Our CEO’s Take On A Champion’s Mindset

I feel like it is my obligation to write this.  I have been through many ups and downs in sports and business and I feel I owe it to others to share my opinion on what was a deciding factor in a MHSAA Quarterfinal boys’ basketball game.  It was at the Boyne City-McBain game that I had the opportunity to watch.  First of all, I would like to say that both communities showed amazing support for their teams and I was so impressed with that and the character of the spectators.  Some people will not agree with me on this whole post and that is okay, I’m definitely not always right and I appreciate it if people challenge my views.  I can learn from other people’s opinions.
I’ve had the opportunity to be on state championship teams at the high school level and lose in a state championship game. I’ve been on a conference championship team in Division 1 college football and played at the highest level of professional football.  I’ve also been on some very average teams and been through transitions to turn them around.  Most recently I’ve been running my own business and learning the amazing similarities between sports and business.
I’ve had the privilege to learn directly from great parents, awesome teachers and coaches in high school, and some of the nation’s best college and professional football coaches and players.  Even beyond that, I have amazing mentors in business that I have learned so much from.  I’m truly blessed to have been able to and continue to learn from some of the best.  With that being said I feel obligated to “pay it forward.”
Going back to the game last night, I noticed that both teams were very equally matched in athleticism, height, and shooting ability.  Being through a state championship run myself, I knew the teams would be at that stage of the tournament.  I noticed right away that one team had a significant edge at the start of the game.  Unfortunately, it was not my former team, it was the Boyne City Ramblers that had the edge and although McBain fought back and made it a tight game, Boyne City was able to win the game.  Blog over, right?  Not quite. In fact, just starting.
I noticed that Boyne City looked like they wanted it more.  I’m not saying McBain’s team didn’t want to win, I’m saying that they didn’t want it more than Boyne.  I thought back to my sports days and when I set goals and when our teams talked about our team goals consistently, we always hit them.  Sometimes it would take longer than we wanted, but we always hit them.  For example, one thing our 2002 McBain graduating class talked about was playing in the Silverdome for the State Championship in football.  We talked about this because we had seen the 1993 team play in the “dome” and we wanted to accomplish that feat as well.  So we did make it to the state championship game and played in the “dome”…. and lost.  Why did we lose?  I think it was because by getting there, we became a little content, just content enough that our competitor wanted the real trophy more than us.
Unfortunately, we lost that game. But we definitely learned from it and used it as fuel.  Now, we didn’t have another season of football to avenge that loss, but one of the great things about being in a small school is many of us also played basketball.  We refocused for the basketball season and prepared by setting our goals on nothing less than a State Championship. Not regionals or to get to the Breslin Center, anything less than to hold up a number one in our final game would be a huge disappointment for us.  By the end of the season, we ended up hitting our goal and winning a state championship.
Was it setting the goal itself that won us a championship?  Of course not. But it did help us to set the mentality that we needed to win. I call that the champion’s mindset. When you know in your heart you deserve the win more than any other person or team you face, you have the champion’s mindset.  It’s a form of entitlement.  Now, entitlement in recent decades has a negative connotation, but this form of entitlement we had was well deserved because it is paired with a challenger’s work ethic.  If you combine a champion’s mindset and a challenger’s work ethic, anything is possible.
Our state championship team in 2002 knew the state championship was ours to lose because we could already see ourselves hoisting the trophy.  Now the way we developed this champions mindset was through these three things:
1. being so close to a championship and losing it,
2. having a majority of seniors on the team in our final season and
3. because we knew there wasn’t a single team that we were going to play that had worked harder than we did to win a state championship.
When you work as hard as we did collectively toward one goal year after year, you develop this form of entitlement.
So, even in the semifinal game when we were down seven points with less than two minutes left in the game, we knew that our opponent didn’t deserve the win. We did.  We took back that game and won in overtime.  It is my opinion that the number one determining factor when two equal teams play is mentality.  It is also my opinion that the best way to develop the champion’s mindset is through working so hard that you know none of your competitors deserve the win more than you.
Like I said earlier, I am now running my own business and we are just passing five years in business.  As I write this blog, we definitely have not hit all of our goals.  Now one of the reasons I believe we have not hit those goals is because in high school and in college, I had a limited number of years to accomplish my goals and the goals of our teams.  Four to five years is all you get.  Once again, when our state champion team was down by seven without the ball and only 1:58 to go in the game, there was a very clear time limit to win the game.  And finally, one of the keys to us developing that champion’s mindset was that we had a majority of our team in their final season- time constraints.
In our business, there are not these same time limitations.  It is a very merit based business and although we have accomplished a lot and helped many people, it is clear to me now that I need to put these time constraints on myself and create a sense of urgency to hit our goals.
I know that the challenger’s work ethic that I have given and many of our employees at Blue Chip Endeavors have given will pay off.  It will lead to expansion efforts throughout the United States and Internationally.  This will happen, but now I have a new perspective on the value of having a sense of urgency to hit our goals within a time frame.  No sense in waiting, every other time I have had a limited time to hit my goals I have always hit them and I will again!  Here we go…

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