — each day. When we demand more of ourselves and deliver — when we surpass ourselves and do more than we ever thought we were capable of– then we’re on the road to fulfilling our true potential, to being champions. Write on!