I would have to think that most people are interested in peak performance, whether it be individually, as a team, or as a business. How do we, in the most stressful situations, perform at the highest level? I think this is one of the great challenges that we face in life.
There is no question that the model for us to look at is in sports. We watched Michael Phelps win more gold medals than any other athlete in the history of the Olympics. He was able to swim against the greatest swimmers in the world under tremendous pressure.
We have doubt within all of us, and doubt can erode positive energies. When we have doubt, we question ourselves. When we question ourselves, we are not able to perform because those energies, rather than being positive energies, can turn negative. We start making excuses.
Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, once told a story about making a big commitment to a quarterback who had been challenged with drugs, and all kinds of off-the-field problems, who was never really able to perform to the level of his ability. One day he invited the great heavyweight boxing champion, George Foreman, to practice.
Jones asked George if he thought his quarterback was going to make it. George said simply, “Nope.” Jerry asked him why. And George said, “He spits the bit when he gets on the big stage. He finds excuses. And when you start looking for excuses and you spit the bit, you don’t perform.”
George then told Jerry about his first heavyweight boxing championship. He was in the ring before the match, when the boxers get nose-to-nose, glove-to-glove, and eyeball-to-eyeball, trying to intimidate each other, and he looked into the eyes of his opponent. He could tell that his opponent had already spit the bit. When he looked into his eyes, he knew it was already over.
And the different here is not always in the ability of people. It is our ability to control our emotions and energies. Doubt lingers in all of us, but we can actually will the doubt out.
No matter what your stage is, it’s your big stage, right? Whether it is in business, in life, or sports. When you get on the stage that you are playing on, that is the biggest stage in the world. You cannot let doubt overcome you. You must take that doubt and make it positive energy. Because that is what the great ones do.
Adapted from Fran Tarkenton’s book, Every Day is Game Day.